WASHINGTON POST: GONZO’S IMMIGRATION COURT “REFORMS” WILL CREATE “KANGAROO COURTS!” —Recent “moves to evaluate judges based on the speed with which they handle dockets that typically exceed 2,000 cases, rather than on fair adjudication, is a recipe for assembly-line injustice.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trumps-deportation-tough-talk-hurts-law-abiding-immigrants/2017/12/10/9a87524a-a93b-11e7-850e-2bdd1236be5d_story.html

The Post Editorial Board writes:

“The broader dysfunction in America’s immigration system remains largely unchanged. Federal immigration courts are grappling with a backlog of some 600,000 cases, an epic logjam. The administration wants to more than double the number of the 300 or so immigration judges, but that will take time. And its recent moves to evaluate judges based on the speed with which they handle dockets that typically exceed 2,000 cases, rather than on fair adjudication, is a recipe for assembly-line injustice.

Mr. Trump’s campaign bluster on deportation was detached from reality. He said he’d quickly deport 2 million or 3 million criminal illegal immigrants, but unless he’s counting parking scofflaws and jaywalkers, he won’t find that many “bad hombres” on the loose. In fact, legal and illegal immigrants are much less likely to end up in jail than U.S. citizens, according to a study by the Cato Institute.

The president’s sound and fury on deportation signify little. He has intensified arrests, disrupting settled and productive lives, families and communities — but to what end? Only an overhaul of America’s broken immigration system offers the prospect of a more lasting fix.”

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

Read the full article at the link.

The Post also points out the damage caused by Trump’s racist “bad hombres” rabble rousing and the largely bogus nature of the Administration’s claims to be removing “dangerous criminals.” No, the latter would require some professionalism and real law enforcement skills. Those characteristics are non-existent among Trump Politicos and seem to be in disturbingly short supply at DHS. To crib from Alabama GOP Senator Richard Shelby’s statement about “Ayatollah Roy:” Certainly DHS can do better than Tom Homan.

And certainly America can do better than a US Immigration Court run by White Nationalist Attorney General Jeff “Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions. Gonzo’s warped concept of Constitutional Due Process is limited to insuring that he himself is represented by competent counsel as he forgets, misrepresents, misleads, mis-construes, and falsifies his way through the halls of justice.

Jeff Sessions does not represent America or American justice. The majority of American voters who did not want the Trump debacle in the first place still have the power to use the system to eventually restore decency, reasonableness, compassion, and integrity to American Government and to send the “Trump White Nationalist carpetbaggers” packing. The only question is whether or not we are up to the task!

PWS

12-12-17

 

FOURTH CIRCUIT JOINS 9TH, 2d, & 6TH IN REVERSING BIA’S OVERLY RESTRICTIVE READING OF ASYLUM ELIGIBILITY – ADDITIONAL EVIDENCE OF A PRE-EXISTING CLAIM CAN BE A “CHANGED CIRCUMSTANCE” JUSTIFYING “LATE” ASYLUM FILING! — ZAMBRANO V. SESSIONS (PUBLISHED)!

4th Cir on changed circumstances-1yr

Zambrano v. Sessions, 4th Cir., 12-05-17 (published)

PANEL: KEENAN and WYNN, Circuit Judges, and John A. GIBNEY, Jr., United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Virginia, sitting by designation.

OPINION BY: Judge Gibney

KEY QUOTE:

“This Court agrees with the logic of the Ninth, Second, and Sixth circuits. New facts that provide additional support for a pre-existing asylum claim can constitute a changed circumstance. These facts may include circumstances that show an intensification of a preexisting threat of persecution or new instances of persecution of the same kind suffered in the past. The Court remands to the BIA and leaves the determination of whether the facts on record constitute changed circumstances which materially affect the petitioner’s eligibility for asylum to the BIA’s sound discretion.

III.
The BIA erred when it categorically held that additional proof of an existing claim

does not establish changed circumstances. Accordingly, we grant the petition for review, vacate the BIA’s order, and remand the case to the BIA for further consideration in light of this opinion.”

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

This is a very important decision for asylum applicants in the Fourth Circuit, as this situation arises frequently in Immigration Court.

With three well-reasoned Circuit decisions already in the books, why is the BIA holding out for a discredited rationale? How many individuals who weren’t fortunate enough to have Ben Winograd or an equally talented lawyer argue for them in the Court of Appeals have already been wrongfully removed under the BIA’s discredited rationale? Where’s the BIA precedent adopting this rationale and making it binding on IJ’s nationwide before more individuals are wrongfully removed? How is this “through teamwork and innovation being the world’s best administrative tribunal guaranteeing fairness and due process for all?”

The answer to the latter question is sadly obvious. While the BIA’s problems predated his tenure, the attitude of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, as demonstrated in his recent pronouncement on so-called “Immigration Court efficiency” elevates “false efficiency,” speed, and cranking out removals above fundamental fairness and Due Process. Why have an elaborate administrative court system that doesn’t put Due Process first and foremost as “real” (non-captive) courts generally do? Why not just send all removal cases to U.S. District Judges and Magistrate Judges who make Due Process and fairness “job one” and aren’t preoccupied with “jacking up” removal statistics to please political bosses?

And, I’d like to see how far the DHS/Sessions’s (they are pretty much the same these days) boneheaded, arrogant, unrealistic, and wasteful “no PD” policy would get in a “real” court system where widespread, reasonable, and prudent use of PD by prosecutors is understood and accepted as an essential part of fairness, efficiency, and responsible use of publicly-funded judicial resources. Indeed, in some of my past “off the record” conversations with Article III Judges, they were absolutely flabbergasted to discover the unwillingness of DHS to meaningfully exercise “PD” in the pre-Obama era and to learn that at DHS the “cops,” rather than the prosecutors were responsible for setting PD policies!

PWS

12-08-17

 

ATTN “COURTSIDERS” – HEAR ME “LIVE” ON RADIO IN RICHMOND, VA, THE INTERNET, AND FACEBOOK TOMORROW, FRIDAY, DEC. 8, 2017!

I’ll be on two local radio shows hosted by Richmond Attorney Pablo Fantl tomorrow.

Both are am radio stations, and are available online.  They also will broadcast on Facebook Live, and will be available in the archives afterwards.  I will post links on immigrationcourtside.com once the recordings are available.

From 11:30-12:30     Radio Poder 1380 am   http://www.wbtk.com/

From 1:00-2:00         Maxima 1320 am          https://maxima1320.com/

These are programs directed at informing the Hispanic community in Richmond. Although I’m not bilingual, Pablo has promised excellent interpretation services. And, gosh knows, I’m pretty used to being translated into many languages from my days on the immigration bench.

Hope you’ll “tune in!”

PWS

12-07-17

 

 

AG SESSIONS ISSUES NEW GUIDANCE ON ADMINISTRATION OF US IMMIGRATION COURTS, COURT REFORM, & ATTACKING BACKLOGS — Due Process Appears To Take a “Back Seat” (Or Perhaps Has Been Tossed Out The Window) In Relation To Enforcement, Deterrence, and Removals!

Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued two important new memoranda on the heavily backlogged U.S. Immigration Courts today. Here they are:

  1. https://www.justice.gov/opa/press-release/file/1016066/download

“**ALL INFORMATION CONTAINED WITHIN IS ON BACKGROUND, ATTRIBUTABLE TO AN EOIR OFFICIAL**

BACKGROUND

BACKGROUNDER ON
EOIR STRATEGIC CASELOAD REDUCTION PLAN

  • The Executive Office for Immigration Review’s (EOIR) caseload has doubled since 2011, from less than 300,000 pending cases to 650,000 as of December 2017.
  • The pace of the caseload increase has accelerated:

o FY 2014 – FY 2015: o FY 2015 – FY 2016: o FY 2016 – FY 2017:

+48,000 cases
+60,000 cases
+100,000 cases (projected)

  • Numerous policy changes in recent years have slowed down the adjudication of existing cases and incentivized further illegal immigration that led to new cases:o DACA
    o Prosecutorial Discretion o Provisional Waivers
  • Representatives of illegal aliens have purposely used tactics designed to delay the adjudication of their clients’ cases:o Between FY 2006 and FY 2015, continuances in immigration proceedings increased 23%.1 o As of 2012, cases averaged four continuances, which totaled 368 days per continuance.2
  • Productivity of immigration judges fell by 31% between FY 2006 and FY 2015.3GOAL
  • In order to reduce the pending caseload, EOIR must increase adjudicatory capacity, increase immigration judge (IJ) productivity, and manage incoming case receipts from the Department of Homeland Security. EOIR is implementing five initiatives to address these goals.INCREASING ADJUDICATORY CAPACITY
    • FY 2016 authorized 384 IJs, and the total number of IJs is currently 339, up from 273 since September 2016; if approved, EOIR will be authorized to hire up to 449 IJs.
    • The Attorney General announced a “new, streamlined hiring plan” in April 2017 that is showing signs of reducing the hiring process from 742 days to 6-8 months.4
    • In addition to more immigration judges, EOIR is requesting funding to reduce the ratio of judicial law clerks (JLCs) for all IJs from 2:1 to 1:1, improving productivity and efficiency.
    • EOIR is actively working with Government Services Administration (GSA) to identify new space and to expedite build-outs of existing space.1 https://www.gao.gov/assets/690/685022.pdf
      2 https://www.justice.gov/eoir/file/oppm17-01/download
      3 https://www.gao.gov/assets/690/685022.pdf
      4 https://www.justice.gov/opa/speech/attorney-general-jeff-sessions-delivers-remarks-announcing-department-justice-s-renewed

**ALL INFORMATION CONTAINED WITHIN IS ON BACKGROUND, ATTRIBUTABLE TO AN EOIR OFFICIAL**

• EOIR is planning to pilot Video Teleconferencing (VTC) immigration adjudication centers (IACs), where IJs will adjudicate cases from around the country.

MAXIMIZING THE USE OF AVAILABLE ADJUDICATORY CAPACITY

  • Every Friday, there are at least 100 courtrooms nationwide that are not being used because of IJ alternate work schedules.
  • No Dark Courtrooms policy:
    o Hiring new IJs for VTC courtrooms in Falls Church, VA o Utilize retired IJs to cover dark courtrooms
  • Establish nationwide scheduling and docketing standards to more efficiently move cases to completion.TRANSFORMING EOIR’S INSTITUTIONAL CULTURE AND INFRASTRUCTURE
  • EOIR is actively looking to replace its operations from a paper-based filing system to an electronic filing system.
  • Realign the agency towards completing cases.
  • Provide clear guidance to IJs about the timely adjudication of cases.
  • Placing more supervisory IJs in the field to improve oversight and ensure more effective implementation of strategies to reduce the caseload.ENHANCING PARTNERSHIPS WITH DHS

• Strengthen aspects of EOIR’s relationship with DHS will help improve docket efficiency and IJ productivity by managing the input of new cases and more efficiently monitoring cases that are delayed pending an adjudication before USCIS.

IMPROVING EXISTING LAWS AND POLICIES

• Review of existing EOIR regulations and policies to determine changes that could streamline current immigration proceedings (e.g. the OPPM on continuances issued on July 31, 2017; regulatory changes that will allow immigration judges to deny unmeritorious cases regardless if the annual limit for relief has been met).”

2.  https://www.justice.gov/opa/press-release/file/1015996/download

 AG’s Memorandum to EOIR. You’ll have to click to open.
******************************************
While some of the measures appear at least facially appropriate, the overall tone of these documents is:
  • Heavy on enforcement and efficiency.
  • Light on Due Process and fairness to respondents.
  • An attempt to shift primary responsibility for the backlogs from the true causes — inappropriate political meddling at DOJ by this and past Administrations — known as Aimless Docket Reshuffling (“ADR”) — and shifting DHS enforcement strategies — to respondents and their attorneys (many of whom serve on a pro bono or “low bono” basis).
  • Over-emphasis on fraud as the cause of the backlogs.
  • Overall, not a very good day for “guaranteeing fairness and due process for all”  — the “forgotten vision” of the U.S. Immigration Courts.

PWS

12-06-17

VICTORY DANCE! — ICE’S HOMAN SAYS CLIMATE OF FEAR HAS STEMMED BORDER CROSSINGS & PROVES UNRESTRAINED, ARBITRARY IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT WORKS! — “There’s no population that’s off the table,” he said. “If you’re in the country illegally, we’re looking for you and we’re looking to apprehend you.” — America Won’t Be Truly Safe Until The Last Cook, Gardner, Construction Worker, Nanny, Janitor, Tree Cutter, Mechanic, Handyman, Carpenter, Home Health Aide, Computer Programmer, Healthcare Worker, Lettuce Picker, Cow Milker, Landscaper, Lawnmower, Bricklayer, Roofer, Window Washer, Waiter, Sandwich Artist, Teacher, Minister, Coach, Student, Parent, Clerk, Fisherman, Farmer, Maid, Chicken Plucker, Meat Processor, Etc., Without Docs Is Removed And US Citizens Take Over All These Jobs!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/arrests-along-mexico-border-drop-sharply-under-trump-new-statistics-show/2017/12/05/743c6b54-d9c7-11e7-b859-fb0995360725_story.html

Nick Miroff reports in the Washington Post:

“The number of people caught trying to sneak over the border from Mexico has fallen to the lowest level in 46 years, according to Department of Homeland Security statistics released Tuesday that offer the first comprehensive look at how immigration enforcement is changing under the Trump administration.

During the government’s 2017 fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, U.S. border agents made 310,531 arrests, a decline of 24 percent from the previous year and the fewest overall since 1971.

The figures show a sharp drop in apprehensions immediately after President Trump’s election win, possibly reflecting the deterrent effect of his rhetoric on would-be border crossers; starting in May, the number of people taken into custody began increasing again.

Arrests of foreigners living illegally in the United States have surged under Trump. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers made 110,568 such arrests between inauguration and the end of September, according to the figures published Tuesday, a 42 percent increase over the same period during the previous year.

Tom Homan, ICE’s temporary director and Trump’s nominee to lead the agency, praised the president and gave a vigorous defense of ICE’s more aggressive approach.

“This president, like him or love him, is doing the right thing,” Homan told reporters at a news conference in Washington, accompanied by the heads of the U.S. Border Patrol and Citizenship and Immigration Services.

“A 45-year low in border crossings? That’s not a coincidence,” Homan said. “That’s based on this president and his belief and letting the men and women of ICE and the Border Patrol do their job.”

[How Trump is building a border wall no one can see]

Trump’s sweeping promises to crack down on illegal immigration fueled his presidential campaign and are at the center of his most ambitious domestic policy proposals, including construction of a wall along the border with Mexico.

