SUPREMES AGREE TO REVIEW TRAVEL BAN 3.0!

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

Robert Barnes reports for WashPost:

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

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

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

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Read the complete article at the link.

PWS

01-19-18

DANA MILBANK @ WASHPOST: KIRSTJEN NIELSEN IS A BUREAUCRATIC SUPER SYCOPHANT! – Duh! Why Do You Think She Got The Job?

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/this-way-madness-lies/2018/01/16/0b627fe2-fb0a-11e7-a46b-a3614530bd87_story.html

Milbank writes:

“This way madness lies.

I knew that Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, when she appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, would deny that Trump said what the whole world knows he said: that he wants immigrants from Norway rather than from “shithole” countries in Africa.

What I was not expecting was that Nielsen would raise a question about whether Norwegians are mostly white.

Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) displayed a poster from the dais proclaiming, in big letters, “Trump: Why allow immigrants from ‘Shithole Countries’?” An aide held the poster aloft right behind Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), who, along with Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), was at the infamous meeting with Trump and told others about his racist language.

Nielsen, who was also in that meeting, was now under oath, and she wiggled every which way to excuse Trump without perjuring herself: “I did not hear that word used. . . . I don’t dispute that the president was using tough language.”

Leahy moved on to Trump’s wish for more Norwegian immigrants. “Norway is a predominantly white country, isn’t it?” he asked, rhetorically.

“I actually do not know that, sir,” Nielsen replied. “But I imagine that is the case.”

Kirstjen Nielsen doesn’t know Norwegians are white?

Just as Nielsen “imagines” Norwegians are white, I imagine that she, in her denial of the obvious and defense of the indefensible, is the latest Trump sycophant to trash her reputation. She joins the two Republican senators, David Perdue (Ga.) and Tom Cotton (Ark.), who were in the room for the “shithole” moment but not only denied that it was said (Trump’s use of the vulgar word was widely confirmed, even by Fox News, and not denied by the White House until Trump tweeted a partial denial the next day) but also disparaged the integrity of Durbin for being truthful.

It’s clear they, like Nielsen, do this so they don’t get crosswise with the volatile president — but in the process shred their own integrity.

Now the federal government is hurtling toward a shutdown, entirely because of the president’s whim. Democrats and Republicans presented him last week with exactly the bipartisan deal he said he would sign — protecting the immigrant “dreamers” while also providing funding for his border security “wall” — but Trump unexpectedly exploded with his racist attack and vulgar word.”

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Read the rest of Milbank’s op-ed at the above link.

Obviously, Neilsen got the job of DHS Secretary because she was perceived by the Trumpsters to be a lightweight sycophant who wouldn’t “rock the boat.” After all, a truly independent individual at the head of DHS might stand up to the wasteful and immoral “Gonzo” enforcement program being pursued by Trump, Miller, Sessions, Kelly, Homan, and the rest of the Administration’s “White Nationalist Cabal.”

How dumb and complicit is Nielsen? Well, she’s been “reassuring” the “Dreamer community” that even if the budget deal falls through they won’t be an “enforcement priority!” She ignores, of course, the fact that without DACA or legislation, the Dreamers will lose their hard-earned legal work authorizations and, in many cases, their ability to pursue higher education.

In plain terms, they will be “forced underground” where they will be subject to employer abuse, won’t be able to pay taxes, won’t be able to realize their full potential, and, naturally, will be unable to report or act as witnesses to crimes because of fear of removal. Plus, Jeff “Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions and Tom Homan have assured Dreamers that if they happen to get caught up in any of ICE’s “dragnet” operations, their “nonpriority” status won’t save them from deportation. Also, once “underground” and no longer required to apply to the DHS for renewals, those few “Dreamers” who do go “off the tracks” will not have their records periodically reviewed by the Government. We won’t even have a real idea of how many actually are in the U.S. any more. So, how is this sane government?

The Obama Administration correctly determined that removal of the Dreamers was not an enforcement priority and not in the national interest. In other words, they that they should receive “prosecutorial discretion,” or “PD” pending an appropriate legislative resolution which was not immediately available.

Rather than leaving it to a myriad of local enforcement officials to arbitrarily exercise PD, the Obama Administration established a program where Dreamers were carefully reviewed by professional DHS adjudicators who consistently applied written, transparent criteria. If qualified, Dreamers were given legal authorization to work and documentation that, for the most part, allowed them to pursue higher education, get drivers licenses, etc. What a reasonable and rational way to exercise “prosecutorial discretion” or “PD.” Indeed, a model program.

A real DHS secretary might have stood up to bullies Trump, Kelly, Miller, and Sessions by arguing that the DACA program should be reinstated. The opportunity certainly presented itself. The Administration could simply drop its opposition to the order of the U.S. District Judge Alsup blocking the rescission of DACA. That also would offer the Administration “legal cover” if any of the restrictionist GOP state AGs challenge DACA. They would have to deal with a highly skeptical Judge Alsup.

A real DHS Secretary might also not have had “bogus amnesia” and have reported accurately under oath what the President really said. A real DHS Secretary might also have “Just Said No” to the cruel and irrational termination of Salvadoran TPS. Yeah, the President could fire her for either of those things. But, no Cabinet Secretary job is forever anyway. If you’re going to go down, having it be for courageously telling truth to power, when power is being abused, isn’t the worst way to go out.

Instead, Neilsen will go down as just another bureaucratic sycophant who “went along to get along” no matter what the cost to her country and to her own integrity.

PWS

01-17-18

 

TRUMP GOP INTENTIONALLY TORTURES DREAMERS – MESSING WITH AMERICA’S FUTURE FOR NO GOOD REASON!

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2018/01/why-the-trump-administrations-daca-policy-is-indefensible.html

Eric Levitz writes for NY Maggie:

“There are a lot more undocumented immigrants in the United States than our government can possibly deport (without increasing the size and scope of immigration enforcement beyond even the Trump administration’s wildest dreams). At present, U.S. immigration courts are so severely backlogged, deportations actually went down during Trump’s first year in office, even as the number of immigration arrests dramatically increased.

This context requires the White House to set priorities for enforcing immigration law. Until Congress increases the relevant resources, the Executive branch cannot significantly increase deportations with its policy changes — it can only change the composition of the deportee population. The Obama administration decided that it made little sense to use the government’s limited resources on expelling Dreamers (law-abiding, gainfully-employed undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children). And on Tuesday, Trump’s Department of Homeland Security reached the same conclusion.

“It’s not going to be a priority of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement to prioritize their removal. I’ve said that before. That’s not the policy of DHS,” DHS head Kirstjen Nielsen told CBS This Morning. “If you are a DACA that’s compliant with your registration, meaning you haven’t committed a crime, you, in fact, are registered, you’re not priority of enforcement for ICE should the program end.”

This statement is not surprising. It would be bizarre if Homeland Security did prioritize deporting a category of immigrants that is, by definition, compliant with all (non-immigration) laws, and making productive contributions to society. And the significance of Nielson’s remarks are unclear. There is a big difference between deprioritizing Dreamers, and instructing immigration enforcement agents to leave them alone. Many Dreamers shared their personal information and immigration status with the government when applying for protection from deportation under the Obama administration. If ICE isn’t explicitly prohibited from using that data to make quick-and-easy arrests of undocumented individuals, some agents could take that initiative.

Regardless, Nielsen’s statement betrays the fundamental incoherence of the Trump administration’s policy on Dreamers. Like its predecessor, the Trump White House (officially) believes that Dreamers should not be prioritized for deportation; unlike the Obama administration, it does not believe that the Executive branch should make it easier for Dreamers to contribute to the legitimate economy while they’re here.

Trump has never actually made a policy argument for this position. When the administration ended Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program — which had provided Dreamers with formal protection from deportation and renewable work permits — it claimed to do so on legal grounds: Whatever the merits of the policy, it was simply unconstitutional for the Executive branch to implement such a program without congressional approval.

The problem with that argument, as a federal judge recently noticed, is that “deferred action has been blessed by both the the Supreme Court and Congress as a means to exercise enforcement discretion” and embraced by presidents of both parties for decades. Further, the specific features of DACA, such as work permits, are explicitly allowedunder current law. (Notably, in other contexts, the Trump administration has shown little reluctance to assert the Executive branch’s immense discretion over immigration policy.)

The Trump administration says it does not want to deport Dreamers. A large body of law — and now, a federal court ruling — says that it has the power to unilaterally give Dreamers formal protection from deportation. And yet, Trump refuses to exercise that authority. Thus, his ostensible position is that Dreamers should be allowed to stay in the U.S. — but should be kept in a perpetual state of anxiety, and prevented from securing legal employment — until Congress agrees to pass a long-list of controversial reforms to the immigration system.

In this light, Trump’s DACA policy is not (as Jeff Sessions once suggested) an act of deference to the limits of executive authority. Rather, it is a gross abuse of that discretion: The administration revoked the legal status of 700,000 people, not because it thinks this is defensible as a policy, but solely as a means of coercing Congress into passing legislation that it otherwise would not.”

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The Trumpsters are holding the Dreamers “hostage” for a White Nationalist, restrictionist, racist immigration agenda that would be bad for American in every imaginable way.

Levitz also “gets” two things that others sometimes miss: 1) that Trump is actually “over a barrel” because he can’t really remove the Dreamers — just drive them underground and make their lives miserable and less productive (and deprive us of tax revenues) by taking away their work authorization; and 2) the legal underpinnings for DACA are much stronger than Jeff “Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions would ever admit.

The GOP White Nationalists have created a fake “immigration crisis” that any other Administration with an ounce of human decency, good lawyering, and common sense could and would have avoided. And, all of this is a colossal waste of taxpayer money! “Throw the bums out” at the ballot box!

PWS

01-17-18

ADMINISTRATION BIDS TO “JACK” U.S. COURT SYSTEM BY BYPASSING 9TH CIRCUIT AND GOING DIRECTLY TO SUPREMES FOR “RELIEF” FROM DACA REINSTATEMENT ORDER!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/immigration/trump-administration-appeals-judges-order-that-daca-must-remain-for-now/2018/01/16/41a8c960-f6e8-11e7-beb6-c8d48830c54d_story.html?hpid=hp_rhp-top-table-main_daca-appeal-315pm%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.9e1d11e8d91c

Maria Sacchetti reports for the Washington Post:

“The Justice Department on Tuesday said it would take the “rare step” of asking the Supreme Court to overturn a judge’s ruling and clear the way for the Trump administration to dismantle a program that provides work permits to undocumented immigrants who have lived in the United States since childhood.

The Trump administration said it has appealed the judge’s injunction — which said the Obama-era program must continue while a legal challenge to ending it is pending — to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

But the Justice Department will also petition the Supreme Court later this week to intervene in the case, an unusual action that would allow the government to bypass the 9th Circuit altogether in its bid to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in March.

“It defies both law and common sense” that a “single district court in San Francisco” had halted the administration’s plans, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement. “We are now taking the rare step of requesting direct review on the merits of this injunction by the Supreme Court so that this issue may be resolved quickly and fairly for all the parties involved.”

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Read the complete article at the link.

The Supremes seem to have “enabled” the Trump Administration by giving them a highly questionable “early victory” in dissolving the lower court injunction in the “Travel Ban 3.0 Case” without making the Administration go through the normal appellate process. Obviously, Trump & Sessions have taken that as an open invitation to short-circuit the justice system by appealing to the Supremes at will.

Hard to see what the real rush is here, given that the Dreamers have been here for years, aren’t going anywhere, and the Administration won’t even begin the real phase-out of the program until March.

PWS

01-16-18

MLK DAY 2018 — DR. KING’S DREAM OF AN AMERICA CELEBRATING EQUALITY & RACIAL HARMONY IS UNDER VICIOUS ATTACK BY TRUMP, PENCE, SESSIONS, AND A HOST OF OTHERS IN TODAY’S WHITE NATIONALIST ENABLING GOP — Who Is Going To Fight To Reclaim The Dream, & Who Is Going To “Go Along To Get Along” With The 21st Century Version Of Jim Crow?

Folks, as we take a few minutes today to remember Dr. King, his vision for a better America, and his inspiring “I Have A Dream Speech,” we have to face the fact that everything Dr. King stood for is under a vicious and concerted attack, the likes of which we haven’t seen in America for approximately 50 years, by individuals elected to govern by a minority of voters in our country.

So, today, I’m offering you a “potpourri”  of how and why Dr.King’s Dream has “gone south,” so to speak, and how those of us who care about social justice and due process in America can nevertheless resurrect it and move forward together for a greater and more tolerant American that celebrates the talents, contributions, and humanity of all who live here!.

