DREAMER UPDATE: N. Rappaport Says 47 Mi. Of “Trump‘s Wall” Is An Acceptable Price For Dems To Pay To Save “Dreamers” — CNN’S Tal Kopan Says GOP House Might Go With Own “Dreamer Bill” (Once Again) Excluding Dems!

http://thehill.com/opinion/immigration/354585-democrats-take-trumps-daca-deal-to-save-some-from-deportation

Nolan writes in The Hill:

“Realistically, it is not going to be possible to work with Trump on a permanent DACA program without providing the funds he needs to at least start the construction of his wall, but this does not have to be a deal breaker.

Get him started with funding to complete the last 47 miles of the border fencing that was mandated by the Secure Fence Act of 2006, which was passed in the Senate 80 to 19. The yeas included current Senate party leaders Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) Schumer and former Senators Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.).

As amended by section 564 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008, it requires DHS to “construct reinforced fencing along not less than 700 miles of the southwest border where fencing would be most practical and effective.”  DHS only completed 653 miles of the authorized fencing.

Finishing this project would give Trump a chance to show what he can do and provide a reliable basis for estimating the cost of a wall along the entire length of the Southwest border.

The alternative to finding a compromise is to abandon the tentative agreement and let the Democrats continue their endless stream of complaints about Trump, which won’t improve Congress’ approval ratings or save any of the DACA participants from being deported.”

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

Go on over to The Hill to read Nolan’s complete article, which is well worth it whether you agree or not.

I basically agree with what Nolan has said above. While recognizing the emotional and political difficulties behind the Democrats giving on any “Wall Issue,” 47 miles of fencing in return for saving the lives and futures of nearly one million American young people is a reasonable trade-off. Unlike a “Full Wall,” the 47 miles has some bipartisan historical precedent and might be at least somewhat helpful to the Border Patrol in securing the border. Trump has to get something out of this for his “base” to offset their qualms about a “Dreamer Deal.” And the Democrats still reserve their right to “dig in” on other “Wall Issues” that won’t be going away as long as Trump is President. Plenty of room for the Democrats to posture to their base in the future, plus take credit for saving the Dreamers.

I think the Democrats should include as many Dreamers in the bill as possible. Since these residents are good for America, the more that are included the better for all of us. I would also reject inserting any “points system” into the process. That’s a bad idea (part of the “restrictionist agenda”) that Democrats should emphatically reject. I had all sorts of folks come though my courtroom in my thirteen years on the bench. I’d never say that the doctors, teachers, and computer scientists were “better” or “more valuable” for America than the bricklayers, landscapers, taxi drivers, maids, and sandwich artists. They are all contributing in important ways. The elitist “point system’ is simply another part of the bogus white restrictionist agenda.

I can’t agree with Nolan that there is anything that the Democrats can realistically do with Trump’s White Nationalist “wish list” on larger immigration reform. It’s a toxic and offensive compendium of truly reprehensible measures that will either diminish the legal and human rights of  the most vulnerable migrants or send America in a totally wrong direction by restricting legal immigration at a time when it should be expanded. Just nothing there that’s realistic or morally acceptable, as you might expect when White Nationalists like Sessions, Miller, and Banning get their hands on immigration policy.

Although clearly outnumbered at present, the Democrats do have two “Trump Cards” in their hand.

First, no matter how much cruel, inhumane, and wasteful “Gonzo” enforcement the Trump-Sessions-Homan crowd does, they won’t be able to make much of a dent in the 10-11 million population of undocumented workers during the Trump Administration, be that four or eight years. That means most of those folks aren’t going anywhere. It’s just a question of whether they work legally and pay taxes or work under the table where most of them probably won’t be able to pay taxes. So the issue will still be around, looking for a more constructive solution whenever “Trumpism” finally ends.

Second, no amount of Gonzo restrictionism can stop additional needed foreign workers from coming in the future as long as there 1) is an adequate supply, and 2) are U.S. industries that demand their services — and there clearly will continue to be. Employer sanctions won’t stop undocumented migration. We’ve already proved that. About the most the restrictionists can do is change the cost equation, making the cost of importing documented and undocumented workers more expensive to U.S. employers while enriching and enlarging international human smuggling operations. Restrictionists are international smuggling cartels’ “best friends,” at least up to a point.

It is, however, possible, that legal immigration restrictions enacted into law could eventually raise the costs of obtaining foreign labor, both documented and undocumented, to the point where it becomes “not cost-effective.” The cost of legal foreign labor would simply become too great and the supply too small. Meanwhile, over on the undocumented side, workers would have to pay smugglers more than they could anticipate making by working in the U.S.; there would come a point when it would not be cost-effective for U.S. employers to raise wages for undocumented workers any further.

At that point, the U.S. agriculture, tourism, hospitality, and entertainment industries, as well as other service industries heavily dependent on legal and undocumented foreign labor would start to disappear. They would soon be joined by technology, education, and other “STEM type” industries that need more qualified legal foreign labor than the restrictionists would be willing to provide. At that point, the country would go into economic free-fall, entirely attributable to the GOP restrictionists. The Democrats could come back into power, and eventually restore economic order with the necessary sane expansion of legal immigration opportunities.

It’s certainly a scenario that most Americans should want to avoid. But, as long as our government is controlled by restrictionists with overriding racial and political motivations, rather than by those searching for the “common good,” successful immigration reform might well be out of reach. And no “White Nationalist Manifestos” such as the Trump White House just issued are going to change that.

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

http://www.cnn.com/2017/10/11/politics/daca-negotiations-congress-latest/index.html

Meanwhile, over at CNN, Tal Kopan reports on the House GOP’s “own plan” for a “non-bi-partisan” Dreamer Bill, which, of course, would be DOA in the Senate.

Tal writes:

“Washington (CNN)A key House Republican involved in immigration negotiations said Wednesday that he expects his chamber will pass a bill with only GOP votes — and would include some version of a border wall — even as Democrats dismiss the idea that such a deal could reach the President’s desk.

Texas Rep. John Carter is a member of the House Republican immigration working group set up by House Speaker Paul Ryan to figure out a path forward for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, an Obama-era policy that protected young undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children from deportation, which President Donald Trump has decided to end.
Carter told reporters in the Capitol that he expects what comes out of those meetings to be Republican-only and to include at least something for Trump’s controversial border wall.
“I think we will have a wall factor in the bill and I don’t think we will get a single Democrat vote,” Carter said about the discussions.
Democrats have said any wall funding would be a nonstarter for negotiations, and Trump has suggested he’d consider separating the wall from the debate, though the White House has said it’s a priority.
close dialog
T
Carter declined to talk about the internal deliberations of the group, but said, “we are trying to come up with solutions which will not only be good for the DACA people but will also be good for America.”
Sources familiar with the workings of the group, which includes Republicans from across the spectrum of ideology in the party, say that while the group has been meeting and discussions are happening among members, the rough outline of a deal has yet to form.
Republicans may aspire to be able to use its House majority to pass the bill but will almost certainly lose some members over any legalization of DACA recipients, and could lose more moderates or conservatives depending on how a deal takes shape. For any bill to pass the Senate, it will need Democratic votes to clear the 60-vote filibuster threshold.
When Trump announced in early September he was ending DACA, Ryan created the group to attempt to gain consensus on the thorny issue. Trump urged Congress to act and protect DACA recipients, but has also called for border security and immigration enforcement with it. Sunday night, the White House released a laundry list of conservative immigration principles that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday dismissed as “trash” and coming from a place of “darkness and cruelty.”
Trump created a six-month window for Congress to act by offering DACA permits that expire before March 5 one month to renew for a fresh two years, postponing any DACA expirations until March.
On Wednesday, the Department of Homeland Security said it was still finalizing numbers but that at least 86% of those DACA recipients eligible to renew had applications in by the October 5 deadline. Roughly 132,000 of the 154,000 eligible recipients had applied, spokesman David Lapan said, but that could leave thousands of recipients losing protections before March.
As for the strategy of the House to pass a Republican-only bill, Carter acknowledged that there was a concern the group’s proposal couldn’t pass the Senate but said the other chamber needs “to get their work done” and he hoped both the House and Senate could hammer out a final compromise.
But Pelosi criticized the strategy when asked by CNN what she thought of Carter’s comments.
“That would not be a good idea,” Pelosi said. “Why would they go to such a place? It is really, again, another act of cruelty if they want to diminish a bill in such a way. And they still have to win in the Senate.”
California Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a longtime key House Democrat on any immigration policy, said that no serious negotiations have occurred between parties and moving forward alone would be Republicans’ prerogative but not necessarily successful.
“I like (Carter), I have no idea what they’re looking at, and if we were really having negotiations, we would be talking to each other,” Lofgren told CNN. “If they have the votes to pass something, they have the capacity to do that. How they get 60 votes in the Senate, who knows.”
*************************************************
Another unilateral House GOP proposal that will be DOA in the Senate. Really, these guys don’t earn their salaries.
Stay tuned.
PWS
10-12-17

