BOSTON COURT THWARTS ADMINISTRATION’S ATTEMPT TO REMOVE INDONESIAN CHRISTIANS WITHOUT DUE PROCESS!

http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/judge-court-jurisdiction-indonesian-immigration-case-51418498

ALANNA DURKIN RICHER REPORTS FOR ASSOCIATED PRESS ON ABC NEWS:

“Dozens of Indonesians fighting deportation from the United States won another reprieve Monday when a judge ruled that a federal court has the authority to take up their case.

U.S. District Court Judge Patti Saris in Boston rejected the government’s argument that the court doesn’t have jurisdiction in the matter and that immigration officials should be allowed to immediately deport the Indonesians.

An attorney for roughly 50 Christian Indonesians, who fear persecution if returned home, called the judge’s decision “enormously significant.”

“It reaffirms the central role of the federal courts in ensuring that there is a fair process when someone’s life may be at stake,” said Lee Gelernt, of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrants’ Rights Project. “The court soundly rejected the government’s position that the federal courts lack authority to ensure that individuals have an opportunity to present their case before an immigration judge before they’re removed.”

The judge is blocking immigration officials from removing the Indonesians until the court considers their request for a preliminary injunction. She had initially put their deportation on hold until she could decide whether the court had authority to take up the matter.

The government already appealed the judge’s earlier decision to the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and is likely to challenge her latest ruling.

Many of the Indonesians went to seacoast communities in New Hampshire, where they found jobs and raised families. In a deal brokered by Democratic U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, of New Hampshire, in 2009, they were allowed to stay as long as they regularly reported to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office.

But in recent months, they were told during their visits to the immigration office that they should buy plane tickets and prepare to leave the country. Some said they fear returning to Indonesia, a Muslim-majority country, due to an uptick in intolerance and violence against Christians and other minorities.

Shaheen said she’s “very encouraged” by the ruling.

“New Hampshire should continue to be a sanctuary to the Indonesian community that fled religious persecution,” Shaheen said in a statement. “Deporting these individuals will needlessly split families and communities, and put lives in danger. I’ll continue to make every effort to prevent these deportations so that the Indonesian community can continue to live peacefully in New Hampshire.”

A federal judge in Michigan ruled in July that a U.S. district court has jurisdiction in a similar immigration case. The government is challenging that ruling, which halted the deportation of 1,400 Iraqi nationals, including many Christians fearing persecution.”

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Yet another setback for the Trumpsters in their quest to deny legal and human rights to the most vulnerable among us. This one also appears on its face to be politically motivated. When will Christian Evangelicals finally wake up to the threat that this Administration poses to everyone in America?

PWS

11-27-17

AP: AILA TAKES ISSUE WITH SESSIONS’S UNSUPPORTED CLAIM THAT UNACCOMPANIED MINORS ARE “WOLVES IN SHEEP CLOTHING!”

https://www.boston.com/news/local-news/2017/09/21/heres-what-jeff-sessions-had-to-say-in-boston

Alanna Durkin Richer Reports for AP:

“Sessions, a Republican, said gangs are exploiting a program for unaccompanied minors found crossing the southern border by sending members over as ‘‘wolves in sheep clothing’’ and recruiting in communities.

Gregory Chen, director of government relations for the American Immigration Lawyers Association, called that assertion ‘‘truly baseless.’’ The program aids children fleeing violence in their home countries, he said.

‘‘He’s trying to inflame public opinion against this highly vulnerable population,’’ Chen said.

A few dozen protesters carrying signs with phrases such as #NotWelcome gathered outside the courthouse before Sessions’ speech to condemn his views on immigration and law enforcement.”

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Read the full report of Sessions’s speech to law enforcement officials in Boston at the link.

Sessions is well-known for his alarmist, inflammatory rhetoric on immigration and his “fact-challenged” claims. While undoubtedly some gang members do come into the United States as so-called “unaccompanied minors,” I have seen no hard evidence on the extent of this problem.

PWS

09-21-17

 

THE REAL HUMAN COSTS — AND THE COSTS TO OUR HUMAN VALUES & NATIONAL CONSCIENCE — OF TRUMP’S BOGUS REFUGEE BAN!

http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/somali-refugees-american-dream-hold-trump-ban-debated-49866974

Tom Odula reports for the AP from Nairobi, Kenya, where the unnecessary human suffering caused by the Trump Administration is a daily reminder of how our national soul was diminished by Trump’s election:

“Somali refugee Asho Manangara Ibrahim has a dream. She wants to educate herself and her children in the United States. For 10 years she went through a rigorous process of interviews and screening and finally she was cleared to travel to the United States.

But Ibrahim’s hopes have been dashed. The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed the Trump administration to maintain its restrictive policy on refugees. The court agreed to an administration request to block a lower court ruling that would have eased the ban on refugees and allowed up to 24,000 refugees to enter the country before the end of October.

Ibrahim, a 30-year-old mother of four children, escaped war-torn Somalia in 2007 after three men forced their way into her house and assaulted her.

She trekked for three days with her 2-year-old daughter to reach the sprawling Dadaab refugee camp in neighboring Kenya where she stayed for three years. She was relocated to Kakuma refugee camp where she learned that she could apply to be resettled in a third country. By the time she was cleared to travel to the U.S. on July 19, she had three other children from a second marriage.

