KURT BARDELLA @ HUFFPOST: “Make No Mistake, Trump’s Government Shutdown Is About Racism!” — GOP LATINO LEADER AL CARDENAS SLAMS HIS PARTY’S “LACK OF EMPATHY” ON “MEET THE PRESS!”

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/opinion-bardella-government-shutdown_us_5a62d025e4b0e563006fd287

Bardella writes:

“Lost in the shitstorm over “shithole” was another equally damning example of President Donald Trump’s blatant racism and sexism. It was an outward display of a mindset that in many ways has paved the way for the government shutdown we’re facing now.

Last week, NBC News reported that last fall, the president of the United States asked a career intelligence analyst “Where are you from?” She responded, “New York,” and that should have ended the conversation. It didn’t.

He asked again, and she responded, “Manhattan.”

For those who have initiated a similar conversation, if you ask twice and you don’t get the answer you are fishing for ― just drop it. Take a hint. We don’t want to go there with you.

Trump, clearly oblivious to this social cue, follows up and asks where “your people” are from.

Finally relenting, the analyst answered that her parents are Korean. At this point, Trump, through his ignorance, has robbed this woman of all the hard work, intellect and skill she has invested into her profession by placing some artificial value on her (and her family’s) ethnicity.

Where she or her parents are from has zero bearing on her job or value. It’s one thing if someone volunteers information about their culture, background, family and upbringing. But until they do, it’s none of your business and should have no role in how you judge, evaluate and view them as professionals or human beings.

Taking it even further, Trump somehow manages to combine sexism with racism by asking why the “pretty Korean lady” wasn’t negotiating with North Korea. The insane thing about this statement is that I’m 100 percent certain that in Trump’s mind, he was paying her a compliment.

What he did was demean and insult a woman who was simply trying to do her job.

Trump owes this “pretty Korean lady” an apology for his ignorant, racist and sexist comments. I don’t think Trump realizes or cares about the consequences that his tone, tenor and words have had in the lives of people who don’t look like him.

Pretty much my entire life, I’ve been asked (primarily by white people) the question that I imagine every “Asian-looking” person cringes at inside: “Where are you from?”

In most cases, I’m certain that the person asking this is not consciously discriminatory, but rather is just completely ignorant of how annoying this question is to people who look like me. Like the career intelligence analyst attempted to do with Trump, I answered the question by saying “New York” or “California” ― where I had spent my childhood and formative years. Inevitably comes the dreaded follow-up: “No, I mean what is your background? Chinese or Japanese?

The puzzled looks I would receive when I responded: “German and Italian” were priceless but also revealing. I simply did not fit into their preordained stereotypical worldviews.

My name is Kurt (German) Bardella (Italian), and I am adopted.

For most of you out there who ask this question of people who look or sound “different,” you’re probably just genuinely curious and mean no harm. You’re just trying to start conversation.

But the case of Trump and the career intelligence professional reveals something much more offensive. It was a glimpse into the racially charged worldview that Trump subscribes to, a worldview that has infected the Republican Party and now led us to a government shutdown.

It’s the same worldview that led to his vulgarly demeaning the lives of would-be immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador and nations in Africa. It’s the same worldview that has him obsessed with building a border wall to keep “bad hombres” out of the United States. And it’s the same worldview that drove him to end DACA.

Trump and his Republican enablers are so fixated on enacting these outwardly racist policies that they are willing to preside over a government shutdown to get them.

The shutdown showdown unfolding right now is about much more than government funding. It is about two different portraits representing the American identity. The Trump-GOP viewpoint sees our country as one that is, first and foremost, Caucasian. The Democratic perspective sees a diverse nation of many cultures, backgrounds, languages and customs.

That’s what we are fighting about. It may be more politically expedient for Democrats to back down, but with our national identity hanging in the balance, this is the time to take a stand.

Kurt Bardella was born in Seoul, South Korea, and adopted by two Americans from Rochester, New York, when he was three months old. He currently lives in Arlington, Virginia.

This piece is part of HuffPost’s brand-new Opinion section. For more information on how to pitch us an idea, go here.

Kurt Bardella is a media strategist who previously worked as a spokesperson for Breitbart News, the Daily Caller, Rep. Darrell Issa, Rep. Brian Bilbray and Senator Olympia Snowe.”

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One had only to listen to Senator Tom Cotton on “Meet the Press” yesterday to see how true Bardella’s commentary is. Cotton lied, obfuscated, and generally avoided answering Moderator Chuck Todd’s questions.

Then, he let loose with his biggest fabrication: that somehow legalizing the Dreamers and eventually allowing their parents to legally immigrate would “do damage” to the U.S. which would have to be “offset” by harsher, more restrictive immigration laws! So, in allowing the Dreamers, who are here doing great things for America, and somewhere down the road their parents, some of whom are also here and are also doing great things for America, to become part of our society is a justification for more racially-motivated restrictions on future immigration. What a total crock!

Cotton said:

But it gives them legal status. That’s an amnesty, by adjusting their status from illegal to legal, no matter what you call it. It didn’t give money to build any new border barriers, only to repair past border barriers. It didn’t do anything to stop chain migration. Here’s what the president has been clear on. Here’s what I and so many Senate Republicans have been clear on: we’re willing to protect this population that is in the DACA program. If we do that, though, it’s going to have negative consequences: first, it’s going to lead to more illegal immigration with children. That’s why the security enforcement measures are so important. And second, it means that you’re going to create an entire new population, through chain migration, that can bring in more people into this country that’s not based on their skills and education and so forth. That’s why we have to address chain migration as well. That is a narrow and focused package that should have the support of both parties.

Meanwhile, on Meet the Press, GOP Latino leader Al Cardenas hit the nail on the head in charging Cotton and others in the GOP with a disturbing “lack of empathy” for Dreamers and other, particularly Hispanic, immigrants:

Cardenas said:

“Excuse me, that’s right. And you know, look, for the Republican Party the president had already tested DACA. The base seemed to be okay with it. Now that things have changed to the point where this bill passes, and it should, Democrats are going to take all the credit for DACA. And we’re taking none. Stupid politics. Number two, the second part that makes us stupid is the fact that no one in our party is saying, “Look, I’m not for this bill but I’ve got a lot of empathy for these million family.” Look, I can see why somebody would not be for this policy-wise. I don’t understand it. But I can respect it. But there’s no empathy. When I saw the secretary of homeland security in front of a Senate saying she’d never met a Dreamer. And yet she’s going to deport a million people, break up all these families. Where is the empathy in my party? People, you know the number one important thing in America when somebody’s asking for a presidential candidate’s support is, “Do you care…Does he care about me?” How do we tell 50 million people that we care about them when there’s not a single word of empathy about the fate of these million people.”

Here’s the complete transcript of “Meet the Press” from yesterday, which also included comments from Democratic Senator Dick Durbin and others. Check it out for yourself, if you didn’t see it.

https://www.nbcnews.com/meet-the-press/meet-press-january-21-2018-n839606

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Unlike Cotton and his restrictionist colleagues, I actually had “Dreamer-type” families come before me in Immigration Court. The kids eventually had obtained legal status, probably through marriage to a U.S. citizen, naturalized and petitioned for their parents.

Not only had the kids been successful, but the parents who were residing here were without exception good, hard-working, tax-paying “salt of the earth” folks.  They had taken big-time risks to find a better life for their children, made big contributions to the U.S. by doing work that others were unavailable or unwilling to do, and asked little in return except to be allowed to live here in peace with their families.

Most will still working, even if they were beyond what we might call “retirement age.” They didn’t have fat pensions and big Social Security checks coming.

Many were providing essential services like child care, elder care, cleaning, cooking, fixing, or constructing. Just the type of folks our country really needs.

They weren’t “free loaders” as suggested by the likes of Cotton and his restrictionist buddies. Although I don’t remember that any were actually “rocket scientists,” they were doing the type of honest, important, basic work that America depends on for the overall success and prosperity of our society. Exactly the opposite of the “no-skill — no-good” picture painted by Cotton and the GOP restrictionists. I’d argue that our country probably has a need for more qualified health care and elder care workers than “rocket scientists” for which there is much more limited market! But, there is no reason se can’t have both with a sane immigration policy.

