DETENTION/BOND: THE “NEW DUE PROCESS ARMY” WINS A BIG ONE IN THE EDVA – Judge Brinkema Orders Individualized Bond Hearings For Four Individuals With “Reinstated” Removal Orders Now In “Withholding Only Proceedings!” — Romero v. Evans, ___ F. Supp. 3d ___, 2017 WL 5560659 (EDVA 11-17-17) (published)

Romero v. Evans, ___ F. Supp. 3d ___, 2017 WL 5560659 (EDVA 11-17-17) (published)

U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema

ATTORNEYS FOR RESPONDENTS: Ivan Yacub, Yacub Law Office, Woodbridge, VA, Nicholas Cooper Marritz, Legal Aid Justice Center, Falls Church, VA, Simon Yehuda Sandoval–Moshenberg, Simon Sandoval Moshenburg, Falls Church, VA, Rachel Colleen McFarland, Legal Aid Justice Center, Charlottesville, VA, Mark Alastair Stevens, Murray Osorio PLLC, Fairfax, VA, for Cristian Flores Romero, et al., Petitioners

KEY QUOTES (From Westlaw Version):

“Moreover, Congress clearly intended to have § 1231 govern only the final logistical period, in which the government has actual authority to remove the alien and need only schedule and execute the deportation. Congress has specifically limited the normal “removal period” to 90 days, a limitation that makes sense if the removal period is only meant to govern the final logistical steps of physically removing an alien. Based on the length of petitioners’ detentions to date, it is obvious that withholding-only proceedings take substantially longer than 90 days. As such, it would be contrary to congressional intent to shoehorn a class of aliens whose proceedings will typically far exceed 90 days into the “removal period” for which Congress has specifically intended a 90–day limit.”

. . . .

All told, this petition presents a difficult question of statutory interpretation. Although respondents’ arguments have some merit, petitioners’ position, which attempts to harmonize § 1226 and § 1231 by locating the dividing line between the two sections as the moment when the government has final legal authority to remove the alien, better accords with the text, structure, and intent of the relevant provisions. Accordingly, the Court concludes that petitioners are detained under § 1226(a), not § 1231, and therefore are entitled to individualized bond hearings. For the reasons stated above, respondents’ Motion to Dismiss in Part will be granted, petitioners’ Motion for Summary Judgment will be granted, and respondents’ Motion for Summary Judgment will be denied by an appropriate Order to be issued with this Memorandum Opinion.”

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Those with full Westlaw and/or PACER access can get Judge Brinkema’s full opinion at those sites.

There were quite a few of these “Withholding Only” cases on the Detained Docket when I was at the Arlington Immigration Court. I imagine there are even more now. So, this decision could have a major impact.

Judge Brinkema noted quite correctly that withholding-only proceedings take substantially longer than 90 days.” In other words, “real due process” can’t be rolled off the “judicial assembly line” like it is in some Border Detention Courts where most of the respondents are unrepresented and many are essentially “duressed” by prolonged detention in poor conditions, intentional lack of access to legal assistance, and orchestrated inaccessibility of material evidence into giving up viable claims for protection under our laws.

Nice work by the NDPA “Legal Team!” I know each of the attorneys personally from their work in my courtroom, my classroom, or my “CLE outreach” since retirement. This just continues to demonstrate how “good lawyering” from “outstanding attorneys” can turn potential losers into “winners.”

That’s why the “Sessions Proposals” to “speed up” the U.S. Immigration Judges and put more roadblocks in the way of pro bono legal representation and full due process hearings are so invidious. We need an independent Article I Immigration Court fully committed to Constitutional Due Process! And, we need it now!

PWS

11-22-17

WALL? WHAT WALL? – BUREAUCRATIC BARRIERS BEST BAR TO (NEEDED) IMMIGRATION (Hey, I Could’ve Told ‘Em That!) – But, White Nationalist Goal Of Returning To A “White America” Ultimately Doomed — “You can slow the rate of Latino and Asian immigration, but it won’t make the population whiter,”. . . “It will just become less white at a slower pace.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/immigration/how-trump-is-building-a-border-wall-no-one-can-see/2017/11/21/83d3b746-cba0-11e7-b0cf-7689a9f2d84e_story.html?utm_term=.a71d3a707371

Maria Sacchetti and Nick Miroff report in the Washington Post:

“President Trump’s vision of a “big, beautiful” wall along the Mexican border may never be realized, and almost certainly not as a 2,000-mile physical structure spanning sea to sea.

But in a systematic and less visible way, his administration is following a blueprint to reduce the number of foreigners living in the United States those who are undocumented and those here legallyand overhaul the U.S. immigration system for generations to come.

Across agencies and programs, federal officials are wielding executive authority to assemble a bureaucratic wall that could be more effective than any concrete and metal one. While some actions have drawn widespread attention, others have been put in place more quietly.

