INDEFENSIBLE: DHS’S “GONZO” IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT IS CRUEL, WASTEFUL, COUNTERPRODUCTIVE, AND ARBITRARY – IT’S THE VERY ANTITHESIS OF THE “RULE OF LAW” THAT TRUMP, SESSIONS, HOMAN & OTHERS AT THE DHS DISINGENUOUSLY TOUT IN WORDS WHILE MOCKING AND DISPARAGING BY THEIR DEEDS! – EXPOSE FRAUD, RESIST EVIL! – JOIN THE NEW DUE PROCESS ARMY!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/trump-takes-shackles-off-ice-which-is-slapping-them-on-immigrants-who-thought-they-were-safe/2018/02/11/4bd5c164-083a-11e8-b48c-b07fea957bd5_story.html

Nick Miroff and Maria Sacchetti report for the Washington Post:

“A week after he won the election, President Trump promised that his administration would round up millions of immigrant gang members and drug dealers. And after he took office, arrests by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers surged 40 percent.

Officials at the agency commonly known as ICE praise Trump for putting teeth back into immigration enforcement, and they say their agency continues to prioritize national security threats and violent criminals, much as the Obama administration did.

But as ICE officers get wider latitude to determine whom they detain, the biggest jump in arrests has been of immigrants with no criminal convictions. The agency made 37,734 “noncriminal” arrests in the government’s 2017 fiscal year, more than twice the number in the previous year. The category includes suspects facing possible charges as well as those without criminal records.

Critics say ICE is increasingly grabbing at the lowest-hanging fruit of deportation-eligible immigrants to meet the president’s unrealistic goals, replacing a targeted system with a scattershot approach aimed at boosting the agency’s enforcement statistics.

ICE has not carried out mass roundups or major workplace raids under Trump, but nearly every week brings a contentious new arrest.

2:42
Trump said he would deport millions. Now ICE is in the spotlight.

The White House has said they are focused on deporting undocumented immigrants who “pose a threat to this country.”

Virginia mother was sent back to El Salvador in June after her 11 years in the United States unraveled because of a traffic stop. A Connecticut man with an American-born wife and children and no criminal record was deported to Guatemala last week. And an immigration activist in New York, Ravi Ragbir, was detained in January in a case that brought ICE a scathing rebuke from a federal judge.

“It ought not to be — and it has never before been — that those who have lived without incident in this country for years are subjected to treatment we associate with regimes we revile as unjust,” said U.S. District Judge Katherine B. Forrest, reading her opinion in court before ordering ICE to release Ragbir.

“We are not that country,” she said.

Immigrants whose only crime was living in the country illegally were largely left alone during the latter years of the Obama administration. But that policy has been scrapped.

Those facing deportation who show up for periodic “check-ins” with ICE to appeal for more time in the United States can no longer be confident that good behavior will spare them from detention. Once-routine appointments now can end with the immigrants in handcuffs.

More broadly, the Trump administration has given street-level ICE officers and field directors greater latitude to determine whom they arrest and under what conditions, breaking with the more selective enforcement approach of President Barack Obama’s second term.

Trump officials have likened this to taking “the shackles off,” and they say morale at ICE is up because its officers have regained the authority to detain anyone they suspect of being in the country illegally.

1:36
ICE arrests chemistry professor in U.S. for 30 years

Syed Ahmed Jamal was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents Jan. 24 after living in the United States for more than 30 years.

Officers are detaining suspects in courthouses more often, and ICE teams no longer shy from taking additional people into custody when they knock on doors to arrest a targeted person. 

“What are we supposed to do?” said Matthew Albence, the top official in the agency’s immigration enforcement division, who described the administration’s goal as simply restoring the rule of law. If ICE fails to uphold its duties to enforce immigration laws, he added, “then the system has no integrity.”

In addition to arresting twice as many immigrants who have not been convicted of crimes, ICE also arrested 105,736 immigrants with criminal convictions, a slight increase. That figure includes people with serious or violent offenses as well as those with lesser convictions, such as driving without a license or entering the country illegally.

ICE’s arrest totals in Trump’s first year in office are still much lower than they were during Obama’s early tenure, which the agency says is partly because it is contending with far more resistance from state and local governments that oppose Trump’s policies. And the president’s repeated negative characterizations of some immigrant groups have created an atmosphere in which arrests that were once standard now erupt as political flash points.

Obama initially earned the moniker “deporter in chief” because his administration expelled hundreds of thousands of immigrants, including people with no criminal records. But when Republicans blocked his effort to create a path to citizenship for millions living in the country illegally, Obama curtailed ICE enforcement, especially for those without serious criminal violations. Those measures incensed Republicans — and eventually helped to propel Trump into office.

An estimated 11 million people are living in the United States without legal residency, and the new era of ICE enforcement has shattered the presumption that their social and economic integration into American life would protect them.

Because immigration records are generally secret, it is difficult to independently verify how federal agents decide to make arrests. Immigrant advocates and ICE often clash over immigration cases, and both sides frequently present incomplete versions of an immigrant’s case.

Last month, a college chemistry instructor in Kansas, Syed Ahmed Jamal, was taken into custody on his lawn while preparing to take his daughter to school. He arrived from Bangladesh 30 years ago and built a life in the United States. More than 57,000 people signed an online petition asking ICE to stop his deportation, describing him as a community leader and loving father.

An immigration judge placed a temporary stay Wednesday on ICE’s attempt to deport him, but the agency’s account of Jamal’s case is starkly different. ICE said he arrived in 1987 on a temporary visa. He was ordered to leave the United States in 2002, and he complied, but three months later, he returned — legally — and overstayed again. A judge ordered him to leave the country in 2011, but he did not. ICE said agents took Jamal into custody in 2012. He lost his appeal in 2013.

At first glance, Albence said, many of ICE’s arrests may seem like “sympathetic cases — individuals who are here, and who have been here a long time.”

“But the reason they’ve been here a long time is because they gamed the system,” he said.

Defenders of the tougher approach applaud ICE’s new resolve and say it is U.S. immigration courts — not ICE — that are determining who should be allowed to stay. And they reject the idea that the longer someone has lived in the country, the more the person deserves to be left alone.

“As someone who has practiced law for 20-plus years, I find strange the idea the longer you get away with a violation, the less stiff the punishment should be, and that your continued violation of the law is basis for the argument that you shouldn’t suffer the consequences of that violation,” said Matthew O’Brien, director of research at the Federation for American Immigration Reform, or FAIR, which backs Trump’s approach.

No statute of limitations

The furor that has followed recent ICE arrests reflects a deeper disagreement — not unlike the fight over young, undocumented “dreamers” — about the consequences that those in the country illegally should face.

Living in the United States without legal status is generally treated as a civil violation, not a criminal one. And many Americans, especially Democrats, do not view it as an offense worthy of arrest and deportation once someone has settled into American life.

But in the hyper-politicized atmosphere of the immigration debate, where the merits of these arrests are increasingly litigated in public, partisans now argue over each immigrant’s perceived worthiness to remain in the country, even when a full grasp of the facts is lacking.

When a 43-year-old Polish-born doctor in Michigan who came to the United States at age 5 was arrested last month, supporters rushed to his defense. ICE justified its decision by saying the doctor, who was a permanent legal resident, had had repeated encounters with local police and two 1992 misdemeanor convictions for destruction of property and receiving stolen items, crimes that under U.S. immigration law are considered evidence of “moral turpitude.”

Others who committed crimes long ago and satisfied their obligations to the American justice system have learned there is no statute of limitations on ICE’s ability to use the immigrants’ offenses as grounds to arrest and deport them.

When Ragbir, the New York immigration activist, was detained last month during a scheduled check-in with ICE, his supporters accused the agency of targeting him for retaliation.

But Ragbir is the type of person who is now a top priority for ICE. After becoming a lawful U.S. resident in 1994, he was convicted of mortgage and wire fraud in 2000.

Ragbir served two years in prison, then married a U.S. citizen in 2010. Immigration courts repeatedly spared him from deportation, but his most recent appeal was denied, and ICE took him into custody eight days before his residency was due to expire.

Ragbir was so stunned that he lost consciousness, court records show, and was taken to a hospital.

The ‘sanctuary’ campaign

Former acting ICE director John Sandweg, who helped draft the 2014 memo that prioritized arrests based on the severity of immigrants’ criminal offenses, said the agency has resources to deport only about 200,000 cases a year from the interior of the United States.

“The problem is, when you remove all priorities, it’s like a fisherman who could just get his quota anywhere,” Sandweg said. “It diminishes the incentives on the agents to go get the bad criminals. Now their job is to fill the beds.”

Albence said the agency’s priority remains those who represent a threat to public safety or national security, just as it was under Obama. The difference now is that agents are also enforcing judges’ deportation orders against all immigrants who are subject to such orders, regardless of whether they have criminal records.

“There’s no list where we rank ‘This is illegal alien number 1 all the way down to 2.3 million,’ ” he said.

Albence said ICE prioritizes its caseload using government databases and law enforcement methods to track fugitives. But in the vast majority of cases, ICE takes custody of someone after state or local police have arrested the person.

This approach dovetailed with ICE’s enforcement emphasis on targeting serious criminals, and at first, the Obama administration and other Democrats embraced it. But activists protested that ICE was arresting people pulled over for driving infractions and other minor offenses at a time when Congress was debating whether to grant undocumented immigrants legal residency. Advocacy groups pushed cities and towns to become “sanctuary” cities that refused to cooperate with ICE.

ICE’s caseload far exceeds the capacity of its jails. In addition to the 41,500 immigrants in detention, according to the most recent data, the agency has a caseload of roughly 3 million deportation-eligible foreigners, equal to about 1 in 4 of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants nationwide.

More than 542,000 of those are considered fugitives, meaning they did not show up for their immigration hearings and were ordered deported, or they failed to leave the country after losing their cases. Nearly 2 in 3 were not considered a priority for deportation under Obama. They are now.

