U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith Halts Iraqi Removals

http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-iraqi-deportations-20170724-story.html

Melissa Etehad reports in the LA Times:

“A federal judge in Detroit has temporarily halted the deportations of more than 1,400 Iraqi immigrants, ruling that they deserve to have their cases play out in court because of the risk that they could be targeted for persecution in Iraq.

In a ruling Monday, U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith said the immigrants faced a “compelling confluence of extraordinary circumstances” and that the government’s attempt to rush their deportations was a violation of their rights.

Many of the Iraqis arrived in the U.S. as children as far back as the 1980s and have few ties to their native country. The majority are members of religious or ethnic minorities such as Chaldean Christians or Kurds, who have been subjected to torture and other forms of repression in Iraq.

They face deportation because they had overstayed visas or committed crimes, typically misdemeanors such as driving under the influence of alcohol.

They had been allowed to stay in the U.S. because for decades Iraq had refused to take them back. But in March, the Trump administration reached a deal with the Iraqi government to accept them and in June began rounding them up in immigration raids.

As of July 1, 234 had been arrested and detained around the country, including large numbers in Detroit, home to thousands of Chaldean Christians.

Returning the immigrants to Iraq would in some cases be akin to issuing a death sentence, according to civil rights and immigrant rights groups that filed a lawsuit in Detroit federal court in late June to block deportations of those immigrants who had been living in Detroit.

Many had been transferred multiple times to various detention facilities, making it harder for them to get legal representation and prepare their cases, advocates said.”

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Another defeat for the Trump Administration’s gonzo enforcement agenda.

PWS

07-25-17

BETH FERTIG AT NPR: “ADR” Moves Into High Gear, Devastating U.S. Immigration Courts, As Half Of NY Immigration Court “Goes Dark” — U.S. Immigration Judges Become Adjuncts Of DHS Border Enforcement Program — Dockets At Interior Courts “Orbited Into Never-Never Land!”

ADR = “Aimless Docket Reshuffling”

http://www.wnyc.org/story/even-more-immigration-judges-are-reassigned-trumps-crackdown-border/

Beth reports for WNYC/NPR:

“In its crackdown on illegal immigration, the Trump administration is moving an increasing number of immigration judges closer to the border with Mexico. The practice is so widespread that half of New York City’s 30 immigration judges have been temporarily reassigned for two-to-four weeks at a time between early April and July.

The judges have been sent to hear deportation cases in Louisiana, California, New Mexico and Texas, along with Elizabeth, New Jersey, where there’s a detention center. In June, WNYC reported that at least eight of New York City’s immigration judges have been temporarily moved to Texas and Louisiana since March. New information obtained from a Freedom of Information Act request revealed the number to be much higher.

All this reshuffling causes cases to get delayed for months. And New York City’s immigration court already has a backlog of more than 80,000 cases. People wait an average of more than two years go to court to fight against deportation. Some might welcome a prolonged wait. But immigration lawyer Edain Butterfield said her clients get anxious because they’re ready to make their case, when they suddenly learn their judge has had to postpone.

“They don’t know if their judge is going to stay on their case,” she said. “They sometimes have to get new documents, ask for another day off from work, ask their family to take another day off from work.”

David Wilkins, an attorney with Central American Legal Assistance in Brooklyn, said he’s representing a woman seeking asylum whose hearing was recently postponed almost a year — until the summer of 2018. He said she left her children in her home country back in 2012 because of domestic abuse. “It’s extremely difficult for her,” he said. “She’s been separated from her family for so long to sort of live with the constant uncertainty of not knowing what’s going to happen with her immigration proceeding.”

Judges from New York City aren’t the only ones being moved. According to the latest data obtained by WNYC, 128 of the nation’s approximately 325 immigration judges have been shuffled to other locations between early April and the middle of July. Many of those judges come from Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco. These assignments, known as details, last for two or four weeks. Some judges have been shifted around multiple times.

The data does not include all judges assigned to hear cases in other locations by video teleconference. A couple of judges in New York City were seeing cases by video at a Texas detention center in May and June.

The reassignments are expected to continue until early 2018, but the Executive Office for Immigration Review, which runs the immigration courts, would not reveal the schedule beyond July.

In April, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that all adults crossing the Mexican border would be sent to detention. To support the mission, he said, the Department of Justice had “already surged 25 immigration judges to detention centers along the border.”

Dana Leigh Marks, president of the National Association of Immigration Judges, said her union remains very concerned about the situation.

“The temporary assignment of judges to border courts creates increasing backlogs in the dockets they leave behind in their home courts and may not be conducive to the overall reduction of our burgeoning caseload.”

Nationally, the backlog has surged to more than 600,000 cases and observers believe that number is growing partly because of the Trump administration’s immigration policies.

Moving judges south might sound counterintuitive because illegal border crossings have actually dropped since President Trump took office. But Bryan Johnson, an immigration lawyer on Long Island, has a theory about why more judges are needed down south.

“The people that are deported will be deported in less time,” he explained. “And that is the message they want to send people in the home countries from where the migrants come from.”

There is no guaranteed right to counsel in immigration court, and experts said there are few low-cost immigration attorneys near the border — making it even easier to swiftly deport someone because they are not likely to have representation.

The Executive Office for Immigration Review did not respond to a request for comment. However, the agency has said it is hiring more judges.”

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Get the accompanying audio/video report at the link.

David Wilkins from the Central American Legal Defense Center in Brooklyn, quoted in Beth’s article, is one of my former Georgetown Law Refugee Law & Policy students, a former CALS Asylum Clinic participant, and a former Legal Intern at the Arlington Immigration Court. David was also an Immigrant Justice Crops fellow. He is a “charter member” of the “New Due Process Army.” Congratulations David, we’re all proud of what you are doing!

Attorney Bryan Johnson simply restates the obvious. Under A.G. Jeff “Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions, the U.S. Immigration Courts are once again being used as an arm of DHS Enforcement rather than a protector and dispenser of constitutional due process. Nobody in their right mind seriously thinks that Sessions is “surging” Immigration Judges to the border to grant more bonds, reverse more “credible fear” and “reasonable fear” denials, or grant more asylum, withholding of removal, or relief under the CAT.

No, the “surge” program is clearly all about detention, coercion, denial, deportation and sending a “don’t come, we don’t want you” message to folks living in fear and danger in countries of the Northern Triangle of Central America. In other words, you might as well cooperate with, support, and/or join the gangs and narco-traffickers — the U.S. has absolutely no intention of saving your life! Nice message!

Don’t be too surprised when multinational gangs and narco-traffickers eventually seize political power in Central America (they have already infiltrated or compromised many government functions). And, we will have sent away the very folks who might have helped us stem the tide. At the same time, we are destroying the last vestiges of due process in the U.S. Immigration Courts, leaving hundreds of thousands of cases and lives “up in the air” and our justice system without a fair and effective mechanism for deciding and reviewing immigration cases. At some point, somebody is going to have to fix this mess. But, you can be sure it won’t be the Trump (“We Don’t Take Responsibility For Nothin'”) Administration.

PWS

07-24-17

 

MY MOST RECENT SPEECHES: “MY LIFE & TIMES” — CATHOLIC LEGAL IMMIGRATION NETWORK (“CLINIC”), July 18, 2017; “JOIN THE ‘NEW DUE PROCESS ARMY’ — FIGHT FOR DUE PROCESS IN THE UNITED STATES IMMIGRATION COURTS” — HUMAN RIGHTS FIRST, JULY 19, 2017

On Tuesday July 18, 2107, I gave a luncheon address to interns and staff at the Catholic Legal Immigration Network (“CLINIC”) in Silver Spring, MD. My speech entitled “My Life & Times” is at this link:

MY LIFE

On Wednesday, July 19, 2017, I delivered the a luncheon address that was part of the Frankel Lecture Series at Human Rights First in Washington, D.C. & New York, NY (by televideo). My speech entitled “Join The ‘New Due Process Army’ — Fight For Due Process In The United States Immigration Courts” is at this link:

AMERICA’S REAL IMMIGRATION CRISIS

Both speeches are also reproduced in the left menu of immigrationcourtiside.com.

 

9th Cir. Remands Reasonable Fear Denial In Reinstatement Case — VALENCIA MARTINEZ V. SESSIONS (Published)

http://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2017/07/20/14-70339.pdf

“The government does not offer any argument on the merits of this petition; therefore, it has waived any challenge to the arguments Martinez raised. See Clem v. Lomeli, 566 F.3d 1177, 1182 (9th Cir. 2009) (holding that an appellee who did not address an argument in the answering brief had waived that issue). On remand, the agency is directed: (1) to give proper consideration to Martinez’s testimony about police corruption and acquiescence in MS-13 violence; (2) to accord proper weight to the Department of State Country Report on El Salvador, and in particular, evidence of corruption and inability or unwillingness to prosecute gang violence; and (3) to apply the correct legal standards to Martinez’s Convention Against Torture claim.”

PANEL: Morgan Christen and Paul J. Watford, Circuit Judges, and James Alan Soto, District Judge.

OPINION BY: Judge Soto

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Read the full opinion at the link. It’s short. Three things stand out.

First, the Respondent’s credible testimony clearly established a plausible claim for CAT relief. If he gets representation, he will be able to show that the authorities in El Salvador do often cooperate with gangs and that the government is willfully blind to the many instances of torture of citizens by gangs. The Asylum Officer’s incorrect analysis along with that by the Immigration Judge show a fundamental misunderstanding of CAT law and the reasonable fear process. How does an Immigration Court system faced with such glaring problems eliminate training and the guidance provided through the former Benchbook?

