SEE PT. II OF NBC4’S “CRISIS IN THE IMMIGRATION COURTS” FEATURING INTERVIEWS WITH ME — Understand Why This System Must Be Changed NOW!

Here’s a link to the video of Jodie Fleischer’s “Late Night Report on the Crisis in the Immigration Courts” from last night’s 11PM Version of News 4:

http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/Massive-Immigration-Case-Backlog-Takes-Years_Washington-DC-447835143.html

Here’s an updated story from the I-Team on the human costs of the backlog and the mindless policies of the Trump ‘administration that are making things even worse. Includes comments from superstar local practitioner Christina Wilkes, Esq.:

“Deportation rates of undocumented immigrants have ticked up in the federal Immigration Court for the first time in eight years as President Donald Trump starts to make good on his promise to expel millions of people. But even as the Trump administration expands its dragnet, the court is so backlogged that some hearings are being scheduled as far in the future as July 2022.

The long delays come as immigration courtrooms struggle with too few judges, only 334 for a backlog of more than 617,000 cases, and scant resources on par with a traffic court, said Judge Dana Leigh Marks of San Francisco, the president of the National Association of Immigration Judges.

Delays are the longest in San Francisco, where the court is setting dates more than four years out. Courts in Chicago, Boston, Atlanta, Cleveland, Detroit, Seattle and Arlington, Virginia are right behind with dates in 2021.

Immigration law is complex and the overloaded judges are making decisions about men and women who may have been tortured or raped, their children abused or forced to witness horrible acts, or who fear they will be killed if they return home.

“I compare the immigration courts to traffic courts and the cases that we hear – they are death penalty cases.”
Judge Dana Leigh Marks

“I compare the immigration courts to traffic courts and the cases that we hear – they are death penalty cases,” said Marks, a judge for 30 years who was speaking in her capacity as association president. “And I literally get chills every time I say that because it’s an incredibly – it’s an overwhelming job.”

The backlog in Immigration Court, which unlike other courts is not independent but part of the U.S. Justice Department, has been growing for nearly a decade, up from about 224,000 cases in fiscal year 2009. The average number of days to complete a deportation case has risen from 234 in 2009 to a projected 525 this year.

A couple in Immigration Court in New York City for the first time on Sept. 21 came to the United States to escape violence in Ecuador, they said, overstaying a visa as they applied to remain permanently in 2013. They were expecting to finally to explain their circumstances to a judge, but instead they were out the door in less than five minutes with a return date in 2020.

“I don’t even know, how do I feel,” said the woman, who did not want to give her name. “I feel frustrated.”

The logjam began during the Obama administration as President Barack Obama boosted immigration enforcement while a divided Congress cut spending. The Justice Department saw a three-year hiring freeze from 2011 to 2013, which then became even worse when tens of thousands of women and children came across the border escaping violence in Central America.

“I don’t even know, how do I feel,” said the woman, who did not want to give her name. “I feel frustrated.

“The problem was years in the making but this administration is making it much, much worse,” said Jeremy McKinney of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

Obama was famously called the “deporter-in-chief” after he not only targeted immigrants with criminal records for deportation but also instituted formal removal proceedings for an increased number of unauthorized border crossers, according to a January study by the Migration Policy Institute. At the same time, fewer people were crossing the border because of a better economy in Mexico and fewer jobs in the U.S. after the recession.

The focus on criminals — whose hearings, when they were detained, were either short or waived — resulted in quick deportations, McKinney said. The Trump administration is targeting a much broader group and includes people who might be eligible to stay and that puts more strain on the courts, McKinney said.

“They will arrest anyone that has a pulse and that they suspect is in the United States without permission regardless of if that person poses a risk to our community,” he said.

To clear the backlog, the Trump administration has proposed hiring 75 new Immigration Court judges plus staff, a number the House has reduced to 65, and it has considered expanding the use of deportations without court approval. In the meantime it has moved some judges closer the border temporarily, but that leaves behind even greater backlogs in their home courts.

But the job of an immigration judge is difficult and those in the courts warn that hires are not keeping up with departures. Long background checks dissuade many except for attorneys already working for the government from applying, they say.

The government is trying to quicken the process by resisting delays it formerly acceded to, McKinney said. For example, he said, government lawyers are now opposing a temporary halt to deportation cases to allow an immigrant who might be eligible to remain in the United States to take the steps that are necessary.

“So you’ve got people that are eligible for green cards but are not able to pursue it because suddenly the government is opposing the motion to close those cases,” he said.

And it is also reopening cases that were closed during the previous administration, a move that could add to the delays, McKinney said.

“They’re taking old cases and dumping those into current dockets that are already overflowing,” he said. “These individuals are ones that were previously determined that they were not priorities for deportation.”

One consequence of the logjam until recently had been that judges were deporting fewer immigrants. Last year, just 43 percent of all cases ended with a deportation removal, down from 72 percent in 2007.

That downward trend is beginning to reverse this year. The deportation rate rose slightly over the first 10 months of the 2017 fiscal year, to 55 percent, from 43 percent for all of the previous fiscal year. Among immigrants in detention, the deportation rate rose to 72.3 percent.

The outcome of a case can depend on the location of a court. Georgia has deported the vast majority of immigrants in court this year, New York ousted less than a third. Houston has expelled 87 percent of the immigrants, while Phoenix is at the low end with 20 percent.

You appear to be in Virginia. Not your state?

In Virginia, 56.0% of immigrants who go to court are deported.

See the rates of deportation in state immigration courts across the country:

Fiscal year 2017 (October through July); Source: TRAC

WHO ARE THESE IMMIGRANTS?

More than half of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States are from Mexico but their number has declined by about 1 million since 2007. They have been replaced by those fleeing violence in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, plus immigrants from elsewhere. They live mostly in California, Texas, Florida, New York and New Jersey though the state with the highest percentage of undocumented immigrants is Nevada.

Nearly 60 percent arrived in the U.S. before 2000 and a third have been here for more than 20 years. Eight million of the 11 million have jobs. They make up 5 percent of the country’s labor force, mostly in agriculture, construction and the hospitality industry. They are much younger and somewhat more male than the population as a whole.

The long delays in Immigration Court are jeopardizing some immigrants’ chances. They risk losing touch with witnesses they will need or the death of relatives who would enable them to stay. They may have children back in their home country who are in danger. And although they are entitled to lawyers, they must pay for them.

“And so it is very frustrating and stressful frankly for the litigants in our courts to be in that limbo position for such a long period of time,” Marks said.

The couple who fled violence in Ecuador has built a new life in the U.S. She is now a teacher, he works with hazardous materials and they have three American-born children. With no resolution of their case, they remain in that limbo.

“We’re stuck here,” she said.

Christina Wilkes, an immigration lawyer at Grossman Law in Rockville, Maryland, is representing a mother, identified as Z.A., who arrived with her daughter and son from El Salvador in 2014 after a gang tried to recruit the daughter.

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 daughter’s application for permanent residency has been pending since the beginning of the year when a judge granted her asylum, Wilkes said. But the mother still does not have a date for a judge to hear her asylum case, though the facts for both are nearly identical.

“For her, where her likelihood of success is relatively high, it’s really frustrating because she wants a resolution,” Wilkes said.

Andres, whose last name NBC is witholding, left Guatemala in August 2014, because he was discriminated against there, he said. He speaks Mam, a Mayan language, and dressed in traditional clothing, both of which made him a target.