The administration has moved to slash the number of refugees, accelerate deportations and terminate the provisional residency of more than a million people, among other measures. On Monday, the Department of Homeland Security said nearly 60,000 Haitians allowed to stay in the United States after a devastating 2010 earthquake have until July 2019 to leave or obtain another form of legal status.

. . . .

Even as they fight court orders seeking to halt parts of Trump’s immigration agenda, Sessions, White House senior adviser Stephen Miller and other key players are finding ways to shrink the immigration system. Miller was an aide to Sessions before both men joined the administration; in less than a year, their immigration policy prescriptions have moved from the realm of think-tank wish lists to White House executive orders.

In October, the White House — in a plan led by Miller — said it had conducted a “bottom-up review of all immigration policies” and found “dangerous loopholes, outdated laws, and easily exploited vulnerabilities in our immigration system — current policies that are harming our country and our communities.”

. . . .

Trump’s tough talk alone appears to be one of the administration’s best bulwarks: Illegal crossings along the border with Mexico have plunged to their lowest level in 45 years, and U.S. agents are catching a far greater share of those attempting to sneak in. Applications for H-1B skilled visas and new foreign-student enrollment have also declined.

William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution, said that until now U.S. immigration rates have largely spared the country from the challenges facing advanced industrial nations such as Japan and Germany that can’t replace aging workers fast enough. By slashing immigration, Frey said, the country could end up with labor shortages and other workforce issues.

But although some of Trump’s most fervent supporters see curbing immigration as a way to turn back the United States’ rapid racial and ethnic transformation, Frey said it is an unrealistic goal. By 2020, census projections show minorities will account for more than half of the under-18 U.S. population, because of higher birthrates in nonwhite populations. And by 2026, the number of whites is projected to begin declining in absolute numbers, he said, as deaths exceed births.

“You can slow the rate of Latino and Asian immigration, but it won’t make the population whiter,” Frey said. “It will just become less white at a slower pace.”

Trump continues to insist his administration will build a border wall, despite exorbitant cost projections and senior DHS officials saying a 2,000-mile structure is impractical. His supporters say they admire the president for plowing ahead in his overhaul efforts and see a historic, generational shift underway.

“There is more than one way to get to the goal,” Dane said. “Legislative solutions are all great, but clearly the administration has done things behind the scenes. . . . The results have been dramatic.”

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Read the full article at the link.

It’s no surprise that guys like Jeff “Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions and his henchman Stephen Miller are leading this racist-inspired, xenophobic “race to the bottom” that if successful would likely tank our economy and cause even more inequality and social unrest as well as inflicting all sorts of unnecessary pain and suffering on long time residents, needed and productive workers, and the most vulnerable individuals seeking protection under U.S. and international laws.  Really, hard to see how guys like this with retrograde ideas that come right from the “Jim Crow era” of American history get into positions of power for which they are so totally unqualified, both by background and temperament. But, then again, look at whom we have elected our President to represent us on the international scene.

The good news for the majority of Americans is that  the “turn back the clock” plan is ultimately likely to fail. We will eventually move forward again as a diverse, productive, “country of immigrants,” and restore humane and humanitarian values to our national and international profile.

PWS

11-22-17

CALLING FORMER FEDS – SIGN THIS LETTER TO SUPPORT DACA! — DEADLINE IS NOV. 30!

CLICK HERE FOR THE INFO:

https://goo.gl/forms/qj4DhUYYVBxsXSiY2

Thanks to my good friend, pro bono superstar, and Member of the NDPA, Diane Eikenberry, Associate Director for Policy, over at the Heartland Alliance for sending this my way!

PWS

11-22-17

 

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

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

From today’s Washington Post editorials:

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

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

. . . .

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

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

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Read the complete editorial at the link.

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

PWS

11-22-17

REUTERS TV: TILLERSON VIOLATES “CHILD SOLDIERS” LAW — “Steamrolls” Unanimous Internal Opposition!

Click here for link to the TV report

http://reut.tv/2jbsLJH

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Just another travesty by an “Administration of scofflaws” who put human rights last.

PWS

11-21-17

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

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

Nolan writes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PWS

11-21-17

COVER UP: ADMINISTRATION TRIES TO “DEEP SIX” DHS IG REPORT SHOWING INCOMPETENCE AND LAWLESSNESS SURROUNDING IMPLEMENTATION OF TRAVEL BAN!

https://www.politico.com/story/2017/11/20/homeland-security-travel-ban-253902

“The Department of Homeland Security’s official watchdog is accusing his own agency of slow-walking the public release of a report about confusion that ensued earlier this year after President Donald Trump issued his first travel ban executive order.

The still-unreleased inspector general report found that senior managers at Customs and Border Protection were “caught by surprise” by Trump’s order and that agency officials “violated two court orders” limiting implementation of Trump’s directive to suspend travel to the U.S. by citizens of seven majority-Muslim countries, according to a letter sent to lawmakers Monday and obtained by POLITICO.