An additional 2.4 million undocumented immigrants are free pending hearings or appeals, or because the agency has not been able to deport them yet and the Supreme Court has ruled that such individuals cannot be jailed indefinitely. Nearly 1 million of this group have final deportation orders, including 178,000 convicted criminals.

They include the Michigan doctor and Ragbir, the New York activist.

“It’s true that all these people are deportable, but that doesn’t mean they should all have equal value,” said Cecilia Muñoz, a former policy adviser to Obama who helped shape the administration’s tiered enforcement approach.

“By crowding the courts with all kinds of people, you’re creating a resource problem,” Muñoz said.

“If you apply that logic to local police forces, you’re saying that every robber and rapist is the same as a jaywalker. And then you’re clogging your courts with jaywalkers.”

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

The Trump/Sessions/DHS “Gonzo” enforcement program that claims to be targeting criminals but actually busts lots of “collaterals” who are residing here peacefully and contributing to our society is a total sham. It has nothing to do with the “Rule of Law” or real law enforcement.

Unnecessary cruelty, wasting resources, arbitrariness, terrorizing communities, overloading already overwhelmed courts, and undermining the efforts of local politicians and law enforcement are not, and never have been, part of the “Rule of Law,” nor are they professional law enforcement techniques. They are part of the White Nationalist agenda to “beat up” on Latinos and other minorities, lump all immigrants in with “criminals,” stir up xenophobia, and throw some “red meat” to an essentially racist Trump/GOP “base.”

“By crowding the courts with all kinds of people, you’re creating a resource problem,” Muñoz said.

“If you apply that logic to local police forces, you’re saying that every robber and rapist is the same as a jaywalker. And then you’re clogging your courts with jaywalkers.”

Couldn’t have said it better myself!

As I say over and over, ICE under Trump is well on its way to becoming the most distrusted and despised “law enforcement” agency in America. That damage is likely to hamper their mission of legitimate enforcement well beyond the Trump era.

As some commentators have suggested, the only long-term solution might well be eventually dissolving ICE and turning the functions over to a new agency that will operate within the normal bounds of reasonable, professional law enforcement, rather than as a political appendage.

In the meantime, those who believe in American values and the true “Rule of Law,” should resist the out of control DHS at every step. While Trump and the GOP appear unwilling to place any limits on the abuses by the “ICEMEN,” Federal Courts have proved more receptive to the arguments that there are at least some outer limits on the conduct of law enforcement.

Join the “New Due Process Army” today!

 

PWS

01-12-18

 

ADMINISTRATION BIDS TO “JACK” U.S. COURT SYSTEM BY BYPASSING 9TH CIRCUIT AND GOING DIRECTLY TO SUPREMES FOR “RELIEF” FROM DACA REINSTATEMENT ORDER!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/immigration/trump-administration-appeals-judges-order-that-daca-must-remain-for-now/2018/01/16/41a8c960-f6e8-11e7-beb6-c8d48830c54d_story.html?hpid=hp_rhp-top-table-main_daca-appeal-315pm%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.9e1d11e8d91c

Maria Sacchetti reports for the Washington Post:

“The Justice Department on Tuesday said it would take the “rare step” of asking the Supreme Court to overturn a judge’s ruling and clear the way for the Trump administration to dismantle a program that provides work permits to undocumented immigrants who have lived in the United States since childhood.

The Trump administration said it has appealed the judge’s injunction — which said the Obama-era program must continue while a legal challenge to ending it is pending — to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

But the Justice Department will also petition the Supreme Court later this week to intervene in the case, an unusual action that would allow the government to bypass the 9th Circuit altogether in its bid to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in March.

“It defies both law and common sense” that a “single district court in San Francisco” had halted the administration’s plans, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement. “We are now taking the rare step of requesting direct review on the merits of this injunction by the Supreme Court so that this issue may be resolved quickly and fairly for all the parties involved.”

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

Read the complete article at the link.

The Supremes seem to have “enabled” the Trump Administration by giving them a highly questionable “early victory” in dissolving the lower court injunction in the “Travel Ban 3.0 Case” without making the Administration go through the normal appellate process. Obviously, Trump & Sessions have taken that as an open invitation to short-circuit the justice system by appealing to the Supremes at will.

Hard to see what the real rush is here, given that the Dreamers have been here for years, aren’t going anywhere, and the Administration won’t even begin the real phase-out of the program until March.

PWS

01-16-18

DEPORTATION REGIME: Long-Time GOP Voter Rebels When Deportation Hits Close To Home!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/immigration/the-air-force-colonel-the-ballroom-dance-instructor-and-the-us-immigration-system/2017/12/27/1b2500f6-e419-11e7-833f-155031558ff4_story.html

 

Maria Sacchetti reports for WashPost:

“For most of the past six decades, the Republican Party could count on Charlie Heimach. The retired Air Force colonel donated money to President Richard Nixon, backed Ronald Reagan and both Bushes, and cast his ballot last year for Donald Trump.

But in the recent Virginia governor’s race, Heimach voted for the Democrat, because of the Trump administration’s crackdown on illegal immigration, and its attempts to deport a ballroom dancing instructor from the studio where Heimach, 79, likes to Lindy Hop.

Since May, Heimach and a disparate crew of lawyers, military veterans, a dog walker, an entomologist and others united in their love for dancing have been on a crusade to protect the instructor they call “G,” an undocumented immigrant from Mongolia who was arrested twice in 2016 for drunken driving.

To some, their efforts are misguided — even dangerous.

But the ballroom dancers say Galtsog Gantulga is a gifted instructor who senses when his students need to talk or want to dance but are too shy to take the initiative. He hurt no one in the two drunken driving incidents, they point out, and has served time behind bars. He also sold his car and joined Alcoholics Anonymous.

In the America these dancers know, such a person deserves another chance, a view not always held in the U.S. immigration system.

For the moment, thanks to their persistence, Gantulga has a reprieve.

“He built his life over here,” said Mealy Chhim, a retired software engineer who was part of the effort. “He just messed up.”

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

Read Maria’s complete article at the link.

This is why guys like Trump, Gonzo, and Homan invariably strive to “dehumanize” immigrants in pushing their harsh deportation agenda.

PWS

12-27-17

MARIA SACCHETTI IN WASHPOST: INSIDE THE “NAG” (NEW AMERICAN GULAG) — CRUEL, INHUMAN, DEGRADING TREATMENT APPEARS TO BE WIDESPREAD IN SO-CALLED “CIVIL” IMMIGRATION DETENTION! — Where’s The Outrage? — Where’s The Congressional Oversight? — Why Aren’t Guys Like “Gonzo” & Homan Who Knowingly Promote Violations Of Legal & Human Rights As (Unlawful) “Immigration Deterrence” Under Investigation For Their Roles In Violating Human, Constitutional Rights!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/immigration/watchdog-report-finds-moldy-food-mistreatment-in-immigrant-detention-centers/2017/12/15/c97b380a-e10d-11e7-89e8-edec16379010_story.html

Maria’s always “on top” of the almost daily examples of cruel, intentionally inhumane, unconstitutional, wasteful “Gonzo” Enforcement by the Trump regime.  Here is some of what she reports on the deadly conditions in “NAG:”

“The inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security has criticized several immigration detention facilities for having spoiled and moldy food and inadequate medical care, and for inappropriate treatment of detainees, such as locking down a detainee for sharing coffee and interfering with Muslims’ prayer times.

Acting Inspector General John V. Kelly, who took over Dec. 1, said the watchdog agency identified problems at four detention centers during recent, unannounced visits to five facilities. The Dec. 11 report , released Thursday, said the flaws “undermine the protection of detainees’ rights, their humane treatment, and the provision of a safe and healthy environment.”

“Staff did not always treat detainees respectfully and professionally, and some facilities may have misused segregation,” the report found, adding that observers found “potentially unsafe and unhealthy detention conditions.”

Immigration and Customs Enforcement jails tens of thousands of immigrants for civil immigration violations, holding them until they are deported or released in the United States. The jails are not supposed to be punitive, according to the report.

ICE concurred with the inspector general’s findings and said it is taking action to fix the problems, some of which have already been addressed.

“Based on multi-layered, rigorous inspections and oversight programs, ICE is confident in conditions and high standards of care at its detention facilities,” the agency said in a statement. “To ensure the safety and well-being of those in our custody, we work regularly with contracted consultants and a variety of external stakeholders to review and improve detention conditions at ICE facilities.”

The Office of Inspector General said it launched the surprise inspections after receiving complaints from immigrant advocacy groups and on its hotline about treatment of detainees. The inspectors also interviewed staff members and detainees and examined records.

Advocates for immigrants said the report reaffirmed their long-standing calls for the detention facilities to be closed. Advocates have complained about reports of physical and sexual assaults, deaths in detention and other concerns for years under past presidents — and say their worries are increasing under President Trump.

Trump has pledged to dramatically increase deportations and is seeking congressional approval for more than 51,000 detention beds this fiscal year, up from about 30,000 under President Barack Obama.

Trump’s pick for the permanent director of ICE, Thomas D. Homan, previously ran the ICE detention system.

“The realities documented by the OIG inspectors, and many more, are endemic to the entire detention system,” Mary Small, policy director at Detention Watch Network, a nonprofit group that monitors immigration detention, said in a statement. “ICE has proven time and time again to be incapable of meeting basic standards for humane treatment.”

In a statement, Azadeh Shahshahani, legal and advocacy director of Project South, in Atlanta, cited the death in May of Jean ­Jimenez-Joseph.­ The 27-year-old Panamanian national was held in solitary confinement for 19 days at the Stewart Detention Center in rural Georgia, according to Project South.

Shahshahani said his death “should have served as a final wake-up call and resulted in the immediate closure of the facility.”

