BIA PROVIDES FEEBLE GUIDANCE ON BORDER STATEMENTS — MATTER OF J-C-H-F-, 27 I&N DEC. 211(BIA 2018)! PLUS SPECIAL BONUS: MY “CRITICAL ANALYSIS!”

3915

Matter of J-C-H-F-, 27 I&N Dec. 211 (B IA 2018)

BIA HEADNOTE:

“When deciding whether to consider a border or airport interview in making a credibility determination, an Immigration Judge should assess the accuracy and reliability of the interview based on the totality of the circumstances, rather than relying on any one factor among a list or mandated set of inquiries.”

PANEL: BIA Appellate Immigration Judges MALPHRUS, CREPPY, and LIEBOWITZ

OPINION BY: JUDGE GARRY D. MALPHRUS

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

MY ANALYSIS

  • Predictably, the respondent loses. Even though faulty analysis leading to unwarranted denial of asylum cases by the BIA and Immigration Judges is a recurring problem (see, e.g., Salgado-Sosa v. Sessions, recent 4th Circuit, Blogged here  https://wp.me/p8eeJm-2aS), when was the last time the BIA explained how U.S. Immigration Judges should analyze and grant asylum? No, the BIA’s recent asylum jurisprudence is basically a one-sided “blueprint for denials that will pass appellate muster.” In reality, Due Process is supposed to be about protecting individuals (whether documented or undocumented) from Government overreach, not how to maximize DHS removals. But, you’d be hard pressed to get that from reading the BIA precedents.
  • What this decision really tells Immigration Judges: “Presume that sworn statements taken at the border are reliable. Feel free to use any inconsistencies against the asylum applicant. Go ahead and reject all efforts to explain. Deny the application based on credibility Don’t worry, we’ve ‘got your back’ on appeal.”
  • Even more seriously, although the BIA is supposed to  consider “all relevant factors,” the panel totally ignored strong, impartial, widely disseminated evidence that statements taken at the border on Form I-867A are highly unreliable. Not only that, but such evidence is in the public realm and in fact was actually presented at EOIR training conferences at which Board Judges and staff were present!
  • Let’s reprIse a recent article by Hon. Jeffrey Chase, who was both an Immigration Judge and a BIA Attorney Adviser:”

In August 2016 I [Judge Chase] organized and moderated the mandatory international religious freedom training panel at the immigration judges’ legal training conference in Washington, D.C.  One of the panelists from the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (“USCIRF”) informed me of a just-published report she had co-authored. The report, titled Barriers to Protection: The Treatment of Asylum Seekers in Expedited Removal, is the follow-up to a 2005 study by USCIRF of the treatment of arriving asylum seekers in their interactions with the various components of DHS and the Department of Justice involved in the expedited removal process.  What jumped out at me from the report was the first key recommendation to EOIR: “Retrain immigration judges that the interview record created by CBP is not a verbatim transcript of the interview and does not document the individual’s entire asylum claim in detail, and should be weighed accordingly.”

The new report referenced the Commission’s 2005 findings, which it described as “alarming.”  The earlier study found that “although they resemble verbatim transcripts, the I-867 sworn statements” taken from arrivees by agents of DHS’s Customs and Border Patrol (“CBP”) component “were neither verbatim nor reliable, often indicating that information was conveyed when in fact it was not and sometimes including answers to questions that were never asked.  Yet immigration judges often used these unreliable documents against asylum seekers when adjudicating their cases.”

The 2016 report found similar problems with the airport statements taken a decade later.  The study found the use of identical answers by CBP agents in filling out the form I-867 “transcript,” including clearly erroneous answers (i.e. a male applicant purportedly being asked, and answering, whether he was pregnant, and a four year old child purportedly stating that he came to the U.S. to work).  For the record, USCIRF is a bipartisan organ of the federal government.  So this is a government-issued report making these findings.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has long recognized the problems inherent in the reliability of airport statements.  In Ramseachire v. Ashcroft, 357 F.3d 169, 179 (2d Cir. 2004), the Second Circuit held that “a record of the interview that merely summarizes or paraphrases the alien’s statements is inherently less reliable than a verbatim account or transcript.”  The court determined that the airport statement in that case bore “hallmarks of reliability, as it is typewritten, signed by Ramseachire, and initialed on each page.  The record also indicates that he was given the opportunity to make corrections to the transcription.”

But was that truly the case?  The USCIRF study (the first of which was published a year after the Ramseachire decision) shows that the Second Circuit’s reliance may have been misplaced.  The USCIRF researchers found instances in which the statement was not read back; when asked, a CBP agent stated “that he only reads back the contents if the interviewee requests it because it takes too long, and that the interviewee initialing each page only indicates that s/he received a copy of that page.”

As noted in the USCIRF study, the problems with airport statements go beyond merely summarizing or paraphrasing, to include actual misstatements and omissions.  But the I-867 statements as prepared by the CBP agents give the appearance of being verbatim transcripts, and further claim to contain multiple safeguards to guarantee their accuracy which, pursuant to the findings of the USCIRF studies, may not have actually been employed.  And based upon the appearance of those safeguards, immigration judges have relied on the contents of these statements to reach adverse credibility findings that result in the denial of asylum.  And as in Ramseachire, many of those credibility findings are being affirmed on appeal.

This is not to say that all airport statements are unreliable.  But the point is that, as in Ramseachire, courts see something that looks like a verbatim transcript, see additional signs that safeguards were employed to ensure accuracy, and as a result, afford the document more evidentiary weight than it might actually deserve.  Under such circumstances, an immigration judge might reasonably rely on an airport statement purporting that the respondent had stated he came to the U.S. to work when in fact, he or she said no such thing.  And the judge might discredit the respondent’s denial of such statement when the words are recorded in a seemingly verbatim transcript bearing the respondent’s signature and initials which says it was read back to him and found accurate.

Attorneys and immigration judges should therefore be aware of the report and its findings.  The link to the report is:  https://www.uscirf.gov/sites/default/files/Barriers%20To%20Protection.pdf

 

Border Patrol agents claim that a 3-year-old boy said the reason he came to the United States was to look for work, thus making it easier for the undocumented immigrant to be deported.

The boy, hailing from Honduras and identified in court documents as Y.F., was allegedly interviewed in the summer of 2014 by Border Patrol agents trying to determine if immigrants had a credible fear of harm or death if they returned to their home countries. Those who claim such fear—and can prove it—have a shot at getting asylum in the United States, while those who say they came looking for work are most often deported.

Agents interviewed Y.F. and wrote on the appropriate form that he said he was looking for work. A brief (pdf) filed by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) with the Justice DepartmentBoard of Immigration Appeals points out the unlikelihood of that being true. “Y-F-’s interview, so painstakingly transcribed, sworn, signed and counter-signed, almost certainly never happened in the format in which it was memorialized. The impossibility of the interview, in spite of the DHS officers’ affirmations of veracity and the rule of government regularity is plain on the face of the writings themselves: Y-F- was three years old at the time he was interrogated,” the brief said.

AILA says that information on those forms, I-867 A/B, “are not inherently reliable because they often contain fake responses, do not accurately reflect testimony presented, and were almost always created under coercive conditions,” according to AILA.

The case of Y.F. isn’t unique. Earlier this year, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) argued that a particular undocumented immigrant should be deported because she came to the United States to find work in Dodge City, Kansas, according to Elise Foley of Huffington Post. The immigrant was 11 days old at the time.

The case against the infant girl was thrown out because her mother claimed the baby was born in the United States. The boy, now 4, has been living in a detention center in Texas for a year. He has been approved for release, but his mother has not, so he remains in detention.

Maybe he can apply for a work release.

  • Let’s see what else the BIA Judges “blew by” in J-C-H-F-.
    • The Border Patrol agent acted as the Spanish interpreter. Interpretation is a professional job. It’s different from being “bilingual.” Indeed, at one past ImmigratIon Judge Conference, we actually received a graphic demonstration from the EOIR Interpretation Staff of how and why being bilingual wouldn’t necessarily qualify someone to interpret accurately in a legal setting! In one ear, out the other, I guess. The BIA gives no explanation of how and why a Border Patrol Agent would be qualified to interpret accurately.
    • Yeah, but the BIA says it’s all OK because the respondent “understands English.” I probably “understand” German. If you said something slowly and clearly to me in German I probably could “get the gist” and say “Ja,” “Nein,” or “Nicht Verstehen.” But, would that mean I really understood what was going on? Highly unlikely!
    • There is a body of evidence out there that asylum applicants are often traumatized as well as afraid of figures of authority such as “border police.” That can have something do with border statements. Indeed this respondent made such a claim. But, the panel simply blew it off, saying that the respondent was offered an opportunity to speak “confidentially with an officer.” How would that address trauma and fear of authorities? The BIA never tells us.
    • The BIA reassures us that the statement is reliable because it “contains a detailed recitation of the questions and answers relating to the applicant’s claim, including the purpose of his visit, the length of his stay, and the issue whether he feared any harm if returned to Mexico.” Yet these are the very aspects of the I-867 that the USCIRF has said are often inaccurate, manipulated, or outright falsified. 
  • The BIA could have selected as a precedent a case that illustrated the inherent shortcomings of the Form I-867 and why they should be viewed critically by Immigration Judges with at least a degree of skepticism, if not an outright presumption of unreliability.  The BIA could further have used such a decision as a forum to demand that the DHS show what steps it has taken to address the problems discovered by the USCIRF and to improve the process for insuring accuracy of border statements if they want them treated with a “presumption of reliability” in Immigration Court.
  • Instead, the BIA once again “stuck its collective head in the sand” and ignored the real due process, fairness, and integrity problems plaguing our asylum adjudication system at all levels!
  • We can only hope that some independent Court of Appeals will take a more critical and objective look at the “border statement issue” than the BIA has chosen to do in J-C-H-F.
  • I also hope that in the future, respondents’ counsel make better use of readily available public materials to challenge over-reliance on border statements than apparently was done in this case.

PWS

02-22-18

 

 

PRO BONO LAWYERS SAY CHANGES IN EOIR POLICIES IN NEW YORK SHAFT CHILDREN NEEDING REPRESENTATION IN COURT!

NYC’s Immigration Court Erodes Accommodations for Children Without Attorneys

David Brand reports for CityLife.org;

. . . .

Thousands of other undocumented immigrant children never get a lawyer and continue to experience that fear and uncertainty during deportation proceedings. Others choose to avoid court, exposing themselves to in-absentia removal orders.

Over the past few months, finding legal representation has become even more challenging for immigrant children in New York City because Manhattan’s federal immigration court has eroded several of the practices and provisions designed to help children connect with nonprofit and pro bono attorneys inside the courthouse, say four lawyers who direct programs that connect with unrepresented children at 26 Federal Plaza.

Legal Aid Society’s Immigrant Youth Project supervising attorney Beth Krause says the changes have led to fewer children getting legal representation and will likely doom more children to deportation — even if their situations or experiences merit asylum, protected status or visa eligibility.

“What this means is there are many, many children who are not getting consultation with a lawyer and many kids who do have relief available but, if they don’t talk to a lawyer, might not know it and give up,” Krause says.

Though children have no legal right to government-funded counsel in immigration court — a reality reaffirmed by the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in late-January — New York City’s court used to provide some accommodations to help children find attorneys. The court consolidated the juvenile docket on specific days and assigned the cases to specific judges with experience presiding over children’s proceedings.

The court also shared docket information with nonprofits like New York Law School’s Safe Passage Project, Catholic Charities, Legal Aid, The Door and other Immigrant Child Advocates Relief Effort (ICARE) participants and permitted the organizations to meet with children in empty courtrooms or other spaces.

These provisions enabled children to access free legal counsel because the organizations knew how many unrepresented children would appear at court and when their case would be called. The accommodations also facilitated more efficient courtrooms — especially on days when a judge’s docket includes dozens of cases — because lawyers could prepare their young clients for court and guide them through proceedings.

Gradually, however, the court has scattered children’s proceedings throughout the month and assigned the cases to various judges who are at times unfamiliar with child-friendly practices or special legal provisions granted to children, such as longer filing deadlines, say Krause, Safe Passage Project Director Lenni Benson, Catholic Charities Supervising Attorney Jodi Ziesemer and The Door’s Director of Legal Services Eve Stotland.

The court has even prevented the nonprofit organizations from screening children inside empty courtrooms or other spaces throughout the building, the four attorneys say.

. . . .

 

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

Read the complete article at the link.

This is the “New EOIR,” where “customer service” has become a dirty word!  Anti-Due Process, Anti-Child, Anti-Lawyer, Anti-Asylum, ungrateful to those who are trying against all odds to provide fair hearings to those caught up in our totally screwed up and grotesquely mal-administered Immigration Courts.

EOIR has basically come “full circle.” Unfortunately, it now replicates some of the worst features of the “Legacy INS’s” administration of the courts that led to the creation of EOIR in the first place.

One long-time pro bono stalwart told me she actually had tears of rage in her eyes over the disrespectful treatment she and her colleagues received while trying to provide pro bono assistance at one local Immigration Court. “I’ve been doing this for years. It’s in addition to my other two full-time jobs. It costs me money to provide pro bono. Now this — no cooperation, no appreciation. I’m trying to help EOIR avoid gross injustices. And, they just put BS bureaucratic roadblocks in the way. I’m so angry!”

