DESTROYING AMERICA, ONE PRECIOUS, TALENTED LIFE AT A TIME — “Can something that irrational happen in America?” — In The Trump/Sessions/Miller White Nationalist Regime? — You Betcha!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/immigration/with-three-months-left-in-medical-school-her-career-may-be-slipping-away/2018/02/22/24a7a780-10f3-11e8-9570-29c9830535e5_story.html?hpid=hp_rhp-top-table-main_dacadoctors-830pm%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.ed15d711fa8f

Maria Sacchetti reports for the Washington Post:

MAYWOOD, Ill. — Rosa Aramburo sailed into her final year of medical school with stellar test scores and high marks from professors. Her advisers predicted she’d easily land a spot in a coveted residency program.

Then President Trump announced the end of the Obama-era program that has issued work permits to Aramburo and nearly 700,000 other undocumented immigrants raised in the United States.

“Don’t be surprised if you get zero interviews,” an adviser told her.

She got 10, after sending 65 applications.

But as she prepared to rank her top three choices last week, Congress rejected bills that would have allowed her and other “dreamers” to remain in the United States, casting new doubt on a career path that seemed so certain a year ago.

Employers and universities that have embraced DACA recipients over the past six years are scrambling for a way to preserve the program. They are lobbying a deeply divided Congress, covering fees for employees and students to renew their permits, and searching for other legal options — perhaps a work visa or residency through spouses or relatives who are citizens. Some companies have considered sending employees abroad.

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They are also awaiting the outcome of a court challenge to the Trump administration’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which has granted the young recipients a temporary reprieve and allowed them to continue renewing work permits for the time being. The Supreme Court could decide as soon as Friday whether to intervene in the case.

Nationwide, more than 160 DACA recipients are teaching in low-income schools through Teach For America. Thirty-nine work at Microsoft, 250 at Apple and 84 at Starbucks. To employers, the young immigrants are skilled workers who speak multiple languages and often are outsize achievers. Polls show strong American support for allowing them to stay.

Based in part on that data, many DACA recipients say they believe that the United States will continue to protect them, even as a senior White House official has indicated that Trump and key GOP lawmakers are ready to move on to other issues.

Human-resources experts warn that employers could be fined or go to jail if they knowingly keep workers on the payroll after their permits have expired. And while the White House has said that young immigrants who lose DACA protections would not become immediate targets for deportation, Immigration and Customs Enforcement says anyone here illegally can be detained and, possibly, deported.

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“I’ve gotten emails saying, ‘Oh, we loved you,’ ’’ Aramburo, 28, said one recent morning as she hurried to predawn rounds at a neurology intensive-care unit. “But in the back of my mind, I’m thinking, ‘What if I can’t finish?’ ”

Dreams and disbelief

Loyola University Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine has 32 DACA recipients enrolled in its medical program. (Alyssa Schukar/for The Washington Post)

Cesar Montelongo is a third-year student in the school’s MD-PhD program. (Alyssa Schukar/for The Washington Post)
Nearly 100 DACA recipients are medical students enrolled at schools such as Harvard, Georgetown and the Stritch School of Medicine at Loyola University Chicago, which this May will graduate its first five dreamers, including Aramburo.

Loyola, a Catholic school, changed its admissions policies to allow DACA recipients to apply soon after President Barack Obama — frustrated by Congress’s failure to pass an immigration bill — declared in 2012 that he would issue the young immigrants work permits. Trump and other immigration hard-liners criticized the program as executive overreach.

Thirty-two students with DACA are enrolled at Stritch, the most of any medical school in the country, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. Most are from Mexico, but there are also students brought to the United States as children from 18 other countries, including Pakistan, India and South Korea.

The school helped the students obtain more than $200,000 apiece in loans to pay for their education. Some agreed to work in poor and rural areas with acute physician shortages to borrow the money without interest.

Mark G. Kuczewski, a professor of medical ethics at Loyola, said the school was inspired to launch the effort after hearing about Aramburo, a high school valedictorian who earned college degrees in biology and Spanish and yearned to study medicine but could find work only as a babysitter because she was undocumented.

He said it is unthinkable that Congress may derail the chance for her and the other DACA recipients at Loyola to become doctors and work legally throughout the United States.

“We just can’t believe that that will happen,” Kuczewski said. “Can something that irrational happen in America?”

2:52
This nurse found hope in DACA, now his life is in limbo

Jose Aguiluz is a 28-year-old registered nurse who may face deportation from the United States if Congress doesn’t come to an agreement on DACA recipients. (Jorge Ribas, Jon Gerberg/The Washington Post)
Teach For America said its lawyers have pored over immigration laws to find ways to sponsor workers who lose their DACA protections. But the process often requires workers to leave the United States and return legally, a risk many young teachers are unwilling to take. The organization also offered to relocate teachers close to their families in the United States.

“They’re desperate. They’re stressed,” said Viridiana Carrizales, managing director of DACA Corps Member Support at Teach For America. “They don’t know if they’re going to have a job in the next few months.”

A spokesman for a major tech company who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of political negotiations, said it asked DACA employees whether they would like to be transferred to another country where their work status would not be in jeopardy.

“It fell completely flat,” he said. “The employees were polled, and with virtual unanimity, the resounding answer was a ‘No, thank you.’ They considered it giving up.”

The Society for Human Resource Management said companies can defend workers and lobby Congress on behalf of DACA recipients. But the group, which has 240 member organizations, is also urging employers to consider what might happen if their employees’ work permits expire.

“The bottom line is, if people don’t have documents that allow them to work in the United States, they have to be taken off the payroll,” said Justin Storch, a federal liaison for the society.

Cesar Montelongo, a third-year medical student and a DACA recipient. (Alyssa Schukar/for The Washington Post)
‘Not just farmworkers or housekeepers’
On the snow-covered campus at Loyola University Chicago, medical students with DACA permits say they are continuing with their studies and renewing their work permits even as they keep one eye on Washington.