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

The Administration tries to hide, obscure, cover up, and bureaucratize what’s happening in the NAG. But, thanks to courageous reporters like Maria, the truth isn’t going to be suppressed. Read the rest of Maria’s report at the link.

Is this YOUR America? Is this the America you want YOUR children and grandchildren to read about and inherit?

Gee whiz, what were my parents and grandparents doing while neo-Nazis were invading the government and recreating the “Fourth Reich?”

And, when are the Article III Courts going to get some backbone to go with their lifetime sinicure and stand up for the Constitution and human decency before it’s too late? When good people stand by and do nothing, tyrants like Trump, Sessions, Homan, Bannon, and their corrupt supporters will have their way! 

Tell your legislators:

  • NO to Tom Homan as ICE Director;
  • NO to funding for the NAG; 
  • NO to funding DOJ’s corrupt defense of the NAG and Gonzo Immigration Enforcement;
  • NO to additional unneeded DHS Enforcement agents;
  • YES to legislative and criminal investigations of the unconstitutional activities of Gonzo, Nielsen, Homan, and their cronies and the human rights abuses they are knowingly creating by misusing the immigration laws;
  • YES to “Dreamer Relief” with “no strings attached;”
  • YES to immigration reform that legalizes law-abiding residents already here and provides additional legal visas for the future to end the “false criminalization” of needed workers and refugees!

Stand up for America as a Nation of Immigrants — Stand up for human decency — Stand against Trump, Nielsen, Sessions, Homan, Bannon, Miller and the other neo-Nazis promoting the NAG!

PWS

12-18-17

 

 

PREVENTABLE HUMAN DISASTER: THE WANTON CRUELTY, WASTEFULNESS, & TOTAL STUPIDITY OF THE TRUMP/SESSIONS “GONZO” IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT PROGRAM PORTRAYED IN GRAPHIC HUMAN TERMS — The Damage To America Of Mistreating Our Families & Our Citizen Youth Will Long Outlive The Misguided Officials Carrying It Out!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/classic-apps/deported-divided-how-a-moms-return-to-el-salvador-tore-her-family-in-two/2017/12/08/70f81724-9a37-11e7-87fc-c3f7ee4035c9_story.html

Maria Sacchetti reports in the Washington Post:

Bermudez works all the time, so Cruz Mendez cares for Steve from afar. She calls the babysitter after school to make sure he arrived safely. She checks on his health insurance and his dental appointments.

Steve no longer asks when the family will be together.

In Falls Church, Cruz Mendez was an independent woman with a salary and dreams for the future. Now she sits inside the little gray house. Bermudez cannot afford to send her money for college, so she has set those plans aside.

Over the phone, he urges her to have faith that they will be together again.

She still wears her wedding ring, and he still wears his.

 

Bermudez works all the time, so Cruz Mendez cares for Steve from afar. She calls the babysitter after school to make sure he arrived safely. She checks on his health insurance and his dental appointments.

Steve no longer asks when the family will be together.

In Falls Church, Cruz Mendez was an independent woman with a salary and dreams for the future. Now she sits inside the little gray house. Bermudez cannot afford to send her money for college, so she has set those plans aside.

Over the phone, he urges her to have faith that they will be together again.

She still wears her wedding ring, and he still wears his.

Bermudez works all the time, so Cruz Mendez cares for Steve from afar. She calls the babysitter after school to make sure he arrived safely. She checks on his health insurance and his dental appointments.

Steve no longer asks when the family will be together.

In Falls Church, Cruz Mendez was an independent woman with a salary and dreams for the future. Now she sits inside the little gray house. Bermudez cannot afford to send her money for college, so she has set those plans aside.

Over the phone, he urges her to have faith that they will be together again.

She still wears her wedding ring, and he still wears his.

Maria Sacchetti reports in the Washington Post:

“Cruz Mendez, 30, made this trip in reverse when she was 18 years old, skipping her high school graduation to flee a neighborhood man who had harassed her in San Salvador. She was detained at the U.S.-Mexico border, released and allowed to join her brother in Virginia. Two months later, an immigration judge in Texas ordered her deported. Cruz Mendez says she never knew about the hearing.

In Fairfax, she was crowned beauty queen at a local Salvadoran festival and met Rene Bermudez, a hazel-eyed laborer who worked construction.

Steve was born in 2007, Danyca in 2012.

Late in 2013, police stopped Cruz Mendez for failing to turn on the lights on her minivan and charged her with driving without a license, an arrest that alerted federal agents to her old deportation order.

While President Barack Obama deported high numbers of undocumented immigrants during parts of his tenure, parents of American citizens with little to no criminal record were not priorities for expulsion. So officials released Cruz Mendez with orders to stay out of trouble and check in with them once a year.

But under President Trump, who campaigned on a promise to crack down on illegal immigration, anyone here without papers can be expelled.

Interior deportations — of people already living in the United States, as opposed to those caught crossing the border — have risen 37 percent since Trump took office. Deportation arrests of non-criminals such as Cruz Mendez — many, like her, with children who were born in this country and are U.S. citizens — surged past 31,000 from inauguration to the end of September, triple the same period last year.

On the May morning when she was scheduled for her yearly check-in, Cruz Mendez lingered in the apartment, which she’d decorated with family photographs, Danyca’s art projects and Steve’s citizen-of-the-month award from elementary school.

She considered the possibility of skipping the check-in, aware of other longtime immigrants who had been deported after similar appointments. But she could not fathom life as a fugitive. Worried, Bermudez warned her that she was going to be late.

“Why are you trying to turn me over so fast?” Cruz Mendez snapped in Spanish.

She eventually walked into the immigration agency’s Fairfax office, accompanied by advocates and loved ones. Agents took her into custody as her supporters shouted.

For a month, her husband and lawyers fought to free her. Steve tried, too, writing letters to Immigration and Customs Enforcement that were full of pleas and questions.

“Plz don’t deport my mom,” one of the letters said.

Who will take me to the doctor, the dentist? Who will take care of me and my sister? Who will I live with?

It didn’t work. On June 14, they sent her back. Bermudez and the kids filled a giant cardboard box with her dresses and shoes, pots and pans, and placed it by the front door, waiting for a courier to take it away.

Steve Bermudez, 10, wrote immigration officials in May to ask them not to deport his mother. For a month, Cruz Mendez’s husband and lawyers fought to free her and stop the deportation. (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)

Steve looks out the window of the bedroom he used in his mother’s childhood home in El Salvador. The sign advertises fruit and vegetables his family sells. (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)
‘How can I go?’
Deportations can shatter a family or a marriage. In one study of the aftermath of six immigration raids, family income dropped an average of 70 percent. Another study, of U.S.-born Latino children, found that those whose parents had been detained or deported experienced significantly higher post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms than their peers.

“That child’s more likely to be poor. They’re more likely to be depend on public benefits,” said Randy Capps, U.S. research director for the Migration Policy Institute. “And then psychologically, you just don’t know. There could be an immediate impact; it could be a long time before that psychological impact shows up.”

In the Falls Church apartment, Steve and Danyca cried all the time after Cruz Mendez was deported. No one wanted to eat.

. . . .

Bermudez works all the time, so Cruz Mendez cares for Steve from afar. She calls the babysitter after school to make sure he arrived safely. She checks on his health insurance and his dental appointments.

Steve no longer asks when the family will be together.

In Falls Church, Cruz Mendez was an independent woman with a salary and dreams for the future. Now she sits inside the little gray house. Bermudez cannot afford to send her money for college, so she has set those plans aside.

Over the phone, he urges her to have faith that they will be together again.

She still wears her wedding ring, and he still wears his.“

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

Read Maria’s entire story of this grotesque failure of responsible government, common sense, and human decency at the link!

THE GHOST OF CHRISTMAS FUTURE

What kind of country abuses its youth  — our hope for the future —  this way? What kind of county wastes its human capital and potential in this manner? What kind of country empowers leaders who are intentionally cruel, immoral, dishonest, and stupid? What kind of country intentionally turns valued friends and positive contributors into potential disgruntled enemies?

This is the way that a once great nation transforms itself into an “overstuffed banana republic!”

But, it’s not yet too late to change the grim vision of “Christmas Future” being promoted by Trump, Sessions, Kelly, Homan, Bannon, Miller, and their cronies. We can resist the horrible policies of the Trump Administration in the courts of law and the courts of public opinion! Ultimately, totally unqualified officials like Trump, Sessions, and their White Nationalist cronies — who are plotting the end of America as we know it — can be defeated at the ballot box and removed from office.

But, there will come a “point of no return” when the damage done by these corrupt individuals and their enablers (both willing and unwitting) cannot be undone! Are we as smart, human, and capable of leaving behind selfishness and embracing decency and human kindness as Ebineezer Scrooge? Or will the Ghost prove to be the Prophet in this version of the Christmas Carol?

PWS

12-09-17

WALL? WHAT WALL? – BUREAUCRATIC BARRIERS BEST BAR TO (NEEDED) IMMIGRATION (Hey, I Could’ve Told ‘Em That!) – But, White Nationalist Goal Of Returning To A “White America” Ultimately Doomed — “You can slow the rate of Latino and Asian immigration, but it won’t make the population whiter,”. . . “It will just become less white at a slower pace.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/immigration/how-trump-is-building-a-border-wall-no-one-can-see/2017/11/21/83d3b746-cba0-11e7-b0cf-7689a9f2d84e_story.html?utm_term=.a71d3a707371

Maria Sacchetti and Nick Miroff report in the Washington Post:

“President Trump’s vision of a “big, beautiful” wall along the Mexican border may never be realized, and almost certainly not as a 2,000-mile physical structure spanning sea to sea.

But in a systematic and less visible way, his administration is following a blueprint to reduce the number of foreigners living in the United States those who are undocumented and those here legallyand overhaul the U.S. immigration system for generations to come.

