WashPost: 3 Iraqi Refugees in VA Charged with Immigration Fraud — Allegedly Hid Family Ties & Made Up Stories Of Abuse

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/iraqi-refugees-in-va-accused-of-hiding-tie-to-a-kidnapper-to-get-into-us/2017/03/28/2997716e-13c2-11e7-833c-503e1f6394c9_story.html?utm_term=.b05079ddbe27&wpisrc=nl_buzz&wpmm=1

Rachel Weiner reports:

“When Yousif Al Mashhadani came to the United States as a refugee in 2008, he told officials he had been kidnapped in his native Iraq because of his anti-corruption efforts and wanted to come to America for his own safety.

Now, prosecutors in the Eastern District of Virginia say Al Mashhadani lied about being kidnapped and about his own connection to a vicious kidnapper.

On Tuesday, Al Mashhadani, his brother Adil Hasan, and Hasan’s wife, Enas Ibrahim, appeared in court on charges of naturalization fraud.

All three live in Fairfax County; they moved here from Iraq in 2008. But when they applied to become lawful permanent U.S. residents, none of them acknowledged a relationship to Majid Al Mashhadani, a convicted kidnapper who is Yousif Al Mashhadani and Hasan’s brother, an affidavit from FBI agent Sean MacDougal said.”

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

Obviously, the defendants are innocent until proven guilty.  But, if the Government does prove these charges, then these three individuals have not only compromised the integrity of the U.S. refugee system, but also endangered the lives of many Iraqis who legitimately qualify for protection, but are caught up in the anti-refugee hysteria being promoted by the Trump Administration. Cases like this damage the chances of all legitimate refugees to receive the life-saving protection which they need and deserve.

I’d also like to put in a good word for the DHS criminal enforcement operation. Taking apart complicated cases like this and developing them into viable criminal prosecutions takes skill, sophisticated knowledge, perseverance, and dogged attention to detail.

My personal experience has been that the DHS generally does an outstanding job of ferreting out and prosecuting refugee and asylum fraud, even when, as here, the cases takes years to develop. Then, cases that shouldn’t have been granted are reopened, status is revoked, and removal proceedings are instituted.

During my time at the Arlington Immigration Court, the DHS and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Alexandria “broke” major asylum fraud cases relating to Indonesians and Cameroonians. The principals went to jail and those who knowingly participated in the fraud had their status revoked and were removed from the United States. So, in the end, the DHS did their job well, and justice was served.

As a judge, I was an adjudicator, not an investigator. So, I appreciated the investigative skills of those who brought the truth to light and thereby helped us keep our system honest.

PWS

03/28/17

 

 

WashPost: Professors (And Former USG Senior Execs) Martin & Legomsky Analyze Judge Brinkema’s Travel Ban Decision — Religious Discrimination Finding Might Be Key To Opponents’ Future Success (Or Not)!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/why-virginia-matters-in-the-travel-ban-fight/2017/02/14/27cfff3c-f2ec-11e6-b9c9-e83fce42fb61_story.html?utm_term=.880047c24800

Rachel Weiner reports:

“’Judge Brinkema spells out a lot more; she really fleshes out one of the possible claims, and that’s the religious discrimination claim,’” said David Martin, a professor at the University of Virginia who, for many years, helped shape immigration policy inside the government. ‘That may well prove to be the strongest or more fruitful line of inquiry for the plaintiffs in these various cases, particularly if they’re trying to reach past green-card holders or people on immigrant visas. It’s hard to get there without a religious discrimination case of some kind.’”

. . . .

“’It was a very well-reasoned, thoughtful decision. Frankly, I think, a more careful decision than the 9th Circuit decision,’ said Steve Legomsky, former chief counsel for immigration services in the Department of Homeland Security. In her opinion, Legomsky said, Brinkema ‘pretty methodically went through the various statements by Trump. . . . They put great weight on the opinions of the former national security officials to show the absence of counterevidence from the Trump administration. For both of those reasons, I think the Virginia opinion is very important.’
Brinkema also brings to the case extensive national security experience. She presided over the trial of Sept. 11, 2001, conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui, among other high-profile cases.

‘It was a thoughtful opinion, it’s well considered, it wasn’t hastily done like some of these other decisions had to be in light of circumstances,’ said Justin Cox of the National Immigration Law Center. His group is involved in several lawsuits against the ban, including one filed in Maryland last week focused on refugees. That case is specifically focused on religious discrimination.

‘Legally [the Virginia ruling] is actually quite significant because it’s the first court to squarely hold that the executive order violates the establishment clause,’ Cox said.

The danger for opponents of the ban is that, should the Justice Department appeal Brinkema’s decision, they will face the more conservative 4th Circuit rather than the left-leaning 9th Circuit.

‘It would be a close call,’ Legomsky said. ‘There is such strong evidence of religious discrimination — it’s really hard to know.’”

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

As noted in this article, in addition to being leading academic “immigration gurus,”  both Professor Martin and Professor Legomsky have lived in the “real world” of shaping Government policies and managing programs that actually implement those policies.

As they point out, while many of the objections to the “travel ban” could be eliminated by applying it just prospectively to those outside the U.S. who have not previously been admitted, that wouldn’t necessarily overcome Judge Brinkema’s finding that the “national security” reasons asserted by the Government in her court were merely “pretext” for unconstitutional religious discrimination.

While Justin Cox might be correct that the Fourth Circuit is not as liberal as the Ninth Circuit, that distinction probably would apply to every other Circuit Court of Appeals. Having spent 13 years as an Immigration Judge in Arlington, where my decisions ultimately could be reviewed by the Fourth Circuit and Fourth Circuit law applied, I found their immigration rulings very balanced. Indeed, they sometimes cited Ninth Circuit precedent and even were ahead of the Ninth in recognizing some migrants’ rights.

While the Fourth Circuit affirmed the overwhelming majority of BIA and Immigration Judge decisions in unpublished, non-precedential decisions, when they spoke in published precedents they always had important guidance to offer. The Fourth Circuit also was not afraid to stand up to the Government and “call them out” when necessary in the field of immigration.

And, at least in the Arlington Immigration Court, we trial judges paid close attention. I think that the Fourth Circuit’s very fair and well-reasoned asylum jurisprudence, in some significant ways more faithful to the asylum law and regulations than rulings of the BIA, was one reason why asylum applicants were often successful in Arlington. That’s also why many asylum cases in Arlington could be resolved by the parties in “short hearings” based on extensive written documentation and application of the Fourth Circuit law.

There is also a wonderful pastel portrait of Judge Brinkema in her court with the full article at the link. Check it out!

PWS

02/16/17