“Because I’m indigenous, that’s why they discriminated against me,” he said. “A policeman would beat me, and we don’t have any rights because they rule. The Spanish speakers are the ones who rule all parts of the country.”

He has a work permit, he said, and is employed in construction. But he has twice had his asylum hearing postponed in Immigration Court in San Francisco and says he is scared that as he waits for his new date in January he will detained and deported.

Those waiting to have their asylum cases heard find the reality that there currently aren’t enough judges and staff to handle the demand leaving some applicants forced to wait for years while their witnesses and key evidence disappear.

“Because that is happening where I live in Oakland,” he said.

Shouan Riahi, an attorney with the non-profit Central American Legal Assistance in Brooklyn, New York, said that the delays are causing particular problems for those seeking asylum. If a court date is set years in the future, they might not think it’s important to meet with a lawyer immediately or know they face a one-year deadline for asylum applications.

“So that creates a whole host of issues because a lot of people that are applying for asylum now are people who didn’t have their hearing scheduled within a year,” he said. “And never went to see an attorney because why would you if your case is in 2019 and now their cases are being denied because they haven’t filed for asylum within a year.”

Some judges are counting the delays as an exceptional circumstance and are accepting the applications as filed on time, but others are turning immigrants away. Riahi’s office is appealing those cases and he expects some to end up in federal circuit court.

Other who are getting caught up in the delays are children who have been neglected, abused or abandoned and are eligible for special immigrant juvenile status. In some courts they are being deported before they receive their visas, he said.

Paul Wickham Schmidt, a retired immigration judge who served in Arlington, Virginia, for 13 years, said that the delays do not serve due process or justice.

“It’s not fair either way,” he said. “It’s not fair to keep people with good claims waiting, but it’s not really fair that if people have no claim their cases sort of aimlessly get shuffled off also. That leads to loss of credibility for the system.”

ABOUT THE DATA

These stories are based on enforcement, budget and demographic data from the federal government and nonprofit groups.

Our primary source for information on operations of the Immigration Court was the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse. TRAC, a nonprofit at Syracuse University, has collected and organized data from federal law enforcement agencies for decades and makes that data available to the public. Its website is trac.syr.edu. TRAC is funded by grants and subscription fees; NBC subscribed to TRAC during this project.

Information about the size and demographics of the undocumented immigrant population came from two primary sources: the Pew Research Center and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Both groups use a roughly similar technique, the residual method, to estimate the undocumented population, and reach similar estimates of its size. For a brief description of the residual method, go here.

Some of the best information on the immigrant population as a whole as well as historic perspective on immigration enforcement comes from the Department of Homeland Security’s Yearbook of Immigration Statistics. It is available here. The most recent year for which statistics are available is 2015, though 2016 statistics should be provided shortly.”

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Here’s a link that will get you a version where all the links graphs,  and charts work: http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/national-international/Immigration-Crisis-in-the-Courts-446790833.html

Next up, the EOIR/DOJ response!

PWS

09-26-16

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

AWARD-WINNING NBC INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER JODIE FLEISCHER & THE “I-TEAM” TACKLE THE MAN-MADE DISASTER IN OUR UNITED STATES IMMIGRATION COURTS — Including A Clip Of Her Interview With Me — MUST SEE TV, MONDAY, SEPT. 25, ON THE 6 PM SEGMENT OF NBC4 NEWS!

Those of you who have seen Jodie in action know that she is a brilliant, hard-hitting, no holds barred investigative journalist who always gets to the bottom of her story — no matter how little some public officials want the truth to come out! She and her all-star investigative team, including Senior Investigative Platform Manager Rick Yarborough and Photojournalist Editor Stephen Jones, are relentless.

Using her contacts throughout the nation, Jodie shows you what our Government has been trying to hide for years — the ridiculous backlogs and impending failure of one of our nation’s largest, perhaps the largest, Federal Court system! I was stunned and amazed by the amount of technical knowledge and feeling about the human side of this needless national tragedy that Jodie brought to her interview with me.

The judges and staff of the Immigration Court work hard. That’s always been true. But, that has not helped many of the vulnerable individuals caught up in the morass and not always finding the justice that our laws promise them. Similarly, it does not serve the true needs of DHS enforcement to have results determined by the number of pending cases in a particular court, many of which should have long ago been settled by the responsible exercise of prosecutorial discretion as they would have been in almost any other high volume court system in America.

What has happened to the United States Immigration Courts under the control of the U.S.Department of Justice is a sad tale of bureaucratic incompetence, intransigence, inbreeding, improper influence by enforcement authorities, and inability to provide the independent judiciary that can deliver on the court’s forgotten promise of “guaranteeing fairness and due process for all.” This has combined with a disturbing lack of Congressional oversight and reform. How can we clean up this tragic “train wreck” that threatens to topple the entire Federal Court System and to undermine our nation’s Constitution and our ideals?

Over three quarters of U.S counties now have residents in the Immigration Court system! But, even if you aren’t one of them, or a relative, friend, neighbor, employer, teacher, student, employee, patient, customer, or fellow parishioner of one of them, this mess affects you as an American. If this is the way we treat the most vulnerable among us, what’s going to save you when your precious rights are challenged in a U.S. justice system that has lost sight of justice?

Tune in Monday night to find out more about one of “America’s Most Underreported Crises.” Those interested should be able to “live stream” NBC4 News at 6 with the NBC4 app. I assume it will also be available online in the NBC4 app archives under “Investigative Reporting” once the piece has aired.

PWS

09-23-17

UPDATE:

Part II Of Jodie’s Report, which specifically examines the Baltimore and Arlington Immigration Courts, will air at 11:15 PM tonight.

USE WITH EXTREME CAUTION! — HON. JEFFREY CHASE ON THE USE OF SO-CALLED AIRPORT STATEMENTS IN REMOVAL PROCEEDINGS — They Often Prove To Be Highly Unreliable!

https://www.jeffreyschase.com/blog/2017/9/21/the-reliability-of-airport-statements-in-removal-proceedings

Jeffrey writes in his blog:

“In August 2016 I organized and moderated the mandatory international religious freedom training panel at the immigration judges’ legal training conference in Washington, D.C. One of the panelists from the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (“USCIRF”) informed me of a just-published report she had co-authored.

The report, titled Barriers to Protection: The Treatment of Asylum Seekers in Expedited Removal, is the follow-up to a 2005 study by USCIRF of the treatment of arriving asylum seekers in their interactions with the various components of DHS and the Department of Justice involved in the expedited removal process. What jumped out at me from the report was the first key recommendation to EOIR: “Retrain immigration judges that the interview record created by CBP is not a verbatim transcript of the interview and does not document the individual’s entire asylum claim in detail, and should be weighed accordingly.”

The new report referenced the Commission’s 2005 findings, which it described as “alarming.” The earlier study found that “although they resemble verbatim transcripts, the I-867 sworn statements” taken from arrivees by agents of DHS’s Customs and Border Patrol (“CBP”) component “were neither verbatim nor reliable, often indicating that information was conveyed when in fact it was not and sometimes including answers to questions that were never asked. Yet immigration judges often used these unreliable documents against asylum seekers when adjudicating their cases.”

The 2016 report found similar problems with the airport statements taken a decade later. The study found the use of identical answers by CBP agents in filling out the form I-867 “transcript,” including clearly erroneous answers (i.e. a male applicant purportedly being asked, and answering, whether he was pregnant, and a four year old child purportedly stating that he came to the U.S. to work). For the record, USCIRF is a bipartisan organ of the federal government. So this is a government-issued report making these findings.”