We need an independent, Due-Process-focused Article I U.S. Immigration Court!

PWS

01-21-18

 

 

 

BIGGIE ON GANG ASYLUM: PUBLISHED 4TH CIR. BLASTS BIA’S BOGUS APPROACH TO NEXUS IN GANG CASES — Court Eviscerates BIA’s Disingenuous Approach To Nexus In Matter of L-E-A- (Without Citing It!) – SALGADO-SOSA V. SESSIONS

4thGangsNexusSalgado-Sosa

Salgado-Sosa v. Sessions, 4th Cir., 04-13-18, Published

PANEL: GREGORY, Chief Judge, and FLOYD and HARRIS, Circuit Judges.

OPINION BY: JUDGE PAMELA HARRIS

SUMMARY OF HOLDING (From Court’s Opinion):

“Reynaldo Salgado-Sosa, a native and citizen of Honduras, seeks asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture. If he is returned to Honduras, he fears, he will face persecution at the hands of the gang MS-13, which has repeatedly attacked his family for resisting extortion demands.

The agency proceedings focused on whether Salgado-Sosa could show, for purposes of both his asylum and withholding of removal claims, a nexus between MS-13’s threats and membership in a cognizable “particular social group” – here, Salgado-Sosa’s family. The Board of Immigration Appeals found that Salgado-Sosa could not establish the requisite nexus, and denied withholding of removal on that ground. The Board separately found that Salgado-Sosa’s asylum application was untimely, and that there was insufficient evidence to justify protection under the Convention Against Torture.

We conclude that the Board erred in holding that Salgado-Sosa did not meet the nexus requirement. The record compels the conclusion that at least one central reason for Salgado-Sosa’s persecution is membership in his family, a protected social group under the Immigration and Nationality Act. Accordingly, we vacate the denial of withholding of removal, and remand for further proceedings on that claim. On the asylum claim, we separately remand for consideration of whether our recent decision in Zambrano v. Sessions, 878 F.3d 84 (4th Cir. 2017), affects Salgado-Sosa’s argument that a statutory “changed circumstances” exception allows consideration of his untimely application.”

KEY QUOTE FROM  OPINION:

“For three reasons, we are “compelled to conclude,” see Hernandez-Avalos, 784 F.3d at 948, that the IJ and the Board erred in finding that Salgado-Sosa has not shown that his kinship ties are “at least one central reason” for the harm he fears. First, the record manifestly establishes that MS-13 threatened Salgado-Sosa “on account of” his connection to his stepfather and to his family. Salgado-Sosa testified, for instance, that MS-13 attacked him because of his stepfather Merez-Merlo’s conflict with the gang, not his own. Merez-Merlo similarly testified that his refusal to give MS-13 “what they wanted, which was the war tax,” led the gang to repeatedly threaten to kill his wife and son. J.A. 236; see J.A. 234, 315–16. Other evidence also corroborates the centrality of family ties. For example, the family’s long-time neighbor submitted an affidavit averring

2 As before the IJ and Board, Salgado-Sosa’s argument in this court emphasizes evidence that he and his family were targeted because of his stepfather’s testimony against MS-13. But both on appeal and before the agency, Salgado-Sosa also has argued more generally that he fears persecution based on his membership in a “particular social[] group, as defined by Crespin-Valladares v. Holder, 632 F.3d 117 (4th Cir. 2011).” Appellant’s Br. at 5; see also A.R. 101, 478–79. And our holding in Crespin-Valladares was not limited to family members of witnesses, but instead established that family membership itself is a “prototypical example of a [cognizable] particular social group.” 632 F.3d at 125 (internal quotation marks omitted). The IJ and BIA accordingly considered not only whether Salgado-Sosa was persecuted for being a family member of a witness, but also whether he was persecuted because of his kinship ties generally. See A.R. 126 (finding that Salgado-Sosa “has not demonstrated” that any persecution “would be on account of a statutorily protected ground, be that family group membership, as witnesses, or any other potential protected ground”) (emphasis added). Following that lead, we also consider whether the evidence shows that Salgado-Sosa was threatened on account of his familial ties, regardless of the role played by his stepfather’s testimony.

10

that “the reason why the gang members wants [sic] to hurt [Salgado-Sosa]” is that he “defended his stepfather from the gang member[s]” when they assaulted the family. J.A. 537 (emphasis added). And the IJ, as noted above, did not doubt the credibility of any of this evidence.

Second, that Salgado-Sosa’s anticipated harm is on account of membership in his family follows from the IJ’s own factual findings, adopted by the BIA. The IJ herself determined that the central reasons for Salgado-Sosa’s feared persecution are his stepfather’s refusal to pay the gang and revenge on the family for resisting MS-13’s extortion. See J.A. 5–6, 126–27. On a proper reading of the nexus requirement and our cases applying it, that finding compels the conclusion that Salgado-Sosa’s kinship ties are a central reason for the harm he fears.

Our decision in Hernandez-Avalos v. Lynch is instructive. There, the petitioner applied for asylum after gang members in El Salvador threatened her for refusing to allow her son to join the gang. 784 F.3d at 947. The BIA rejected her assertion that the persecution was “on account of” familial ties, concluding that the petitioner “was not threatened because of her relationship to her son (i.e. family), but rather because she would not consent to her son engaging in a criminal activity.” Id. at 949. We found this distinction “meaningless” and “unreasonable” given that “[petitioner’s] relationship to her son is why she, and not another person, was threatened” by the gang. Id. at 950 (emphasis added). Thus, because the petitioner’s “family connection to her son” was at least one of “multiple central reasons” for the gang’s threats, we found the nexus

requirement satisfied, and rejected the BIA’s contrary determination as resting on “an 11

excessively narrow reading of the requirement that persecution be undertaken ‘on account of membership in a nuclear family.’” Id. at 949–50.

The same logic applies here. There is no meaningful distinction between whether Salgado-Sosa was threatened because of his connection to his stepfather, and whether Salgado-Sosa was threatened because MS-13 sought revenge on him for an act committed by his stepfather. See Hernandez-Avalos, 784 F.3d at 950. However characterized, Salgado-Sosa’s relationship to his stepfather (and to his family) is indisputably “why [he], and not another person, was threatened” by MS-13. See id. Thus, the IJ and BIA erred by focusing narrowly on the “immediate trigger” for MS-13’s assaults – greed or revenge – at the expense of Salgado-Sosa’s relationship to his stepfather and family, which were the very relationships that prompted the asserted persecution. See Oliva v. Lynch, 807 F.3d 53, 60 (4th Cir. 2015) (holding that the BIA drew “too fine a distinction” between the “immediate trigger” for persecution – breaking the rules imposed on former gang members – and what ultimately led to persecution – protected status as a former gang member). On the IJ’s own unchallenged account of the facts – that Salgado-Sosa’s fear of persecution arises from the actions of his stepfather and his family – the only reasonable conclusion is that family membership is “at least one central reason for [his] persecution.” See Hernandez-Avalos, 784 F.3d at 950.

Third and finally, the BIA’s decision improperly focused on whether Salgado- Sosa’s family was persecuted on account of a protected ground, rather than on whether Salgado-Sosa was persecuted because of a protected ground – here, his relationship to his

family. The critical fact, for the BIA, was that the motive for the attacks on Salgado- 12

Sosa’s family was “financial gain or personal vendettas,” neither of which is itself a protected ground under the INA. J.A. 6. But as we have explained before, it does not follow that if Salgado-Sosa’s family members were not targeted based on some protected ground, then Salgado-Sosa could not have been targeted based on his ties to his family. Cordova v. Holder, 759 F.3d 332, 339 (4th Cir. 2014) (rejecting argument that feared persecution is not on account of membership in family if attacks on family are not related to protected ground). Instead, “[t]he correct analysis focuses on [Salgado-Sosa himself] as the applicant, and asks whether [he] was targeted because of [his] membership in the social group consisting of [his] immediate family.” Villatoro v. Sessions, 680 F. App’x 212, 221 (4th Cir. 2017). And once the right question is asked, the record admits of only one answer: whatever MS-13’s motives for targeting Salgado-Sosa’s family, Salgado-Sosa himself was targeted because of his membership in that family.

For all these reasons, it is clear that Salgado-Sosa has shown the required nexus between anticipated persecution and membership in a particular social group consisting of his family. Specifically, Salgado-Sosa has demonstrated that “at least one central reason” for the harm he faces is his connection to his stepfather and family. See 8 U.S.C. §1158(b)(1)(B)(i). Because the IJ and BIA relied exclusively on an erroneous determination as to nexus in denying withholding of removal, we vacate that denial and remand for further proceedings regarding Salgado-Sosa’s application.”

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

First, congrats to Alfred Lincoln (“Rob”) Robertson, Jr., ROBERTSON LAW OFFICE, PLLC, Alexandria, Virginia, who successfully represented Mr. Salgado-Sosa before the Fourth Circuit. Rob was a “regular” in the Arlington Immigration Court, particularly on my always challenging detained docket. One of the things I liked about him is that he was willing to take “tough cases” — ones where the respondent had a decent argument but by no means a “slam dunk winner.” He also practiced before the local Virginia criminal courts, so was familiar with what “really happens” in criminal court as opposed to the “Alice in Wonderland Version” often presented in Immigration Court.

Crespin-Valladares v. Holder, 632 F.3d 117 (4th Cir. 2011) lives! One of my all-time favorite cases, because I was the Immigration Judge incorrectly reversed by the BIA on an asylum grant. I was right on all sorts of things, and the BIA was wrong! But, hey, who remembers things like that?

This decision is good news for justice and due process for asylum seekers. It spells some bad news for the BIA’s highly contrived decision in Matter of L-E-A-, 27 I&n 40 (BIA 2017). There, the BIA looked beyond primary causation (the “but for” rule) of a family-based PSG to find a secondary cause, “criminal extortion” that did not relate to the protected ground. In other words, the BIA encouraged IJs to look for any way possible to twist facts to deny family-based PSG asylum claims. Indeed, the only lame example that the BIA could cite that might qualify under their bizarre analysis was the long-dead Romanov Family of Russia.

Both Judge Jeffrey Chase and I ripped the BIA’s anti-asylum, anti-Due Process machinations in previous blogs:

http://immigrationcourtside.com/2017/05/25/new-precedent-family-is-a-psg-but-beware-of-nexus-matter-of-l-e-a-27-in-dec-40-bia-2017-read-my-alternative-analysis/

http://immigrationcourtside.com/2017/06/03/introducing-new-commentator-hon-jeffrey-chase-matter-of-l-e-a-the-bias-missed-chance-original-for-immigrationcourtside/

What if EOIR concentrated on quality, Due Process, and fairness for asylum seekers, rather than merely looking for ways to deport more migrants (whether legally correct or not) in accordance with Sessions’s anti-migrant agenda? We need an independent Article I U.S. Immigration Court with an Appellate Division that acts like a U.S. Court of Appeals, not an extension of the Administration political agendas and DHS enforcement!

PWS

02-21-18

 

LA TIMES: NEW DHS ENFORCEMENT POLICIES SEEK TO PUNISH CHILDREN AND PARENTS SEEKING ASYLUM – Really, Is This What We’ve Become As a Nation In The “Age of Trump?”

http://enewspaper.latimes.com/infinity/article_share.aspx?guid=371cd9b8-56d5-4cca-a96c-53e177ee2201

Molly Hennessy-Fiske reports for the LA Times

EL PASO — Thousands of parents who crossed illegally into the U.S. in recent years have been held with their children at immigration detention centers. But the case of a Brazilian woman and her son illustrates what migrant advocates call a harsher approach to immigration enforcement that aims to separate parents and children.

She’s being held in Texas, while her son was taken to a shelter in Illinois. The unspoken goal, advocates say, is to discourage parents from crossing illegally or attempting to request asylum.

The Brazilian mother — who asked to be identified only as Jocelyn because she was fleeing domestic violence — entered the U.S. in August with her 14-year-old son, who she said was being threatened by gangs. They hoped to apply for asylum.

Migrant families like Jocelyn’s are usually processed by immigration courts, an administrative process. Such families are detained together or released with notices to appear at later court proceedings. President Trump promised to end the practice, dismissing it as “catch and release.”

Historically, most border crossers were sent back to their home countries, but the Trump administration has threatened to prosecute some migrant parents because entering the country illegally is a federal crime. The first offense is a misdemeanor, with a maximum sentence of six months. Those caught a second time face a felony charge with a maximum sentence of up to 20 years, depending on their criminal record. Once a case becomes a criminal matter, parents and children are separated.

According to public defenders and immigrant advocates, more and more immigrant families who come to the southern border seeking asylum are being charged in federal criminal courts from El Paso to Arizona. Jocelyn was charged with a misdemeanor, and her son was sent to a shelter in Chicago. Comprehensive statistics do not exist, but activists and attorneys say anecdotal evidence suggests the practice is spreading.

“There’s not supposed to be blanket detention of people seeking asylum, but in reality, that’s what’s happening” in El Paso, said Dylan Corbett, director of the Hope Border Institute, a nonprofit social justice group. “We’re still in this limbo in our sector and across the border: What’s going on? What are the new policies?”