PWS

01-22-18

 

 

 

JOSE ANDRES @WASHPOST: A NATION IS ONLY AS GOOD AS ITS FOOD! – How Trump & The White Nationalists Undermine the REAL America!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/jose-andres-how-the-immigration-debate-hits-a-restaurant-kitchen/2018/01/18/9ac5ae40-fa22-11e7-a46b-a3614530bd87_story.html

Famous Chef Jose Andres writes in the Washington Post:

“Washington is the kind of city where you can learn a lot by listening to the conversations over dinner. At my restaurants, I have been lucky to join the conversation with presidents and first ladies, senators and ambassadors.

But right now, you can hear the most important conversations if you walk past the tables out front and into my kitchens. There — amid the din of knives chopping, plates clattering and chefs calling out a staccato stream of food orders — you’ll hear from people who look and sound a lot like America. English predominates, but you’ll also catch Haitian Creole, French and Spanish. Natural-born citizens and naturalized citizens like me work alongside those on temporary visas. I believe that all these voices make us stronger, more creative and courageous, less complacent and fearful.

Manuel is one of those people in the kitchen who prepare food for the powerful. (I am using only his first name here, to protect him from the threats many immigrants are now facing.) He was born in El Salvador, in a small town called Santa Rosa de Lima. He came to the United States in 1997 and, after a massive earthquake in his native country, was granted temporary protected status (TPS) in 2001. When immigration officials asked how he came into the United States, he didn’t lie about his walk across the border. “Matamoros,” he said.

It was also in 2001 that Manuel started as a cook at my Spanish restaurant, Jaleo. I have come to know him as someone who works hard, pays his taxes and is raising his children — a son with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status and two American-born children — to respect the country that gave him so much. But now, his family’s future is in doubt. “I just want to work to be able to send my two American-born children to university; I want them to have a better life than mine,” he told me.

The Trump administration’s decision to revoke protective status for Salvadorans (affecting 200,000 immigrants living in the United States, including 32,000 in the Washington area), Haitians (59,000 immigrants) and possibly Hondurans (86,000 immigrants) has thrown families across the country into chaos. This policy shift also has the potential to devastate my industry and hurt the overall economy.

Congress created TPS in 1990 to provide legal status to foreigners who could not safely return home because of war, natural disasters or other extreme conditions. Republican and Democratic administrations alike have extended those protections, six to 18 months at a time, recognizing that conditions remain dangerous. El Salvador, for example, is in such a state of turmoil that the State Department advisesU.S. citizens to reconsider traveling there. An influx of tens of thousands of returning citizens would only make things worse.

In the meantime, people like Manuel have built lives in the United States, buying homes (nearly a third have mortgages) and becoming active in their communities. Like Manuel, many TPS recipients are married and have children who are U.S. citizens — immigrants from El Salvador, Haiti and Honduras are raising about 273,200 U.S.-born children, according to the Center for American Progress.

Understandably, few parents would want to uproot their spouses and children to travel to a country with little opportunity and widespread violence. So, instead, these individuals face an agonizing choice: to leave without their families, or to remain in the United States without the legal means to work and in constant fear of deportation. No doubt, many will disappear from their jobs, obtain fake documents and become ghosts in a country where they used to belong.

As Americans, we also have much to lose if hundreds of thousands of industrious migrants are expelled. The Center for American Progress estimates that removing TPS workers from the economy would generate a $164 billion hole in gross domestic product over the next decade.

Because restaurants are among the main employers of these immigrants (along with construction companies, landscape businesses and child-care services), the restaurant industry stands to be particularly hard hit. Immigrants, including Salvadorans and other Central Americans, make up more than half of the staff at my restaurants, and we simply could not run our businesses without them. With national unemployment at 4 percent, there aren’t enough U.S.-born workers to take their places — or cover the employment needs of a growing economy.

Let me be frank: The administration is throwing families and communities into crisis for no good reason. This is not what people of faith do. It’s not what pragmatic people do. It’s not what America was built on.

I came to the United States from Spain in 1991 with an E-2 visa and big ambitions. I wanted to introduce America to the food of my heritage while at the same time reimagining it. I wanted to become a chef and start my own restaurant.

Despite the many hardships of being a new immigrant, life was relatively easy for me — in no small part because of my fair skin and blue eyes. America isn’t the only place where this happens; it is a human sickness. We have a hard time welcoming those who are different from us.

With the help of many friends and mentors, I worked hard to realize my ambitions. And I made sure to bring as many people as I could along with me. That is the American Dream: to live your own dream while helping others achieve theirs.

As an employer and friend of Salvadorans, Haitians and incredible people of many other nationalities, I hope Congress can work with the administration to change course on immigration policy.

TPS recipients, who have contributed for so long to the U.S. economy and our communities, should be able to apply for green cards and start on the path to citizenship. And DACA recipients, like Manuel’s son, should be able to apply for permanent status so they can truly belong to the country they have long thought of as their own.

Let’s also create a revolving-door visa, allowing people from Mexico, El Salvador and other countries to work for a few months and then return home, bringing their earnings back with them. Revolving-door visas would help the U.S. economy continue to grow and help grow the economies of our allies, too.

President Trump knows full well the value of temporary visas. From his family’s winery in Virginia to his construction projects in New York, he has hired many foreign workers to build his businesses.

President Trump, if you are reading this: Back in 2016 you told me in a phone conversation that you wanted to hear more about my views on immigration. We haven’t spoken in a while. So let me say this here: Walls will not make America safer or greater. But the money our immigrants send back home most certainly does, because economic stability contributes to political stability and international security. Allowing immigrants to work without fear of deportation or exploitation would help, too, because it would sustain American businesses and support American families. It’s the right thing to do. It’s the American way to transform what might seem a problem into an opportunity.”

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Jose Andres doesn’t just talk and write; he acts! During the recent Puerto Rico disaster, while the Trump Administration was dithering and pointing fingers, Andres was “on the ground” serving free meals to those who needed them. Seems like we have the “wrong kind of businessman” in the White House! One who is more concerned about himself than he is about others and the country.

PWS

01-21-20

MICHELLE BRANE @ WOMEN’S REFUGEE COMMISSION — “Why I March!”

“Dear Paul,

Today, my daughter Marisa and I joined thousands of women, men, and children in Washington, DC and other cities around the country to march for equality and for justice.

First and foremost on my mind while I marched with my daughter were the migrant and refugee women, children, and families for whom I advocate every day. With each step, I thought about the brave mothers who escape danger in their home countries because, like all mothers, they want a bright future for their children. Expecting to find safety at our border, these women and children are instead met by the Trump administration’s policies of ripping families apart.

I decided to march today in honor of the women and children who reach for safety but are instead betrayed.

The Women’s Refugee Commission will march forward with our important work supporting women and children seeking safety at our border. We will continue to utilize the court systems, inform the press and public, and hold the Trump administration accountable until asylum seekers have the protection and services they need to be safe, healthy, and to rebuild their lives. But there is strength in numbers.

In the spirit of the Women’s March, and the women for whom we march, please join us by donating today.

We can accomplish so much more together than we can alone.

In solidarity,

Michelle Brané
Director, Migrant Rights and Justice Program

DONATE

© 2017 Women’s Refugee Commission. All rights reserved.
The Women’s Refugee Commission is a 501(c)(3) organization.
Donations are deductible to the full extent allowable under IRS regulations.
15 West 37th Street, 9th Floor, New York, NY 10018 • Tel. (212) 551-3115”

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Like me, my friend Michelle began her career as an Attorney Advisor at the BIA. She is also a distinguished alum of Georgetown Law where I am an Adjunct Professor.

The Women’s Refugee Commission does some fantastic work in behalf of vulnerable women and children who arrive at our border seeking refuge and justice, only to be detained and railroaded back to life-threatening conditions by the anti-refugee, anti-Due-Process, White Nationalist regime of Trump, Sessions, Miller, Nielsen, and their complicit minions.

Michelle was named one of the “21 Leaders for the 21st Century” by Women’s e-News.

Imagine what a great country this could be if our Government and our justice system were led by smart, courageous, principled, values-driven, humane leaders like Michelle and her colleagues, rather than by a cabal of morally bankrupt White Nationalist men and their sycophantic subordinates.

PWS

01-22-18

 

CNN: ON THE ROAD TO NOWHERE! — PARTIES HAVE ONE THING IN COMMON: Each Underestimated The Resolve Of The Other!

http://www.cnn.com/2018/01/21/politics/donald-trump-government-shutdown-sunday-highlights/index.html

Updated 2:19 PM ET, Sun January 21, 2018

CNN)The government shutdown went into a second day Sunday with recriminations deepening between the parties and with no sign of progress towards ending the impasse.

The House and the Senate will be back at work by early afternoon, but after a day of futility on Saturday, there are few hopes of a sudden breakthrough to resolve a showdown over the refusal of Senate Democrats to vote to fund the government until President Donald Trump agrees to deal with the fate of 700,000 people brought to the US illegally as children.
The White House, and Republican and Democratic leaders spent most of Saturday apportioning blame as they sought to shape the political fallout from the shutdown that will only truly begin to hit home on Monday when government departments stay dark after the weekend as federal workers are furloughed.
“Everyone’s dug in. No movement at all from either side,” said a Democratic aide.
Trump had been hoping to be the star of the show at a glitzy fundraiser at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida Saturday celebrating the anniversary of his inauguration. But he was forced to hole up in Washington when his trip was canceled because of the shutdown.
. . . .
Both sides are convinced they have the upper hand — one reason why the shutdown could last for a while.
Republicans feel confident that they’re on the right side of the shutdown. While House Republicans were the ones who failed to deliver the votes when the government shut down in 2013. This time around, members say they want their leadership to stand firm against Senate Democrats who they believe will feel the pressure sooner or later.
Democrats believe that the fact that the GOP controls the House, the Senate and the White House will prompt voters to blame Trump and his troops.

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Read the complete article at the above link. Doesn’t sound promising; but, they are going to keep at it.

PWS

01-21-18

JULIA PRESTON: CHAOS IN COURT! – TRUMP ADMINISTRATION’S MAL-ADMINISTRATION OF IMMIGRATION COURTS RUINS LIVES, FRUSTRATES JUDGES!

https://www.themarshallproject.org/2018/01/19/lost-in-court

Julia writes for The Marshall Project:

“. . . .

And so in this gateway city on the Rio Grande [Laredo], inside a building rimmed with barbed wire, past security guards and locked doors, immigration judges on short details started hearing cases in a cramped courtroom that was hastily arranged in March.

But seven months later, the case of Oscar Arnulfo Ramírez, an immigrant from El Salvador, was not going quickly. He was sitting in detention, waiting for a hearing on his asylum claim. And waiting some more.

The court files, his lawyer discovered, showed that Ramírez’s case had been completed and closed two months earlier. Since the case was closed, the court clerk couldn’t schedule a new hearing to get it moving again. In fact, the clerk didn’t even have a record that he was still detained.

“It’s as if he’s non-existent,” his lawyer,, said. “He’s still in a detention center. He’s still costing the government and the American people tax dollars. But there’s no proceeding going on. He’s just sitting there doing completely nothing.”

Ramírez’s case was one of many signs of disarray in the improvised court in Laredo, which emerged during a weeklong visit in late October by a reporter from The Marshall Project and a radio producer from This American Life. Instead of the efficiency the Trump administration sought, the proceedings were often chaotic. Hearing schedules were erratic, case files went missing. Judges were exasperated by confusion and delays. Like Ramírez, detainees were lost in the system for months on end.


For a view of the border crossing in Laredo and the grinding process migrants begin there, check out Kirsten Luce’s photosfrom the gateway on the Rio Grande.


With the intense pressure on the court to finish cases, immigrants who had run from frightening threats in their home countries were deported without having a chance to tell the stories that might have persuaded a judge to let them stay.

. . . .

For Paola Tostado, the lawyer, Ramírez was not the first client to fall through the cracks in Laredo. Even though she is based in Brownsville, three hours away, Tostado was making the pre-dawn drive up the highway as many as three times a week, to appear next to her clients in court in Laredo whenever she could.

Another Salvadoran asylum-seeker she represented, whose case was similarly mislaid, had gone for four months with no hearing and no prospect of having one. Eventually he despaired. When ICE officers presented him with a document agreeing to deportation, without consulting Tostado he had signed it.

“I’ve had situations where we come to an individual client who has been detained over six months and the file is missing,” she said. “It’s not in San Antonio. It’s not in Laredo. So where is it? Is it on the highway?”

In her attempts to free Ramírez, Tostado consulted with the court clerk in San Antonio, with the ICE prosecutors and officers detaining him, but no one could say how to get the case started again.

Then, one day after reporters sat in the courtroom and spoke with Tostado about the case, ICE released him to pursue his case in another court, without explanation.

But by December Tostado had two other asylum-seekers who had been stalled in the system for more than seven months. She finally got the court to schedule hearings for them in the last days of the year.

“I think the bottom line is, there’s no organization in this Laredo court,” Tostado said. “It’s complete chaos and at the end of the day it’s not fair. Because you have clients who say, I just want to go to court. If it’s a no, it’s a no. If it’s a yes, it’s a yes.”

Unlike criminal court, in immigration court people have no right to a lawyer paid by the government. But there was no reliable channel in Laredo for immigrants confined behind walls to connect with low-cost lawyers. Most lawyers worked near the regular courts in the region, at least two hours’ drive away.

Sandra Berrios, another Salvadoran seeking asylum, learned the difference a lawyer could make. She found one only by the sheerest luck. After five months in detention, she was days away from deportation when she was cleaning a hallway in the center, doing a job she had taken to keep busy. A lawyer walked by. Berrios blurted a plea for help.

The lawyer was from a corporate law firm, Jones Day, which happened to be offering free services. Two of its lawyers, Christopher Maynard and Adria Villar, took on her case. They learned that Berrios had been a victim of vicious domestic abuse. A Salvadoran boyfriend who had brought her to the United States in 2009 had turned on her a few years later when he wanted to date other women.

Once he had punched her in the face in a Walmart parking lot, prompting bystanders to call the police. He had choked her, burned her legs with cigarettes, broken her fingers and cut her hands with knives. Berrios had scars to show the judge. She had a phone video she had made when the boyfriend was attacking her and records of calls to the Laredo police.

The lawyers also learned that the boyfriend had returned to El Salvador to avoid arrest, threatening to kill Berrios if he ever saw her there.

She had started a new relationship in Texas with an American citizen who wanted to marry her. But she’d been arrested by the Border Patrol at a highway checkpoint when the two of them were driving back to Laredo from an outing at a Gulf Coast beach.

After Berrios been detained for nine months, at a hearing in July with Maynard arguing her case, a judge canceled her deportation and let her stay. In a later interview, Berrios gave equal parts credit to God and the lawyers. “I would be in El Salvador by this time, already dead,” she said. “The judges before that just wanted to deport me.”

. . . .

We have heard frustration across the board,” said Ashley Tabaddor, a judge from Los Angeles who is the association [NAIJ] president. She and other union officials clarified that their statements did not represent the views of the Justice Department. “We’ve definitely heard from our members,” she said, “where they’ve had to reset hundreds of cases from their home docket to go to detention facilities where the docket was haphazardly scheduled, where the case might not have been ready, where the file has not reached the facility yet.”

Another association official, Lawrence Burman, a judge who normally sits in Arlington, Va., volunteered for a stint in a detention center in the rural Louisiana town of Jena, 220 miles northwest of New Orleans. Four judges were sent, Burman said, but there was only enough work for two.

“So I had a lot of free time, which was pretty useless in Jena, Louisiana,” Burman said. “All of us in that situation felt very bad that we have cases back home that need to be done. But in Jena I didn’t have any of my files.” Once he had studied the cases before him in Jena, Burman said, he was left to “read the newspaper or my email.”

The impact on Burman’s case docket back in Arlington was severe. Dozens of cases he was due to hear during the weeks he was away had to be rescheduled, including some that had been winding through the court and were ready for a final decision. But with the enormous backlog in Arlington, Burman had no openings on his calendar before November 2020.

Immigrants who had already waited years to know whether they could stay in the country now would wait three years more. Such disruptions were reported in other courts, including some of the nation’s largest in Chicago, Miami and Los Angeles.

“Many judges came back feeling that their time was not wisely used,” Judge Tabaddor, the association president, said, “and it was to the detriment of their own docket.”

Justice Department officials say they are pleased with the results of the surge. A department spokesman, Devin O’Malley, did not comment for this story but pointed to congressional testimony by James McHenry, the director of the Executive Office for Immigration Review. “Viewed holistically, the immigration judge mobilization has been a success,” he said, arguing it had a “positive net effect on nationwide caseloads.”

Justice Department officials calculated that judges on border details completed 2700 more cases than they would have if they had remained in home courts. Officials acknowledge that the nationwide caseload continued to rise during last year, reaching 657,000 cases by December. But they noted that the rate of growth had slowed, to .39 percent monthly increase at the end of the year from 3.39 percent monthly when Trump took office.

Judge Tabaddor, the association president, said the comparison was misleading: cases of immigrants in detention, like the ones the surge judges heard, always take priority and go faster than cases of people out on release, she said. Meanwhile, according to records obtained by the National Immigrant Justice Center, as many as 22,000 hearings in judges’ home courts had to be rescheduled in the first three months of the surge alone, compounding backlogs.

. . . .”

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Read Julia’s complete article at the above link. Always enjoy getting quotes from my former Arlington colleague Judge Lawrence O. (“The Burmanator”) Burman. He tends to “tell it like it is” in the fine and time-honored Arlington tradition of my now retired Arlington colleague Judge Wayne R. Iskra. And, Judge Iskra didn’t even have the “cover” of being an officer of the NAIJ. Certainly beats the “pabulum” served up by the PIO at the “Sessionized” EOIR!

Also, kudos to one of my “former firms” Jones Day, its National Managing Partner Steve Brogan, and the Global Pro Bono Counsel Laura Tuell for opening the Laredo Office exclusively for pro bono immigration representation, As firms like jones Day take the “immigration litigation field,” and give asylum applicants the “A+ representation” they need and deserve, I predict that it’s going to become harder for the Article III U.S. Courts to ignore the legal shortcomings of the Immigration Courts under Sessions.

A brief aside. My friend Laura Tuell was  a “Guest Professor” during a session of my Immigration Law & Policy class at Georgetown Law last June. On the final exam, one of my students wrote that Laura had inspired him or her to want a career embodying values like hers! Wow! Talk about making a difference on many levels!And talk about the difference in representing real values as opposed to the legal obfuscation and use of the legal system to inflict wanton cruelty represented by Sessions and his restrictionist ilk.

We also should recognize the amazing dedication and efforts of pro bono and “low bono” lawyers like Paola Tostado, mentioned in Julia’s report. “Even though she is based in Brownsville, three hours away, Tostado was making the pre-dawn drive up the highway as many as three times a week, to appear next to her clients in court in Laredo whenever she could.” What do you think that does to her law practice? As I’ve said before, folks like Paola Tostado, Christopher Maynard, Adria Villar, and Laura Tuell are the “real heroes” of Due Process in the Immigraton Court system. 

Compare the real stories of desperate, bona fide asylum seekers and their hard-working dedicated lawyers being “stiffed” and mistreated in the Immigration Court with Sessions’s recent false narrative to EOIR about an asylum system rife with fraud promoted by “dirty attorneys.” Sessions’s obvious biases against migrants, both documented and undocumented, and particularly against Latino asylum seekers on the Southern Border, make him glaringly unqualified to be either our Attorney General or in charge of our U.S. Immigration Court system.

No amount of “creative book-cooking” by EOIR and the DOJ can disguise the human and due process disaster unfolding here. This is exactly what I mean when I refer to “”Aimless Docket Reshuffling” (“ADR”), and it’s continuing to increase the Immigration Court backlogs (now at a stunning 660,000) notwithstanding that there are now more Immigration Judges on duty than there were at the end of the last Administration.

I’ll admit upfront to not being very good at statistics and to being skeptical about what they show us. But, let’s leave the “Wonderful World of EOIR” for a minute and go on over to TRAC for a “reality check” on how “Trumpism” is really working in the Immigration Courts. http://trac.syr.edu/phptools/immigration/court_backlog/apprep_backlog.php

On September 30, 2016, near the end of the Obama Administration, the Immigration Court backlog stood at a whopping 516,000! Not good!

But, now let go to Nov. 30, 2017, a period of 14 months later, 10 of these full months under the policies of the Trump Administration. The backlog has mushroomed to a stunning 659,000 cases — a gain of 153,000 in less than two years! And, let’s not forget, that’s with more Immigration Judges on board!

By contrast, during the last two full years of the Obama Administration — September 30, 2014 to September 30, 2016 —  the backlog rose from 408,000 to 516,000. Nothing to write home about — 108,000 — but not nearly as bad as the “Trump era” has been to date!

Those who know me, know that I’m no “fan” of the Obama Administration’s stewardship over the U.S. Immigration Courts. Wrongful and highly politicized “prioritization” of recently arrived children, women, and families from the Northern Triangle resulted in “primo ADR” that sent the system into a tailspin that has only gotten worse. And, the glacial two-year cycle for the hiring of new Immigration Judges was totally inexcusable.

But, the incompetence and disdain for true Due Process by the Trump Administration under Sessions is at a whole new level. It’s clearly “Amateur Night at the Bijou” in what is perhaps the nation’s largest Federal Court system. And, disturbingly, nobody except a few of us “Immigration Court Groupies” seems to care.

So, it looks like we’re going to have to stand by and watch while Sessions “implodes” or “explodes” the system. Then, folks might take notice. Because the collapse of the U.S. Immigration Courts is going to take a big chunk of the Article III Federal Judiciary with it.

Why? Because approximately 80% of the administrative review petitions in the U.S. Courts of Appeals are generated by the BIA. That’s over 10% of the total caseload. And, in Circuits like the 9th Circuit, it’s a much higher percentage.

The U.S. Immigration Judges will continue to be treated like “assembly line workers” and due process will be further short-shrifted in the “pedal faster” atmosphere intentionally created by Sessions and McHenry.  The BIA, in turn, will be pressured to further “rubber stamp” the results as long as they are removal orders. The U.S. Courts of Appeals, and in some cases the U.S. District Courts, are going to be left to clean up the mess created by Sessions & co.

We need an independent Article I U.S. Immigration Court with competent, unbiased judicial administration focused on insuring individuals’ Due Process now! We’re ignoring the obvious at our country’s peril!

PWS

01-20-18

 

 

SUPREMES AGREE TO REVIEW TRAVEL BAN 3.0!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/courts_law/supreme-court-to-rule-on-trumps-powers-to-ban-foreign-travelers/2018/01/19/9e6e1242-fc90-11e7-8f66-2df0b94bb98a_story.html?hpid=hp_rhp-more-top-stories_travelban-214pm%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.5ed961faa53f

Robert Barnes reports for WashPost:

“The Supreme Court on Friday said it will review whether President Trump has the authority to ban travelers from certain countries in the name of national security, and will rule by June in what will be a major examination of the president’s powers.

The court will consider the third iteration of Trump’s travel ban, issued last fall, which bars various travelers from eight countries, six of them with Muslim majorities.

Lower courts have struck down each version of the Trump administration restrictions, dating back to those issued in his first week in office, but the Supreme Court has yet to rule on the extent of the president’s authority.”

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Read the complete article at the link.

PWS

01-19-18

DISORDER IN THE U.S. IMMIGRATION COURTS: SESSIONS “DECLARES WAR” ON HIS OWN IMMIGRATION JUDGES! — JUDGES’ ASSOCIATION (“NAIJ”) REPORTS MEMBERS REACTING WITH “DISBELIEF, SHOCK, CONFUSION, AND OUTRAGE” TO THE CONDESCENDING “McHENRY MEMO!” — NAIJ DEMANDS BARGAINING ON CASE QUOTAS!

FULL DISCLOSURE: I am a retired member of the National Association of Immigration Judges (“NAIJ”). In that capacity, I received the following e-mail from our President, The Honorable A. Ashley Tabaddor (who is resident in the U.S. Immigration Court in Los Angeles California), acting in her NAIJ capacity. I republish that e-mail below with Judge Tabaddor’s permission. 

“Dear NAIJ Members,

 

We have been hearing much from our members regarding the recent Director’s email, dated January 17, 2018, publishing purported “Case Priorities and Immigration Court Performance Measures.”  Many have expressed their disbelief, shock, confusion, and outrage as to the published standards, in light of the severe backlogs in our courts.  We share your concerns.  NAIJ has demanded to bargain on implementation of “numeric based performance measures on Immigration Judges”, and the Agency had provided assurances to NAIJ that no individual IJ based quotas and deadlines will be imposed until they have fulfilled their obligation under labor law to bargain with us.  And under the law, the Agency is prohibited from imposing such standards until all our bargaining rights have been properly exhausted.   NAIJ is also fighting any infliction of quotas and deadlines on Immigration Judges through outreach to the public and Congress, and is investigating the possibility of legal action.

 

In addition, NAIJ is currently evaluating the memo to determine if there has been any breach in law with the issuance of this memo or any further action we can take under labor law with respect to it.

 

NAIJ is working diligently to fight the implementation of any “numeric based performance measures” on Judges, and ensure that any future standards that may be imposed on Judges or the Immigration Courts are legally defensible, fair, and would not encroach on our independent decision making authority.  Please stay tuned for further development.

 

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to myself or any of our NAIJ representatives.

The Honorable A. Ashley Tabaddor, President

National Association of Immigration Judges

DISCLAIMER:  The author is the President of the National Association of Immigration Judges.  The views expressed here do not necessarily represent the official position of the United States Department of Justice, the Attorney General, or the Executive Office for Immigration Review.   The views represent the author’s personal opinions, which were formed after extensive consultation with the membership of NAIJ.”

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I’ve already noted the total preposterousness and tone-deafness of setting arbitrary “case completion goals” for a court system that is already working overtime but crumbling under incredible backlogs and outdated procedures and technology.

Make no mistake about it: those backlogs are not because of Judges, immigrants, or immigrants’ attorneys. They are the direct result of: 1) years of mismanagement and continuing improper political meddling by Sessions and his predecessors going back over several Administrations; and 2) an irresponsible lack of restraint and common sense priorities by DHS enforcement that has been encouraged, aided, and abetted by this Administration.

Under the Trump Administration, DHS line enforcement agents have been freed from any semblance of priorities and given essentially carte blanche to arrest anyone they feel like arresting and placing them into an already overwhelmed and crumbling U.S. Immigration Court System. Meanwhile, the Immigration Judges, who are struggling to provide due process, and have been stripped of any meaningful control over their own dockets, are treated like “assembly line workers” subject to “production quotas.” That’s no way to run a Due Process Court System, and it’s showing in some of the incorrect and unfair results that I report on regularly!

We need an independent Article I U.S. Immigration Court, now! But Congress, which can’t perform the basic functions of governance, apparently isn’t interested in cleaning up the mess they created and enabled. So, with the system fast heading for complete collapse, it looks to me like, willing or not, the Article III U.S. Courts will be stuck with effectively placing the U.S. Immigration Courts in “judicial receivership” until some future Congress addresses the situation in a way that insures Constitutional Due Process of law for all.

A very bad day for the U.S. Justice System and for all who care about upholding Due Process under our Constitution.

 

PWS

01-19-20

EOIR/IMMIGRATION COURTS: AG SESSIONS ANNOUNCES APPOINTMENT OF HON. JAMES McHENRY AS PERMANENT DIRECTOR OF EOIR!

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“JUSTICE NEWS

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Attorney General Sessions Announces Appointment of James McHenry As Director of the Executive Office for Immigration Review

Attorney General Jeff Sessions today announced the appointment of James McHenry as the permanent Director of the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) at the Department of Justice. McHenry has served as the Acting Director of EOIR since May 30, 2017.

 

“I am pleased to announce the appointment of James as the permanent Director of EOIR. Since his appointment as Acting Director last May, James has led EOIR in restoring its commitment to the timely and efficient adjudication of immigration cases, and in identifying additional common-sense improvements to the immigration court system,” said Attorney General Sessions. “James is an exceptionally talented and capable leader, and I am confident that he will continue to ensure that EOIR and its components will adjudicate cases in a manner that serves the national interest.”

 

“Under Attorney General Sessions’ leadership, EOIR has implemented a series of sensible reforms that aim to reduce the pending caseload by realigning the agency towards completing cases, increasing both productivity and capacity, and changing policies that lead to inefficiencies and waste,” said EOIR Director McHenry. “I look forward to building on the success of last year and further realizing our goal of cutting the pending caseload in half by 2020.”

 

EOIR was created on Jan. 9, 1983, through an internal department reorganization which combined the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) with the immigration judge function previously performed by the former Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) (now part of the Department of Homeland Security). The Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer (OCAHO) was added in 1987.

 

EOIR is headed by a director who is responsible for the supervision of the Chairman of BIA, the Chief Immigration Judge, the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer and all agency personnel. EOIR has more than 2,100 employees in its 59 immigration courts nationwide, at the BIA, at OCAHO, and at EOIR headquarters in Falls Church, Virginia.

 

Director McHenry has previously served in the Executive Office for Immigration Review; he first joined the agency in 2003 through the Attorney General’s Honors Program and returned to the agency in 2016, when he was appointed as an administrative law judge (ALJ) for EOIR OCAHO.

 

Last year, McHenry served as a Deputy Associate Attorney General working on a variety of immigration-related litigation matters and overseeing multiple components reporting to the Office of the Associate Attorney General. From 2014 to 2016, he served as an ALJ for the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review in the Social Security Administration. Prior to that, he worked for the Office of the Principal Legal Advisor (OPLA), Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Department of Homeland Security as an Assistant Chief Counsel and, later, as a Senior Attorney where he served as a lead attorney for national security, denaturalization, gang cases, anti-human trafficking operations, and worksite enforcement matters. He also served a detail as a Special Assistant United States Attorney for the Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Georgia.

 

Director McHenry earned a Bachelor of Science from the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, a Master of Arts in political science from the Vanderbilt University Graduate School, and a Juris Doctor from the Vanderbilt University Law School.”

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PWS

01-19-20

GONZO’S WORLD: HOW’S HE ABUSING HIS OFFICE AND WASTING YOUR MONEY NOW? – BY BATTLING 12-YR-OLD GIRL WITH EPILEPSY IN COURT!

http://www.newsweek.com/jeff-sessions-war-pot-goes-court-attorney-general-will-fight-12-year-old-780749?utm_source=email&utm_medium=morning_brief&utm_campaign=newsletter&utm_content=read_more&spMailingID=2801752&spUserID=MzQ4OTU2OTQxNTES1&spJobID=950839943&spReportId=OTUwODM5OTQzS0

Science Editor Kate Sheridan reports for Newsweek:

“A 12-year-old suing the federal government may have a whiff of adorableness. But for Alexis Bortell, who filed a lawsuit against Attorney General Jeff Sessions last fall, it’s a choice she had to make to save her life. Alexis has epilepsy, and Sessions has made it his mission to make it impossible for her to access the only drug that has kept her seizures at bay: cannabis.

A Scream of Terror

Alexis doesn’t remember her first seizure. But her father, Dean Bortell, does.

“We were literally folding clothes, and Alexis was sleeping on the couch,” Bortell told Newsweek. “All of a sudden, I heard her make this shriek—I mean, it was a scream of terror,” he said. “I look over, and Alexis is stiff as a board, on her back, spasming.”

At first, Bortell suspected his daughter had a brain-eating amoeba on account of headlines about them that summer and took her to the hospital. Within hours, it became clear something else was wrong. Alexis was diagnosed with epilepsy in 2013.

Three years ago, Alexis began taking medical marijuana, and her seizures disappeared. But that treatment option is threatened by an aggressive federal crackdown on medicinal cannabis led by Sessions, who is also the acting director of the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Her day in court—February 14, at a New York City federal courthouse—is fast approaching. Alexis won’t be there in person, but her lawyer, Michael Hiller, thinks the ruling will go their way.

“We are very optimistic that the case is going to come out the way it should, which is that the Controlled Substances Act is going to be found unconstitutional,” Hiller said. Several other plaintiffs—a former professional football player, a veteran and another child—are also included.”

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Read the rest of Sheridan’s article at the above link.

So, when he’s not out picking on African-Americans, Hispanics, Immigrants, or Gays, seizing private property without due process, screwing up the U.S. Immigration Courts, or spreading false narratives about crime, Gonzo gets his jollies by wasting the USG’s time and resources to make the life of a 12-year-old with epilepsy worse. What else does he have up his sleeve? This is what we should expect from our senior public servants?

PWS

01-19-18

 

THE TRAGEDY OF EL SALVADOR IN THE AGE OF TRUMP: Linda Greenhouse @ NYT” – “[S]ince President Trump announced his decision, I’ve been obsessed not with its legality but with its cruelty and self-defeating stupidity.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/18/opinion/el-salvador-trump-immigration.html?em_pos=small&emc=edit_ty_20180118&nl=opinion-today&nl_art=8&nlid=79213886&ref=headline&te=1

Greenhouse writes:

“Expulsions on the scale the Trump administration envisions are hardly unknown to history. Even modern countries, within memory, have sought to rid themselves of entire populations. It tends neither to turn out well nor reflect well on the expelling country. Two hundred thousand people may not sound like a huge number on a historic scale. But the population of San Salvador, El Salvador’s capital, is only 280,000. Money sent home by Salvadorans living abroad, most in the United States, where protected status conveys work authorization, amounts to 17 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, according to the country’s central bank. The destabilizing effect of cutting off this flow of capital is obvious.