 

BIA SAYS “NO” TO BATTERED SPOUSE WAIVER FOR THOSE ABUSED BY FOREIGN SPOUSE! — Matter of PANGAN-SIS, 27 I&N Dec. 130 (BIA 2017)

3904

Matter of PANGAN-SIS, 27  I&N Dec. 130 (BIA 2017)

BIA HEADNOTE:

An alien seeking to qualify for the exception to inadmissibility in section 212(a)(6)(A)(ii) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U.S.C. § 1182(a)(6)(A)(ii) (2012), must satisfy all three subclauses of that section, including the requirement that the alien be “a VAWA self-petitioner.”

PANEL: Appellate Immigration Judges Malphrus, Mullane & Creppy

OPINION BY: Judge Mullane

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

Let’s break this down into simple human terms. A Guatemalan woman suffered an extended period of domestic abuse in Guatemala at the hands of her husband. That caused her to flee to the United States and enter without inspection. The woman told the truth to authorities.

Rather than granting her temporary refuge, the U.S. Government sought to remove the woman. The woman was fortunate enough to get a good lawyer who made sophisticated arguments in favor of her remaining. She also was fortunate to have a U.S. Immigration Judge who listened to those arguments and granted her a humanitarian waiver. This waiver allowed her to remain in the United States, but did not give her any permanent status nor did it put her in line for a green card.

The Government (“DHS”) did not want the woman to remain, even  in a more or less “limbo status.” So, they appealed to the BIA.

The BIA agreed with the woman that the waiver statute was ambiguious and therefore the Immigration Judge had plausibly interpreted it in her favor. But, the BIA found that a “better interpretation” would impose additional requirements that woman and those similarly situated could never meet. The BIA noted that Congress was only concerned about domestic violence in the United States that was being used as “leverage” against a foreign national by his or her US citizen or green card holding spouse.

Inferentially, the BIA found that Congress could not possibly have intended to help other victims of domestic violence that occurred outside the United States. That would potentially allow every abused spouse in the world to seek a discretionary waiver that would save them from abuse by granting them limited refuge in the United States.

The BIA sent the case back to the Immigration Judge so that the DHS can continue its efforts to remove her to Guatemala where she will be further abused by her Guatemalan spouse. Her lawyer can help her apply for asylum and withholding of removal based on a prior BIA decision Matter of A-R-C-G- that benefitted victims of domestic violence.

However the DHS is likely to oppose that relief. Otherwise, the DHS would have already offered to settle the case based on A-R-C-G-. That’s what used to happen routinely in my court in Arlington prior to the Trump Administration. The woman is credible and appears to fit squarely within A-R-C-G-.

But, if the Immigration Judge grants relief under A-R-C-G- or the Convention, Against Torture (“CAT”), the DHS probably will appeal again to the BIA. As part of the Administration’s enforcement program, the DHS wants the BIA to help them “send a message” that victims of domestic violence might as well continue to suffer abuse or preferably die (thus solving the problem from a U.S. Immigration Enforcement standpoint) at the hands of their abusers rather than seeking refuge in the United States. Bad things that happen to good people in other countries are just not our problem. America First!

The BIA Appellate Judges work for Jeff Sessions. They understand even better than Immigration Judges in the field that “not getting with the Administration’s Enforcement program” of sending consistently negative messages to asylum seekers could result in their being reassigned to other jobs by Jeff Sessions. Some of those jobs have no real duties (“Hallwalkers”).

Jeff Sessions hates all migrants and particularly Hispanic migrants fleeing from Central America. He hates them almost as much as he hates LGBTQ Americans.

Jeff tells everyone who will listen that all Hispanic migrants and most Hispanic citizens who live among them are criminals, drug dealers, and gang members. Even those who aren’t actually criminals are going to take great jobs that Americans would like to have such as picking lettuce, milking cows, shucking oysters, making beds, washing dishes, climbing up trees, cleaning bathrooms, sweeping floors, removing dangerous and moldy storm damage, taking off and putting on roofs in 120 degree heat, pounding drywall, taking care of other folks’ children, mowing laws, and changing adult diapers for senior cizens who can’t do it themselves.

While the United States might sometimes claim to be a bastion of freedom and humanitarian ideals, that is usually only when lecturing other countries on their failings or touting the superiority of our system over every other system in the world. Nobody should seriously expect the United States to act on those humanitarian ideals, particularly when it comes to helping women and children from the Northern Triangle of Central America.

PWS

10-07-17

 

HERE’S PT. I OF NBC4’s “CRISIS IN THE IMMIGRATION COURTS,” FEATURING JUDGE DANA LEIGH MARKS & ME DISCUSSING BACKLOGS!

SEE THE I-TEAM’S JODIE FLEISCHER’S REPORT HERE (PT I):

http://www.nbcwashington.com/investigations/Crisis-in-the-Courts-DMV-Immigration-Courts-Scheduling-Hearings-for-2021-446917903.html

“Crisis in the Courts: DC-Area Immigration Courts Scheduling Hearings for 2021

“Immigration is clearly an issue that divides the nation. Who should be allowed to stay in the US? Who should have to go?

Whether you support immigration or oppose it, the backlog in our nation’s immigration courts will disturb you.

People who shouldn’t be here, get to stay for years and build a life while they wait. And those who do legally deserve to stay may have family in danger back home, while their cases face delay after delay.

The News4 I-Team spent months working with NBC investigative teams across the country to examine our nation’s immigration case backlog.

In Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia the number of cases has more than tripled in past five years, with some cases taking more than four years to be heard.

“The quality of their lives are deeply affected by whether or not they’re allowed to stay,” said National Association of Immigration Judges President Dana Leigh Marks, adding that the decisions are incredibly tough.

They often involve people who faced violent assaults, religious persecution, even government oppression and torture in their home country.

“The cases that we hear, they are death penalty cases,” said Marks. “A lot of people tell us that they fear for their very life if they’re sent back to their home country.”

And by the time many of them make it into a courtroom, their definition of “home” has likely changed.

‘I Consider Myself American’

Jonathan Claros was born in El Salvador, but his home is now Montgomery County, Maryland.