Last week, 75 congressional Democrats led by Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Downey) sent a letter to the secretary of Homeland Security expressing outrage at increased family separations and demanding officials clarify their policies within two weeks.

“We are gravely concerned that these practices are expanding and worsening, further traumatizing families and impeding access to a fair process for seeking asylum,” they wrote.

Homeland Security won’t say it is targeting families but does say it is making procedural and policy changes to deter illegal immigration.

“The administration is committed to using all legal tools at its disposal to secure our nation’s borders,” said Tyler Houlton, a Homeland Security spokesman.

Jocelyn said she fled Brazil to escape an abusive husband. During a recent meeting at the El Paso detention center where she is being held, she lifted the sleeve of her white uniform to show scars on her arm that she said came from beatings by her husband, an armed security guard who refused to grant her a divorce.

She and her son flew to Mexico on Aug. 24, crossed the border two days later, turned themselves in to Border Patrol near El Paso and were told they would be separated.

“I didn’t know where they were taking him,” she said of her son. “They didn’t tell me. I asked many times. They just said ‘Don’t worry.’ ”

Elsewhere on the border, including Texas’ Rio Grande Valley to the east where most migrants cross illegally, many parents and children are still released together with notices to appear in immigration court.

To opponents of illegal immigration, the practice of charging migrants with criminal offenses is a good thing. Andrew Arthur, a former immigration judge now serving as a resident fellow at the conservative Washington-based Center for Immigration Studies, said criminal charges are a deterrent.

“The reason the children are there to begin with is this belief [among immigrants] that a parent with a child will not be detained,” Arthur said. He added that exposing children to smugglers who could abuse and kidnap them “borders frankly on child abuse.”

Last April, Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions issued guidance to U.S. attorneys urging more aggressive prosecution of those illegally reentering the country. As the number of migrant families crossing illegally increased last summer, parents were detained by U.S. marshals, but their children were reclassified as unaccompanied minors and placed at shelters across the country by the Office of Refugee Resettlement.

Migrant advocates sued in federal court, arguing that when asylum seekers declare a fear of returning to their home country, federal law dictates that they be referred to an asylum officer, even if they crossed the border illegally, and their cases considered by immigration judges.

In October, El Paso immigrant advocates asked Border Patrol officials whether they were separating migrant parents from their children.

“They volunteered yes, we’re doing family separation,” Corbett recalled, adding that one agent “said it was standard practice locally here in the sector to separate all children 10 years and older from their family. We were all shocked.”

Afterward, Border Patrol attorney Lisa Donaldson emailed those who had attended the meeting, insisting that the “Border Patrol does not have a blanket policy requiring the separation of family units” and that any increase in separations “is due primarily to the increase in prosecutions of immigration-related crimes.”

Daryl Fields, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in western Texas, which files federal criminal charges, said each case is considered individually and that “we do not target individuals for prosecution based on their parental status.”

Federal public defenders said that criminally charging asylum seekers not only violates international treaties, it encourages migrants to plead guilty so they can end their case quickly, get deported and try to reunite with their children.

“It impacts the lawfulness or constitutionality of their guilty plea,” said Maureen Franco, the federal public defender for the western district of Texas. “They’re under the misconception ‘The quicker I get my case over with, the quicker I’ll get my children back.’ Any lawyer worth their salt will tell them it’s not like that.”

Franco’s office has asked a federal court to dismiss improper entry charges against four Central American parents and a grandmother whose children were removed after the adults were detained. A judge ruled in favor of the government Jan. 5. Federal public defenders are appealing.

Immigration attorney Bridget Cambria has handled 15 family separation cases, including several mothers charged and separated from their children in El Paso.

“There’s huge questions about whether it’s legal when they’re seeking asylum. They’re using the federal statutes as a reason to take their child,” Cambria said.

It’s not clear how many migrant parents like Jocelyn have been charged and separated from their children. Federal public defenders and U.S. district courts do not track them. U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported just five migrant family members referred for prosecution in federal criminal court this year fiscal year, which started in October. It reported seven last fiscal year and 21 the year before that.

Estimates from migrant advocacy groups are much higher.

In Arizona, the Tucson-based Florence Immigration and Refugee Rights Project saw 213 such cases last year, an increase from the 190 cases the year before. Legal director Laura St. John said the group has already served 23 separated families this year.

A dozen cases of family separation were reported by Washington-based Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service. Hope Border Institute surveyed attorneys representing 90 asylum seekers in the El Paso area between June and November 2017 and found 94% had clients separated from their children.

In December, a host of immigrant advocacy groups filed a complaint with Homeland Security alleging that parents have been charged and separated from their children, “without a clear or reasonable justification, as a means of punishment and/or deterrence, and with few mechanisms to locate, contact, or reunite with family members.” The complaint is pending.

As for Jocelyn, a federal judge in Las Cruces found her guilty of crossing the border illegally, a misdemeanor, on Sept. 22. She received a suspended sentence and was transferred to immigration detention in El Paso. Instead of self-deporting, Jocelyn stayed to pursue her asylum claim.

She learned through the Brazilian Consulate that her son was at a Chicago shelter and she has since spoken to him by phone four times.

She said her son told her that other children of migrants in the shelter tried to run away because they missed their parents. Jocelyn urged her son to stay put. He promised he would.

She worries, but is hopeful. Immigration officials recently found she has a credible fear of returning home, the first step toward obtaining asylum, and a pro bono attorney is trying to get her released on bond.

She tried to reassure her son during a recent phone call. “As soon as I get out,” she said, “I will come get you.”

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

Wow! What a great way to spend U.S. Government funds! Picking on refugees —  abused women and kids who have the audacity to seek to exercise their legal rights under our laws and International Conventions.

Let’s get down to the truth here. “Jocelyn” in the above article appears to be a legitimate refugee. Assuming she’s telling the truth — and she has the scars to prove it, she should be a “slam dunk” asylum grant under Matter of A-R-C-G-, 26 I&N Dec. 388 (BIA 2014) (domestic violence can be a basis for asylum).

The logical way of proceeding would be to release her while making sure she gets linked up with a good pro bono organization who can assign a lawyer to investigate, confirm, and document her case and then file the asylum application with the Immigration Court. In my experience, a well-documented case like this could go on an “accelerated short docket.” There it could be granted, basically by stipulation of the parties, after short testimony to confirm key events and double-check for any criminal or security grounds. With adequate preparation, and cooperation between the pro bono lawyer and the DHS Assistant Chief Counsel, this case should take no more than 30 minutes, one hour “tops,” of precious hearing time.

No need for detention, clogging the Immigration Courts’ Individual Hearing dockets, or any other form of “Aimless Docket reshuffling.” Best of all, we’re in compliance with the laws and our Constitutional guarantees of Due Process. Sounds like a “winner” to me for all concerned.

I have no doubt that there are many “Jocelyns” out there among recent border arrivals. Even those who don’t technically have “grantable” asylum claims under the overly restrictive precedents, should, if credible, be able to document strong cases for relief under the Convention Against Torture given the breakdown in government authority and de facto control by gangs in most parts of the Northern Triangle, the source of most of today’s Southern Border asylum  applicants.

So, why are we wasting money on detention and criminal prosecution to keep folks who seldom if ever present any threats to the United States from getting the protection to which our laws entitle them? Why are we trying to send (usually ineffective in any event) “don’t come” messages to people who have a right to seek protection under our laws? Why would we make it difficult for individuals to exercise their statutory right to be represented by counsel and to have adequate time to prepare their cases?

Sounds to me like DHS and the Administration are abusing our laws and our Constitutional guarantees and wasting lots of time and money in the process. Ultimately, that’s something of which we should be ashamed.

PWS

02-20-18

A BIA WIN FOR THE GOOD GUYS! – MICHELLE MENDEZ & HER CLINIC TEAM GET REOPENING FOR ASYLUM APPLICANTS IN ATLANTA! (Submitted By Dan Kowalski at LexisNexis)!

From: Michelle Mendez [mailto:mmendez@cliniclegal.org]
Sent: Monday, February 19, 2018 10:00 AM
To: Artesia OTG <artesiaotg@lists.aila.org>
Subject: [artesiaotg] Good news — the BIA has issued a great unpublished decision on late-filed appeals! (Attached.)

 

Greetings,

The ASAP team of Swapna Reddy, Dorothy Tegeler, and  Liz Willis has done it again. With just a few days before her check-in with Atlanta ICE ERO, a mother reached out to us via our Facebook group. Taylor, Lee & Associates had represented her and accepted an order of removal without fighting her case. Many of us are familiar with this law firm having heard about or helped the families targeted in January 2016 by the Obama Administration who were also represented by this firm in the same manner. By “representation” I mean that the law firm did not defend her against removal before the IJ instead accepting an order of removal in exchange for seeking a stay of removal and promising an EAD.

When we learned her case involved the same “salvo conducto” practice by this law firm and that the mother had not actually consent to this practice, we knew we had to help this mother. But time was not on our side as her imminent check-in with Atlanta ICE EOR was supposed to be her last. After strategically considering our options, we rushed to prepare an untimely BIA appeal….a two-year untimely appeal. We prepared a stay of removal application and recruited a local advocate, Keith Farmer, to attend the Atlanta ICE ERO check-in with her and submit the stay. Keith handled the situation like a professional, and the mother was ultimately never detained at her subsequent check-ins at which Shana Tabak artfully accompanied her.

The BIA accepted the Notice to Appeal and issued a briefing schedule. We followed this with an emergency motion for a stay of removal with the BIA. While the Notice to Appeal was pending and we awaited the briefing schedule, we complied with the Lozada procedures and obtained a psych evaluation of the client thanks to Craig Katz, Elizabeth Singer, and Varsha Subramaniam. We reached out to Trina Realmuto and Kristin Macleod-Ball, who provided strategic advice and an amicus brief in support of our untimely appeal. Katie Shephard provided an invaluable declaration given her work on the cases of the families represented by this law firm and targeted in January 2016 by the Obama Administration who were taken to Dilley. Laura Lichter also pitched in with strategic feedback and sample filings given her tireless work on the January 2016 cases, and her input was essential. And, last but not least, we reached out to Bradley Jenkins andLory Rosenberg for their wisdom, who helped us to frame arguments in the most compelling way.

The BIA dismissed the appeal as untimely instructing us to file a Motion to Reconsider and Remand on the question of timeliness. As was done in five nearly identical cases involving this law firm, we asked the BIA to accept this late-filed appeal on certification, or in the alternative, equitably toll the notice of appeal deadline and remand the case for further proceedings before the Immigration Judge. The BIA decision is attached. Huge thanks to ASAP volunteer law student Mayu Arimoto for her assistance with this briefing. Of course, and as always, thanks to Ben Winograd for his filing assistance with the BIA.

The moral of this story is that defending the rights of immigrants is tough work. We battle inhumane policies, cowardly or openly authoritarian leaders, greedy representatives who fill their coffers with private prison money, negative public opinion, intentional and unintentional media misinformation, notarios/unauthorized practitioners of law, and even other attorneys who abandon their duty to zealously represent their vulnerable clients. But when competent and caring advocates join forces, we can do anything.

Michelle N. Mendez

Training and Legal Support Senior Attorney

Defending Vulnerable Populations Project Manager

Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC)

Mailing Address: 8757 Georgia Avenue, Suite 850, Silver Spring, MD 20910

Physical Address: OPD, 217 E. Redwood Street, Suite 1020, Baltimore, MD 21202

Cellular Phone: 540.907.1761

Fax Number: 301.565.4824

Email: mmendez@cliniclegal.org

Website: www.cliniclegal.org

 

Save the date for CLINIC’s 20th annual Convening!

Defending hope and the American Dream

May 30 – June 1, 2018 | Tucson, AZ

cliniclegal.org/convening

 

Embracing the Gospel value of welcoming the stranger, CLINIC promotes the dignity and protects the rights of immigrants in partnership with a dedicated network of Catholic and community legal immigration programs.

 

If you want to remove yourself from the list then go to http://www.aila.org/MyAila/Account/Listservs

If you have never logged into www.aila.org then please use the forgot password linkhttp://www.aila.org/MyAila/ForgotPassword to choose a new password.

Enter the email address that you are receiving your listserv emails.

To change your email address go to http://www.aila.org/myaila/account/edit 

You can also unsubscribe or make changes at http://www.aila.org/MyAila/Account/Listservs

Other questions? Email listservs@aila.org

HERE’S A COPY OF THE (UNFORTUNATELY UNPUBLISHED) BIA DECISION BY APPELLATE IMMIGRATION JUDGE MOLLY KENDALL CLARK:

Redacted S-H-O BIA Remand

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

Congrats to Michelle and her CLINIC team for winning a great victory for fairness, Due Process, and the New Due Process Army!

This also reminds us that notwithstanding the pressure from the Sessions DOJ to turn the Immigration Courts and the BIA into an “assembly line” churning out more removal orders, every day talented, conscientious, hard-working jurists like Judge Kendall Clark and others like her in the Immigration Court System remain firmly committed to the original “Due Process Mission” and independent decision-making that were supposed to be the sole focus of EOIR (before the “politicos” intervened with their attempts to “game” the system against migrants to achieve DHS enforcement goals).

We need an independent Article I U.S. Immigration Court (including an Appellate Division) so that judges can do their jobs of unbiased, scholarly, independent, Due Process focused decision making without “quotas,” “performance evaluations,” directives from administrators not actively involved in judging, and other improper political interference!