Asked whether such a barrier was justifiable given its high cost and the decline in illegal immigration, DHS officials endorsed the president’s plan.

“In this society, we use walls and fences to protect things. It shouldn’t be different on the border,” said Ronald Vitiello, chief of the Border Patrol.

Apprehensions by Border Patrol agents peaked at more than 1.6 million in 2000 and began falling substantially after 2008. The previous low point was 331,333 arrests, during fiscal 2015. Experts have attributed the decline to tougher U.S. enforcement, improving job prospects in Mexico and long-term demographic changes that have driven down the country’s birthrate.

3:32
On the U.S.-Mexico border, Trump supporters wait for th
Still, the drop in border arrests is among the sharpest year-to-year changes on record, one that only casts more doubt on the wisdom of building a border wall, said Doris Meissner, senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute, a Washington think tank.

“It’s a throwback response to yesterday’s problems,” she said, arguing that the money would be better spent addressing what accounts for a growing share of illegal migration: families with children fleeing rampant violence and dismal poverty in Central America.

Border agents took more than 75,000 “family units,” classified as at least one child and a related adult, into custody during fiscal 2017. But the number of unaccompanied minors fell 31 percent, to 41,435.”

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

Read the complete article at the link.

This has to be what true greatness looks like! Imagine a world without those pesky undocumented workers to support our economy, our society, and our “American” way of life! That’s making America Great Again!

I’m sure future generations will be inspired by Homan’s humanity and wisdom as they pick produce or pound shingles in 100 degree heat, clean toilets, empty urine bags for the elderly and handicapped, clean tables, wash dishes, limb trees, shuck oysters, schlep concrete blocks, dig ditches, and, horror of horrors, take care of their own children while working full-time. Man, that’s going to be “America the Great” just as Trump, Sessions, Bannon, Miller, Homan, and others envision it!

And, the best part: we won’t have to worry about any of that burdensome, nasty “globalism” and the unfair burden of global leadership! That’s because the Chinese, Indians, Canadians, Mexicans, and Europeans will be in charge of the world economy and the Ruskies will control world politics. So we can enjoy our little White Nationalist enclave modeled on post-revolutionary Cuba — life in the 1950’s preserved forever! Save those “Classic ’57 Chevies!”

Kinda sorry I won’t be here to enjoy it! But, then again, I already lived through the real 1950’s once — Cold War, Jim Crow, segregation, anti-semitism, racial covenants, no women doctors, lawyers, or execs, African Americans only welcome on the football fields and basketball courts of a few Northern colleges! Boy, it was great! But, not sure I want  to do it again, even to experience the pure, unadulterated joy of having “my Milwaukee Braves” win the 1957 World Series (before fleeing to Atlanta)!

On the flip side, at Homan’s “record pace” of “law enforcement,” he and his minions will have every single undocumented American resident removed from the U.S by 2080 — that’s if no more arrive in the interim. And, the really great thing — they and those around them (including U.S. citizen kids and family members) will be living in fear every moment for the next six decades! Now, that’s something of which we can be truly proud! Of course, this all assumes that the North Koreans don’t nuke us and the rest of the world out of existence first!

PWS

12-06-17

 

THE GIBSON REPORT — 12-04-17

GIBSON REPORT 12-04-17

HEADLINES:

TOP UPDATES

Legal Aid Lawyers Stage Walkout After Yet Another ICE Court Arrest

Village Voice: “Genaro Rojas Hernandez, thirty, was in court to face charges of violating a restraining order. Just after 11 a.m., after a judge asked him and his court-appointed attorney to step into the hallway with a Spanish interpreter, Hernandez was arrested by ICE agents, according to his lawyer, Rebecca Kavanagh. After the arrest, attorneys with the Legal Aid Society stormed out of the courthouse on Schermerhorn Street and held a noisy picket line outside the building, calling on immigration officials to stay out of the courthouse. The arrest makes Hernandez the fortieth individual taken into custody by immigration enforcement agents inside a New York City courthouse.”

On Thursday there will be a Rally to Keep ICE Out of Courts.

Cash Assistance for Asylum Applicants

New guidance says that applicants for asylum are now eligible for Cash Assistance in the PRUCOL category if they have an EAD.

IJ Retirements

IJs McManus and Lamb are both retiring around the end of the year. It’s too early to know who will be inheriting their dockets, but this is sad news for respondents on top of the loss of several other good judges in NY over the course of the last year.

DACA Updates

· Gillibrand, Espaillat Say They’ll Force Government Shutdown To Save DACA

· McConnell: No government shutdown this week over immigration: Tribune: “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell declared Sunday there won’t be a government shutdown this week over the question of protecting immigrants brought to the country illegally as children, describing it as a “non-emergency” to be addressed next year.”

· Key Senator to Vote ‘Yes’ on Tax Bill in Exchange for DACA Commitment

· Some Republicans are pushing for restrictions on asylum in exchange for DACA protections

Asylum Vetting Office

Rumor has it that the asylum division is creating an Asylum Vetting Office. It is currently unclear what the office’s specific mandate would be and how it would interact with existing programs.

Multiple reports of people with final orders but no criminal records picked up at I-130 interviews

NYIC: “This issue is on the agenda for the next USCIS liaison meeting. Phyllis had made it clear she did not want ICE making arrests at interviews. Now that she has left we don’t yet know what the position of the acting DD, or who they ultimately hire, will be.”

As Immigration Enforcement Ramps up, Neighbors Sign up to Defend Immigrants

AIC: “Poised to act at a moment’s notice, Migra Watch volunteers are trained to manage distress calls, provide support to children whose family members have been detained or deported, and show up where ICE is conducting roundups of their immigrant neighbors. Trainings typically take place at churches or community centers, where legal residents and citizens are taught to not interfere with ICE operations, but to document them.”

ICE Arrests & Detains Man Who Spoke to Media on Girlfriend’s Arrest

ImmProf: “ICE agents have reportedly arrested a man who was quoted in that article about his girlfriend’s immigration arrest last month. And his arrest appears to be a form of retaliation against him for speaking out.”

United States Ends Participation in Global Compact on Migration

ImmProf: “The administration of President Donald Trump has withdrawn the United States from a United Nations pact to improve the handling of migrant and refugee situations, deeming it “inconsistent” with its policies.” (Note: It’s a bit confusing from the article, but the administration is pulling out of the negotiations, not withdrawing from the compact, which is still in development and expected to be complete by the end of 2018.)

Court Orders Federal Immigration Jail in Buffalo to Offer Parole, Bond Hearings for Asylum-Seekers

NYCLU: “A federal court on Friday night ordered the Buffalo Federal Detention Facility in Batavia, New York to stop detaining asylum-seekers without a fair opportunity for release on parole or bond while awaiting asylum hearings. The New York Civil Liberties Union and the International Refugee Assistance Project at the Urban Justice Center originally filed suit in July over the practice at the state’s largest immigration detention facility.”

How the GOP tax bills hurt undocumented immigrants

CNN:

· “Currently, non-citizens filing taxes using an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, or ITIN, are allowed to claim the child tax credit, which gives back up to $1,000 per child under age 17. In tax year 2013, according to the Government Accountability Office, 4.4 million ITIN filers claimed child tax credits worth $6 billion. Under both the House and Senate versions of the Republican tax bill, ITIN filers — most of whom are undocumented — would need to provide Social Security numbers for each child in order to claim the refundable part of the credit…

· “In addition, the House bill tightens up the rules for the Earned Income Tax Credit in such a way that immigrants covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program will no longer be able to receive the credit when their work authorization expires.