Second, the 9th Circuit highlights the Byzantine nature of the regulations in this area.  How many unrepresented individuals who been treated in this unfair manner are hustled out of the country because they can’t figure out how to get meaningful review?

Third, this decision shows that there might well be ways to penetrate the general unwillingress of Appellate Courts to review the gross miscarriages of justice and denials of due process going on every day in the expedited removal process which is administered by the DHS and inadequately reviewed by the Immigration Judges. Once they take a look, they will be appalled at what they find!

PWS

07-21-17

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION’S WAR ON AMERICA — Proposals To Restrict Student Visas & Reduce Legal Immigration Will Hurt Economy, National Standing

These articles from today’s Washington Post highlight three “gonzo” immigration proposals driven by the Trump Administration’s white nationalist agenda.

First, the proposal to require nonimmigrant students in the U.S. to apply for annual extensions of stay would roll back the “duration of status program” for students — arguably the single best and most mutually beneficial efficiency move in the history of INS/USCIS. It would also create chaos in student visa programs that not only keep many colleges and universities financially viable, but also fuel American innovation and technological advances in the STEM fields.

Second, proposals to make visa issuance a law enforcement function within the DHS would lead to chaos in the visa issuing program and probably will result in retaliation by other friendly nations. Visas are part of the foreign commerce of the U.S., not a domestic law enforcement program.

Finally, proposals to reduce legal immigration and further restrict legal opportunities for unskilled workers would deprive the U.S. of workers at a time when the growing economy needs them the most. This short-sighted policy would likely lead to the same type of economic stagnation that has plagued EU countries and Japan over the past several decades.

Read the articles here:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-latest-nativist-trump-proposals-would-actually-hurt-american-institutions/2017/07/17/c85765fc-67eb-11e7-8eb5-cbccc2e7bfbf_story.html?utm_term=.570c8e41fee6

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/07/17/cutting-legal-immigration-50-percent-might-be-trumps-worst-economic-policy-yet/?utm_term=.ac7808d8383d

Restrictionist policies driven by xenophobia and racism inevitably lead to disaster.

PWS

07-18-17

COLBERT I. KING IN WASHPOST OP-ED: “Americans put Trump in the Oval Office. What does that say about the country?”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/americans-put-trump-in-the-oval-office-what-does-that-say-about-americans/2017/07/14/e6dd8996-67e8-11e7-a1d7-9a32c91c6f40_story.html?hpid=hp_no-name_opinion-card-a%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.490e8d0e535b

King writes:

“The vaudeville show that’s running at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue didn’t book itself into the White House. Nearly 63 million Americans sent that burlesque comedy with headliner Donald Trump to Washington. That 66 million other voters thought otherwise is beside the point. Trump didn’t anoint himself president. Millions put him in office.

What does that tell us about the country?

Was hatred of President Barack Obama, fear of Hillary Clinton, outrage over America’s perceived direction enough to transfer the reins to Trump?

It’s not as if the Trump on display in the Oval Office is not the same Trump we saw on the campaign trail or on reality TV or out and about touting his businesses. He was, by any yardstick, the most unqualified presidential nominee in modern history.

Trump didn’t seize the presidency by deception. For months on end, he was out there for all voters to see, measure and judge. Some of us did offer our preelection assessments, based upon his campaign, well before time came to cast ballots.

In my view, Trump showed himself to be one who could be neither out-demagogued nor out-nastied.

Well in advance of the vote, the country heard Trump’s vile insults and claims: Mexican immigrants are criminals and rapists; Obama wasn’t born in the United States and was an illegitimate president.

 

And his attacks on people. Megyn Kelly: “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.” Jews: “The only kind of people I want counting my money are little short guys that wear yarmulkes every day.” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.): “He’s not a war hero . . . I like people that weren’t captured.” My journalist colleague Serge Kovaleski, who has limited mobility in his arms: “Now the poor guy, you ought to see this guy,” Trump said, before contorting his arms in an apparent impersonation.

Trump the candidate showed himself to be an ignorant, undisciplined, ranting bully who exaggerated and lied without shame. A man who wore a tough-guy masculinity but was actually a coward, who picked on women, demeaned minorities and was thoroughly lacking in human decency.

Trump’s character defects were on full display well before the polls opened.

President Trump’s behavior in the White House has been equally as disgusting and beneath the dignity of that high office.

And now our nation’s capital is being wrenched apart by the Trump-Russia scandal and congressional and federal investigations into the Kremlin’s intrusion in the election.

The country can’t claim not to have seen this coming.”

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Read King’s full op-ed at the link.