 

PWS

02-19-18

 

 

GONZO’S WORLD: TRUMP & SESSIONS ARE SYSTEMATICALLY DISMANTLING OUR JUSTICE SYSTEM – THE “BOGUS FOCUS” ON IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT IS KEY TO THEIR DESTRUCTIVE STRATEGY! — “Perhaps the most insidious part of the Trump administration’s approach to criminal justice lies in its efforts to link crime to its broader crackdown on immigration.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/17/opinion/sunday/donald-trump-and-the-undoing-of-justice-reform.html

The New York Times Editorial Board writes:

“In the decade or so before Donald Trump became president, America’s approach to criminal justice was changing fast — reckoning with decades of destructive and ineffective policies that had ballooned the prison population and destroyed countless lives. Red and blue states were putting in place smart, sensible reforms like reducing harsh sentencing laws, slashing prison populations and crime rates, and providing more resources for the thousands of people who are released every week.

President Obama’s record on the issue was far from perfect, but he and his first attorney general, Eric Holder Jr., took several key steps: weakening racially discriminatory sentencing laws, shortening thousands of absurdly long drug sentences, and pulling back on the prosecution of low-level drug offenders and of federal marijuana offenses in states that have legalized it. This approach reflected state-level efforts and sent a message of encouragement to those still leery of reform.

Within minutes of taking office, Mr. Trump turned back the dial, warning darkly in his Inaugural Address of “American carnage,” of cities and towns gutted by crime — even though crime rates are at their lowest in decades. Things only got worse with the confirmation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who, along with Mr. Trump, appears to be stuck in the 1980s, when politicians exploited the public’s fear of rising crime to sell absurdly harsh laws and win themselves re-election. Perhaps that’s why both men seem happy to distort, if not outright lie about, crime statistics that no longer support their narrative.

Last February, Mr. Trump claimed that “the murder rate in our country is the highest it’s been in 47 years.” Wrong: The national rate remains at an all-time low. It’s true that the 10.8 percent increase in murders between 2014 and 2015 was the largest one-year rise in more than four decades, but the total number of murders is still far below what it was in the early 1990s.

 

As bad as the dishonesty is the fact that Mr. Trump and Mr. Sessions have managed to engineer their backward worldview largely under the public’s radar, as a new report from the Brennan Center for Justice documents. Last May, Mr. Sessions ordered federal prosecutors to charge as aggressively as possible in every case — reversing a policy of Mr. Holder’s that had eased up on nonviolent drug offenders and others who fill the nation’s federal prisons. In January, Mr. Sessions rescinded another Obama-era policy that discouraged federal marijuana prosecutions in states where its sale and use are legal. (Mr. Sessions has long insisted, contrary to all available evidence, that marijuana is “a dangerous drug” and “only slightly less awful” than heroin.)

These sorts of moves don’t get much attention, but as the report notes, they could end up increasing the federal prison population, which began to fall for the first time in decades under Mr. Obama.

The reversal of sensible criminal justice reform doesn’t stop there. Under Mr. Trump, the Justice Department has pulled back from his predecessor’s investigations of police abuse and misconduct; resumed the use of private, for-profit prisons; and stopped granting commutations to low-level drug offenders who have spent years or decades behind bars.

Meanwhile, Mr. Sessions, who as a senator was one of the most reliable roadblocks to long-overdue federal sentencing reform, is still throwing wrenches into the works as Congress inches toward a bipartisan deal. Mr. Sessions called the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act, a sweeping bill that would reduce some mandatory-minimum sentences, and that cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, a “grave error.” That earned him a rebuke from the committee’s chairman, Senator Charles Grassley, who pointed out that the attorney general is tasked with enforcing the laws, not writing them. “If General Sessions wanted to be involved in marking up this legislation, maybe he should have quit his job and run for the Republican Senate seat in Alabama,” Mr. Grassley said.

Mr. Grassley is no one’s idea of a justice reformer, but he supports the bill because, he said, it “strikes the right balance of improving public safety and ensuring fairness in the criminal justice system.”

So what has this administration done right? The list is short and uninspiring. In October, Mr. Trump declared the epidemic of opioid abuse a national emergency, which could be a good step toward addressing it — but he’s since done almost nothing to combat a crisis that killed more than 64,000 Americans in 2016.

In his State of the Union address last month, Mr. Trump promised to “embark on reforming our prisons to help former inmates who have served their time get a second chance.” It’s great if he really means that, but it’s hard to square his assurance with his own attorney general’s opposition to a bill that includes recidivism-reduction programs intended to achieve precisely this goal.

Perhaps the most insidious part of the Trump administration’s approach to criminal justice lies in its efforts to link crime to its broader crackdown on immigration. In a speech last month, Mr. Sessions said undocumented immigrants are far more likely than American citizens to commit crimes, a claim he found in a paper by John Lott, the disreputable economist best known for misusing statistics to suit his own ideological ends. In this case, it appears Mr. Lott misread his own data, which came from Arizona and in fact showed the opposite of what he claimed: Undocumented immigrants commit fewer crimes than citizens, as the vast majority of research on the topic has found.

But no matter; Mr. Trump and Mr. Sessions don’t need facts to run their anti-immigrant agenda, which has already resulted in more than double the number of arrests of immigrants with no criminal convictions as in 2016, as the Brennan Center report noted. Soon after taking office, Mr. Trump issued an executive order cutting off federal funding to so-called sanctuary cities, jurisdictions that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration officials. A federal judge blocked the order in November for violating the Constitution.

The rhetoric from the White House and the Justice Department has emboldened some state and local officials to talk tougher, even if just as ignorantly, about crime. The good news is that it’s not working as well anymore. In Virginia’s race for governor last fall, the Republican candidate, Ed Gillespie, attacked his opponent, Ralph Northam, with ads blaming him for violence by the MS-13 gang.

It was a despicable stunt, its fearmongering recalling the racist but effective Willie Horton ad that George H. W. Bush ran on in his successful 1988 presidential campaign. Thankfully, Virginia’s voters overwhelmingly rejected Mr. Gillespie, another sign that criminal justice reform is an issue with strong support across the political spectrum. In the era of Donald Trump, candidates of both parties should be proud to run as reformers — but particularly Democrats, who can cast the issue not only as a central component of a broader progressive agenda, but as yet another example of just how out of touch with the country Mr. Trump and his administration are.”

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

I know it’s quoted above, but two paragraphs of this article deserve re-emphasis:

Perhaps the most insidious part of the Trump administration’s approach to criminal justice lies in its efforts to link crime to its broader crackdown on immigration. In a speech last month, Mr. Sessions said undocumented immigrants are far more likely than American citizens to commit crimes, a claim he found in a paper by John Lott, the disreputable economist best known for misusing statistics to suit his own ideological ends. In this case, it appears Mr. Lott misread his own data, which came from Arizona and in fact showed the opposite of what he claimed: Undocumented immigrants commit fewer crimes than citizens, as the vast majority of research on the topic has found.

But no matter; Mr. Trump and Mr. Sessions don’t need facts to run their anti-immigrant agenda, which has already resulted in more than double the number of arrests of immigrants with no criminal convictions as in 2016, as the Brennan Center report noted. Soon after taking office, Mr. Trump issued an executive order cutting off federal funding to so-called sanctuary cities, jurisdictions that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration officials. A federal judge blocked the order in November for violating the Constitution.

Gonzo consistently uses bogus statistics, fear-mongering, racial innuendo, and outright slurs of immigrants, including Dreamers, and their advocates to advance his White Nationalist agenda at Justice.

At the same time, he largely ignores or proposes laughably inadequate steps to address the real justice problems in America: Russian interference, the opioid crisis, uncontrolled gun violence (much of it involving mass shootings by disgruntled White Guys with assault-type weapons), overcrowded prisons, lack of an effective Federal community-based anti-gang effort in major cities, hate crimes committed by White Supremacists, grotesquely substandard conditions in civil immigration detention, and the uncontrolled backlogs and glaring denials of Due Process and fairness to migrants in our U.S. Immigration Court System.

How long can America go without a real Attorney General who acknowledges the rights of all people in America? How will we ever recover from the damage that Gonzo does every day he remains in the office for which he is so supremely unqualified?

PWS

02-19-18

 

BLACK HISTORY MONTH: LET’S TAKE A LOOK AT TWO STORIES FROM THAT “GREAT ERA OF AMERICA” THAT TRUMP, SESSIONS, MILLER, COTTON, AND THEIR WHITE NATIONALIST PALS LOVE SO MUCH – When White Men Were Supreme, The Law Was There To Keep African Americans in Their Place, Blacks Who Stood Up For Their Rights Were Murdered By The White Police, And Latinos & Women Were “Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind!”

From “John Kelly’s Washington” in the Washington Post:

Stuck on a shelf or locked in a safe, D.C.’s ‘Lost Laws’ still packed a punch

 
Before the Supreme Court upheld the District’s “Lost Laws” in 1953, activists such as Mary Church Terrell (center) picketed in front of segregated restaurants.

Columnist February 14

Martin Luther King Jr. said “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

He could have added: “eventually, and after plenty of detours.”

In 1872 and 1873, two laws were passed in Washington that forbade racial discrimination in the city’s restaurants. Then, somehow, the laws vanished.

Just imagine the reaction when they were “rediscovered” in the 1940s. It must have been as if someone had opened a vault sealed when Ulysses Grant was president and found an airplane inside, a television, penicillin … .

Could Washingtonians from 70 years ago really have been so advanced? What had happened to those people?

What amazed me when I looked into the events of the 1870s and 1880s was how similar things were to the Jim Crow era. Restaurateurs used some of the same excuses for refusing to serve African Americans: Black customers were “boisterous,” white patrons would stay away, the government shouldn’t meddle.

To fight discrimination, black activists used methods that are familiar to us now. Lawyer E.M. Hewlett deliberately visited restaurants to see if he would be served. Hewlett looked to see if owners had posted price lists, as required by law to prevent black customers from being gouged. When he spotted a violation, he took the establishment to court.

In the end, none of it did any good. Why?

“During Reconstruction, D.C. was really on the leading edge of racial change in America,” said Chris Myers Asch, co-author, with George Derek Musgrove, of “Chocolate City: A History of Race and Democracy in the Nation’s Capital.”

Said Asch: “D.C. was a very progressive city. You had remarkable progress being made toward racial equality in a very brief space of time. Black men in D.C. were the first black men in the country to be granted the right to vote after the Civil War.”

Such efforts, Asch said, were a priority for radical Republicans in Congress.

“The backlash from white conservatives is really substantial,” Asch said. “First you eliminate self government all together in 1874. Then you slowly roll back those Reconstruction-era gains. This is part of a regionwide effort to enforce white supremacy. By 1901, when city commissioners decide to compile the D.C. Code, they simply don’t include those Reconstruction-era statutes.”

They didn’t include them, but they didn’t repeal them. The Lost Laws were not dead. They were like a long-dormant seed, ready to spring to life after a refreshing rain.

I don’t know who found them. Asch thinks it was A. Mercer Daniel, who oversaw the library at Howard University’s law school. They gained fame in 1948 with the publication of “Segregation in Washington,” a scathing report that mentioned the laws.

Civil rights activists wondered: Could the laws be used to fight segregation?

Annie Stein, a white woman from Southwest D.C. who was a member of the Progressive Party, invited Mary Church Terrell to chair the Coordinating Committee for the Enforcement of the D.C. Anti-Discrimination Laws of 1872 and 1873. When Terrell, the octogenarian co-founder of the NAACP, was denied service at a downtown cafeteria called Thompson’s in 1950, it set the stage for a test case.

District of Columbia vs. John R. Thompson Co. went first to the old Municipal Court, where Judge Frank Myers ruled that the Lost Laws had “been repealed by implication” and, thus, could no longer be enforced.

Terrell and company appealed. In May of 1951, the Municipal Court of Appeals ruled 2-to-1 that the anti-bias laws were still valid. Among the points raised by Judge Nathan Cayton was that another so-called lost law had been enforced in 1908, even though it, too, had been omitted from the 1901 D.C. Code.

It was an animal cruelty law. Animals, it seemed, had more rights than black Washingtonians.

The game of legal ping-pong continued. The next stop was the U.S. Court of Appeals. In a 5-to-4 decision, it ruled that the laws of 1872 and 1873 could not be enforced.

One judge, Barrett Prettyman, wrote the statutes were “neither mentioned again nor enforced for a period of 75 years.” Thus the laws “must be deemed by the courts to have been abandoned.”

If you’ve been reading my columns this week, you know that wasn’t true. African Americans did mention them and did try to get them enforced.

In April of 1953, the case finally reached the U.S. Supreme Court. Chester H. Gray of the District’s corporation counsel’s office asked the court not to blame his staff. They hadn’t known of the laws until someone found them in the corporation counsel’s safe.

“You mean you have to go to a locked safe to find laws of the District of Columbia?” Chief Justice Fred M. Vinson joked.

In June, the court ruled unanimously that the laws were still in effect. Laws passed by long-dead Washingtonians had helped their descendants.

Five days after the Supreme Court ruling, Terrell went to eat at Thompson’s with the mixed-race group who had been denied a meal three years earlier. They were treated, Terrell said, with courtesy.”