· “The House bill would also require a Social Security number for the American Opportunity Tax Credit, which is worth $2,500 annually towards the first four years of higher education expenses. In 2013, ITIN filers claimed $204 million through this credit. The Senate bill makes no changes to these credits.”

ACTIONS

· Rally to Keep ICE OUT of Courts: Rally at Brooklyn Borough Hall to call on the Office of Court Administration to comply with a “Sanctuary Courts” policy which would bar ICE officers from entering Court premises and detaining our clients

· URGENT RFR Help Needed! – CARA: We have an urgent need for help drafting Requests for Reinterview/Reconsideration (RFR) for the Houston Asylum Office. If you are able to draft an RFR, please email otg@caraprobono.org. We have RFR samples and will forward along each client’s IJ court submission, which includes each client’s signed declaration. We need a draft of each RFR by next Wednesday, December 6 at noon (at the latest). If you are an experienced attorney and have capacity to review an RFR and provide mentorship to a volunteer drafter, that is a huge help too!

· AILA: Call for Examples: Problematic SIJS Adjudications at the National Benefits Center

· AILA: Call for Examples: Barriers and Inadequate Access to Detained Clients

WASHINGTON POST EDITORIAL RIPS TRUMP/SESSIONS “GONZO” IMMIGRATION AGENDA AS “ANTI-AMERICAN!”– White Nationalist Inspired Restrictionism Is Suppressing The Real Dialogue We Should Be Having!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trumps-crusade-against-immigrants-is-an-attack-on-america/2017/12/03/0ac43dec-d624-11e7-b62d-d9345ced896d_story.html?utm_term=.71780d337509

December 3 at 8:10 PM

THE TRUMP administration likes to justify its multi-front crusade against immigration and immigrants as a revival of the rule of law, or a recalibration of the rules to favor disadvantaged American workers. In fact, it is largely a resurrection of xenophobia that coincides with a spike, nearly 50 years in the making, in the number of foreign-born residents living in the United States.

“For decades,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a speech in October, “the American people have been begging and pleading . . . for an immigration system that’s lawful and serves the national interest. Now we have a president who supports that.”

Mr. Sessions’s claims are specious. An embrace of legality is not the driving force behind the president’s decision to slash the admission of refugees to levels unseen in nearly 40 years. It is not what compelled Mr. Trump to endorse Republican legislation that would cut the annual allotment of green cards by a half-million, mainly by barring relatives of existing legal permanent residents of the United States. It is not why the Pentagon has considered ending a recruitment program that put skilled foreigners on a fast track for citizenship if they served in this country’s armed forces. And it is not why the administration favors ending the so-called diversity visa lottery program, under which immigrants are admitted from nations underrepresented in other programs.

Those programs were all legally enacted and, by and large, carried out in compliance with the law. The animating force in targeting them, as the administration is now doing, is an effort to turn back the tide of foreigners in our midst and exorcise what the president evidently sees as the demon of diversity.

The administration’s goal is not to reshape America’s immigration policy but to prune immigration itself. While Mr. Trump backs a GOP plan that would give preference to immigrants with skills rather than family connections in the United States, the effect would be not simply to shift the mix while maintaining the current level of legal immigration but to drastically reduce overall numbers of admissions.”

. . . .

Unfortunately, Mr. Trump has poisoned the debate on immigration so thoroughly that he has twisted the frame through which many Americans see the issue. His slurs — labeling Mexican immigrants as rapists and Muslim immigrants as terrorists — form the context from which the administration’s policies arise. They are affronts to U.S. tradition and values.

They’re also an assault on what Mr. Sessions refers to as “the national interest” and specifically the United States’ economic well-being. Legions of employers dependent on immigrant workers, especially to fill low-skilled jobs for which native-born Americans are too well educated and in short supply, will be harmed by choking off the flow of immigrant labor. With unemployment at a 16-year low and approaching levels unseen in a half-century, the Trump policies threaten to sap the economy by depriving it of the energy of striving newcomers who have fueled this nation’s ambitions since its founding.

It is within the president’s discretion to intensify efforts at deportation, though the humanitarian price — in shattered communities and families, including those whose children, born in this country, are Americans — is high. It is reasonable to take steps to tighten border security, though with illegal crossings already at a 40-year low and the Border Patrol’s staffing having already been doubled since the George W. Bush administration, a significant new investment along those lines faces the risk of diminishing returns. The administration may arguably have had a valid legal basis for ending the Obama-era program granting deportation protection for “dreamers” — undocumented immigrants who entered the country as children, often brought by their parents — though only a smallish minority of Americans believes they should be removed from this country.

But what value, other than sheer bigotry, is served by reducing the resettlement of refugees in the United States at a time when the number of displaced people worldwide has soared to staggering levels? In a country founded and in many respects shaped by refugees — a country that has resettled some 3 million refugees since 1980, more than any other nation — why does the Trump administration insist on turning its back on them now, when some 17 million people have been displaced from their homes across international borders around the world due to conflict or persecution, the highest number in a quarter-century?

It is clearly jarring to some Americans that the foreign-born portion of the overall population has nearly tripled since 1970. Many communities, towns and cities have been transformed culturally and socially by that surge, about a third of which was driven by illegal immigrants.

In some places, local government budgets have strained to provide services for immigrants, particularly public education, and the economic dislocation felt by many working-class Americans is a fact. But that dislocation is not mostly caused by immigrants. The United States is a more prosperous place today than it was before the surge in immigration, and immigrants have fed that prosperity — by helping to harvest America’s crops, build its cities, care for its young and elderly, and found some of its most buoyant companies.

. . . .The Trump administration’s crusade against immigration and immigrants is not just a quest to diminish the influence of the “other”; it is an assault on the nation’s future and prospects.”

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

Read the complete editorial at the link.

This is largely (not entirely — I believe that there is a sound legal basis for continuing DACA, for example) what I’ve been saying all along:

  • Jeff Sessions is a bigoted, xenophobic, anti-American scofflaw whose disingenuous, self-righteous claims to be restoring the “Rule of Law” (that would be the “Jim Crow laws” of Sessions’s Alabama past) are totally outrageous;
  • The real purpose of the Administration’s xenophobic program is to divide and weaken America  by stirring up racial, religious, and ethnic animosities;
  • The “Gonzo,” arbitrary interior enforcement program serves no useful purpose other than playing to the “biases of the base” and the wishes of some (not all) disgruntled immigration enforcement agents for unbridled authority;
  • Our xenophobic anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies are costing us leadership and respect on the world scene (just this weekend, the Administration withdrew from the UN Global Migration Pact);
  • Our past strength as a nation and our future success and prosperity is based on immigration (and, the US clearly has benefitted from BOTH legal and “extra-legal” migration);
  • The Trump Administrations’s rhetoric and actions are preventing us from having the serious discussion we need: how we can better regulate (not cut off, diminish, or eliminate) future legal migration of all types to serve our national interest (and to be more “in tune” with “market realities” that drive much immigration), reflect our humanitarian values and the legitimate needs of current and future migrants, and encourage use of our legal immigration system, thereby diminishing the incentives for extra-legal migration.