After years of patiently waiting to be resettled, the news that she may not be allowed into the U.S. because of the Trump administration restrictions has devastated her.

“I feel shocked. I forget things now,” she told The Associated Press last month through an interpreter.

She and her three daughters and small son pass their days in a makeshift home of mud walls, sticks and battered sheets. The children sit on woven plastic rugs covering a cracked-earth floor amid the barest of possessions: plastic water jugs, metal basins, a simple stove.

Ibrahim is one of about 500 people among the hundreds of thousands in Kenyan refugee camps who are ready for resettlement in the U.S. but are now stranded, said Jennifer Sime, senior vice president with the International Rescue Committee, an organization that helps resettlements.

The fear and rhetoric that refugees are a security threat or terrorists looking to infiltrate the U.S. are unfounded, Sime said.

“The probability of dying from an act of terrorism committed by a refugee is unbelievably low. Refugees have not perpetrated terrorist acts,” she said. The chance of being murdered in a terrorist attack committed by a refugee is one in 3.64 billion a year, she added, citing 2016 figures from the Cato Institute.

Globally about 45,000 refugees have been approved for resettlement in the U.S. and 2,000 are ready to board planes but this has been put on hold, Sime said. Many gave away their hard-earned belongings to start a new life, she said.

Tuesday’s court order was not the last word on the travel policy that President Donald Trump rolled out in January. The Supreme Court justices are scheduled to hear arguments on Oct. 10 on the legality of the bans on refugees anywhere in the world and on travelers from six mostly Muslim countries.

It’s unclear, though, what will be left for the court to decide. The 90-day travel ban lapses in late September and the 120-day refugee ban will expire a month later.

The Trump administration has yet to say whether it will seek to renew the bans, make them permanent or expand the travel ban to other countries.

For now Ibrahim, like many in limbo, must wait to see if her American dream of education for her family will become a reality.”

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Maybe, moral leadership doesn’t end wars or prevent famine. But, we have graphically demonstrated over the past four decades the inability to solve problems by use of military force. Moral leadership is still a useful thing to have. And, by electing Trump and his intellectually shallow, unqualified, amoral minions we have diminished ourselves in the world’s eyes!

PWS

09-15-17

ANOTHER SETBACK FOR TRUMP ADMINISTRATION AS U.S. JUDGE IN DETROIT BLOCKS IRAQI DEPORTATIONS!

https://patch.com/michigan/detroit/u-s-iraqi-deportation-hold-until-court-review-detroit-judge

AP reports:

“DETROIT, MI — A federal judge Tuesday halted the deportation of 1,400 Iraqi nationals, including many Christians fearing persecution, while courts review the orders to remove them from the U.S. Judge Mark Goldsmith issued a 24-page opinion asserting jurisdiction in the case over the objection of the Justice Department, which argued U.S. district judges do not have jurisdiction.

“This Court concludes that to enforce the Congressional mandate that district courts lack jurisdiction — despite the compelling context of this case — would expose Petitioners to the substantiated risk of death, torture, or other grave persecution before their legal claims can be tested in a court,” Goldsmith wrote in a 24-page opinion.

Goldsmith earlier blocked the deportations while he considered whether he had jurisdiction over the case. (For more local news, click here to sign up for real-time news alerts and newsletters from Detroit Patch, click here to find your local Michigan Patch. Also, like us on Facebook, and if you have an iPhone, click here to get the free Patch iPhone app.)

Many of the Iraqis, including 114 rounded up in the Detroit area last month who are mostly Christians, fear attacks over their religion if returned to Iraq. The government says they face deportation because they committed crimes in the U.S.

Goldsmith earlier extended a ruling suspending the deportation of the 114 while he considered jurisdiction to all Iraqi nationals in the U.S.

The U.S. government said 1,400 Iraqis are under deportation orders nationwide, though most are not in custody. Some have been under orders for years because they committed crimes in the U.S. But legal action over deportations took on new urgency because Iraq has agreed to accept them.

The American Civil Liberties Union said a suspension is necessary so Iraqi nationals can go to immigration court and argue that their lives would be in jeopardy if returned to their native country. Without some intervention, the ACLU contends that people could be deported before their case is called.

Goldsmith scheduled a Wednesday hearing to discuss several matters in the case, including a request from the Iraqis for a preliminary injunction barring the deportations.”

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

Seems like these folks should have their cases reviewed by a U.S. Immigration Judge based on current conditions in Iraq.

PWS

07-12-17

TRAVEL BAN UPDATE: Hawaii Federal Judge Rebuffs Plaintiffs’ Attempt To Broaden Travel Ban Exception — Only The Supremes Can Clarify — Grandparents Of Americans Stiffed!

 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/religion/us-judge-in-hawaii-leaves-trumps-travel-ban-rules-in-place/2017/07/06/dedcf73a-62b7-11e7-80a2-8c226031ac3f_story.html?utm_term=.4b44cb00533

Audrey McEvoy of AP reports in the Washington Post:

“HONOLULU — A federal judge in Hawaii on Thursday left Trump administration rules in place for a travel ban on citizens from six majority-Muslim countries.