One of the most disturbing aspects of the Trump fiasco is that although he might be “historically unpopular,” his support in the polls has remained steady at around 35% – 40%. That means that at least 1/3 of Americans are willing to accept incompetence, dishonesty, bias, racism, xenophobia, intentional cruelty and divisiveness, nepotism, bullying, anti-intellectualism, scientific ignorance, undermining national security, and misogyny as the “new norms” in America. It essentially means that a substantial number of our fellow Americans have put themselves out of reach of rational political dialogue. That’s going to make America “tough to govern” no matter who wins the next round of elections.

PWS

07-15-17

NEW SUIT IN CAL. ALLEGES THAT DHS FLOUTS ASYLUM LAW AT BORDER!

https://www.buzzfeed.com/adolfoflores/us-officials-accused-of-intimidating-asylum-seekers?utm_te

Adolfo Flores writes in BuzzFeed News:

“Border agents are systematically intimidating and turning away asylum seekers at the US–Mexico border, a lawsuit filed on Wednesday alleges.

The federal class-action lawsuit filed in US District Court in California by immigrant rights groups alleges that US Customs and Border Protection agents have told migrants that “Donald Trump just signed new laws saying there is no asylum for anyone.” They have also allegedly coerced asylum seekers into signing forms abandoning their claims by threatening to take their children away.

“CBP’s illegal conduct is occurring as a humanitarian crisis drives vulnerable people experiencing persecution in their home countries to seek refugee protection in the United States,” the complaint states.

CBP said in a statement that it does not comment on pending litigation.

One of the plaintiffs, identified as Abigail Doe in the complaint, is a Mexican native with two children under the age of 10. She attempted to flee Mexico after the cartels threatened to kill her family.

Lenny Ignelzi / AP

She arrived in Tijuana with her two kids and approached border agents at the San Ysidro point of entry. The lawsuit states CBP agents coerced her into recanting her fear of staying in Mexico and signing a form withdrawing her application for admission to the US.

Abigail Doe and other women in the lawsuit said they were told by agents that if they continued to pursue their asylum claims they would be separated from their children.

“As a result of this coercion, the form falsely states that [Abigail Doe] and her children were unable to access the asylum process and were forced to return to Tijuana, where they remain in fear for their lives,” the lawsuit states.

Another woman, identified as Dinora Doe from Honduras, presented herself to US border authorities after her and her 18-year-old daughter were threatened and repeatedly raped by MS-13 gang members. The complaint accuses CBP officials of misinforming Dinora Doe of her rights under US law, and denying her the chance to apply for asylum.

The lawsuit also names Al Otro Lado, a legal aid organization that helps migrants on both sides of the border, as a plaintiff because it has allegedly been forced to divert significant resources to counteract CBP’s actions.”

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The article with a copy of the plaintiffs’ filing is at the link.

While the Trump Administration often disingenuously pontificates about the “rule of law,” in fact, they appear to have little concern for the Constitution, the Immigration and Nationality Act, International Treaties and Conventions, and a host of other legal requirements.

PWS

07-12-17

ANOTHER SETBACK FOR TRUMP ADMINISTRATION AS U.S. JUDGE IN DETROIT BLOCKS IRAQI DEPORTATIONS!

https://patch.com/michigan/detroit/u-s-iraqi-deportation-hold-until-court-review-detroit-judge

AP reports:

“DETROIT, MI — A federal judge Tuesday halted the deportation of 1,400 Iraqi nationals, including many Christians fearing persecution, while courts review the orders to remove them from the U.S. Judge Mark Goldsmith issued a 24-page opinion asserting jurisdiction in the case over the objection of the Justice Department, which argued U.S. district judges do not have jurisdiction.

“This Court concludes that to enforce the Congressional mandate that district courts lack jurisdiction — despite the compelling context of this case — would expose Petitioners to the substantiated risk of death, torture, or other grave persecution before their legal claims can be tested in a court,” Goldsmith wrote in a 24-page opinion.

Goldsmith earlier blocked the deportations while he considered whether he had jurisdiction over the case. (For more local news, click here to sign up for real-time news alerts and newsletters from Detroit Patch, click here to find your local Michigan Patch. Also, like us on Facebook, and if you have an iPhone, click here to get the free Patch iPhone app.)

Many of the Iraqis, including 114 rounded up in the Detroit area last month who are mostly Christians, fear attacks over their religion if returned to Iraq. The government says they face deportation because they committed crimes in the U.S.

Goldsmith earlier extended a ruling suspending the deportation of the 114 while he considered jurisdiction to all Iraqi nationals in the U.S.

The U.S. government said 1,400 Iraqis are under deportation orders nationwide, though most are not in custody. Some have been under orders for years because they committed crimes in the U.S. But legal action over deportations took on new urgency because Iraq has agreed to accept them.

The American Civil Liberties Union said a suspension is necessary so Iraqi nationals can go to immigration court and argue that their lives would be in jeopardy if returned to their native country. Without some intervention, the ACLU contends that people could be deported before their case is called.