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

Sound all too familiar? It should! The claptrap coming from yesterday’s racists is pretty much the same as the garbage coming out of the mouths of some GOP pols these days. Here’s my “rewrite” of a paragraph of Kelly’s account in “today’s context.”

The backlash from Sessions, Bannon, Kobach, Miller and their White Nationalist pals to the diversification of America and growing political power of African-Americans, Hispanics and other non-Whites was substantial. First, they used gerrymandering and intentional mis-constructions of Civil Rights and Voting Rights statutes intended to protect minorities to instead suppress and minimize the minority vote. This is part to a nationwide effort by the far right to restore White Supremacy and prevent African-Americans and Hispanics from eventually obtaining political power commensurate with their demographics and overwhelming contributions to America. Then, when supposedly in charge of administering the laws equally, they simply refuse to recognize the rights of African-Americans to be free from police violence and the rights of Hispanics and asylum seekers in the United States to be treated with respect and dignity and to be given full Due Process under our Constitution. They even invent false narratives, bogus statistics, and demonize hard-working law-abiding citizens, residents, and great and deserving young people known as “Dreamers” in a desperate effort to restore exclusive White (preferably “pseudo-Christian”) power. To add insult to injury, they carry out this anti-American, anti-Constitutional campaign under the boldly false rubric of “Restoring the Rule of Law.”

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

Now let’s move over to the Post’s Sports Section. Here’s an account of what happened to courageous African-American athletes who stood up for their rights and the rights of others during the “glory days” of White Supremacy that Trump, Sessions, & Co. so cherish and honor.

Remembering the Orangeburg massacre, and the athlete-activists who took a stand 


Two black demonstrators killed in the Orangeburg Massacre lie on the ground at the edge of South Carolina State College in Orangeburg, S.C., on Feb. 8, 1968. (ASSOCIATED PRESS)
February 13

Robert Lee Davis found himself lying in blood next to his teammate Sam Hammond. At least one bullet had struck Davis in the back. Another went in Hammond’s neck.

Davis recalled in an oral history that Hammond, a running back at South Carolina State, asked him, “Do you think I’m going to live?” Davis, a linebacker, said he answered, “Sam, you are going to be all right, buddy.”

Hammond was the first of three young black men to die that night 50 years ago in Orangeburg, S.C. Davis was one of several football players at historically black South Carolina State to survive a hail of police fire with injuries.

What brought them together that Feb. 8, 1968, evening was not a team meeting or the training table. Instead, it was a call to confront a wrong, an affront, an act of overt racial discrimination in Orangeburg at a bowling alley that refused would-be black bowlers just like the state was denying black citizens their human rights.

As a result, Davis and Hammond became athlete-activists long before we created the suddenly ubiquitous, if not trite, alliterative phrase these days to describe football and basketball players, almost all of color, who have, by comparison, merely sported sloganeering T-shirts, or employed histrionics, to demonstrate against racial injustice.

It is a noble and laudable effort, of course. But what we’ve come to champion of athletes today pales juxtaposed to what so many did in the cauldron of the late ’60s civil rights movement. Davis and Hammond, for example, dared to physically confront the very embodiment of the South’s recalcitrant racists — scores of carbine rifle-toting, all-white state troopers — for which Hammond forfeited not just his career but his life.

They were among at least 30 victims of what became known as the Orangeburg massacre.

I was reminded of it three years ago as a presenter at the annual Media and Civil Rights symposium at the University of South Carolina. It included a mesmerizing panel featuring a demonstrator that night, civil rights icon and scholar Cleveland Sellers, and a reporter who became legendary for his fearless coverage of the massacre and other civil rights movement era violence, Jack Bass. With Jack Nelson, awarded a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on the civil rights movement, Bass authored “The Orangeburg Massacre” in 1970.

And I took note that the panelists, particularly Oliver Francis, a one-time baseball player at Voorhees, another historically black South Carolina college, pointed out that black male athletes in particular stepped to the fore in Orangeburg’s deadly confrontation with white supremacy, and in others. Francis wound up convicted and sentenced to prison for 18 to 24 months as an organizer in an armed black student takeover in 1969 of the Voorhees administration building.

It all reminded that black athletes played not just pivotal roles in the civil rights movement, like the muscle North Carolina A&T football players provided for their classmates engaged in sit-ins to desegregate the Greensboro, N.C., Woolworth’s lunch counter. Or in Rock Hill, S.C., where 10 black Friendship College students were detained by police for trying to desegregate a town lunch counter in 1961 but became known as the Rock Hill Nine after one among them wasn’t booked so he could maintain his athletic scholarship. Chicago Bears running back Willie Galimore was the test black registrant at the Ponce de Leon Motor Lodge in St. Augustine, Fla., that became a flash point for desegregation fights in 1964.

And as was evidenced in Orangeburg, black athletes sometimes were even in the vanguard of protests. Samuel Freedman underscored as much in recounting the Orangeburg massacre in his 2014 book, “Breaking the Line: The Season in Black College Football That Transformed the Sport and Changed the Course of Civil Rights.”

Freedman wrote: “Shortly after the 1967 football season ended, many of the politically engaged members of the South Carolina State team joined in protests against a segregated bowling alley near the campus in Orangeburg.” On Feb. 6, 1968, Freedman reported, Davis and several of his teammates went on their own to the bowling alley and not only were denied admittance but were threatened with arrest by city police for disturbing the peace. Other students eventually joined the football players, objected to the police threats and wound up defending themselves from swinging billy clubs.

Two nights later, Freedman stated, “an all-white force of state troopers opened fire on the student demonstrators, killing three and wounding twenty-eight. Among the dead was one football player . . . Hammond. Several other players were injured by gunfire, one of them temporarily paralyzed.”

Davis was that temporarily paralyzed victim.

The student survivors of the massacre refused, however, to be deterred and allow the killings of Hammond, fellow student Henry Smith and high school football player Delano Middleton to be in vain. They organized a march from campus to the state capital 42 miles away to demand justice. Athletes decided to lead the march by running the distance.

“The four young men who approached me about the run were all track and field distance runners,” Willis Ham, a South Carolina State baseball player at the time, told the (Orangeburg, S.C.) Times and Democrat five years ago. “Three of the young men were not of American descent, and they simply wanted to express their disgust for the way Americans ‘treat their own,’ with the one tool that they had to their credit [the ability to run].

“We wanted our fellow students to know how deeply we felt about their determination to go to Columbia [S.C.], and express to state officials how they really felt about the lack of support in the days leading to the massacre.”

“It gave us a chance to say that our spirits and drive for freedom from depression would never be destroyed,” Ham explained.

The white troopers who fired on the students were exonerated in a trial a year later. The lone conviction from the incident was of Sellers for incitement. He spent seven months in prison. He was pardoned in 1993.

But what Hammond, the football player, first fell for is forever remembered on South Carolina State’s campus. Its basketball arena that opened that fateful day, Feb. 8, 1968, was renamed the Smith-Hammond-Middleton Memorial Center.

Kevin B. Blackistone, ESPN panelist and visiting professor at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland, writes sports commentary for The Post.”

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

We should all be appalled that in the 21st Century, folks like Trump, Sessions, Miller, Cotton, and others who think that it’s “OK” and “permissible” to whip up false anti-Hispanic fervor with bogus narratives about rampant crime, imaginary “stolen” jobs, and phantom “adverse effects” of legal immigration have weaseled their way into positions of national power and prominence.

They seek to take America backwards to a bygone era of racial injustice and manufactured hate. Don’t let them get away with it! Ballot boxes were made to “retire” the Trumps, Sessions, and Cottons of the world and send them off to try to make an honest living.

PWS

02-16-18

MEET THE GOOD GUYS: NOVA SUPERSTAR IMMIGRATION ATTORNEY AVA BENACH HELPS “DREAMER TYPES” & THEY HELP AMERICA – THIS IS THE WAY THE SYSTEM CAN WORK WHEN YOU GET BEYOND THE WHITE NATIONALIST XENOPHOBIA OF TRUMP, SESSIONS, & MILLER & WHEN GREAT LAWYERS GET INVOLVED!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/she-was-almost-deported-as-a-teen-now-she-helps-frightened-versions-of-herself/2018/02/15/b39969a8-1245-11e8-9065-e55346f6de81_story.html

Petula Dvorak writes in the Washington Post:

“She was almost deported as a teen. Now she helps frightened versions of herself.


Liana Montecinos is a senior paralegal at Benach Collopy in Washington. She was 17 and about to be deported when lawyer Ava Benach helped her win asylum. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)

Columnist February 15 at 3:39 PM

On many days in the shiny, sleek law office — in her sharp suit and sweeping view of Washington — she revisits all the horrors most people would want to forget:

The drunk men bursting into her tiny, adobe home at night, terrorizing the 15 children who lived there.

The walk across three countries, fearing for her life the entire way.

The months of eating nothing but beans and rice.

These are the same stories Liana Montecinos hears just about every time the 29-year-old paralegal sits down with a client.

Ava Benach, from left, Satsita Muradova and Liana Montecinos chat at their law office. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)

She doesn’t have to go there. She’s an American citizen and a third-year law student with a great future in front of her. But instead of going into something lucrative — corporate law, for example — she’s sticking with the law firm that helped her get political asylum.

“Being an immigrant and serving immigrants, it’s a very special connection,” Montecinos said.

And by doing that, she spends her days with frightened versions of herself.

I wanted to tell Montecinos’s story as Congress grapples with the fate of 1.8 million “dreamers,” the undocumented immigrants who were brought to this country as children. They face deportation under President Trump unless Congress can find a way to reinstate the protection they were given by President Barack Obama.

Montecinos was brought across the border by a relative in 1999, when she was 11 years old, after walking — yes, actually walking — from Honduras, across Guatemala, then across Mexico, crossing the Rio Grande into the United States.

She joined her mother in Northern Virginia — they had been separated since she was an infant and she had been raised by her grandmother — and her life was transformed.

She played volleyball and basketball in her Falls Church high school. She was a cheerleader and soccer player. She took Advanced Placement classes.

But no matter how well she was doing in school and no matter how faint her accent became, she knew it could all fall apart any second.

And it nearly did when she was 17 and applied for legal status. Instead, the government began removal proceedings. She was going to be deported.

But it didn’t stop her from graduating from high school and enrolling at George Mason University, where she received a scholarship to cover the triple-tuition she had to pay as an undocumented student.

The scholarship’s donor — Helen Ackerman — introduced Montecinos to D.C. immigration attorney Ava Benach, who took on her complex case. What followed was a 10-year struggle.

“I met Liana when she was 17 years old,” Benach said. “And I knew she was special. She was out there, trying to figure out her own immigration status. I felt a very parental desire to help her.”

So they took on the case together, with Montecinos never giving up.

“I’d be doing an all-nighter, knowing I had a hearing the next day and the judge could send me away and it would all be for nothing,” she said.

But she kept studying, striving and working. You know how folks are always saying “Why don’t they just get legal?” It’s not that easy.

It took 10 years of hearings and arguments to convince a judge that she faced threats and violence in Honduras, in that tiny, adobe house, and that her hard work in school, model citizenship and potential were enough to grant her a place in American society.

Asylum is granted only to someone who faces persecution in their home country. And that persecution has to be for one of five reasons: your race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or your political opinion.

“It has to fit in one of five boxes,” Benach said. And her life’s work is helping her frightened clients qualify.

Montecinos was granted asylum and citizenship on June 29, 2016.

“For many, becoming a U.S. citizen is the last part of the process,” Montecinos wrote on her Facebook page that day. “For others, like myself, it is the beginning to end 16 plus years of uncertainty and of fear of a forceful return to imminent harm.”

She called herself “extremely blessed and thankful for such a privilege, which is denied to many,” she said. “This path, however, was not easy. It was not short. It was not cheap.”

She is in her third year of law school at the University of the District of Columbia, where she received a Student Humanitarian and Civic Engagement award on Thursday.

In her spare time, you see, she runs a nonprofit group she founded, United for Social Justice, which helps low-income, first-generation Americans get access to higher education. Oh, and she coaches and plays on a bunch of soccer teams.

When she meets with the undocumented children who are like her, the ones she is fighting for, it reminds her of her struggle.

Though her own story is horrible — think of being 11 and scared, hiding your face with blankets as you cross strange villages where people are yelling “pollos mojados” (wet chickens) at you, not knowing where you’re going — her clients recount even more heart-stopping stories.

She hears from children who were kidnapped, who rode for days on top of speeding trains, afraid to fall asleep because they’d fall off, from a little girl who was gang-raped in front of her father.”

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

Ava has a “Major League” legal mind to go with a “heart of gold!” She and her colleagues from her firm appeared on many occasions before me at the Arlington Immigration Court.

This article aptly illustrates one of the points I often make.  Asylum law has intentionally been “jacked” against Central Americans by a non-independent BIA working under pressure from politicos to limit protections to large groups. Nevertheless, with a good lawyer (e.g., one who isn’t afraid to argue the BIA’s — often otherwise ignored — favorable precedents back to them and to take wrong BIA denials to the Court of Appeals if necessary), resources to build and document a case, and persistence, most of the “Dreamers” probably could win some type of relief in Immigration Court if not at the Asylum Office or elsewhere at USCIS.