Across agencies and programs, federal officials are wielding executive authority to assemble a bureaucratic wall that could be more effective than any concrete and metal one. While some actions have drawn widespread attention, others have been put in place more quietly.

The administration has moved to slash the number of refugees, accelerate deportations and terminate the provisional residency of more than a million people, among other measures. On Monday, the Department of Homeland Security said nearly 60,000 Haitians allowed to stay in the United States after a devastating 2010 earthquake have until July 2019 to leave or obtain another form of legal status.

. . . .

Even as they fight court orders seeking to halt parts of Trump’s immigration agenda, Sessions, White House senior adviser Stephen Miller and other key players are finding ways to shrink the immigration system. Miller was an aide to Sessions before both men joined the administration; in less than a year, their immigration policy prescriptions have moved from the realm of think-tank wish lists to White House executive orders.

In October, the White House — in a plan led by Miller — said it had conducted a “bottom-up review of all immigration policies” and found “dangerous loopholes, outdated laws, and easily exploited vulnerabilities in our immigration system — current policies that are harming our country and our communities.”

. . . .

Trump’s tough talk alone appears to be one of the administration’s best bulwarks: Illegal crossings along the border with Mexico have plunged to their lowest level in 45 years, and U.S. agents are catching a far greater share of those attempting to sneak in. Applications for H-1B skilled visas and new foreign-student enrollment have also declined.

William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution, said that until now U.S. immigration rates have largely spared the country from the challenges facing advanced industrial nations such as Japan and Germany that can’t replace aging workers fast enough. By slashing immigration, Frey said, the country could end up with labor shortages and other workforce issues.

But although some of Trump’s most fervent supporters see curbing immigration as a way to turn back the United States’ rapid racial and ethnic transformation, Frey said it is an unrealistic goal. By 2020, census projections show minorities will account for more than half of the under-18 U.S. population, because of higher birthrates in nonwhite populations. And by 2026, the number of whites is projected to begin declining in absolute numbers, he said, as deaths exceed births.

“You can slow the rate of Latino and Asian immigration, but it won’t make the population whiter,” Frey said. “It will just become less white at a slower pace.”

Trump continues to insist his administration will build a border wall, despite exorbitant cost projections and senior DHS officials saying a 2,000-mile structure is impractical. His supporters say they admire the president for plowing ahead in his overhaul efforts and see a historic, generational shift underway.

“There is more than one way to get to the goal,” Dane said. “Legislative solutions are all great, but clearly the administration has done things behind the scenes. . . . The results have been dramatic.”

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Read the full article at the link.

It’s no surprise that guys like Jeff “Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions and his henchman Stephen Miller are leading this racist-inspired, xenophobic “race to the bottom” that if successful would likely tank our economy and cause even more inequality and social unrest as well as inflicting all sorts of unnecessary pain and suffering on long time residents, needed and productive workers, and the most vulnerable individuals seeking protection under U.S. and international laws.  Really, hard to see how guys like this with retrograde ideas that come right from the “Jim Crow era” of American history get into positions of power for which they are so totally unqualified, both by background and temperament. But, then again, look at whom we have elected our President to represent us on the international scene.

The good news for the majority of Americans is that  the “turn back the clock” plan is ultimately likely to fail. We will eventually move forward again as a diverse, productive, “country of immigrants,” and restore humane and humanitarian values to our national and international profile.

PWS

11-22-17

DOJ PLANS TO CUT U.S. IMMIGRATION COURT BACKLOG IN HALF BY 2020 — CONTINUES TO PRESS BOGUS CLAIM THAT BACKLOGS DRIVEN BY PRIVATE ATTORNEYS — THE TRUTH: BACKLOGS DRIVEN PRIMARILY BY POOR DECISIONS BY CONGRESS (E.G., USG SHUTDOWN) & “AIMLESS DOCKET RESHUFFLING” BY THE DOJ OVER THE PAST THREE ADMINISTRATIONS, INCLUDING THIS ONE!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/immigration/doj-details-plan-to-slash-immigration-court-backlog/2017/11/03/03fcef34-c0a0-11e7-959c-fe2b598d8c00_story.html

Maria Sacchetti reports in the Washington Post:

“The Department of Justice said Friday it is aiming to slash the massive immigration court backlog in half by 2020 by adding judges, upgrading technology and refusing to tolerate repeated delays in deportation cases.

Officials, who briefed reporters on condition that they not be identified by name, said the effort is part of the Trump administration’s broad plan to more efficiently handle cases of undocumented immigrants, who number 11 million nationwide.

The administration has reversed Obama-era policies that allowed prosecutors to indefinitely postpone low-priority cases, which the Justice Department officials said allowed some immigrants to delay “inevitable” deportations. In other cases, they said, immigrants who deserved to win their cases were delayed for years because of the backlog.

The immigration court backlog has tripled since 2009, the year former president Obama took office, to more than 630,000 cases in October.

“That is what this administration is committed to, getting this done right, ensuring that we’re never in this place again,” a Justice Department official said. “Really and truly, when you look at the numbers . . . it reflects the fact that the last administration likely wasn’t as committed to ensuring that the system worked the way that Congress intended it to.”

The agency, which oversees the administrative immigration courts, said it plans to hire new immigration judges, use technology such as videoconferencing, and increase judges’ productivity by setting case-completion guidelines, though officials would not give details.

The department also will have a “no dark courtrooms” policy, the officials said, explaining that there are at least 100 courtrooms nationwide that are empty every Friday because of judges’ alternate work schedules. The Justice Department is tapping retired judges to fill those courts.

The immigration court overhaul comes as the Trump administration is carrying out policies that could generate even more cases in coming months. Arrests and deportations from the interior of the United States are rising sharply, and the Trump administration has ended Obama-era protections for some undocumented immigrants, including 690,000 undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as children.

By Monday, the Trump administration is also expected to say if it will renew temporary protected status for thousands of longtime immigrants from Honduras and Nicaragua whose permits expire next year.

The Justice Department officials said they are no longer widely using certain protections for undocumented immigrants, including a tool known as prosecutorial discretion that allowed the government to set aside low-priority deportation cases.

DOJ officials criticized immigration lawyers, saying they “have purposely used tactics designed to delay” immigration cases. As of 2012, the officials said, there were an average of four continuances for each case before the court.

Gregory Chen, director of government relations for the American Immigration Lawyers Association, said the administration’s plan to cut the backlog would “undermine judicial independence” in the immigration courts.

“This administration has been extremely hostile toward the judiciary and the independence of immigration judges, as well as other judges,” Chen said.

Speeding up cases depends partly on congressional funding. It also rests partly on the actions of immigration judges, who have expressed concerns about due process for immigrants, many of whom are facing deportation to some of the world’s most violent countries. Immigrants are not entitled to a government-appointed lawyer in these courts and often handle cases on their own.

The Justice officials would not comment on reports that they will impose case-completion quotas on judges, which raised an outcry from the judges’ union. But the officials said they would give judges clear standards to complete cases and add more supervisors.

Officials say they are already seeing results from efforts this year to improve efficiency. From February to September, judges ordered 78,767 people to leave the country, a 33 percent jump over the same period in 2016. The total number of final decisions, which includes some immigrants who won their cases, is 100,921.”

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

THE GOOD:

  • Using retired U.S. Immigration Judges to fill in while Immigration Judges are on leave or otherwise scheduled to be out of court is a good idea. Indeed, the National Association of Immigration Judges (“NAIJ”) has been pushing this idea since the Clinton Administration with no results until now. Additionally, finally taking advantage of the available “Phased Retirement Options” for the the many Immigration Judges nearing retirement could also be helpful.
  • Over time, hiring additional Immigration Judges could be helpful, at least in theory. But, that depends on whether the hiring is done on a merit basis, the new judges are properly trained, and they have the space, equipment, and support staff to function. The DOJ/EOIR’s past record on accomplishing such initiatives has been beyond abysmal. So, it’s just as likely that additional hiring will harm the Immigraton Courts’ functioning as it is that it will help.

THE BAD:

  • “Productivity standards” are totally inappropriate for an independent judiciary. They are almost certain to infringe on due process by turning judges into “assembly line workers.”  Moreover, if hiring is done properly, judges should be self-motivated professionals who don’t need “Micky Mouse performance evaluations” to function. While it might be helpful to have some “periodic peer review” involving input from those appearing before the courts and judges of courts reviewing the judges’ work, such as takes place in some other independent judicial systems, that clearly isn’t they type of system this Administration has in mind.
  • More use of Televideo is problematic. In person hearings are definitely better for delivering due process. The EOIR Televideo equipment tends to be marginal from a technology standpoint. “Pushing the envelope” on Televideo could well force the Article IIIs to finally face up and hold at least some applications of this process unconstitutional.
  • More “Supervisory Judges” are totally unnecessary and a waste of resources. In the “EOIR World,” Supervisory Judges often don’t hear cases. Moreover, as noted previously, professional judges need little, if any, real “supervision.” The system might benefit from having local Chief Judges (“first among equals”), like in other independent judicial systems, who can address administrative issues with the Court Administrator and the public, But, judges don’t need supervision unless the wrong individuals are being selected as judges. And, as in the U.S. District Courts, local Chief Judges should carry meaningful case loads.
  • Every other court system in the U.S., particularly the U.S. District Courts, rely on heavy doses of “Prosecutorial Discretion” (“PD”) by government prosecutors to operate. By eliminating PD from the DHS Chief Counsels, then touting their misguided actions, this Administration has  guaranteed the ultimate failure of any backlog reduction plan. Moreover, this stupid action reduces the status of the DHS Assistant Chief Counsels. There is no other system I’m aware of where the enforcement officials (“the cops”) rather than professional prosecutors make the decisions as to which cases to prosecute. PD and sensible use of always limited docket time is part of the solution, not the problem, in the Immigration Courts.