Goldsmith scheduled a Wednesday hearing to discuss several matters in the case, including a request from the Iraqis for a preliminary injunction barring the deportations.”

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Seems like these folks should have their cases reviewed by a U.S. Immigration Judge based on current conditions in Iraq.

PWS

07-12-17

WHITE NATIONALISTS IN WHITE HOUSE AIM TO STRIP VISA AND REFUGEE FUNCTIONS FROM STATE DEPT!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/global-opinions/battle-emerging-inside-trump-administration-over-who-controls-immigration-and-refugees/2017/07/09/006c6e9a-6357-11e7-8adc-fea80e32bf47_story.html?hpid=hp_no-name_opinion-card-c%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.afef8f7696dd

Josh Rogin writes in a WashPost op-ed:

“When President Trump spoke of the need to defend Western civilization in Poland last week, many saw an effort by him and some of his top White House advisers to redefine the mission of American foreign policy away from building relationships and spreading democratic principles, to a more protective stance drawing sharp lines between the United States and those perceived as threats.

One emerging flash point in that struggle is the internal administration debate over which part of the government should be in charge of deciding who gets into the United States.

Ever since the passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act in 1952, that mission has been charged to the State Department. Thousands of diplomats not only stamp passports and issue visas, but also craft policy and make recommendations about who gets to visit, work and seek refuge in the United States. That tradition has now come into question.

A document crafted by senior White House advisers, first reported by CNN, includes proposals to move the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs and Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration over to the Department of Homeland Security. White House policy adviser Stephen Miller, who helped craft the document, has reportedly been pushing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to get “tougher” on immigration, vetting and refugee policy at the State Department.

. . . .

That nativist strain in the White House is represented by Miller, who was the principal author of Trump’s travel ban, which targeted six Muslim-majority countries, as well as of Trump’s speech last week in Poland, which cast the mission of U.S. foreign policy as one based on threats, not relationships.

“The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive,” Trump said. “Do we have enough respect for our citizens to protect our borders? Do we have the desire and the courage to preserve our civilization in the face of those who would subvert and destroy it?”

Viewing immigration and refugee programs through that lens alone is the opposite of courage. Only through a humane, non-discriminatory approach, led by diplomats and integrated with the rest of American foreign policy, can the United States achieve long-term stability abroad and security at home.”

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Sometimes, all you need to know about a “bureaucratic reorganization” is who is sponsoring it. On its face, combining all immigration related functions in one agency could make sense and has been discussed in various forums for years. But, once we know that racist white nationalist Stephen Miller, a disciple of Steve Bannon and Jeff Sessions, is sponsoring the proposal, it’s obvious that it has nothing to do with efficiency or security and everything to do with advancing a racist, xenophobic, white nationalist agenda. That an out of touch, anti-social, extremist like Miller, who has no known positive accomplishments in his life, should be in the White House and shaping national and international policy should be of concern to every American who believes in the tenants of Western liberal democracy.

PWS

07-09-17

 

 

9th Circuit Upholds Judge Gee’s Order Requiring Bond Hearings For Children! — Flores v. Sessions!

http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-minor-immigrants-9th-circuit-20170705-story.html

Maura Dolan reports in the LA Times

“Minors who enter the U.S. without permission must be given a court hearing to determine whether they can be released, a federal appeals court panel decided unanimously Wednesday.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said immigration authorities continue to be bound by a 1997 lawsuit settlement that guaranteed court hearings for minor immigrants, set standards for their detention and established a policy in favor of their release.

Following that settlement, Congress passed two laws dealing with unaccompanied minor immigrants. The federal government argued those laws replaced the settlement and revoked the right to bond hearings.

The 9th Circuit disagreed.

“In the absence of such hearings, these children are held in bureaucratic limbo, left to rely upon the [government’s] alleged benevolence and opaque decision making,” Judge Stephen Reinhardt, a Carter appointee, wrote for the court.

The settlement of Flores vs. Janet Reno required that juveniles detained near the border or elsewhere without a parent must be given bond hearings.

The hearings gave minors the right to a lawyer, an opportunity to learn and challenge government evidence against them and the right to contest being locked up, the panel said.

The 9th Circuit cited evidence that the government has been holding minors for months or even years without hearings, even when parents are nearby and can care for them.

Among them was a boy identified only as Hector, who was detained in California at the age of 15 for 480 days, mostly in a locked facility in Yolo County. The ruling did not say why Hector was picked up.

In a declaration, Hector described the Yolo County facility as a prison, where minors were locked in cells at night to sleep on cement benches with mattresses.

During 16 months there, Hector was not given a lawyer or an explanation about why he was being held even though his mother in Los Angeles was seeking his release, the 9th Circuit said.

Without any explanation, the federal government released Hector in December “into the custody of the person who had been advocating for his freedom all along — his mother,” Reinhardt wrote.