U.S. District Court Judge Derrick Watson denied an emergency motion filed by Hawaii asking him to clarify what the U.S. Supreme Court meant by a “bona fide” relationship in its ruling last month.

The Supreme Court ruled the administration could mostly enforce its travel ban, but said those “with a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States” could enter.

Watson says the relationship question would be better posed to the Supreme Court, not him.

“This court will not upset the Supreme Court’s careful balancing and ‘equitable judgment,’” Watson said in his order.

Hawaii attorney general Doug Chin objected to the administration’s omission of grandparents, aunts and uncles from its list of people meeting the definition of a close relationship.

The Trump administration has said the exemption to the ban would apply to citizens of the six countries with a parent, spouse, child, adult son or daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law or sibling already in the U.S.

The U.S. Department of Justice said in an emailed statement that it was pleased with the decision.

“If the plaintiffs elect to proceed, we are confident that the U.S. Supreme Court will again vindicate the President and his constitutional duty to protect the national security of the United States,” the department said.

The Hawaii Attorney General’s Office noted after the ruling that the district court did not address the substance of either party’s arguments and instead focused on the procedural question about which court is the appropriate forum to decide the issue.

“The scope of the travel and refugee bans badly needs to be resolved and not just according to the Trump administration’s interpretation,” Chin said.

Hakim Ouansafi, president of the Muslim Association of Hawaii, said he respects Watson’s ruling but thinks there will be more opportunities to ensure the ban does not exclude grandparents and others close family members.

“We will have people directly affected by this, for sure,” Ouansafi said. “When you exclude that many people, the circle is much wider.”

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

Read the complete story at the link.

One problem when an appellate court emasculates the trial judge at a preliminary stage of the case is that the higher court then “owns” the case. But, in this particular situation, the Supremes are out to recess until Fall. So, the Trump Administration appears to have won this round because right now the plaintiffs realistically have no forum for their complaint. We can all sleep better knowing that we are protected from a few grandparents of U.S. citizens!

PWS

07-07-17

U.S. District Judge In Detroit Temporarily Halts DHS Effort To Expel Chaldean Christians To Iraq!

https://apnews.com/65537e11f1a941c7954faaebdd35f75d/Detroit-judge-halts-deportation-of-Iraqi-Christians

AP reports:

“DETROIT (AP) — A judge on Thursday temporarily halted the deportation of more than 100 Iraqi Christians living in the Detroit area who fear torture and possible death if sent back to Iraq.

U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith said in a written order that deportation is halted for 14 days while he decides if his court has jurisdiction to hear their plight.

The Justice Department had argued that the detainees, including many who were recently rounded up after decades in the U.S., must go to immigration court to try to remain in the U.S., not U.S. District Court. But the American Civil Liberties Union said they might be deported before an immigration judge can consider their requests to stay.

Goldsmith heard arguments Wednesday. He said he needs more time to consider complex legal issues.

Potential physical harm “far outweighs any conceivable interest the government might have in the immediate enforcement of the removal orders before this court can clarify whether it has jurisdiction to grant relief to petitioners on the merits of their claims,” Goldsmith said.

Most of the 114 Iraqis are Chaldean Christians, but some are Shiite Muslims and converts to Christianity. They were arrested on or about June 11 and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said all have criminal convictions.

Iraq recently agreed to accept Iraqi nationals subject to removal from the U.S.

“The court took a life-saving action by blocking our clients from being immediately sent back to Iraq,” Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, said in a release. “They should have a chance to show that their lives are in jeopardy if forced to return.”

Besides the 114 arrested in the Detroit area, 85 other Iraqi nationals were arrested elsewhere in the country, according to ICE. As of April 17, there were 1,444 Iraqi nationals with final orders of removal from the U.S. Eight already have been returned to Iraq.

The detainees include Louis Akrawi, who served more than 20 years in Michigan prisons for second-degree murder. He was accused of arranging a shooting that killed an innocent bystander in 1993.

“He’s 69 years old, he has two artificial knees, and he needs surgery on both eyes. Sending him back to Iraq is unfair,” his son, Victor Akrawi, told The Detroit News.”

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

Perhaps, Evangelical Christians who supported Trump thought they would get a break. But, in this particular operation, being a Christian doesn’t seem to have helped. Muslims are also being removed.

PWS

06-23-17

US Immigration Judge Frees Immigrant Activist — Incredulous At DHS’s Position!

http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/immigration-judge-orders-release-los-angeles-woman-47945745

The AP reports:

“A Mexican woman was released from custody Friday while the U.S. government seeks to deport her after a judge rejected arguments she should wear a monitoring device because she was arrested twice while demonstrating in support of people in the country illegally.

Claudia Rueda, 22, plans to apply for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a program started in 2012 under President Barack Obama that shields immigrants who came to the U.S. as young children from being deported. Her case has drawn attention because she has no criminal record and is an immigration activist.

The immigration judge, Annie S. Garcy, said holding Rueda without bond was “unduly severe” and allowed her to be released on her own recognizance. She noted Ruedas’ academic and other achievements and was incredulous when a government attorney asked that Rueda be required to wear a monitoring device.