The potential economic effects in this country are less obvious, but real. Contrary to what President Trump might think, the Salvadoran community is highly productive. According to the Center for Migration Studies, a think tank in New York affiliated with a Catholic group, the Congregation of the Missionaries of St. Charles, 88 percent of Salvadorans participate in the labor force (the construction and food service industries are their biggest employers), compared with 63 percent of Americans as a whole. They pay taxes and own homes. Since individuals with protected status are ineligible for welfare and other social benefits, this is a group that contributes to the country while taking little.

And the human cost of expelling them is nearly unbearable. More than half have been in this country for at least 20 years. During that time they have become parents of some 200,000 United States-born citizens. Ten percent of the protected-status Salvadorans are married to legal residents. What exactly does the Trump administration think should become of these families? “Not even a dog would leave their babies behind,” Elmer Pena, an Indianapolis homeowner who has worked for the same company there for 18 years, said to USA Today. His children, United States citizens, are 10, 8 and 6 years old.

. . . .

Revisiting El Salvador’s bloody history is outside the scope of this column. But in this #MeToo era of standing with one’s fellow humans, it seems to me that we owe something to that country beyond the sundering of families and the expulsion of people who did exactly what they were supposed to do: make the best of the opportunity extended to them in grace nearly a generation ago. Were we a better country then? Are we comfortable with what we have become?”

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

Read thge complete op-ed at the link.

And, over at the Washington Post, Charles Lane had this to offer:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trumps-dangerous-threat-to-the-third-largest-hispanic-group-in-america/2018/01/17/44b1b6bc-fbac-11e7-a46b-a3614530bd87_story.html?utm_term=.4f0ff01e7347

Lane writes:

“This forgotten history has contemporary lessons, which we should try to understand lest President Trump’s policy prove not merely morally questionable but also counterproductive.

El Salvador is the most densely populated Spanish-speaking country on the planet; yet a small elite historically controlled its best farmlands.

The struggle for existence there is intense, sometimes violent. And so generations of Salvadorans have left in search of land and work — and tranquility. Neighboring Honduras was once a crucial demographic escape valve. The 1969 war closed it, and disrupted the Central American common market, destabilizing El Salvador politically. There was a savage 1979-1992 civil war between U.S.-supported governments and Marxist guerrillas.

That conflict drove hundreds of thousands to the United States, establishing a migratory pattern that continues to this day. The 2.1 million Salvadoran-origin people now constitute the third-largest Hispanic group in the United States, after those of Mexican and Puerto Rican origin, according to the Pew Research Center.

Salvadoran labor helped build the shiny new downtown of Washington, D.C., one of several cities — including Houston and Los Angeles — that would barely be recognizable anymore without a Salvadoran community.

. . . .

Still, he is correct to focus on the deeper causes of migration, and the United States’ chronic failure positively to affect them. At the very least, history provides cause for concern that, by ending “temporary protected status” next year for nearly one-tenth of all Salvadoran-origin people here, Trump might ultimately destabilize Central America further.

. . . .

At the same time, it would deprive the Salvadoran economy of millions of dollars in cash remittances, while requiring it to house and employ a large number of returnees.

Of course, that’s on the implausible assumption that most affected Salvadorans wouldn’t try to stay, thus swelling the very undocumented population Trump is supposedly bent on shrinking.

MS-13 itself metastasized in El Salvador as the unintended consequence of a (defensible) American effort, begun under the Clinton administration, to deport members convicted of crimes in the United States. The gang began in L.A.’s Salvadoran community; once back in El Salvador, its members took advantage of corrupt, weak law enforcement to expand and, eventually, reach back into the United States.

Of all the United States’ international relationships, surely the most underrated — in terms of tangible impact on people’s everyday lives, both here and abroad — is the one with El Salvador. Any policy that fails to take that into account is doomed to fail.”

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

Read the complete article at the link.

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Of course the Trump Administration neither cares about the human effects on Salvadorans and their families nor fully understands and appreciates the adverse effects on both the U.S. and El Salvador. And, this Administration arrogantly and stupidly thinks that it can control human migration patterns solely by “macho” enforcement actions on this end. That’s why they are on track for an immigration policy that is “FUBAR Plus.” Others will be left to wipe up the tears and pick up the pieces! But, then, taking responsibility for failure isn’t a Trump specialty either.

PWS

01-19-18

 

 

TAL @ CNN SAYS “GANG OF SIX” STILL WORKING FURIOUSLY TO GET BIPARTISAN SUPPORT AS BUDGET CRISIS LOOMS EVER CLOSER!

http://www.cnn.com/2018/01/18/politics/immigration-shutdown-talks/index.html

Tal reports:

“Gang of Six senators furiously trying to nail down support for immigration bill

By: Tal Kopan, CNN

As votes for government funding look perilous in Congress, bipartisan senators behind an immigration deal are furiously working behind the scenes to build support for their bill, hoping it could be in play to avert a shutdown.

The group, an offshoot of the so-called Gang of Six, is “practically sprinting” to get the bill officially introduced, one congressional aide said, and are working to add as many Republican supporters as possible. When the bill was unveiled on Wednesday night, it had picked up four Republicans in addition to the three that worked to develop it.

If all 49 Democrats support the bill, only four more Republicans would be needed to clear the 60 votes required to advance legislation in the Senate.

Even though the bill has already been rejected by the President and Republican leadership, the calculus is that with a standoff on government funding, Republicans will be pressed on why they walked away from a bipartisan deal with votes to pass it when the shutdown blame game begins.

Illinois Democrat Sen. Dick Durbin, one of the lead authors of the bill, met on Thursday morning with the House Problem Solvers Caucus, a bipartisan group of lawmakers who have sought a centrist deal on DACA as well, his office said. Building House support could answer White House chief of staff John Kelly’s criticism that the bill didn’t have support from both sides of Capitol Hill when it was brought to the President last week.

Democrats’ negotiating position got stronger on Thursday when Republican South Dakota Sen. Mike Rounds, who has backed the bipartisan immigration bill, announced he would not vote for a weeks-long short-term funding extension, saying good governance requires a long-term solution instead of short-term fixes.

Rounds joined the bill’s other lead author, South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, in his opposition. With other Republican fiscal hawks traditionally opposed to short-term continuing resolutions, the pressure is lifted off vulnerable Democratic senators up for re-election to vote for a funding deal that even a handful of Republicans aren’t supporting.

The bill would offer a pathway to citizenship for eligible young undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children, allocate nearly $3 billion to a border wall and technology, limit sponsorship of family members by recipients of the program and reallocate diversity lottery visas to other immigration programs.

Advocates are optimistic that the tide has turned in Democrats’ favor in recent days. They argue that the President’s rejection of the bipartisan bill — just days after he was televised telling lawmakers to bring him a deal and he would sign it — combined with the news of Trump referring to certain countries in a disparaging way has only empowered Democrats to stand up.

“In the last 24 hours we’ve sensed a real shift from Republicans not believing Democrats are going to be resolute, to, ‘Oh my god, Democrats are resolute and Republicans are joining in and we won’t be able to pass the CR without negotiation,'” said Frank Sharry, a longtime immigration advocate with America’s Voice Education Fund.”

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I encourage everyone to go on over to CNN and check out Tal’s many other reports on the DACA process. Tal is so prolific, I just can’t keep up with her, sometimes! But, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t!

Notwithstanding Nolan’s skepticism about the “Gang of Six” effort, these Senators still think they can get something done and sell it to enough of their colleagues to make a difference! Time will tell! Stay tuned!

PWS

01-18-18

U.S. IMMIGRATION JUDGE RODGER P. HARRIS REPORTEDLY STANDS TALL FOR DUE PROCESS AS NEW COURT SUIT ALLEGES THAT HIS COLLEAGUES ON THE IMMIGRATION BENCH IN CHARLOTTE, N.C. ARE SCOFFLAWS WHO FAIL TO HOLD LEGALLY REQUIRED BOND HEARINGS!

https://www.lexisnexis.com/legalnewsroom/immigration/b/immigration-law-blog/archive/2018/01/18/lawsuit-challenges-immigration-judges-who-refuse-to-hold-bond-hearings-palacios-v-sessions.aspx?Redirected=true

From LexisNexis Immigration Community online:

“Lawsuit Challenges Immigration Judges Who Refuse to Hold Bond Hearings: Palacios v. Sessions

AIC, Jan. 17, 2018

“The government cannot lock people up without giving them access to prompt bond hearings and an opportunity to show that they should be released for the months or years that it takes to adjudicate their removal cases. This lawsuit challenges the actions of immigration judges in Charlotte, North Carolina who have done just that: refused to conduct bond hearings for people who properly file bond motions with the Charlotte Immigration Court.  The case was filed as a class action in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina by the American Immigration Council, the CAIR Coalition, and Cauley Forsythe Law Group.”