THE UGLY:

  • The DOJ and EOIR continue to perpetuate the myth that private attorneys are responsible for the backlogs. No, the backlogs are primarily the result of Congressional negligence multiplied by improper politically motived docket manipulation and reschuffling to meet DHS enforcement priorities by the last three Administrations, including this one! This Administration was responsible for unnecessarily “Dark Courtrooms” earlier this year in New York and other heavily backlogged Immigration Courts.
  • Although not highlighted in this article, EOIR Acting Director James McHenry recently admitted during Congressional testimony that EOIR has been working on e-filing for 16 years without achieving any results! Thats incredible! McHenry promised a “Pilot Program” in 2018 with no telling when the system will actually be operational. And DOJ/EOIR has a well-established record of problematic and highly disruptive “technology rollouts.”

THE INCREDIBLE:

  • As usual, the DOJ/EOIR “numbers” don’t add up. EOIR “touts” compleating approximately 100,000 cases in the 7-month period ending on August 31, 2017. That’s on a pace to complete fewer than 200,000 cases for a fiscal year. But, EOIR receives an average of at least 300,000 new cases each year (even without some of the “Gonzo” Enforcement by the Trump DHS).  So, EOIR would have to “pick up the pace” considerably just to keep the backlogs from growing (something EOIR hasn’t done since before 2012). Not surprisingly, TRAC and others show continually increasing backlogs despite having more judges on board. To cut the backlog from 640,000 to 320,000 (50%) by 2020, the courts would have to produce an additional 160,000 annual completions in 2018 and 2019! That, in turn, would require completing a total of at least 460,000 cases in each of those years. That’s an increase of 230% over the rate touted by DOJ/EOIR in the Post article. Not going to happen, particularly since we’re already more than one month into FY 2018 and Congress has yet to authorize or appropriate the additional resources the DOJ wants!

WHAT’S CLEAR:

  • The DOJ hocus pocus, fake numbers, unrealistic plans, political scheming, cover-ups, blame shifting, and gross mismanagement of the U.S. Immigration Courts must end!
  • Unless and until Congress creates an independent, professionally managed Article I Immigration Court, any additional resources thrown into the current Circus being presided over by Jeff Sessions’s DOJ would be wasted.

PWS

11-04-17

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GOIN’ DOWN AGAIN! — DC Cir. Rejects Trump Administration’s Position — Orders USG To Permit Undocumented Teen’s Abortion!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/appeals-court-in-washington-allows-detained-immigrant-teen-to-seek-abortion/2017/10/24/51811cd8-b8c8-11e7-9e58-e6288544af98_story.html

Maria Sacchetti and Ann E. Marimow report for the Washington Post:

 

“An undocumented immigrant teen asking to end her pregnancy is entitled to seek an abortion without delay, according to a ruling Tuesday from a federal appeals court in Washington.

The order from the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit — without oral argument — reverses a decision last week from a three-judge panel of the same court that would have postponed the abortion for the 17-year-old who is being held in federal custody in Texas. The Trump administration had denied the teen’s request, citing the government’s new policy of refusing to “facilitate” abortions for unaccompanied minors.

The timeline was at issue because the teenager is more than 15 weeks pregnant and Texas law bans most abortions after 20 weeks.

The 6-3 ruling sent the case back to a lower court judge who within hours of the decision had ordered the government to “promptly and without delay” transport the teen to a Texas abortion provider.

“Today’s decision rights a grave constitutional wrong by the government,” D.C. Circuit Judge Patricia A. Millett wrote.

In the dissent were the court’s three active judges nominated to the bench by Republican presidents. Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh said the majority has “badly erred” and created a new right for undocumented immigrant minors in custody to “immediate abortion on demand.”

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

Read the complete story at the link.

Not to worry, Judge K.  Your Anti-Constitution, Anti- Abortion “creds” remain intact. So you should still have a shot at the next Trump Supreme appointment.

Will the Trumpsters now seek “Supreme Intervention?”

PWS

10-24-17

 

DC FEDERAL JUDGE SLAMS ADMINISTRATION’S PLAN TO DENY DETAINED MIGRANT’S CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO ABORTION — DOJ POSITION FAILS “STRAIGHT FACE” TEST!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/immigration/judge-trump-administration-cancannot-block-abortion-for-pregnant-undocumented-teen/2017/10/18/82348e08-b406-11e7-be94-fabb0f1e9ffb_story.html

Maria Sacchetti reports for the Washington Post:

“A federal judge on Wednesday ordered the U.S. government to allow an undocumented immigrant teenager in its custody to have an abortion and said she was “astounded” that the Trump administration was trying to block the procedure.

Lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union, which represents the pregnant teen, cheered the judge’s ruling as a major victory for abortion and immigrant rights.

The Justice Department, which is defending the Department of Health and Human Services, declined to comment on whether it would appeal.

“We never should have had to fight this in the first place,” said Brigitte Amiri, a senior ACLU staff attorney who argued the case on Wednesday. “It should never have been something that we needed to go to court over.”

U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan ordered the government to allow the 17-year-old to visit an abortion provider closest to her shelter in Texas on Thursday and undergo state-mandated counseling before having the procedure on Friday or Saturday.

Play Video 2:15
Everything you need to know about Roe v. Wade in 2 minutes

Here’s what abortion was like in the United States before and after the landmark Supreme Court case, and where it may be headed next. (Gillian Brockell/The Washington Post)
“Failure to comply with the terms of this Order may result in a finding of contempt,” wrote Chutkan, who was appointed by President Barack Obama and is assigned to U.S. District Court in Washington.

 

[Read Chutkan’s order]

The case of the Central American teenager, identified in court papers as Jane Doe, has attracted national attention from both advocates for and opponents of abortion rights. Democrats in Congress have expressed opposition to the government’s stance, while Texas and seven other states filed a friend-of-the-court brief supporting it.

“Today’s ruling is outrageous and sets a dangerous precedent,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the antiabortion group Susan B. Anthony List. She said government officials were trying to “protect the life and dignity of the teenage girl and her unborn child while in their care.”

Court filings in the case made clear that the Trump administration is actively trying to prevent minors in its custody from having abortions, a departure from federal practice under Obama.

Scott Lloyd, director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which cares for unaccompanied minors caught crossing the border until they can be reunited with family members, said in an email in March that federally funded shelters “should not be supporting abortion services pre or post-release; only pregnancy services and life-affirming options counseling.”

 

During the hearing Wednesday, Chutkan asked Justice Department lawyer Scott Stewart whether he thought illegal immigrants had constitutional rights and whether he believes that the 1973 Supreme Court ruling Roe v. Wade , which guarantees a woman’s right to an abortion, is still the “law of the land.”

Stewart acknowledged the ruling but said the government views this case differently because the teen is an undocumented immigrant in federal custody.

He signaled that undocumented minors do not have a constitutional right to an elective abortion in federal custody, unless it is a medical emergency, and also said immigrants here illegally have “minimal” protections in this country. “I’m not going to give you a concession on that, Your Honor,” he said.

The judge laughed. “This is remarkable,” she said.

Chutkan said the teen’s immigration status was irrelevant and that she still had constitutional rights.

In her ruling, Chutkan wrote that the teen will “suffer irreparable injury,” including health risks, if the government interferes with her abortion plans. Chutkan also barred the government from forcing the teen to reveal her abortion to anyone and from retaliating against her or the federally funded shelter housing her in Texas.

 

The judge has not yet ruled on an ACLU request to apply her ruling to other minors in federal custody.

Chutkan said that by refusing to allow the girl to be transported from her detention facility to have an abortion, the government appeared to be offering the teenager two options: voluntarily return to a nation she fled to have an abortion; or carry an unwanted pregnancy to term.

“I am astounded by that position,” Chutkan said.

In court filings, the Justice Department said the government has “strong and constitutionally legitimate interests in promoting childbirth, in refusing to facilitate abortion, and in not providing incentives for pregnant minors to illegally cross the border to obtain elective abortions while in federal custody.”

Chutkan countered during the hearing that the teenager does not need a medical emergency to exercise her right to an abortion. She said the teen had followed state and federal rules: She obtained permission from a state judge in Texas to have an abortion and would cover the expenses herself or with help through her court-appointed guardian.”

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

“Astounded” by the Administration’s position that the Constitution is meaningless? Shouldn’t be!  That’s “business as usual” in the age of Trump and Sessions.

PWS

10-18-17

FRAUD, WASTE, & ABUSE: DHS Ups “Gonzo Interior Enforcement” – Now On Pace to Eliminate “Undocumented Immigrant Menace” By 2120 — Damage to Trust Between Ethnic Communities Likely To Last Even Longer!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/immigration/deportations-from-the-interior-of-the-united-states-are-rising-under-trump/2017/10/07/44a14224-a912-11e7-b3aa-c0e2e1d41e38_story.htm

Maria Sacchetti reports for the Washington Post:

“Deportations from the interior of the United States are rising under President Trump as the administration expands enforcement from the U.S.-Mexico border and into immigrant communities deeper inside the country.

From Jan. 22 to Sept. 9, officials deported nearly 54,000 immigrants from the interior, a 34 percent increase over the same period last year, and said that they expect the numbers to climb.

But U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement suffered a major blow Thursday when California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed legislation designed to shield thousands of immigrants from deportation. The law takes effect Jan. 1.

“These are uncertain times for undocumented Californians and their families,” the governor wrote after signing the bill limiting the state’s cooperation with ICE. He said the legislation would bring “a measure of comfort to those families who are now living in fear every day.”

On Friday, ICE acting director Thomas Homan blasted the law, which he said will “undermine public safety” and compel agents to arrest immigrants at work or home instead of picking them up at jails once they post bail. He also suggested that the law will increase the possibility that undocumented immigrants with no criminal records will be arrested.

“ICE will also likely have to detain individuals arrested in California in detention facilities outside of the state, far from any family they may have,” he said in a statement.