The report’s conclusions appear to be sharply in tension with the picture the White House tried to paint of the execution of Trump’s Jan. 27 order, which led to confusion throughout the air travel system, protests at airports and delays at ports of entry to the U.S.

“It really is a massive success story in terms of implementation on every single level,” a senior administration official told reporters two days after Trump ordered the move.

The unusual missive to Congress on Monday from Inspector General John Roth said his 87-page report was sent to DHS leadership Oct. 6, but officials have declined to authorize its release over the past six weeks.

Roth said officials informed his office that the report is under review for information that may be subject to attorney-client privilege or to a privilege protecting the agency’s “deliberative process.”

“I am very troubled by this development,” Roth wrote, referring to the deliberate process claim. “This is the first time in my tenure as Inspector General that the Department has indicated that they may assert this privilege in connection with one of our reports or considered preventing the release of a report on that basis. In fact, we regularly have published dozens of reports that delve into the Department’s rationale for specific policies and decisions, and comment on the basis and process on which those decisions were made.”

Asked about Roth’s letter, DHS spokesman Tyler Houlton defended the department’s handling of the report, as well as the travel ban Trump ordered Jan. 27.

. . . .

Despite the lack of permission to release the report, Roth’s seven-page letter does outline its key findings. He suggests that while most Customs and Border Protection staffers did their best to implement the policy humanely, the lack of advance notice caused significant problems and led to a lack of clarity on key issues, including whether so-called green card holders were covered by the ban.

“During the early period of the implementation of the order, neither CBP nor the Department was sure of the answers to basic questions as to the scope of the order, such as whether the order applied to Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs), a significant percentage of the affected travelers and a fundamental question that should have been resolved early in the process,” Roth wrote.

The IG review compliments CBP personnel at various ports, saying many used their own funds to buy food and water for travelers delayed by the policy. The report also finds that officers generally complied with court orders that were quickly issued freezing efforts to expel travelers from the U.S.

However, Roth said CBP defied court orders by providing guidance to airlines not to allow travelers from certain countries to board flights bound for the U.S.

“While CBP complied with court orders at U.S. ports of entry with travelers who had already arrived, CBP was very aggressive in preventing affected travelers from boarding aircraft bound for the United States, and took actions that, in our view, violated, two separate court orders,” he wrote.

Records obtained by POLITICO through an ongoing Freedom of Information Act lawsuit underscore concerns by DHS personnel that there was no clear guidance about how to interpret the first order.

“We got a memo from the White House saying one thing and now the Press Secretary said another,” a senior CBP official wrote to an American Airlines executive in a Feb. 1 email explaining why the agency just abruptly withdrew guidance sent to major international air carriers.

Former Justice Department Inspector General Michael Bromwich said a letter like Roth’s is a rarity, but so is an agency trying to block disclosure of a report on the grounds being cited by DHS.

“It’s quite unusual. If agencies asserted these privileges as broadly as the letter says DHS is doing in this case, the ability of IGs to investigate important matters would be significantly compromised,” Bromwich told POLITICO. “In my tenure as IG, I don’t recall any instances in which the attorney-client or deliberative privileges were invoked by DOJ.”

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Read the full report at the link.

Pretty typical Trump Administration stuff.

PWS

11-21-17

SLAM DUNKED AGAIN: SF FEDERAL JUDGE ORRICK ISSUES NATIONWIDE INJUNCTION AGAINST ADMINISTRATION’S ATTACK ON “SANCTUARY CITIES!”

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/immigration/ct-trump-sanctuary-cities-funding-ruling-20171120-story.html

Sudhin Thanawala reports for the Associated Press in the Chicago Tribune:

“A federal judge on Monday permanently blocked President Donald Trump’s executive order to cut funding from cities that limit cooperation with U.S. immigration authorities.

U.S. District Court Judge William Orrick rejected the administration’s argument that the executive order applies only to a relatively small pot of money and said Trump cannot set new conditions on spending approved by Congress.

The judge had previously made the same arguments in a ruling that put a temporary hold on the executive order targeting so-called sanctuary cities. The Trump administration has appealed that decision to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

“The District Court exceeded its authority today when it barred the President from instructing his cabinet members to enforce existing law,” Department of Justice spokesman Devin O’Malley said in a statement late Monday. “The Justice Department will vindicate the President’s lawful authority to direct the executive branch.”

Orrick’s ruling came in lawsuits brought by two California counties, San Francisco and Santa Clara.

San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera said the ruling was “a victory for the American people and the rule of law.”

“President Trump might be able to tweet whatever comes to mind, but he can’t grant himself new authority because he feels like it,” he said in a statement.

A lawyer for the DOJ argued during a hearing before Orrick in April that the executive order applied to only a few grants that would affect less than $1 million for Santa Clara County and possibly no money for San Francisco.