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Read the rest of Jeffrey’s analysis at the above link.

Too bad that the Trump Administration has eliminated Annual Immigration Judge Training! With a bunch of new Immigration Judges on board and the push to rubber stamp removals as quickly as possible to comply with the President’s Executive Orders on Enforcement, I guess there is no time for training in how to make correct decisions.

In fact, when judges have enough experience to know what’s really happening and are able to selectively regulate the speed of cases to make sound decisions and achieve due process, they find out that there are lots of problems in how the DHS prepares and presents cases, not all of which immediately meet the eye.

To state the obvious, how would an unrepresented respondent in detention get together the necessary Circuit Court case law to learn and effectively challenge unreliable airport statements introduced by DHS Counsel? How would he or she subpoena Immigration Officers or get documentation necessary to show that many airport statements are prepared by rote with exactly the same information in the same language. Mistakes as to age, gender, and “best language” of applicants are common, suggesting that the reports too often have little to do with the actual facts of a particular case.

Short answer, they wouldn’t! As a result, the chances of the Imigration Judge using unreliable information to reach an incorrect decision against the respondent greatly increase.

And their use in the “kangaroo court” procedure known as “Expedited Removal” where enforcement officers make the decisions is prima facile problematic. Someday, all of the Article III Judges who have turned a blind eye to this unconstitutional procedure will have their judicial records forever tarnished in the light of history.

No wonder this Administration likes to detain individuals in out of the way locations (where conditions are coercive and lawyers are not readily available) to make their removal stats look good. And, while most Immigration Judges are conscientious, without a good lawyer to help pick apart the weaknesses and inaccuracies that are often in airport statement, invoking concepts drawn from Federal case law, the possibility of an incorrect or unjust decision is much greater.

We need an independent Article I U.S. Immigraton Court whose sole objective is achieving due processs and making correct legal decisions. And, that would include providing regular in person judicial training from a wide range of sources, including academic experts and those with litigation experience outside the government, on how to fairly evaluate evidence. It would also include a focus on insuring that every individual who goes to a “Merits Hearing” in Immigraton Court has a fair chance to be represented by counsel and reasonable access to his or her lawyer and the evidence and resources necessary to prepare a successful case.

PWS

09-22-17

NEWSWEEK REPORTS TRUMP ADMINISTRATION PLANNING MASSIVE ASSAULT ON RIGHTS OF UNDOCUMENTED TEENS ADMITTED UNDER THE WILBERFORCE ANTI-TRAFFICKING ACT!

http://www.newsweek.com/trump-administration-weighs-deporting-thousands-unaccompanied-child-migrants-668778

Graham Lanktree reports:

“The Trump administration is drafting a new policy to quickly deport more than 150,000 child migrants from Central America who arrived alone in the U.S. illegally, creating a new class of undocumented migrants.

The Department of Justice and Homeland Security is drawing up a policy proposal in a series of memos, according to two sources with knowledge of the internal debate who spoke to the Miami Herald.

As it stands, the plan would allow for teens and children who arrived in the U.S. illegally by themselves to be put on a fast track to deportation when they turn 18. Most of these children have traveled thousands of miles alone from Central American countries, including Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, to escape violence and poverty.

The policy wouldn’t allow the teens to plead their case before an immigration judge.

The discussions follow controversy within the government about Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA, a program implemented by Barack Obama, which protects children brought to the country illegally by their parents from deportation.

Speaking about the new policy plans, a former U.S. Justice Department official told the Herald, “The concern is that most people at DOJ know this will likely be viewed as illegal and do not want to have to defend this in court if they can avoid it.”

Current law “doesn’t give the administration a lot of flexibility with how to deal with unaccompanied children,” said a U.S. official familiar with the internal debate about the policy. “This administration still has its hands somewhat tied with what it can do with that population,” that person said.

. . . .

The new policy around unaccompanied children is part of the Attorney General’s efforts to avoid creating a another protected group of illegal immigrants like those under DACA, the Herald’s sources said.

The arrival of unaccompanied children and families from Central America peaked in 2014. In the year between October 1, 2013 and September 30, 2014 U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) says it encountered 67,339 unaccompanied children.

At the height of the influx in June 2014, 27,000 people, including unaccompanied children and families, crossed the U.S.-Mexico border. Three months later the number dropped below 5,000 following crackdowns by the U.S. and Mexico governments.

More than 150,000 children have been referred by Homeland Security to the Office of Refugee Resettlement since that time. The program cares for unaccompanied children after they are caught at the border by officials and either places them in shelters, with sponsors, or relatives in the U.S.

About 63 percent and 73 percent of the unaccompanied youth who arrive at the border are between 15 and 17 years old, making a large group of those who are in the U.S vulnerable to deportation if the administration moves ahead with the policy.

“For a growing population of migrants deported from Mexico and the United States to Central America, the conditions upon return typically are worse than when they left, setting up a revolving-door cycle of migration, deportation, and remigration,” according to the nonprofit Migration Policy Institute. The group advocates better programs to reintegrate those who are deported to their home country.

If the Trump administration decides to move ahead with the policy proposal it will it will likely meet similar opposition to Trump’s travel ban on people coming to the U.S. from six Muslim-majority nations. Elements of the ban have been blocked by federal courts and a legal case against the policy will be heard in the U.S. Supreme Court this fall.

The new policy on unaccompanied minors could be blocked by the courts almost immediately, said Leon Fresco, the former head of the Office of Immigration Litigation at the Justice Department during the Obama administration.

The question is, Fresco said, “whether the administration wants to add this to the travel ban, sanctuary cities, Byrne Jag grants, and DACA repeal to the issues they would want the Supreme Court to have to decide this year.”

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Read the complete report at the link.

These kids clearly are entitled to full and fair hearings before U.S. Immigration Judges with full rights of appeal. So, whatever Gonzo Apocalypto has up his sleeve must be clearly illegal.

DOJ career lawyers probably realize that their law licenses, and perhaps their individual freedom, could be at stake for participating in such an illegal operation. It would be nice to think that Sessions could also be held accountable under the law. But, as a high-ranking Government official, he’s likely to escape liability under the current Supreme Court rulings. Besides, Trump (or Pence) would probably pardon him anyway in the tradition of his fellow racist xenophobe “Racist Joe.”

PWS

09-21-17

 

 

 

AP: AILA TAKES ISSUE WITH SESSIONS’S UNSUPPORTED CLAIM THAT UNACCOMPANIED MINORS ARE “WOLVES IN SHEEP CLOTHING!”

https://www.boston.com/news/local-news/2017/09/21/heres-what-jeff-sessions-had-to-say-in-boston

Alanna Durkin Richer Reports for AP:

“Sessions, a Republican, said gangs are exploiting a program for unaccompanied minors found crossing the southern border by sending members over as ‘‘wolves in sheep clothing’’ and recruiting in communities.

Gregory Chen, director of government relations for the American Immigration Lawyers Association, called that assertion ‘‘truly baseless.’’ The program aids children fleeing violence in their home countries, he said.

‘‘He’s trying to inflame public opinion against this highly vulnerable population,’’ Chen said.

A few dozen protesters carrying signs with phrases such as #NotWelcome gathered outside the courthouse before Sessions’ speech to condemn his views on immigration and law enforcement.”

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Read the full report of Sessions’s speech to law enforcement officials in Boston at the link.

Sessions is well-known for his alarmist, inflammatory rhetoric on immigration and his “fact-challenged” claims. While undoubtedly some gang members do come into the United States as so-called “unaccompanied minors,” I have seen no hard evidence on the extent of this problem.