Cesar Montelongo, 28, a third-year medical student who attended the State of the Union address last month, spent part of one recent day examining bacteria in petri dishes in a school laboratory. His family fled a violent border city in Mexico when he was 10.

He is earning a medical degree and a PhD in microbiology, a high-level combination that could land him plenty of jobs in other countries. But he said he prefers the United States, one of “very few places in this planet you can actually achieve that kind of dream.”

Less than a mile away, Alejandra Duran, a 27-year-old second-year medical student who came to the United States from Mexico at 14, translated for patients at a local clinic for people with little or no insurance.

With help from teachers in Georgia, she graduated from high school with honors. She wants to return to the state as a doctor and work to help lower the rate of women dying in childbirth.

“A lot of things have been said about how illegal, how bad we are; that’s not the full story,” Duran said. “We’re not just farmworkers or housekeepers. We’re their doctors. We’re their nurses, their teachers, their paramedics.”

Alejandra Duran, a second-year student who intends to practice obstetrics and gynecology, translates for Dr. Matt Steinberger at the Access to Care clinic. (Alyssa Schukar/For The Washington Post)

Cesar Montelongo, a third-year medical student, examines Petri dishes in which he conducted an experiment looking at interactions of viruses with bacteria in the bladder. (Alyssa Schukar/For The Washington Post)
During rounds at the Loyola University Medical Center, Aramburo studied computer records, then examined stroke victims and patients with spinal and head injuries. Some may never regain consciousness, but she always speaks to them in the hope that they will wake up.

“That’s my dream: to make a difference in people’s lives,” she said. “I hope I can do it.”

In the glass-walled neurology intensive care unit, she and two physicians stood before a 45-year-old stroke victim who spoke only Spanish. The woman struggled to grasp what the two doctors were saying.

Aramburo stepped forward.

“You’ve had a small stroke,” she explained in Spanish, as the woman listened. “It could have been a lot worse. Now we’re going to figure out why.”

 

 

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Some of the WASHPOST comments on this article were predictably idiotic ands racist., Really, what’s happening to our country that folks have such perverted, ill informed, anti-social, and inhuman views?

These are American kids. Raised, educated, and residing in our country. They aren’t “taking places” from anyone, except, perhaps those of their classmates who are less talented or less ambitious. But, why would we want to reward mediocrity over merit just because someone was born here? Other American kids have the same opportunities that Dreamers have. If some chose not to take advantage of them, so be it!

When the Arlington Immigration Court was located in Ballston, Virginia, the kids from nearby Washington & Lee High would come over to the Mall for lunch. Undoubtedly, some of them were undocumented.

But, I couldn’t tell you who. They were just American kids. Even when they showed up in my courtroom, I couldn’t tell you who was the “respondent” and who was the “support group” until I called the case and the respondent came forward. Contrary to the White Nationalists, folks are pretty much the same.

As usual, Trump and his White Nationalist cronies have taken a win-win-win and created a lose-lose-lose! When Dreamers get screwed, they lose, US employers lose, and our country loses, big time! But, that’s what happens when policies and actions are based on bias, ignorance, and incompetence.

PWS

02-23-18

ARLINGTON IMMIGRATION COURT:ANOTHER WIN FOR THE GOOD GUYS! – GW CLINIC HELPS EL SALVADORAN WOMAN & CHILDREN GET ASYLUM!

Friends,

Please join me in congratulating Immigration Clinic student-attorney Julia Navarro, and her client, F-R, from El Salvador.  This afternoon, Immigration Judge Emmett D. Soper granted F-R’s asylum application.  The ICE trial attorney waived appeal so the grant is final.  Granted asylum along with F-R were her twelve and nine year-young sons, who live with her, and her husband, who remains in El Salvador.

 F-R testified that the Mara 18 gang tried to recruit her then ten-year young son, but that he refused.  As a result, he was beaten, resulting in visible injuries.  However, he refused to tell F-R who beat him, and why.  Finally, after repeated beatings, he told F-R.  She confronted the gang members and asked them to leave her son alone.  In response, they burned her with lit cigarettes on her chest, stomach, and arms.  In addition, they demanded that she pay them $5,000.  And they continued to beat her son.  F-R went to the police twice, but nothing was done.  Finally, after further beatings of her son and renewed demands for the $5,000, F-R and her husband decided that she and her two sons should come to the USA.  After she left El Salvador, the gang members poisoned two of her dogs, whom, she testified, she considered part of her family.  At the conclusion of her direct examination, Julia asked F-R if she would confront the gang members again, and she said yes, because “my children are my life, and I would give my life for theirs.”

 Congratulations also to Sarah DeLong, Dalia Varela, Jengeih Tamba, and Jonathan Bialosky, who previously worked on this case.

**************************************************
Alberto Manuel Benitez
Professor of Clinical Law
Director, Immigration Clinic
The George Washington University Law School
650 20th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20052
(202) 994-7463
(202) 994-4946 fax
abenitez@law.gwu.edu
THE WORLD IS YOURS…
**************************************************
Congrats to all involved!
Once more proving my point that with great representation, time to prepare, and a fair Immigration Court, many, perhaps the majority, of the so-called “Northern Triangle Gang Cases” are highly grantable!
This definitely calls into question the Administration’s use of unnecessary detention, unwarranted criminal prosecutions, expedited removal, denial of access to counsel, detention courts, and “removal quotas” to “discourage” valid claims for protection. The Administration’s policies are an overt attack on Due Process and the Rule of Law! Harm to the most vulnerable among us is harm to all of us!
Three cheers for the “New Due Process Army!”
PWS
02-23-18

HELP TEMPLE LAW STUDENTS & THE WASHINGTON OFFICE ON LATIN AMERICA (“WOLA”) DEVELOP BETTER COUNTRY INFORMATION ON THE NORTHERN TRIANGLE TO SUPPORT ASYLUM APPLICATIONS! — Take This Very Short Survey!