The court cited evidence that some juveniles have agreed to deportation rather than face continued incarceration without their families.

“Unaccompanied minors today face an impossible choice between what is, in effect, indefinite detention in prison, and agreeing to their own removal and possible persecution” in their native countries, Reinhardt wrote.

The ruling upheld a decision by Los Angeles-based U.S. Dist. Judge Dolly M. Gee, an Obama appointee.

The government may appeal the panel’s decision to a larger 9th Circuit panel or to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Lawyers in the case could not be reached for comment.”

Here’s a link to the 9th Circuit’s full 40-page opinion:

http://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2017/07/05/17-55208.pdf

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If you want to skip the legal gobbledygook (although the fact situations described are interesting and meaningful), the bottom lines are: 1) the last four Administrations have been to varying degrees tone-deaf to the needs of unaccompanied minors subject to immigration proceedings; 2) bond hearing before U.S. Immigration Judges play a critical role in protecting the rights of children and insuring due process.

PWS

07-05-17

 

KERWIN & WARREN: AMERICA’S CURRENT OUTDATED & ENFORCEMENT CENTERED IMMIGRATION SYSTEM HAS FAILED, & IT’S GETTING WORSE — WHY NOT DEVELOP A NEW SYSTEM THAT REFLECTS THE VALUE OF ALL TYPES OF IMMIGRANTS & BETTER REFLECTS OUR BEST NATIONAL VALUES?

http://immigrationimpact.com/2017/06/27/immigration-system-in-line-values/

Guillermo Cantor writes in Immigration Impact:

Over the past two decades, much of the immigration policy debate has focused on issues related to immigration enforcement. In fact, many argue that “enforcement first”—the notion that we must adequately enforce the laws on the books before considering broader immigration reforms—has de facto become the nation’s singular immigration policy. This preoccupation with enforcement has come at the expense of consideration of other key components of a robust immigration system. Specifically, policymakers have failed to directly and adequately address some of the most fundamental questions, including what the legal immigration system should look like, what principles should guide admissions moving forward, and how to intentionally and strategically tie immigration policy to other domestic policies.

In an effort to refocus the debate, a recent article by Donald Kerwin and Robert Warren offers a range of ideas that address some structural issues concerning the legal immigration system. Arguing that the U.S. immigration system does not reflect the values and interests that it is supposed to serve, the authors propose a series of recommendations to reform the system and deliver on its promises.

After examining nearly a century’s worth of presidential signing statements of seminal immigration legislation, the authors identify a list of basic principles that, at least in theory, guide the U.S. immigration and refugee system. These include, but are not limited to, the belief that: families should be preserved; admission policies should not be based on national origin, race, or privilege; fairness and due process are essential in admission and removal decisions; individuals fleeing persecution and violence should be provided with a safe haven; immigrants embody the U.S. value of self-sufficiency, hard work, and drive to succeed; fair, orderly, and secure migration sustains the rule of law; and criminals and security threats defy U.S. ideals and, therefore, should not be admitted or allowed to remain.

If we accept as fact the premise that these principles should guide our immigration and refugee laws and policies, it becomes evident that such laws and policies—and their implementation—often fall short of serving the aforementioned objectives. In recent years, for example, mass deportations have led to large-scale family separation; backlogs in the family-based immigration system have kept numerous families apart for years; the routine detention and expedited removal of asylum seekers have been used to deter other asylum seekers from coming to the border; highly skilled immigrants often cannot work in their fields due to credentialing barriers; and the widespread use of summary removal procedures in the deportation of noncitizens has signaled a dramatic departure from fundamental principles of fairness and due process. And these are just a few examples.”

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Read the entire very worthwhile article at the link.

OK, let’s say we have around 11 million undocumented individuals here today. At least 10 million of them are basically law abiding working folks who are contributing to our economy and our society. Most have at least some US citizen children or other relatives. Many pay taxes, and all of them would if they were in legal status and we made it easy for them to do so. It’s reasonable to assume that nearly all of them entered over the past 40 years. Folks who came prior to that are likely to have legalized, gone home, or died.

So, we could easily have admitted at least 250,000 additional individuals each year under our legal immigration system and we’d be right where we are today.  Except, we wouldn’t have spent as much money on immigration enforcement, detention, removal, and divisive legal battles in the courts.

PWS

06-29-17

DHS MISTREATS KIDS: U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee Finds That DHS Has Blown Off Her Prior Orders & Continues To Mistreat Children In Detention!

http://immigrationimpact.com/2017/06/28/government-continues-ignore-rights-children-detention-court-finds/

Karolina Walters writes in Immigration Impact:

“Despite being among some of the most vulnerable, children seeking asylum in the United States often fare the worst. Upon entering the United States, children are often detained for extended periods in violation of a long-standing agreement known as the Flores settlement.