But, what rational reason could there be for forcing folks like Liana Montecinos who are already here, part of our society, and just want to become taxpaying citizens and REALLY “Make America Great” (not to be confused with the disingenuous racist slogan of Trump and his White Nationalist “base”) go through such a laborious process? And what possible rationale could there be for wasting the time of an already overburdened Immigration Court system with cases of individuals who clearly should be welcomed and accepted into American society without being placed in “Removal Proceedings?” Also, what would be the rationale for trying to artificially “speed up” complex cases like Liana’s and trying to make life difficult for talented lawyers like Ava?

The answer is clear: there is NO rationale for the “Gonzo” Immigration enforcement and “designed chaos and attack on Due Process in Immigration Court” that Trump, Miller, Sessions, Nielsen, Tom Homan and their ilk are trying to ram down our throats. Sessions is the problem for justice in our Immigration Courts; lawyers like Ava are a key part of the solution! Clearly, the U.S. Immigration Courts are too important to our system of justice to be left in the clutches of a biased, “enforcement only,” White Nationalist, xenophobic opponent of individual due process like Jeff Sessions! American needs an independent Article I U.S. Immigration Court! Harm to the least and most vulnerable among us is harm to all!

The good news is that folks like Ava and her fellow “Generals” of the “New Due Process Army” are out there to fight Trump, Sessions & Company and their White Nationalist, anti-American actions every step of the way and to vindicate the Constitutional and legal rights of great American migrants like Liliana and millions of others similarly situated. They are “American’s future!” Trump, Sessions, Miller, et al., are the ugly past of America that all decent Americans should be committed to “putting in the rear-view mirror” where the “Trumpsters” live and belong! And, it won’t be long before Liliana becomes an attorney and a “full-fledged member” of the “New Due Process Army!”

Go Ava! Go Liliana! Due Process Forever! 

PWS

02-16-18

 

HUMAN RIGHTS FIRST – JOIN THE BATTLE – TELL YOUR SENATORS TO ”JUST SAY NO” TO ADMINISTRATION’S SLEAZY WHITE NATIONALIST ATTACK ON HUMAN RIGHTS, DREAMERS, AND HUMAN DECENCY!

Human Rights First - American Ideals. Universal Values.
Paul,

The Dreamers—immigrants brought to the United States as children—have become the quintessential political football. And today, the battle continues.

The Senate will vote on bills today to protect the Dreamers, but many of them include inhumane provisions that would turn our backs on asylum seekers—some of the most vulnerable individuals in the world.

President Trump and his allies are using Dreamers, asylum seekers, and refugees as bargaining chips to pursue extreme immigration restrictions.

Take Action Now

Under the Trump Administration, the United States is turning away migrants at the border, restricting their ability to seek asylum, and increasing criminal prosecutions. And today, the Senate may vote to expand these cruel practices further, punishing refugees fleeing violence and prosecution, and families left in harm’s way.

Join with us and call on your senators to stand firm on protections for refugees, asylum seekers, and families.

Sincerely,

Jennifer Quigley

Advocacy Strategist

On human rights, the United States must be a beacon. America is strongest when our policies and actions match our values.
Human Rights First - American Ideals. Universal Values.
Human Rights First is an independent advocacy and action organization that challenges America to live up to its ideals. We believe American leadership is essential in the struggle for human rights so we press the U.S. government and private companies to respect human rights and the rule of law. When they don’t, we step in to demand reform, accountability and justice. Around the world, we work where we can best harness American influence to secure core freedoms.

Human Rights First
New York: 75 Broad Street, 31st Floor, New York, NY 10004
Washington: 805 15th Street, NW, Suite 900, Washington, DC 20005
Houston: 1303 San Jacinto Street, 9th Floor, Houston, TX 77002
Los Angeles: 333 South Hope Street, 43rd Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90071
www.humanrightsfirst.org | Click here to unsubscribe | Click here to signup

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

Click on “Take Action Now” to stop the White Nationalist assault on American Values and Human Rights.  “Harm to one, is harm to all.” 

“We can diminish ourselves as a Nation, but that won’t stop human migration!”

PWS

02-15-18

DREAMERS: THE UGLY TRUTH COMES OUT — ADMINISTRATION UNLEASHES AN ALL-OUT XENOPHOBIC, WHITE NATIONALIST, “GONZO” “FACT-FREE” ATTACK ON DREAMERS, IMMIGRANTS, AND AMERICA’S FUTURE IN A DESPERATE ATTEMPT TO UNDERMINE BIPARTISAN IMMIGRATION REFORM! – Tal @ CNN Reports!

“White House goes all out to stop bipartisan immigration deal

By Tal Kopan, CNN

The Trump administration is working Thursday to kill a bipartisan deal on immigration that could be the best chance to get a bill through the Senate.

The White House is “actively considering issuing a veto threat” against the bipartisan immigration bill Thursday morning, a senior administration official said.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions derided the legislation in remarks to a national sheriff’s association.

“This is open borders and mass amnesty and the opposite of what the American people support,” Sessions claimed about the bill, according to prepared remarks. “This amendment — plain as day — will invite a mad rush of illegality across our borders.”

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen is also making calls to lawmakers to urge them to reject the bill, or potentially even revoke their sponsorship of it, according to an administration official.

And in a statement released late Wednesday night, the Department of Homeland Security had tough words for the plan, calling it “the end of immigration enforcement in America.”

The legislation from a group of 16 bipartisan senators would offer nearly 2 million young undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children before 2012 a path to citizenship over 10 to 12 years.

The plan would also place $25 billion in a guarded trust for border security, would cut a small number of green cards each year for adult children of current green card holders, and would prevent parents from being sponsored for citizenship by their US citizen children if that child gained citizenship through the pathway created in the bill or if they brought the child to the US illegally.

The administration statements riled up co-sponsors of the bill, who said the White House and allies have “lost credibility” by criticizing a bipartisan agreement.

“With their press release this morning, it seems as if DHS is intent on acting less like a partner and more like an adversary,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina. “Instead of offering thoughts and advice — or even constructive criticism — they are acting more like a political organization intent on poisoning the well. From the tone of this morning’s document, it appears as if DHS hopes all border security proposals fail. That would be the worst outcome of all.”

One provision the Department of Homeland Security particularly objected to would direct it to focus its arrests and deportations on criminals and newly arrived immigrants. The Trump administration has virtually removed all prioritization of arresting and deporting immigrants. It has targeted individuals with final deportation orders, some years and decades old, drawing criticism for deporting longtime members of communities with US citizen families.

“The Schumer-Rounds-Collins proposal destroys the ability of the men and women from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to remove millions of illegal aliens,” DHS said in a statement. “It would be the end of immigration enforcement in America and only serve to draw millions more illegal aliens with no way to remove them.

“The changes proposed by Senators Schumer-Rounds-Collins would effectively make the United States a Sanctuary Nation where ignoring the rule of law is encouraged,” the agency added.

President Donald Trump has backed a plan to give 1.8 million undocumented people who came to the US as children citizenship with $25 billion in border security, host of hardline enforcement power requests, substantially cutting family-based migration and ending the diversity visa lottery.

DHS called the bipartisan proposal an “egregious violation” of what the President has wanted.

The White House proposal has been introduced by Republican senators and is expected to be well below the 60 votes needed to advance.

Both proposals are expected to get a vote in the Senate on Thursday.”

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

Hang tough, Dems! Don’t sell out to outrageous lies, racism, and xenophobia!

PWS

02-15-18

FORMER GOVERNMENT IMMIGRATION EXECUTIVES (INCLUDING ME) FILE AMICUS BRIEF IN HAMAMA V. HOMAN IN 6TH CIRCUIT (“The Iraqi Christian Case”)

Here’s a copy of the brief prepared by Michael P. Doss, Esquire, of Sidley & Austin, Chicago IL:

Filed stamped copy of amicus brief

HERE’S THE INTRODUCTION  SETTING FORTH “THE PLAYERS:”

IDENTITY AND INTEREST OF AMICI CURIAE

Amici have served in the U.S. Department of Justice and senior positions in the federal agencies charged with enforcement of U.S. immigration laws, and in those capacities have played substantial roles in the development, implementation, and adjudication of federal immigration policy and laws. Amici thus have an interest in this case, and in the just and efficient operation of the U.S. immigration enforcement system.

Mónica Ramírez Almadani served in the U.S. Department of Justice as Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division from 2009 to 2012, and as Deputy Chief of Staff and Senior Counsel to the Deputy Attorney General from 2011 to 2012, during which time she, among other things, advised on immigration

1 Amici submit this brief pursuant to Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 29(a)(2). The parties have consented to the filing of this brief. Amici further state, pursuant to Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 29(a)(4)(E), that no counsel for a party authored this brief in whole or in part, and no person other than the amicus curiae or their counsel made a monetary contribution intended to fund the preparation or submission of this brief.

1

Case: 17-2171 Document: 43 Filed: 02/12/2018 Page: 6

policy and litigation and worked closely with the Executive Office of Immigration Review.

Seth Grossman served as Chief of Staff to the General Counsel of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) from 2010 to 2011, as Deputy General Counsel of DHS from 2011 to 2013, and as Counselor to the Secretary of Homeland Security in 2013.

Stephen Legomsky served as Chief Counsel of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services from 2011 to 2013, and as Senior Counselor to the Secretary of Homeland Security in 2015.

Leon Rodriguez served as Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services from 2013 to 2017.

John Sandweg served as the Acting Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) in 2013 and 2014, and as the Acting General Counsel of DHS from 2012 to 2013.

Paul Wickham Schmidt served as an Immigration Judge for the U.S. Immigration Court from May 2003 until his retirement from the bench in June 2016. Before his Immigration Judge appointment, Judge Schmidt served as a Board Member and Board Chairman for the Board

of Immigration Appeals, Executive Office for Immigration Review, from 2

Case: 17-2171 Document: 43 Filed: 02/12/2018 Page: 7

1995 until 2003. Judge Schmidt also served as acting General Counsel of the former Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) from 1979 to 1981 and again from 1986 to 1987, and as the Deputy General Counsel of INS from 1978 to 1987.

As former leaders of the nation’s primary immigration agencies and the U.S. Department of Justice, and a former longtime Immigration Judge, amici are familiar with the operation of the United States immigration enforcement system. Amici support the district court’s preliminary injunction order and urge this Court to affirm that decision. Amici focus here on two issues before this Court: (i) first, whether the “motion to reopen” process currently available before our immigration courts provides Petitioners with an “adequate and effective” substitute for habeas relief; and (ii) second, whether the public interest is served by briefly staying enforcement of removal orders regarding these Iraqi nationals so that the immigration courts have a fair opportunity to review their claims.

3

Case: 17-2171 Document: 43 Filed: 02/12/2018 Page: 8

Based on our experience helping to lead the federal agencies charged with enforcement of U.S. immigration laws, we are compelled to conclude that the district court reached the correct conclusion on both these issues. In particular, without the “breathing room” provided by the district court’s temporary stay of removal, our overburdened immigration courts are unable to provide an adequate and effective remedy for Petitioners having valid claims for protection from removal due to the likelihood they face persecution or torture on return to Iraq. In addition, given the clearly established changed circumstances in Iraq, which show that the Petitioners would have an objective well- founded fear of persecution if forced to return, the district court’s order furthers the public interest by affording aliens threatened with persecution on removal to Iraq a meaningful opportunity to have these claims heard. The some-1,400 Iraqi nationals impacted by the district court’s order represent a drop in the bucket compared to those subject to removal each year by immigration authorities, and a temporary stay of their removal to allow immigration courts time to assess their claims will not undermine the United States’ immigration enforcement system.

\

AND, HERE’S AN OUTLINE OF THE ARGUMENT:

ARGUMENT ……………………………………………………………………………….. 5

I.  The District Court Was Correct In Finding That, Under Current Circumstances, The Immigration Courts Do Not Provide Petitioners with Adequate and Effective Alternatives To Habeas Relief…………………….5

A.  The Immigration Courts System ……………………….. 5

B.  Our Immigration Courts Are Overburdened and Underfunded………………………………………………………. 6

C.  Emergency Stay Motions before Our Immigration Courts Do Not Currently Offer Petitioners an Adequate and Effective Alternative Remedy …..10

II. Allowing Petitioners Time to Obtain Review of Their Motions To Reopen Is In the Public Interest and Will Not Unreasonably Interfere with Immigration Enforcement ……………………………………………………………..15

A.  The United States has a Strong Interest In Protecting from Removal Those Petitioners Who Will Face Persecution or Torture in Iraq…………15

B.  The District Court’s Order Will Not Interfere With the United States’ Immigration Enforcement Scheme………………………………………..18

CONCLUSION…………………………………………………………………………… 21

CERTIFICATE OF COMPLIANCE…………………………………………….23

CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE…………………………………………………….24

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

Many thanks to my “Fellow Amici” and to Michael Doss & his team at Sidley & Austin for a “Super Outstanding Job!” May Due Process prevail!!!!

PWS

02-14-18

 

JAMES HOHMANN @ WASHPOST DAILY 202 — TRUMP, GOP DON’T APPEAR SERIOUS ABOUT PROTECTING DREAMERS OR IMMIGRATION REFORM — RATHER, SEEK WAYS TO ADVANCE INTENTIONALLY DIVISIVE, RACIALLY BIASED, “FACT-FREE” WHITE NATIONALIST AGENDA! — Plus, My Point By Point Analysis Of Why The Democrats Should “Hang Tough” On A Dreamer Deal!