“I consider myself American. I know some people are against that,” he said.

At 29, he’s been here almost half his life. He taught himself English, graduated from high school in Gaithersburg and works in construction.

“This country is made of immigrants,” Claros said. “It doesn’t matter what color they are, or race or ethnicity.”

What does matter is whether you come here legally.

Just last month, ICE deported Jonathan’s brothers, the youngest was a 19-year-old soccer star who was set to start college on a scholarship.

“They came here when they were little. They know better this country than where they were born,” Claros said.

Their parents and sister are all in Maryland and equally worried about the current state of the U.S. immigration system.

“What they’re doing right now for me is, you know, it’s devastating,” Claros told the News4 I-Team. “A lot of families have been separated from their loves.”

Three years ago he married a U.S. citizen and filed paperwork to get legal status.

“It’s been kind of hard; it’s been almost a year waiting for an answer,” he said of the delay.

US Immigration by the NumbersUS Immigration by the Numbers

An overview of immigration in the U.S., by the numbers.

(Published Monday, Sept. 25, 2017)

‘It’s a Disaster. I Think It’s Moving Toward Implosion’

 The nationwide backlog of immigration cases topped 617,000 this summer. The courts in Arlington and Baltimore handle all of the cases for D.C., Maryland and Virginia — more than 58,000 of them as of July. And that doesn’t even include immigrants who are here illegally and completely undocumented.

The News4 I-Team found a new immigrant walking into the Arlington court today could have to wait until December 2021 for a hearing; that’s the second longest delay in the nation.

“It’s a disaster. I think it’s moving toward implosion,” said Judge Paul Wickham Schmidt, who retired last year from Arlington’s immigration court, after 13 years on the bench.

“We probably had 9 to 10,000 each on our dockets,” said Schmidt. “I think sometimes we minimize the difficulty of having your life on hold.”

He said the system is painfully slow for several reasons, and the first is really basic: The entire system operated on paper. With no way to e-file cases or review briefs or documents online.

“They don’t let you see the inside of an immigration court. If they did, they’d clean it up! But there are files piled all over: They’re in the corridors, they’re all over the desks, they’re under desks,” said Schmidt, who can speak freely since he’s retired.

He said judges have to physically be in their offices to review files, which is especially difficult with a new administration policy that reassigns some judges to hear cases at the border.

That leaves courtrooms empty back in their home court and a full docket of cases that get pushed to the back of the line.

During the delay, witnesses who could help the immigrant’s case might disappear, and attorneys and judges could move or retire, causing more delay.

“The cases that are actually ready to go are being put to the end, and the judges are being assigned to cases of recently arrived individuals, many of whom haven’t had time to get lawyers. So I think it’s a misuse of resources,” said Schmidt.

He said there aren’t enough attorneys to keep the system moving, and having representation significantly impacts someone’s chance of staying.

The new administration has also eliminated prosecutors’ discretion to dismiss or delay thousands of low priority cases: People who haven’t committed a crime or have family members who are citizens.

“There’s only so much judge time,” said Schmidt, “and if you use it for people who are low priorities, then there’s some other person who isn’t getting a hearing.”

He added that with political priorities constantly shifting, judges should have control over which cases to call first.

‘People Are Being Hurt by These Delays’

“Unfortunately despite our best efforts, there are people being hurt by these delays, and they can be avoided if we would get sufficient resources,” said Judge Marks.

She said the court needs twice as many judges to tackle that backlog. But right now, the court’s budget and its management are within the Department of Justice, which is another major issue for the judges association.

“The way to assure stakeholders, the people who come before us, that they are being treated fairly is that we should be taken out of the Department of Justice and made a neutral court system,” said Marks.

She said Congress needs to look at the whole system and take action so the political climate surrounding immigration doesn’t impact whether or when people get their day in court.

“It is not a Democratic or Republican issue,” said Marks. “If you want to have increased focus on the border courts, fine. But build courts, hire judges and put them there before you start that program.”

The Justice Department told the News4 I-Team it’s committed to increasing the number of judges; an additional 65 judge positions are already budgeted for next year.

But that still doesn’t solve the problem of dozens of vacant positions, and sitting judges retiring.

There’s also an agency-wide review already underway which aims to identify ways to increase efficiency, through changes to court procedures and technology.

The DOJ’s Executive Office for Immigration Review, which manages the court system, says its mission is to fairly, expeditiously and uniformly interpret and administer the nation’s immigration laws.

‘You’re Not Going to Get Every Single One Right’

Like Jonathan Claros, nearly half of all of the immigrants caught in the backlog in our area are from El Salvador — more than 28,760 people. But Judge Schmidt said the courts do not treat all nationalities equally.

“The law is sort of tough on Central American cases. Some of them can make it, some of them don’t,” said Schmidt, “An Ethiopian with an asylum claim, they almost always get granted.”

The court data shows the location also factors into whether an immigrant has a better chance of being able to stay.

The national average is just over 56 percent. Here in the D.C. area, it’s 61 percent. Los Angeles is 70 percent.

“Clearly, the attitudes of the judges and how they feel about asylum law has quite a bit to do with it,” said Schmidt, “If I were an immigrant, I’d rather be in California than Atlanta, Georgia. Any day.”

In one Georgia court, only 13 percent of people are allowed to stay in the U.S.

Schmidt said the appellate boards also lack consistency in their decisions.

“As a result, judges don’t get the guidance they need. The board doesn’t crack down on judges who are way out of line with what the law should be,” he said, adding that immigrants deserve to know their fate sooner.

Our system simply doesn’t allow for that.

Schmidt said with the volume of cases, the gravity of his difficult decisions was often emotional.

“You’re not going to get every single one right, and you think about the lives that you might have destroyed that you could have saved, and of course that weighs on you,” he said.

Jonathan Claros said he still believes in the American dream. He’s just worried his family’s heartache will keep growing while he waits for an answer.

“Everybody’s afraid,” he said. “They go out, but they don’t know if they are going to come back home again. It’s hard to live like that.”

Reported by Jodie Fleischer, produced by Rick Yarborough, shot and edited by Steve Jones.

Source: Crisis in the Courts: DC-Area Immigration Courts Scheduling Hearings for 2021 – NBC4 Washington http://www.nbcwashington.com/investigations/Crisis-in-the-Courts-DMV-Immigration-Courts-Scheduling-Hearings-for-2021-446917903.html#ixzz4tjp7to2P
Follow us: @nbcwashington on Twitter | NBCWashington on Facebook”

See Part II on News4 at 11:15 tonight!

PWS

09-25-17

U.S. IMMIGRATION COURTS: Judge Lawrence O. “Burmanator” Burman (SOLELY In His NAIJ Officer Capacity) Gives Rare Peek Inside U.S. Immigration Courts’ Disaster Zone From A Sitting Trial Judge Who “Tells It Like It Is!”

Judge Burman appeared at a panel discussion at the Center for Immigration Studies (“CIS”). CIS Executive Director Mark Krikorian; Hon. Andrew Arthur, former U.S. Immigration Judge and CIS Resident Fellow; and former DOJ Civil Rights Division Official Hans von Spakovsky, currently Senior Legal Fellow at the Heritage Foundation were also on the panel entitled “Immigration Court Backlog Causes and Solutions” held at the National Press Club on Aug. 24, 2017.  Here’s a complete transcript furnished by CIS (with thanks to Nolan Rappaport who forwarded it to me).