“Wow, an ankle bracelet? Really?” said Garcy, who is on temporary assignment from Newark, New Jersey, under an administration effort to give higher priority to cases along the U.S. border with Mexico.

The government attorney, Matthew Hanson, responded that Rueda was arrested twice, once for trespassing and once for disorderly conduct.

Her attorney, Monika Langarica, said those arrests occurred during peaceful demonstrations to support people in the country illegally. She was charged in only one case and it was dismissed.

Rueda, a student at California State University, Los Angeles, was arrested on immigration charges May 18 outside a relative’s Los Angeles home in connection with what the U.S. Border Patrol said was a drug smuggling investigation.

Her mother, Teresa Vidal-Jaime, was arrested on immigration violations in April in connection with the same investigation and later released from custody. Neither Rueda nor her mother was arrested on drug charges.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said it would comply with the order to release Rueda and will consider any additional requests by her attorney.”

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Read the complete report at the link.

Under a rational policy, this respondent should have been released by DHS on recognizance and given time to apply for DACA. No wonder the U.S. Immigration Courts are near collapse when DHS wastes precious judicial time on cases that don’t belong in court in the first place.

I don’t blame the Assistant Chief Counsel, Mr Hanson. He’s probably just following instructions. The most knowledgeable folks in the DHS, their court lawyers, have been stripped of the authority to exercise sensible prosecutorial discretion. Instead, Gen. Kelly has turned line agents loose to do as they please.

In other words, he is presiding over a random enforcement system that wastes taxpayer money, abuses the courts, and harms individuals whose cases shouldn’t be in the enforcement system at all.

REALITY CHECK: According to TRAC, as of April 30, 2017, the Newark Immigration Court, where Judge Garcy normally sits, was setting “merits” cases for September 1, 2020, three plus years from now. Why on earth, then, was Judge Garcy sent to California to hear non-merits (i.e., bond) cases that didn’t even belong in court in the first place? Through a disastrous combination of “gonzo” enforcement policies and stunning incompetence the Trump Administration is destroying a key component of the US justice system. When and where will it end?

PWS

06-11-17

Should 350,000 El Salvadorans & Hondurans With TPS Start Packing Their Bags?

http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/homeland-security-chief-signals-shift-immigration-program-47778916

Jennifer Kay reports for the AP:

“Immigrants who have legally lived and worked in the U.S. since disasters in their countries years ago may have to start thinking about going home, the U.S. Homeland Security chief said Thursday.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Secretary John Kelly sent strong signals that immigration benefits known as “temporary protected status” should not be as open-ended as they have become for tens of thousands of people from Haiti and Central America.

“The point is not that there be a complete recovery of all ills in the country,” Kelly said. “The point is, whatever the event is that caused TPS to be granted — that event is over, and they can return.”

That might shock 86,000 immigrants from Honduras and another 263,000 from El Salvador, who constitute the vast majority of the program’s current beneficiaries.

The Hondurans, along with more than 5,000 immigrants from Nicaragua, became eligible for the temporary protections in 1999 because of destruction from Hurricane Mitch a year earlier. Immigrants from El Salvador were included in 2001 after a series of earthquakes.

Immigrants from those three countries make up 80 percent of the 435,000 people from 10 nations currently eligible. Their status has been renewed every 18 months, and it will be up for renewal again early next year.

Kelly spoke with AP in Miami a day after meeting with Haiti’s president to discuss the return of roughly 50,000 Haitians to the long-troubled Caribbean country. He joined Florida Gov. Rick Scott at the National Hurricane Center to mark the start of hurricane season Thursday.

Kelly said he has not yet discussed ending temporary status with the Central American countries’ leaders. However, he emphasized that those privileges were intended to be temporary, even though they have not been administered that way.

“People in my position automatically — without thinking about it very much, apparently — just simply extended it,” Kelly said. “They weren’t taking the same approach to the law as I am.”

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Read the complete article at the link.

A few problems here.

First, Hondurans with TPS have been in the U.S. continuously since 1999, El Salvadorans since 2001. Most of them have homes, jobs, and U.S. citizen kids. They are members of our society. Are we really going to send them home after they have been here for decades in many cases?

Second, the last time a termination of these programs was considered was during the Clinton Administration. At that time, the Governments of El Salvador and Honduras went berserk, telling the State Department that return of that many individuals in a short period of time could destabilize their economies and their political systems. In plain terms, those countries could collapse. Moreover, money sent home by El Salvadorans and Hondurans with TPS status was basically propping up the economies of those countries.

Third, some TPS individuals are under final orders of removal. In theory, they would become removable immediately if they failed to depart after termination of the programs. But, they could move to reopen Deportation or Removal Proceedings if circumstances in their cases have materially changed, which is quite possible. Moreover, many, probably the vast majority, of those with TPS either 1) were never place in Removal Proceedings, or 2) had such proceedings “administratively closed” prior to a decision on the merits by an Immigration  Judge. In both of these situations, individuals would have to be placed back on the Immigration  Courts’ Master Calendar (that is arraignment) dockets.