Hohmann reports:

THE BIG IDEA: Democrats are so eager to shield young foreign-born “dreamers” from deportation that they’re now offering to make compromises that would have been hard to imagine a year ago. Republicans, who feel like they have them over the barrel, are demanding more.

Showing his pragmatic side, for instance, Bernie Sanders says he’s willing to pony up big for border security if that’s what it takes. “I would go much further than I think is right,” the Vermont senator said in an interview Tuesday afternoon. “Unwillingly. Unhappily. I think it’s a stupid thing to do. But we have to protect the dreamers. … I’m willing to make some painful concessions.”

Sanders said a wall is still a “totally absurd idea” and that there are better ways to secure the border with Mexico, but he also emphasized that there will be “a horrible moral stain” on the country if President Trump goes through with his order to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program next month.

— Anti-immigration hardliners are staking out a firm position because most of them are not actually concerned about the plight of the dreamers. They have never thought these young people, whose undocumented parents brought them to the United States as children, should be here anyway. They agitated for Trump to end the program.

This means they’ll be fine if no bill passes, and they know that gives them way more leverage to demand wholesale changes to the entire legal immigration system. “The president’s framework bill is not an opening bid for negotiations. It’s a best and final offer,” said Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), who has emerged as the leader of this group in the Senate. He made this comment yesterday on “Fox and Friends,” knowing the president watches. Sure enough, Trump echoed the same talking point on Twitter, calling this the “last chance” for action.

— Mitch McConnell wants to use this week’s immigration debate to force show votes that can be used to embarrass vulnerable Democratic senators from red states. For example, the majority leader introduced a measure yesterday that would penalize so-called sanctuary cities for not cooperating with federal immigration laws. This issue tests well in polls and focus groups in most of the 10 states Trump carried in 2016 where a Democrat is now up for reelection. GOP insiders on the Hill say that McConnell is mainly focused on doing whatever it takes to protect his majority now that 2018 has arrived, and he has a narrower majority after the loss in Alabama.

— Democrats stuck together to block the Senate from taking up the poison pill on sanctuary cities, but the fact that the debate has so quickly devolved into a fight over process offered another data point – if for some reason you needed one – of how dysfunctional the Senate has become.

Trump urges senators to back his immigration proposal

— “Most Republicans on Tuesday appeared to be rallying behind a proposal by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) and six other GOP senators that fulfills Trump’s calls to legalize 1.8 million dreamers, immediately authorizes spending at least $25 billion to bolster defenses along the U.S.-Mexico border, makes changes to family-based legal immigration programs and ends a diversity lottery system used by immigrants from smaller countries,” Ed O’Keefe reports. Senate Minority Leader Chuck “Schumer said the Grassley plan unfairly targets family-based immigration and that making such broad changes as part of a plan to legalize just a few million people ‘makes no sense.’

In a bid to soften Trump’s proposals and win over Democrats, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) unveiled a watered-down version of the GOP proposal — but had not won support from members of either party by late Tuesday. Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), a longtime proponent of comprehensive immigration changes, said the Grassley proposal should be the focus of the Senate’s debate. … Schumer and other Democrats, meanwhile, voiced support for a plan by Sens. Christopher A. Coons (D-Del.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) that would grant legal status to dreamers in the country since 2013 but would not immediately authorize money to build out southern border walls and fencing.”

— Democrats would like to pass a narrow bill that only protects DACA recipients, but they know that’s not possible with Republicans in control of Congress and the presidency. To get the 60 votes needed to break a filibuster, they’re conceding on at least some of Trump’s demands related to security. Sanders said there are between 55 to 57 votes for a compromise that would save the dreamers and fund border protections. “We are scrambling now for three to five more votes,” he said.

— The Senate will convene at 10 a.m. to continue debate, as negotiations behind the scenes continue. Somewhat counterintuitively, conservative hardliners believe that Latinos will be less likely to turn out this November if nothing passes in Congress because activists will blame Democrats for not delivering.

Bernie Sanders heads to a Democratic caucus meeting in the Capitol. (Oliver Contreras for The Washington Post)

Bernie Sanders heads to a Democratic caucus meeting in the Capitol. (Oliver Contreras for The Washington Post)

— Despite concerted efforts by Trump and McConnell to drive a wedge through the Democratic caucus, there remains a remarkable degree of unity. This highlights how much the terms of the immigration debate have shifted over the past decade. Every Democrat in Congress now wants to protect DACA recipients. It wasn’t always this way. The House passed a Dream Act in 2010 that would have allowed undocumented immigrants to apply for citizenship if they entered the United States as children, graduated from high school or got an equivalent degree, and had been in the United States for at least five years. Five moderate Democrats in the Senate voted no. If each of them had supported it, the bill would have become law, and DACA would have been unnecessary. Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) is the only one of those five Democrats still left. (The others retired or lost.) Now Tester speaks out against the president’s decision to end DACA. (I explored this dynamic in-depth last September.)

Sanders marveled during our interview at how much the polling has shifted in recent years toward protecting dreamers, with some public surveys showing that as many 90 percent of Americans don’t think they should be deported. The share who think they should also have a pathway to become U.S. citizens has also risen. “If we talked a year or two ago, I’m not sure I would have thought that would be possible,” he said.

Hillary Clinton relentlessly attacked Bernie during the debates in 2016 for voting to kill comprehensive immigration reform in 2007. Sanders – working closely with some of the leading unions – expressed concern back then that the bill would drive down wages for native-born workers by flooding the labor market with cheap foreign workers. This position caused him problems with Hispanics during his presidential bid.

Sanders rejects the idea that his views have changed since 2007, and he still defends his 11-year-old vote. He noted that the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) opposed that bill, as did the Southern Poverty Law Center, because it included a guest worker program that was “akin to slavery.” He said he remains just as concerned about guest worker programs as he was back then, but that he’s always favored a comprehensive solution that includes legal protections for the more than 11 million undocumented immigrants who live here. “You can say you support immigration reform, but obviously the devil is in the details on what that means,” the senator explained. “I stood with progressive organizations who said you don’t want to bring indentured servitude.”

Sanders criticized a guest worker program in his home state that allows resorts to hire ski instructors from Europe instead of native Vermonters. “Now do you not think we can find young people in Vermont who know how to ski and snowboard? But if you go to some of the resorts, that’s what you would find,” he said. “When I was a kid, we worked at summer jobs to help pay for college. … So I think we want to take a hard look at guest worker programs. Some of them remain very unfair.”

— After coming surprisingly close to toppling Clinton and winning the Democratic nomination two years ago, Sanders is at or near the top of the pack in every poll of potential 2020 primary match-ups. He’s going to Des Moines next Friday for a rally with congressional candidate Pete D’Alessandro, his first visit to Iowa this year. Sanders will also go to Wisconsin for Randy Bryce, who is running against Speaker Paul Ryan, and Illinois, where he’ll boost Chuy Garcia’s bid for retiring Rep. Luis Gutierrez’s open seat. A few weeks after that, he plans a tour of the Southwest. “I’m going to do everything I can to help people in 2018,” Sanders said.

Lobbying for their lives

— Republicans have gone the other direction. Before Trump came on the scene, the party was divided but GOP elites agreed that, for the long-term survival of the party, they needed to embrace more inclusive policies. Losses in 2012 prompted many Senate Republicans to endorse a comprehensive bill the next year (Sanders voted for it too), but the legislation was doomed in the House after Majority Leader Eric Cantor went down in a Virginia primary partly because of his perceived softness on the issue.

Elected Republicans used to insist adamantly that they were not anti-immigration but anti-illegal immigration. That’s changed. At the behest of Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Republicans are rallying around the idea of dramatic reductions in legal immigration. Two years ago, this was an extreme idea that most GOP senators would have quickly distanced themselves from. Now it’s considered mainstream and the centerpiece of the bill that McConnell has rallied his members behind.

To put it in perspective: By cutting the rate of legal immigration, Trump’s proposal – codified in Grassley’s bill — would delay the date that white Americans become a minority of the population by as many as five additional years, according to expert analysis.

“What’s very sad, but not unusual given the moment we’re living in, is that Republicans are more concerned about their right-wing, extremist, xenophobic base,” said Sanders. “You would think that, with 85 to 90 percent of people supporting protections for the dreamers, that it would not take a profile in courage to pass legislation to protect them.”

Kelly: ‘Dreamers’ who didn’t sign up for DACA were ‘too afraid’ or ‘too lazy’

— A dual-track fight over DACA is playing out in the courts. A federal judge in New York issued a preliminary injunction last night that keeps the program alive beyond Trump’s March 5 deadline so that legal challenges can play out. “A federal judge in California has issued a similar injunction, and the Supreme Court is expected this week to consider whether it will take up the fight over DACA,” Matt Zapotosky reports.

U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis recognized that Trump “indisputably” has the authority to end the program put in place by Barack Obama, but he also called the administration’s arguments that DACA was unconstitutional and illegal under federal law flimsy. “Because that conclusion was erroneous, the decision to end the DACA program cannot stand,” he wrote.

— Happy Valentine’s Day. Don’t forget to get a gift.

— What I’m especially excited about this morning is baseball. Pitchers and catchers are reporting for spring tr

Listen to James’s quick summary of today’s Big Idea and the headlines you need to know to start your day:

 

 

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

Contrary to most of the “chatter,” I think that the Dreamers and the Democrats have the upper hand in this one. I’ll tell you why below!

A “border security package,” could involve the Wall, technology and much needed management improvements at DHS (but certainly no additional detention money — stop the “New American Gulag” — or personnel for the Border Patrol until they full current vacancies and account for how they are currently are deploying agents).

Beyond that, the Dems probably could agree to a reallocation of diversity and some preference visas while maintaining current legal immigration levels. Cutting legal immigration levels, eliminating family immigration, or authorizing further denials of due process (the totally bogus and essentially evil claim that the current already inadequate protections for children and other vulnerable migrant’s are “loopholes”) should be “non-starters.”

If they can’t get the deal they want, the Dems can walk away and still win for the Dreamers in the long run. Here is why:

  • I doubt that Trump would actually veto a compromise bill passed by both Houses that protected Dreamers without his full “Four Pillars of White Nationalism” program.
    • If he does, any Democrat who can’t make Trump and the GOP pay for such a dumb move in the next election cycle doesn’t deserve to be a Democrat.
    • The “full Dreamer protection” trade for border security with no other changes should be a “no brainer.” If Trump or the GOP “tank” it over the restrictionist agenda, the Democrats should be able to make them pay at the polls.
  • Right now, the Administration is under two injunctions halting the repeal of the “core DACA” program.
    • If the Supremes don’t intervene, that issue could be tied up in the lower Federal Courts for years.
      • It’s very clear that the Administration’s current position is ultimately a loser before the lower Federal Courts.
      • If the Administration tries to “short-circuit” the process by going through APA to promulgate a regulation to terminate DACA, that process also is likely to be successfully challenged in the Federal Courts.
        • The so-called “legal rationale” that Sessions has invoked for ending DACA has literally been “laughed out of court.”
        • Trump himself has said that there is really no reason to remove Dreamers from the U.S.
        • So, on  the merits, an attempt to terminate DACA by regulation probably would be held “without any legal or rational basis” by the lower Federal Courts.
  • Even if the Supremes give the “green light” to terminate DACA, most “Dreamers” by now have plausible cases for other forms of relief.
    • Many DACA recipients have never been in removal proceedings. If they have been here for at least 10 years, have clean criminal backgrounds, and have spouses or children who are U.S. citizens they can apply for “cancellation of removal.”
    • “Former DACA” recipients appear to be a “particular social group” for asylum and withholding of removal purposes. They are “particularized,  the characteristic of having DACA revoked is “immutable,” and they are highly “socially distinct.”  Many of them come from countries with abysmal human rights records and ongoing, directed violence. They therefore would have plausible asylum or withholding claims, or claims under the Convention Against Torture (“CAT”).
    • If ICE tries to use information voluntarily given by the Dreamers during the application process to establish removability or for any other adverse reason, that is likely to provoke a challenge that will be successful in at least some lower Federal Courts.
  • Safety in numbers.
    • There is nothing that Trump, Sessions, and the DHS can actually do to remove 700,000+ Dreamers.
    • The U.S. Immigration Courts are backed up for years, with nearly 700,000 already pending cases! Sessions is doing everything he can to make the backlog even worse. Dreamers will go to the “end of the line.”
    • Sure Sessions would like to speed up the deportation “assembly line” (a/k/a “The Deportation Railway”).
      • But, his boneheaded and transparently unfair attempts to do that are highly likely to cause “big time” pushback from the Federal Courts and actually “tie up” the entire system — not just “Dreamers.”
      • The last time the DOJ tied to mindlessly accelerate the process, under AG John Ashcroft, the Courts of Appeals remanded defective deportation orders by the basket-load for various due process and legal violations — many with stinging published opinions.
        • Finally, even former Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez (“Gonzo I”), hardly a “Due Process Junkie” had enough and slowed down the train. It took years for the “haste makes waste” Circuit Court remands to work their way back through the system. Some might still be hanging around.
      • Because the GOP White Nationalists and Trump read off of “restrictionist cue cards” that don’t take account of the law, facts, or history, the Dems should have a huge advantage here if and when individual “Dreamer” removal cases get to the Federal Courts.
    • Each “Dreamer removal case” should present the Democrats with excellent example of the cruelty, stupidity, and total wastefulness of the Trump/Sessions/DHS enforcement policies. Wasting money to “Make America Worse.” Come on, man!
    • Bottom Line: Trump and Sessions have created a “false Dreamer emergency” that they can’t escape without some help from the Democrats. If the Democrats see an opportunity to make a “good deal” for the Dreamers, they should take it. But, they shouldn’t trade the Dreamers for the harmful White Nationalist restrictionist agenda! Eventually, the problem will be solved in a way that is favorable for most Dreamers, regardless of what the White Nationalists threaten right now. The Dreamers might just have to hang on longer until we get at least some degree of “regime change.”