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From the LA Times Editorial Board:

http://enewspaper.latimes.com/infinity/article_popover_share.aspx?guid=186bb118-702e-49a2-a52d-b8dac8aa0cc8

“50 years on, what would King think?

On Martin Luther King’s birthday, a look back at some disquieting events in race relations in 2017.

Nearly 50 years ago, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. went to the mountaintop and looked out over the promised land. In a powerful and prophetic speech on April 3, 1968, he told a crowd at the Mason Temple in Memphis that while there would certainly be difficult days ahead, he had no doubt that the struggle for racial justice would be successful.

“I may not get there with you,” he said. “But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. And so I am happy tonight. I’m not worried about anything.”

The following day, he was assassinated.

The intervening years have been full of steps forward and steps backward, of extraordinary changes as well as awful reminders of what has not changed. What would King have made of our first black president? What would he have thought had he seen neo-Nazis marching through the streets of Charlottesville, Va., so many years after his death? How would he have viewed the shooting by police of unarmed black men in cities around the country — or the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement? He would surely have heard the assertions that we have become a “post-racial” society because we elected (and reelected) Barack Obama. But would he have believed it?

This past year was not terribly heartening on the civil rights front. It was appalling enough that racist white nationalists marched in Charlottesville in August. But it was even more shocking that President Trump seemed incapable of making the most basic moral judgment about that march; instead, he said that there were some “very fine people” at the rally of neo-Nazis and white supremacists.

Racial injustices that bedeviled the country in King’s day — voter suppression, segregated schools, hate crimes — have not gone away. A report released last week by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights on inequities in the funding of public schools concludes — and this should surprise no one — that students of color living in poor, segregated neighborhoods are often relegated to low-quality schools simply due to where they live. States continued in 2017 to pass laws that make it harder, rather than easier, for people of color to vote.

The Trump administration also seems determined to undo two decades of Justice Department civil rights work, cutting back on investigations into the excessive use of force and racial bias by police departments. Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions in March ordered a review of all existing federal consent decrees with local police departments with the possibility of dismantling them — a move that could set back police reform by many years.

Here in Los Angeles County, this statistic is telling: 40% of the estimated 57,000 homeless people — the most desperate and destitute residents of the county — are black. Yet black residents make up only 9% of the L.A. County population.

But despite bad news on several fronts, what have been heartening over the last year are the objections raised by so many people across the country.

Consider the statues of Confederate generals and slave owners that were brought down across the country. Schools and other institutions rebranded buildings that were formerly named after racists.

The Black Lives Matter movement has grown from a small street and cyber-protest group into a more potent civil rights organization focusing on changing institutions that have traditionally marginalized black people.

When football quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem to protest, as he said, a country that oppresses black people, he was denounced by many (including Trump) but emulated by others. Kaepernick has been effectively banished from professional football but he started a movement.

Roy Moore was defeated for a Senate seat in Alabama by a surge of black voters, particularly black women. (But no sooner did he lose than Joe Arpaio — the disgraced, vehemently anti-immigrant former Arizona sheriff — announced that he is running for Senate there.)

So on what would have been King’s 89th birthday, it is clear that the United States is not yet the promised land he envisioned in the last great speech of his life. But we agree with him that it’s still possible to get there.”

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See this short HuffPost video on “Why MLK’s Message Still Matters Today!”

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/martin-luther-king-jr-assassination-legacy_us_58e3ea89e4b03a26a366dd77

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Read about how the Arizona GOP has resurrected, and in some instances actually welcomed, “Racist Joe” Arpaio, an unapologetic anti-Hispanic bigot and convicted scofflaw. “Racist Joe” was pardoned by Trump and is now running for the GOP nomination to replace retiring Arizona GOP Senator Jeff Flake, who often has been a critic of Trump. One thing “Racist Joe’s” candidacy is doing is energizing the Latino community that successfully fought to remove him from the office of Sheriff and to have him brought to justice for his racist policies. 

Kurtis Lee reports for the LA Times:

http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-pol-arpaio-latino-voters-20180114-story.html

“Yenni Sanchez had thought her work was finished.

Spared from the threat of deportation by the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, she campaigned to oust Joe Arpaio when he unsuccessfully ran for reelection as Maricopa County sheriff in 2016. She knocked on hundreds of doors in south Phoenix’s predominantly Latino neighborhoods to register voters. She made phone calls, walked on college campuses. Her message was direct, like the name of the group she worked with, Bazta Arpaio, a take on the Spanish word basta — enough Arpaio.

But now, the 85-year-old former sheriff is back and running for Senate. Sanchez, who had planned to step away from politics to focus on her studies at Grand Canyon University, is back as well, organizing once more.

“If he thinks he can come back and terrorize the entire state like he did Maricopa County, it’s not going to happen,” Sanchez, 20, said. “I’m not going to let it happen.”

Arpaio enters a crowded Republican primary and may not emerge as the party’s nominee, but his bid has already galvanized Arizona’s Latino electorate — one of the country’s largest and fastest-growing voter blocs.

Organizers like Sanchez, who thought they might sit out the midterm elections, rushed back into offices and started making calls. Social media groups that had gone dormant have resurrected with posts reminding voters that Arpaio was criminally convicted of violating a federal court order to stop racially profiling Latinos.

“We’ve been hearing, ‘Is it true Arpaio is back? OK, what can we do to help?’” said Montserrat Arredondo, director of One Arizona, a Phoenix nonprofit group focused on increasing Latino voter turnout. “People were living in terror when Arpaio was in office. They haven’t forgotten.”

In 2008, 796,000 Latinos were eligible to vote in the state, according to One Arizona. By 2016, that potential voting pool jumped to 1.1 million. (California tops the nation with the most Latinos eligible to vote, almost 6.9 million.)

In 2016, Latinos accounted for almost 20% of all registered voters in Arizona. Latinos make up about 30% of Arizona’s population.

. . . .

Last year, President Trump pardoned Arpaio of a criminal conviction for violating a federal court order to stop racially profiling Latinos. When announcing his candidacy Tuesday, Arpaio pledged his full support to the president and his policies.

On Saturday, Arpaio made his first public appearance since announcing his candidacy, attending a gathering of Maricopa County Republicans. He was unmoved when asked about the enthusiasm his candidacy has created among Latinos.

“Many of them hate me for enforcing the law,” he said. “I can’t change that. … All I know is that I have my supporters, they’re going to support who they want. I’m in this to win it though.”

Arpaio, gripping about a dozen red cardboard signs that read “We need Sheriff Joe Arpaio in DC,” walked through the crowd where he mingled with, among others, former state Sen. Kelli Ward and U.S. Rep. Martha McSally, who also are seeking the GOP Senate nomination. Overall, Arpaio was widely met with enthusiasm from attendees.

“So glad you’re back,” said a man wearing a “Vietnam Veteran” hat.

“It’s great to be back,” Arpaio replied.

Arpaio, who handed out business cards touting his once self-proclaimed status as “America’s toughest sheriff,” said he had no regrets from his more than two decades in office.

“Not a single one,” he said. “I spoke my mind and did what needed to be done and would do it the same in a minute.”

In an interview, Arpaio, who still insists he has “evidence” that former President Obama’s birth certificate is forged, a rumor repeatedly shown to be false, did not lay out specific policy platforms, only insisting he’ll get things done in Washington.

During his tenure as sheriff, repeated court rulings against his office for civil rights violations cost local taxpayers tens of millions of dollars.”

Read the complete story at the link.

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Professor George Yancy of Emory University writing in the NY Times asks “Will America Choose King’s Dream Or Trump’s Nightmare?”

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/15/opinion/martin-luther-king-trump-racism.html

Yancy writes:

“Let’s come clean: President Trump is a white racist! Over the past few days, many have written, spoken and shouted this fact, but it needs repeating: President Trump is a white racist! Why repeat it? Because many have been under the grand illusion that America is a “post-racial” nation, a beautiful melting pot where racism is only sporadic, infrequent and expressed by those on the margins of an otherwise mainstream and “decent” America. That’s a lie; a blatant one at that. We must face a very horrible truth. And America is so cowardly when it comes to facing awful truths about itself.

So, as we celebrate the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, we must face the fact that we are at a moral crossroad. Will America courageously live out Dr. King’s dream or will it go down the road of bigotry and racist vitriol, preferring to live out Mr. Trump’s nightmare instead? In his autobiography, reflecting on the nonviolent uprising of the people of India, Dr. King wrote, “The way of acquiesce leads to moral and spiritual suicide.” Those of us who defiantly desire to live, and to live out Dr. King’s dream, to make it a reality, must not acquiesce now, precisely when his direst prophetic warning faces us head on.

On the night before he was murdered by a white man on the balcony of his room at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tenn., Dr. King wrote: “America is going to hell if we don’t use her vast resources to end poverty and make it possible for all of God’s children to have the basic necessities of life.” Our current president, full of hatred and contempt for those children, is the terrifying embodiment of this prophecy.

We desperately need each other at this moment of moral crisis and malicious racist divisiveness. Will we raise our collective voices against Mr. Trump’s white racism and those who make excuses for it or submit and thereby self-destructively kill any chance of fully becoming our better selves? Dr. King also warned us that “there comes a time when silence is betrayal.” To honor Dr. King, we must not remain silent, we must not betray his legacy.

So many Americans suffer from the obsessive need to claim “innocence,” that is, to lie to ourselves. Yet such a lie is part of our moral undoing. While many will deny, continue to lie and claim our national “innocence,” I come bearing deeply troubling, but not surprising, news: White racism is now comfortably located within the Oval Office, right there at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, embodied in our 45th president, one who is, and I think many would agree, must agree, without any hesitation, a white racist. There are many who will resist this characterization, but Mr. Trump has desecrated the symbolic aspirations of America, exhumed forms of white supremacist discourse that so many would assume is spewed only by Ku Klux Klan.”

Read the rest of Professor Yancy’s op-ed at the link.

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From lead columnist David Leonhardt and Ian Prasad Philbrick at the NY Times we get “Donald Trump’s Racism: The Definitive List.”

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/01/15/opinion/leonhardt-trump-racist.html

Donald Trump has been obsessed with race for the entire time he has been a public figure. He had a history of making racist comments as a New York real-estate developer in the 1970s and ‘80s. More recently, his political rise was built on promulgating the lie that the nation’s first black president was born in Kenya. He then launched his campaign with a speech describing Mexicans as rapists.

The media often falls back on euphemisms when describing Trump’s comments about race: racially loaded, racially charged, racially tinged, racially sensitive. And Trump himself has claimed that he is “the least racist person.” But here’s the truth: Donald Trump is a racist. He talks about and treats people differently based on their race. He has done so for years, and he is still doing so.

Here, we have attempted to compile a definitive list of his racist comments – or at least the publicly known ones.

The New York Years

Trump’s real-estate company tried to avoid renting apartments to African-Americans in the 1970s and gave preferential treatment to whites, according to the federal government.

Trump treated black employees at his casinos differently from whites, according to multiple sources. A former hotel executive said Trump criticized a black accountant: “Black guys counting my money! I hate it. … I think that the guy is lazy. And it’s probably not his fault, because laziness is a trait in blacks.”

In 1989, Trump took out ads in New York newspapers urging the death penalty for five black and Latino teenagers accused of raping a white woman in Central Park; he argued they were guilty as late as October 2016, more than 10 years after DNA evidence had exonerated them.

In 1989, on NBC, Trump said: “I think sometimes a black may think they don’t have an advantage or this and that. I’ve said on one occasion, even about myself, if I were starting off today, I would love to be a well-educated black, because I really believe they do have an actual advantage.”

An Obsession With
Dark-Skinned Immigrants

He began his 2016 presidential campaign with a speech disparaging Mexican immigrants as criminals and “rapists.”

He uses the gang MS-13 to disparage all immigrants. Among many other statements, he has suggested that Obama’s protection of the Dreamers — otherwise law-abiding immigrants who were brought to the United States illegally as children — contributed to the spread of MS-13.

In December 2015, Trump called for a “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” including refusing to readmit Muslim-American citizens who were outside of the country at the time.

Trump said a federal judge hearing a case about Trump University was biased because of the judge’s Mexican heritage.

In June 2017, Trump said 15,000 recent immigrants from Haiti “all have AIDS” and that 40,000 Nigerians, once seeing the United States, would never “go back to their huts” in Africa.

At the White House on Jan. 11, Trump vulgarly called forless immigration from Haiti and Africa and more from Norway.”