The California law is the latest contrarian effort since the Trump administration took office vowing to deport undocumented immigrants — including 2 million to 3 million criminals, though it has not come close to doing so.

In addition to the California law, cities and towns in Texas are battling in federal court over a new state law that requires local jurisdictions to hold immigrants arrested for local crimes past their release dates so that federal agents can take them into custody and try to deport them. An appeals court recently allowed part of that law to take effect. The two states are home to the largest populations of undocumented immigrants, accounting for 4 million of the 11 million people in the United States illegally.

Federal judges have also temporarily blocked the president’s January executive order that sought to restrict federal funding to what are known as sanctuary cities, which limit their cooperation with immigration agents.

The lawsuits and state policies are playing out amid increasing anxiety among immigrants across the nation. Last month, the Trump administration announced that it will phase out an Obama-era program that protected from deportation 690,000 undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children.

Congress is considering legislation that would extend protection for the young immigrants, but in exchange, some conservative lawmakers are pushing for increased immigration enforcement.

For now, immigration officials said that they are forging ahead with arrests, which are up more than 40 percent this year. But they acknowledged that sanctuary cities are making it difficult to increase the number of annual deportations to past levels.

From 2008 to 2011, which included part of President Barack Obama’s first term, officials deported more than 200,000 immigrants from the interior every year.

Back then, immigration officials had ready access to local prisons and jails, which made it easier to detain and deport criminals. Obama also expanded a fingerprint-sharing program, Secure Communities, that alerts immigration agents when potential undocumented immigrants are arrested for local crimes.

But once local officials realized that immigration agents were also scooping up immigrants arrested for minor violations, such as traffic offenses, they severely limited their cooperation with ICE, becoming sanctuary jurisdictions. These policies, and Obama’s own restrictions on immigration agents, resulted in a sharp drop in interior deportations. Since 2012, the majority of deportations have happened along the southern border.

Trump’s critics say immigration agents are portraying hard-working immigrants as criminals and destabilizing their communities, making immigrants afraid to report crimes or even venture outside.

Last month, federal agents arrested nearly 500 immigrants in sanctuary cities and towns, including Baltimore and D.C., and vowed to return “every week” if they refuse to cooperate.

“We’re not sleeping well at night,” said Dave Cortese, president of the board of supervisors in California’s Santa Clara County, which filed one of the federal lawsuits against Trump’s efforts to yank federal funding from sanctuary jurisdictions. “We’re on high alert all the time.”

But Homan, the ICE acting director, said sanctuary policies often shield immigrants who have been accused, or convicted, of serious crimes. As an example, immigration agents said they asked the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office in August to hold Nery Israel Estrada Margos, a Guatemalan man arrested for felony domestic violence. Instead, they released him on bail, and days later he was arrested for allegedly killing his girlfriend, Veronica Cabrera Ramirez.

The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office said it shares information with ICE but does not hold immigrants after they are granted bail because some courts have ruled that officials do not have the authority to do so.

Although the Trump administration’s chief goal is to deport criminals, it is still expelling significant numbers of people who never committed any crimes. From January to Sept. 9, ICE deported a total of 142,818 immigrants from the border and the U.S. interior, including 83,254 people who were criminals and 59,564 who were not.

Among the noncriminals deported are Lizandro Claros Saravia and his brother Diego; Lizandro was a soccer star in Maryland who had a college scholarship but instead was sent to El Salvador. Also deported there this year was Liliana Cruz Mendez, a Falls Church woman whose driving offense was pardoned by Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D). Roberto Beristain, an Indiana restaurant owner who had been in the United States for nearly 20 years, was deported to Mexico.

Federal records show that 92 percent of the 97,482 immigrants arrested this year for deportation have been convicted of a crime, have charges pending, were immigration fugitives or had been previously deported.”

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

America is still suffering from the breach of trust between authorities and the African-American community going back to immediately following reconstruction. Trump, Sessions, Homan, and others are looking to cause a similar breach with Hispanic and ethnic communities that will last much longer than they will. “Gonzo” law enforcement — directed at individuals who happen to be undocumented but actually reside and work here and are part of our communities — has absolutely nothing to do with legitimate law enforcement. Indeed it makes and will continue to make legitimate law enforcement aimed at criminals and others who threaten the health and safety of our communities immeasurably more difficult.

Looking at the most “optimistic” figures, it would take the Sessions-Homan crew at least 100 years of “accelerated interior enforcement” to remove all of the undocumented migrants currently in the US. So that’s not going to happen. In such a situation, enforcement that isn’t carefully targeted at criminals and others who are actual threats to our communities becomes both arbitrary and highly counterproductive. This is a powerful argument against giving DHS any more enforcement personnel until they demonstrate a willingness and a commitment to using them in a rational manner consistent with the national interest.

PWS

10-08-17

SUPREMES HEAR ARGUMENTS ON LONG-TERM PRE-HEARING IMMIGRATION DETENTION! — JENNINGS V. RODRIGUEZ

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/courts_law/supreme-court-debates-long-detentions-for-immigrants-facing-deportation/2017/10/03/a96a5300-a852-11e7-850e-2bdd1236be5d_story.html

Ann E. Marimow reports for the Washington Post:

“The Supreme Court’s liberal justices dominated discussion Tuesday about the prolonged detention of immigrants facing deportation, expressing concern about the government holding noncitizens indefinitely without a hearing.

At issue for the court is whether immigrants slated for deportation have the right to a bail hearing and possible release after six months if they are not a flight risk and pose no danger to the public.

The conservative justices were less vocal but expressed skepticism about whether the court should be setting firm deadlines for hearings in immigration cases.

A lawyer for the Justice Department told the high court that noncitizens — whether documented or undocumented immigrants — have no constitutional right to be in the United States.

The justices were taking a second look at the issue after an evenly divided court could not reach a decision last term and scheduled the case for reargument. With Justice Neil M. Gorsuch having joined the bench since then, he could cast the deciding vote.

[‘It will be momentous’: Supreme Court embarks on new term]

The case reached the high court after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled that immigrants fighting deportation are entitled to bond hearings if they have been held for more than six months. A lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union, representing a group of noncitizens held for more than a year without a hearing, told the Supreme Court that the outcome of the case will affect thousands of people held in jaillike detention centers.

 

The outcome takes on heightened significance as President Trump has vowed to broadly increase immigration enforcement across the United States. Immigration arrests are up sharply since he took office in January, but deportations are down this year, in part because of a significant drop in illegal crossings on the southern border with Mexico.

The Supreme Court has previously held that undocumented immigrants are entitled to some form of due process when contesting their detention but also that “brief” detentions were allowed. Courts have interpreted those rulings in different ways, with the San Francisco-based 9th Circuit, for instance, requiring more procedural safeguards for those who would be held for months or even years.

The court’s liberals on Tuesday pressed Deputy Solicitor General Malcolm L. Stewart about why immigrants in detention centers are treated differently than criminal defendants, who automatically receive hearings to determine whether they remain locked up pending trial.

 

Justice Stephen G. Breyer noted that even a criminal suspect accused of “triple ax murders” is entitled to a bail hearing. “That to me is a little odd,” Breyer said, his voice rising.

Without time limits, Justice Sonia Sotomayor said, noncitizens languish in detention centers, sometimes for years. “That’s lawlessness,” she said.

During the previous argument last term, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy asserted that the constitutionality of the federal law was not at issue. But on Tuesday, he seemed more sympathetic to arguments in favor of a guaranteed timeline. He asked Stewart whether a lengthy delay because of a shortage of immigration judges was permissible and suggested that there should be a concretedeadline.

“Isn’t a bright line rule an easier way?” Kennedy asked.

Justice Elena Kagan followed up and asked whether a five-year backlog, for instance, was allowed. In response, Stewart said, an immigrant fighting deportation could always choose to return to his or her home country.

[Supreme Court considers whether those facing deportation can be held indefinitely]

The six-month deadline that the 9th Circuit set applies to a wide range of immigrants, from people detained after entering the United States for the first time to longtime legal residents. The case was brought by Alejandro Rodriguez, a lawful permanent resident who came to the country as an infant. The Department of Homeland Security started removal proceedings because of a conviction for drug possession and an earlier conviction for joyriding.

It can be done by Congress or by regulation, Alito said. But, he asked, “Where does it say six months in the Constitution?”

The case is Jennings v. Rodriguez.

Staff writers Maria Sacchetti and Robert Barnes contributed to this report.“

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

OK, let’s get to the heart of the disingenuous argument by the Solicitor General in behalf of DHS. A respondent is entitled to due process hearing before he or she can be removed from the United States. But, according to the Government, the respondent has no Constitutional right to be in the United States for that Constitutionally-required hearing. And, as we know, Immigration Courts have backlogs of over 600,000 cases, with hearings often taking four or more years to schedule.

The SG’s position doesn’t even pass then”straight face” test. But, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the majority of Justices won’t agree with it!

PWS

10-03-17

 

 

 

HERE IS THE HUMAN FACE OF HOMAN’S GONZO ENFORCEMENT POLICIES: RUINED LIVES, INTENTIONAL CRUELTY, WASTED RESOURCES, MISSED OPPORTUNITIES, & A DIMINISHED AMERICA!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/immigration/he-had-a-college-scholarship-but-was-deported-now-the-former-soccer-star-must-build-a-life-in-el-salvador/2017/08/21/743d1c12-8368-11e7-b359-15a3617c767b_story.html?utm_term=.c705a02c768b&wpisrc=nl_buzz&wpmm=1

Maria Sacchetti reports in the Washington Post:

Lizandro Claros Saravia was supposed to be at college in North Carolina by now. At soccer practice. At the library.

Instead, the 19-year-old soccer star from Germantown, Md., is hundreds of miles away, in a sweltering Central American nation he barely recognizes and sometimes fears.

U.S. immigration officials swiftly deported him and his older brother, Diego, on Aug. 2, days after Lizandro told them during a routine check-in that he had a scholarship to attend Louisburg College.