Complaint

Brief in Support of Motion for Class Certification”

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Go on over to LexisNexis Immigration Community at the link for the complete story.
Check out paragraph 6 of the Complaint which contrasts the conduct of Judge Harris, who holds bond hearing in accordance with the law and established procedures, and the alleged conduct of his judicial colleagues in Charlotte.
Not surprising to me! Judge Harris was my colleague for years at the U.S. Immigration Court in Arlington Virginia where he had a reputation for scrupulously following the law and providing full due process to all who came before him. Just like a U.S. Immigration Judge is supposed to do.
On the other hand, prior to Judge Harris’s arrival, the Charlotte Immigration Court had a reputation among the private bar, commentators, and the press as a place where due process was often given short shrift, particularly in asylum cases.
Of course, these are merely allegations at this time. We’ll see what happens as the case progresses in Federal District Court.
While Sessions, McHenry, and the “Falls Church Crew” are screwing around with imaginary “goals and timetables’ — untethered to reality in a system with a 660,000 backlog and no real plan for resolving it — these are the real due process problems that are festering in the U.S. Immigration Courts and denying individuals their legal right to due process on a regular basis. Where’s the concern from “on high” with a court system that’s failing in its mission to provide due process to individuals under our Constitution? Obviously, the problem starts with a “Scofflaw Attorney General” who cares more about expediting removals and a White Nationalist immigration enforcement agenda than he does about the Constitution, Due Process, and the integrity of the U.S. Immigration Court system.
We need an independent Article I U.S. Immigration Court now!
PWS
01-18-18

 

THE BO-GLO: FEDERAL JUDGE IN BOSTON STRONGLY REBUKES TRUMP ADMINISTRATION’S “GONZO” ENFORCEMENT — COMPARES CHRISTIANS BEING FORCED OUT “to Jews fleeing the Third Reich in a boat!”

https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2018/01/17/judge-compares-christians-facing-deportation-trump-administration-jews-fleeing-nazis/klnay5JG42au9fadumgIcL/story.html?s_campaign=8315

Michael Levinson reports for the Boston Globe:

“A federal judge on Wednesday likened a group of Indonesian Christians facing possible deportation by the Trump administration to Jewish refugees trying to escape the Nazis.

Judge Patti B. Saris compared the plight of the Indonesians, who are in the country illegally, to Jews fleeing the Third Reich in a boat — an apparent reference to the infamous case of the St. Louis, an ocean liner that left Germany with 937 passengers, most of them Jews, and was turned away by the US government in 1939. Hundreds of the Jews were later killed during the Holocaust.

The Indonesians argue they will be tortured or killed because of their religion if forced to return to their Muslim-majority homeland. The Trump administration insists they have not proven they would be harmed if they returned to Indonesia.

“We’re not going to be that country,” Saris said Wednesday at a hearing in US District Court in Boston. “We don’t want to put them on the ship unless someone” can review their contention that deportation back to Indonesia is “a really bad situation for them.”

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Read the complete story at the link. Thanks to my good friend Kevin Roche from Boothbay Harbor (summer) and Boston (winter) for sending this my way.

More wasteful litigation, more abuse of authority, more cruel, unnecessary, and unproductive “Gonzo” enforcement from the Trump Administration! They seem determined to repeat all of the worst mistakes of American history. But, then again, the Trumpsters pride themselves on ignorance of history, disregard of facts, and anti-intellectualism. So, why should we be surprised that they act more like “third-world thugs” than representatives of an enlightened Western Democracy?

All of this supports my observation that DHS doesn’t have enough real law enforcement functions to keep its current workforce busy. They clearly don’t need any additional agents. Just different leadership and smarter, more humane and sensible policies.

PWS

01-18-18

 

 

 

 

NO SURPRISES HERE – “GONZO” IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT IS BAD LAW ENFORCEMENT!

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/01/how-trumps-immigration-policies-are-backfiring.html

Isaac Chotiner reports for Slate

“A week after President Trump declared his preference for immigrants from places like Norway over various “shithole” countries (that just happen to be majority nonwhite), Congress and the White House are negotiating over keeping the government funded, with immigration as a key issue. Most Democrats only want to do avoid a shutdown if the Dreamers are given legal protections that Trump has sought to remove. In return for offering them protections, Trump wants funding for things like a border wall. Meanwhile, the Trump administration has continued its heightened pace of immigration raids and deportations, and recently declared that it would remove protections from Salvadoran immigrants who had settled in the country.

To discuss the state of play on Capitol Hill, and Trump’s approach to immigration more broadly, I spoke by phone with Jonathan Blitzer, a staff writer at the New Yorker who covers immigration issues. (Earlier this month, he wrote about the presence of the MS-13 gang on Long Island.) During the course of our conversation, which has been edited and condensed for clarity, we discussed how much racism has influenced Trump’s immigration policies, whether tough-on-immigration stances can be counterproductive to halting crime, and if Democrats should compromise on a border wall if it means protecting the Dreamers.

. . . .

Essentially in the past, in the last two years of the Obama presidency, DHS created a set of priorities, basically saying to ICE: Look, there’s a huge undocumented immigrant population in the United States. 12 million people. You can’t go after everyone. If you guys are going to be a serious police force and if people aren’t going to live in fear of completely random acts of arrest and deportations, you have to prioritize people with criminal records. You have to prioritize people who could be viewed as constituting a public safety threat. The new administration immediately canceled those priorities, which pretty much means there are actually no guidelines for how ICE now goes about its business.

In one sense, that suits the MO of the administration, which is almost total randomness. There really isn’t a kind of thoroughgoing vision of what immigration enforcement looks like. In fact, if you think thematically, the administration is doing things that in some ways undermine the president’s very public statements about how concerned he is with the growing undocumented population in the U.S.

How so?

Just talking about the Salvadoran population, you’re talking about 200,000 people. Those people aren’t just going to leave after two decades here because the administration has now removed this legal protection for them. You are going to see the undocumented community grow in the United States under the Trump administration.

What’s more, arrests are up, right? So the statistics I’ve seen are that ICE arrests have gone up by something like 40 percent, and a significant number of those are people who did not have criminal records. There’s an enormous backlog in immigration courts, a backlog of over 600,000 cases, which means that you actually can’t process all the people who are being arrested. In fact, if you were thinking about this all rationally, [the arrests] would be counterproductive.

One thing your colleague Sarah Stillman mentions in her piece in last week’s issue of the New Yorker is that immigrants are not reporting crime. The drops in major cities are staggering. In Arlington, Virginia, for example, according to Stillman, “domestic-assault reports in one Hispanic neighborhood dropped more than eighty-five per cent in the first eight months after Trump’s Inauguration, compared with the same period the previous year. Reports of rape and sexual assault fell seventy-five per cent.” You would think that as an administration that talks about being tough on crime that this would be a huge problem, but it isn’t to them.

One hundred percent agreed. It’s counterproductive in almost every sense. You don’t even need to go to the bleeding-heart liberals for confirmation of this. You talk to police, you talk to sheriffs, and a lot of them are actually quite concerned about what this means for public safety and how they do their police work. Victims aren’t coming forward.

In some of the work that I’ve done on Long Island, MS-13 has been basically an obsession with this administration, and in every instance, the way the administration has gone about trying to combat the gang problem has backfired and has resulted in communities being a lot less safe than they otherwise would have been.

What specifically?

What’s happening on Long Island—and I think it’s fair to say this is happening elsewhere where MS-13’s been active—what ICE and local law enforcement have started to do is they’ve been so indiscriminate in who they’re arresting for suspected gang associations that they’re actually arresting a lot of people who are the victims of gang crime. I mean, you look at some of these communities, the victims and the perpetrators live side-by-side in these tiny hamlets. They go to the same schools. They work the same jobs. The idea of arresting anyone who has this kind of peripheral association with the gang is nonsensical.

There’s some racial profiling going on on Long Island, and this is exactly the stuff that you’re describing, the fears that people have. I mean you have victims of crimes who are scared to come forward because when they talk to the police, they know police are talking to ICE and the next thing they know, they’ll either end up in detention or family members will end up in detention.

What would be a more proper approach to MS-13? It seems like a tough issue for Democrats.