The disgusting list goes on and on. Go to the link to get it all!

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Also at the NY Times, Charles M. Blow states what by now should have become obvious to the rest of us: “Trump Is A Racist. Period.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/14/opinion/trump-racist-shithole.html

Blow writes:

“I find nothing more useless than debating the existence of racism, particularly when you are surrounded by evidence of its existence. It feels to me like a way to keep you fighting against the water until you drown.

The debates themselves, I believe, render a simple concept impossibly complex, making the very meaning of “racism” frustratingly murky.

So, let’s strip that away here. Let’s be honest and forthright.

Racism is simply the belief that race is an inherent and determining factor in a person’s or a people’s character and capabilities, rendering some inferior and others superior. These beliefs are racial prejudices.

The history of America is one in which white people used racism and white supremacy to develop a racial caste system that advantaged them and disadvantaged others.

Understanding this, it is not a stretch to understand that Donald Trump’s words and deeds over the course of his life have demonstrated a pattern of expressing racial prejudices that demean people who are black and brown and that play to the racial hostilities of other white people.

It is not a stretch to say that Trump is racist. It’s not a stretch to say that he is a white supremacist. It’s not a stretch to say that Trump is a bigot.

Those are just facts, supported by the proof of the words that keep coming directly from him. And, when he is called out for his racism, his response is never to ameliorate his rhetoric, but to double down on it.

I know of no point during his entire life where he has apologized for, repented of, or sought absolution for any of his racist actions or comments.

Instead, he either denies, deflects or amps up the attack.

Trump is a racist. We can put that baby to bed.

“Racism” and “racist” are simply words that have definitions, and Trump comfortably and unambiguously meets those definitions.

We have unfortunately moved away from the simple definition of racism, to the point where the only people to whom the appellation can be safely applied are the vocal, violent racial archetypes.

Racism doesn’t require hatred, constant expression, or even conscious awareness. We want racism to be fringe rather than foundational. But, wishing isn’t an effective method of eradication.

We have to face this thing, stare it down and fight it back.

The simple acknowledgment that Trump is a racist is the easy part. The harder, more substantive part is this: What are we going to do about it?

First and foremost, although Trump is not the first president to be a racist, we must make him the last. If by some miracle he should serve out his first term, he mustn’t be allowed a second. Voters of good conscience must swarm the polls in 2020.

But before that, those voters must do so later this year, to rid the House and the Senate of as many of Trump’s defenders, apologists and accomplices as possible. Should the time come where impeachment is inevitable, there must be enough votes in the House and Senate to ensure it.

We have to stop thinking that we can somehow separate what racists believe from how they will behave. We must stop believing that any of Trump’s actions are clear of the venom coursing through his convictions. Everything he does is an articulation of who he is and what he believes. Therefore, all policies he supports, positions he takes and appointments he makes are suspect.

And finally, we have to stop giving a pass to the people — whether elected official or average voter — who support and defend his racism. If you defend racism you are part of the racism. It doesn’t matter how much you say that you’re an egalitarian, how much you say that you are race blind, how much you say that you are only interested in people’s policies and not their racist polemics.

As the brilliant James Baldwin once put it: “I can’t believe what you say, because I see what you do.” When I see that in poll after poll a portion of Trump’s base continues to support his behavior, including on race, I can only conclude that there is no real daylight between Trump and his base. They are part of his racism.

When I see the extraordinary hypocrisy of elected officials who either remain silent in the wake of Trump’s continued racist outbursts or who obliquely condemn him, only to in short order return to defending and praising him and supporting his agenda, I see that there is no real daylight between Trump and them either. They too are part of his racism.

When you see it this way, you understand the enormity and the profundity of what we are facing. There were enough Americans who were willing to accept Trump’s racism to elect him. There are enough people in Washington willing to accept Trump’s racism to defend him. Not only is Trump racist, the entire architecture of his support is suffused with that racism. Racism is a fundamental component of the Trump presidency.

 

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Back over at the Washington Post, op-ed writer E.J. Dionne, Jr., tells us the depressing news that “We could be a much better country. Trump makes it impossible.” 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/we-could-be-a-much-better-country-trump-makes-it-impossible/2018/01/14/84bff6dc-f7d4-11e7-b34a-b85626af34ef_story.html?utm_term=.c2151ab89a3c

Dionne concludes his piece with the following observations about our current “Dreamer” debate:

“Our current debate is frustrating, and not only because Trump doesn’t understand what “mutual toleration” and “forbearance” even mean. By persistently making himself, his personality, his needs, his prejudices and his stability the central topics of our political conversation, Trump is blocking the public conversation we ought to be having about how to move forward.

And while Trump’s enablers in the Republican Party will do all they can to avoid the issue, there should now be no doubt (even if this was clear long ago) that we have a blatant racist as our president. His reference to immigrants from “sh–hole countries” and his expressed preference for Norwegians over Haitians, Salvadorans and new arrivals from Africa make this abundantly clear. Racist leaders do not help us reach mutual toleration. His semi-denial 15 hours after his comment was first reported lacked credibility, especially because he called around first to see how his original words would play with his base.

But notice also what Trump’s outburst did to our capacity to govern ourselves and make progress. Democrats and Republicans sympathetic to the plight of the “dreamers” worked out an immigration compromise designed carefully to give Trump what he had said he needed.

There were many concessions by Democrats on border security, “chain migration” based on family reunification, and the diversity visa lottery that Trump had criticized. GOP senators such as Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.) and Jeff Flake (Ariz.) bargained in good faith and were given ample reason by Trump to think they had hit his sweet spot.

Trump blew them away with a torrent of bigotry. In the process, he shifted the onus for avoiding a government shutdown squarely on his own shoulders and those of Republican leaders who were shamefully slow in condemning the president’s racism.

There are so many issues both more important and more interesting than the psyche of a deeply damaged man. We are capable of being a far better nation. But we need leaders who call us to our obligations to each other as free citizens. Instead, we have a president who knows only how to foster division and hatred.”

Read the rest of the op-ed at the link.

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Our “Liar-in-Chief:” This short video from CNN, featuring the Washington Post’s “Chief Fact Checker” Glenn Kessler deals with the amazing 2000+ false or misleading claims that Trump has made even before the first anniversary of his Presidency: “Trump averages 5-6 false claims a day.”

http://www.cnn.com/videos/politics/2018/01/15/president-trump-false-claims-first-year-washington-post.cnn

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Also on video, even immigration restrictionists sometimes wax eloquent about the exceptional generosity of U.S. immigration and refugee laws (even as they engage in an unending battle to undermine that claimed generosity). But, the reality, as set forth in this short HuffPost video is that on a regular basis our Government knowingly and intentionally returns individuals, mostly Hispanics, to countries where they are likely to be harmed or killed because we are unable to fit them within often hyper-technical and overly restrictive readings of various protection laws or because we are unwilling to exercise humanitarian discretion to save them..

I know first-hand because in my former position as a U.S. Immigration Judge, I sometimes had to tell individuals (and their families) in person that I had to order them returned to a country where I had concluded that they would likely be severely harmed or killed because I could not fit them into any of the categories of protection available under U.S. law. I daresay that very few of the restrictionists who glory in the idea of even harsher and more restrictive immigration laws have had this experience. 

And clearly, Donald Trump, Jeff Sessions, Steven Miller, Bob Goodlatte and others in the GOP would like to increase the number of humans we return to harm or death by stripping defenseless juveniles and other vulnerable asylum seekers of some of the limited rights they now possess in the false name of “border security.” Indeed, Sessions even invented a false narrative of a fraud-ridden, “attorney-gamed” (how do folks who often don’t even have a chance to get an attorney use attorneys to “game” the system?) asylum system in an attempt to justify his totally indefensible and morally bankrupt position.

Check out this video from HuffPost, entitled “This Is The Violent And Tragic Reality Of Deportation”  to see the shocking truth about how our removal system really works (or not)!

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/this-is-the-violent-and-tragic-reality-of-deportation_us_5a58eeade4b03c41896545f2

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Thinking of MLK’S “I have a dream,” next, I’ll take you over to The Guardian, where Washington Correspondent Sabrina Siddiqui tells us how “Immigration policy progress and setbacks have become pattern for Dreamers.”

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/jan/15/dreamers-policy-progress-and-disaster-has-become-a-pattern-trump

Sabrina writes:

“Greisa Martínez Rosas has seen it before: a rare bipartisan breakthrough on immigration policy, offering a glimmer of hope to advocates like herself. Then a swift unraveling.

Martínez is a Dreamer, one of about 700,000 young undocumented migrants, brought to the US as children, who secured temporary protections through Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, or Daca.

She considers herself “one of the lucky ones”. Last year, she was able to renew her legal status until 2020, even as Donald Trump threw the Dreamers into limbo by rescinding Daca and declaring a deadline of 5 March for Congress to act to replace it.

Martínez is an activist with United We Dream, the largest youth-led immigration advocacy group in the US. She has fought on the front lines.

In 2010 and 2013, she saw efforts for immigration reform, and a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, culminate in disappointment. She rode a familiar rollercoaster this week, as a bipartisan Daca fix was undermined by Trump’s reported – if contested – reference to African and Central American nations as “shithole countries”.

“It feels like a sequel,” Martínez told the Guardian, adding that Trump’s adversarial views underscored the need to hash out a deal. “This same man is responsible for running a Department of Homeland Security that seeks to hunt and deport people of color.”

Negotiations over immigration have always been precarious. Trump has complicated the picture. After launching his candidacy for president with a speech that called Mexican migrants “rapists” and “killers”, Trump campaigned on deporting nearly 11 million undocumented migrants and building a wall on the Mexico border.

He has, however, shown a more flexible attitude towards Dreamers – despite his move to end their protective status. Last Tuesday, the president sat in the White House, flanked by members of both parties. In a 45-minute negotiating session, televised for full effect, Trump ignited fury among his hardcore supporters by signaling he was open to protection for Dreamers in exchange for modest border security measures.

Then, less than 48 hours later, Trump’s reported comments about countries like Haiti and El Salvador prompted a fierce backlash.

“People are picking their jaws up from the table and they’re trying to recover from feelings of deep hurt and anger,” said Frank Sharry, founder and executive director of America’s Voice, a group which advocates for immigration reform.

“We always knew we were climbing a mountain … but it’s improbable to imagine a positive breakthrough for immigrants with the most nativist president in modern America in charge.”

As the uproar continued, it was nearly forgotten that on Thursday, hours before Trump’s remarks became public, a group of senators announced a bipartisan deal.

Under it, hundreds of thousands of Dreamers would be able to gain provisional legal status and eventually apply for green cards. They would not be able to sponsor their parents for citizenship – an effort to appease Trump’s stance against so-called “chain migration” – but parents would be able to obtain a form of renewable legal status.

There would be other concessions to earn Trump’s signature, such as $2bn for border security including physical barriers, if not by definition a wall.

The compromise would also do away with the diversity visa lottery and reallocate those visas to migrants from underrepresented countries and those who stand to lose Temporary Protected Status. That would help those affected by the Trump administration’s recent decision to terminate such status for some nationals of El Salvador, effectively forcing nearly 200,000 out of the country.

The bill would be far less comprehensive than the one put forward in 2013, when a bipartisan group of senators known as the “Gang of Eight” proposed a bill that would have given nearly 11 million undocumented migrants a path to citizenship.

The bill passed the Senate with rare bipartisan support. In the Republican-led House it never received a vote.

Proponents of reform now believe momentum has shifted in their favor, despite Trump’s ascent. The Arizona senator Jeff Flake, part of the 2013 effort and also in the reform group today, said there was a clear deadline of 5 March to help Dreamers.

“I do think there is a broader consensus to do this than we had before,” Flake told the Guardian. “We’re going have 700,000 kids subject to deportation. That’s the biggest difference.”

Read the rest of the story at the link.

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Finally, John Blake at CNN tells us “Three ways [you might not know] MLK speaks to our time.”

http://www.cnn.com/2018/01/12/us/mlk-relevance-today/index.html

“(CNN)“Every hero becomes a bore at last.”

That’s a famous line from the 19th century philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson, but it could also apply to a modern American hero: the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
As the nation celebrates King’s national holiday Monday, it’s easy to freeze-frame him as the benevolent dreamer carved in stone on the Washington Mall. Yet the platitudes that frame many King holiday events often fail to mention the most radical aspects of his legacy, says Jeanne Theoharis, a political science professor at Brooklyn College and author of several books on the civil rights movement.
“We turn him into a Thanksgiving parade float, he’s jolly, larger than life and he makes us feel good,” Theoharis says. “We’ve turned him into a mascot.”
Many people vaguely know that King opposed the Vietnam War and talked more about poverty in his later years. But King also had a lot to say about issues not normally associated with civil rights that still resonate today, historians and activists say.