“I don’t know what we’re going to do,” Lizandro, his gaze flat, said in an interview here last week as he and his brother waited to pick up their 83-year-old grandfather — who had been visiting the United States on a visa when his grandsons were deported — from the airport. “I feel like in this country, I don’t have a future.”

The expulsion of the brothers, both of whom graduated from Quince Orchard High School in Gaithersburg and neither of whom had been accused of any wrongdoing once in the United States, outraged Democratic lawmakers and advocates for immigrants, as well as their teachers, friends and teammates.


The expulsion of Lizandro Claros Saravia, 19, left, and his older brother, Diego Claros Saravia, 22, has outraged Democratic lawmakers as well as their teachers and friends. (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)

Lizandro and Diego, now 22, used fraudulent visas and passports to come to the United States in 2009 and reunite with their family; some of whom were also here illegally. Lizandro was 10, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement; his brother was 14.

They were ordered deported in 2012 and granted a stay in 2013. Two subsequent requests for stays were denied. But with their clean records and high school diplomas, the brothers were not a priority for deportation under the Obama administration.

Under President Trump, however, the “handcuffs” are off, in the words of ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan. Anyone in violation of immigration law can be targeted for deportation. Officials say that they want to reduce the United States’s population of undocumented immigrants, currently about 11 million, and dissuade would-be migrants from making the illegal, and sometimes deadly, journey north.

Critics say that the Trump administration’s approach is robbing the United States of talented and dedicated immigrants, and endangering Americanized young people by sending them to their now-unfamiliar homelands without their families.

Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.) blasted ICE for deporting the brothers to El Salvador, which he called one of the “most violent countries in the world.” Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) said “ICE should be ashamed of itself.”

Lizandro Claros Saravia played with Bethesda Soccer Club for four years, which helped him earn a scholarship to Louisburg College in North Carolina. (Bethesda Soccer Club)

Lizandro’s teammates at the Bethesda Soccer Club — he calls them his “brothers” — have taken up a collection in hopes of helping him someday realize his dream to become the first in his family to earn a college degree.

The brothers say they miss everyone from their lives in Maryland, especially their parents and two siblings, friends and the staff at the Guapo’s — a restaurant where they had family dinners — just off I-270 in Gaithersburg. They don’t go out much now because they don’t think it is safe.

Instead, they stay in their new home, a pair of neighboring dwellings that Lizandro and Diego share with their aunts and uncle in a village of roughly 1,000 people outside of Jucuapa. Last year, Reuters cited that city as a place where the coffin-making business has taken off, partly fueled by the high homicide rates.

The rules are that Lizandro and his brother stay in constant touch with their aunts and uncle, unless they all travel somewhere together. At night, they sleep in one of their aunt’s houses, with bars on the windows and guard dogs at the door.

The brothers say they are trying to blend into their new country, but they clearly stand out. At the airport this week, they towered over the crowd, dressed as if they’d been plucked from an American shopping mall.

Diego wore a T-shirt emblazoned with the initials “USA.” Lizandro wore Top-Siders, shorts and a shirt decorated with tiny sunglasses. He speaks English better than Spanish. He wouldn’t recognize the president of El Salvador if he saw him on the street.

“To be honest, I don’t feel good being here,” he said. “People are looking at me different. . . . All my friends from when I was young, they barely know me now.”


From left, Gustavo Torres, executive director of CASA de Maryland, speaks at a news conference denouncing the deportation of Lizandro and Diego Claros Saravia. Their mother, Lucia Saravia, is comforted by their older sister Fatima Claros Saravia and their father, Jose Claros Saravia. (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)

Asked about the possibility of going to college in El Salvador, Lizandro said, “I don’t know if I can do that here. It’s hard to go from the bottom all the way to the top again.”

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If there is any good news here, it’s that “ordinary folks” in American communities are being exposed to and personally affected by the wastefulness and mindless cruelty of the current U.S. immigration laws. Hopefully, at some point in the future, this will result in the individuals who advocate, perpetuate, and maintain this system (in some cases actually trying to make it even worse) being tossed from office and replaced with more rational legislators and executives who have both human decency and America’s long term best interests in mind. Perhaps not likely in my lifetime. But, eventually, if the U.S. is to survive, it must happen.

PWS

08-22-17

ACTING ICE DIRECTOR HOMAN PLEDGES MORE REMOVALS — CLAIMS SUCCESS — ACTUAL FIGURES TELL A DIFFERENT STORY — CRIMINAL REMOVALS ACTUALLY DOWN — GAINS ACHIEVED BY MANIPULATING PRIORITIES, DEPORTING NON-CRIMINALS — “LOW HANGING FRUIT!”

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2017/08/17/ice-director-says-his-agents-just-getting-started/576702001

Alan Gomez writes in USA Today:

“MIAMI — In the seven months since Thomas Homan was appointed to carry out President Trump’s promises to crack down on undocumented immigrants living in the U.S., he has been accused of abusing that power by targeting undocumented immigrants without criminal records.

So far, the data seems to back up those accusations, with the percentage of undocumented immigrants without a criminal record arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents increasing each month, from 18% in January to 30% in June.

But Homan, a 33-year law enforcement veteran who has worked along the southern border and is now the acting director of ICE, doesn’t shy away from those numbers. In fact, he said they’re only the start.

“You’re going to continue to see an increase in that,” Homan told USA TODAY during a visit to Miami on Wednesday.

Homan has become the public face of Trump’s efforts to crack down on illegal immigration, a central theme of his presidential campaign and one of the few areas where he’s been able to make wholesale changes without any help from Congress.

Under President Obama, ICE agents were directed to focus their arrests on undocumented immigrants who had been convicted of serious crimes, were members of gangs or posed a national security threat.

Trump and his Department of Homeland Security have vastly expanded that pool, ordering agents to focus on undocumented immigrants who have only been charged with crimes and allowing them to arrest any undocumented immigrant they happen to encounter.

ICE agents are also targeting undocumented immigrants who have been ordered removed from the country by a federal judge — a group that the Obama administration largely left alone. And they’re targeting people who have illegally entered the country more than once, which raises their actions to a felony.”

Using that new metric, Homan said 95% of the 80,000 undocumented immigrants they’ve arrested so far fall under their newly-defined “priority” categories.

“That’s pretty close to perfect execution of the policies,” Homan said. “The numbers speak for themselves.”

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Read the rest of the article at the link.

Homan glories In his “near perfect execution” of gonzo policies that actually harm America while wasting taxpayer money. To go behind the Homan smokescreen, take a look at Maria Sacchetti’s previously posted article on what the numbers really mean:

http://immigrationcourtside.com/2017/08/11/trumps-gonzo-enforcement-policies-produce-more-removal-orders-but-fewer-actual-deportations-criminal-deportations-fall-as-dhs-picks-on-non-criminals-mindless-abuse-of-already-overwhelme/

As noted in both the USA Today article and Sacchetti’s article, criminal deportations are actually down under the Trump/Homan regime. Overall removals are also down, The difference has been made up by deporting non-criminals. Most of these are good folks, contributing to America, many with jobs providing services we need, and with U.S. families who depend on them. They are being sent to some of the most dangerous countries in the world.

Picking up many of them up took no particular skill or effort; they voluntarily showed up for periodic check-ins with DHS, were taken into custody, and removed with no rationale, other than “because we can.” For others, “due process” consisted of “final orders” issued “in absentia,” perhaps with no notice or other legal defects.

And, the only reason Homan and his minions have been able to achieve 95% of the goals, was by a mindless redefining of the “priorities” to include virtually anyone. That’s a rather lame definition of “success,” even by DHS terms.

Sure, the real problem here is Congress and the failure to enact reasonable immigration reform combined with the voters who put Trump’s xenophobic regime in power. But, that doesn’t necessarily give a “free pass” to guys like Homan who have the knowledge and experience, but fail to use it to stand up for human decency and the best interests of our country.

PWS

08–22-17

 

 

TRUMP’S “GONZO” ENFORCEMENT POLICIES PRODUCE MORE REMOVAL ORDERS BUT FEWER ACTUAL DEPORTATIONS! — CRIMINAL DEPORTATIONS FALL AS DHS PICKS ON NON-CRIMINALS! — MINDLESS ABUSE OF ALREADY OVERWHELMED IMMIGRATION COURT DOCKETS ACTUALLY INHIBITS ABILITY TO CONCENTRATE ON CRIMINALS!

Read this eye opener from Maria Sacchetti in the Washington Post about how the Administration manipulates data to leave a false impression of effective law enforcement.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/immigration/trump-is-deporting-fewer-immigrants-than-obama-including-criminals/2017/08/10/d8fa72e4-7e1d-11e7-9d08-b79f191668ed_story.html?hpid=hp_hp-more-top-stories_immigration-540am%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.a8889396e334

“By Maria Sacchetti August 10 at 9:43 PM
President Trump has vowed to swiftly deport “bad hombres” from the United States, but the latest deportation statistics show that slightly fewer criminals were expelled in June than when he took office.

In January, federal immigration officials deported 9,913 criminals. After a slight uptick under Trump, expulsions sank to 9,600 criminals in June.

Mostly deportations have remained lower than in past years under the Obama administration. From January to June, Immigration and Customs Enforcement deported 61,370 criminals, down from 70,603 during the same period last year.

During the election, Trump vowed to target criminals for deportation and warned that they were “going out fast.” Later, he suggested he would try to find a solution for the “terrific people” who never committed any crimes, and would first deport 2 million to 3 million criminals.

But analysts say he is unlikely to hit those targets. Since January, immigration officials have deported more than 105,000 immigrants, 42 percent of whom had never committed any crime.

Last year, a total of 121,170 people were deported during the same period, and a similar percentage had no criminal records.