PWS

09-21-17

 

WHEN DEPORTATION IS A DEATH SENTENCE!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2017/09/21/he-said-deportation-would-kill-him-his-body-was-found-in-mexico-this-week/

Kyle Swenson writes in the Washington Post:

“Juan Coronilla-Guerrero promised deportation to Mexico would kill him and it did.

On Sept. 12, four armed men burst into a house in San Luis de la Paz in central Mexico looking for the 28-year-old married father. The gunmen went to the bedroom where Coronilla-Guerrero was sleeping with his young son, jammed a pistol to his temple and took him away. “Don’t worry, my love. Don’t worry,” he told his son before disappearing, according to an account in the Austin American-Statesman.

“I knew that if he came back here, they were going to kill him,” Coronilla-Guerrero’s wife told the paper. “That’s what happened.”

Coronilla-Guerrero’s body was found last week on the side of a road 40 minutes away from the house where he had been staying in Central Mexico. The death occurred three months after Coronilla-Guerrero and his family begged a federal judge not to catapult him back over the border for fear of the Mexican gangs they had illegally crossed the border to flee in the first place.

Coronilla-Guerrero’s warnings had apparently been well-founded — his wife (who has not used her first name publicly for safety reasons) — has indicated she believes a gang was responsible for the killing. The violence now serves as a grim reminder of the life facing some immigrants after they’ve been taken into Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody and worked through the immigration courts.

 

The case raised alarms from the start. On March 3, Coronilla-Guerrero was arrested at the Travis County Courthouse. He was in the building to face two misdemeanor charges — marijuana possession and family violence. Although he had already been arrested and deported in 2008, Coronilla-Guerrero made the appearance to address the charges; both he and his wife said the family violence charge was a misunderstanding and Coronilla-Guerrero had not abused his wife.

“He wanted to do the right thing and he appeared at his second court date,” Coronilla-Guerrero’s wife told the Austin American-Statesman. “When he was leaving, immigration agents were waiting for him and took him. He didn’t even get to say goodbye to me, or to his son, because now we don’t even know where he is going to be.”

The arrest, however, triggered larger concerns. In the wake of President Trump’s increased emphasis on immigration control and promises to build a border wall with Mexico, many observers were worried ICE agents would use the criminal justice system as a fishing ground for undocumented defendants. At the time of the arrest, KVUE reported it was the first time federal immigration agents had made an arrest at the courthouse.

 

“It struck me as extraordinary,” Daniel Betts, Coronilla-Guerrero’s attorney, told the station.

Following his deportation, Coronilla-Guerrero went to live with his wife’s family in San Luis de la Paz while his wife stayed in Texas. Following his death, she returned to Mexico. Local authorities reportedly have not released any information on the death.”

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

As my friend and former colleague Judge Dana Leigh Marks says, “like trying death penalty cases in traffic court.” We need an independent Article I Immigraton Court to inbsure that the DHS and Sessions (the “real” head of DHS Enforcement) comply with the law and due process!

The stakes are far too high to be entrusted to an administrative court held captive by Jeff Sessions!

PWS

 

ADMINISTRATION TRASHES RULE OF LAW, DENIES DUE PROCESS AT U.S. SOUTHERN BORDER!

Guillermo Cantor writes in Immigration Impact:

“U.S. immigration officials have a long history of overstepping the boundaries of their legal authority and violating the constitutional and other legal rights of migrants at the Southwest border. Allegations of abuse throughout the apprehension, detention, and deportation process are not new; immigrant rights organizations and media outlets have reported on those violations for years.

Deportations in the Dark: Lack of Process and Information in the Removal of Mexican Migrants, a new report released by the American Immigration Council, is the most recent effort to document such violations. The report shows the extent to which U.S. immigration officials prevent migrants in their custody from accessing critical information and processes, which in many cases jeopardizes their chances to access various forms of immigration relief. Specifically, the report examines whether U.S. immigration agents properly inform migrants of their rights, actively obstruct their ability to exercise these rights, coerce or intimidate migrants in their custody, or neglect to provide removal documents to migrants at the time of repatriation.

The study is the result of a collaboration between the Council and the Mexico-based Binational Defense and Advocacy Program (in Spanish, Programa de Defensa e Incidencia Binacional, or PDIB), a Mexican human rights initiative established in 2010 to document abuses perpetrated against repatriated Mexican immigrants during their time in the United States. With staff currently located in three different sites—Nogales, Sonora; Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas; and Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua—PDIB interviews migrants upon deportation to Mexico on an ongoing basis.

Based on new survey data (600 interviews) collected by PDIB between August 2016 and April 2017 and testimonies gathered between August 2016 and May 2017, the study found that migrants are frequently deprived of legally required information, told they cannot contact their consulates, compelled to sign documents they cannot read or understand, threatened with protracted detention, and blocked from applying for asylum and other legal claims.

For example, half of the respondents who signed repatriation documents reported that they were not allowed to read the documents before they signed them; 57.6 percent did not receive their repatriation documents; 43.5 percent were not advised of their right to contact their consulate; more than half (55.7 percent) were not asked if they feared returning home.

This report is perhaps the first attempt to systematically analyze the prevalence of denied access to critical information among migrants in U.S. custody. Some of the issues highlighted here, however, have been raised by advocates and been subject to litigation in the past. One concrete example is the case of immigration agents misleading migrants into waiving their right to a removal hearing by signing for voluntary return.

When immigration authorities deprive migrants of critical information regarding their rights or the opportunity to exercise them, migrants may face unjust deportation and lose the ability to ever seek legal admission or apply for asylum in the future. As the U.S. government promises to institute a new level of immigration enforcement, the behavioral patterns of U.S. immigration authorities highlighted in this report are a source of concern.“

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This is what Jeff “Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions’s disingenuous claims about the “Rule of Law” really mean. And, for EOIR to post on its website DOJ propaganda about how ramming through more final orders of removal, many without full due process because individuals were given not given legally sufficient notice of their hearings, were effectively denied their right to counsel, were denied the opportunity to gather documentation necessary for their cases, or were coerced into withdrawing claims or waiving appeals, has something to do with the Imigration Courts’ mission is simply more proof that the current system has become a disgraceful mockery of justice.

America needs an independent Article I Immigration Court, now!

PWS

09-21-17

 

WASHPOST: “The White House’s preposterous policy analysis on refugeesl”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-preposterous-policy-analysis-of-xenophobes-in-the-white-house/2017/09/20/4f60f268-9d73-11e7-9083-fbfddf6804c2_story.html

The Washington Post Editorial Board writes:

“A QUIRKY THING about government programs is that, in addition to costs, there are benefits, the latter of which may also include revenue. Yet in thje case of U.S. refugee programs, xenophobes seeking an upper hand in the Trump administration have covered up half the ledger.

A report ordered up by President Trump in March, and produced by officials in July, concluded that refugees had delivered $63 billion more in federal, state and local tax revenue than they had cost in federal benefits through the decade ending in 2014. According to the New York Times, however, the administration sent the report back for a redo, insisting that any mention of revenue be dropped. The Department of Health and Human Services obliged in a final, three-page report this month, which concluded that per-person departmental program costs for refugees were $3,300, compared with a per-person cost of $2,500 for the U.S. population as a whole.

That’s not exactly a shocker. Refugees, by definition legal immigrants, tend to be poor or penniless. As the report from Health and Human Services says, they naturally draw more heavily on the department’s programs, particularly in their first four years of residency. The fact that they pay more in taxes than they draw in benefits cuts against the administration’s spin and, according to the Times, was suppressed by Stephen Miller, Mr. Trump’s nativist senior policy adviser.