If you’re concerned about inequality, health care, climate change or even the nastiness of our political disagreements, then King has plenty to say to you. To see that version of King, though, we have to dust off the cliches and look at him anew.
If you’re more familiar with your smartphone than your history, try this: Think of King not just as a civil rights hero, but also as an app — his legacy has to be updated to remain relevant.
Here are three ways we can update our MLK app to see how he spoke not only to his time, but to our time as well:
. . . .
The country is still divided by many of the same issues that consumed him.
On the last night of his life, King told a shouting congregation of black churchgoers that “we as a people” would get to “the Promised Land.” That kind of optimism, though, sounds like it belongs to another era.
What we have now is a leader in the White House who denies widespread reports that he complained about Latino and African immigrants coming to America from “shithole” countries; a white supremacist who murders worshippers in church; a social media landscape that pulsates with anger and accusations.
King’s Promised Land doesn’t sound boring when compared to today’s headlines. And maybe that’s what’s so sad about reliving his life every January for some people.
Fifty years after he died, King’s vision for America still sounds so far away.”
Read the complete article at the link.
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There you have it. A brief but representative sample of some of the many ways in which Dr. King’s dream of a “post racist America” is still relevant and why there’s still much more work still to be done than many of us might have thought several years ago.  
So, the next time you hear bandied about terms like “merit-based” (means: exclude Brown and Black immigrants); “extreme vetting” (means: using bureaucracy to keep Muslims and other perceived “undesirables” out); “tax cuts” (means: handouts to the rich at the expense of the poor); “entitlement reform” (means: cutting benefits for the most vulnerable); “health care reform” (means: kicking the most needy out of the health care system); “voter fraud” (means: suppressing the Black, Hispanic, and Democratic vote); “rule of law” (means: perverting the role of Government agencies and the courts to harm Blacks, Hispanics, Gays, women, the poor, and other minorities); “job creation” (means: destroying our precious natural resources and the environment for the benefit of big corporations), “border security” (means: slashing rights for children and asylum seekers, and more money for building a wall and expanding prisons for non-criminal migrants, a/k/a/ “The New American Gulag”), “ending chain migration” (means keeping non-White and/or non-Christian immigrants from bringing family members) and other deceptively harmless sounding euphemisms, know what the politicos are really up to and consider them in the terms that Dr. King might have.
What’s really behind the rhetoric and how will it help create the type of more fair, just, equal, and value-driven society that majority of us in American seek to be part of and leave to succeeding generations. If it isn’t moving us as a nation toward those goals, “Just Say NO” as Dr. King would have done! 
PWS
01-15-18

SUPREMES TAKE ON “STOP TIME” ISSUE FOR CANCELLATION OF REMOVAL – TO RESOLVE “CIRCUIT SPLIT” — COULD AFFECT MANY THOUSANDS OF REMOVAL CASES – PEREIRA V. SESSIONS!

Here’s what SCOTUS Blog has to say about the issue:

“Issue: Whether, to trigger the stop-time rule by serving a “notice to appear,” the government must “specify” the items listed in the definition of a “notice to appear,” including “[t]he time and place at which the proceedings will be held.”

Here’s a link to the SCOTUS Blog material on Cir:

http://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/pereira-v-sessions/

Here’s a link to the First Circuit’s decision in Pereira v. Sessions, written by Judge Lipez which upheld the BIA’s ruling under so-called “Chevron deference:”

http://media.ca1.uscourts.gov/pdf.opinions/16-1033P-01A.pdf

And, here’s a “key quote” from Judge Lipez’s decision in Pereira that explains the issue a little more detail:

“The Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”) gives the Attorney General discretion to cancel the removal of a non-permanent resident alien if the alien meets certain criteria, including ten years of continuous physical presence in the United States. 8 U.S.C. § 1229b(b)(1). Under the “stop-time” rule, the alien’s period of continuous physical presence ends “when the alien is served a notice to appear under section 1229(a)” of the INA. Id. § 1229b(d)(1). In this case, we must decide whether a notice to appear that does not contain the date and time of the alien’s initial hearing is nonetheless effective to end the alien’s period of continuous physical presence. The Board of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”) answered this question affirmatively in Matter of Camarillo, 25 I. & N. Dec. 644 (B.I.A. 2011). The BIA applied that rule in this case.

Joining the majority of circuit courts to address this issue, we conclude that the BIA’s decision in Camarillo is entitled to Chevron deference. We deny the petition for review.”

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So, with the 1st Circuit joining the 2nd, 4th, 6th, 7th, and 9th Circuits in upholding Matter of Camarillo, 25 I&N Dec. 644 (BIA 2011); only the 3rd Circuit rejecting the BIA’s interpretation (Orozco- Velasquez v. Att’y Gen. United States, 817 F.3d 78, 81-82 (3d Cir. 2016)); and what is generally perceived as a “conservative leaning” Supreme Court, looks like a “slam dunk” for the Government, right? Not so fast!

On a question of statutory interpretation like this, I could definitely see some of the more conservative “strict constructionist” Justices teaming up with the “liberals” to reject the BIA’s interpretation by invoking the “plain meaning” rule of statutory construction to overcome “Chevron deference.” Indeed, quite interestingly, as I have noted in prior blogs, Justice Neil Gorsuch was an outspoken critic of Chevron while on the Tenth Circuit. Read his opinion in Gutierrez-Brizuela v. Lynch, 834 F.3d 1142 (10th Cir. 2016) if you have any doubts! Here’s a link to that opinion: https://www.ca10.uscourts.gov/opinions/14/14-9585.pdf

So, I wouldn’t assume at this point that Justice Gorsuch will be a “shill” or “pushover” for the Administration on all immigration issues, even if Trump thinks that’s the type of “loyalty” all his judicial appointments owe him. Actually, the oath of office that Federal Judges take requires them to uphold the Constitution of the United States, not the views and positions of President Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, DHS Secretary Kristjen Nielsen, or anybody else of any importance whatsoever. That’s what real “judicial independence” (as opposed to the “captive” Immigration Judiciary) is all about!

And, you might ask what’s the “big deal” about this case? After all, even if the Supremes agree with the petitioner and the Third Circuit that the notice was defective, the BIA and DHS could easily cure the “problem” simply by specifying a “time, place, and date” for the Immigration Court hearing on the original Notice to Appear. Indeed, when I joined the Arlington Immigration Court in 2003 such a system, called “Interactive Scheduling” was in effect. But, like much else at EOIR it appears to have run into problems and been largely abandoned as the dockets mushroomed out of control. Many (not all) things about the administration of the Immigration Courts actually moved backward during my 13 year tenure in Arlington.

But, if the original Notice to Appear were held to be ineffective, then it would not serve to “Stop Time” for the 10 year period of “continuous physical presence” required to apply for the relief of “Cancellation of Removal.” This, in turn, would make thousands of individuals now in Immigration Court proceedings, perhaps tens of thousands, eligible to apply for Cancellation. And, it likely would require the reopening of thousands of already completed cases where the respondent was denied Cancellation of Removal based solely on the “Stop Time” rule. So, that’s why it’s worth the Supremes’ time to resolve this conflict among the lower Federal Courts.

PWS

01-13-18

GONZO’S WORLD: CONSTITUTION BE DAMNED: SESSION’S LATEST TARGET: THE POOR – Continuing To Promote Injustice At “Justice!”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/jeff-sessions-just-endorsed-an-unconstitutional-fine-on-the-poor/2018/01/09/87ccffc6-f268-11e7-97bf-bba379b809ab_story.html?utm_term=.bbbf3eff4e8e

Lisa Foster writes in the WashPost:

“Lisa Foster is a retired California Superior Court judge, co-director of the Fines and Fees Justice Center and former director of the Office for Access to Justice in the Justice Department.

Lorenzo Brown, a 58-year-old disabled resident of Montgomery, Ala., was arrested at his boardinghouse in 2014 for failure to pay fines and fees imposed for traffic tickets. Brown, whose sole source of income was a Social Security disability check, was kept in jail for three days before he was brought to court. There, the judge told him he could be released if he paid $1,400 — half of what he owed and twice the amount of his monthly disability check. Because he didn’t have that much money, the judge sentenced him to serve 44 days in jail, repaying his debt at the rate of $50 per day.

Brown is not alone. Across the country, millions of people — including children — are charged a fine as punishment for traffic, misdemeanor and felony offenses and then taxed with fees used to fund the justice system and other government services. In California, the fine for running a stop sign is $100, but the additional fees — imposed to pay for everything from court operations to emergency medical services — can raise the total cost of the ticket to a staggering $490.

It’s a tax on justice that harms poor people of all races and people of color disproportionately, entrenching poverty and undermining confidence in our justice system. Yet the Justice Department under Attorney General Jeff Sessions retracted two important legal guidanceslast month that were intended to help courts reform abusive practices.

The decision is unconscionable. As was the case with Brown, fines and fees are often enforced in ways that blatantly violate the Constitution. People who cannot afford to immediately pay the full amount charged face additional fees, suspension of their driver’s and vocational licenses, loss of voting rights and, far too frequently, arrest and jail. Since 1983, however, the Supreme Court has held that it is unconstitutional to punish a person “solely because he lacks funds to pay a fine.”

Yet courts across the country have ignored that unequivocal command. Practices that unquestionably violate the Constitution have become routine and rarely — if ever — questioned or appealed.

That’s why the Justice Department provided legal guidance to state courts on the enforcement of fines and fees in March 2016 and an advisory regarding fines and fees imposed on children in early January 2017. Both reminded courts of established constitutional principles. They were well-received and sparked meaningful reform. Judges and court administrators relied on the guidance and advisory to change court procedures; lawyers cited the guidance to successfully challenge egregious collection practices; and advocates used both to lobby for legislative reforms.

Apparently, Sessions’s Justice Department does not believe it has a role in ensuring that the Constitution is enforced in state and local courts. The attorney general’s narrow and shortsighted interpretation of his department’s mandate forsakes leadership on a critical national issue and abandons the most vulnerable among us.

It’s also wrong. The Justice Department routinely asserts its interpretation of the Constitution pursuant to both explicit statutory authority and long-standing tradition. It does so formally, for example, in amicus briefs and statements of interest filed in state and federal courts.

I have a vested interest in this issue. I co-wrote the guidance with Vanita Gupta, then head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, and the advisory with Karol Mason, then head of the Office of Justice Programs. But my position is neither ideological nor partisan. The American Legislative Exchange Council, the Charles Koch Institute and the R Street Institute — all conservative organizations — have strongly opposed such fines and fees. In one resolution, ALEC noted that the practices can lead to “unnecessary incarceration” and encourage law enforcement to make decisions “on grounds other than public safety while undermining public confidence in the integrity of the criminal justice system.”

Moreover, red and blue states alike have reformed fine and fee collection practices. Mississippi and California recently ended their long-standing practice of suspending the driver’s licenses of people who cannot afford to pay fines and fees. Texas recently enacted legislation requiring judges to assess whether a person can afford to pay his or her fines and fees before being punished for nonpayment. Similar legislation is pending in Massachusetts.

Some states will act to fill the vacuum left by Sessions and the Justice Department. But the guarantees of the Constitution do not depend on where one lives in the United States. The Constitution must be upheld for every person in every courthouse in the country. To rescind the guidance on fines and fees is to condone unconstitutional conduct and tell millions of Americans that the Justice Department refuses to live up to its name.”

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Jeff “Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions has made a career out of protecting the rights of (mostly rich and powerful) White guys while ignoring, stomping on, or trashing the rights of minorities and other vulnerable populations who (contrary to Sessions’s White Nationalist agenda) are also entitled to Constitutional protections. The latter group actually includes so-called undocumented individuals in the U.S. who routinely are denied their full due process rights in Sessions’s “captive” U.S. Immigration Court system that is now being operated as a “whistle-stop on the deportation express” — essentially an adjunct of DHS Enforcement.

Among other things, he lied about under oath during his Senate confirmation hearings, Gonzo falsely claimed that he could get beyond his highly partisan representation of Alabama in the Senate and be Attorney General for all the people. That appears to be no more credible than his gratuitous claims that he had no knowledge of anything having to do with Russia.