Judge in Chicago refuses to change ruling on sanctuary cities
But the judge disagreed, saying in his rulings that the order was written broadly to “reach all federal grants” and potentially jeopardized hundreds of millions of dollars in funding to San Francisco and Santa Clara.

He cited comments by the president and Attorney General Jeff Sessions as evidence that the order was intended to target a wide array of federal funding. And he said the president himself had called it a “weapon” to use against recalcitrant cities.

The Trump administration separately has also moved to withhold one particular law enforcement grant from sanctuary cities, prompting a new round of lawsuits that are pending.”

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WORTHY OF NOTE:

  • Trump’s tweets and Sessions’s bombastic, anti-immigrant public agenda continue to haunt them in litigation.
  • Continuing a recent trend, Judge Orrick basically found the DOJ’s legal position “not credible.”
  • An Administration that (rather hollowly) claims to be interested in effective law enforcement refuses to work cooperatively with many major cities and threatens to withhold law enforcement funds.
  • Clearly, this case is headed “up the line,” probably eventually to the Supremes.

PWS

11-21-17

GONZO’S WORLD: Gonzo Smugly Mocks The “Rule Of Law” — But Will Mueller Get The Last Laugh?

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/11/jeff-sessions-has-got-jokes.html

Christian Farias reports in NY Maggie:

“Since taking office as Donald Trump’s attorney general, Jeff Sessions hasn’t missed a chance to remind the public that the North Star of his Department of Justice is the rule of law. Eliminating protections for Dreamers and exposing them to deportation; threatening to pull federal funding from sanctuary cities that refuse to do the administration’s bidding on immigration; asserting in court that gay workers aren’t protected by the letter of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; siding with a religious baker who declined to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple wishing to marry — all actions demanded by fidelity to the the rule of law.

Because the rule of law matters to Sessions, he decided to make it the centerpiece of his Friday remarks at the annual national lawyers’ gathering of the Federalist Society, the conservative legal brain trust that helped Trump handpick Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court. About the president’s own disdain for the rule of law and so-called judges who rule against him, the group has largely turned a blind eye. Instead, they celebrate the parade of originalist judges he’s sent to the federal bench. For conservative legal thinkers, this covers a multitude of sins. “Attendees this year have an ebullience I haven’t seen before,” Ariane de Vogue, a longtime Supreme Court correspondent, observed on Twitter. The Federalist Society’s chairman, for his part, is already plotting how to turn the judicial map red.

Chalk it up to the electricity in the air, all this winning, that Sessions, after an introduction by Edwin Meese, his predecessor at the Justice Department during the Reagan administration, suddenly decided the rule of law was a joke. “Is Ambassador Kislyak in the room?” Sessions asked of the lawyerly audience, which greeted the question with laughter. “Before I get started here, any Russians? Anybody been to Russia? Got a cousin in Russia or something?” The audience was loving it. Meese was rolling.

Sessions must have thought of the Russia bit on the spot, as it wasn’t in his prepared remarks. There’s a reason he may have found the whole thing hilarious right there and then: He delivered the line at none other than the Mayflower Hotel, the same location where he and Kislyak, the former Russian ambassador, had an encounter during the presidential campaign that went undisclosed during his confirmation hearing. Sessions’s own shifting recollections and denials about his contacts with Russian officials in later Senate testimony are hard to keep up with. For all we know, he may have lied to Congress. Suffice it to say, the extent of those contacts played a significant role in Sessions’s recusal from all things Russia, a move that blindsided Trump and infuriated him. With a loyalist out of the way, it fell to Rod Rosenstein, Sessions’s deputy, to appoint Robert Mueller to lead the criminal and counterintelligence probes into the Kremlin’s disruption of last year’s election. Sessions came this close to resigning over Mueller’s appointment.

None of this is a laughing matter. That Sessions had the presence of mind to crack a joke about it makes a mockery of his self-professed commitment to the rule of law. The rule of law isn’t just rescinding Obama-era rules or steering the federal government toward more conservative outcomes. The rule of law, fragile as it is, is also a set of unwritten norms that stay the same no matter who’s in power — such as the nation’s top law-enforcement officer recognizing that he should not make light of an investigation in which he himself is implicated and may have committed perjury. One in which his own Justice Department has active, ongoing prosecutions of campaign officials that he once worked with. Sessions treating this as a joke undermines keepers of the constitutional order — Congress, the Executive branch, and now the courts — who are taking it very seriously.

“Recusals happen all the time throughout the Department of Justice … just because we follow the rules. That furthers confidence in justice,” Sessions declared near the end of his Federalist Society speech. Now that’s a good one. Desiree Fairooz, the activist who laughed at Jeff Sessions during his confirmation hearing and was prosecuted by his Justice Department over it, would be forgiven if she heard that zinger and laughed again.

Mueller, for his part, has his sights on another uproarious matter: ABC News reported Sunday that the special counsel is looking into the Justice Department’s role in the firing of James Comey. Sessions may have a hard time laughing that one off.”