Mr. Miller is leading the charge to slash the number of refugees admitted in the fiscal year starting in October, below even the cap of 50,000 that Mr. Trump imposed this year — itself the lowest number in more than 30 years. (Before leaving office, President Barack Obama had set this year’s target at 110,000.) In addition to his general dislike of immigration, Mr. Miller sees refugees in particular as a terrorist threat and a fiscal burden. The fact that there’s extremely little historical evidence of the former, and that the latter is demonstrably false, doesn’t interest him — or Mr. Trump, who on Tuesday told the U.N. General Assembly that it would be much cheaper for Washington to send money for refugees rather than resettle them in the United States.

Refu­gee policy is not like a choice between leasing a car and buying one, and Mr. Trump’s policy analysis is preposterous. This country was settled by refugees; it has been a beacon for refugees for its entire history. Even now, despite the Trump administration’s inhospitable demeanor, it remains the aspirational destination for millions of people worldwide, especially in the most violent, repressive and hopeless places. The list of refugees who have ennobled and inspired the United States is too long to recount here, but consider just a few names: Madeleine Albright. Albert Einstein. Gloria Estefan. Henry Kissinger. Vladimir Nabokov. Billy Wilder.

At a moment when the world is awash in refugees — the United Nations has asked countries to resettle 1.2 million of them — it would be not just callous for Washington to turn its back on them. It would be an act of national redefinition and an abdication of leadership. Rather than making America great again, it would do the very opposite by making the country small, peevish, inward-looking and heedless of its role on the global stage.“

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

Right On! It’s impossible to overestimate the damage that Jeff Sessions, Stephen Miller, and the rest of the White Nationalist, racist, xenophobic crew in this Administration are doing to America and to our standing in the world. They, not vulnerable refugees, are currently the greatest threats to our national security!

PWS

09-21-17

JOB OPENING: Director of The International Human Rights Clinic at UVA Law!

http://jobs.virginia.edu/applicants/Central?quickFind=82468

Click at the above link for a full job description and instructions on how to apply. This would be a super opportunity for an experienced member of the New Due Process Army who wants to enter the field of clinical instruction or for those who are already teaching and would like to move to Charlottesville and become associated with one of the nation’s top law school!

Thanks to Professor Alberto Benitez of the GW Law Immigration Clinic for passing this along!

PWS

09-20-17

TAL KOPAN IN CNN: HUMAN RIGHTS TRAVESTY — According To U.S. State Department’s Info, Sudan Remains One Of The Most Dangerous And Violent Countries In The World — But, Reality Isn’t Stopping The Trump Administration From Ending TPS Protection! -“I mean look what’s going on in Sudan,” [Rep. Zoe] Lofgren [D-CA] said. “If that is a wise decision, what’s an unwise one?”

http://www.cnn.com/2017/09/18/politics/sudan-tps-decision-dhs/index.html

Tal writes:

“Washington (CNN)The Trump administration on Monday announced an end to protections for Sudanese immigrants, a move that advocates fear could be a sign of things to come.

The Department of Homeland Security announced Monday afternoon that it would be ending Temporary Protected Status for Sudan after a 12-month sunset period. It opted to extend, however, Temporary Protected Status for South Sudan, which gained its independence in 2011, through May 2019.
The decision was overdue. By law, decisions on TPS designations are required 60 days before an expiration deadline. With both countries’ status set to expire on November 2, the decision was due September 3. DHS said it made a decision in time, but kept it quiet for more than two weeks and did not respond to requests for an explanation.
While the decision on the future of Temporary Protected Status for Sudanese and South Sudanese immigrants only affects just over 1,000 people in the US, the decision is being closely watched as a harbinger of where the administration will go on upcoming TPS decisions that affect more than 400,000 people in the US.
Under Acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke’s direction on Monday, recipients of protections from Sudan will be allowed to remain protected from deportation and allowed to work under the program until November 2, 2018, during which they are expected to arrange for their departure or seek another immigration status that would allow them to remain in the US.
Individuals from South Sudan will be able to extend their status until May 2, 2019, when DHS will make another decision on their future based on conditions in the country.
According to USCIS data, at the end of 2016 there were 1,039 temporarily protected immigrants from Sudan in the United States and 49 from South Sudan.
Temporary Protected Status is a type of immigration status provided for by law in cases where a home country may not be hospitable to returning immigrants for temporary circumstances, including in instances of war, epidemic and natural disaster.
While DHS did not explain the delay in publicizing the decision, which the agency confirmed last week was made on time, the law only requires “timely” publication of a TPS determination. The decision was made as the administration was preparing to announce the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, a popular program that has protected nearly 800,000 young undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children from deportation since 2012.

Some of the affected individuals have been living in the US for 20 years. TPS is not a blanket protection — immigrants have to have been living in the US continuously since a country was “designated” for TPS in order to qualify.

For example, Sudan was first designated in 1997 and was re-designated in 1999, 2004 and 2013, meaning people had opportunities to apply if they’ve been living in the US since any of those dates. South Sudan’s TPS was established in 2011 and had re-designations in 2014 and 2016.
Both countries were designated for TPS based on “ongoing armed conflict and extraordinary and temporary conditions.”

The situation in Sudan has improved in recent years, but there are still concerns about its stability and human rights record. In January, outgoing President Barack Obama eased sanctions on Sudan but made some moves contingent upon further review. President Donald Trump has extended that review period. South Sudan, meanwhile, remains torn by conflict.

Advocates for TPS have expressed fear that if the administration were to begin to unwind the programs, it could be a sign of further decisions to come. In the next six months, roughly 400,000 immigrants’ status will be up for consideration, including Central American countries like El Salvador that have been a focus of the Presidents’ ire over illegal immigration and gang activity.
close dialog

California Rep. Zoe Lofgren, the top Democrat on the immigration subcommittee for the House Judiciary Committee, said in an interview before the decision that ending Sudan’s protections could be a sign of more to come.

“I mean look what’s going on in Sudan,” Lofgren said. “If that is a wise decision, what’s an unwise one?”

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

Let’s take a closer look at some of those supposedly “improved conditions,” using the Government’s own information, the U.S. Department of State’s latest (2016) Country Report on Human Rights Conditions for Sudan:

“The three most significant human rights problems were inability of citizens to choose their government, aerial bombardments of civilian areas by military forces and attacks on civilians by government and other armed groups in conflict zones, and abuses perpetrated by NISS with impunity through special security powers given it by the regime. On January 14, the government launched an intensive aerial and ground offensive against Sudan Liberation Army-Abdul Wahid (SLA/AW) strongholds in the Jebel Marra area of Darfur. This operation displaced more than 44,700 persons by January 31, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). In February the government established in Darfur a suboffice of the National Human Rights Commission to enhance the commission’s capacity to monitor human rights in Darfur. Meanwhile, ground forces comprising Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and Border Guards carried out attacks against more than 50 villages in an attempt to dislodge the armed opposition. Attacks on villages often included killing and beating of civilians; sexual and gender-based violence; forced displacement; looting and burning entire villages; destroying food stores and other infrastructure necessary for sustaining life; and attacks on humanitarian targets, including humanitarian facilities and peacekeepers. In September, Amnesty International issued a report alleging that, through September the government engaged in scorched-earth tactics and used chemical weapons in Jebel Marra, Darfur. UN monitors were unable to verify the alleged use of chemical weapons, due in part to lack of access to Jebel Marra, including by rebel commanders loyal to Abdel Wahid. By year’s end the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) had not been presented with sufficient corroborating evidence to conclude chemical weapons had been used. The NISS continued to show a pattern of widespread disregard for rule of law, committing major abuses, such as extrajudicial and other unlawful killings; torture, beatings, rape and other cruel or inhuman treatment or punishment; arbitrary arrest and detention by security forces; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; incommunicado detention; prolonged pretrial detention; obstruction of humanitarian assistance; restrictions on freedom of speech, press, assembly,association, religion, and movement; and intimidation and closure of human rights and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). Societal abuses included discrimination against women; sexual violence; female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C); early childhood marriage; use of child soldiers; child abuse; sexual exploitation of children; trafficking in persons; discrimination against ethnic and religious minorities, persons with disabilities, and persons with HIV/AIDS; denial of workers’ rights; and child labor. Government authorities did not investigate human rights violations by NISS, the military or any other branch of the security services, with limited exceptions relating to the national police. The government failed to adequately compensate families of victims of shootings during the September 2013 protests, make its investigations public, or hold security officials accountable. Impunity remained a problem in all branches of the security forces.

. . . .

The 2005 Interim National Constitution prohibits torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment, but security forces, government-aligned groups, rebel groups, and ethnic factions continued to torture, beat, and harass suspected political opponents, rebel supporters, and others. In accordance with the government’s interpretation of sharia (Islamic law), the penal code provides for physical punishments, including flogging, amputation, stoning, and the public display of a body after execution, despite the constitution’s prohibitions. With the exception of flogging, such physical punishment was rare. Courts routinely imposed flogging, especially as punishment for the production or consumption of alcohol. The law requires police and the attorney general to investigate deaths on police premises, regardless of suspected cause. Reports of suspicious deaths in police custody were sometimes investigated but not prosecuted. For example, in November authorities detained a man upon his return from Israel. He died while in custody, allegedly from falling out a window, although the building had sealed windows. The president called on the chief prosecutor and chief justice to ensure full legal protection of police carrying out their duties and stated that police should investigate police officers only when they were observed exceeding their authority. Government security forces (including police, NISS, and military intelligence personnel of the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF)) beat and tortured physically and psychologically persons in detention, including members of the political opposition, civil society, religious activists, and journalists, according to civil society activists in Khartoum, former detainees, and NGOs. Torture and other forms of mistreatment included prolonged isolation, exposure to extreme temperature variations, electric shock, and use of stress positions. Some female detainees alleged NISS harassed and sexually assaulted them. Some former detainees reported being injected with an unknown substance without their consent. Many former detainees, including detained students, reported being forced to take sedatives that caused lethargy and severe weight loss. The government subsequently released many of these persons without charge. Government authorities detained members of the Darfur Students Association during the year. Upon release, numerous students showed visible signs of severe physical abuse. Government forces reportedly used live bullets to disperse crowds of protesting Darfuri students. There were numerous reports of violence against student activists’ family members.

Security forces detained political opponents incommunicado, without charge, and tortured them. Some political detainees were held in isolation cells in regular prisons, and many were held without access to family or medical treatment. Human rights organizations asserted NISS ran “ghost houses,” where it detained opposition and human rights figures without acknowledging they were being held. Such detentions at times were prolonged. Journalists were beaten, threatened, and intimidated (see section 2.a.). The law prohibits (what it deems as) indecent dress and punishes it with a maximum of 40 lashes, a fine, or both. Officials acknowledged authorities applied these laws more frequently against women than men and applied them to both Muslims and non-Muslims. Courts denied some women bail, although by law they may have been eligible. There were numerous abuses reported similar to the following example: On June 25, the Public Order Police arrested several young women and men in Khartoum under the Public Order Act for “indecent dress.” During the sweep, all women who did not have their hair covered were taken into custody. The Public Order Police further arrested two young men for wearing shorts. According to NGO reports, the Public Order Police released the young women and men later the same day without charges.

Security forces, rebel groups, and armed individuals perpetrated sexual violence against women throughout the country; the abuse was especially prevalent in the conflict areas (see section 1.g.). As of year’s end, no investigations into the allegations of mass rape in Thabit, Darfur, had taken place (see section 6).”

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What I’ve set forth above is just a small sample of some of the “lowlights.” Virtually every paragraph of the Country Report is rife with descriptions of or references to gross abuses of Human Rights.

Clearly, these are not the type of “improved country conditions” that would justify the termination of TPS for Sudan. Moreover, since it affects only 1,000 individuals, there are no overriding policy or practical reasons driving the decision.

No, the Administration’s totally disingenuous decision is just another example of wanton cruelty, denial of established facts, and stupidity.  Clearly, this is an Administration that puts Human Rights last, if at all.

As pointed out by Nolan Rappaport in a a recent post, the best solution here is a legislative solution that would provide green cards to long-time “TPSers” through the existing statutory device of “registry.” With some lead time to work on this, hopefully Lofgren can convince enough of her colleagues to make it happen.

Here’s a link to Nolan’s proposal:

http://immigrationcourtside.com/2017/09/14/the-hill-n-rappaport-suggests-legislative-solutions-for-long-term-tpsers/

PWS

09-19-17

 

THE REAL HUMAN COSTS — AND THE COSTS TO OUR HUMAN VALUES & NATIONAL CONSCIENCE — OF TRUMP’S BOGUS REFUGEE BAN!

http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/somali-refugees-american-dream-hold-trump-ban-debated-49866974

Tom Odula reports for the AP from Nairobi, Kenya, where the unnecessary human suffering caused by the Trump Administration is a daily reminder of how our national soul was diminished by Trump’s election:

“Somali refugee Asho Manangara Ibrahim has a dream. She wants to educate herself and her children in the United States. For 10 years she went through a rigorous process of interviews and screening and finally she was cleared to travel to the United States.

But Ibrahim’s hopes have been dashed. The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed the Trump administration to maintain its restrictive policy on refugees. The court agreed to an administration request to block a lower court ruling that would have eased the ban on refugees and allowed up to 24,000 refugees to enter the country before the end of October.

Ibrahim, a 30-year-old mother of four children, escaped war-torn Somalia in 2007 after three men forced their way into her house and assaulted her.

She trekked for three days with her 2-year-old daughter to reach the sprawling Dadaab refugee camp in neighboring Kenya where she stayed for three years. She was relocated to Kakuma refugee camp where she learned that she could apply to be resettled in a third country. By the time she was cleared to travel to the U.S. on July 19, she had three other children from a second marriage.

After years of patiently waiting to be resettled, the news that she may not be allowed into the U.S. because of the Trump administration restrictions has devastated her.

“I feel shocked. I forget things now,” she told The Associated Press last month through an interpreter.

She and her three daughters and small son pass their days in a makeshift home of mud walls, sticks and battered sheets. The children sit on woven plastic rugs covering a cracked-earth floor amid the barest of possessions: plastic water jugs, metal basins, a simple stove.

Ibrahim is one of about 500 people among the hundreds of thousands in Kenyan refugee camps who are ready for resettlement in the U.S. but are now stranded, said Jennifer Sime, senior vice president with the International Rescue Committee, an organization that helps resettlements.

The fear and rhetoric that refugees are a security threat or terrorists looking to infiltrate the U.S. are unfounded, Sime said.