Given the current 600,000 case backlog in Immigration Court, and that many Immigration Judges are scheduling new non-detained cases for “individual hearing” dates three, four, or more years from now, most of these cases wouldn’t even be heard on the merits until well after the end of President Trump’s current term.

By that time, individuals will have been in the U.S. for almost a quarter of a century. Many will have adult U.S. citizen children who can petition for them for permanent immigration.

Eventually, folks here from El Salvador and Honduras will have to be given some type of permanent or semi-permanent status, with or without a “path to citizenship.” Until then, they are working, paying taxes, and are an asset to the U.S. and their communities. Because of the nature of TPS, those relatively few who do commit one felony or two misdemeanors are arrested, detained, and removed promptly, unless they qualify for additional relief. And, the Government apparently makes money from the fees generated by extensions of TPS status and work authorization.

So, regardless of the original legal framework, TPS is one of the most successful and beneficial programs that DHS runs right now. Better not to mess with it unless you have a better idea. And, better ideas on immigration are not a strong point of the Trump Administration generally or Secretary Kelly, specifically.

Stay tuned.

 

PWS

06-03-17

 

DHS Reports 740,000 Visa Overstays! — Oh, Those Canadian Businessmen & Tourists, Threatening Our National Existence By Hanging Around & Spending Their Dollars Here — Will A Wall Along The Northern Border Be Next?

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/us-nearly-740000-foreigners-overstayed-visas-last-year/2017/05/22/f70bea2e-3f16-11e7-b29f-f40ffced2ddb_story.html?tid=hybrid_content_2_na&utm_term=.db2c42f1f0db

The AP reports in the Washington Post:

“SAN DIEGO — Nearly 740,000 foreigners who were supposed to leave the United States during a recent 12-month period overstayed their visas, the Homeland Security Department said Monday, detailing a crucial but often overlooked contributor to the number of people in the country illegally.

President Donald Trump has proposed spending billions of dollars to erect a wall on the U.S. border with Mexico and hire more border agents, but those measures would not address people who arrive legally and stay after their visas expire. An estimated 40 percent of the roughly 11 million people in the country illegally stayed past their visas.

There were 739,478 overstays from October 2015 through September 2016 among visitors who arrive by plane or ship — more than the population of Alaska.

The total number of overstays is much larger but has not been quantified because the statistic doesn’t include how many people leave by land.

The cost and technological hurdles to develop a checkout system at congested land crossings are enormous because the sites are so busy. Last year, Homeland Security tested facial scans at a San Diego border crossing but has npt said if the technology works or will be expanded.

Homeland Security last year published the number of overstays for the first time in at least two decades, saying 527,127 people who came by air or ship stayed past their visas from October 2014 to September 2015.

This year’s report added student and foreign exchange visitors and many visa categories for temporary workers, while last year’s only counted business travelers and tourists. Homeland Security said it will make additional improvements in future reports, including more data on people who cross by land.

Overstays accounted for 1.5 percent of the 50.4 million visitors who arrived by plane or ship in the latest period, Homeland Security said. Canada occupied the top slot for overstays among business travelers and tourists, followed by Mexico, Brazil, Venezuela and the United Kingdom. Germany, Colombia, China, India and Italy rounded out the top 10.”

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Read the complete,article at the link.

Immigration is a much more complex and nuanced subject than this Administration will acknowledge. But, I’m not sure that these raw numbers, without more analysis, are anything we should be losing sleep over.

PWS

05-24-17

THWARTED: Judge Stops Feds From Interfering With Pro Bono Help!

US judge blocks restriction on immigrant legal help – San Francisco Chronicle

Gene Johnson reports for AP:

SEATTLE (AP) — A federal judge temporarily blocked a Justice Department decision that immigrant legal rights organizations around the country said would curtail much of the work they do help those facing deportation.

U.S. District Judge Richard Jones issued his ruling Wednesday immediately following oral arguments in a lawsuit brought by the nonprofit Northwest Immigrant Rights Project.

The Justice Department last month sent the group a cease-and-desist letter saying it cannot provide certain legal assistance to immigrants unless it undertakes formal representation of them in court. The nonprofit says it doesn’t have the resources to do that, as formal representation can require intensive investigation of a client’s case and remaining involved until its resolution.

The order would force it and similar groups around the country to stop preparing motions and other documents on behalf of immigrants who represent themselves, the organization said.

The judge agreed that the Justice Department’s action would violate the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project’s constitutional rights to freedom of speech, association and to petition the government, and that the cease-and-desist letter would limit its work — forcing many immigrants to go without legal help, since people facing deportation are not entitled to an attorney the way criminal defendants are. He barred the Justice Department from sending such letters to any other nonprofit organizations doing similar work around the nation.”

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Read the full article at the link.

My good friend and former colleague, retired U.S. Immigration Judge Eliza Klein prepared an affidavit in support of the plaintiffs in this cases.

PWS

05-19-17Jug

 

9th Cir. Panel Grills Both Sides In Travel Ban 2.0 Case!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/religion/another-appeals-court-to-weigh-trumps-revised-travel-ban/2017/05/15/5f188d56-3946-11e7-a59b-26e0451a96fd_story.html?utm_term=.038612a73dbd

Gene Johnson for AP reported in the Washington Post:

“SEATTLE — Federal judges on Monday peppered a lawyer for President Donald Trump with questions about whether the administration’s travel ban discriminates against Muslims and zeroed in on the president’s campaign statements, the second time in a week the rhetoric has faced judicial scrutiny.