The Flores agreement essentially acts as a contract between the government and children held in immigration custody. On Tuesday, a federal district court judge ruled once again that the government is failing to meet its obligations to children held in immigration custody.

The court found a number of violations, including holding children too long in detention, in substandard conditions, and in non-licensed facilities. In addition, the court ruled that the government is required to look at each child’s case individually to determine whether release from custody is appropriate—the government may not rely on any blanket standard to avoid the responsibility of assessing each case individually.

The Flores agreement is a nationwide settlement reached in 1997. In this settlement, the government agreed that children taken into immigration custody would be placed in the “least restrictive setting appropriate to [their] age and special needs” and would be released “without unnecessary delay,” preferably to a parent. The settlement also requires that if a child is not released to a parent, adult relative, or an appropriate guardian, children must be placed in non-secure facilities licensed for the care of dependent children within five days of apprehension.

Two years ago, the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law (CHRCL), on behalf of immigrant children, brought suit to enforce the Flores settlement. In July and August of 2015, U.S. District Court Judge Dolly M. Gee said the government must apply the settlement to all minors, including those detained with family members. Tuesday’s order from Judge Gee outlines the particular ways in which the government is in breach of the Flores settlement and how the court seeks to ensure compliance going forward.”

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Read the complete article at the link.

While AG Jeff Sessions is out whipping up xenophobic frenzy and promoting the need for an “American Gulag” to support his “Gonzo Apocalypto” immigration enforcement agenda, he ignores his real legal and constitutional duties: Get General Kelly and the rest of the folks over at DHS to obey the law and stop mistreating kids!

That someone like Sessions with such totally warped values and lack of any sense of justice or decency should be in charge of our supposedly due process providing U.S. Immigration Court system is a continuing travesty of justice.

PWS

06-29-17

 

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!

CAT REOPENING: 9th Cir. Finds “the BIA abused its discretion by disregarding or discrediting the undisputed new evidence submitted by Agonafer regarding increased violence toward homosexuals in Ethiopia!” — AGONAFER v. SESSIONS!

http://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2017/06/23/13-73122.pdf

We conclude that the BIA abused its discretion because it clearly disregarded or failed to give credit to the post-2007 evidence submitted by Agonafer, which demonstrates that the country conditions regarding the treatment of homosexuals in Ethiopia are qualitatively different from the country conditions presented to the IJ in 2007. Whereas before, we noted that there was “no evidence in the record of any violence directed against homosexuals in Ethiopia,” Agonafer, 467 F. App’x at 754, at least two of the reports submitted with Agonafer’s motion to reopen provide reports of violence directed against homosexuals in Ethiopia since 2007, including violence in connection with imprisonment. Additionally, we reject the government’s contention that Agonafer must present categorically different evidence of “individual relevancy” from what he presented in his earlier proceedings. It is undisputed that Agonafer is a homosexual male. Given Agonafer’s sexual orientation and the evidence of the treatment of homosexuals in Ethiopia, there is sufficient evidence that, if proved, would establish his prima facie eligibility for deferral of removal under the CAT. See Aguilar-Ramos v. Holder, 594 F.3d 701, 705 (9th Cir. 2010) (“[A] CAT applicant may satisfy his burden with evidence of country conditions alone.”).”

Before: William A. Fletcher and Richard C. Tallman, Circuit Judges, and Paul C. Huck,* District Judge. Opinion by Judge Huck * United States District Judge for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, sitting by designation.

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Yes, it’s only one case out of tens of thousands that the BIA reviews each year. But, mistakes like this from what is supposed to be an “expert judiciary” committed to using “best practices” to “guarantee fairness and due process for all” actually can cost lives!

And mindlessly ramming more cases into an overwhelmed system won’t help  the situation.

PWS

06-26-17

LOONY LAW: Absurdly Overbroad “Terrorist” Definition Punishes Our Friends And Comforts REAL Terrorists — Led By GOP, Legislators Shirk Duty To Restore Reason To Law!

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/23/world/middleeast/immigration-asylum-syria-terrorism.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=first-column-region®ion=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=0

Somini Sengupta reports in the NY Times:

“A prominent Syrian dissident has been told he cannot get political asylum in the United States because he organized a conference with Syrian opposition groups — even though the American government has supported members of those same groups in the Syrian civil war.

The case of the dissident, Radwan Ziadeh, 41, who lives in a suburb of Washington, reveals a stark gap between American immigration law and foreign policy.

Ever since counterterrorism provisions were expanded after the Sept. 11 attacks, the United States government has considered many armed opposition groups around the world, including some that it backs diplomatically or financially, to be “undesignated terrorist organizations.” Anyone who provides “material support” to those groups can be disqualified from receiving immigration papers.