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Sessions, who lives on and for the “wrong side of history and human decency,” should go down as the most lawless Attorney General since John Mitchell. Indeed, I think he has the potential to surpass Mitchell in terms of contempt for the American system, for the majority of Americans, and for the rule of law. Having lived through the “Watergate Era,” that’s saying something!

PWS

11-20-17

A DECADE AFTER THE “GEORGETOWN 3” PUBLISHED “REFUGEE ROULETTE” THE PROBLEM OF GROSS DISPARITIES IN ASYLUM ADJUDICATION PERSIST – NEW TRAC STUDY!

==========================================
Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse
==========================================
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Greetings. Very recent data from the Immigration Courts, current through September 2017, reveals that the outcome for asylum seekers continues to depend on the identity of the immigration judge assigned to hear the case. In the San Francisco as well as the Newark Immigration Courts, for example, the odds of being granted asylum during FY 2012 – FY 2017 ranged between a high of 90 percent down to a low of only 3 percent depending upon which immigration judge the asylum seeker was assigned.

The two courts with the largest number of asylum cases, New York and Los Angeles, also had sizable judge-to-judge differences in asylum outcomes. In the New York Immigration Court judge denial rates ranged from a low of 3.0 percent up to a high of 58.5 percent. The disparity in asylum denial rates among the judges on the Los Angeles court ranged from a low of 29.4 percent denied to a high of 97.5 percent.

Immigration judge-to-judge decision disparities have long existed and are well documented. Despite widespread concern about this problem, between 2010 and 2016 judge-to-judge decision disparities actually increased. This year’s report, updated through FY 2017, shows that disparity levels had become more extreme on both the Newark and San Francisco courts. Judge-to-judge differences for the Chicago Immigration Court also increased. The Los Angeles and San Diego courts saw modest improvement.

To view results for the complete list of courts see the full report at:

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

To view a particular judge’s report, go to:

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://facebook.com/tracreports

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

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

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

———————————————————————————
The Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse is a nonpartisan joint research center of the Whitman School of Management (http://whitman.syr.edu) and the Newhouse School of Public Communications (http://newhouse.syr.edu) at Syracuse University. If you know someone who would like to sign up to receive occasional email announcements and press releases, they may go to http://trac.syr.edu and click on the E-mail Alerts link at the bottom of the page. If you do not wish to receive future email announcements and wish to be removed from our list, please send an email to trac@syr.edu with REMOVE as the subject.

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More than a decade ago, three universally respected “scholar litigators,” my good friends and Georgetown Law colleagues Professors Andy Schoenholtz, Phil Schrag, and Jaya Ramirez-Nogales (now at Temple Law) exposed this problem. While there have been some attempts to address it, and results actually appeared to be improving for a time, the problem persists.

Whatever the solution is, I’m sure of what it isn’t: running more cases through the Immigration Court System faster, hiring more Immigration Judges without giving them sufficient training, a weak Appellate Board that won’t speak up for the rights of asylum seekers, and putting “production quotas” on Immigration Judges. 

Haste makes waste” so-called “solutions” only make things worse. Promoting quality decision-making is a more nuanced and painstaking process.

I have no doubt that this system still denies asylum and other forms of legal protection in far too many cases. A more realistic and appropriately generous approach to asylum would force the DHS to grant more of these cases at the Asylum Office and would shorten hearing times for certain types of “clearly grantable” cases.

PWS

11-20-17

 

 

“LET THE HAITIANS STAY” — IT’S THE RIGHT THING TO DO!

The NY Times Editorial Board writes:

“The Temporary Protected Status program provides the sort of assistance the United States should be proud to extend to foreigners fleeing civil unrest, violence or natural disasters. Enacted by Congress in 1990, it currently offers safe and legal harbor to 437,000 people from 10 countries. Many stay for a long time, their status regularly extended because of continued turmoil in their homelands.

That, alas, is a far cry from the spirit of the Trump administration. But even President Trump’s bombastic pledges to throw up a Mexican border wall, expel illegal immigrants and bar entry to Muslims are different from expelling people who, though they may have entered the United States illegally, have been allowed to stay legally, often for many years, with solid jobs and large families, while their homelands remain unsettled or dangerous.

On Thanksgiving, of all days, the Department of Homeland Security is to announce whether it will extend the temporary protected status that was granted to about 50,000 Haitians when their country was devastated by an earthquake in 2010. Their stay has been regularly extended, but in May, John Kelly, then secretary of homeland security and now the White House chief of staff, gave them only six more months, explicitly to get ready to go home. Unless their status is extended this week, they must leave by Jan. 22.

By any reasonable measure, Haiti is not ready to take them back. The destitute country has never fully recovered from the 2010 earthquake or the cholera epidemic that followed. Last year, Hurricane Matthew added even more suffering. The country does not have the resources to absorb 50,000 people, and the money they have sent back is a critical source of income for their relatives and homeland.