Acting Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall, defending the travel ban, told the three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that the executive order should be reinstated because it falls well within the president’s authority.

“No one has ever attempted to set aside a law that is neutral on its face and neutral in its operation on the basis of largely campaign trail comments made by a private citizen running for office,” he said.

Further, Wall said the president had backed off the comments he made during the campaign, clarifying that “what he was talking about was Islamic terrorist groups and the countries that sponsor or shelter them.”

Neal Katyal, who represented Hawaii, a plaintiff in the lawsuit, expressed disbelief at that argument and said Trump had repeatedly spoken of a Muslim ban during the presidential campaign and after.

“This is a repeated pattern of the president,” Katyal said.

The 9th Circuit panel was hearing arguments over Hawaii’s lawsuit challenging the travel ban, which would suspend the nation’s refugee program and temporarily bar new visas for citizens of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. The judges will decide whether to uphold a Hawaii judge’s decision in March that blocked the ban.

Last week, judges on the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments over whether to affirm a Maryland judge’s decision putting the ban on ice. They also questioned whether they could consider Trump’s campaign statements, with one judge asking if there was anything other than “willful blindness” that would prevent them from doing so.

Dozens of advocates for refugees and immigrants rallied outside the federal courthouse in Seattle, some carrying “No Ban, No Wall” signs.”

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Read the entire article at the link. Challenges to District Court orders enjoining parts of “Travel Ban 2.0” are pending on both coasts — in the 9th Circuit and the 4th Circuit. stay tuned!

PWS

05-16-17

Trump “Channels A.R.” — Tells “Dreamers” To R-E-L-A-X, Nothing Bad Is Going To Happen — But, Should They Believe Him? — Sessions Has A Different Message: Nobody Is Protected!

https://apnews.com/85c427bf25c747ce85d837caccd90648

Julie Pace reports for AP:

“WASHINGTON (AP) — Young immigrants brought to the U.S. as children and now here illegally can “rest easy,” President Donald Trump said Friday, telling the “dreamers” they will not be targets for deportation under his immigration policies.

Trump, in a wide-ranging interview with The Associated Press, said his administration is “not after the dreamers, we are after the criminals.”

The president, who took a hard line on immigration as a candidate, vowed anew to fulfill his promise to construct a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. But he stopped short of demanding that funding for the project be included in a spending bill Congress must pass by the end of next week in order to keep the government running.

. . . .

As a candidate, Trump strongly criticized President Barack Obama for “illegal executive amnesties,” including actions to spare from deportation young people who were brought to the country as children and now are here illegally. But after the election, Trump started speaking more favorably about these immigrants, popularly dubbed “dreamers.”

On Friday, he said that when it comes to them, “This is a case of heart.”

This week, attorneys for Juan Manuel Montes said the 23-year-old was recently deported to Mexico despite having qualified for deferred deportation. Trump said Montes’ case is “a little different than the dreamer case,” though he did not specify why.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program was launched in 2012 as a stopgap to protect some young immigrants from deportation while the administration continued to push for a broader immigration overhaul in Congress.

Obama’s administrative program offered a reprieve from deportation to those immigrants in the country illegally who could prove they arrived before they were 16, had been in the United States for several years and had not committed a crime since being here. It mimicked versions of the so-called DREAM Act, which would have provided legal status for young immigrants but was never passed by Congress.

DACA also provides work permits for the immigrants and is renewable every two years. As of December, about 770,000 young immigrants had been approved for the program.”

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Meanwhile, back at the ranch, “Fear Monger in Chief” Jeff Sessions had a somewhat less reassuring message for young people and their families:

As reported by Ted Hesson in Politico:

“Attorney General Jeff Sessions could not promise that so-called Dreamers, or participants in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, will not be deported, when he was interviewed Wednesday morning on Fox News.

Sessions fielded questions from host Jenna Lee about an undocumented immigrant who claims he was deported to Mexico despite his enrollment in the program, which was created through administrative action during the Obama administration.

The program allows undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. at a young age to apply for deportation relief and work permits. In a federal lawsuit filed Tuesday, Juan Manuel Montes, a 23-year-old enrollee in the program, claimed he was sent to Mexico in February despite active DACA status.

“DACA enrollees are not being targeted,” Sessions said on Fox. “I don’t know why this individual was picked up.” But when pressed, Sessions said, “The policy is that if people are here unlawfully, they’re subject to being deported.”

“We can’t promise people who are here unlawfully that they’re not going to be deported,” Sessions added.”