“The probability of dying from an act of terrorism committed by a refugee is unbelievably low. Refugees have not perpetrated terrorist acts,” she said. The chance of being murdered in a terrorist attack committed by a refugee is one in 3.64 billion a year, she added, citing 2016 figures from the Cato Institute.

Globally about 45,000 refugees have been approved for resettlement in the U.S. and 2,000 are ready to board planes but this has been put on hold, Sime said. Many gave away their hard-earned belongings to start a new life, she said.

Tuesday’s court order was not the last word on the travel policy that President Donald Trump rolled out in January. The Supreme Court justices are scheduled to hear arguments on Oct. 10 on the legality of the bans on refugees anywhere in the world and on travelers from six mostly Muslim countries.

It’s unclear, though, what will be left for the court to decide. The 90-day travel ban lapses in late September and the 120-day refugee ban will expire a month later.

The Trump administration has yet to say whether it will seek to renew the bans, make them permanent or expand the travel ban to other countries.

For now Ibrahim, like many in limbo, must wait to see if her American dream of education for her family will become a reality.”

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Maybe, moral leadership doesn’t end wars or prevent famine. But, we have graphically demonstrated over the past four decades the inability to solve problems by use of military force. Moral leadership is still a useful thing to have. And, by electing Trump and his intellectually shallow, unqualified, amoral minions we have diminished ourselves in the world’s eyes!

PWS

09-15-17

FORMER DHS SEC MIKE CHERTOFF TELLS HOW CUTTING REFUGEE ADMISSIONS HURTS AMERICA AND ENDANGERS NATIONAL SECURITY!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/cutting-refugee-admissions-hurts-americans-heres-how/2017/09/14/c7c8b5e6-9987-11e7-b569-3360011663b4_story.html?utm_term=.268b590d8b01

Chertoff writes in the Washington Post:

“President Trump will make another decision this month that will affect thousands of people: How many refugees will the United States admit in fiscal year 2018?

The president already cut refugee admissions by more than half this year, from more than 100,000 down to 50,000. By way of comparison, the highest ceiling under President Ronald Reagan was 140,000. The president has also signaled, through his executive orders and in his budget proposal, that these cuts will carry over to next year. And in fact, some in his administration are trying to convince him to cut even further.

This would be a mistake. Cutting refugee admittances would not only be a moral failure but also damage our national interest abroad and our economy.

Of course, security is an imperative, and the refugee resettlement program is secure. U.S. security and intelligence agencies conduct multiple reviews on every refugee admitted, and only those approved for admission by the Department of Homeland Security are granted refuge in the United States.

 

There is also the humanitarian imperative: We are in the midst of the greatest refugee crisis on record, with more than 22 million people seeking safety from violence, conflict and persecution all over the world. The vast majority of refugees — nearly 90 percent — are hosted by poor and middle-income countries. Only the most vulnerable — those whose safety cannot be assured in their countries of first refuge — are selected for resettlement. For these refugees — widowed women; orphaned children; survivors of rape, torture and brutal religious persecution — refugee resettlement is a lifeline.

But what’s in it for the United States?

Strategic allies located near crises host the largest refugee populations in the world. Jordan, Turkey, Pakistan and Kenya are among the top refugee-hosting states. Their willingness to host millions of refugees contributes greatly to regional stability and security, all in regions where U.S. troops are deployed. As our military works to contain terrorist insurgencies in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and the Horn of Africa, forcing refugees to return to unsafe and unstable countries would make countering terrorism more difficult.

 

That’s why in 2016, when the Kenyan government threatened to close the Dadaab refugee camp and forcibly return more than 250,000 Somalis to an unstable Somalia, then-Secretary of State John F. Kerry got on a plane to Kenya. It’s also why the United States should be concerned that more than 700,000 Afghan registered and unregistered refugees have been returned to Afghanistan since 2016 — a threefold increase from 2015 — at a time when growing instability in Afghanistan and terrorist gains are forcing an increase in U.S. troop levels.

If we’re not willing to do our fair share, how can we ask front-line allies to do more?

Maintaining resettlement commitments is also critical to our military, diplomatic and intelligence operations abroad. Tens of thousands of Iraqi and Afghan nationals have put their lives on the line to support intelligence-gathering, operations planning and other essential services. Terrorist groups openly target these individuals because of their cooperation with Americans. Resettlement is instrumental to ensuring their safety — a testament to the U.S. military’s commitment to leave no one behind on the battlefield.

And in a proud American tradition, Republican and Democratic presidents have used refugee admissions to signal support for those who reject ideologies antithetical to U.S. values. In the past few decades, we have raised our admissions ceilings to take in those fleeing communist uprisings, religious persecution and tyranny.

 

Today, the United States must provide unwavering support for Muslims who put their lives at risk to reject terrorist ideologies, many of whom refused to join or be conscripted into terrorist groups, militias and state security forces persecuting their fellow citizens. The Islamic State considers all those who flee its rule as heretics subject to execution. Those who risk their lives — and their children’s lives — to reject terrorism must know, as a matter of our fight against extremism, that the United States supports and welcomes them.

Even in the wake of 9/11, the worst terrorist attack in our country’s history, President George W. Bush deliberately and explicitly maintained a refugee admissions ceiling of 70,000 annually, affirming the United States’ great humanitarian tradition.

Finally, refugees enrich and are deeply supported by our communities. Hundreds of mayors, faith leaders and business leaders have attested to the contributions refugees make. Thousands of Americans donate volunteer hours, in-kind goods and services, and private dollars to support refugees. One study estimates only 39 percent of the costs of resettlement are covered by federal dollars.

 

Despite being among the most vulnerable and destitute when they arrive, refugees thrive. Entrepreneurship among refugees is nearly 50 percent higher than among U.S.-born populations, creating jobs for Americans. More than 57 percent of them are homeowners.

Our values and our national security interests argue for raising our refugee ceiling, not lowering it. The president should seize the mantle of Reagan and fortify U.S. leadership on refugees.”

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I’ll admit to not always being a Chertoff fan. In particular, his failure to support internal efforts to institute a strong prosecutorial discretion program at ICE that would have empowered the Chief Counsel to control the Immigration Courts’ growing docket was unfortunate, given his legal and judicial background.

But, I agree with what Chertoff says here. Just compare the power, logic, and moral authority of his statement with the mealy-mouthed, cowardly, morally vapid lies flowing from the mourths of xenophobic, disingenuous, fear mongers like Jeff “Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions, Stephen Miller, Steve Bannon, Rep. Steve King, and the rest of the White Nationalist crowd!

Refugeees make America great! White Nationalist xenophobes, not so much!

PWS

09-15-17

WELCOMING REFUGEES SHOULD BE A “NO BRAINER” FOR U.S. — What Does That Say About What’s Between The Ears Of Pols Who Vilify Them & Seek To Slash Legal Admissions?

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/14/opinion/welcoming-refugees-trump-america.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=opinion-c-col-right-region®ion=opinion-c-col-right-region&WT.nav=opinion-c-col-right-region

David Miliband writes in the NYT:

“Many Americans, and the American government itself, have expressed shock at the treatment of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. The Trump administration has also said it is concerned about persecuted religious minorities in the Middle East. For his part, the president has said he wants to defend the rights of the Castro regime’s opponents in Cuba.

Yet all these protestations will be for nothing if, as the deadline approaches for the White House to make its determination about the number of refugees to be admitted next year, the administration decides to decimate the United States refugee resettlement program. At stake are not just the lives of tens of thousands of victims of war and persecution who dream of starting a new life in America; at risk also are American values, the United States’ reputation and American interests around the world.