Here’s the “meat” of Judge Burman’s remarks:

“First, the disclaimer, which is important so I don’t get fired. I’m speaking for the National Association of Immigration Judges, of which I am an elected officer. My opinions expressed will be my own opinions, informed by many discussions with our members in all parts of the country. I am not speaking on behalf of the Department of Justice, the Executive Office for Immigration Review, the chief judge, or anybody else in the government. That’s important.

What is the NAIJ, the National Association of Immigration Judges? We’re a strictly nonpartisan organization whose focus is fairness, due process, transparency for the public, and judicial independence. We’re opposed to interference by parties of both administrations with the proper and efficient administration of justice. We’ve had just as much trouble with Republican administrations as Democratic administrations.

It’s been my experience that the people at the top really don’t understand what we do, and consequently the decisions they make are not helpful. For example, the – well, let me backtrack a little bit and talk about our organization.

Immigration judges are the – are the basic trial judges that hear the cases. Above us is the Board of Immigration Appeals, who function as if they were an appellate court. We, since 1996, have been clearly designated as judges by Congress. We are in the statute. We have prescribed jurisdiction and powers. Congress even gave us contempt authority to be able to enforce our decisions. Unfortunately, no administration has seen fit to actually give us the contempt authority. They’ve never done the regulations. But it’s in the statute.

The Board of Immigration Appeals is not in the statute. It has no legal existence, really. It’s essentially an emanation of the attorney general’s limitless discretion over immigration law. The members of the Board of – Board of Immigration Appeals are – in some cases they’ve got some experience. Generally, they don’t have very much. They’re a combination of people who are well-respected in other parts of the Department of Justice and deserve a well-paid position. Very often they’re staff attorneys who have basically moved up to become board members, skipping the immigration judge process. Very few immigration judges have ever been made board members, and none of them were made board members because they had been immigration judges. If they were, it was largely a coincidence.

The administration of the Executive Office for Immigration Review in which we and the BIA are housed is basically an administrative agency. We are judges, but we don’t have a court. We operate in an administrative agency that’s a lot closer to the Department of Motor Vehicles than it is to a district court or even a bankruptcy court, an Article I type court.

Our supervisors – I’m not sure why judges need supervisors, but our supervisors are called assistant chief immigration judges. Some of them have some experience. Some of them have no experience not only as judges, but really as attorneys. They were staff attorneys working in the bowels of EOIR, and gradually became temporary board members, and then permanent board members.

Interestingly, when a Court of Appeals panel is short a judge, they bring up a district judge. EOIR used to do that, by bringing up an immigration judge to fill out a panel at the board. They don’t do that anymore. They appoint their staff attorneys as temporary board members, a fact that is very shocking when we tell it to federal judges. They can’t imagine that a panel would be one member short and they’d put their law clerk on the panel, but that’s what goes on.

The top three judges until recently – the chief judge and the two primary deputies – had no courtroom experience that I’m aware of. Two of them have gone on. Unfortunately, one of them has gone on to be a BIA member. The other retired.

Our direct supervisors are the assistant chief immigration judges. Some are in headquarters, and they generally have very little experience. Others are in the field, and they do have some experience – although, for example, the last two ACIJs – assistant chief immigration judges – who were appointed became judges in 2016. So they don’t have vast experience. Well, they may be fine people with other forms of experience, but this agency is not run by experienced judges, and I think it’s important to understand that.

There’s a severe misallocation of resources within EOIR. I think Congress probably has given us plenty of money, but we misuse it. In the past administration, the number of senior executive service – SES – officials has doubled. Maybe they needed some more administrative depth, although I doubt it. The assistant chief immigration judges are proliferating. I think there’s 22 of them now. These are people who may do some cases. Some of them do no cases. They generally don’t really move the ball when it comes to adjudicating cases. Somehow, the federal courts are able to function without all of these intermediaries and supervisory judges, and I think that we would function better without them as well.

To give you a few examples – I could give you thousands of examples, and if you want to stick around I’ll be happy to talk about it. Art was talking about the juvenile surge. I think it was approximately 50,000 juveniles came across the border. To appear to be tough, I guess, they were prioritized. The official line is, you know, we’re going to give them their asylum hearings immediately. I’m not sure what kind of asylum case that a 6-year-old might have, but we would hear the case and do it quickly, and then discourage people from coming to our country. But, in fact, what’s actually happened is the juvenile docket is basically a meet-and-greet. The judges are not – first of all, I’m not allowed to be a juvenile judge. The juvenile judges are carefully selected for people who get along well with children, I guess. (Laughter.) Really, what they do is they just – they see the kids periodically, and in the meantime the children are filing their asylum cases with the asylum office, where they’re applying for special immigrant juvenile status, various things. But judge time is being wasted on that.

Another example is the current surge. I have a really busy docket. Art was talking about cases being scheduled in 2021. The backlog for me is infinite. I cannot give you a merits hearing on my docket unless I take another case off. My docket is full through 2020, and I was instructed by my assistant chief immigration judge not to set any cases past 2020. So they’re just piling up in the ether somewhere.

As busy as I am, they send me to the border, but these border details are politically oriented. First of all, we probably could be doing them by tele-video. But assuming that they want to do them in person, you would think that they would only send the number of judges that are really needed. But, in fact, on my last detail of 10 business days, two-week detail, two days I had no cases scheduled at all. And back home having two cases off the docket, which almost never happens – or two days off the docket, which almost never happens, would be useful because I could work on motions and decisions. But when I’m in Jena, Louisiana, I can’t really work on my regular stuff. So I’m just reading email and hanging out there.

The reason for that is because there’s been no attempt to comply with the attorney general’s request that we rush judges to the border with, at the same time, making sure that there’s enough work or not to send more judges than is really necessary to do the work. I assume the people that run our agency just want to make the attorney general happy, and they send as many judges to the border as possible.

One particularly bizarre example was in San Antonio. The San Antonio judges were doing a detail to one of the outlying detention facilities by tele-video. But they wanted to rush judges to the border, so they assigned a bunch of judges in the country that had their own dockets to take over that docket by tele-video on one week’s notice. Well, one week’s notice meant that the judges in San Antonio couldn’t reset cases. You’ve got to give at least 10 days’ notice of a hearing by regulation. So we had judges taken away from their regular dockets to do that; judges who normally would have done that who already were on the border – San Antonio is pretty closer to the border – didn’t have anything to do.

Now, those may be extreme cases, but this happens all too much, and it’s because of political interference. And like I say, it’s got nothing to do with party. We’ve had the same problem with Democratic and Republican administrations. It comes from political decisions animating the process and people who don’t really understand what they’re managing, just attempting to placate the guy on the top. So that’s basically what’s been happening.

Am I over my 10 minutes here?

MR. KRIKORIAN: Yeah. Well, I mean, you’re right at it. If you’ve got a couple more minutes, that’s fine.

JUDGE BURMAN: Well, let me just go over some possible suggestions.

Let judges be judges – immigration judges that control their own courts and their own dockets. We should be able to supervise our own law clerks and our own legal assistants, which currently we don’t. And the contempt authority we were given in 1996 should eventually – should finally get some regulations to implement it.

EOIR’s overhead needs to be reduced. There’s too many positions at headquarters and too few positions in the field. When EOIR was originally set up, the idea was that each judge would need three legal assistants to docket the cases and find the files and make copies and all that. At one point last year we were down to less than one legal assistant per judge in Arlington, where I am, and in Los Angeles it was even worse. When you do that, the judge is looking for files, the judge is making copies, the judge doesn’t have the evidence that’s been filed. There’s nothing more annoying than to start a hearing and to find that evidence was filed that I don’t have. The case has to be continued. I have to have a chance to find the evidence and review it.