At the DOJ, Gonzo has continued to represent only the views of the rather small minority of voters who endorse his racist, White Nationalist, anti-gay agenda. At some point, Russia investigation or not, America needs a real Attorney General who respects the office, our Constitution, and the rights of all persons (including the undocumented) present in the United States of America.

PWS

01-10-18

GONZO’S WORLD: ATTACK ON U.S. CENSUS LATEST FRONT IN GONZO’S WAR ON AMERICAN DEMOCRACY!

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/trump-justice-department-pushes-for-citizenship-question-on-census-alarming-experts_us_5a46fc79e4b0b0e5a7a68d3d

Justin Elliott reports for HuffPost:

“The Justice Department is pushing for a question on citizenship to be added to the 2020 census, a move that observers say could depress participation by immigrants who fear that the government could use the information against them. That, in turn, could have potentially large ripple effects for everything the once-a-decade census determines — from how congressional seats are distributed around the country to where hundreds of billions of federal dollars are spent.
The DOJ made the request in a previously unreported letter, dated Dec. 12 and obtained by ProPublica, from DOJ official Arthur Gary to the top official at the Census Bureau, which is part of the Commerce Department. The letter argues that the DOJ needs better citizenship data to better enforce the Voting Rights Act “and its important protections against racial discrimination in voting.”
A Census Bureau spokesperson confirmed the agency received the letter and said the “request will go through the well-established process that any potential question would go through.” The DOJ declined to comment and the White House did not respond to a request for comment.
Observers said they feared adding a citizenship question would not only lower response rates, but also make the census more expensive and throw a wrench into the system with just two years to go before the 2020 count. Questions are usually carefully field-tested, a process that can take years.
“This is a recipe for sabotaging the census,” said Arturo Vargas, a member of the National Advisory Committee of the Census and the executive director of NALEO Educational Fund, a Latino advocacy group. “When you start adding last-minute questions that are not tested — how will the public understand the question? How much will it suppress response rates?”
The 2010 census included a handful of questions covering age, sex, race, Hispanic origin, household relationship and owner/renter status — but not citizenship.
“People are not going to come out to be counted because they’re going to be fearful the information would be used for negative purposes,” said Steve Jost, a former top bureau official during the 2010 census. “This line about enforcing voting rights is a new and scary twist.” He noted that since the first census in 1790, the goal has been to count everyone in the country, not just citizens.”

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Read the complete article at the link.

Under the law and Supreme Court precedents, census data is used to draw Congeessional districts. Indeed, quite contrary to the way the GOP operates, Reprsentatives are supposed to represent the interests of all of the residents of their district, not just “voters” or “GOP voters.”

The DOJ’s bogus request to add a citizenship question is a rather transparent attempt to reduce Hispanic political power, in line with the overall White Nationalist anti-democracy direction the party is moving under Trump.

PWS

12-30-17m

 

MORE LUMPS FOR TRUMP FROM LOWER COURT ON REFUGEE BAN!

http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/366337-federal-judge-partially-lifts-trump-ban-on-refugees

Jesse Byrnes and Julia Manchester report for The Hill:

“A federal judge in Seattle has partially lifted a ban on certain refugees imposed by the Trump administration.

U.S. District Judge James Robart issued a ruling on behalf of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Jewish Family Service on Saturday.

The groups had urged the judge, an appointee of former President George W. Bush, to halt the ban on refugees from some majority-Muslim nations.

Robart ruled that the federal government should process certain refugee applications, saying his order doesn’t apply to refugees who do not have a “bona fide” relationship with an individual or an entity in the U.S.

The ban originally went into effect after the president issued an executive order reinstating the refugee program “with enhanced vetting capabilities” in October.

The ACLU argued that a memo sent to the president from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke and Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats saying certain refugees should be banned unless security was enhanced did not provide enough evidence for why more security was needed.

The judge wrote Saturday that “former officials detailed concretely how the Agency Memo will harm the United States’ national security and foreign policy interests” and said his ruling restores “refuge procedures and programs to the position they were in prior” to the ban, which he noted included thorough vetting of individuals traveling to the U.S.

The lawsuits stemming from the ACLU and Jewish Family Services were consolidated and involved refugees who have been blocked from coming to the U.S.”

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Read the complete article over at The Hill at the link.

Like other recent lower court rulings against the Travel Ban, I expect this will be largely a “symbolic victory” for the plaintiffs. Based on the Supremes’ actions on other “Travel Ban”  cases to date, I expect that the Administration will eventually prevail in its effort to restrict refugee admissions from abroad.

PWS

12-26-17

ANDREW SULLIVAN IN NY MAGGIE: Congrats, Vladimir, On A Spectacular First Year In Our White House! – You Achieved More Toward The Destruction of Liberal Western Democracy Than All Of Your Soviet Predecessors Put Together!

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/12/andrew-sullivan-putins-first-year-in-the-white-house.html

Sullivan writes:

“What are we to make of Vladimir Putin’s first year in the White House? How has he done?

I’m only slightly kidding. Or rather I’m just channeling a CNN interview earlier this week with James Clapper, former director of National Intelligence. Here’s what Clapper said: “I think this past weekend is illustrative of what a great case officer Vladimir Putin is. He knows how to handle an asset, and that’s what he’s doing with the president […] You have to remember Putin’s background. He’s a KGB officer. That’s what they do. They recruit assets. And I think some of that experience and instincts of Putin has come into play here in his managing of a pretty important account for him, if I could use that term, with our president.”

Clapper clarified his statement by saying he was being figurative, rather than literal. So let’s just ask a figurative question, shall we? How successful has the Kremlin’s figurative investment been this past year? Pretty damn impressive.

Look first at Putin’s domestic goals. His core concern, as with any despot, is the legitimacy of his pseudo-democratic autocracy – which means, in turn, discrediting the very different features of the liberal democracies of the West. And in this, he must be scarcely able to believe his luck. After decades of the West’s championing of liberal democracy, the American president has spent his first year attacking it. Trump has exhibited contempt for a free press, describing the bulk of Western journalism as “fake news,” words that have gladdened the hearts of dictators across the planet. He has minimized Putin’s assassination of critical journalists, saying that America has no moral standing to criticize. He has treated the judiciary either as instruments of loyalty — hence his packing of the federal bench — or as pests to be slandered or dismissed. He prefers total loyalty from law-enforcement officials to the actual rule of law. For good measure, Trump has legitimized Putin’s core model of governance — that of a benevolent cult hero of the nation, shored up by religious reactionaries — by plagiarizing it. As for the other critical aspect of Putinism — the looting of the treasury by oligarchs — I give you the latest tax bill. It even carves out special goodies for real-estate investors.

Then there is Russia’s permanent interest in deepening the racial and partisan divides in America — the better to force the United States to be more concerned with internal strife than with foreign affairs. On this, Putin’s success is even more impressive. What better propaganda could the Kremlin get than the Charlottesville horrors, the racial divide crippling the NFL, or the candidacy of Roy Moore? In the Cold War, the Kremlin constantly cited America’s racial strife as proof that, whatever its democratic pretensions, the country was still a bastion of white supremacy. Now, much of American academia and an entire rising generation agree with what the Soviets long argued. As for the stability and legitimacy of liberal capitalism, Putin could scarcely do better than the GOP tax proposal. When economic inequality is at record highs, undermining the social compact that undergirds capitalism, the GOP is making things far worse. It would also add well over a trillion dollars to the U.S. debt. Trump is not just looting the Treasury for himself and his buddies, he is looting the younger generation as well.

Internationally, Putin has had an even bigger year. One of his central goals — the disintegration of the European Union and the entire concept of the West — has been advanced by Washington in ways never seen before. Trump backed Brexit, breaking the U.K. away from its European partners; he supported Marine Le Pen in France for the same reason; and he has routinely lambasted Merkel, whose power is now hanging by a thread. He chose Poland, where an authoritarian party is busy dismantling judicial independence, as the site for his major foreign-policy address. He has permanently undermined the core Article 5 commitment that an attack on one NATO country is an attack on all of them, by being the first U.S. president to equivocate on it. America has also broken with its European allies by withdrawing from the Paris Accords on climate, threatening the Iran nuclear deal, and backing the ethno-nationalist extremists who now run Israel on the status of Jerusalem. Last week, the U.S. found itself utterly isolated at the U.N. on the question, and openly threatening all its allies with payback. In the Middle East, Russia has never been stronger — it is now the key player in the future of Syria, while Putin’s naked annexation of Crimea and sections of eastern Ukraine remains in place, unmentioned by the White House.

What more could Putin ask for? Well, he could hope that his grotesque attack on the last U.S. election would lead to no serious effort to prevent it happening again. And lo, an American president has emphatically refused to lift a finger to defend the Constitution he is duty bound to protect. There’s been no attempt by the White House to protect the integrity of our elections — just a constant disdain for those who worry about them, and a general, somewhat egregious, complacency.

No American president in history has ever given Russia so much in so short a time. Congrats, Vladimir. You’ve achieved what no Soviet dictator ever managed to. Your asset in the White House, figurative or not, has given more than all the British and American traitors in the history of the Cold War.”

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

The Trump Administration is a clear and present danger to the safety and security of the United States of America.

PWS

12-24-17

 

9th Blasts Trump Again In (Mostly Symbolic) Rejection Of Travel Ban 3.0 – Expect The Supremes Eventually To Hand a Victory To Trump On This One!

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/trump-third-travel-ban-appeals-court_us_5a3da390e4b06d1621b461cc

 

Dan Levine reports for Reuters:

“Reuters) – A U.S. appeals court on Friday said President Donald Trump’s hotly contested travel ban targeting people from six Muslim-majority countries should not be applied to people with strong U.S. ties.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers several West Coast states, also said its ruling would be put on hold pending a decision on the latest version of the travel ban from the Trump administration by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Since taking office in January, Trump has been struggling to enact a ban that passes court muster.

A three-judge panel from the 9th Circuit narrowed a previous injunction from a lower federal court to those people “with a credible bona fide relationship with the United States.”

It also said that while the U.S. president has broad powers to regulate the entry of immigrants into the United States, those powers are not without limits.

“We conclude that the President’s issuance of the Proclamation once again exceeds the scope of his delegated authority,” the panel said.

The ban targets people from Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen seeking to enter the United States. The Republican president has said the travel ban is needed to protect the United States from terrorism.

The state of Hawaii, however, challenged it in court, and a Honolulu federal judge said it exceeded Trump’s powers under immigration law.

Trump’s ban also covers people from North Korea and certain government officials from Venezuela, but the lower courts had already allowed those provisions to go into effect.

The same three judge 9th Circuit panel, which limited a previous version of Trump’s ban, heard arguments earlier this month. Some of the judges appeared more cautious toward the idea of blocking the president’s policy.

Trump issued his first travel ban targeting several Muslim-majority countries in January, which caused chaos at airports and mass protests.

He issued a revised one in March after the first was blocked by federal courts.

That expired in September after a long court fight, and was replaced with the current version.

The ban has some exceptions. Certain people from each targeted country can still apply for a visa for tourism, business or education purposes, and any applicant can ask for an individual waiver.

U.S. Justice Department officials were not immediately available for comment.

(Reporting by Dan Levine in San Francisco and Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas; Editing by Tom Brown)”

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I think the result here is largely a symbolic protest against Trump by the 9th Circuit. The court stayed it’s own order, pending inevitable Supreme Court review; therefore, the ruling changes nothing.

But, in reality, although going through the motions of pressing the lower courts to rule, it appears that the  majority of the Supremes have already decided Travel Ban 3.0 in favor of the Trump Administration. Otherwise, the Supreme’s recent decision to stay the lower court injunctions pending review would fall somewhere between inexplicable to indefensible on the scale of judicial conduct. Justices Ginsburg and Sotomayor dissented from the lifting of the stay. Therefore, I would expect a “split decision,” with the Administration’s margin of victory to be in the range of 5-4 to 7-2.

 

PWS

12-24-17

THE NY TIMES TAKES YOU INSIDE THE “NERVE CENTER” OF THE WHITE NATIONALIST EMPIRE: TRUMP’S “GONZO” IMMIGRATION POLICIES DRIVEN BY XENOPHOBIA, RACISM, IRRATIONAL FEAR, FAKE NEWS, MISINFORMATON, AND BIAS! – Trump & Cronies Deny Our Nation’s Immigrant Past While Seeking To Destroy Our Future As A Powerful and Diverse Democracy!

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/23/us/politics/trump-immigration.html?_r=0

 

Michael D. Shear & Julie Hirschfield Davis report for the NY Times:

“WASHINGTON — Late to his own meeting and waving a sheet of numbers, President Trump stormed into the Oval Office one day in June, plainly enraged.

