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.”

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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.“

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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.”

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

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.”

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

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

Sessions Says DOJ Will Help Defend States (Like Texas) Seeking To Punish “Sanctuary Cities” — House GOP Pushes Bill Targeting Sanctuary Jurisdictions!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/trump-administration-backs-texas-in-lawsuit-over-harsh-sanctuary-city-law/2017/06/23/327ba290-581f-11e7-ba90-f5875b7d1876_story.html?utm_term=.4c47afa58d76

Maria Sacchetti reports in the Washington Post:

“Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Friday that the Trump administration “fully supports” Texas’s harsh new ban on sanctuary cities, and the Department of Justice will help defend it against a federal court challenge next week.

Lawyers for the tiny border city of El Cenizo, the League of United Latin American Citizens and major cities such as Dallas and Austin say the law requiring them to detain immigrants for federal deportation agents is “patently unconstitutional” for a number of reasons. On Monday, they will urge U.S. District Court Judge Orlando Garcia in San Antonio to block the law from taking effect Sept. 1.

The state of Texas argues that the government is within its rights to bar localities from interfering with immigration enforcement. Under the law, officials could lose their jobs, police chiefs could go to jail, and governments could face fines of up to $25,500 a day if they adopt or enforce policies that prevent law enforcement officers from asking about a person’s immigration status or complying with requests to detain immigrants, a job that has been chiefly the responsibility of federal agents.

 

“President Trump has made a commitment to keep America safe and to ensure cooperation with federal immigration laws,” Sessions said in a statement. “Texas has admirably followed his lead by mandating state-wide cooperation with federal immigration laws that require the removal of illegal aliens who have committed crimes.”

Luis Roberto Vera, Jr. the national general counsel for the League of United Latin American Citizens, which is a plaintiff in the case, said the Texas law is discriminatory because it primarily targets Hispanics, one of the state’s largest groups.

El Cenizo Mayor Raul Reyes. El Cenizo is the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit that will seek to temporarily halt Texas’ sanctuary cities ban before it takes effect Sept. 1. (Matthew Busch/Matthew Busch For The Washington Post)
“It’s a continuation of Donald Trump’s war on Mexicanos,” Vera said. “That’s the sad part about this.”

The faceoff comes amid rising tensions nationwide over the Trump administration’s crackdown on immigration and its relentless march forward despite a string of losses in federal courts.

On Friday, congressional aides said House Republicans are advancing a bill that would withhold some federal grant money from so-called sanctuary cities; give greater legal weight to immigration detainers, which are requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement to local jails to hold immigrants who are being targeted for deportation; and shield local governments from lawsuits related to detainers. A second bill would increase penalties against deported immigrants who return illegally.”

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Yup, full employment for lawyers, on all sides.

Bad time to be an immigrant, refugee, or minority in America. Great time to be a lawyer!

PWS

06-24-17

Virginia Mother Of 2 Deported N/W/S Governor’s Pardon!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/social-issues/liliana-cruz-mendez-falls-church-mother-of-two-deported-to-el-salvador/2017/06/20/23c317ea-5600-11e7-b38e-35fd8e0c288f_story.html?hpid=hp_local-news_fairfaxdeport-7pm%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.09aea91718af

“Federal immigration officials have deported a mother of two from Falls Church back to her native El Salvador despite ­eleventh-hour efforts by Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and others to help her stay in the United States.

Liliana Cruz Mendez was deported Wednesday, according to CASA, the nonprofit group that represented her after she was detained in May at a routine check-in with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. ICE confirmed the deportation.

After she was taken into custody, McAuliffe (D) pardoned Cruz Mendez’s 2014 conviction for a minor driving offense in hopes that it would spare her from having to leave the country.

The governor said she did not pose a public-safety threat. But federal immigration officials said she would be deported, noting that she had been in the United States illegally since 2006.

Cruz Mendez’s husband, Rene Bermudez, said the family was shattered by the deportation. He sobbed as he recounted how their children, aged 10 and 4, wept when they heard Cruz Mendez was gone.

“How can they take away their mother?” he said.

Bermudez said he cannot join his wife in El Salvador because he is in the process of obtaining a green card and must stay in the United States. He said he and his wife have been together for 15 years and have always paid taxes and gone to church.