It would be nice if our management were more experienced than they are, or at least have some more courtroom experience.

We need an electronic filing system like all the other courts have. Fortunately, that’s one thing that Acting Director McHenry has said is his top priority, and I think that he will take care of that.

The BIA is a problem. The BIA doesn’t have the kind of expertise that the federal courts would defer to. Consequently, I think a lot of the bad appellate law that Art was referring to is caused by the fact that the BIA really doesn’t have any respect in the federal court system. They’re not immigration experts. They want their Chevron deference, but they are not getting it. They’re not getting it from the Court of Appeals. They’re not getting it from the Supreme Court, either.

The BIA also remands way too many cases. When we make a decision, we send it up to the BIA. We don’t really care what they do. They could affirm us. They could reverse us. We don’t want to see it back. We’ve got too much stuff to see them back. And this happens all the time. If they remand the case, they don’t ever have to take credit for the decision that they make. I assume that’s why they’re doing it, to try to make us do it.

We need a proper judicial disciplinary system. Starting in 2006, which is where the backlog problem began, the attorney general first of all subjected us to annual appraisals, evaluations, which previously OPM had waived due to our judicial function. So that’s a waste of time. Judges were punished for the – for things that are not punishment. Judges were punished because a Court of Appeals would say that you made a mistake or he was rude or – it’s just crazy. Judges were punished or could be punished for granting – for not granting continuances. No judge was ever punished for granting a continuance. So it’s no surprise that, as I pointed out, continuances have been granted at a much greater level – in fact, too great a level. But when in doubt, we continue now because if we don’t do that we’re subject to punishment, and nobody really wants that.

And finally, the ultimate solution, I think, is an Article I court like the bankruptcy court – a specialized court, could be in the judicial branch, could be in the executive branch – to give us independence, to ensure that we have judges and appellate judges who are appointed in a transparent way, being vetted by the private bar, the government, and anybody else.

And I’m way over my 10 minutes, so I’ll be – I’ll be sure to babble on later if you want me to. Thank you.”

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

Judge Arthur’s kind opening words about the late Juan Osuna were a nice touch. One of Juan’s great strengths as person, executive, judge, and teacher was his ability to maintain good friendships with and respect from folks with an assortment of ideas on immigration.

Judge Burman’s “no BS” insights are as timely as they are unusual. That’s because U.S. Immigration Judges are not encouraged to speak publicly and forthrightly about their jobs.

The Supervisory Judge and the EOIR Ethics Office must approve all public appearances by U.S. Immigration Judges including teaching and pro bono training. A precondition for receiving permission is that the judge adhere to the DOJ/EOIR “party line” and not say anything critical about the agency or colleagues. In other words, telling the truth is discouraged.

As a result, most Immigration Judges don’t bother to interact with the public except in their courtrooms. A small percentage of sitting judges do almost all of the outreach and public education for the Immigration Courts.

While EOIR Senior Executives and Supervisors often appear at “high profile events” or will agree to limited press interviews, they all too often have little if any grasp of what happens at the “retail level” in the Immigration Courts. Even when they do, they often appear to feel that their job security depends on making things sound much better than they really are or that progress is being made where actually regression is taking place.

In reality, the system functioned better in the 1990s than it does two decades later. Due Process protection for individuals — the sole mission of EOIR — has actually regressed in recent years as quality and fairness have taken a back seat to churning numbers, carrying out political priorities, not rocking the boat, and going along to get along. Such things are typical within government agency bureaucracies, but atypical among well-functioning court systems.

I once appeared on a panel with a U.S. District Judge. After hearing my elaborate, global disclaimer, he chuckled. Then he pointedly told the audience words to the effect of  “I’m here as a judge because you asked me, and I wanted to come. I didn’t tell the Chief Judge I was coming, and I wouldn’t dream of asking his or anyone else’s permission to speak my mind.”

I hope that everyone picked up Judge Burman’s point that “Aimless Docket Reshuffling” or “ADR” is still in full swing at EOIR. Cases are shuffled, moved around, taken off docket, and then restored to the docket to conceal that the backlog in Arlington goes out beyond the artificial “2020 limit” that Judge Burman has been instructed to use for “public consumption.” But there are other cases out there aimlessly “floating around the ether.” And, based on my experience, I’m relatively certain that many courts are worse than Arlington.

Judge Burman also makes another great  “inside baseball” point — too many unnecessary remands from the BIA. Up until the very ill-advised “Ashcroft Reforms” the BIA exercised de novo factfinding authority. This meant that when the BIA disagreed with the Immigration Judge’s disposition, on any ground, they could simply decide the case and enter a final administrative order for the winning party.

After Ashcroft stripped the BIA of factfinding  authority, nearly every case where the BIA disagrees with the lower court decision must be returned to the Immigration Court for further proceedings. Given the overloaded docket and lack of e-filing capability within EOIR, such routine remands can often take many months or even years. Sometimes, the file gets lost in the shuffle until one or both parties inquire about it.

The Immigration Courts are also burdened with useless administrative remands to check fingerprints in open court following BIA review. This function should be performed solely by DHS, whose Counsel can notify the Immigration Court in rare cases where the prints disclose previously unknown facts. In 13 years as an Immigration Judge, I had about 3 or 4 cases (out of thousands) where such “post hoc” prints checks revealed previously unknown material information. I would would have reopened any such case. So, the existing procedures are unnecessary and incredibly wasteful of limited judicial docket time.

I agree completely with Judge Burman that the deterioration of the Immigration Courts spans Administrations of both parties. Not surprisingly, I also agree with him that the only real solution to the Courts’ woes is an independent Article I Court. Sooner, rather than later!

PWS

09-03-17

 

 

 

 

 

 

SARAH POSNER IN WASHPOST: Trump, Base, White Nationalist Agenda Virtually Grarantee Kelly’s Failure, Demise!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2017/08/07/john-kelly-is-doomed-to-fail-the-reason-why-isnt-what-you-think/?hpid=hp_no-name_opinion-card-d:homepage/story&utm_term=.ed3335ab0013

Posner writes:

“But that’s not the real reason he cannot succeed. Rather, it’s because Trump’s base, and in particular, his media and social media base, thrives on West Wing dysfunction that is rooted in what is portrayed as an existential battle between Trump’s “nationalist” staff and advisers, and the dreaded “globalists” in his midst. Because Trump has displayed no real interest in taming that beast, and in fact seems to relish feeding it, any effort by Kelly to slap Trump’s hand away from Twitter will have little impact on the persistent unrest roiling the White House.”

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Read the complete op-ed at the link. I have been predicting for some time now that Kelly’s association with the congenital liar and bully Trump and his gonzo White Nationalist agenda will lead to a badly tarnished reputation.

We’ll see. But seems to me that Posner has it pegged about right (or, perhaps, “alt right”).

PWS

08-08-17

Continue reading SARAH POSNER IN WASHPOST: Trump, Base, White Nationalist Agenda Virtually Grarantee Kelly’s Failure, Demise!

Private Immigration Legislation & Change In DHS Policy Explained

http://www.ilw.com/immigrationdaily/news/20170712%20Policy%20changes.pdf

The following article prepared by CRS recently appeared in ilw.com. Nolan Rappaport was kind enough to forward it to me.