Five months before, Mr. Trump had dispatched federal officers to the nation’s airports to stop travelers from several Muslim countries from entering the United States in a dramatic demonstration of how he would deliver on his campaign promise to fortify the nation’s borders.

But so many foreigners had flooded into the country since January, he vented to his national security team, that it was making a mockery of his pledge. Friends were calling to say he looked like a fool, Mr. Trump said.

According to six officials who attended or were briefed about the meeting, Mr. Trump then began reading aloud from the document, which his domestic policy adviser, Stephen Miller, had given him just before the meeting. The document listed how many immigrants had received visas to enter the United States in 2017.

More than 2,500 were from Afghanistan, a terrorist haven, the president complained.

Haiti had sent 15,000 people. They “all have AIDS,” he grumbled, according to one person who attended the meeting and another person who was briefed about it by a different person who was there.

Forty thousand had come from Nigeria, Mr. Trump added. Once they had seen the United States, they would never “go back to their huts” in Africa, recalled the two officials, who asked for anonymity to discuss a sensitive conversation in the Oval Office.

As the meeting continued, John F. Kelly, then the secretary of homeland security, and Rex W. Tillerson, the secretary of state, tried to interject, explaining that many were short-term travelers making one-time visits. But as the president continued, Mr. Kelly and Mr. Miller turned their ire on Mr. Tillerson, blaming him for the influx of foreigners and prompting the secretary of state to throw up his arms in frustration. If he was so bad at his job, maybe he should stop issuing visas altogether, Mr. Tillerson fired back.

Tempers flared and Mr. Kelly asked that the room be cleared of staff members. But even after the door to the Oval Office was closed, aides could still hear the president berating his most senior advisers.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, denied on Saturday morning that Mr. Trump had made derogatory statements about immigrants during the meeting.

“General Kelly, General McMaster, Secretary Tillerson, Secretary Nielsen and all other senior staff actually in the meeting deny these outrageous claims,” she said, referring to the current White House chief of staff, the national security adviser and the secretaries of state and homeland security. “It’s both sad and telling The New York Times would print the lies of their anonymous ‘sources’ anyway.”

While the White House did not deny the overall description of the meeting, officials strenuously insisted that Mr. Trump never used the words “AIDS” or “huts” to describe people from any country. Several participants in the meeting told Times reporters that they did not recall the president using those words and did not think he had, but the two officials who described the comments found them so noteworthy that they related them to others at the time.

The meeting in June reflects Mr. Trump’s visceral approach to an issue that defined his campaign and has indelibly shaped the first year of his presidency.

How We Reported This Story

The Times conducted over three dozen interviews with current and former administration officials, lawmakers and others close to the process.

Seizing on immigration as the cause of countless social and economic problems, Mr. Trump entered office with an agenda of symbolic but incompletely thought-out goals, the product not of rigorous policy debate but of emotionally charged personal interactions and an instinct for tapping into the nativist views of white working-class Americans.

Like many of his initiatives, his effort to change American immigration policy has been executed through a disorderly and dysfunctional process that sought from the start to defy the bureaucracy charged with enforcing it, according to interviews with three dozen current and former administration officials, lawmakers and others close to the process, many of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to detail private interactions.

But while Mr. Trump has been repeatedly frustrated by the limits of his power, his efforts to remake decades of immigration policy have gained increasing momentum as the White House became more disciplined and adept at either ignoring or undercutting the entrenched opposition of many parts of the government. The resulting changes have had far-reaching consequences, not only for the immigrants who have sought to make a new home in this country, but also for the United States’ image in the world.

“We have taken a giant steamliner barreling full speed,” Mr. Miller said in a recent interview. “Slowed it, stopped it, begun to turn it around and started sailing in the other direction.”

It is an assessment shared ruefully by Mr. Trump’s harshest critics, who see a darker view of the past year. Frank Sharry, the executive director of America’s Voice, a pro-immigration group, argues that the president’s immigration agenda is motivated by racism.

“He’s basically saying, ‘You people of color coming to America seeking the American dream are a threat to the white people,’” said Mr. Sharry, an outspoken critic of the president. “He’s come into office with an aggressive strategy of trying to reverse the demographic changes underway in America.”

. . . .

Even as the administration was engaged in a court battle over the travel ban, it began to turn its attention to another way of tightening the border — by limiting the number of refugees admitted each year to the United States. And if there was one “deep state” stronghold of Obama holdovers that Mr. Trump and his allies suspected of undermining them on immigration, it was the State Department, which administers the refugee program.

At the department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, there was a sense of foreboding about a president who had once warned that any refugee might be a “Trojan horse” or part of a “terrorist army.”

Mr. Trump had already used the travel ban to cut the number of allowable refugees admitted to the United States in 2017 to 50,000, a fraction of the 110,000 set by Mr. Obama. Now, Mr. Trump would have to decide the level for 2018.

At an April meeting with top officials from the bureau in the West Wing’s Roosevelt Room, Mr. Miller cited statistics from the restrictionist Center for Immigration Studies that indicated that resettling refugees in the United States was far costlier than helping them in their own region.

Mr. Miller was visibly displeased, according to people present, when State Department officials pushed back, citing another study that found refugees to be a net benefit to the economy. He called the contention absurd and said it was exactly the wrong kind of thinking.

But the travel ban had been a lesson for Mr. Trump and his aides on the dangers of dictating a major policy change without involving the people who enforce it. This time, instead of shutting out those officials, they worked to tightly control the process.

In previous years, State Department officials had recommended a refugee level to the president. Now, Mr. Miller told officials the number would be determined by the Department of Homeland Security under a new policy that treated the issue as a security matter, not a diplomatic one.

When he got word that the Office of Refugee Resettlement had drafted a 55-page report showing that refugees were a net positive to the economy, Mr. Miller swiftly intervened, requesting a meeting to discuss it. The study never made it to the White House; it was shelved in favor of a three-page list of all the federal assistance programs that refugees used.

At the United Nations General Assembly in September, Mr. Trump cited the Center for Immigration Studies report, arguing that it was more cost-effective to keep refugees out than to bring them into the United States.

“Uncontrolled migration,” Mr. Trump declared, “is deeply unfair to both the sending and receiving countries.”

. . . .

As the new year approached, officials began considering a plan to separate parents from their children when families are caught entering the country illegally, a move that immigrant groups called draconian.

At times, though, Mr. Trump has shown an openness to a different approach. In private discussions, he returns periodically to the idea of a “comprehensive immigration” compromise, though aides have warned him against using the phrase because it is seen by his core supporters as code for amnesty. During a fall dinner with Democratic leaders, Mr. Trump explored the possibility of a bargain to legalize Dreamers in exchange for border security.

Mr. Trump even told Republicans recently that he wanted to think bigger, envisioning a deal early next year that would include a wall, protection for Dreamers, work permits for their parents, a shift to merit-based immigration with tougher work site enforcement, and ultimately, legal status for some undocumented immigrants.

The idea would prevent Dreamers from sponsoring the parents who brought them illegally for citizenship, limiting what Mr. Trump refers to as “chain migration.”

“He wants to make a deal,” said Mr. Graham, who spoke with Mr. Trump about the issue last week. “He wants to fix the entire system.”

Yet publicly, Mr. Trump has only employed the absolutist language that defined his campaign and has dominated his presidency.

After an Uzbek immigrant was arrested on suspicion of plowing a truck into a bicycle path in Lower Manhattan in October, killing eight people, the president seized on the episode.

Privately, in the Oval Office, the president expressed disbelief about the visa program that had admitted the suspect, confiding to a group of visiting senators that it was yet another piece of evidence that the United States’ immigration policies were “a joke.”

Even after a year of progress toward a country sealed off from foreign threats, the president still viewed the immigration system as plagued by complacency.

“We’re so politically correct,” he complained to reporters in the cabinet room, “that we’re afraid to do anything.”

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

Read the full, much more comprehensive and detailed, article at the link.

Disturbing for sure, but unfortunately not particularly surprising for those of us who have watched the Administration roll out its toxic, ill-informed immigration policies. Perhaps ironically, while the immigration issue has certainly allowed Trump to capture and control the GOP, polls show that his extreme restrictionist, xenophobic views on immigration are generally out of line with the majority of Americans (although not necessarily the majority of GOP voters).

PWS

12-23-17

RESISTING TRUMP AND THE WHITE NATIONALIST STATE: “YEAR 1” — Read Polish Journalist Martin Mycielski’s “Authoritarian Regime Survival Guide”

YEAR 1 Under Authoritarianism

What to Expect?

  1. They will come to power with a campaign based on fear, scaremongering and distorting the truth. Nevertheless, their victory will be achieved through a democratic electoral process. But beware, as this will be their argument every time you question the legitimacy of their actions. They will claim a mandate from the People to change the system.

    Remember – gaining power through a democratic system does not give them permission to cross legal boundaries and undermine said democracy.

  2. They will divide and rule. Their strength lies in unity, in one voice and one ideology, and so should yours. They will call their supporters Patriots, the only “true Americans”. You will be labelled as traitors, enemies of the state, unpatriotic, the corrupt elite, the old regime trying to regain power. Their supporters will be the “People”, the “sovereign” who chose their leaders.

    Don’t let them divide you – remember you’re one People, one Nation, with one common good.

  3. Through convoluted laws and threats they will try to control mainstream media and limit press freedom. They will ban critical press from their briefings, calling them “liars”, “fake news”. They will brand those media as “unpatriotic”, acting against the People (see point 2).

    Fight for every media outlet, every journalist that is being banned, censored, sacked or labelled an “enemy of the state” – there’s no hope for freedom where there is no free press.

  4. They will create chaos, maintain a constant sense of conflict and danger. It will be their argument to enact new authoritarian laws, each one further limiting your freedoms and civil liberties. They will disguise them as being for your protection, for the good of the People.

    See through the chaos, the fake danger, expose it before you wake up in a totalitarian, fascist state.

  5. They will distort the truth, deny facts and blatantly lie. They will try to make you forget what facts are, sedate your need to find the truth. They will feed “post-truths” and “alternative facts”, replace knowledge and logic with emotions and fiction.

    Always think critically, fact-check and point out the truth, fight ignorance with facts.

  6. They will incite and then leak fake, superficial “scandals”. They will smear opposition with trivial accusations, blowing them out of proportion and then feeding the flame. This is just smokescreen for the legal steps they will be taking towards totalitarianism.

    See through superficial topics in mainstream media (see point 3) and focus on what they are actually doing.

  7. They will propose shocking laws to provoke your outrage. You will focus your efforts on fighting them, so they will seemingly back off, giving you a false sense of victory. In the meantime they will push through less “flashy” legislation, slowly dismantling democracy (see points 4 and 6).

    Focus your fight on what really matters.

  8. When invading your liberal sensibilities they will focus on what hurts the most – women and minorities. They will act as if democracy was majority rule without respect for the minority. They will paint foreigners and immigrants as potential threats. Racial, religious, sexual and other minorities will become enemies to the order and security they are supposedly providing. They will challenge women’s social status, undermine gender equality and interfere with reproductive rights (see point 7). But it means they are aware of the threat women and minorities pose to their rule, so make it your strength.

    Women and minorities should fight the hardest, reminding the majority what true democracy is about.

  9. They will try to take control of the judiciary. They will assault your highest court. They need to remove the checks and balances to be able to push through unconstitutional legislation. Controlling the judiciary they can also threat anyone that defies them with prosecution, including the press (see point 3).

    Preserve the independence of your courts at all cost, they are your safety valve, the safeguard of the rule of law and the democratic system.

  10. They will try to limit freedom of assembly, calling it a necessity for your security. They will enact laws prioritizing state events and rallies, or those of a certain type or ideology. If they can choose who can demonstrate legally, they have a legal basis to forcefully disperse or prosecute the rest.

    Oppose any legislation attempting to interfere with freedom of assembly, for whatever reason.

  11. They will distort the language, coin new terms and labels, repeat shocking phrases until you accept them as normal and subconsciously associate them with whom they like. A “thief”, “liar” or “traitor” will automatically mean the opposition, while a “patriot” or a “true American” will mean their follower (see point 2). Their slogans will have double meaning, giving strength to their supporters and instilling angst in their opponents.

    Fight changes in language in the public sphere, remind and preserve the true meaning of words.

  12. They will take over your national symbols, associate them with their regime, remake them into attributes of their power. They want you to forget that your flag, your anthem and your symbols belong to you, the People, to everyone equally. Don’t let them be hijacked. Use and expose them in your fight as much as they do.