Dear Asylum Lawyer,

We are  students seeking your feedback on a project we are working on with the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) to support asylum claims from the Northern Triangle.  We aim to provide asylum lawyers with country conditions information tailored to specific issues that arise commonly in cases from the Northern Triangle but lack sufficient easily accessible factual support.This is where you come in.  We need your advice to determine which issues and countries we should prioritize in our efforts.  To that end, we’d be grateful if you could complete this survey, which should take approximately 5 minutes of your time: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/TLSWOLA.  We’d appreciate your feedback at your earliest convenience, and ideally by February 25.

Please contact us at templelaw.asylum.project@gmail.com with any questions about this survey.  Thank you very much for your valuable time and input into this project. We appreciate your assistance!

Kindest regards,

Shannon McGuire and Jasper Katz
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Many thanks to Shannon, Jasper, and their colleagues for undertaking this really important and timely project. It’s even more necessary because of the recent announcement that the State Department will “tank” on various aspects of women’s rights in newly propagandized so-called Country Reports.
The good news is that the field should now be “wide open” for more objective and unbiased information to replace Country Reports as the primary source of human rights and country background information in asylum cases.
But, it’s going to take some great research and persuasive arguments to get judges “off” their traditional (probably over) reliance on the Country Reports. Once discredited, however, the Country Reports are unlikely to ever regain their “privileged position” in the hierarchy of country information.  Actually, a pretty dumb move on the part of the Trumpsters. But, perhaps something that will benefit the system in the long run by leading to use of better and more reliable sources of information.
The survey takes no more than five (5) minutes to complete.
PWS
02-23-18

NO LONGER THE GOLD STANDARD: ONCE RESPECTED USDOS “COUNTRY REPORTS ON HUMAN RIGHTS” WILL NOW BE RIGHT-WING PROPAGANDA SHEETS — WOMEN’S REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS, RACIAL, SEXUAL DISCRIMINATION NO LONGER MAJOR CONCERNS — Will Advocates Be Prepared With Credible Alternatives & To Prove Administration’s Anti-Human-Rights Bias In Court?

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/state-department-womens-reproductive-rights_us_5a8eeb5ce4b0746ba2acef1e

Laura Bassett reports for HuffPost

“NEW YORK― President Donald Trump’s State Department has been ordered to strip language about women’s reproductive rights from its annual global human rights report, Politico reported on Thursday.

The report, compiled each year with information from U.S. embassies around the world, typically details the lack of contraception and abortion access in various countries and sheds light on racial and sexual discrimination.

This year, a senior aide to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has reportedly directed the department to remove much of that information from the document. The new report will focus instead on forced sterilization and abortions, and the “Reproductive Rights” subsection in the report will be renamed “Coercion in Population Control.”

The section on racial and sexual discrimination will be pared down, according to the Politico story.

The move follows a string of attempts by the Trump administration to de-prioritize women’s rights and roll back women’s access to contraception and abortion around the world.

“This development is a transparent attempt by the Trump administration to not only deprioritize reproductive rights, but effectively erase them from the broader conversation on human rights,” said Tarah Demant, director of gender, sexuality, and identity at Amnesty International USA.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the department is “better focusing some sections of the report for clarity,” and sharpening it to spotlight “the most egregious issues.”

The administration’s proposed budget for the 2019 fiscal year, released earlier this month, would cut nearly $2.5 billion from the Global Health Programs Account, slashing global family planning funding by half.

Trump also reinstated and massively expanded the Global Gag Rule, restricting $8.8 billion in U.S. foreign aid funding for international health programs that provide or even mention abortion services. And he defunded the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), a global maternal health organization that provides contraception and pregnancy care to low-income women in 150 countries.

Girls aren’t able to get contraception, and they’re starting to come back pregnant, suicidal, bereftLisa Shannon, a global women’s rights advocate who works with reproductive health clinics in East Africa.

Women’s health workers around the world are already seeing the effects of Trump’s policies on women and girls, who are seeking dangerous and sometimes deadly back-alley abortions as family planning clinics are forced to shut down. Unsafe abortion is a leading cause of maternal mortality globally.

“Girls aren’t able to get contraception, and they’re starting to come back pregnant, suicidal, bereft,” said Lisa Shannon, a global women’s rights advocate who works with reproductive health clinics in East Africa. “They’re desperate, and they’ll do whatever it takes.”

Stripping language about reproductive rights from the U.S. government’s annual report is more than symbolic. Because the U.S. is the largest donor to women’s health groups in the world, effectively holding the purse strings for many non-profits and international organizations, any move the administration makes on the issue can have a chilling effect on contraception and abortion access in developing countries.

Brian Dixon, a spokesman for Population Connection, said the State Department is using the report “to provide cover to violations of women’s fundamental human rights rather than to provide a tool for accountability.”

“Denial of care isn’t ― as Trump and [Vice President Mike] Pence would have it ― an act of faith; it’s an act of violence,” he told HuffPost. “And the refusal to acknowledge that in a report created to hold autocrats and oppressors accountable is just disgraceful.”

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Advocates for women asylum seekers are going to have to fight the Trumpsters every inch of the way! In the end, abandoning an honest, largely objective approach to human rights will be costly to the US, as we continue to sink toward “Third World” status.  The full ugliness of “Trumpism” and a White Nationalist, largely misogynistic agenda are coming into focus. And, as I have pointed out in other areas, once the Country Reports lose credibility, it probably never will be regained.