Mr. Ziadeh is a prominent political opponent of the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad. He has received fellowships at Harvard, Georgetown and the United States Institute of Peace, which is funded by Congress. He has testified in Congress, written books and served briefly as a spokesman for the Syrian opposition umbrella group that the American government supported.

But early this month, Mr. Ziadeh was informed that he would be denied political asylum in the United States. In a 12-page letter laying out the government’s “intent to deny” his asylum claim, Citizenship and Immigration Services explained that he had provided “material support” to Syrian groups that the government considered undesignated terrorist organizations.

Mr. Ziadeh said he was shocked. He and his wife have lived in the United States for 10 years on a series of temporary permits, the latest of which expires next spring. Their children were born here.

“Right now, I can’t even plan for the future,” he said. “What will happen? I have three American kids. I love, actually, the U.S. I visited all 50 states, even U.S. territories. I visited all the presidential libraries.”

Going back to Syria is not an option. The government there has a warrant out for his arrest; the Islamic State has him on a list of Syrians it wants dead.

At issue, specifically, is that Mr. Ziadeh organized a series of conferences from November 2012 to May 2013 to discuss a democratic transition in Syria.

Among those invited to the workshops, held in Istanbul, were self-described commanders in a loose confederation of rebel groups called the Free Syrian Army, as well as political leaders affiliated with the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood.

Both groups are well known to the American government. For years, the Central Intelligence Agency and its counterparts in Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and other countries have provided some Free Syrian Army factions with salaries, arms and other supplies. The State Department has also provided aid.

The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood’s members also had central roles in the Syrian National Council, the political umbrella group that the United States supported.

Robert S. Ford, a former American ambassador to Syria, said in an email that the American government did not consider either of the groups that Mr. Ziadeh invited to the workshops to be a terrorist organization.

The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, Mr. Ford added, has no “administrative connection” to Muslim Brotherhood factions in other countries. (President Trump’s advisers have debated but not decided whether to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group.)

Moreover, Mr. Ford said, both Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, as secretaries of state, met with opposition delegations that included Brotherhood members.

“The U.S. administration, myself included, regularly spoke with members of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood who were themselves members of Syrian opposition coalitions and delegations,” he wrote.

In its letter to Mr. Ziadeh, Citizenship and Immigration Services said he had provided “material support” to members of the groups when his organization, the Syrian Center for Political and Strategic Studies, paid for their airfare and hotel bills in Istanbul, using money from the Canadian government.

“As both the FSA and the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood used weapons with the intent to endanger the safety of Syrian government officials, both groups have engaged in terrorist activity such that they met the definition of an undesignated terrorist organization (Tier III) at the time you provided material support,” the letter states.

“You have therefore ‘engaged in terrorist activity,’” it went on to say.

Mr. Ziadeh is appealing the government’s decision.

His lawyer, Steven H. Schulman, said that inviting members of opposition groups to a conference to discuss the political future of Syria should not be seen as promoting the groups’ agendas or providing them with material support.

“I find it offensive, because no reasonable person would sit down and say Radwan Ziadeh is a terrorist,” Mr. Schulman said. “There are real terrorists out there. We all know that. Somehow, we are unable to distinguish between people who actually engage in terrorist activity and who do not engage in terrorist activity.”

The label “undesignated terrorist organization” has been in place since the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Many organizations that have engaged in violence, whether or not the United States supported them, have fallen under that term, said Anwen Hughes, a lawyer who specializes in asylum cases at Human Rights First, an advocacy group.

Providing “material support” to those groups can mean anything from fighting alongside them to paying them ransom. In 2008, an Iraqi man who worked as an interpreter for American forces in Iraq was denied a green card because he had belonged to a Kurdish group seeking to oust Saddam Hussein.

Ms. Hughes said one of her former clients had been denied asylum because he paid a ransom to an armed group in order to release a kidnapped family member. “It’s a fairly widespread problem that’s not limited to Syrians,” she said.”

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Read the complete story at the link.

Unfortunately, U.S. Immigration Judges’ hands are tied on this provision. Not only must they apply it, but they have been denied authority to issue the limited waivers available. Instead, that authority has been given to lower level adjudicators at the USCIS with no right to appeal a denial. In fact, there isn’t even a process to actually apply for the waiver. Only ICE can “refer” a case from Immigration Court to USCIS for consideration of the waiver.

Article III Courts have had various opportunities to shut down this “arbitrary, capricious, and absurdly overbroad” abuse of Legislative and Executive authority. But, perhaps because they lack the backbone to stand up for individuals caught up in the aura of a “national security” problem, they have looked the other way.

To make things worse, the Trump Administration appears to be moving in the direction of revoking all or some of the currently existing waiver authority. No wonder our foreign policies in Syria and many other countries in the Middle East and elsewhere are so ineffective and in such disarray. Who would offer to help to a feckless country that treats its friends and allies like enemies?

PWS

06-23-17