Every member of Congress who represents South Florida, where most of these Haitians live, is in favor of extending their status. One of them, Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican from Miami, is among the congressional members of both parties who have proposed legislation that would allow these immigrants to eventually apply for permanent residency, which is not possible under current rules.”

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Read the full editorial at the link.

Haitians seem to have gotten the “short end” of US immigration, refugee, and humanitarian policies over the years.

Let’s take a look at the latest Country Report on Human Rights issued by the US State Department:

“The most serious impediments to human rights involved weak democratic governance in the country worsened by the lack of an elected and functioning government; insufficient respect for the rule of law, exacerbated by a deficient judicial system; and chronic widespread corruption. Other human rights problems included significant but isolated allegations of arbitrary and unlawful killings by government officials; allegations of use of force against suspects and protesters; severe overcrowding and poor sanitation in prisons; chronic prolonged pretrial detention; an inefficient, unreliable, and inconsistent judiciary; governmental confiscation of private property without due process. There was also rape, violence, and societal discrimination against women; child abuse; allegations of social marginalization of vulnerable populations; and trafficking in persons. Violence, including gender-based violence, and crime within the remaining internally displaced persons (IDP) camps remained a problem. Although the government took steps to prosecute or punish government and law enforcement officials accused of committing abuses, credible reports persisted of officials engaging in corrupt practices, and civil society groups alleged there was widespread impunity.”

Sound like a place where 50,000 additional refugees can be safely returned and reintegrated? Preposterous!

No, the only thing that has changed here is the political motivation of the Administration; TPS — some of the most successful, efficient, and cost effective migration programs the US has ever run — has become a target of the xenophobic, White Nationalist, restrictionist wing of the GOP.

Allowing 50,000 Haitians already residing here to remain costs the US nothing — in fact their continued presence is good for the US economy and our international image. Not to mention that many of the Haitian TPS holders have relatives with legal status in the US.

On the other hand, pulling TPS and removing these individuals could have catastrophic consequences for the individuals involved, their families, and their US communities. And, it’s likely to overwhelm Haiti, a country that has already proved unable to take care of its existing population.

Anywhere but the Trump Administration, extending TPS for Haitians and others while looking for a long-term solution that would give them some type of permanent status in the US would be a “no brainer.” But, in the Trump Administration immigration and refugee policies appear to be driven largely by a policy of “no brains” — just unnecessary cruelty, wasting resources, diminishing our international humanitarian standing, and playing to the xenophobia, racism, and hate of the White Nationalists.

PWS

11-20-17

GONZO’S WORLD: Sessions Gives Congress The “Scarface Treatment” Again — Then He Jokes About Russia — Will Mueller Eventually Wipe The Smirk Off Gonzo’s Face?

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/11/jeff-sessions-has-a-strangely-selective-memory.html

Eric Levitz writes in NY Maggie:

“Jeff Sessions’s memory works in mysterious ways. He has “no clear recollection” of the March 2016 meeting where George Papadopoulos offered to set up a meeting between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin — but the attorney general does remember shooting down the campaign aide’s unseemly suggestion.

Or, so Sessions tells the House Judiciary Committee.

In October, Sessions testified to the Senate that he did not have any “continuing exchange of information” with Russian operatives — and that he wasn’t “aware of anyone else [on the Trump campaign] that did.” Weeks later, Special Counsel Robert Mueller revealed

“Papadopoulos’s confession to the crime of lying to the FBI. In that written statement, the former Trump campaign national security adviser claimed that he had told Sessions about “connections” he had that “could help arrange a meeting between then-candidate Trump and President Putin” in March of last year. In his testimony before Congress Tuesday, Sessions tried to account for this apparent discrepancy.

“I do now recall the March 2016 meeting at Trump Hotel that Mr. Papadopoulos attended, but I have no clear recollection of the details of what he said at that meeting,” Sessions explained. “After reading his account, and to the best of my recollection, I believe that I wanted to make clear to him that he was not authorized to represent the campaign with the Russian government, or any other foreign government, for that matter.”

Later, Sessions said more firmly, “At the meeting, I pushed back.”

So, the attorney general has no clear memory of the meeting, but has a vivid recollection of behaving admirably during it.

This isn’t the first time that Sessions’s memories of last year have failed him. In January, the attorney general testified to the Senate that he had not “been in contact with anyone connected to any part of the Russian government about the 2016 election, either before or after election day.” Months later, the Washington Post revealed that Sessions had met with the Russian ambassador to the United States multiple times during the 2016 campaign. Sessions responded to these revelations by insisting that he’d met with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in his capacity as U.S. senator (not as a Trump surrogate), and that they did not discuss the 2016 election. Sessions later conceded that it was “possible” that Trump’s positions on U.S.-Russia relations came up in his discussions with Kislyak.

Some Democrats have suggested that Sessions’s multiple false statements to Congress this year were conscious lies. The former senator responded to such charges with indignation Tuesday.