PWS

02-23-18

 

TAKING THE “SERVICE” OUT OF USCIS — Agency’s Mission Is Now To Serve White Nationalist, Anti-Immigrant Agenda — REWRITING HISTORY — US No Longer A Nation Of Immigrants — How Did All These NWGs (“Nasty White Guys”) Like Trump Cissna, & Sessions Get Here, Anyway?

https://www.vox.com/2018/2/22/17041862/uscis-removes-nation-of-immigrants-from-mission-statement

Dara Lind reports for Vox News:

“US Citizenship and Immigration Services isn’t for immigrants anymore.

That’s not an exaggeration. USCIS, the federal agency responsible for issuing visas and green cards and for naturalizing immigrants as US citizens, has unveiled a new mission statement that strips out all references to immigrants themselves — including taking out a line that called the US a “nation of immigrants.” And in an email to agency staff Thursday, as first reported by the Intercept’s Ryan Devereaux, director L. Francis Cissna bragged about the change — saying that USCIS wasn’t supposed to help immigrants and the US citizens seeking to sponsor them, but rather “the American people.”

The new mission statement, and Cissna’s justification, downplays the agency’s commitment to helping immigrants become American citizens and plays up the idea that US citizens attempting to bring their family members to the US don’t count as real Americans whose interests deserve to be protected.

USCIS’s new mission statement doesn’t just reflect the Trump administration’s hawkishness toward legal as well as unauthorized immigration. It encourages the notion that Americanness is a matter of blood and soil, of birth and descent, rather than an idea that anyone can be proud of regardless of where they were born.

Taking “citizenship” out of the mission of Citizenship and Immigration Services
The changes to the USCIS mission statement don’t change the work the agency actually does. But they make a symbolic statement that the Trump administration sees that work differently not just from how the Obama administration did, but from our traditional understanding of what Americanness means.

It’s not just the removal of the “nation of immigrants” line. The new mission statement removes all references to citizenship — instead of “immigration and citizenship benefits,” USCIS now just provides “immigration benefits,” and “promoting an awareness and understanding of citizenship” is kicked out of the mission entirely.

At the same time as the agency is deemphasizing the part of its job that involves turning immigrants into citizens, its new mission implies that the two groups — immigrants and Americans — are naturally in conflict:

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services administers the nation’s lawful immigration system, safeguarding its integrity and promise by efficiently and fairly adjudicating requests for immigration benefits while protecting Americans, securing the homeland, and honoring our values.
Cissna’s email also told USCIS staff that they’re not supposed to call applicants “customers” anymore because their real customers aren’t immigrants — they’re the American people:

Referring to applicants and petitioners for immigration benefits, and the beneficiaries of such applications and petitions, as ‘customers’ promotes an institutional culture that emphasizes the ultimate satisfaction of applicants and petitioners, rather than the correct adjudication of such applications and petitions according to the law. […] Use of the term leads to the erroneous belief that applicants and petitioners, rather than the American people, are whom we ultimately serve.” [emphasis added]
It’s an odd statement to make. For one thing, USCIS is the rare federal agency that isn’t primarily funded through taxes — most of the money to run the agency comes from application fees. Immigrants applying for visas, green cards, and citizenship — and the US citizens and companies that have to sponsor some of those applications — are paying USCIS for the services they provide. By a commonsense definition, that’s what a customer is.

But what’s even more jarring than the redefinition of “customer” is the definition of “American.” Cissna’s statement strongly implies that “applicants and petitioners” don’t count as part of the “American people.” That might make sense if he were talking just about people newly coming to the US, or even if he were distinguishing “Americans” from noncitizens. But he’s not.

The “applicants” Cissna refers to include immigrants who are applying for US citizenship — the part of USCIS’s function that got stripped out of the mission statement. Not only does the new mission statement suggest that helping immigrants become Americans is no longer part of USCIS’ job, but by distinguishing “applicants” from “the American people,” it suggests that they can’t.

Furthermore, the overwhelming majority of petitioners for immigrants are US citizens petitioning for family members (or American businesses petitioning for employees). Those citizens may have been born abroad, but they’ve naturalized. They are as American as anyone else.

Does the Trump administration believe immigrants can integrate?
USCIS tends to be the most obscure of the Department of Homeland Security’s three immigration agencies, precisely because it’s the one that doesn’t deal with immigration enforcement (Customs and Border Protection addresses border enforcement; Immigration and Customs Enforcement takes care of interior enforcement). But immigrant rights advocates have been worried about the agency.

Cissna worked for Senate Judiciary Committee Chair (and immigration hawk) Chuck Grassley (R-IA) before being appointed to USCIS. The agency’s ombudsman office, which is supposed to provide transparency to the people who used to be called “customers,” is headed by Julie Kirchner, the former executive director of the Federation for American Immigration Reform — a group whose mission includes reducing legal immigration to the US.

There are already indications that the new leadership is encouraging applications to be processed more slowly and with more scrutiny. In winding down the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, they were more aggressive than Trump’s statements implied. At the same time, there’s been an apparent slowdown in the processing of naturalization applications and of work permits for some categories of immigrants.

By overhauling the mission statement, it’s clear that the new leadership wants to be noticed.”

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The White Nationalist attack on America continues. At least they don’t make any secret about their xenophobia and disdain for immigrants, their rights, and their advocates.

It’s “war.” That’s why we need the “New Due Process Army!”

PWS

02-23-19

 

 

 

 

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

NYC’s Immigration Court Erodes Accommodations for Children Without Attorneys

David Brand reports for CityLife.org;

. . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

. . . .

 

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Read the complete article at the link.

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

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

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

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

PWS

01-21-18

 

 

 

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

4thGangsNexusSalgado-Sosa

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

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

OPINION BY: JUDGE PAMELA HARRIS

SUMMARY OF HOLDING (From Court’s Opinion):

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

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

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

KEY QUOTE FROM  OPINION:

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

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

10

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PWS

02-21-18

 

THE HILL: NOLAN RAPPAPORT THINKS A COMPROMISE TO SAVE DREAMERS IS STILL POSSIBLE!

http://thehill.com/opinion/immigration/374580-make-the-compromise-ending-chain-migration-is-a-small-price-to-legalize

Family Pictures

Nolan writes:

. . . .