“Therefore, while private immigration bills have previously delayed an alien’s removal from the United States— sometimes indefinitely—ICE’s new policy markedly changes that established procedure. Aliens who are the beneficiaries of private immigration bills can no longer count on automatic stays of removal as their respective bills wind their way through the legislative process. Moreover, even if ICE is willing to grant a stay of removal, such a stay will be more limited in duration than in the past. Given these developments, Congress may be urged to modify its own existing rules governing the private immigration bill process to ensure that aliens seeking to benefit from such legislation receive prompt consideration by the agency of their requests to remain in the United States during that process. In addition, ICE’s change in policy may encourage some Members of Congress to work to expedite the disposition of private immigration bills in the future—potentially increasing the likelihood that some of these bills will be acted upon before the agency takes action. Congress also may consider legislative initiatives that would offer some removable aliens alternative and more practical ways to legalize their status and remain in this country.”

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Read the rest of the (short) article at the link.

PWS 07-13-17

U.S. District Judge Stops DHS From Deporting Iraqis Arrested In Recent Bust!

Continue reading U.S. District Judge Stops DHS From Deporting Iraqis Arrested In Recent Bust!

NO CHAOS: Matt Zapotosky Summarizes Supreme’s Travel Ban Decision — Former DOJ Immigration Litigator Leon Fresco Says Case Likely To Resolve Itself Before Argument In Fall!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/what-the-supreme-courts-travel-ban-ruling-means/2017/06/26/5e86e1cc-5a7e-11e7-9fc6-c7ef4bc58d13_story.html?utm_term=.13c35f5c2033

Zapotosky writes in the WashPost:

“The Supreme Court’s decision to allow portions of President Trump’s travel ban to take effect is a win for the administration, but the impact will be far less severe than President Trump’s initial version of the measure.

That is because the high court effectively allowed Trump to ban from coming to the United States only citizens of six majority-Muslim countries “who lack any bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.” It also nudged the president to complete his promised review of vetting procedures, which might mean the issue is resolved by the time the court is set to fully consider the ban in its October term.

For now, if you are not a U.S. citizen and have a relative here, have been hired by a U.S. employer or admitted to an American university, you can still probably get a visa. But if you’re applying cold as a visitor or through the diversity visa program, you probably can’t.

. . . .

The Supreme Court wrote that the government now should be able to do its work. “We fully expect that the relief we grant today will permit the Executive to conclude its internal work and provide adequate notice to foreign governments within the 90-day life of [the order],” the justices wrote.

The court said it would take up the travel ban fully in its October term; their ruling Monday only partially lifted lower courts’ stays on the measure. By that time, the 90-day period will have run, and Fresco said the administration will be pressed to come up with good reasons for imposing a ban.

“If there is not an answer to the question on the first day of oral arguments about why this ban is still in place, that is going to make the court much more skeptical about the government’s reasons for having this ban,” Fresco said.”

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

Read the complete analysis at the link.

According to this analysis, the six Justices in the majority apparently have skillfully maneuvered the Trump Administration into a “put up or shut up” situation. They have alleviated the greatest hardships caused by the ban by allowing individuals with bona fide connections to the U.S. to continue to come. At the same time, they have pressured the Trump Administration into completing its “study” before Fall and lifting the “temporary ban,” thus largely mooting the case. As Fresco points out, if the Administration attempts to continue the ban after its scheduled expiration, they will likely have to come up with a much more convincing explanation that they have provided to date. Otherwise, the whole thing is going to look like a “pretext” for a blanket “Muslim ban,” which is what the plaintiffs have been arguing all along. Actually, sounds to me like the kind of practical solution that Chief Justice Roberts sometimes devises to avoid ugly showdowns between the three branches of Government. Interesting.

PWS

06-26-17

 

Supremes Drop Back, Boot It Deep, J. Gorsuch Calls For Fair Catch, Play To Resume In Fall Quarter! — I.O.W. They “Punted” The 3 Remaining Immigration Cases On The Fall 2016 Docket!

Actually, only two of them”went to Gorsuch,” that is, were set for re-arguement next Fall, presumably because the Justices were tied 4-4. The other case was kicked back to the 9th Circuit to reconsider in light of Ziglar v. Abbasi, the Court’s recent decision on “Bivens actions.” Here’s a link to my prior Ziglar blog:

http://immigrationcourtside.com/2017/06/19/relax-cabinet-members-supremes-say-no-monetary-damages-for-unconstitutional-acts-ziglar-v-abbasi/

You can read all about it over on ImmigrationProf Blog in a short article by Dean Kevin Johnson at this link:

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/immigration/2017/06/supreme-court-ends-2016-term-with-three-immigration-decisions.html

 

PWS

06-26-17

What Are The Five Most Cruel Provisions Of The Senate GOP’s “Trumpcare” Bill? — The GOP Tried To Bury Them, But The LA Times Exposed Them For You!

http://www.latimes.com/business/hiltzik/la-fi-hiltzik-senate-hidden-20170623-story.html

Michael Hiltzik reports for the LA Times:

“The Affordable Care Act repeal bill unveiled Thursday by Senate Republicanshas aptly drawn universal scorn from healthcare experts, hospital and physician groups and advocates for patients and the needy. That’s because the bill is a poorly-disguised massive tax cut for the wealthy, paid for by cutting Medicaid — which serves the middle class and the poor — to the bone.

Yet some of the measure’s most egregious, harshest provisions are well-disguised. They’re hidden deep in its underbrush or in the maze of legislative verbiage. We’ve ferreted out some of them and present them here in all their malevolent glory. In this effort we’ve built on ace detective work by Adrianna McIntyre, Nicholas Bagley of the University of Michigan, David Anderson of Duke University and balloon-juice.com, Andy Slavitt, the former head of Medicare and Medicaid in the Obama administration, and

Some of these provisions match those in the House Republicans’ repeal bill passed May 4, and some are even harsher — more “mean,” to use a term President Trump himself applied to the House bill. That bill, according to the Congressional Budget Office, would cost some 23 million Americans their health coverage by 2026. The Senate bill wouldn’t do much better, and might do worse.”

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Wow, how can members of the “national community” support doing in not only themselves (in many cases) but millions of their fellow citizens? I admit to “not getting it.”

I think it’s likely to pass. Why? Because if you forget the Dem & media “spin,” N/W/S “historic unpopularity,” Trump is still the most popular “active” politician in the US today. The Dems have failed to make any inroads whatsoever into the “Trump base.” And, the GOP is scared that failure to line up behind the Trump agenda will lead to their being punished by “the base.” So, in simple terms, the 60% of Americans who question or oppose the Trump Agenda are being “led around by the nose” by the 35-40% who love him (why is a total mystery). Trump is benefitting from the “leadership void” in American politics, particularly on the Democrats’ side.

PWS

06-23-17

 

BREAKING: Trump’s Travel Ban 2.0 Loses Again In 9th Circuit!

Here’s the text of the unanimous “per curium” decision by a panel consisting of Circuit Judges Michael Daly Hawkins, Ronald M. Gould, & Richard A. Paez:

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/06/12/us/politics/document-Read-the-Ninth-Court-of-Appeals-Ruling-on-Trump.html

And, here’s the related story in the NY Times, reported by Ronald Liptak:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/12/us/politics/trump-travel-ban-court-of-appeals.html

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This order was more or less expected by most legal observers. The 9th Circuit did lift the part of the District Court’s injunction preventing the President from directing an internal review of vetting procedures. Also interestingly, the 9th Circuit found that the President’s attempt to “cut” FY 2017 refugee admissions from 110,000 to 50,000 exceeded his authority, to a large extent because he failed to undertake the “advance consultation with Congress” required by the INA.

The Supreme Court presently is deciding whether or not to review a similar case from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals upholding the injunction against Travel Ban 2.0.