“My answers have not changed,” Sessions said. “I have always told the truth, and I have answered every question as I understood them and to the best of my recollection, as I will continue to do today … I will not accept and reject accusations that I have ever lied under oath. That is a lie.”

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Meanwhile, speaking to a friendly audience over at the Heritage Foundation, Gonzo treated the Russia investigation as a joke. Mary Papenfuss reports for HuffPost:

“Attorney General Jeff Sessions had lawyers rolling in the aisles with a surprising string of Russian quips at the start of a speech he gave Friday.

Sessions was the keynote speaker at the National Lawyers Convention at Washington’s Mayflower Hotel hosted by the conservative Federalist Society.

He thanked the applauding crowd for welcoming him. Then, smiling mischievously, he added: “But I just was thinking, you know, I should ― I want to ask you. Is  Ambassador Kislyak in the room? Before I get started ― any Russians?” As the laughs grew louder, he continued: “Anybody been to Russia? Got a cousin in Russia?” The audience roared.

The jarring jokes came just three days after Sessions was pressed in Congress on apparent discrepancies in his previous testimony about Trump associates’ meetings with Russians during the 2016 campaign.

Sergey Kislyak, then Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., met with several members of Donald Trump’s campaign during the Republican National Convention, Kislyak and some Trump associates have revealed. Kislyak was widely believed a top spy recruiter.

Kislyak has said he discussed Trump’s policy positions during the campaign with Sessions, an early Trump supporter who was an Alabama senator at the time, The Washington Post reported.

But during his confirmation hearings to become attorney general ― before the Post report ― Sessions said he “never met with or had any conversations with any Russians or any foreign officials concerning any type of interference with any campaign or election.”

Sessions later recused himself from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the U.S. election.

Critics were stunned by Sessions’ attitude in the lawyers’ speech.

Sessions “still doesn’t get it” — he’s “in trouble,” Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) told Wolf Blitzer later on CNN.

“He’s not in trouble where he happened to be in places where there are Russians,” said Lieu, a member of the House Judiciary Committee who grilled Sessions this week. “He is in trouble because he had a nearly hour-long meeting with Ambassador Kislyak — also a spy — and then he failed to disclose the existence of that meeting under oath to the U.S. Senate. That’s why Jeff Sessions is in trouble.”

Blitzer noted that Kislyak “now says he spoke with so many Trump officials it would take him more than 20 minutes to name them all.”

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/sessions-russian-lawyers_us_5a0fb5dee4b045cf43718e96?ncid=APPLENEWS00001

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PWS
11-19-17

NBC NEWS: JOSÉ ANTONIO VARGAS — “The myth of the ‘acceptable immigrant’ is tearing families apart!”

https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/myth-acceptable-immigrant-tearing-families-apart-

Vargas writes:

“In the story of our country, the Trump administration’s dismantling of the DACA program is a national tragedy that will be a source of confusion for generations to come. The program was one of the few compromises that the Obama administration made in attempt to right unjust, inhumane and outdated immigration laws. Our own history tells us that laws are fluid and change over time; they do not dictate morality, but are dictated by morality (or the lack thereof). It wasn’t until the 20th century, for example, that we saw women first granted the right to vote and the abolishment of Jim Crow laws.

The pervasive rhetoric around immigrants who received DACA and their families is predicated on an underlying judgement that their mere presence in this country is a crime. It is not: Being in the U.S. without authorization is a civil offense.

Yet if a crime has been committed, someone must be responsible, right? If you qualify for DACA, it means that you were under a certain age when you came here, so you were too young to have committed a “crime.” You are a “good,” “acceptable,” “assimilated” one. But your parents are not. America will accept you — provisionally — but you must condemn the actions of your family members who brought you here.

“Divide and conquer.”

No wall has yet been built, no border yet drawn, no law yet written that overpowers the love of parents for their children. Let us celebrate and give thanks to the resilience of immigrant families who, despite all possible obstacles, find ways to survive, even thrive. Our laws and various languages may separate them, but united they stand.

Jose Antonio Vargas is a journalist and filmmaker, and the CEO of Define American. In 2010, Vargas revealed his status as an undocumented immigrant. He has produced and directed his autobiographical documentary, “Documented,” broadcasted by CNN, and MTV’s White People.“

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One of the most offensive things that Sessions consistently does is to undervalue the contributions of immigrants, both documented and undocumented. This was particularly true in his slandering of “Dreamers.” They are America’s youth; we’re fortunate to have them!

The closely related idea of GOP White Nationalist restrictionists that “chain migration” is bad is equally insulting and totally wrong. Family immigration has contributed as much to America as has so-called “employment-based” immigration. Undocumented migrants have also contributed to our success, particularly our economic success.

Our real problem is with White Nationalists and restrictionists who insist on overly restrictive immigration policies that are unenforceable, expensive, corrosive, and against our national interests.