Compromise.

A compromise is possible. It does not have to be a choice between the current chain migration system and a purely merit-based system. The two systems can be merged with the use of a point system.

Visas currently allocated to extended family members can be transitioned to a merit-based point system that provides extra points for family ties to a citizen or LPR. The merit-based aspect of the point system would eliminate the main objection to chain migration, which is that it allocates visas to extended family members who do not have skills or experience that America needs.

Trump’s framework also would terminate the Diversity Visa Program. Those visas could be transitioned to the new point system too.

This would be a small price to pay for a legalization program that would provide lawful status for 1.8 million Dreamers.

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.“

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

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

I disagree with Nolan’s statement that extended family members don’t bring needed skills. As David J. Bier of the Cato Institute recently pointed out in the Washington Post, that argument is one of a number of   “Myths” about so-called chain migration.

Bier writes:

“MYTH NO. 5
Chain immigrants lack skills to succeed.
In making his case for the president’s proposals last month, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said, “What good does it do to bring in somebody who is illiterate in their own country, has no skills and is going to struggle in our country and not be successful?” This description distorts the picture of immigrants who settle in the United States.

Nearly half of adults in the family-sponsored and diversity visa categories had a college degree, compared with less than a third of U.S. natives. America would lose nearly a quarter-million college graduates every year without the family-sponsored and diversity programs.

Even among the 11 percent who have little formal education, there is no evidence that they aren’t successful. By virtually every measure, the least-skilled immigrants prosper in America. Immigrant men without high school degrees are almost as likely as U.S.-born men with college degrees to look for a job and keep one.

Family-sponsored immigrants are the most upwardly mobile American workers. Whether high-skilled or not, chain or not, immigrants succeed in and contribute to this country.”

I highly recommend Bier’s article

All of my many years of first-hand observation of family immigration at every level supports Bier’s analysis.

Indeed, even if I were to assume that the majority of extended family were so-called “unskilled” (meaning largely that they have skills elite restrictionists don’t respect) that would hardly mean that they aren’t greatly benefitting the US. In many ways, immigrants who perform important so-called “unskilled jobs” essential to our economy but which most Americans neither will nor can do well, are just as important to societal success as more doctors, professors, computer geeks, and baseball players. Fact is, immigrants of all types from all types of countries consistently benefit the US.

That being said, why not try something along the lines that Nolan suggests by taking the Diversity visas and establishing a “pilot program” that combines skills and family ties in a numerical matrix? Then, track the results to see how they compare with existing employment-based and family-based immigration.

PWS

02-21-17

THROWING IN THE TOWEL — SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R-AZ), A STRONG SUPPORTER OF DREAMERS, BASICALLY SIGNALS THAT PERMANENT DACA FIX IS DEAD!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/congress-has-failed-on-daca-heres-what-must-happen-now/2018/02/19/92944440-15b4-11e8-92c9-376b4fe57ff7_story.html

Flake writes in the Washington Post:

“Jeff Flake, a Republican from Arizona, is a member of the U.S. Senate.

Having spent the better part of two decades trying to tackle the challenges we face as a country, I sometimes feel a little defensive when I hear someone say Congress is incapable of solving big problems.

But that’s a hard point to argue after watching the Senate squander its best opportunity to pass legislation both to protect young immigrants affected by the uncertain future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and to strengthen security along the border.

Somehow, despite sweeping public support for both these items, we could not find a compromise that 60 senators could agree with. To say it was a disappointment would be an understatement.

Sens. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and John Cornyn (R-Tex.) react to President Trump’s suggestion that some “dreamers” be given a pathway to citizenship. (Jordan Frasier/The Washington Post)
I do appreciate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s attempt to facilitate an open debate to deliver an effective piece of bipartisan legislation. Senators on both sides of the aisle made a concerted effort to forge consensus. Unfortunately, the siren call of politics brought too many of us back into partisan trenches and blocked any hope of real results.

But there are teachers, students and members of the military who are DACA recipients. They are friends and colleagues who represent the very best of America — hard workers and productive members of their families and communities — and they do not have the luxury of accepting defeat and moving on to the next agenda item.

Likewise, those of us from border states know that law enforcement officers tasked with patrolling the border and protecting our neighborhoods cannot just give up and go home.

But if I’m being candid, after what we’ve experienced over these past weeks, I can’t see this Congress agreeing with this president on a package that includes a path to citizenship for DACA participants coupled with significant changes to our legal immigration structure. That comprehensive immigration reform has proved to be beyond our grasp.

That is why, when the Senate reconvenes next week, the first action I will take will be to introduce a bill extending DACA protections for three years and providing $7.6 billion to fully fund the first three years of the administration’s border-security proposal. I’ll be the first to admit this “three for three” approach is far from a perfect solution, but it would provide a temporary fix by beginning the process of improving border security and ensuring DACA recipients will not face potential deportation.

Congress has become entirely too comfortable ignoring problems when they seem too difficult to solve. This issue is not something we can ignore.

In the days following the introduction of this DACA extension, I’ll be on the floor to offer a unanimous-consent request for an up-or-down vote. I can’t promise that one of my colleagues won’t object — effectively blocking such a vote — but I promise that I’ll be back on the floor, again and again, motioning for a vote until the Senate passes a bill providing relief to those struggling.

We may not have been able to deliver a permanent solution to these problems, but we cannot abdicate the responsibility of Congress to solve them. There are too many people with too much at stake.”

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

I don’t see the votes for a temporary fix. In the unlikely event it clears the Senate, the GOP House and Trump would almost certainly kill it.

So, the next step appears to be up to the courts. But, remember, neither the Dreamers nor the problems that Trump and Sessions have intentionally created are going anywhere.