He and his son and daughter last saw Cruz Mendez through a window at the immigration detention center.

“People don’t understand because they haven’t lived it. But believe me,” he said, his voice faltering, “I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.”

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Read the entire story at the link.

Intentional cruelty and arbitrary enforcement usually come back to haunt those who smugly carry them out. Exercising power for power’s sake is abusive.

PWS

06-20-17

 

 

BUST: ICE Nabs Mother Of 4 With Minor Driving Violation!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/social-issues/salvadoran-mom-of-2-detained-by-ice-in-fairfax-no-criminal-record-advocates-say/2017/05/18/afcbe0ce-3bec-11e7-a058-ddbb23c75d82_story.html?utm_term=.92d83e15b9c6

Maria Sacchetti and Antonio Olivo Report in the Washington Post:

“Federal immigration officials detained an undocumented woman from Falls Church who came to their offices for a routine check-in on Thursday, drawing angry protests from advocates who say President Trump should focus on deporting those who pose a public-safety threat.p

The arrest of Liliana Cruz Mendez, 30, a mother of two from El Salvador, comes a day after U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement released statistics showing a significant increase in deportation arrests since Trump’s inauguration, mostly involving undocumented residents with criminal records.

While immigration hard-liners are applauding Trump’s efforts, advocates for those here illegally say ICE is defining the term “criminal” so broadly that many minor offenders — including Cruz Mendez, who has a misdemeanor conviction for driving without a license — are being torn from their U.S.-born children.

The agency also more than doubled the arrests of noncriminal immigrants, to nearly 11,000, about a quarter of the arrests reported Wednesday.

“This is the real face of what ICE is doing,” said George Escobar, senior director of human Services for CASA, a Maryland-based nonprofit that is aiding Cruz Mendez. “They are shattering families and children’s lives.”

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This is making America safer and better? This is a good use of enforcement resources?

PWS

05-19-17

ICE Gets Jollies By Busting More Non-Criminals, Adding to Immigration Court Backlogs!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/immigration-arrests-up-during-trump/2017/05/17/74399a04-3b12-11e7-9e48-c4f199710b69_story.html

Maria Sacchetti reports in the Washington Post:

“Federal immigration agents are arresting more than 400 immigrants a day, a sharp leap from last year that reflects one of President Trump’s most far-reaching campaign promises.

In Trump’s first 100 days in office, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested 41,318 immigrants, up 37.6 percent over the same period last year, the agency said Wednesday. Almost 3 out of 4 of those arrested have criminal records, including gang members and fugitives wanted for murder. But the biggest increase by far is among immigrants with no criminal records.

“This administration is fully implementing its mass-deportation agenda,” said Gregory Chen, government relations director for the American Immigration Lawyers Association. “They’re going after people who have lived here for a long time.”

. . . .

Acting ICE director Thomas Homan said the statistics released Wednesday show that agents still prioritize lawbreakers: 30,473 criminals were arrested from Jan. 22 to April 29, an 18 percent increase from the same period in 2016.

Meanwhile, arrests of immigrants with no criminal records more than doubled to nearly 11,000, the fastest-growing category by far.

“Will the number of noncriminal arrests and removals increase this year? Absolutely,” Homan said. “That’s enforcing the laws that are on the books.”

What is less clear is what is happening to the immigrants who are being taken into custody.

Overall, deportations have fallen about 12 percent this year, to about 56,315 people, which Homan attributed to a severe backlog in federal immigration courts. He also said it can take longer to deport criminals than those without criminal records, because those in the former category may have additional court proceedings. The Trump administration has called for additional immigration judges and detention space to speed deportations.

Homan did not say how many of the 41,318 people whose arrests were announced Wednesday have been deported, remain in custody or have been released.

Unlike criminal arrests, records of immigration arrests — which are considered civil violations — are not publicly accessible.

The secrecy allows immigration officials to pick and choose which examples of their work to highlight. On Wednesday, they said the immigrants arrested since Trump’s executive order include Estivan Rafael Marques Velasquez, an alleged MS-13 gang member from El Salvador captured in New York in February; Juan Antonio Melchor Molina, a fugitive wanted for a 2008 murder in Mexico who was arrested last month in Dallas; and William Magana-Contreras, another reputed MS-13 member arrested in Houston last month. Magana-Contreras is wanted for aggravated homicide in El Salvador, officials said.