The proper approach from a law enforcement and community-building standpoint is to invest more money in after school programs. It sounds like sort of milquetoast policy, but you talk to experts on this, you talk to former gang members and community organizers and all of them, all of them are aligned in stressing the importance of just basically providing some sense of community for kids who live in these immigrant communities who often have come fleeing gang violence in Central America who have essentially nowhere else to turn. They go to schools. They don’t speak the language. There aren’t after school programs. They don’t have counseling. Some of them have undergone intense trauma. They’re easy marks for a gang that recruits people who feel isolated and socially marginalized. Oftentimes what happens is they join up on the U.S. side and not on the Central American side, precisely because they feel exposed here.

But that’s not an easy sell. I think Democrats are in a tough spot on that and I think that’s one of the reasons why the Republicans have really tried to link MS-13 to this kind of nationwide attack on sanctuary cities. It’s all playing on these fears and rhetorically, I think for the most part has been pretty successful for Republicans.

If you put aside for a minute America’s role in helping immiserate El Salvador, going back many years to our support for very bad people during their civil war, what would you tell American citizens about taking in immigrants who might be likely to end up in gangs like this?

I don’t think they are so likely to end up in gangs. I think that’s one of the first things that the administration trades on: playing up the idea that all of these kids who arrive here are somehow threats. A tiny, tiny minority of unaccompanied kids who show up in the U.S. end up joining these gangs. The vast majority, the overwhelming majority of them have no gang affiliation, want nothing to do with the gangs, and if given the opportunity here, thrive.

The argument for why we should be more open to them is the same argument that I would make about U.S. refugee policies generally. It is a mark of American moral and political leadership. It actually affects our policies and our foreign policy weight in these regions. The United States has supported all kinds of horrifying political regimes in Central America, but even leaving that political history aside, the gang problem in Central America is the direct outgrowth of U.S. deportation policy. It’s a literal shift. It’s not even a manner of speaking.

Mass deportation creates instability. It’s just going to continue to create a refugee crisis. I mean this crisis is just the continuation of a decades-long trend. We sometimes look the other way, which sometimes is contributing directly to the violence in these regions and then people basically having no other move than to try to move north.

. . . .”

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Read the complete interview at the link.

As I have been saying, Trump, Sessions, Miller, Homan, & Co. have little or no interest in effective law enforcement. Anything but!

Indeed, as this article points out, and as I have said in the past, truly effective, legitimate law enforcement would involve securing the trust of the Hispanic communities and separating real law enforcement targets — serious criminals and terrorists — from the vast, vast bulk of the undocumented population who are residing peacefully and productively in the U.S. In addition to exercising “PD” for the latter, effective law enforcement would involve putting forth a “no strings attached” proposal to give these folks legal status and work authorization in the U.S., preferably with, but even without, a “path to citizenship.”

No, with the Trumpsters, it’s all about White Nationalism, racism, and the quest to create a false link between Hispanics, crime, and loss of American jobs (conveniently forgetting that we’re now basically at “full employment” in the U.S. and that without undocumented workers our economy would likely be contracting rather than continuing to expand). As a result, ICE is becoming a “bad joke” in the legitimate law enforcement community and an anathema to people almost everywhere. In a democracy (which Trump, Sessions, et al don’t really want) law enforcement can’t operate effectively without a certain amount of mutual trust and respect from the community.

PWS

01-18-18

MORE NONSENSE FROM EOIR: NEW “PRIORITIES & TIMETABLES” WON’T HELP RESOLVE 660,00 CASE BACKLOG, BUT WILL MINDLESSLY INCREASE STRESS, CAUSE MORE “ADR,” & IMPEDE DUE PROCESS!

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2018/01/17/doj-issues-new-immigration-court-policies-addressing-obama-era-caseload-backup.html

Brooke Singman reports for Fox News:

“The Justice Department issued new measures on Wednesday that will prioritize certain immigration cases in an effort to streamline a system that nearly tripled the caseload of judges during the Obama administration.

A memo listing guidelines for all new cases filed and an order that all immigration court cases that are reopened must establish case priorities was sent by John [sic] McHenry, the director of the Justice Department’s Executive Office for Immigration Review, to the Office of Chief Immigration Judge, all immigration judges, all court administrators and all immigration court staff.

“In 2010, immigration court benchmarks for non-detained cases were abruptly abandoned, and since that time — perhaps non-coincidentally — the caseload has tripled,” Justice Department spokesman Devin O’Malley said in a statement to Fox News, noting that the reintroduction of court-based goals and benchmarks would “assist in properly managing cases, increase productivity, and reduce the pending caseload.”

“Some policies implemented in the immigration court system in recent years have contributed to a three-fold increase of the courts’ pending caseload,” O’Malley said to Fox News, noting that certain “prioritization practices” made the caseload “worse” by continuing cases that could be resolved more quickly in favor of cases that often took longer to complete.

It was “the immigration court equivalent of fiddling while Rome burned,” O’Malley said.

“Some policies implemented in the immigration court system in recent years have contributed to a three-fold increase of the courts’ pending caseload.”

– Devin O’Malley, DOJ spokesman

McHenry’s memo is part of a larger push led by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who issued a broader memo late last year outlining principles to ensure that the “adjudication of immigration court cases serves the national interest,” and gave McHenry the “authority” to set time frames for the resolution of cases, and to evaluate the performance of immigration judges and “take corrective action where needed.”

Currently, less than 10 percent of immigration cases pending meet the definition of “priority,” according to McHenry, leading him to address “confusion” and “clarify” the department’s priorities. That statistic, however, conveys a “potentially mistaken impression” of the importance of completing the other 600,000-plus pending cases that do not bear a “priority” designation, according to McHenry.

“All cases involving individuals in detention or custody, regardless of the custodian, are priorities for completion,” McHenry wrote, but noted that “the designation of a case as a priority is not intended to mandate a specific outcome in any particular case.”

Other measures McHenry ordered were new benchmarks for courts, and for immigration judges.

The new measures require that 85 percent of all non-status detained removal cases be completed within 60 days of filing; 85 percent of all non-status non-detained removal cases be completed within 1 year of filing; and 85 percent of all motions adjudicated within 14 days of the request.

McHenry also required 90 percent of custody redeterminations to be completed within 14 days of the request, and 95 percent of all hearings to be completed on their initial scheduled hearing date.

Another new rule requires 100 percent of “all credible fear reviews” to be completed within seven days.

Fox News’ Jake Gibson contributed to this report.”

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Thanks to Dan Kowalski over at LexisNexis for sending this item my way.

Inane memos like this, issued without consultation and meaningful input from either the U.S. Immigration Judges who actually decide the cases or the attorneys who litigate in immigration Court, are basically “DOA.” Significantly, both the BIA and the Federal Courts have made it clear that compliance with bureaucratic “timeframes” can’t overrule the legal requirements of Due Process in an individual case. Even assuming that Sessions can “co-opt” the BIA, the Federal Courts will be sending back cases in which it appears that the Immigration Judge has elevated the desire to meet timeframes over the requirements of fundamental fairness and Due Process.

But, quite contrary to Acting Director James (not “John” as the article states) McHenry’s bogus claim that the memo does not suggest any particular outcome, the memo clearly suggests that U.S. Immigration Judges should cut corners and deny Due Process to meet these artificial guidelines or risk having their performance judged “deficient.” For example, most detained cases with asylum applications that go to an “Individual Merits” hearing are going to take more than 60 days for the Respondent to locate a pro bono attorney and for that attorney to complete the application and prepare for what often can be a very complex and hotly contested hearing.  It’s an open invitation, if not an actual directive, to engage in sloppy, unprofessional judging.

Moreover, the tone of the memo insultingly suggests that the problem is that  in the absence of this type of sophomoric “guidance from above” U.S. Immigration Judges haven’t been working very hard or effectively to complete cases. Therefore, “cracking the administrative whip” — by folks that by and large are not and never have actually been sitting U.S. immigration Judges — will somehow motivate them to “pedal faster.” What a crock! Almost any executive or manager worth his or her salt knows that this type of “scare tactic” applied to a senior professional workforce accomplishes nothing besides ratcheting up already astronomically high stress levels and unnecessarily diminishing already low morale.

This memorandum is, however, yet another key exhibit on how and why the current U.S. Immigration Court is being incompetently administered by the DOJ and their “gofors” over at EOIR Headquarters in Falls Church. With the likes of Jeff “Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions in charge of the U.S. Immigration Courts, things are only going to get worse. American needs an independent Article I U.S. Immigration Court now! 

PWS

01-18-18