Meanwhile, Trump and the GOP are basically screwing around with American young people’s lives and our country’s future.

PWS

02-21-18

PAUL KRUGMAN @ NY TIMES: THE TRUMP-GOP KAKISTOCRACY – “ We are, instead, living in a kakistocracy, a nation ruled by the worst, and we need to face up to that unpleasant reality!”

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/19/opinion/gop-character-bad-faith.html

Krugman writes:

“Even those who have long since accepted the premise that Donald Trump is corrupt, self-centered and dishonest seem a bit shocked by his tirades over the Presidents’ Day weekend. Using the Parkland, Fla., massacre as an excuse to attack the F.B.I. for investigating Russian election intervention on his behalf — while lying about his own past denials that such intervention took place — took vileness to a new level, which is truly impressive given Trump’s previous record.

Yet if you step back a bit and think about it, Trump’s latest outbursts were very much in character — and I don’t just mean his personal character. When did you last see a member of the Trump administration, or for that matter any prominent Republican, admit error or accept responsibility for problems?

Don’t say that it has always been that way, that it’s just the way people are. On the contrary, taking responsibility for your actions — what my parents called being a mensch — used to be considered an essential virtue in politicians and adults in general. And in this as in so many things, there’s a huge asymmetry between the parties. Of course not all Democrats are honest and upstanding; but as far as I can tell, there’s almost nobody left in the G.O.P. willing to take responsibility for, well, anything.

And I don’t think this is an accident. The sad content of modern Republican character is a symptom of the corruption and hypocrisy that has afflicted half of our body politic — a sickness of the soul that manifests itself in personal behavior as well as policy.

Before I talk about that sickness, consider a few non-Trump examples of the lack of character that pervades this administration.

At the trivial but still telling end of the scale, we have the tale of Scott Pruitt, head of the Environmental Protection Agency, who keeps flying first class at taxpayers’ expense. The money isn’t the important issue here, although his spending violates federal guidelines. The revealing thing, instead, is the supposed reason he needs to fly premium — you see, ordinary coach passengers have been known to say critical things to his face.

Remember this story the next time someone talks about liberal “snowflakes.”

More seriously, consider the behavior of John Kelly, Trump’s chief of staff, whose record of slandering critics and refusing to admit error is starting to rival his boss’s. Remember when Kelly made false accusations about Representative Frederica Wilson and refused to retract those accusations even after video showed they were false?

More recently, Kelly insisted that he didn’t know the full details about domestic abuse allegations against Rob Porter until, a White House staff member said, “40 minutes before he threw him out” — a claim that seems at odds with everything we know about this story. Even if this claim were true, an apology for his obliviousness seems in order. But these guys don’t apologize.

Oh, and by the way: Roy Moore still hasn’t conceded.

So it’s not just Trump. And it didn’t start with Trump. In fact, way back in 2006 I wrote about the “mensch gap” in the Bush administration — the unwillingness of top officials to accept responsibility for the botched occupation of Iraq, the botched response to Hurricane Katrina, and more.

Nor, by the way, are we only talking about politicians. In my neck of the woods, I remain amazed by the unwillingness of right-leaning economists to admit that they were wrong in predicting that the Fed’s efforts to rescue the economy would cause runaway inflation. Being wrong is one thing — it happens to everyone, myself very much included. Refusing to admit and learn from error is something different.

And let’s be clear: Personal responsibility isn’t dead everywhere. You can ask, for example, whether Hillary Clinton apologized sufficiently for her initial support of the Iraq war or her missteps in 2016 — but she did admit to making mistakes, which nobody on the other side ever seems to do.

So what happened to the character of the G.O.P.? I’m pretty sure that in this case the personal is, ultimately, political. The modern G.O.P. is, to an extent never before seen in American history, a party built around bad faith, around pretending that its concerns and goals are very different from what they really are. Flag-waving claims of patriotism, pious invocations of morality, stern warnings about fiscal probity are all cover stories for an underlying agenda mainly concerned with making plutocrats even richer.

And the character flaws of the party end up being echoed by the character flaws of its most prominent members. Are they bad people who chose their political affiliation because it fits their proclivities, or potentially good people corrupted by the company they keep? Probably some of both.

In any case, let’s be clear: America in 2018 is not a place where we can disagree without being disagreeable, where there are good people and good ideas on both sides, or whatever other bipartisan homily you want to recite. We are, instead, living in a kakistocracy, a nation ruled by the worst, and we need to face up to that unpleasant reality.”

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

Yup. I also think that “Kleptocracy” and “Clownocracy” could be substituted for “Kakistocracy.”

PWS

02-20-18

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

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

Molly Hennessy-Fiske reports for the LA Times

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Estimates from migrant advocacy groups are much higher.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PWS

02-20-18

PRESIDENTS’ DAY: MOVE ON OVER JIMMIE BUCHANAN!– THERE’S A NEW “WORST PRESIDENT IN U.S. HISTORY” IN TOWN – You Might Have Thought That Sitting On Your Behind While The US Dissolved Into A Bloody Civil War Would Insure You A Lasting Last Place In History – BUT NO, IN ONLY A LITTLE OVER A YEAR, “PUTIN’S PUPPET” & “CON-MAN-IN-CHIEF” DONALD TRUMP HAS BEAT YOU OUT FOR THE “WORST PRESIDENT IN U.S. HISTORY” ACCORDING TO A BIPARTISAN PANEL OF EXPERTS!

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/02/19/opinion/how-does-trump-stack-up-against-the-best-and-worst-presidents.html

“Where does Donald Trump rank on the list of American presidents?

We surveyed presidential politics experts to sketch out a first draft of Trump’s place in presidential history.

Since our previous survey in 2014, some presidential legacies have soared (Barack Obama’s stock has climbed into the Top 10), while others have fallen (Andrew Jackson toppled to 15, out of the Top 10).

