PETULA DVORAK IN THE WashPost: Forget The Administration’s Fear-Mongering — There Are Many Amazing Kids In Our Midst Seeking Survival & A Chance To Contribute! These Are The Kids I Met In Immigration Court — And I Am Still Moved & Inspired By What Many Of Them Have Achieved & Their Potential!

Petula Dvorak writes in her regular local column in the Washington Post:

“Their dreams — to become a lawyer, an interior decorator, a sailor in the Navy — are a lot like the dreams that other kids at their Maryland high school have.

It’s their nightmares — seeing relatives killed, paying off coyotes, being raped at the border, spending weeks in a detention center, being homeless in a new country — that make them so different.

“They’ve survived untold horrors,” said Alicia Wilson, the executive director at La Clinica Del Pueblo, which is working with Northwestern High School to help these teenagers.

The Hyattsville school has absorbed dozens of these students — part of a wave of more than 150,000 kids who have crossed the U.S. border over the past three years fleeing violence in Central America.

We usually hear about these young immigrants only when they’re accused of committing heinous crimes — such as the two undocumented students charged with raping a 14-year-old classmate in a bathroom at Rockville High School. Or when they become victims of heinous crimes — such as Damaris Reyes Rivas, 15, whose mother wanted to protect her from MS-13 in El Salvador but lost her to the gang in Maryland.

In country with a growing compassion deficit, plenty of people resent these kids, demonizing them along with other undocumented immigrants. But I wish those folks got to spend the time with them that I did. They’re funny, vulnerable, hard-working and stunningly resilient.”


Exactly what I found  in more than a decade as a trial judge at the Arlington Immigration Court. The young people were among the most memorable of the thousands of lives that passed through my courtroom. “Funny, vulnerable, hard-working and stunningly resilient,” yes they were all of those things. To that, I would add smart, courageous, talented, motivated, and caring.

Many appeared at the first Master Calendar speaking only a few words of English. By the time the second Master rolled around (often 9-12 months on my overcrowded docket) they were basically fluent.  And, they often were assisting others in the family to understand the system, as well as taking on major family responsibilities with parents or guardians holding down two, or sometimes three jobs.

I checked their grades and urged/cajoled them to turn the Cs into Bs and the Bs into As. Many brought their report cards to the next haring to show me that they had done it.

I recognized the many athletes, musicians, chess players, science clubbers, and artists who were representing their schools. But, I also recognized those who were contributing by helping at home, the church, with younger siblings, etc.

Just lots of very impressive young people who had managed to put incredible pain, suffering, and uncertainty largely behind them in an effort to succeed and fit in with an strange new environment. They just wanted a chance to live in relative safety and security and to be able to lead productive, meaningful lives, contributing to society. Pretty much the same things that most off us want for ourselves and our loved ones.

More often than not, with the help of talented, caring attorneys, many of them serving in a pro bono capacity, and kind, considerate Assistant Chief Counsel we were able to fit them into “the system” in a variety of ways. Not always, But, most of the time. Those who got to stay were always grateful, gracious, and appreciative.

Even those we had to turn away I hope left with something of value — perhaps an education — and the feeling that they had been treated fairly and with respect, that I had carefully listened and considered their claim to stay, and that I had explained, to the best of my ability, in understandable language, why I couldn’t help them. Being a U.S. Immigration Judge was not an easy job.

Overall, I felt very inspired when I could play a positive role in the lives of these fine young people. “Building America’s future, one life at a time, one case at a time,” as I used to say.




Fears Grow Among U.S. Civil Servants In The Face of Overt Hostility and Disrespect From Incoming Administration And Congress — In Bizarre Twist, U.S. Government Threatens To Attack And Dismember Itself! Who Will Be Left To Carry Out Deportations, Bust Druggies, Or Support The Military? Not Everything Can Be “Outsourced” To Your Buddies!

Petula Dvorak writes in her local column in the Washington Post:

“This workforce that’s supposedly as bloated and unwieldy as the Sta Puft Marshmallow Man? It was about the same size in 1950. (You know, around the time so many folks think America was great?)

It also has been slowly shrinking and is now a little smaller than it was under Ronald Reagan.

So let’s stop pretending that this hostility toward federal workers is about cost-cutting.

Trump already has promised a huge building up of the military — at least 500,000 more in the Army alone. So money is not something that the federal government is looking to save.

This new Washington (or New York on the Potomac) has plenty of plans for our taxpayer dollars.

Trump is promising lots of nonmilitary jobs.

There’s The Wall! Imagine the work that’s going to create.

Construction workers, managers to deal with thousands of miles of worksite along the U.S.-Mexico border, paper pushers to get all the materials sorted and the laborers paid. Of course, that money will probably wind up going to private contractors, the guys who command $500 billion in taxpayer money every year, but aren’t counted as part of the federal workforce.

Maybe The Wall isn’t going to cost U.S. taxpayers anything because the workers aren’t really going to get paid. Just ask the guys at Magnolia Plumbing D.C. or AES Electric in Laurel, Md.

There’s also the promised deportation of about 3 million to 4 million undocumented immigrants. Imagine the federal workers required for that effort, given the current backlog of 500,000 deportation cases.”


I have previously blogged about the unprecedented (at least during my 43+ years in Washington) hostility toward Federal career civil servants being promised by the Trump Administration and the GOP-controlled Congress: