JOE PATRICE @ ABOVE THE LAW: WE NOW HAVE “SCIENTIFIC PROOF” THAT IMMIGRATION LAWYERS ARE “INCREDIBLY USEFUL” — IN FACT, THEY ARE ESSENTIAL TO DUE PROCESS — So, Why Are Sessions & His Minions Smearing Lawyers & Trying To Railroad More Migrants Through The System Without Fair Hearings?

We Have Scientific Proof That Lawyers Are Incredibly Useful

Patrice writes:

“So instead of fighting whether or not the feds can order cops to bust up the local Motel 6, cities can just hire some lawyers.

This is the lie of every talking head that praises building a wall but adds, with all faux sincerity, that they have “no problem with legal immigrants.” Almost half of the people shuttled through assembly line deportation hearings actually fit within legal immigration protections, but the complexity of the system — not to mention language barriers — make them victims of the bureaucracy.

If that projection is correct, NYIFUP cases result in immigrant victories 48 percent of the time. As Oren Root, director of the Vera Institute’s Center for Immigration and Justice, puts it, that means that of every 12 immigrants who are winning at Varick Street right now, 11 would have been deported without a lawyer.

That finding challenges a widely held assumption about immigration court: that most immigrants who go through it don’t qualify for the types of protection that Congress has laid out for particularly compelling cases. The Vera finding implies that, in fact, many immigrants do deserve relief as Congress and the executive branch have established it — but that hundreds of thousands of them have been deported without getting the chance to pursue those claims.

New York’s program has inspired 12 more cities to adopt the program. It’s put up or shut up time for the Department of Justice — if they’re really committed to proving some undocumented migrant is in violation of the law, then stand up and make that case in court.

Against a real attorney.

Unless they’re chicken.”

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Read the complete article at the link. I have previously reported on the VOX News Article and the Vera study.

I think Patrice has hit the nail on the head. Sessions, Miller, Bannon and the White Nationalist crowd are biased bullies picking on the most vulnerable and disadvantaged. Like all bullies, they have absolutely no desire to compete fairly on a level playing field.

The Vera report confirms what many of us involved in the field have been saying for years: a significant portion of those going through Immigration Court, probably 50% or more are entitled to be in the US. Without lawyers, such individuals have little or no chance of making and succeeding on claims that would allow them to stay. Since at least one-third of individuals (and a much higher percentage of detained individuals) are unrepresented, we are unlawfully removing tens of thousands of individuals each year, in violation of due process. And nothing aggravates this unfairness more than unnecessary detention (in other words, the majority of immigration detention which involves individuals who are not criminals, security threats, or threats to abscond if they are represented and understand the system).

A competent and conscientious Attoyney General would work cooperatively with private bar groups, NGOs, and localities to solve the representation crisis and drastically reduce the use of expensive and inhumane immigration detention. But, Sessions is moving in exactly the opposite direction, in violation of constitutional principles of due process, practical efficiency, and basic human decency.

PWS

11-13-17

REAL DUE PROCESS MAKES A STUNNING DIFFERENCE! – NY PROJECT FINDS THAT REPRESENTED IMMIGRANTS ARE 12X MORE LIKELY TO WIN CASES!

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/11/9/16623906/immigration-court-lawyer

Dara Lind reports for VOX

“Omar Siagha has been in the US for 52 years. He’s a legal permanent resident with three children. He’d never been to prison, he says, before he was taken into Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention — faced with the loss of his green card for a misdemeanor.

His brother tried to seek out lawyers who could help Siagha, but all they offered, in his words, were “high numbers and no hope” — no guarantee, in other words, that they’d be able to get him out of detention for all the money they were charging.

Then he met lawyers from Brooklyn Defender Services — part of the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project, an effort to guarantee legal representation for detained immigrants. They demanded only one thing of him, he recalls: “Omar, you’ve got to tell us the truth.”

But Siagha’s access to a lawyer in immigration court is the exception.

There’s no right to counsel in immigration court, which is part of the executive branch rather than the judiciary. Often, an immigrant’s only shot at legal assistance before they’re marched in front of a judge is the pro bono or legal aid clinic that happens to have attorneys at that courthouse. Those clinics have such limited resources that they try to select only the cases they think have the best shot of winning — which can be extremely difficult to ascertain in a 15-minute interview.

But advocates and local governments are trying to make cases like Siagha’s the rule, not the exception. Soon, every eligible immigrant who gets detained in one of a dozen cities — including New York, Chicago, Oakland, California, and Atlanta — will have access to a lawyer to help fight their immigration court case.

The change started at Varick Street. The New York Immigrant Family Unity Project started in New York City in 2013, guaranteeing access to counsel for detained immigrants.