And President Trump? Let’s say that, according to the 170 members of the American Political Science Association’s Presidents and Executive Politics section who filled out our survey, he has at least three years to improve on an ignominious debut.

Presidential Greatness Rankings

James Buchanan, who was at the helm as the United States careened into civil war, was dislodged from his position as our nation’s worst president by our current president, Trump.

His Oval Office predecessor, Barack Obama, shot into the Top 10, up from 18th in the previous survey. Ulysses S. Grant also got a bump, up seven places from 2014, perhaps owing to a strong assist from Ron Chernow’s recent masterpiece.

The biggest declines were for Bill Clinton, arguably the result of contemporary scorn for his treatment of women, and Andrew Jackson, for evolving attitudes on his treatment of Native Americans.

Overall rankings.

Presidents since World War II in boldface.

Presidents whose rank changed since last survey

0 = FAILURE

50 = AVERAGE

100 = GREAT

2014 RANK

CHANGE

IN RANKING

UP OR

DOWN

TOP 10 IN 2018

1. Lincoln

95

2. Washington

93

3. F.D. Roosevelt

89

4. T. Roosevelt

81

5. Jefferson

80

6. Truman

75

7. Eisenhower

74

8. Obama

71

8. Clinton

–5

9. Reagan

69

9. Jackson

–6

10. L.B. Johnson

69

10. Wilson

–1

11. Wilson

67

11. Reagan

+2

12. Madison

64

12. L.B. Johnson

+2

13. Clinton

64

13. Madison

+1

14. J. Adams

63

14. Kennedy

–2

15. Jackson

62

15. J. Adams

+1

16. Kennedy

62

16. Monroe

–2

17. G.H.W. Bush

61

18. Monroe

61

18. Obama

+10

19. McKinley

55

19. Polk

–1

20. Polk

54

20. Taft

–2

21. Grant

53

21. McKinley

+2

22. Taft

52

22. J.Q. Adams

–1

23. J.Q. Adams

52

23. Cleveland

–1

24. Cleveland

51

24. Ford

–1

25. Ford

47

25. Van Buren

–2

26. Carter

45

27. Van Buren

44

27. Coolidge

–1

28. Coolidge

42

28. Grant

+7

29. Hayes

42

29. B. Harrison

–3

30. G.W. Bush

40

30. Hayes

+1

31. Arthur

40

31. Garfield

–3

32. B. Harrison

38

32. Arthur

+1

33. Nixon

37

33. Taylor

–2

34. Garfield

37

34. Nixon

+1

BOTTOM 10

35. Taylor

33

35. G.W. Bush

+5

36. Hoover

33

36. Tyler

–1

37. Tyler

31

37. Fillmore

–1

38. Fillmore

28

38. Hoover

+2

39. Harding

25

39. W.H. Harrison

–3

40. A. Johnson

25

40. Pierce

–1

41. Pierce

23

41. A. Johnson

+1

42. W.H. Harrison

19

42. Harding

+3

43. Buchanan

15

44. Trump

12

Methodology: Each expert was invited to rate each president on a 0-100 scale, with 0 = failure, 50 = average, and 100 = great. Scores were then averaged for each president, with presidents then ranked in order of highest average to lowest.

Greatness Rankings by Party

On partisan-votes lines, Democrats ranked Ronald Reagan nine places lower than Republicans, while Democrats place Obama 10 places higher.

Counting only Republican votes, William McKinley — best known for winning the Spanish-American war, for defeating William Jennings Bryan twice in contests for the White House and for being assassinated by the anarchist Leon Czolgosz — holds a spot in the Top 10.

Independents admire George H.W. Bush, ranking him higher than Obama.

Trump doesn’t get much of a lift from Republican-only vote: Even in their eyes, he’s a bottom-five president.

Democratic scholars

Independents/other

Republican scholars

Presidents since World War II in boldface.

These scholars skew somewhat to the right.

TOP 10

0

AVG.

100

0

AVG.

100

0

AVG.