Every year, the president decides a refugee admission number. Since the 1980 Refugee Act, the average annual admissions ceiling under both Republican and Democratic presidents has exceeded 95,000. For the fiscal year 2017, President Barack Obama decided the number should be 110,000, against the backdrop of a global refugee population that numbers some 22.5 million. President Trump’s two “travel ban” executive orders already intended to cut the 2017 number by more than 50 percent.

Now a decision is expected on the number for fiscal year 2018. Inside the administration, there is a debate between fact and fiction.

The facts are that the vetting for entry to the United States as a refugee is tougher than for any other means of arrival. Not one of the three million refugees to the United States since 1980 has committed a lethal act of terror on American soil. The Cato Institute has calculated that a United States resident has a 1 in 3.64 billion chance of being killed by a refugee.

 

Meanwhile, some 60,000 Iraqis who have supported the American military and diplomatic effort in Iraq — as, for example, interpreters — are waiting to know if the promise of safe passage to the United States is to be honored.

To put the reduced number of admissions the Trump administration will permit for 2018 in a larger context, the king of Jordan, an American ally, has said that his country of some 9.5 million inhabitants is at a breaking point, with 650,000 registered refugees and, by some estimates, as many more unregistered. Last year, the United States helped resettle more than 19,000 of those most vulnerable Syrians from Jordan. Besides relieving pressure there, this crucially countered the Islamic State’s narrative that America will never offer dignity to Muslims.

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Some more facts. Providing sanctuary is not charity: Researchers have found that over a 20-year period, those who were admitted to the United States as refugees between the ages of 18 and 45 (and more than half of refugees are under 18) will pay $21,000 more in taxes than they will receive in benefits.

American leadership is a vital part of the story. This time last year, the Obama administration’s response to the refugee crises led to a doubling of refugee admissions pledges by wealthy nations. This year, America’s retreat from its commitments has contributed to a nearly 60 percent fall in the global resettlement total so far this year.

The question is whether the Trump administration cares about the facts. Because fiction has its backers. The fiction that the vetting is done by the United Nations, not the United States. That refugees are economic migrants in disguise. That America bears an unfair share of the global burden.

The reverse is true: According to Amnesty International, the world’s top 10 refugee-hosting countries, places like Uganda, account for only 2.5 percent of global income. Uganda has received more than 600,000 refugees alone from the war in South Sudan since 2016. When I asked its leaders in June if they were going to put up the shutters, their answer was simple: “It could have been us. These are our fellow human beings. We cannot turn them away.”

If Uganda can welcome refugees, a country like the United States has no reason to upend a great national tradition. From among its refugee population, America has benefited from entrepreneurs like Andrew Grove and Sergey Brin, entertainers like Gloria Estefan and public servants like Madeleine Albright.

The people waiting to know their fate are from every walk of life and every station in society: students, factory workers, accountants, widows. What they have in common is that they have lost everything, including in some cases their husbands or wives, sons or daughters. They have heard the professions of concern and looked to the United States as a beacon of hope. Now they want to know if the words mean anything.

The test for this administration is simple. Set a refugee resettlement number around the past level of multiple administrations of 75,000, and this will show that the White House has a head as well as a heart. Gut the refugee program, which the Senate, in the last week, again funded, and the administration will lose any claim to strategy or to humanity.

Crocodile tears are the worst aspect of diplomacy. Real lives depend on this fateful decision.

David Miliband (@DMiliband), a former British foreign secretary, is the president and chief executive of the International Rescue Committee.”

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Historically, refugee admissions have been an area of strong bipartisan agreement. We should not let White Nationalist, xenophobic, “know nothings” like Jeff Sessions and Stephen Miller diminish America’s greatness with their false messages of hate and fear masked as bogus national security and economic concerns.

PWS

09-15-17

THE WORLD HAS MORE REFUGEES THAN AT ANY TIME SINCE WWII; REFUGEES NEED THE U.S. TO SAVE THEM & WE NEED REFUGEES’ ENERGY, BRAVERY, & TALENTS! — THE RESPONSE OF WHITE NATIONALISTS LIKE MILLER & SESSIONS IS TO RECOMMEND CUTTING REFUGEE ADMISSIONS TO AN ALL-TIME LOW OF 15,000! — Don’t Let These Racist Xenophobes Get Away With It!

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/09/trump-considers-cutting-refugee-cap-to-lowest-in-decades.html?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Daily%20Intelligencer%20-%20September%2013%2C%202017&utm_term=Subscription%20List%20-%20Daily%20Intelligencer%20%281%20Year%29

Adam K. Raymond reports in New York Magazine:

“In 2016, the last year of President Obama’s administration, the U.S. accepted 85,000 refugees and set a goal of bumping that number up to 110,00 this year. Those plans changed with President Trump’s so-called travel ban, which set the refugee limit at 50,000 for 2016. Now, the administration is considering setting that number even lower for 2018, despite the worst refugee crisis since World War II.

The President has until October 1 to set a refugee ceiling and, the Times reports, there’s a debate raging in the White House about whether the number should be reduced to numbers not seen in decades. Leading the arguments against cutting the totals is Trump senior adviser Stephen Miller, an immigration hawk and ally of Steve Bannon and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Miller has reportedly produced cutting the number all the way to 15,000. The Department of Homeland Security has proposed its own cut to 40,000.

The Times explains their purported thinking:

 

Two administration officials said those pushing for a lower number are citing the need to strengthen the process of vetting applicants for refugee status to prevent would-be terrorists from entering the country. Two others said another factor is a cold-eyed assessment of the money and resources that would be needed to resettle larger amounts of refugees at a time when federal immigration authorities already face a years long backlog of hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers.
This reasoning doesn’t align with the facts. Refugees are far more likely to be victims of politically motivated attacks than perpetrators. Limiting refugees does not keep America safer because refugees are not dangerous. It’s difficult not to see nativism as the motive behind pretending that they are: fear makes it easier to convince people that suffering people should be excluded from the United States. As for the cost concerns, the GOP’s feigned fiscal prudence should never be taken seriously.

By setting the refugee cap at 50,000 this year, Trump has already pushed the number lower than it’s been in decades. In the 37 years since the Refugee Act of 1980 gave the president a role in setting the cap, it hasn’t slipped lower than the 67,000 President Reagan set in 1987.

Cutting the refugee ceiling would leave tens of thousands of vulnerable people out in the cold, the International Rescue Committee said in a report last month. The humanitarian organization advocates for a ceiling no lower than 75,000 people. “An admissions level of at least 75,000 is a critical signal to the world that the United States remains a safe haven for those fleeing persecution, terror and ideologies antithetical to American democratic values,” the report says. “Anything less would be to turn our backs on the United States’ humanitarian tradition and global leadership.”

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Under the last three Administrations, the US has made an absolute muddle out of two ill-advised wars and Middle East policies in general. The idea that guys like Trump, Tillerson, Miller, Bannon, Sessions, and even “the Generals” can come up with a constructive solution borders on the ludicrous. Nope. They going to to fight the 21st Century version of the “100 Years War” with similar results.

If there is a solution out there that will help achieve stability and provide a durable solution to the terrorist threats, it’s more likely going to be coming from one of today’s refugees who have a better idea of what’s actually going on and how we might become part of the solution rather than making the problems worse.

Refugees represent America’s hope. The Sessions-Miller-Bannon cabal represents America’s darkest side — one that threatens to drag us all into the abyss of their dark, distorted, and fundamentally anti-American world view.

PWS

09-13-17