    Show your national symbols with pride, let them give you strength, not associate you with the tyranny they brought onto your country.

  13. They will try to rewrite history to suit their needs and use the education system to support their agenda. They will smear any historical or living figure who wouldn’t approve of their actions, or distort their image to make you think they would. They will place emphasis on historical education in schools, feeding young minds with the “only correct” version of history and philosophy. They will raise a new generation of voters on their ideology, backing it with a distorted interpretation of history and view of the world.

    Guard the education of your children, teach them critical thinking, ensure their open-mindedness and protect your real history and heritage.

  14. They will alienate foreign allies and partners, convincing you don’t need them. They won’t care for the rest of the world, with their focus on “making your country great again”. While ruining your economy to fulfil their populist promises, they will omit the fact that you’re part of a bigger world whose development depends on cooperation, on sharing and on trade.

    Don’t let them build walls promising you security instead of bridges giving you prosperity.

  15. They will eventually manipulate the electoral system. They might say it’s to correct flaws, to make it more fair, more similar to the rest of the world, or just to make it better. Don’t believe it. They wouldn’t be messing with it at all if it wasn’t to benefit them in some way.

    Oppose any changes to electoral law that an authoritarian regime wants to enact – rest assured it’s only to help them remain in power longer.

And above all, be strong, fight, endure, and remember you’re on the good side of history.
EVERY authoritarian, totalitarian and fascist regime in history eventually failed, thanks to the PEOPLE.
– With love, your Eastern European friends

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

Martin Mycielski is a journalist, serving as Brussels correspondent for leading Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza. Before that he was one of the leaders of the Committee for the Defence of Democracy (KOD) NGO and protest movement, which has organized the largest mass demonstrations in Poland since the fall of communism, opposing the authoritarian and unlawful actions of the Law and Justice (PiS) government and its leader, Jarosław Kaczyński (read more here and here, or just Google). In 2016 KOD’s efforts to defend democracy, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law were recognized by the European Parliament which awarded it the European Citizen’s Prize.

Since childhood Martin has been enamoured with the US, it’s culture, politics and people. Tragically, January events have put the worlds greatest democracy at risk, as they have clearly undermined the fundamental values the States were build upon, such as freedom, democracy, equality & diversity. As these values form the idea of America Martin has been raised on, he has decided to step in and help to defend them the only way he knows how – by sharing with you his experiences from a continent being currently torn apart by populists, authoritarians and tinpot dictators.

His message to President Donald J. Trump is therefore a paraphrased fragment from W. B. Yeats:

But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams;
And if you don’t, we the People will push you off them.

You can follow Martin on Twitter at @mycielski.

To view his professional background visit his portfolio, or invite him on LinkedIn to connect.

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

Scary, but important points to remember if we want “liberal Western democracy” to survive the Trump era.

Points 8, 9, an 14 have particular relevance to what is happening in our legal and immigration systems now. thus, I reiterate them in full here:

Point 8

When invading your liberal sensibilities they will focus on what hurts the most – women and minorities. They will act as if democracy was majority rule without respect for the minority. They will paint foreigners and immigrants as potential threats. Racial, religious, sexual and other minorities will become enemies to the order and security they are supposedly providing. They will challenge women’s social status, undermine gender equality and interfere with reproductive rights (see point 7). But it means they are aware of the threat women and minorities pose to their rule, so make it your strength.

Women and minorities should fight the hardest, reminding the majority what true democracy is about.

Point 9

They will try to take control of the judiciary. They will assault your highest court. They need to remove the checks and balances to be able to push through unconstitutional legislation. Controlling the judiciary they can also threat anyone that defies them with prosecution, including the press (see point 3).

Preserve the independence of your courts at all cost, they are your safety valve, the safeguard of the rule of law and the democratic system.

Point 14

They will alienate foreign allies and partners, convincing you don’t need them. They won’t care for the rest of the world, with their focus on “making your country great again”. While ruining your economy to fulfil their populist promises, they will omit the fact that you’re part of a bigger world whose development depends on cooperation, on sharing and on trade.

Don’t let them build walls promising you security instead of bridges giving you prosperity.

 

 

PWS

12-22-17

REGIME OF SCOFFLAWS — ADMINISTRATION’S CONTEMPT FOR CONSTITUTION, COURTS LIKELY TO CONTINUE UNABATED UNLESS & UNTIL SUPREMES GET BACKBONE — No Sign Of Any Endoskeleton @ High Court To Date!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-government-abuses-its-power-over-pregnant-teenagers–again/2017/12/20/8c4379c0-e4ff-11e7-833f-155031558ff4_story.html

The Washington Post Editorial Board writes:

“IN OCTOBER, the government tried and failed to keep an undocumented teenager in federal custody from ending an unwanted pregnancy. Yet officials appear to have learned little from 17-year-old Jane Doe’s victory in court over the government’s effort to keep her from the abortion clinic. Again, it has fought tooth and nail — and failed — to prevent two more pregnant teenagers from getting the medical care they desired.

Since his appointment by President Trump to head the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), antiabortion activist E. Scott Lloyd has barred federally funded shelters for undocumented minors from “supporting” access to abortion without his approval. Mr. Lloyd has reached out personally to convince some teenagers against ending their pregnancies. Others, like Ms. Doe, are forced to attend “life-affirming options counseling.”

Last week, the American Civil Liberties Union filed suit on behalf of two more undocumented teenagers whom ORR blocked from obtaining abortions. Like Ms. Doe, both are pregnant and crossed into the United States without their parents.

Both will now be allowed to get their abortions. A federal district judge allowed one teenager to travel to a clinic as of Monday. And the Justice Department dropped its appeal of the other teenager’s case after discovering that she was 19 years old, not 17 — meaning that Immigration and Customs Enforcement, not ORR, should take custody of her as an adult. ICE has now released her. But even if it hadn’t, ICE allows undocumented women in its care to obtain abortions as a matter of policy.

The collapse of the court case demonstrates just how absurd ORR’s policy really is. The government acknowledges that the Constitution grants these teenagers the right to an abortion. Yet when a 17-year-old and a 19-year-old have the same right under Roe v. Wade, how can the government justify summarily blocking one from obtaining an abortion but not the other? The rest of the government’s case was equally flimsy. ORR argues that it has no obligation to “facilitate” the procedure — though in each case so far, the logistics and costs have been privately arranged, leaving ORR with the responsibility of simply getting out of the way.

ORR also made the case that the teenagers could simply leave the country or depart federal custody for a government-approved sponsor. But the fact that a person could cross back across the border doesn’t strip her of constitutional rights while in the United States. And each week it takes to find a suitable sponsor makes abortion more difficult and dangerous to obtain.

It’s welcome news that the government is no longer abusing its power over these two vulnerable teenagers. Yet even as the ACLU mounts a broader legal challenge to ORR’s behavior, it’s likely that ORR will continue to trap other undocumented teenagers in the same situation. Mr. Lloyd should abandon this cruel policy.”

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

We also learned elsewhere this week that Trump considered withdrawing his nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supremes because Gorsuch had the audacity to stand up for his judicial colleagues in the face of outrageous attacks on their professionalism and integrity by Trump.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-reportedly-considered-rescinding-gorsuchs-nomination/2017/12/18/ad2b3b68-e1c7-11e7-9eb6-e3c7ecfb4638_story.html

In other words, Gorsuch threatened to take his oath to uphold the Constitution seriously, rather than putting loyalty to Trump first in the manner of Vice Sycophant Mike Pence and many others in the GOP. (Witness the disgusting display of fawning and “public a— kissing/licking” of Trump by the GOP “establishment” like Ryan and McConnell after they pulled off the biggest heist of public funds for private enrichment in American history,)

Trump has exactly the same expectation of “judges as robed stooges for the executive” as do strongmen and Third World Dictator/Presidents for Life. Think Vladimir Putin, President Xi, President Duterte, or President Sisi want an independent judiciary looking over their shoulders? Neither does Trump! And these guys, not leaders of democracies, are the leaders that Trump admires and wants to emulate.

Scott Lloyd has decided not to follow the Constitution. In a normal Constitutional Government, the DOJ would decline to defend Mr. Lloyd in court, thus forcing him to comply.

But, fellow scofflaw Jeff “Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions not only has defended Lloyd’s unconstitutional actions but made frivolous arguments in support of Lloyd. He’s even taken his frivolous positions all the way to the Supremes and outrageously made a further frivolous request for sanctions on the ACLU lawyers defending the Constitution!

 

Ironically, the only time when Sessions, Lloyd, and other GOP restrictionists have any concern for Hispanic children is when they are unborn. Once they are born, Gonzo, Homan, and the restrictionists are eager to abuse Hispanic kids by deporting their parents or siblings, breaking up families, terrorizing their communities, depriving them of support, health care, and education, and generally making their lives as miserable as possible.

Indeed, the Trump/Sessions White Nationalist “strategy” seems to be that if you mistreat US citizen kids of color badly enough, they eventually will leave and never return to exercise their rights. But, I actually think that most will remember what Trump/Sessions & the GOP White Nationalists are doing to them now. Once they become voting age, they can help insure that America is never again subjected to the travesty and preventable horror of the likes of Trump, Sessions, and other White Nationalists holding public office and attempting to force their vile, minority views on immigrants down the unwilling throats of the majority of us.

If private lawyers conducted themselves with such obvious contempt for the Constitution and Courts, they would be facing contempt of court charges, loss of law license  (in Gonzo’s case), and possible imprisonment. But, Lloyd and Gonzo are actually flaunting their lawless behavior and the unwillingness of a Court supposedly “bought and paid for” by the GOP to restrain an out of control GOP Administration.

Until the Supremes get serious about holding Constitutional scofflaws and bullies like Lloyd and Gonzo accountable, finding them in contempt, and throwing them in jail if they continue to abuse the Constitution and the time of the US Courts, the Administration’s all-out assault on the true “rule of law” will continue unabated!

The Trump Administration (certainly not undocumented migrants) is the single greatest threat to the continued existence of American democracy and American greatness. Will we wake up as a nation before it’s too late?

PWS

12-21-17

 

“THE ATTACK ON DUE PROCESS IN THE UNITED STATES IMMIGRATION COURTS” – My Address To The Women’s Bar Association of DC, Dec. 14, 2017

THE ATTACK ON DUE PROCESS IN THE UNITED STATES IMMIGRATION COURTS

With WBA Program Co-Chairs Pauline M. Schwartz, Esq. & Leticia A. “Letty” Corona, Esq.:

With Judge (Ret.) Joan Churchill:

FRIENDS & COLLEAGUES FOR 4 1/2 DECADES —

CHURCHILL & SCHMIDT — Then & Now

L to R starting in back

Late William McQuillen, Esq., PWS, Late Hon. Lauri Steven Filppu,

Barry A. Schneiderman, Esq., Joanna London, Esq. (Retired from Legacy INS General Counsel), Judge (Ret.) Joan Churchill:

 

 

 

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

THE ATTACK ON DUE PROCESS IN THE UNITED STATES IMMIGRATION COURTS

Keynote Address by

Paul Wickham Schmidt

United States Immigration Judge (Retired)

 

WOMEN’S BAR ASSOCIATION OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

 

Crowell & Moring

 

1001 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

 

Washington, DC 20004

 

December 14, 2017

 

 

 

 I.  INTRODUCTION

 

Thank you so much for inviting me to speak at this wonderful event. I’m honored to be here. Thanks also to Crowell & Moring for providing this lovely facility.

 

When I got off the subway at Metro Center tonight, I came out on the corner of 12 & F Street, NW. I spent the first two years of my legal career right at that spot working as an Attorney Advisor for the Board of Immigration Appeals, the “BIA,” in the days before the creation of the Executive Office for Immigration Review (“EOIR”). The BIA was located on the top floor of the now long demolished “International Safeway Building,” which believe it or not, actually contained a functioning Safeway grocery store.

 

As the “new kids on the block,” the late Lauri Filppu and I got sent down to Safeway to buy beer and supplies for the office parties. A little like being the “Junior Justice” at the Supreme Court, I suppose – but, maybe, not so much. Interestingly, Lauri and I both went on to eventually serve as appellate judges – “Board Members” – at the BIA. He served with me when I was BIA Chair in the late 1990’s.

 

I don’t recognize much of the “Ol’ Hood.” Then, it was mostly wig shops, record stores, souvenir stands, and a few lunch counters that catered to the “work and tourist” lunch crowd. Not a place you wanted to be after dark.