Some advocates questioned whether ICE is truly prioritizing the most serious criminals.

Parastoo Zahedi, an immigration lawyer in Virginia, said ICE is actively trying to deport one of her clients to Italy because of a conviction for possession of a small amount of marijuana. He has lived in the United States nearly all his life.

“It’s not criminal aliens,” Zahedi said. “It’s anyone that they can catch.”

Ava Benach, a D.C. immigration lawyer, said ICE agents are “empowered, emboldened and . . . eager to enforce the law aggressively.”

Advocates also questioned the wisdom of arresting thousands more immigrants — especially those who pose no known public safety threat — when immigration courts are severely backlogged. But Homan said that is the agency’s job.

. . . .

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Let’s put this in plain language.  We have a law that doesn’t work, and a system that is broken. There are an estimated 11 million undocumented individuals residing in the U.S. Most of them work, pay taxes (in some form), and contribute to the economy. Many have immediate relatives who are US citizens or otherwise in the country legally.

Because everyone can’t possibly be removed, the “unfocused” enforcement advocated by Homan on behalf of the Trump Administration turns out to be highly if not completely arbitrary. In most cases of those without serious criminal records, removal would be a net loss to our country.

Moreover, the Administration has reassigned U.S. Immigration Judges away from their regular dockets to work on detained cases, which, understandably, are the highest priority. By mindlessly “jacking up” the detained docket, the Administration  guarantees that backlogs will continue to build on the “non-detained” dockets.

The Immigration Courts now have a backlog approaching 600,000, and it continues to grow by leaps and bounds even though there are more Immigration Judges on duty now than in past years and productivity has remained constant over the past few years (although Immigration Judges still complete multiples of what other similarly situated Federal Judges do, and far more cases than the
“ideal”). This is because of the “Aimless Docket Reshuffling” — ADR — foisted on the Immigration Courts by the past two Administrations.

While, at the very end of the Obama Administration ICE was making some progress toward smarter, more focused use of enforcement resources, which took into account the finite limits of Immigration Court dockets, the Trump Administration has returned to a policy of random irrational enforcement. They have also limited the discretion of individual ICE Assistant Chief Counsel to exercise discretion to get what should be “low priority” cases off the docket — in other words, to exercise “prosecutorial discretion” — “PD” — as other prosecutors do.

PWS

05-17-17

OPERATION BOGO? — Many Of Those Arrested By DHS In Recent “Raids” Were NOT Serious Felons!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/social-issues/ice-data-shows-half-of-immigrants-arrested-in-raids-had-traffic-convictions-or-no-record/2017/04/28/81ff7284-2c59-11e7-b605-33413c691853_story.html?utm_term=.9b04937c5746

Maria Sacchetti and Ed O’Keefe report in the Washington Post:

“About half of the 675 immigrants picked up in roundups across the United States in the days after President Trump took office either had no criminal convictions or had committed traffic offenses, mostly drunken driving, as their most serious crimes, according to data obtained by The Washington Post.

Records provided by congressional aides Friday offered the most detailed look yet at the backgrounds of the individuals rounded up and targeted for deportation in early February by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents assigned to regional offices in Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, San Antonio and New York.

Two people had been convicted of homicide, 80 had been convicted of assault, and 57 had convictions for “dangerous drugs.” Many of the most serious criminals were given top billing in ICE news statements about the operation.

The largest single group — 163 immigrants convicted of traffic offenses — was mentioned only briefly. Over 90 percent of those cases involved drunken driving, ICE said Friday. Of those taken into custody in the raids, 177 had no criminal convictions at all, though 66 had charges pending, largely immigration or traffic offenses.

The raids were part of a nationwide immigration roundup dubbed Operation Cross Check, which accounts for a small portion of the 21,362 immigrants the Trump administration took into custody for deportation proceedings from January through mid-March.

The two-month total represents a 32 percent increase in deportation arrests over the same period last year. Most are criminals, administration officials have said. But 5,441 were not criminals, double the number of undocumented immigrants arrested for deportation a year earlier. The administration has released a detailed breakdown of the criminal records only of the raids in early February.”