100

1. Washington

94

1. Lincoln

96

1. Lincoln

94

2. Lincoln

94

2. F.D. Roosevelt

94

2. Washington

91

3. F.D. Roosevelt

83

3. Washington

93

3. F.D. Roosevelt

83

4. T. Roosevelt

77

4. T. Roosevelt

83

4. T. Roosevelt

79

5. Reagan

76

5. Jefferson

82

5. Jefferson

79

6. Jefferson

70

6. Obama

78

6. Eisenhower

77

7. Eisenhower

68

7. Truman

78

7. Reagan

75

8. Truman

67

8. L.B. Johnson

75

8. Truman

74

9. McKinley

64

9. Eisenhower

74

9. Madison

65

10. Jackson

64

10. Wilson

72

10. J. Adams

64

11. G.H.W. Bush

63

11. Madison

67

11. G.H.W. Bush

64

12. Wilson

61

12. Kennedy

67

12. Obama

63

13. Polk

60

13. Clinton

66

13. L.B. Johnson

63

14. Taft

60

14. Reagan

65

14. Clinton

62

15. Clinton

59

15. J. Adams

64

15. Wilson

62

16. Obama

57

16. Monroe

62

16. McKinley

61

17. J. Adams

57

17. Jackson

62

17. Jackson

61

18. Monroe

56

18. G.H.W. Bush

59

18. Monroe

60

19. L.B. Johnson

56

19. Grant

53

19. Kennedy

58

20. Cleveland

55

20. J.Q. Adams

53

20. Taft

56

21. Coolidge

52

21. Polk

52

21. Polk

56

22. Madison

52

22. McKinley

50

22. Grant

54

23. G.W. Bush

52

23. Cleveland

49

23. Cleveland

54

24. Kennedy

50

24. Carter

48

24. J.Q. Adams

52

25. Grant

49

25. Taft

48

25. Coolidge

50

26. Ford

49

26. Ford

46

26. Ford

49

27. J.Q. Adams

49

27. Van Buren

44

27. Van Buren

47

28. Hayes

44

28. Hayes

39

28. Hayes

45

29. Nixon

42

29. Arthur

39

29. Arthur

44

30. Hoover

41

30. G.W. Bush

37

30. Garfield

42

31. B. Harrison

39

31. Nixon

37

31. G.W. Bush

42

32. Carter

39

32. B. Harrison

36

32. Carter

41

33. Van Buren

38

33. Coolidge

36

33. B. Harrison

40

34. Arthur

36

34. Garfield

34

34. Taylor

37

Lighter circles = below average

BOTTOM 10

35. Garfield

36

35. Taylor

31

35. Hoover

37

36. Taylor

34

36. Tyler

31

36. Nixon

36

37. Tyler

33

37. Hoover

29

37. Tyler

32

38. Harding

32

38. A. Johnson

27

38. Fillmore

30

39. Fillmore

29

39. Fillmore

26

39. Harding

26

40. Trump

25

40. Pierce

24

40. Pierce

25

41. A. Johnson

21

41. Harding

23

41. A. Johnson

23

42. Pierce

19

42. W.H. Harrison

19

42. W.H. Harrison

19

43. W.H. Harrison

19

43. Buchanan

16

43. Trump

16

44. Buchanan

14

44. Trump

8

44. Buchanan

14

Methodology: Each expert was allowed to self-identify as either Republican, Democrat, Independent, or Other. The results of those who self-identified were later analyzed independently to allow comparisons across partisan groups.

Next on Mt. Rushmore

Which president deserves to have his likeness carved next into Mt. Rushmore’s granite cliff? Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the overwhelming favorite, selected by two-thirds of our respondents.

Franklin

Roosevelt

Barack

Obama

James

Madison

Lyndon

Johnson

66%

7

5

4

4

2

2

10

Others

Ronald

Reagan

Dwight

Eisenhower

William

McKinley

Methodology: Respondents were asked if they were to add one president to those currently represented on Mt. Rushmore, who would it be, and then allowed to select any past or current president. The number and percentage of times each president was selected was then calculated.

Mt. Rushmore by Party

It wasn’t just Democratic support that would carve F.D.R. on Mt. Rushmore: All groups, including Republicans, named him as most deserving of that honor.

Roosevelt, the godfather of presidential liberalism, received more than twice as many votes from Republicans as Ronald Reagan, his conservative counterpart.

Democratic scholars’ vote:

Barack

Obama

Lyndon

Johnson

James

Madison

Franklin

Roosevelt

75%

11

3

3

8

Others

Independent/others’ vote:

Ronald

Reagan

Dwight

Eisenhower

William

McKinley

Franklin

Roosevelt

57%

9

9

6

19

Others

Republicans’ vote:

Ronald

Reagan

James

Madison

Franklin

Roosevelt

43%

19

10

29

Others

Methodology: Using the previously discussed self-identified partisanship breakdowns, the number and percentage of times each partisan group selected each president was calculated in the same way as the overall results.

Trump’s initial rating places him in an ignominious category, but dozens of presidents have had slow starts and have course corrected to improve their public esteem. Beyond his reputation or ranking, Donald Trump’s very presidency may alter perceptions of presidential legacies as his unique approach to the office continues to surprise.

Brandon Rottinghaus is a professor of political science at the University of Houston. Justin S. Vaughn is an associate professor of political science and director of the Center for Idaho History and Politics at Boise State University.

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

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

 

Greetings,

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

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

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

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

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

Michelle N. Mendez

Training and Legal Support Senior Attorney

Defending Vulnerable Populations Project Manager

Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC)

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

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

Cellular Phone: 540.907.1761

Fax Number: 301.565.4824

Email: mmendez@cliniclegal.org

Website: www.cliniclegal.org

 

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

Defending hope and the American Dream

May 30 – June 1, 2018 | Tucson, AZ

cliniclegal.org/convening

 

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

 

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

Redacted S-H-O BIA Remand

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

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

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

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

 

PWS

02-19-18

 

 

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

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

The New York Times Editorial Board writes:

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PWS

02-19-18

 

DREAMER DEBACLE: MY THREE “TAKEAWAYS”

DREAMER DEBACLE: MY THREE “TAKEAWAYS”
  • Trump and the GOP aren’t going to help the Dreamers. While the majority of GOP voters are favorably disposed to Dreamers, it isn’t a priority for them. Unlike the Dems, GOP legislators aren’t getting pressure from their constituents to solve the Dreamer problem. Meanwhile, “the base” doesn’t like the Dreamers. Without Trump’s support, the GOP isn’t going to press the issue. With Trump’s active opposition and veto threats, the Dreamers are “dead meat” as far as the GOP is concerned.

 

  • The Democrats can’t help the Dreamers from their minority position. The minority doesn’t get to control the agenda, particularly over the President’s active opposition. No, it doesn’t make sense to blame Schumer for sacrificing “leverage” he never really had. The shutdown didn’t work. The Dems and the Dreamers were losing the public opinion battle. Since the GOP is basically out to destroy Government (other than the military) they didn’t feel much pressure to make concessions to the minority to get it reopened.

 

  • The Dreamers aren’t going anywhere. It’s a tossup whether the Supremes will intervene in Trump’s favor in the Dreamer case. We will probably find out within the next week. Even if the Supremes do Trump’s bidding, there is no way Trump can deport 700,000 Dreamers. Unlike the semi-helpless women and children detained at the border that Trump & Sessions like to pick on, the Dreamers have resources, community support, and access to good lawyers. They have lots of possible defenses to removal and some affirmative causes of action that should keep the legal system occupied for decades, or at least until we get regime change and wiser legislators finally put the Dreamers on the path to citizenship.

PWS

02-18-18