As long as U.S. immigration policy remains in the hands of White Nationalist xenophobes like Trump, Sessions, Miller, and Bannon (yes, Stevie “Vlad the Lenin” has vacated his perch in the West Wing, but he continues to pull strings through his White Nationalist disciples Sessions and Miller and to stir the pot through his alt-right “news” apparatus Breitbart News) we won’t get the constructive dialogue and the humane, realistic “immigration reform” that we really  need. In other words, under current leadership, the real “Rule of Law” will continue to be diminished.

PWS

12-04-17

 

COME HEAR ME SPEAK TO THE WOMEN’S BAR ASSOCIATION OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA (ALL ARE WELCOME), DECEMBER 14, 2017, ON “THE DUE PROCESS CRISIS IN OUR IMMIGRATION COURTS!”

THE WOMEN’S BAR ASSOCIATION OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA INVITES YOU TO ATTEND:

The Due Process Crisis in Our U.S. Immigration Courts

Presented by: Immigration Law Forum

Featuring: The Honorable Paul Wickham Schmidt, United States Immigration Judge (Retired)

Join us for an evening with Judge Schmidt, former Chairman of the Board of Immigration Appeals, as we discuss the Due Process-challenged U.S. Immigration Court system, which has jurisdiction over administrative removal and deportation proceedings. In this highly interactive program, Judge Schmidt will illustrate current problems with the system, using real-life case examples, and will offer solutions for change, from his distinguished perspective. This event, which includes a catered networking reception, is perfect for experienced immigration lawyers, non-immigration lawyers, and others who are interested in learning more about this hot topic. Both women and men are encouraged to attend WBA events and join the organization as members.

Date: Thursday, December 14, 2017

Time: 5:30 pm – 8:00 pm

Place: Crowell & Moring

Address: 1001 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20004

Metro Stop: Federal Triangle (Blue,Orange), Metro Center (Blue,Orange,Red)

Advance Registration: After 12/11/2017 Members $20 $25 Non-members $30 $35 Student Members $15 $20

Visit www.wbadc.org or fax this flyer to 202-639-8889 to register. Name: __________________________ Address: ________________________ Phone: __________________________ Email: ___________________________ Credit Card: ______________________ Amount: _________________________ Exp Date: ___________ CVV: _________ Signature ___________________________ We share our event registration list with this committee’s co-chairs so they can keep you informed of future programs. Emails are used ONLY for WBA purposes. Check here if you DO NOT want your email shared. ______

To register online, go to

https://www.wbadc.org/calendar_day.asp?date=12/14/2017&event=1413

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PWS

12-10-17

INSIDE EOIR: THE REEMERGENCE OF “THE GREAT SANTORINI” – Could Judge Chris Santoro’s Reputed Takeover Of The Law Library and Training Functions At Headquarters Be Some Good News For A Beleaguered Court System & Its “Customers?”

It’s been a tough year for EOIR, the agency of the U.S. Department of Justice that oversees the U.S. Immigration Court system. (Although, admittedly, probably not as tough for EOIR as for the many individuals forced to count on EOIR for potentially life-saving due process who were short-changed and the often disrespected attorneys representing, or trying to represent, them.)

 

The backlog has continued to mushroom to more than 640,000 cases with no end in sight; new Immigration Judge hiring and courtroom expansion continued to lag; e-filing remains a pipe dream; recently retired former Director and BIA Chair Juan Osuna died suddenly and unexpectedly; and a new Attorney General took office who apparently views the Immigration Courts not as a “real” judiciary charged with acting independently to protect the due process and other legal rights of migrants, but rather as a mere “whistle stop on the DHS deportation express.”

 

But, at least some good news could be in the offing. Reportedly, Judge Christopher A. “The Great Santorini” Santoro, who currently serves as the Acting Chief of Staff for the Acting Director of EOIR, Judge James McHenry, will assume overall responsibility for the BIA’s Law Library (which includes the highly-regarded “Virtual Law Library”) and the Judicial Training Program. Both important functions will be “relocated” to the Office of Policy in the Director’s Office.

 

Judge Santoro served as the Assistant Chief Immigration Judge for the Arlington Immigration Court during some of my tenure there and later went on to be an Acting Deputy Chief Immigration Judge before mysteriously disappearing for a time into the bowels of the EOIR bureaucracy (becoming essentially a “bureaucratic non-person” – off the organizational “depth charts”). He subsequently was “rehabilitated” and reappeared last spring when Acting Director McHenry appointed him Acting Chief of Staff.

 

Judge Santoro has a stellar reputation for hard work, efficiency, sound administration, and creative problem solving. In Arlington, he was viewed as a “trial judges’ judge” who devoted himself to supporting the judges and resolving problems while not interfering with the things that were working.

 

He also provided unprecedented feedback and guidance about what was “really happening at The Tower” – normally a “dark hole” for field judges. During my illness, he, along with my colleagues Judge Roxanne Hladylowicz and Judge Robert Owens, pitched in and handled some of my Master Calendars so they didn’t have to be rescheduled. I always found him to be totally supportive and responsive, as well as a great colleague. He cared deeply about and paid attention to the hard-working and underappreciated court staff. He is known as a manager who in the words of one former employee will likely “put competent people in charge and let them do their jobs.”

 

The Law Library has been under the outstanding leadership of Head Law Librarian Karen L. Drumond dating back to my tenure as BIA Chair (1995-2001). The upgrading of the Law Library, hiring of additional staff, and the creation of the Virtual Law Library were carried out with the encouragement and enthusiastic support of then-Director (and later BIA Member) Anthony C. “Tony” Moscoto. Tony correctly envisioned changing the previously, rather ignored, BIA Law Library into a major research aid for the Immigration Judiciary as well as a help to the public and a repository for certain historical materials about the BIA and EOIR’s history.

 

The Virtual Law Library, in particular, has been widely acclaimed as an important research tool in the world of immigration law. I still use the public version on a regular basis and recommend it to my students and others as a great resource!

 

Assistant Chief Judge Jack Weil has very capably managed the EOIR Judicial Training Program for years. However, despite Judge Weil’s best efforts, training too often fell victim to budget shortages or other bureaucratic impediments. Unfortunately, it has been, quite incorrectly, considered a “low priority” within the bureaucracy.

 

Immigration Judge Training hit bottom this past year when the incoming Administration without explanation cancelled critical in–person nationwide training for Immigrating Judges — the only real CLE and training that most Judges receive during the year. This was notwithstanding the arrival of many newly hired Immigration Judges who have never had a chance to attend a nationwide training conference or, indeed, even to meet the vast majority of their judicial colleagues!

 

I know that Judge Santoro takes legal research, professional excellence, fairness, and training very seriously. Indeed, while at the Office of Chief Immigration Judge he “directed” several “new judge training videos” with an all-star cast including some of our multi-talented former Arlington Judicial Law Clerks.

 

Generally, I interpret bringing the Law Library and Judicial Training functions under the Director’s Office and selecting a “total judicial management pro” like Judge Santoro to lead them as a positive sign for EOIR and the immigration world. Hopefully, the Law Library and Judicial Training will prosper and expand under Judge Santoro’s leadership to meet the challenges of the 21st Century.

 

“Job One” at EOIR is NOT about removing migrants at record paces, denying more asylum applications, or deterring future migrants. No, it’s all about fairness, scholarship, timeliness, respect, teamwork, and delivering Due Process and even-handed justice to some of the most vulnerable individuals in America.