According to a study released Thursday by the Vera Institute for Justice (which is now helping fund the representation efforts in the other cities, under the auspices of the Safe Cities Network), the results were stunning. With guaranteed legal representation, up to 12 times as many immigrants have been able to win their cases: either able to get legal relief from deportation or at least able to persuade ICE to drop the attempt to deport them this time.

So far, cities have been trying to protect their immigrant populations through inaction — refusing to help with certain federal requests. Giving immigrants lawyers, on the other hand, seemingly makes the system work better. And if it works, it could leave the Trump administration — which is already upset with the amount of time it takes to resolve an immigration court case — very frustrated indeed. (The Department of Justice, which runs immigration courts, didn’t respond to a request for comment.)

Immigration court is supposed to give immigrants a chance for relief. In reality … it depends.

As federal immigration enforcement has ramped up over the past 15 years, nearly every component of it has gotten a sleek bureaucratic upgrade, a boatload of money, and heightened interest and oversight from Congress. But immigration court has been overlooked as everything else has been built up around it.

The reason is simple. Chronologically, most immigrants have to go through immigration court after being apprehended and before being deported. But bureaucratically, immigration courts are run by the Executive Office for Immigration Review, housed in the Justice Department instead of by the Department of Homeland Security. And when it comes to money and bureaucratic attention, that makes all the difference in the world.

From the outside, the striking thing about immigration court is how slow it is — lawyers already report that hearings for those apprehended today are scheduled in 2021. That’s also the Trump administration’s problem with it; the federal government is sweeping up more immigrants than it did in 2016 but deporting fewer of them.

But it doesn’t seem that way from the inside, to an immigrant who doesn’t have any idea what’s going on — especially one who’s being kept in detention.

This is the scene that Peter Markowitz accustomed himself to, as a young immigration lawyer at the Varick Street courtroom in New York: “People brought in, in shackles, with their feet and hands shackled to their waist, often not understanding the language of the proceedings, having no idea of the legal norms that were controlling their fate — being deported hand over fist.”

I know he’s not exaggerating; in my first morning watching immigration court proceedings in Minneapolis in 2008, I saw at least 10 detainees get issued deportation orders before lunch. Almost none had lawyers. Sometimes the judge would pause and explain to the detainee, in plain English, what was really going on — but she didn’t have to, and sometimes she wouldn’t bother.”

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Read Dara’s full article at the link.

No lawyer = no due process. Rather than trying to hustle folks out of the country without a full and effective chance for them to be heard — in other words, true Due Process — Jeff Sessions should be changing the Immigration Court system to put less reliance on detention and detention center “kangaroo courts” and more emphasis on insuring that each individual scheduled for a hearing has fair and  reasonable access to competent counsel.

I totally agree that due process can’t be put on a “timetable,” as Sessions and his crew at the DOJ seem to want. As observed by none other than Chief Justice John Roberts — certainly no “bleeding heart liberal” —“It takes time to decide a case on appeal. Sometimes a little; sometimes a lot.” Nken v. Holder, 556 U.s. 418 (2009). That’s even more true on the trial level.

I have a somewhat different take on whether representation and providing full due process will ultimately slow down the system. In the short run, represented cases might take longer than unrepresented ones (although I personally found that not invariably true). However, as noted by Chief Judge Katzmann, lack of representation both promotes wrong, and therefore unfair, results, but also inhibits the proper development of the law. (Perhaps not incidentally, I note that Chief Judge Katzmann actually took time to attend and participate in Annual Immigration Judge Training Conferences back in the day when the “powers that be” at DOJ and EOIR deemed such training to be a necessary ingredient of a fair judicial system — something that was eliminated by Sessions’s DOJ this year. Apparently, new, untrained Immigration Judges can be expected to “crank out” more final orders of removal than trained judges.)

When I was in Arlington, the vast majority of the non-detained respondents were represented, and the majority of those got some sort of relief — in other words, won their cases to some extent. As time went on, this development required the DHS to adjust its position and to stop “fully litigating” issues that experience and the law told them they were going to lose.

That, in turn, led to more efficient and focused hearings as well as decisions to drop certain types of cases as an exercise of prosecutorial discretion. Had that process been allowed to continue, rather than being artificially arrested by the Trump regime, it could well have eventually led to more efficient use of docket time and alternate means of disposing of cases that were “likely losers” or of no particular enforcement value to the DHS or the country at large.

By contrast, “haste makes waste” attempts to force cases through the system without representation or otherwise in violation of Due Process often led to appellate reversals, “do-overs,” and re-openings, all of which were less efficient for the system than “doing it right in the first place” would have been!