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John Sandweg, the former acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said part of the reason for the decline is that illegal border crossings have plunged since Trump took office pledging to build a “big, beautiful” wall and crack down on illegal immigration. Immigrants caught at the border accounted for a significant share of deportations under the Obama administration.

 

Another factor, however, is that immigration officials are arresting more people who never committed any crime — some 4,100 immigrants in June, more than double the number in January — clogging the already backlogged immigration courts and making it harder to focus on criminals.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement released the deportation figures, which the Post had requested, late Thursday, two days after the Justice Department announced that immigration courts ordered 57,069 people to leave the United States from February to July, a nearly 31 percent increase over the previous year.

However, Justice officials have not said how many of the immigrants ordered deported were actually in custody — or if their whereabouts are even known. Every year scores of immigrants are ordered deported in absentia, meaning they did not attend their hearings and could not immediately be deported.

The deportation figures come as the Trump administration is fighting with dozens of state and local officials nationwide over their refusal to help deport immigrants, and as the administration is attempting to reduce legal and illegal immigration.”

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It appears that many of the increased removal orders touted by DOJ/EOIR earlier this week might have been “in absentia” orders, issued without full due process hearings and all too often based on incorrect addresses or defective notices. Some of those orders turn out to be unenforceable. Many others require hearings to be reopened once the defects in notice or reasons for failure to appear are documented. But, since there wild inconsistencies among U.S. Immigration Judges in reopening in absentia cases, “jacking up” in absentia orders inevitably produces arbitrary justice.

The article also indicates that the Administration’s mindless overloading of already overwhelmed U.S. Immigration Courts with cases of non-criminal migrants has actually inhibited the courts’ ability to concentrate on criminals.

Taxpayer money is being squandered on “dumb” enforcement and a “captive court system” that no longer functions as a provider of fairness, due process, and justice. How long will legislators and Article III judges continue to be complicit in this facade of justice?

PWS

08-11-17

 

DEPORTATIONS RISE UNDER TRUMP, BUT BORDER CROSSINGS ALSO CONTINUE TO TICK UPWARDS! — Read My OpEssay: “Due Process Disaster Is Brewing In The U.S. Immigration Courts — Is Anybody Paying Attention?”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/immigration/deportation-orders-up-under-trump-fewer-prevail-in-immigration-court/2017/08/08/d3f0a6a6-7c74-11e7-9d08-b79f191668ed_story.html?utm_term=.848b8a83c250&wpisrc=nl_daily202&wpmm=1

Maria Sacchetti reports in the Washington Post:

“Federal immigration courts ordered 57,069 people to leave the United States in the first six months of the Trump administration, up nearly 31 percent over the same period last year, the Justice Department announced Tuesday.

Additionally, 16,058 people prevailed in their immigration cases, or had them closed, allowing them to stay in the United States, according to the data, which tallied orders issued from Feb. 1 to July 31. That total marked a 20.7 percent drop from the 20,255 immigrants who prevailed at the same time last year.

In a news release, the Justice Department said the notoriously backlogged court system is making a return to the “rule of law” under President Trump, who has vowed to speed deportations. But officials did not say how many of the orders were issued in absentia, meaning to immigrants who did not attend their hearings and therefore could not immediately be deported.

The Washington Post reported last week that thousands of immigrants, some seeking protection from violence in their homelands, have missed their court dates in recent years, often because they did not know about them or were afraid to show up. Advocates for immigrants have also raised concern about the lack of legal aid for immigrants, especially for those in immigration jails.

Last month, the president of the National Association of Immigration Judges said courts are severely understaffed, with about 300 immigration judges juggling a quickly rising caseload. An estimated 600,000 cases are pending nationwide.

United We Dream, an immigrant youth-led organization, protested ICE raids at Lafayette Square near the White House in February. (Linda Davidson/The Washington Post)

Unlike the traditional federal court system, which is independent of the executive branch of government, immigration courts are administered by the Justice Department.

That agency said that from Feb. 1 to July 31, judges issued 73,127 final immigration decisions, an increase of 14.5 percent over the same period in 2016.

Of those decisions, 49,983 were deportation orders, an increase of nearly 28 percent from the same period in 2016. The rest were orders to leave the United States voluntarily, a process by which immigrants generally face fewer barriers if they wish to apply to return to the United States in the future.

Federal officials attributed the increase in case completions to Trump’s Jan. 25 executive order dispatching more than 100 immigration judges to immigration jails across the country. More than 90 percent of cases heard in jails have led to orders to leave the United States. The department has also hired 54 new judges to work in immigration courts since Trump took office. More are being hired every month.

Dana Leigh Marks, an immigration judge based in San Francisco who heads the national association, wrote in Newsday last month that immigration courts should be separated from the Justice Department to ensure “judicial independence and protection from political influences.”

“More skilled court management, provided by experienced court administrators, rather than a law enforcement agency with priorities other than fairness and efficiency, would greatly enhance our ability to complete the tasks,” she wrote. “For example, cases would not be docketed to make political statements or serve as a show of force by the U.S. government.”

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Due Process Disaster Is Brewing In The U.S. Immigration Courts — Is Anybody Paying Attention? 

by Paul Wickham Schmidt

U.S. Immigration Judge (Retired)

Meanwhile, according to CQ Roll Call, arrests of undocumented individuals at the Southern Border rose 13.1% in July, the second consecutive monthly increase. Overall, DHS’s CBP reports arresting more family units and fewer unaccompanied children during the first 10 months of FY 2017.

While CBP “fobs off” the increases as “seasonal,” they do cast some doubt on whether the Trump Administration’s “send ’em all back asap” enforcement approach is really going to decrease undocumented migration in the long run. It might simply be a case of professional human smuggling operations revising their methods and raising their prices to adjust to higher risk factors and the “market” taking time to adjust to the changing practices and price increases. Moreover, to date, neither increases in removal orders, some as noted by Horwitz undoubtedly “in absentia orders” issued without full due process protections, nor increases in the number of U.S. Immigration Judges has stopped the growth of the backlog of cases before the U.S. Immigration Courts, currently estimated at more than 610,000 pending cases!

Apparently, under the Trump/Sessions regime success in the U.S. Immigration Court System is no longer measured by improvements in due process and fairness or by insuring that the individuals coming before the court get the protections and relief to which they are entitled under the law. Nope! The “rule of law” in Immigration Court now appears synonymous with turning that Court System into a “deportation mill” — just another whistle stop on the “deportation express.”

In other words, we’ve now come “full circle” since 1983. Then, EOIR was created to get the Immigration Courts out of INS to enhance due process and overcome a public perception that the courts were merely functioning as adjuncts of INS enforcement. The U.S. Immigration Courts and EOIR essentially have been “recaptured” by DHS  enforcement.

EOIR has once again become an insulated “inbred” agency. Judicial appointments are made by DOJ politicos almost exclusively from the ranks of government attorneys, primarily DHS and DOJ prosecutors, just like when the “Legacy INS” ran the courts. Dockets are out of control, management is haphazard, technology is outdated and inadequate, and clerical staffing shortages are chronic. Staffing and docketing priorities are designed to accommodate enforcement priorities and to maximize removals, rather than to promote due process and fairness. Training and attention to the real “rule of law” are afterthoughts. Public service is a dirty word.

Morale among those at EOIR who care about the due process judicial mission has been steadily declining even as already sky-high stress levels continue to ratchet up. Numbers and removals have replaced fairness, professionalism, and unbiased decision making as objectives.

There are rumors that the Immigration Courts are going to be taken out of the DOJ and “reintegrated” into DHS to reflect their “true function” as part of the deportation mechanism. I think it’s unlikely unless Sessions becomes the new Secretary of DHS. But, really, what difference would it make? Sessions basically “reassumed” the immigration enforcement functions that once were in the Attorney General’s portfolio but were sent over to DHS when it was created after 9-11. Kelly merely signed off and nodded agreement to what Sessions told him to do.

A move by the DOJ apparently is afoot to revamp the judicial “evaluation system” to rate Immigration Judges more like “lower level DOJ attorneys” rather than judicial officials exercising independent judgment. Such bureaucratic ratings systems often elevate “productivity” above quality, value “following agency priorities” over exercising independent judgment, and serve to give the politicos at the DOJ more control and leverage over the day to day functioning of what is supposed to be a judiciary free from political influence or intimidation. Moreover, such ratings are often prepared by “supervisory judges” many of whom hear no cases and most of whom have little daily contact with the Immigration  Judges they nominally “supervise.” In a well-functioning judicial system, the local “Chief Judge” is a leader and problem solver, not a “supervisor” of her or his peers.

At this point, the Trump Administration clearly has no interest in fixing the festering problems in the U.S. Immigration Courts; they are determined to make things worse. While there is some bipartisan support in Congress for an independent Article I U.S. Immigration Court, to date it hasn’t coalesced into any specific, politically viable legislation.

That basically leaves it to the Article III Federal Courts to decide whether or not to fix the Immigration Courts. One possibility is that they will decide that it is too much: just forget due process for foreign nationals, rubber stamp the removal orders, stay above the fray, and become another “whistle stop on the deportation express.”

A more optimistic possibility is that they will draw the line on the due process nightmare in the U.S. Immigration Courts being promoted by the Administration. But, that will make the Article III Courts a major “track block” on the deportation express. The trains will derail and pile up on the doorstep, and the Article III Courts can count on little if any help or resources from Congress in untangling the mess and getting things back on track. Understandably, from a practical if not a legal point of view, some Article III Judges aren’t going to want to go there.

One thing is certain — things can’t continue they way they are going now. Something has got to give! And, when it does, the Article III Courts will be forced to do some self-examination and decide whether they are going to be part of the problem, or part of the solution. Are life-tenured Article III judgeships in essence about securing life sinecures, or about taking a perhaps unpopular and labor intensive stand for Constitutional Due Process for all, even the weakest and most vulnerable among us? We’ll soon find out!

PWS

08-09-17