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Seems like Trump, Sessions, Kelly & Co. have “embellished” or exaggerated both the threat posed by undocumented individuals and the the achievements of their “enhanced enforcement operations.” And, this is hardly the first time, nor is it likely to be the last.

That being said, as a former U.S. Immigration Judge, I wouldn’t necessarily give a “free pass” to those convicted of DUI. I agree with the commenter who indicated that a DUI far in the past, followed by an otherwise “clean” record would not ordinarily make someone a “danger to society.” But, multiple DUI convictions within the past several years would be a much different story.

Moreover, facts and circumstances are important. A DUI with others, particularly children, in the car, and/or a DUI that resulted in an an accident and injury to persons or property would be something more than a “mere traffic violation.”

Generally, I did not grant bond to individuals with recent multiple DUIs, and I almost never granted a second bond to an individual who had a DUI while out on bond.

PWS

04-29-17

 

DHS Rolls Out VOICE Program To Mixed Reviews!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/social-issues/trump-administration-launches-effort-to-help-crime-victims-whose-assailants-are-here-illegally/2017/04/26/70b27f1c-2a29-11e7-b605-33413c691853_story.html?utm_term=.53e57f278b40

Maria Sacchetti writes in the Washington Post:

“Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly on Wednesday unveiled a new effort to aid victims of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants, catapulting the Trump administration into another pitched battle over whether the president is deploying federal resources to demonize foreign-born residents who are in this country illegally.

Kelly said the Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement Office, or VOICE, will provide custody status, release dates and other information to victims, witnesses and their representatives. He said there is “nothing but goodness” in his intentions — a claim immigrant advocates disputed.

“We are giving people who are victimized by illegal aliens for the first time a voice of their own,” Kelly said, gesturing to crime victims gathered at Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s D.C. headquarters. “They’re casualties of crimes that should never have taken place because the people who victimized them should never have been here in our country.”

. . . .

“This really isn’t about helping victims,” said Brent Wilkes, chief executive of the League of United Latin American Citizens, which is considering the lawsuit. “It’s really about trying to vilify the immigrant population in this country and using that to their political advantage.”

Trump’s executive order also called for quarterly reports on crime committed by undocumented immigrants, though it is unclear when the government will begin producing those reports. Advocates for immigrants say research has shown that immigrants are no more likely to commit crimes than people born in this country.”

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You might want to compare this article with the op-ed by Jennifer Rubin posted earlier: 

http://wp.me/p8eeJm-L0.

PWS

04-26-17

 

DHS “Jacks Up” Noncriminal Arrests!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/immigration-arrests-of-noncriminals-double-under-trump/2017/04/16/98a2f1e2-2096-11e7-be2a-3a1fb24d4671_story.html

“Immigration arrests rose 32.6 percent in the first weeks of the Trump administration, with newly empowered federal agents intensifying their pursuit of not just undocumented immigrants with criminal records, but also thousands of illegal immigrants who have been otherwise law-abiding.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested 21,362 immigrants, mostly convicted criminals, from January through mid-March, compared to 16,104 during the same period last year, according to statistics requested by The Washington Post.

Arrests of immigrants with no criminal records more than doubled to 5,441, the clearest sign yet that President Trump has ditched his predecessor’s protective stance toward most of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States.

Advocates for immigrants say the unbridled enforcement has led to a sharp drop in reports from Latinos of sexual assaults and other crimes in Houston and Los Angeles, and terrified immigrant communities across the United States. A prosecutor said the presence of immigration agents in state and local courthouses, which advocates say has increased under the Trump administration, makes it harder to prosecute crime.

“My sense is that ICE is emboldened in a way that I have never seen,” Dan Satterberg, the top prosecutor in Washington state’s King County, which includes Seattle, said Thursday. “The federal government, in really just a couple of months, has undone decades of work that we have done to build this trust.”

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Unfocused enforcement pouring cases into an already “saturated” U.S. Immigration Court system is a prescription for disaster. Moreover, because it would be impossible to remove all of the approximately 11 million individuals here without authorization, just arresting anyone an agent might encounter who is potentially removable will be highly arbitrary.

PWS

04-16-17