Currently, EOIR is failing to discharge its critical duties to guarantee fairness and due process in the manner one would expect from one of the largest, perhaps the largest, and most important Federal Court systems. Hopefully, Judge Santoro will be part of the solution to the problems facing EOIR and those whose lives and futures depend on it.

PWS

11-29-17

TRAC: DECLINING IMMIGRATON COURT REPRESENTATION RATES FOR ASYLUM SEEKERS & DECLINING ASYLUM GRANT RATES SHOW HOW TRUMP ADMINISTRATION IS INTENTIONALLY SHORT-CIRCUITING DUE PROCESS!

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Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Greetings. Very recent Immigration Court records reveal that the proportion of asylum seekers who are unable to obtain representation has risen markedly. Ten years ago during FY 2007, only 13.6 percent were unrepresented. Five years ago (FY 2012), 15.8 percent were unrepresented. In FY 2017 the unrepresented figure was 20.6 percent.

At the same time, asylum decisions were up sharply during FY 2017. A total of 30,179 cases were decided by judges last year, a marked increase from 22,312 cases in FY 2016. This is the largest number of asylum cases decided in any one year since FY 2005. While asylum grants increased, denials grew even faster. This pushed the percent who were denied asylum to 61.8 percent. This is the fifth year in a row that denial rates have risen. Five years ago the denial rate was just 44.5 percent.

Without representation, the deck is stacked against an asylum seeker. Statistically, only one out of every ten win their case. With representation, nearly half are successful.

During FY 2012 – FY 2017, Jamaica had the highest denial rate (91.4%), followed closely by Laos (89.9%), the Philippines, (89.7%) and Mexico (88.0%). At the other extreme, the Soviet Union had the lowest denial rate (9.5%), with Byelorussia and Egypt with almost as low denial rates at 11.1 percent each.

More details on national trends, plus the impact of representation status and nationality on asylum outcome, are available in the second of TRAC’s two-part series available at:

http://trac.syr.edu/immigration/reports/491/

To read the first report in the series focusing on judge-by-judge differences in asylum decisions, go to:

http://trac.syr.edu/immigration/reports/490/

In addition, many of TRAC’s free query tools – which track the court’s overall backlog, new DHS filings, court dispositions and much more – have now been updated through October 2017. For an index to the full list of TRAC’s immigration tools go to:

http://trac.syr.edu/imm/tools/

If you want to be sure to receive notifications whenever updated data become available, sign up at:

http://tracfed.syr.edu/cgi-bin/tracuser.pl?pub=1&list=imm

or follow us on Twitter @tracreports or like us on Facebook:

http://facebook.com/tracreports

TRAC is self-supporting and depends on foundation grants, individual contributions and subscription fees for the funding needed to obtain, analyze and publish the data we collect on the activities of the U.S. federal government. To help support TRAC’s ongoing efforts, go to:

http://trac.syr.edu/cgi-bin/sponsor/sponsor.pl

David Burnham and Susan B. Long, co-directors
Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse
Syracuse University
Suite 360, Newhouse II
Syracuse, NY 13244-2100
315-443-3563

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Rather than working on reforms that would increase access to pro bono counsel for asylum seekers, the Administration has intentionally “ramped up” detention and placed so called “Detained Courts” in obscure locations where access to pro bono counsel and ability to prepare and present cases is restricted.

 

PWS

11-28-17

 

ICE’S “IN YOUR FACE” COURTHOUSE ARREST POLICY ERODES OUR CONSTITUTOINAL SYSTEM OF JUSTICE!

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/26/opinion/immigration-ice-courthouse-trump.html?em_pos=large&emc=edit_ty_20171127&nl=opinion-today&nlid=79213886&ref=headline&te=1&_r=0

PROFESSOR CÉSAR CUAUHTÉMOC GARCÍA HERNÁNDEZ writes in the NY Times:

“At the door of the Lindsey-Flanigan Courthouse in Denver one Friday in April, federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents tackled a man to the ground. A chilling video shows the man — who, according to his lawyer, was there to deal with a traffic ticket — yelling “No!” “My hand!” and “Why?” in Spanish. Sheriff’s deputies order passers-by to stand back, and the violent arrest continues.

The next month, ICE agents returned and arrested another man. His lawyer can be heard in a video of the incident asking the agents if they had a warrant. One responds, “Yes, sir.” The lawyer asks, “Can I see it?”

The agent’s response: “No, sir.”

Both men, according to their lawyers, were taken to immigration detention centers.

This type of arrest is on the rise. Lawyers and judges in Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Texas and Washington all reported in the first year of the Trump administration that immigration officials were breaking with tradition to descend upon their courthouses. Such arrests in New York have increased by 900 percent in 2017, according to the Immigrant Defense Project.

This is a deeply worrisome trend because arrests at courthouses don’t just derail the lives of the unsuspecting people who are detained, they threaten the very operation of our judicial system. Such arrests scare people away from the courts, keeping them, for example, from testifying at trials or seeking orders of protection. By using this tactic, the nation’s lead immigration law enforcement agency is undermining a pillar of our democracy.

. . . .

Courthouses have a special place in American society. It’s only in a court of law that we can be confident that disputes will be mediated deliberately, and according to a set of rules intended to ensure justice for all parties. As the Supreme Court declared in 1907: “The right to sue and defend in the courts is the alternative of force. In an organized society it is the right conservative of all other rights, and lies at the foundation of orderly government.”

The pursuit of justice depends on getting the parties in the same room. That’s why courts have the power to drag in unwilling participants with subpoenas. They can compel witnesses to testify or risk contempt charges. Courts rely on their hard-earned legitimacy as the rightful locations for resolution of disagreements.

Courthouse arrests by ICE deter not only undocumented immigrants but also people who are here legally but are nervous that they might have somehow compromised their status (or that an officer will think they have). That’s a nuance that is next to impossible for the average person to discern, and those complicated legal questions are exactly what immigration judges spend a lot of energy trying to answer.

. . . .

The harm this causes is bigger than the people whom ICE arrests. United States citizens are not immune to the impact of ICE activity in courthouses. All of us — including those of us who could easily prove our immigration status — depend on courts to do their job, and all of us suffer if the fear of ICE keeps people away.

ICE understands its actions can paralyze important institutions. Longstanding ICE policy discourages questioning or arresting people in schools and churches. It is time to add courthouses to that list. But top administration officials have vigorously defended courthouse arrests.

With no change to federal policy in sight, it is up to cities and states to push back. Elected officials must take seriously their legal obligation to keep courthouses accessible. In addition, the cities and states that own and operate most courthouses and ensure that no one uses their courts in a way that halts judicial business — protesters can’t block the doorway, bail bondsmen aren’t allowed to set up shop in the lobby — should do the same here for immigration agents.

ICE should no longer get free rein to tackle, handcuff and haul away immigrants, sending a message to others that they should think twice before trusting in the courts.

 

WALL OF WORDS! – MANY SAY TRUMP’S HARD-LINE, ANTI-IMMIGRANT RHETORIC, ANTI-REFUGEE MOVES, & RANDOM INTERIOR ENFORCEMENT HAVE ALREADY DRAMATICALLY STEMMED THE FLOW OF UNDOCUMENTED MIGRANTS – THE “CLIMATE OF FEAR” WORKS! — So, Who Needs “The Wall” Or Thousands of New Agents?

http://www.newsweek.com/forget-border-wall-how-trump-has-shaped-immigration-without-it-713608

Nicole Rodriguez writes in Newsweek:

“Who needs a wall?