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Neither Trump nor Sessions, or for that matter anyone else in the Trump Administration, has much credibility on anything, particularly immigration policy. In reality, however, it appears that very few, if any, “Dreamers” have actually been removed.
The facts of the “Montes case” are still rather murky. He appears to have reentered the U.S. illegally, which generally would subject even a green card holder to removal.  Montes reportedly is asserting an earlier “illegal removal” to Mexico. But, even if proved, that wouldn’t necessarily justify an illegal return. We’ll have to see how this case “plays out” in Federal Court, before the same judge who had the “Trump University” case.
But, the situation seems unusual enough that I would not draw any conclusion that it represents a policy change. Indeed, most “Dreamers” of whom I am aware do not actually have “final orders of removal.”
If they had pending U.S. Immigration Court cases, such cases were “administratively closed” and removed from the docket. Removal of such a “former Dreamer” would require the DHS to submit a “motion to re-calendar” to the U.S. Immigration Judge.
Once re-calendared, the case would proceed in the “normal manner,” whatever that might mean in the zany world of today’s U.S. Immigration Court. Generally, however, if the “former Dreamer” were not detained, he or she would go to the “end” of the 542,000 pending cases.
In most Immigration Courts, that would mean an “Individual Hearing” date after 2020, the end of Trump’s first term. And, as I have pointed out before, absent some “smart reforms” of the Immigration Court by Congress or the Administration to restore sanity and an emphasis on due process, the 125 new U.S. Immigration Judges proposed by Sessions will not eliminate the docket backlog at any time in the near future.http://wp.me/p8eeJm-Jf
However, notwithstanding what sometimes is called “Docket TPS,” former Dreamers could face another major obstacle: lack of “employment authorization” which was included in the DACA program. Without such authorization, continuing employment could cause major legal problems for both former Dreamers and their U.S. employers.
One possible solution would be for the “former Dreamer” to file an application for immigration benefits that carries with it the opportunity to qualify for a new employment authorization. The most likely application is probably asylum, although some who have never previously been in Removal Proceedings might also qualify to file for “cancellation of removal” or other forms of regularization of status.
Indeed, many of the dreamers who were on my docket when DACA was granted by USCIS had asylum applications pending, either on their own or as a dependent on a parent’s or spouse’s  application, at the time the case was “administratively closed” and removed from my docket. The complexity of individual situations makes the prospect of mass removal of Dreamers even more unlikely.
Stay tuned!
PWS
04-22-17

U.S. Judge Stiffs DOJ, Enters Consent Decree In Baltimore Police Case — Sessions Remains Skeptical!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/e8184a66-1c21-11e7-8598-9a99da559f9e_story.html?utm_term=.4b449e499221

Juliet Linderman (AP) reports in the Washington Post:

“BALTIMORE — A federal judge has approved an agreement negotiated under the Obama administration to overhaul the troubled Baltimore police force, sweeping aside objections from the Trump Justice Department.

President Donald Trump’s attorney general, Jeff Sessions, promptly warned that the agreement may result in “a less safe city.”

U.S. District Judge James Bredar signed the so-called consent decree Friday, a day after a hearing to solicit comments from Baltimore residents, calling the plan “comprehensive, detailed and precise.”

He denied a request to delay the signing to give the Trump administration more time to review the agreement. At Thursday’s hearing, a Justice Department attorney expressed “grave concerns” about the plan, aimed at rooting out racist practices.

The consent decree was negotiated during the closing days of the Obama administration after a federal investigation found rampant abuse by Baltimore police, including unlawful stops and use of excessive force against black people.

The investigation was prompted by the 2015 death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man whose neck was broken during a lurching ride in the back of a police van, where he had been left unbuckled, his hands and legs shackled. Gray’s death touched off the worst rioting in Baltimore in decades.

In a memo made public earlier this week, the Trump Justice Department signaled that it may retreat from the consent decrees that have been put in place in recent years in such cities as Cleveland; Ferguson, Missouri; Miami; and Newark, New Jersey.

Sessions said in a statement Friday that the Baltimore agreement shows “clear departures from many proven principles of good policing that we fear will result in more crime.”

“The decree was negotiated during a rushed process by the previous administration and signed only days before they left office,” Sessions said. “While the Department of Justice continues to fully support police reform in Baltimore, I have grave concerns that some provisions of this decree will reduce the lawful powers of the police department and result in a less safe city.”

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While the consent decree process was probably accelerated by the Obama Administration’s accurate belief that the Trump Administration would be unlikely to uphold civil rights, particularly for African Americans, the decree was based on a detailed 163 page report that was accepted and incorporated by U.S. District Judge Bredar. Here’s a link to that report: https://www.justice.gov/opa/file/883366/download.

By contrast, Session’s memorandum calling for DOJ review of consent decrees, among other things, was less than two pages, phrased in conclusory stock language, and contained no factual basis whatsoever for the review. Nor has Sessions ever explained what the problem might be with the detailed report prepared as a result of an investigation by his predecessor, Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

Remarkably, Sessions obstinance comes in the same week that a court-appointed monitor found that a similar consent decree in Seattle had resulted in a dramatic reduction in incidents of police use of force against citizens while increasing neither crime nor injuries to police officers. See prior blog here: http://wp.me/p8eeJm-El.

PWS

04/09/17

 

 

U.S. Judge Hearing Baltimore Police Case Gives Short Shrift To Sessions’s Dilatory Tactics — Moves Forward With Hearing!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/baltimore-officials-to-judge-dont-delay-police-overhaul/2017/04/05/54d09fbe-1a01-11e7-8598-9a99da559f9e_story.html?utm_term=.9b0ea33eae3b

Juliet Linderman (AP) reports in the Washington Post:

“BALTIMORE — A federal judge refused Wednesday to delay a hearing on a proposed agreement to overhaul the Baltimore Police Department, calling the Trump administration’s request a “burden and inconvenience.”