PWS

02-13-18

ARLINGTON IMMIGRATION COURT REPORT: JUDGE THOMAS SNOW WILL BE SERVING AS APPELLATE IMMIGRATION JUDGE/TEMPORARY BOARD MEMBER (“TBM”) AT BIA IN FALLS CHURCH FOR AT LEAST FOUR MONTHS — No Word On What Will Happen To His Arlington Docket!

Hon. Thomas “Frosty the Snowman” Snow, flanked by Hon. John Milo “JB” Bryant (on right, in the funny looking dark suit) and by Judge Rodger B. “Marine” Harris and me (on left) departing for my last “Thursday Judges’ Lunch” on the day of my retirement, June 30, 2016.

Judge Snow has previously served as a TBM, as well as the Acting Director of EOIR and the Acting Chief Immigration Judge, as well as a Senior Executive in the International Affairs Section of the Criminal Division of the USDOJ. So, he is no stranger to “The Tower” in Falls Church where the BIA is located. He also has been an Adjunct Professor of Law at UVA and William & Mary, his two alma maters.

Judge Snow is widely respected by both private practitioners and DHS Counsel as a due-process-oriented, fair, scholarly, patient, and unfailingly polite jurist. His overall asylum grant rate has been approximately 70%.

He will join 15 permanent Appellate Immigration Judges, as well as Judge Keith Hunsucker and two Senior BIA Attorney Advisors who also serve as TBMs. Of course, the BIA once had a sufficient number of permanent judges, over 20 at one time, prior to AG John Ashcroft’s purge. That “purge” crippled the BIA’s effectiveness and reputation as a due-process-oriented appellate court as part of a successful effort to remove so-called “liberal judges” from their appellate positions.

Normally, TBMs serve for renewable 120 day appointments. My sources were unaware of what arrangements have been made for the docket Judge Snow leaves behind at the Arlington Immigration Court, where approximately 30,000 cases are pending and Individual Merits hearings are scheduled as far out as 2021-22.

If someone out there in “Courtsideland” knows the fate of Judge Snow’s Arlington docket, please share with everyone by posting in the “comments” box below.

Good luck to Judge Snow in his new temporary assignment.

PWS

02-11-17

THE HILL: NOLAN RAPPAPORT ON “FGM!”

http://thehill.com/opinion/immigration/373090-female-genital-mutilation-is-a-crime-in-the-us-so-why-is-it-rarely

 

Family Pictures

Nolan writes:

“. . . .

FGM has been a crime in America since 1996. Federal law provides that, “whoever knowingly circumcises, excises, or infibulates the whole or any part of the labia majora or labia minora or clitoris of another person who has not attained the age of 18 years shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both.”

The first federal FGM prosecution, however, was not filed until 2017, when two Michigan doctors and the wife of one of the doctors were charged with performing FGM on two seven-year-old girls.

FGM is a crime under state law in 26 states, but I was not able to find examples of state prosecutions. Attempts to make it a crime in the remaining 24 states have met resistance. It can be difficult to separateattempts to end FGM from claims of Islamophobia.

In Maine, a Republican bill to criminalize FGM failed to pass in 2017 in part because FGM had been used in Maine to demonize immigrants and refugees from predominantly Muslim countries in Africa.  It would have made FGM a Class A crime, which is punishable by up to 30 years in prison and a fine of as much as $50,000.

Maine has a population of approximately 12,000 people from Somalia, an officially Islamic country, and UNICEF estimates that 98 percent of the females in Somalia have had FGM.

But a survey of immigrant communities in Maine indicates that they recognize the need for such a law. More than 70 percent of participants said that FGM is harmful.

Political correctness also is an issue. The New York Times would not use the term “Female Genital Mutilation” in its article about the Michigan doctors, except in a quote. The Times called the offense, “genital cutting,” despite the fact that the prosecution was based on a federal criminal provision entitled, “Female genital mutilation.”

According to Celia Dugger, the Times’ Health and Science editor, “genital cutting” was a “less culturally loaded” term than “FGM.”

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a woman’s rights activist, has said, “It is one thing to respect other cultures and religions, and quite another to turn a blind eye to cultural practices that violate the human rights of women and girls.”

The federal and state laws that prohibit FGM need to be enforced.”

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

Go over to The Hill at the above link to read Nolan’s complete article.

“FGM,” of any type, is “bad stuff” as we found and I wrote in Matter of Kasinga, 21 I&N Dec. 357 (BIA 1996), the first case finding FGM to be “persecution” for U.S. asylum purposes!

 

PWS

02-09-18

 

TRUMP & RESTRICTIONISTS JUST DON’T “GET” IT: HUMAN MIGRATION IS A DYNAMIC FORCE THAT CAN BE HARNESSED OR CHANNELED, BUT WON’T BE SHUT DOWN BY WALLS, FENCES, ABUSIVE DETENTION, DENIAL OF RIGHTS, KANGAROO COURTS, SUMMARY REMOVAL, OR OTHER INTENTIONALLY “NASTY” ENFORCEMENT MEASURES – “But migrants and advocates said they were driven to cross the border more by conditions in Central America — gang violence and economic downturns — than by U.S. policies. “Many of these countries, you just cannot live in them,” said Ruben Garcia of El Paso’s Annunciation House shelter. “People will tell you ‘It’s just dangerous to walk around in our neighborhood.’ ” – WE CAN DIMINISH OURSELVES AS A NATION, BUT THAT WON’T HALT HUMAN MIGRATION!

http://enewspaper.latimes.com/infinity/article_share.aspx?guid=2b1d32e6-30fa-40dc-8203-88f9b77b1203

 

Molly Hennessy-Fiske reports for the LA Times:

“McALLEN, Texas — Illegal crossings along the U.S.-Mexico border, after declining in early 2017, began an unexpected upturn last spring that only recently receded, according to new government figures.

The figures reflect the up-and-down nature of illegal immigration and are reminders that multiple factors — from politics to weather to conditions in home countries — influence who tries to come to the United States and when.

Apprehensions on the southern border in October 2016, a month before Donald Trump’s election, topped 66,000. After Trump’s victory, the number of migrants trying to enter the U.S. illegally reached a 17-year low.

Monthly apprehensions continued to drop into 2017, hitting 15,766 in April, when the downward trend reversed. Apprehensions rose each month to 40,513 in December. Migrant advocates said the “Trump effect” discouraging illegal immigration might be wearing off.

But last month, apprehensions decreased again. It’s not clear whether the post-holiday decrease is seasonal, or whether it will continue.

There were 35,822 migrants apprehended on the southern border in January, according to figures released Wednesday by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. That’s not as many as in December, but it’s more than were apprehended each month last February to October.

The number of families and unaccompanied children caught crossing the border, which rose nearly every month since last spring, also dropped slightly last month to 25,980, but remained more than twice April’s total, 11,127.

In releasing the numbers Wednesday, Homeland Security spokesman Tyler Houlton noted the apprehension figures for children and families were still high.

“Front-line personnel are required to release tens of thousands of unaccompanied alien children and illegal family units into the United States each year due to current loopholes in our immigration laws. This month we saw an unacceptable number of UACs [unaccompanied children] and family units flood our border because of these catch and release loopholes,” he said. “To secure our borders and make America safer, Congress must act to close these legal loopholes that have created incentives for illegal immigrants.”

In Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, so many migrant families with small children arrive daily — more than 15,500 family members so far this fiscal year — that volunteers at a local shelter set up a play area in the corner.

When the number of unaccompanied migrant children caught crossing began to increase in April, fewer than 1,000 were apprehended a month. By last month, that had grown to 3,227. The number of family members caught crossing grew even faster during that time, from 1,118 in April to 5,656 last month.

When Elvis Antonio Muniya Mendez arrived at the shelter last month from Honduras with his 15-year-old son, the playpen was packed with the children of 100 fellow Central American migrants caught crossing the border illegally and released that day. Muniya, 36, had fled a gang that killed his 26-year-old brother the month before. He was hoping to join another brother in Indiana. He and his son were released with a notice to appear in immigration court, which he planned to attend.

“I want to live here legally, without fear,” he said.

Trump administration officials have proposed detaining more families, but that’s not happening in the Rio Grande Valley, where many are released like Muniya with notices to appear in court. The shelter where Muniya stopped, Sacred Heart, saw the number of migrants arriving drop at the end of last year only to increase recently, said the director, Sister Norma Pimentel.

“I’ve never seen so many children be part of this migration,” Pimentel said.

Children who cross the border unaccompanied by an adult are sheltered by the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement and placed with relatives or other sponsors in the U.S. The agency has about 9,900 shelter beds at various facilities. As of this week, the agency was sheltering 7,800 youths.

Children who cross the border with a parent may be released with notices to appear in court or held at special family detention centers.

Trump administration officials have proposed detaining more of the families. But space is limited. As of Monday, the detention centers held 1,896 people. Only one of them can hold fathers, and attorneys said it’s always full, so men who cross with children are often released with a notice to appear in court.

Advocates for greater restrictions on immigration say more needs to be done to hold parents who cross with their children accountable. They say such parents put their children at risk by making the dangerous journey. Andrew Arthur, a former immigration judge now serving as a resident fellow in law and policy at the conservative Washington-based Center for Immigration Studies, said the way migrants are treated on the border encourages family migration.

“The reason the children are there to begin with is this belief that a parent with a child will not be detained,” Arthur said. That assumption, he said, is wrong.

He said Congress and the Trump administration’s unwillingness to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program has also encouraged migrant families to make the trip now in hopes of benefiting from a “DACA amnesty,” even though the program is limited to those who grew up in the U.S.

But migrants and advocates said they were driven to cross the border more by conditions in Central America — gang violence and economic downturns — than by U.S. policies.

“Many of these countries, you just cannot live in them,” said Ruben Garcia of El Paso’s Annunciation House shelter. “People will tell you ‘It’s just dangerous to walk around in our neighborhood.’ ”

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

Quite contrary to Tyler Houlton, the Trump Administration, and the restrictionists, this isn’t about “loopholes” in the law! Individuals arriving at our borders have a right to apply for asylum and they have a right to receive Due Process and fair treatment in connection with those “life or death” applications.

But for the purposely convoluted decisions of the BIA, individuals resisting gang violence would be “slam dunk” asylum, withholding of removal, or Convention Against Torture (“CAT”) cases. If we just screened them for crimes or gang connections and granted their applications, they could easily be absorbed by our country.

But, even if we don’t want to interpret “protection laws” to actually grant much protection, we could devise humanitarian relief short of asylum or full legal status that would allow individuals whose lives were in danger to find safety in the U.S. Or, we could work with the sending countries, the UNHCR, and other countries in the Americas to solve the problem of “safe havens.”

While the Trump Administration largely ignores the lessons of history and what happens abroad, one has only to look at the “European example” to see the inevitable failure of the restrictionist agenda. The European Union has done everything within it power to” slam the door” on refugees, make them feel unwelcome, unwanted, threatened, and targets for repatriation regardless of the harm that might befall them. But, still determined refugees continue to risk their lives to flee to Europe.

What the restrictive policies have accomplished is to force more refugees to use the services of professional smugglers, and to attempt more dangerous routes. Killing more refugees en route does somewhat reduce the flow — at the cost of the humanity of the nations involved.

Likewise, although border apprehensions were down last year, deaths of migrants crossing the Southern Border were up. See e.g., “US-Mexico border migrant deaths rose in 2017 even as crossings fell, UN says,” The Guardianhttps://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/feb/06/us-mexico-border-migrant-deaths-rose-2017

I suspect that the increase in deaths has to do with more individuals having to use the services of professional smugglers, who are more unscrupulous than “Mom & Pop” and “Do It Yourself” operations, and smugglers having to use more dangerous routes to avoid increased border security.

I suppose that restrictionists can be cheered by the fact that more individuals will be killed coming to and into the United States, thus decreasing the overall  flow of unwanted human beings. But 1) it won’t stop people from coming, and 2) I doubt that finding way to kill more refugees will look that good in historical perspective.

As one of my colleagues told me early on in my career as an Immigration Judge: “Desperate people do desperate things!” That’s not going to change, no matter how much the restrictionists want to believe that institutional cruelty, inhumanity, “sending messages,” denying legal rights, and “get tough tactics” can completely squelch the flow of human migration. However, it certainly can squelch the flame of our own humanity.

PWS

02-08-18