Less than a year into his presidency, Donald Trump is moving swiftly to reshape the nation’s immigration system in more concrete ways, curtailing illegal crossings at the U.S.-Mexico border and sending a chill throughout Central America.

In a stark reversal from the Obama era, the administration has ramped up round-ups of undocumented immigrants regardless of age or criminal history, expanded detention space and stepped up workplace raids. Officials have also restricted the number of refugees allowed into the country while pushing to speed the deportation cases of hundreds of thousands of immigrants awaiting legal decisions.

Taken together, the policy changes have put the border wall debate on the backburner, advocates on both sides of the issue said.

“Expanded border barriers—whether you call them walls or something else—are not priority,” said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, a conservative think tank in Washington, D.C. that supports tighter controls on immigration.

RTSXKERA worker chats with residents at a newly built section of the U.S.-Mexico border fence at Sunland Park, U.S. opposite the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico January 26, 2017. JOSE LUIS GONZALEZ/REUTERS

“There’s no question the president has changed the tone of the debate and that caused a huge drop in illegal crossings,” Krikorian told Newsweek.

To be sure, the border wall has been bogged down by political obstacles, including the fact that Congress has not appropriated funds to build it. But the shifting sentiment is striking given how central the border wall was to Trump’s political support in last year’s presidential campaign. Its mere mention was an applause line at rallies and Trump himself said it was key to stemming the flow of illegal immigration.

But since his January inauguration, apprehensions at the U.S.-Mexico border have dipped, according to the most recent data from Customs and Border Protection. Agents apprehended 31,582 undocumented immigrants at the border in January, compared to 22,293 in August, the latest available data. April saw the year’s low, with just 11,125 apprehensions.

Adam Isacson, director for defense oversight at The Washington Office on Latin America, a human rights advocacy organization, said news of the administration’s actions is spreading through Central America and discouraging crossings. At the same time, a climate of fear in the United States is gripping undocumented immigrant communities.

“People are avoiding going outside to get their groceries. They have friends to come and do that for them,” Isacson said. “They’re missing a lot of work when they learn that Immigration and Customs Enforcement is in the area and kids are not going to school as much. There’s real fear there.”

Indeed, the immigration overhaul has come so fast that the ranks of federal immigration judges are pushing back on some elements. At issue are the administration’s plans to impose “numeric perfomance standards” on judges deciding deportation cases.

The White House has said the quotas are necessary to help reduce a backlog of more than 600,000 cases, but judges say the standards will hamstring their ability to decide complex, life-and-death cases.

“[It’s] completely at odds with the kind of independence a judge needs,” Dana Leigh Marks, a spokesperson for the National Association of Immigration Judges and a federal immigration judge for more than 30 years, told Newsweek.”

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Read the complete article at the link.

Nolan Rappaport reminds me that he predicted that cutting off the “home free magnet” in the interior would have a dramatic deterrent effect on illegal migration.

On the other hand, it remains to be seen whether having a system that relies on largely random enforcement to spread a climate of fear and loathing among a community of generally law-abiding, productive migrants, intertwined with citizens and legal residents, who are part of our communities is something that we’ll ultimately be proud of as a nation.

PWS

11-26-17

HON. JEFFREY CHASE SPEAKS OUT AGAINST EXPEDITED REMOVAL!

Expedited Removal is Not the Answer to the Backlog

With the immigration court backlog at over 600,000 cases and rising, immigration law commentator (and fellow BIA alum) Nolan Rappaport recently suggested that the present administration might view the  increased use of expedited removal as “the only viable alternative” to shrink the swelling tide of cases. My fellow blogger Paul Schmidt has opposed such approach; I wish to join him in adding my arguments as to why the expansion of expedited removal would be unacceptable.

If the criminal court system were to be flooded to the breaking point, the solution could not be to let supervisory police officers decide which defendants might have a reasonable enough chance of being found innocent and get to go to court, and just find the rest guilty without the right to a trial.  However, that is pretty much the premise of expedited removal.  An overwhelming volume of cases cannot be used to justify the stripping away of due process protections.

Our immigration courts have evolved significantly over the decades.  Deportation hearings were once conducted by “special inquiry officers,” who were attorneys working for the INS.  Beginning in 1973, immigration judges began presiding over hearings.  In 1983, those judges were separated from the INS into a separate adjudicatory agency, EOIR.  In 2002, INS was moved into three components within the newly-created DHS, while EOIR remained in the Department of Justice.  The strong motive behind these developments was that the agency charged with enforcement was not suited to serve as a neutral factfinder and decision maker.  Increasing the scale of expedited removal would undo the above progress and return decision-making into the hands of the enforcement branch – the legal equivalent of having the fox guard the hen house.

Immigration judges render decisions independently, with no pressure or influence from their higher-ups.  This is not true of asylum officers.  I had one case years ago in which the asylum officer’s supervisor so adamantly opposed the grant of asylum that the officer had to wait until the supervisor went on vacation, and then had the acting supervisor sign off approving the grant.  I have also heard of an asylum office director pressuring the staff to grant fewer cases in order to bring the office’s grant rate closer to the lower grant rate of another asylum office.  Furthermore, to the extent that those seeking expedited removal are able to obtain counsel in the short time frame provided (and while detained, sometimes in remote settings), asylum officers allow attorneys a greatly reduced role in the process.  In immigration court, the attorney makes legal arguments and objections, questions the respondent, and lays the foundation for documents to be offered into evidence.  Even in full asylum office interviews, attorneys are relegated to sitting in the back row and taking notes.  As the government’s own statistics show that represented asylum seekers are twice as likely to be granted relief, the asylum office’s minimizing of the attorney’s role clearly lessens the asylum seeker’s chance of success.

Expedited removal has really never worked well.  In opposing its implementation in the mid-1990s, myself and other advocates argued that the legal threshold – the newly-created “credible fear” standard – was problematic.  When the 1980 Refugee Act adopted the legal standard of “well-founded fear” for asylum claims, INS interpreted the term to mean “more likely than not;” it took seven years of litigation and a decision of the U.S. Supreme Court to correctly define the standard as requiring only a 10 percent chance of persecution.  But expedited removal asked us to trust the same INS to properly interpret the vague new “credible fear” standard, and this time without the right to seek judicial review.  Not surprisingly, so many mistakes were made after the standard was implemented that by mid-1997, the then INS director of asylum instructed asylum officers to simply find all applicants professing a fear of persecution to have met the credible fear standard.  Those who claimed no fear in their countries were summarily removed; INS claimed that the majority of arrivees were in this latter group.

But where they really?  A person arriving in this country only gets a credible fear interview if they indicate to the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officer who first encounters them that they fear return to their country.  Two studies conducted over a decade apart by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, a government entity, found serious problems with the screening process of those arriving but not found admissible to the U.S.  According to USCIRF, some arrivees were never asked whether they feared return; others who were asked and responded in the affirmative had “no” recorded in their statements, which were often not read back to them.  The USCIRF report cited instances in which those wishing to seek asylum were pressured into signing inaccurate statements, or even into retracting their fear claims and withdrawing their applications for admission.