The Justice Department asked for a delay earlier this week, saying it needed time to review the plan and determine whether the proposal would hinder efforts to fight violent crime. U.S. District Judge James Bredar said the hearing would go on as scheduled Thursday.

Hundreds of people are expected to testify about the court-enforceable agreement and special security measures have been put into place, the judge said.

Pushing back the hearing at the last minute would be a “burden and inconvenience to the court, other parties, and most importantly, the public,” the judge said.

Bredar noted that it was “highly unusual” that both the city and the Justice Department had requested the hearing to allow Baltimore residents to publicly comment on the proposed consent decree. To accommodate the throngs of people, other judges cleared their dockets for the day, and the hearing was widely advertised, the judge said.

“The primary purpose of this hearing is to hear from the public,” he wrote. “It would be especially inappropriate to grant this late request for a delay when it would be the public who were most adversely affected by a postponement.”

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The position and participation of the U.S. Department of Justice, for better or worse, has historically been taken seriously by Federal Judges. In his brief time in office, AG Jeff Sessions might be on his way to undermining the DOJ’s credibility.

Most Federal Judges, whether conservative or liberal, operate in the “here and now.” Therefore, they might have little time for Sessions’s program of obfuscation and attempting to turn back the clock to the “Pre-Civil Rights Act Era in Alabama,” when the bogus concepts of “states rights” and “local authority” reigned supreme over an unconstitutionally unjust and overtly racially biased society.

PWS

05-05-17

 

US Immigration Judge Samuel Cole (CHI) Grants Asylum To Singapore Dissident

https://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2017/03/25/us/ap-us-singapore-us-teen-asylum-seeker-.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=second-column-region®ion=top-news&WT.nav=top-news

The AP reports in the NY Times:

“A blogger from Singapore who was jailed for his online posts blasting his government was granted asylum to remain in the United States, an immigration judge ruled.

Amos Yee, 18, has been detained by federal immigration authorities since December when he was taken into custody at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. Attorneys said he could be released from a Wisconsin detention center as early as Monday.

Judge Samuel Cole issued a 13-page decision Friday, more than two weeks after Yee’s closed-door hearing on the asylum application.

“Yee has met his burden of showing that he suffered past persecution on account of his political opinion and has a well-founded fear of future persecution in Singapore,” Cole wrote.

Yee left Singapore with the intention of seeking asylum in the U.S. after being jailed for several weeks in 2015 and 2016. He was accused of hurting the religious feelings of Muslims and Christians in the multiethnic city-state. Yee is an atheist.

Many of his blog and social media posts criticized Singapore’s leaders. He created controversy in 2015 as the city-state was mourning the death of its first prime minister and he posted an expletive-laden video about Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew just after his death.

Such open criticism of political leaders is discouraged in Singapore. The case raised questions about free speech and censorship and has been closely watched abroad.

Cole said testimony during Yee’s hearing showed that while the Singapore government’s stated reason for punishing him involved religion, “its real purpose was to stifle Yee’s political speech.” He said Yee’s prison sentence was “unusually long and harsh” especially for his age.

Singapore’s government criticized the decision.”

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Mr. Yee was successfully represented by Maryland immigration attorney Sandra Grossman of Grossman Law LLC.

As I have mentioned before in this blog, most fully litigated U.S. Immigration Court cases today, particularly those involving asylum or criminal law, involve exceptionally complex, and often sensitive, issues of law and fact which can’t be fairly resolved in a one to two hour time block. Yet, most of the Administration’s recent enforcement initiatives seem to assume that Immigration Court is an “assembly line” and that U.S. Immigration Judges are more or less “assembly line workers” who can be detailed to obscure locations on demand and perhaps required to work “night shifts” to keep the “deportation railroad running at full throttle.”

But, due process is not an assembly line operation. It usually takes time, expertise, careful scholarship, and detailed fact-finding for U.S. Immigration Judges to produce fair decisions that will pass muster upon judicial review in the Circuit Courts of Appeals. (I note that the Administration’s first, high-profile attempt to “ram” an immigration case — “Travel Ban 1.0” — through a Court of Appeals was spectacularly unsuccessful.)

These days, most individuals who are represented by competent counsel and reach the “Individual (Merits) Hearing” stage have at least some plausible defenses to removal. Indeed, a 2016 study by TRAC Immigration showed that more than half (57%)  of the total dispositions in U.S. Immigration Court favored the individual.  http://trac.syr.edu/immigration/reports/435/

And, this was during the Obama Administration which already was prioritizing so-called “serious criminals.”  By expanding the “criminal alien” definition to include minor criminals and non-criminals, the Trump Administration will probably be taking on even more cases where it ultimately will fail to get a “final order of removal” unless concerted attempts are made to “game the system” to insure that individuals lose (for example, by denying individuals fair access to counsel or using prolonged detention in poor conditions as a device to persuade individuals to abandon their claims to remain in the US).

PWS

03/26/17