In my view (echoed at least to some extent by my colleague retired Judge Jeffrey Chase), more conscientious publication of BIA precedents granting asylum could and should have taken large blocks of asylum cases off the “full merits” dockets of Immigration Judges — either by allowing them to be “short docketed” with the use of stipulations or allowing them to be favorably disposed of by the DHS Asylum Offices.

No system that I’m aware of can fully litigate every single possible law violation. Indeed, our entire criminal justice system works overwhelmingly from “plea bargaining” that often bears little if any resemblance to “what actually happened.” Plea bargaining is a practical response that reflects the reality of our justice system and  the inherent limitations on judicial time. And effective plea bargaining requires lawyers on both sides as well as appropriate law development as guidance that can only happen when parties are represented. The absurd claim of Sessions and the DHS that the law allows them no discretion as to whether or not to bring certain categories of removal cases is just that — absurd and in direct contradiction of the rest of the U.S. justice system.

The current policies of the DHS and the DOJ, which work against Due Process, rather than seeking to take advantage of and actively promote it, are ultimately doomed to failure. The only question is how much of a mess, how many wasted resources, and how much pain and unfairness they will create in the process of failing.

Andrea Saenz, mentioned in the article is a former Judicial Law clerk at the New York Immigration Court. I have always admired her clear, concise, “accessible” legal writing — much like that of Judge Jeffrey Chase — and have told her so.

I am also proud that a number of attorneys involved in the “New York Project” and the Brooklyn Defenders are alums of the Arlington Immigration Court or my Georgetown Law RLP class — in other words, charter members of the “New Due Process Army!”  They are literally changing our system, one case and one individual life at a time. And, they and their successors will still be at it long after guys like Jeff Sessions and his restrictionist cronies and their legally and morally bankrupt philosophies have faded from the scene.

Thanks to my friend the amazing Professor Alberto Benítez from the GW Law Immigration Clinic for sending me this item!

PWS

11-10-17

VOX: THINK TRUMP IS GOING TO KEEP HIS PROMISE TO CRACK DOWN ON WHITE SUPREMACISTS? — NOT LIKELY, THEY ARE A KEY PART OF HIS “BASE!”

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/8/14/16144598/trump-white-terrorism

Dara Lind writes:

“The president of the United States finally condemned white supremacist violence in Charlottesville on Monday, two days after an initial statement that blamed “both sides” for violence largely instigated by far-right activists (including a car attack on counterprotesters that killed one person and injured 19).

But the only part of his remarks that appeared to promise that he was devoting not just words, but action, to the problem of right-wing extremism in America — “We will spare no resource in fighting so that every American child can grow up free from violence and fear” — was actually the most hollow.

On Saturday, too, Trump promised to get to the root of the problem: “We want to get the situation straightened out in Charlottesville, and we want to study it. And we want to see what we’re doing wrong as a country where things like this can happen.” The problem is that his administration has already indicated that it thinks it knows the answers to these problems. It’s cut funding for outreach to counter white supremacism, while pushing punitive “law and order” responses to civil unrest.

Trump’s willingness to explicitly say that white supremacism is bad (even if it’s only offered in response to criticism) is worth at least something — it’s a nod in the direction that white supremacism is an ideology that ought to be ostracized. But his administration’s actions threaten to undermine any value in countering white supremacism that Trump’s rhetoric might have had.

The Trump administration has systematically rejected efforts to counter right-wing violence

Barely a week after President Trump was inaugurated, rumors began to swirl that he was going to change the name of the federal “Countering Violent Extremism” task force, located in the Department of Homeland Security, to “Countering Islamic Extremism” — and that the task force would accordingly “no longer target groups such as white supremacists who have also carried out bombings and shootings in the United States.”

The task force’s name hasn’t changed. But its function has. After a review of grants provided by the task force, the Trump administration preserved most of the grants (which involved Islamic communities) — but killed a $400,000 grant to Life After Hate, a group that attempts to “deradicalize” young men drawn to white supremacism.

It’s not that the Trump administration didn’t have evidence that right-wing extremism was a potential problem for public safety. According to Foreign Policy, the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI issued a report on May 10 called “White Supremacist Extremism Poses Persistent Threat of Lethal Violence,” which noted that white supremacists “were responsible for 49 homicides in 26 attacks from 2000 to 2016 … more than any other domestic extremist movement.”

But among conservatives skeptical of “identity politics,” there’s been a longstanding resistance to any government warnings about far-right extremist groups. When the Department of Homeland Security published a report in 2009 warning of increased racist extremism after the election of President Obama, the backlash was so intense that the department had to formally retract the report.

. . . .