The Ninth Circuit case is State of Hawaii v. Trump.

PWS

06-12-17

INTRODUCING NEW COMMENTATOR — Hon. Jeffrey Chase — “Matter Of L-E-A: The BIA’s Missed Chance” — Original For immigrationcourtside!

Hi immigrationcourtside.com readers:

I am delighted to provide an original article by my good friend and colleague the Honorable Jeffrey Chase, who recently joined us in the ranks of the “retired but still engaged.” Judge Chase is a former U.S. Immigration Judge in New York, a former Senior Attorney Adviser at the BIA, and a former sole immigration practitioner in New York. He’s also a gentleman, a scholar, and an immigration historian. In a subsequent post I’ll be providing some links to parts of the “Chase Immigration History Library” which has previously been published by our friend and former colleague Judge Lawrence O. Burman in the FBA’s The Green Card.

Welcome to retirement and to immigrationcourtside, Judge Chase! We live in interesting times. Enjoy the ride.

Now, for your reading pleasure, here’s the complete original version of Judge Chase’s article about a recent BIA precedent.  Enjoy it!

Matter of L-E-A-

Matter of L-E-A-: The BIA’s Missed Opportunity

 

Jeffrey S. Chase

 

On May 24, the Board of Immigration Appeals published its long-anticipated precedent addressing family as a particular social group, Matter of L-E-A-, 27 I&N Dec. 40 (BIA 2017). Thirteen amicus briefs were received by the Board addressing the issue of whether a “double nexus” is required in claims based on the particular social group of family.   The good news is that the Board did not create a “double nexus” requirement for family-based PSG claims. In other words, the decision does not require an asylum applicant to prove both their inclusion in the social group of X’s family, and then also establish that X’s own fear is on account of a separate protected ground.

 

Nevertheless, the resulting decision was highly unsatisfying. The Board was provided a golden opportunity to adopt the interpretation of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, which has held persecution to be “on account of” one’s membership in the particular social group consisting of family where the applicant would not have been targeted if not for their familial relationship. Such approach clearly satisfies the statutory requirement that the membership in the particular social group be “at least one central reason for persecuting the applicant.” If the asylum seeker would not have been targeted if not for the familial relationship, how could such relationship not be at least one central reason for the harm? L-E-A- rejected this interpretation, and instead adopted a much more restrictive “means to an end” test. Under L-E-A-, even though the respondent would not be targeted but for her familial relationship to her murdered husband, she would not be found to have established a nexus because the gangsters she fears do not wish to harm her because of an independent animus against her husband’s family. Rather, targeting her would be a means to the end of self-preservation by attempting to silencing her to avoid their own criminal prosecution.

 

Under the fact patterns we commonly see from Mexico and the “northern triangle” countries of Central America, claims based on family as a particular social group will continue to be denied, as such fears will inevitably be deemed to be a means to some criminal motive of gangs and cartels (i.e. to obtain money through extortion or as ransom; to increase their ranks; to avoid arrest) as opposed to a desire to punish the family itself. Applying the same logic to political opinion, a popular political opponent of a brutal dictator could be denied asylum, as the dictator’s real motive in seeking to imprison or kill the political opponent could be viewed as self-preservation (i.e. avoiding losing power in a free and fair election, and then being imprisoned and tried for human rights violations), as opposed to a true desire to overcome the applicant’s actual opinions on philosophical grounds.

 

Sadly, the approach of L-E-A- is consistent with that employed in a line of claims based on political opinion 20 years ago (see Matter of C-A-L-, 21 I&N Dec. 754 (BIA 1997); Matter of T-M-B-, 21 I&N Dec. 775 (BIA 1997); Matter of V-T-S-, 21 I&N Dec. 792 (BIA 1997)) in which attempted guerrilla recruitment, kidnaping, and criminal extortion carried out by armed political groups were not recognized as persecution where the perpetrator’s motive was to further a goal of his/her political organization as opposed to punishing the asylum applicant because of his/her own political opinion.

 

Nearly a decade earlier, an extreme application of this “logic” resulted in the most absurd Board result of to date. In Matter of Maldonado-Cruz, 19 I&N Dec. 509 (BIA 1988), the Board actually held that a deserter from an illegal guerrilla army’s fear of being executed by a death squad lacked a nexus to a protected ground, because the employment of death squads by said illegal guerrilla army was “part of a military policy of that group, inherent in the nature of the organization, and a tool of discipline,” (to quote from the headnotes). After three decades of following the course of such clearly result-oriented decision making, the Board missed an opportunity to right its course.

 

The author formerly served as an immigration judge, and as a staff attorney at the Board of Immigration Appeals.

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I agree with Judge Chase that this is a missed opportunity that will come back to haunt all of us. A correct decision would have allowed many of the Central American asylum seekers clogging the court system at all levels to be granted needed protection, either at the USCIS or in court. Here is a link to my prior blog and “alternative analysis” of L-E-A-.

http://wp.me/p8eeJm-Sh

Instead, I predict that some of these cases could still be “kicking around the system” somewhere a decade from now, unless some drastic changes are made. And the type of positive, due process, fairness, and protection oriented changes needed are not going to happen under the Trump Administration. So, the battles will be fought out in the higher courts.

Although the BIA did it’s best to obfuscate, it’s prior precedent in Matter of J-B-N- & S-M-, 24 I&N Dec. 208 (BIA 2007) basically established a “common sense/but for” test for one central reason. In a mixed motive case, if the persecution would have occurred notwithstanding the protected ground, then it is tangental, incidental, and not “at least one central reason.” On the other hand, if “but for” the protected ground the perseuction would not have occurred, that ground is at least “one central reason” of the persecution.

In L-E-A- the respondent would not have suffered threats and attempts to kidnap him  “but for” his membership in the family. Hence family clearly is “at least one central reason” for the persecution. That’s basically the test the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals would apply.

It’s a fairly straightforward case. The respondent in L-E-A- satisfies the refugee definition. In fact, the serious threats delivered by a gang which clearly has the ability and the means to carry them out amounts to past persecution. Hence, the respondent is entitled to the rebuttable presumption of future persecution.

Instead of properly applying its own precedents and reaching the correct result, the BIA launches into paragraphs of legal gobbledygook designed to mask what’s really going on here: manipulating the law and the facts to deny protection to Central American refugees whenever possible.

I know, this respondent is from Mexico; but, the BIA’s intended target obviously is Northern Triangle gang-based asylum claims. This precedent gives the Immigration Judges and Asylum Officers lots of “hooks” to deny claims by women and children fleeing family-targeted gang violence.

And, it insures that nobody without a really good lawyer and the ability to litigate up to Courts of Appeals if necessary even has a chance. The BIA is certainly well aware that the Trump Administration is pulling out all the stops to effectively deny counsel to arriving asylum seekers by a combination of using expedited removal, increasing negative credible fear determinations, and detaining everyone in out of the way locations where conditions are discouraging and pro bono counsel are not readily available.

Yeah, I don’t suppose any of this is going to bother Trump Administration officials any more than it did the BIA’s DOJ bosses during the Bush and Obama Administrations. Some negative case precedents on repetitive Central American claims proved mighty handy in border enforcement efforts and “don’t come, you’ve got no chance” publicity campaigns. The only problem is the it twists protection law out of shape.