The answer to the immigration court backlog is clearly not to subject more people to the flawed and biased expedited removal system in lieu of  removal hearings.  To my knowledge, every other high volume court employs prosecutorial discretion and stipulated settlements to lessen the case load.  Plea bargains are employed in everything from murder to traffic court cases.  Under the Obama administration, prosecutorial discretion was employed in immigration court and significantly helped prosecutors and judges deal with the caseload.  For unknown reasons, the present administration has ended this useful practice.  DHS attorneys are also being instructed to oppose requests to terminate proceedings made by those wishing to leave the U.S. to attend immigrant visas abroad.  These intending immigrants want to leave the country, and will only be allowed to return legally if they are found by a U.S. consular officer to be qualified and admissible to this country; under the prior administration, termination under these circumstances was readily agreed to by DHS.  At the same time DHS is forcing so many immigrants to unnecessarily remain in removal proceedings, the agency will not put into proceedings those who want to be there in order to apply for certain types of relief that may only be granted by an immigration judge, such as cancellation of removal.  Preventing immigrants from obtaining legal status to which they might be entitled seems suspiciously consistent with the present administration’s desire to stem the pace of naturalization in order to preserve the voting bloc that brought them to office last year.

Copyright 2017 Jeffrey S. Chase.  All rights reserved.

 

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Jeffrey S. Chase is an immigration lawyer in New York City.  Jeffrey is a former Immigration Judge, senior legal advisor at the Board of Immigration Appeals, and volunteer staff attorney at Human Rights First.  He is a past recipient of AILA’s annual Pro Bono Award, and previously chaired AILA’s Asylum Reform Task Force.

REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION

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Thanks, Jeffrey. Not surprisingly, I agree with everything you are saying!

There are no “silver bullet” solutions to backlogs that have built up over years and are largely the result of Congressional indifference, administrative incompetence, and improper political meddling by the Department of Justice over at least the last three Administrations. This has caused what I have termed “Aimless Docket Reshuffling” (“ADR”). Punishing the innocent “consumers” of services, the immigrants, by depriving them of Due Process is clearly not the answer.

I also agree with Jeffrey that eventually the answer will require:

  • Restoration of a “robust” ICE “PD program” to take off the docket large numbers of cases that don’t really belong in Immigration Court;
  • Far greater efforts by the DHS and USCIS to resolve deserving cases such as adjustment of status, asylum, T visas, U visas, ands SIJ visas favorably internally without resorting to the Immigration Courts;
  • Reduced use of immigration detention, and concerted efforts by the Government to schedule Immigration Court cases in a manner that best insures the reasonable access to pro bono legal services;
  • Realistic immigration reform legislation that will allow the bulk of the approximately 11 million supposedly “undocumented” individuals who have been residing in a productive and law-abiding manner in the U.S. to be granted some type of legal status (preferably with, but if necessary without, a specific path forward to citizenship);
  • Common-sense modifications in existing law to allow individuals who otherwise now qualify for permanent immigration to do so without the “unlawful presence” bar;
  • Restoration of the so-called “section 245(i) program” allowing such individuals to adjust status in the U.S. by paying a substantial “penalty fee;”
  • Substantially more resources for the U.S. Immigration Courts, but distributed in  a measured, professionally competent, and reasonable manner over time.

PWS

11-24-17

 

GONZO’S WORLD: POST PANS GONZO’S ILL-ADVISED, ILLEGAL, & ILLOGICAL ATTACKS ON “SANCTUARY CITIES!” — Against The “Public Interest!”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/jeff-sessions-keeps-waging-his-failing-war-against-sanctuary-cities/2017/11/21/00add736-ce2d-11e7-81bc-c55a220c8cbe_story.html

From today’s Washington Post editorials:

“IN ITS crusade against so-called sanctuary jurisdictions, the Trump administration is on an impressive judicial losing streak, having been slapped down in federal courts from San Francisco to Philadelphia. It remains undeterred, as the Justice Department girds for more battles whose stakes — a few million dollars in federal funds withheld from offending cities — make a mockery of the dire rhetoric deployed by officials in Washington.

The administration is wrong on the law and the principle. It has no valid legal justification for its insistence that state and local law enforcement officers act as proxies for federal immigration agents and no basis for threatening to withhold funding if they refuse. By seeking to compel such conduct, the administration ignores police and prosecutors who warn that driving a wedge between law enforcement and immigrant communities will erode public safety. On Monday, a federal judge in San Francisco permanently blocked President Trump’s executive order seeking to deny funding to uncooperative localities, but the administration shows no sign of giving up the fight.

. . . .

Most jurisdictions seek to balance information-sharing and other forms of cooperation with federal authorities with their interest in forging ties to immigrant communities. The judge in Philadelphia, in ruling against the administration’s threat to withhold funding, found the city had done just that, creating no conflict.

As it happens, the grants the feds wanted to withhold in that case would have covered, among other items, drugs used by first responders to save the lives of opioid overdose victims. How would that have been in the public interest?“

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Read the complete editorial at the link.

Gonzo’s extreme White Nationalist, xenophobic agenda drives him to waste the courts’ time and the public’s resources on wasteful and counterproductive publicity stunts while our country’s real law enforcement problems (like, for example, combatting foreign interference in our electoral process, combatting racial profiling in policing, protecting the rights of the LGBTQ community, fixing the due process crisis in our Immigration Courts, or addressing the causes of opioid addiction and gang violence in communities) go largely unaddressed.

PWS

11-22-17

THE HILL: TIMELY IDEAS FROM NOLAN ON UNACCOMPANIED CHILDREN (“UACS”)

http://thehill.com/opinion/immigration/361222-give-asylum-seeking-children-an-alternative-to-dangerous-border-crossing

Nolan writes:

“The United States is not alone in trying to help UACs.  

For example, Mexico’s Southern Border Plan has produced a sharp increase in Mexico’s apprehension and deportation of migrants from Central America, which prevents many UACs from reaching the United States.

And UNHCR convened a “Roundtable on Protection Needs in the Northern Triangle of Central America” last year in Costa Rica to formulate a regional framework for addressing the humanitarian challenges that the aliens fleeing from those countries present.

The Governments of Belize, Canada, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, and the United States vowed to work together to strengthen protections for refugees fleeing Central America.

I suggested a way to use international cooperation before the CAM program was established, but it will not be possible until congress limits the TVPRA’s UAC mandates to trafficking victims.

Move UACs who reach America to temporary locations outside of the United States where they would be screened by UNHCR to determine which ones are eligible for refugee status.  UNHCR would try to resettle the ones determined to be refugees in countries throughout the region and elsewhere, including the United States.

UNHCR has a 10-Point Plan of Action for refugee protection which includes help for aliens who cannot establish eligibility for refugee status, such as assistance in obtaining temporary migration options.

This approach would help more UACs than letting them apply for asylum in the United States under the current administration, and parents of UACs would stop sending them on the perilous journey to the United States if they knew they would just be returned to Central America to be screened by UNHCR.

Nolan Rappaport was detailed to the House Judiciary Committee as an executive branch immigration law expert for three years; he subsequently served as an immigration counsel for the Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Claims for four years. Prior to working on the Judiciary Committee, he wrote decisions for the Board of Immigration Appeals for 20 years.”

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Go on over to The Hill to read Nolan’s complete article, with maps and stats, at the link!

While I don’t think Congress should limit TPRVA’s UAC provisions, I think that otherwise Nolan is on the right track here. Working with the UNHCR and other countries in the region, as well as the sending countries in the Northern Triangle, to solve the problems closer to the “point of origin” and to provide a number of realistic options for temporary refuge, shared among affected countries, seems more promising and practical than expecting the Trump Administration to provide any real form of protection in the US for most of these children.

PWS

11-21-17