There’s been a similar turn away from community engagement and toward punitiveness on other fronts. Under Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly (who’s now White House chief of staff), Trump administration officials were indifferent or hostile to concerns that aggressive immigration enforcement might be discouraging victims of crime from reporting to police. Under Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the Department of Justice has stopped supporting legal “consent decrees” between police departments and local governments to rebuild public trust, while Sessions himself has advocated for a return to maximal punitiveness in criminal punishment and explained that African-American communities need to do a better job of trusting police to protect them.

In both his initial statement Saturday and his remarks Monday, President Trump presented the violence in Charlottesville as primarily a problem of social disorder — something that more and better policing, and more public trust in policing, could solve. It’s an old theme for Trump; “law and order” has been the theme of some of his biggest public moments on the campaign trail and as president. According to the Daily Beast’s Asawin Suebsaeng, Trump was particularly insistent that his Saturday statement on Charlottesville adhere to a “law and order” theme, because he remembered it fondly from the campaign.

Trump may see “law and order” as the solution to everything because it reminds him of his electoral success. Other members of his administration see it as the solution to everything because they believe the fundamental problem is “social disorder,” not racism or white supremacism.

Trump’s willingness to criticize white supremacists by name is welcome and important. But if his administration has already decided what caused the problems in Charlottesville over the weekend, it’s hard to imagine that their attempts to “spare no expense” will get to the root of the problem — and won’t end up targeting the same nonwhite Americans and immigrants that the white nationalists themselves wish to intimidate.”

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Read Lind’s entire article at the above link.

I also think the Lind’s observations about Jeff Sessions are “spot on.” I have read other commentators suggest that because Sessions is such a “law and order guy” he can be trusted to prosecute the Charlottesville gang to the fullest extent of the law. That might well be true in this particular case. Clearly, Sessions is someone who historically has and continues to get his jollies from throwing folks in jails of all sorts (unless he can seek the death penalty which excites him even more).

But, Sessions has spent a career on the wrong side of racial history and hung around with immigration restrictionists and White Nationalists like Bannon and Steven Miller (who actually worked for him). He has wasted no time in essentially dismantling the Civil Rights enforcement mechanisms at the DOJ and turning the resources to looking for ways that whites can use civil rights laws for their advantage and to keep blacks and other minorities in their respective places. Further, he shows neither respect for nor acknowledgement of the tremendous achievements of American migrants, both legal and undocumented. In plain terms, he has faithfully carried out key elements of Trump’s White Nationalist agenda, to the delight of white supremacists and racists. And, it’s certainly not like Sessions isn’t aware of how his actions “play” in both the white and non-white communities.

Sessions is far too compromised ever to be an “honest broker” in combating white supremacists and racial hatred in the United States. Even if he throws the Charlottesville perpetrators in jail and throws away the key, he’ll never be credible as a defender of decency, tolerance, and civil rights in the face of White Nationalism or its first cousin white supremacism.

PWS

08-14-17

Trump Administration Quietly Drops 9th Circuit Fight In Washington v. Trump — Will Rescind 1st Travel Ban EO And Issue Another!

http://www.vox.com/2017/2/16/14640676/trump-muslim-ban-new-replace

Dara Lind reports on VOX:

“The first thing President Donald Trump repeals and replaces is going to be his own executive order on immigration.

Both Trump, in a press conference, and the Department of Justice, in a court filing, said Thursday that the president is abandoning the order he signed January 27, banning all visa holders from seven majority-Muslim countries and nearly all refugees from entering the United States.

The ban was only in effect for a week before being put on hold by a federal court — and judges around the country have been less than sympathetic to the administration’s arguments for its constitutionality. President Trump continues to believe the judges’ ruling was “a bad decision.” But he’s buckling to it anyway.”

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The Department of Justice asked the full 9th Circuit to hold the case (Washington v. Trump) in abeyance until a new Executive Order is issued. Presumably, the Department will then argue that the new EO “moots” the case and that the full court therefore should vacate the decision of the 9th Circuit panel temporarily restraining the first Executive Order. In other words, there would no longer be a “case or controversy” once the first EO is rescinded.

There may well be challenges to the new Executive Order.  We will just have to wait and see what it looks like. Most observers expect that the new order will be limited to individuals who have never entered the United States. It might therefore be more difficult to formulate a successful constitutional challenge.

However a separate suite before Judge Brinkema in the EDVA, Aziz v. Trump, analyzed in earlier blogs, had a “religious discrimination” finding that might have a better chance of applying to those whose relatives or businesses are affected by a new EO.

The full article at the link contains a further link to the relevant section of the Department’s latest filing in the 9th Circuit.

Late Breaking Update:

Reuters reports that the 9th Circuit has agreed to hold action on Washington v. Trump pending “further developments.”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/appeals-court-suspends-travel-ban-proceedings_us_58a655e0e4b07602ad532f2a?68v1jx9ghrb43g14i&

PWS

02/16/17