Finally, let the record reflect that I lodged a dissent in Matter of C-A-L-, 21 I&N Dec. 754 (BIA 1997); Matter of T-M-B-, 21 I&N Dec. 775 (BIA 1997); and Matter of V-T-S-, 21 I&N Dec. 792 (BIA 1997), wrongly decided BIA precedent cases cited by Judge Chase. Indeed, Matter of T-M-B- eventually was reversed by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, Borja v. INS, 175 F.3d 332  (9th cir. 1999), something which many BIA Appellate Judges only grudgingly acknowledged in later cases.

So, it will be left for the Courts of Appeals to straighten out nexus in the family context. Or not.

Again, welcome Judge Chase.  Look forward to hearing more from you.

PWS

06-03-17

 

TRUMP IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT POLICIES: BOON FOR DOMESTIC ABUSERS, BUST FOR VICTIMS! — Many Victims Now Fear Reporting Abuse Or Seeking Help!

http://www.self.com/story/immigration-policies-domestic-violence-survivors

Haley Goldberg reports in Self:

Over the past several months, counselors at Laura’s House domestic violence agency in Orange County, California, have seen fewer and fewer undocumented immigrants coming in to report abuse. The agency’s legal director, Adam Dodge, does not see this as a good sign. He says undocumented domestic violence victims are facing a heightened fear that if they speak out against an abuser or take legal action, they could get deported—so they’re keeping quiet.

The trend started in February, when Dodge says the agency saw a dramatic change among the roughly 80 people who come in over the course of a typical month. “We went from 40 to 45 percent of our clients being undocumented—helping them get restraining orders for themselves and their children—to nearly zero,” he tells SELF.

Dodge says Laura’s House—which provides vital services like emergency shelter, counseling, and legal aid to survivors of domestic violence—first noticed a decrease in undocumented immigrant clients after Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents detained an undocumented domestic violence survivor on Feb. 9, in El Paso, Texas, when she was in court filing a protective order against her alleged abuser. “That just spread like wildfire through the undocumented community across the United States and created this chilling effect where no one’s going in to seek restraining orders,” Dodge says. “People are just so scared of having their name in any system. We can’t tell them with any certainty that they won’t get picked up by ICE if they come to court.”

In the first few months following the El Paso incident, he says only one openly undocumented survivor came to their agency. Her situation was grave. “She thought she was going to die if she stayed in the relationship,” Dodge says. “She said she was willing to risk deportation to get a restraining order.” Now, the agency has seen a slight increase to one or two undocumented clients each week—but it’s still well below the norm. “The situation is still very dire,” he says.

El Paso was an early and powerful example of how ramped up ICE activity, spurred by President Trump’s aggressive and expansive new rules on immigration, can have a devastating impact on immigrants living in the U.S. without documentation. In February, the President issued new immigration policies, calling for the deportation of illegal immigrants even if they haven’t been formally convicted of a crime and an increase in ICE resources. In March, a video surfaced showing ICE officers poised to make an arrest at a Denver courthouse, a place where victims of domestic violence also appear when their cases go to court. NPR reported that after the video came out, four women dropped domestic violence cases in Denver, fearing they’d be spotted at the courthouse and deported.

When incidents like these happen, experts say the news—and fear of deportation—spreads, affecting how many survivors come forward. At the end of March, reports of sexual assault in Los Angeles had dropped 25 percent among the Latino population and reports of domestic violence had fallen 10 percent among the community compared to the previous year. Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said similar decreases in reports weren’t seen in any other ethnic groups, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Ruth Glenn, executive director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, tells SELF the perception of how survivors are treated matters—and it can affect how undocumented immigrants proceed if they find themselves in an abusive situation. “If you have a case and you’re thinking about going forward, and then this environment that we’re in right now does not seem supportive, then you’re not going to follow through,” Glenn says. “It’s very disturbing.”

Critics of the administration’s treatment of undocumented survivors sounded an alarm in May, when it was discovered that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s new Victim Information and Notification Exchange—an online database created to track when criminals are released from or into ICE custody—publicly listed the names and detainment location of victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking who’ve applied to stay legally in the U.S. on special protective visas. DHS is prohibited from releasing identifying information about immigrants seeking these protections because of the dangers it poses to them. The Tahirih Justice Center, a nonprofit that serves immigrant women and girls, first contacted the DHS about the issue on May 12. As of the May 25, the organization said the names of abuse victims were still searchable in the database. In response to the uproar, an ICE spokesman told BuzzFeed News they were working to “correct” and “prevent” any non-releasable information disclosed on the site.”

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Read the complete story at the link.

While the Trump Administration has turned the VOICE Program for victims of crime committed by undocumented aliens into a big showpiece, they have basically declared an “open season” on undocumented victims of crime. Years of hard work by local police and social agencies to get the undocumented community its to report crimes, help in solving them, and seek appropriate victim assistance are going down the drain. And, I suspect that once lost, that trust will be difficult, if not impossible to regain.

At the same time, by discouraging individuals from reporting crime, I suppose the Administration can achieve fake “reduction in crime” stats resulting from its enforcement efforts.

PWS

06-03-17

Critics Blast Tex. Gov. Abbott’s Statements On Sanctuary Cities!

https://www.texasobserver.org/two-blatant-lies-governor-greg-abbotts-sanctuary-cities-op-ed/

Gus Bova writes in the Texas Observer:

“Governor Greg Abbott published an editorial in the San Antonio Express-News Friday defending Senate Bill 4 — the anti-“sanctuary cities” law that critics say will encourage racial profiling, undermine local policing efforts and tear immigrant families apart.

In the piece, titled “SB 4 will make Texas communities safer,” Abbott spreads at least two major lies: One, that only criminals need to worry about being asked for their papers under SB 4, and two, that the bill only requires jails to honor immigration detainers when a person is charged with a violent crime.

Abbott, who made “sanctuary cities” a legislative emergency this session, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The governor writes: “Regardless of your immigration status, if you have not committed a crime and you are not subject to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement [ICE] detainer, you have nothing to fear about the change in Texas law.”

That isn’t true. Thanks to a hotly contested amendment, the bill specifically permits police to request proof of citizenship from someone who’s merely been detained, not arrested. Put simply, being stopped by a cop does not mean you’ve committed a crime. Abbott seems to have forgotten about “innocent until proven guilty.”

Second, Abbott writes: “SB 4 requires law enforcement agencies to honor ICE detainers issued for violent criminals.”

In fact, the law requires jails to honor all ICE detainers. Detainers are voluntary requests from ICE to local jails to keep someone locked up beyond when they would normally be released, so that federal agents may arrive and potentially deport them.”

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Thanks to Dan Kowalski over at LexisNexis for forwarding this item!

PWS

05-23-17

 

BREAKING: EOIR Director Juan Oscan & Deputy Director Ana Kocur Announce Departures!

According to sources, EOIR Director Juan Osuna and Deputy Director Ana Kocur announced by e-mail that they will be leaving the agency at the end of the month. Reportedly, Kocur will be going to a position at the Railroad Retirement Board while Osuna’s plans are unknown at this time. Osuna also currently serves as an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown Law.

Osuna has been the EOIR Director since 2011, a very challenging period for EOIR. Prior to that he served as a Deputy Assistant Attorney General in he Civil Division, Chairman of the BIA, Vice Chair of the BIA, and Appellate Immigration Judge/Board Member at that BIA.  He has also been an Editor at Westlaw/Interpreter Releases, and has served as an Adjunct Professor at various law schools. He is a noted author and speaker on immigration law.

Kocur has been Deputy Director since 2012. Prior to that, she was Chief of Staff at EOIR. She was also Acting Chief Administrative Hearing Officer at EOIR and held a number of supervisory positions at the BIA.

PWS

05-11-17