PWS

11-19-17

 

 

GONZO’S WORLD: FRANK RICH @ NY MAGGIE THINKS GONZO COULD FOLLOW JOHN MITCHELL’S FOOTSTEPS ALL THE WAY TO JAIL: “He’s an awful attorney general but he’s arguably an even worse liar.” — I Think It’s Time for Senator Al Franken (D-MN) To Step Down!

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/11/frank-rich-the-gop-cant-handle-moore-problems.html

Rich writes:

“Last month, Jeff Sessions testified that he was not aware of anyone in the Trump campaign who had been in contact with Russia. Though press accounts have appeared to prove him wrong, yesterday he told the House Judiciary Committee that he “had no recollection” of the meeting, and has “always told the truth.” Will he face consequences for changing his story?

The second most-scandal-ridden presidency in American history, Richard Nixon’s, also had an attorney general, John Mitchell, who had played a major role in his boss’s presidential campaign. He ended up in prison. Sessions seems determined to head to the same destination. He has been repeatedly caught lying to Congress about his and others’ contacts with the Russians, and his only defense has been to strike a sanctimonious tone of self-martyrdom, to repeat or enhance the original lies, and to accuse his inquisitors of rank injustice. He’s an awful attorney general but he’s arguably an even worse liar. It was especially choice to hear him testify last week that he had completely forgotten about attending a meeting with Trump where George Papadopoulos talked about his Russian connections; he just couldn’t stop himself from embroidering the lie further by adding he did remember a single aspect of it after all — a supposedly exculpatory moment when he pushed back on Papadopoulos’s suggestion of a Trump-Putin meeting. This stuff is not going to go over well with the special counsel.

The most unexpected twist in last week’s hearing, by the way, came when Sessions, for the moment at least, firmly shut down Trump’s idea of appointing a new special counsel to investigate the Clintons. What brought that on? A cynic might ask if he is already trying to butter up the jury pool in Washington.”

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Read Rich’s full column, where he also covers Ayatollah Roy, Ivanka, and Donnie Jr., at the link.

As I have noted before, as a former trial and appellate judge, I find Gonzo totally incredible by the standards applied to witnesses in immigration cases. I also find his bristling self-righteous indignation that anyone would dare call him on his obvious lack of candor to be disgusting hypocrisy, even by Gonzo standards. But, testifying incredibly, even under oath, does not necessarily amount to perjury under the law.

I have no particular desire to see Gonzo end his career in jail. But, there are plenty of reasons why he should no longer be the Attorney General of the U.S. Right wing talk radio would be a good fit for him.

Gonzo might also benefit from the good fortune to have one of his chief Senate critics/accusers Senator Al Franken (D-MN) in some pretty “deep doodo” himself. Indeed, given that the woman who raised Franken’s past sexual harassment has pictures, witnesses, and Franken himself doesn’t deny or attempt to justify the incident, why would he put her, himself, the Senate, the Democratic Party, and the country through a useless investigation? What is there to “investigate?” We know what happened; in light of it, Franken needs to do the right thing and step down. This isn’t SNL. And, the Democrats can’t afford a major sexual scandal in the Senate right now.

PWS

11-16-17

 

 

TAL KOPAN AT CNN: ADMINISTRATION DOUBLES DOWN ON “SANCTUARY CITIES” POLICY AS ANOTHER FEDERAL COURT REJECTS IT!

http://www.cnn.com/2017/11/15/politics/sanctuary-cities-trump-administration-fight/index.html

Tal reports:

“Washington (CNN)The Trump administration on Wednesday launched a new volley against jurisdictions it considers to be so-called sanctuary cities — even as a federal judge put the brakes on a similar attempt earlier in the day.

The Justice Department sent out letters to 29 cities, counties and states Wednesday afternoon warning them they may not be complying with an obscure law required to receive federal law enforcement grants.
The individualized letters point to specific policies in those jurisdictions DOJ says may be problematic, according to copies obtained by CNN. The Justice Department is giving the jurisdictions until December 8 to respond — it has not yet moved to reject funding applications or claw back grant money that was previously issued.
The move came the same day that a federal judge in ongoing litigation over sanctuary cities in Pennsylvania dealt the administration the latest blow to its efforts to punish sanctuary cities, barring the Justice Department from taking the grant funds away from the city of Philadelphia over the compliance issue. Federal judges have already twice limited the administration on its efforts to block funds.
At the center of both disputes is the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants program, which gives local jurisdictions millions of dollars yearly to support law enforcement.
close dialog

The term sanctuary city loosely refers to jurisdictions that in some way do not cooperate with federal immigration enforcement. The stated reasons vary, from protecting undocumented immigrants to preserving law enforcement’s ability to gain the trust and cooperation of communities. Some jurisdictions have also been barred by the courts from complying with certain federal requests.”
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Read Tal’s complete article at the above link.
Doubling down on failed and divisive policies (that according to TRAC have little practical effect on DHS removals) is probably not going to accomplish much!
PWS
11-16-17