 

The one remaining “landmark” is the Hotel Harrington. But the “Kitcheteria” and the aptly named “Pink Elephant Lounge” have been replaced by something called “Harry’s Family Bar & Grill” that still has kind of a “Kitcheteria/Pink Elephant” aura about it. At any rate, the ‘hood and the quarters at the BIA bore no resemblance to this splendid building and the Crowell & Moring “digs.”

 

The Women’s Bar Association of DC is a terrific organization,[1] and you are extremely fortunate to have such great lawyers, leaders, and amazing human beings as my friends Pauline Schwartz and Leticia “Letty” Corona involved.


They were part of the “life saving crew” at the Arlington Immigration Court during my tenure on the bench. They are also stalwarts of the “New Due Process Army” which I will discuss later. And, as I already mentioned, Pauline & Letty were the creators of the four hypotheticals and the “power points” that we used as a “lead in” tonight.

 

I also want to recognize my long-time friend and colleague retired U.S. Immigration Judge Joan Churchill whom I understand was your keynote speaker at this event last year. Joan and I actually met as BIA Attorney Advisors in 1973, and were part of the “lunch foursome.” So, we got to know the neighborhood’s culinary offerings very well. We also served together for a number of years on the bench after I was reassigned to the Arlington Immigration Court in 2003.

 

Courageous women are rightfully dominating our news. We should all recognize that Judge Churchill’s pioneering role as one of the first female U.S. Immigration Judges in the nation helped to pave the way for a more diverse judiciary and for all the women who serve as U.S. Immigration Judges today. And Judge Churchill definitely is a role model who, no mater how tough and challenging things got, absolutely could never be bullied or intimidated.

 

I was thinking of Judge Churchill as I walked over her tonight. After her initial appointment to the bench, she was the target of some petty but persistent attempts to drive her out by the “macho culture” that then prevailed at the “Legacy DHS” and was unhappy that she, rather than ”one of their own,” had been appointed to the judgeship.

 

We discussed what happened then and over the years. To the best of my knowledge, there was no overt sexual act involved. But, the pattern of harassment and attempts to create an inhospitable work environment were certainly directed at Judge Churchill’s gender as a woman. So, it fits today’s definition of “sexual harassment.”

 

In any event, in Judge Churchill’s case they “picked on the wrong person.” So, for those of you, particularly younger lawyers, and particularly women lawyers, who have never met her, tonight is you chance to meet a true “American legal and judicial hero” who paved the way for others to follow.

 

I’d also like to recognize another distinguished former colleague from the Arlington Immigration Court, Judge Lawrence O. Burman who is here tonight. As many of you know, through his tireless work with the Federal Bar Association, Judge Burman has been a leader in promoting better Immigration Court practice through continuing legal education.

 

And, in his capacity as an officer of the National Association of Immigration Judges, the “NAIJ, ”he has also been one of the leaders in fighting for the creation of an independent Article I U.S. Immigration Court. I trust that by the end of my speech tonight you will understand why that effort is so timely and critical to our nation’s justice system. For the record, both Judge Churchill and I are retired members of the NAIJ. Indeed, Judge Churchill is a past President of the NAIJ.

 

Now, as Judge Burman and Judge Churchill know, this is the point at which I used to deliver my comprehensive disclaimer giving everyone in Government “plausible deniability” for everything I might say, particularly anything that might come too close to the truth. I do not have to do that any more. But, I will give the Women’s Bar Association of DC the benefit by disclaiming that anything I might say tonight represents their views or any approximation thereof. No, folks, tonight everything I say is my view, and only my view: no bureaucratic “doublespeak,” no party line, no sugar coating! I’m going to tell you exactly what I really think!

 

II. THE DUE PROCESS CRISIS IN IMMIGRATION COURT

 

As many of you in this room probably recognize, there is no “overall immigration crisis” in America today. What we have is a series of potentially solvable problems involving immigration that have been allowed to grow and fester by politicians and political officials over many years.

 

And, unfortunately, the current Administration with its anti-immigrant attitudes and polarizing racial and ethnic rhetoric intends to make the problems worse rather than better. That starts with the absolute disaster in our beleaguered U.S. Immigration Courts.

 

There is a real crisis involving immigration: the attack on due process in our U.S. Immigration Courts that has brought them to the brink of collapse. I’m going to tell you seven things impeding the delivery of due process in Immigration Court that should be of grave concern to you and to all other Americans who care about our justice system and our value of fundamental fairness.

 

First, political officials in the last three Administrations have hijacked the noble mission of the U.S. Immigration Courts. That vision, which I helped develop in the late 1990s, is to “be the world’s best administrative tribunals guaranteeing fairness and due process for all.” The “fundamental flaw” here is that as mere “administrative courts” situated within the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Immigration Courts are not truly independent in the same way as other major “specialized” court systems, such as the Tax Court and the Bankruptcy Courts.

 

In the best of times, placing the Immigration Courts within the Department of Justice is problematic. With the anti-immigrant, xenophobic, self-styled “immigration enforcer-in-chief “ Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, it is a disaster from a due process and fundamental fairness standpoint.

 

The Department of Justice’s ever-changing priorities, “Aimless Docket Reshuffling” (“ADR”), and morbid fascination with increased immigration detention as a means of deterrence have turned the Immigration Court system back into a tool of DHS enforcement. Indeed, Sessions recently announced a series of so-called “reforms” which, far from improving the Immigration Courts, mostly would further compromise fairness, professionalism, and due process.

 

He plans to impose case completion quotas – read “deportation quotas” — for judges. At the same time he mischaracterizes statistics in attempting disingenuously to “fob off “ primary blame for the current monumental backlog of 650,000 pending cases on overworked private attorneys, the “real heroes” of our system, and unrepresented migrants, the real victims of ADR, while ignoring and attempting to cover up the real cause of the problemAimless Docket Reshuffling (“ADR”) instituted by DOJ politicos attempting to use the Immigration Courts as an adjunct of DHS enforcement.

 

Sessions intentionally ignores his own data showing that that recent increases in requests for continuance are coming from DHS and EOIR itself, rather than from the private bar! Obviously, it is past time for a truly independent U.S. Immigration Court to be established outside the Executive Branch.

 

Second, there simply are not enough pro bono and low bono attorneys and authorized representatives available to assist all the individuals who need representation in Immigration Court. Removal proceedings conducted by U.S. Immigration Judges are considered “civil” in nature, although in many cases they have consequences far more serious than criminal prosecutions. Consequently, migrants appearing in Removal Proceedings are not entitled to appointed counsel, as they would be in criminal proceedings. Therefore, the role of private attorneys, and particularly those serving on a pro bono or “low bono” basis, as many of you in this room are doing or have done in the past, become absolutely critical to achieving due process.

 

This problem is particularly acute in so-called “detention courts.” We know that representation makes a huge difference. Represented individuals succeed at rates four to five times greater than unrepresented individuals.

 

Accordingly, an Attorney General truly interested in due process, fairness, and efficiency, would emphasize the need to insure adequate access to counsel. Instead, Sessions has gone out of his way to wrongly characterize attorneys as potential “fraudsters” who supposedly are impeding the progress of his “deportation railway” with dilatory requests for continuances and applications for asylum provided by U.S. and internal law. Session’s intentional distortion of what is really happening in Immigration Court should outrage every American who cares about the Constitutional right to due process and integrity and intellectual honesty from U.S. government officials!

 

There have been a number of studies documenting the substandard conditions in immigration detention, particularly those run by private contractors, which in some cases prove deadly or debilitating. Some of these studies have recommended that immigration detention be sharply reduced and that so-called “family detention” be discontinued immediately.

 

A rational response might have been to develop creative alternatives to detention, and to work closely with and support efforts to insure access to legal representation for all individuals in Removal Proceedings. Instead, the response of the current Administration has been to “double down” on detention, by promising to detain all undocumented arrivals and to create a new “American Gulag” of detention centers, most privately run, along our southern border, where access to attorneys and self-help resources intentionally is limited to non-existent.

 

The documentation of the need for attorneys to represent respondents in Removal Proceedings to achieve fundamentally fair results is extensive and widely available. Given that, I ask you what kind of Attorney General and what kind of Government would intentionally locate traumatized individuals, many women and children, who are seeking potentially life-saving relief under our laws, in obscure poorly run detention facilities where access to counsel is impeded? Is this something of which we can be proud as a nation or should accept as simply “business as usual” in the age of Trump and Sessions?

 

Third, the Immigration Courts have an overwhelming caseload. Largely as a result of “Aimless Docket Reshuffling” by Administrations of both parties, the courts’ backlog has now reached an astounding 650,000 cases, with no end in sight. Since 2009, the number of cases pending before the Immigration Courts has tripled, while court resources have languished.

 

The Administration’s detention priorities and essentially random DHS enforcement program are like running express trains at full throttle into an existing train wreck without any discernable plan for clearing the track!” You can read about it in my article in the May 2017 edition of The Federal Lawyer.

 

Fourth, the immigration system relies far too much on detention. The theory is that detention, particularly under poor conditions with no access to lawyers, family, or friends, will “grind down individuals” so that they abandon their claims and take final orders or depart voluntarily. As they return to their countries and relate their unhappy experiences with the U.S. justice system, that supposedly will “deter” other individuals from coming.

 

Although there has been a downturn in border apprehensions since this Administration took office, there is little empirical evidence that such deterrence strategies will be effective in stopping undocumented migration in the long run. In any event, use of detention, as a primary deterrent for non-criminals who are asserting their statutory right to a hearing and their constitutional right to due process is highly inappropriate. Immigration detention is also expensive, and questions have been raised about the procedures used for awarding some of the contracts.

 

Fifth, we need an appellate court, the Board of Immigration Appeals, that functions like a real court not a high-volume service center. Over the past decade and one-half, the Board has taken an overly restrictive view of asylum law that fails to fulfill the generous requirements of the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Cardoza-Fonseca and the Board’s own precedent in Matter of Mogharrabi. The Board has also failed to take a strong stand for respondents’ due process rights in Immigration Court.

 

Largely as a result of the Board’s failure to assert positive leadership, there is a tremendous discrepancy in asylum grant rates – so-called refugee roulette.” Overall grant rates have inexplicably been falling. Some courts such as Atlanta, Charlotte, and some other major non-detained courts have ludicrously low asylum grant rates, thereby suggesting a system skewed, perhaps intentionally, against asylum seekers. Perhaps not coincidentally, the Board has become totally “government-dominated” with no member appointed from the private sector this century.

 

Moreover, Sessions has publicly delivered shockingly extreme anti-asylum statements directly to EOIR adjudicators. He intentionally and substantially mis-stated the full scope of asylum protection by suggesting that critical “particular social group” protection that is a key element of both U.S. and international protection laws is somehow “less worthy” than other grounds; suggested rampant asylum fraud without supporting evidence; criticized case law that has appropriately recognized rights to protection greater than Sessions and his restrictionist allies want; and suggested, again without evidence, that lawyers are the problem, rather than the solution.

 

Sessions’s “cure” would be further reductions in the rights of asylum seekers, and more use of “expedited removal” which assigns nearly absolute ability to block asylum seekers from receiving full hearings to totally unqualified and biased law enforcement personnel.

 

Since retiring, I have been a forthright critic of some of the Obama Administration’s misguided and overly restrictive immigration policies, particularly the unnecessary prioritization and detention of scared women and children from the Northern Triangle seeking asylum. However, Sessions has heaped unjustified criticism on the Obama Administration for the things they did absolutely correctly and in accordance with the law: correctly applying “credible fear standards in exactly the generous manner contemplated by law and for properly releasing good faith asylum seekers from detention, rather than making them part of Sessions’s un-American “New American Gulag.”

 

Folks, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Corey Booker, and the Congressional Black Caucus tried to tell the nation and the world why Jeff Sessions was clearly unqualified to serve as Attorney General. They were ignored and in Senator Warren’s case rudely silenced by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for speaking truth. Now those of us who believe in the Constitutional Due Process and fairness for all, the rule of law, and a proper and generous application of U.S. asylum and refugees laws are seeing the disturbing results.

 

That an individual with such high biased, legally inaccurate, factually unsupported, and inappropriately negative views of U.S asylum law and the plight of refugees and asylees would hold any position of responsibility in the Government of the U.S. is disturbing at best. That he would be in charge of a court system that is often the last and only resort for those seeking due process, fundamental fairness, and legal protection from persecution and torture under our domestic laws and international conventions is simply appalling.

 

 

Sixth, the DOJ selection process for Immigration Judges and BIA Members has become both incredibly ponderous and totally one-sided. According to a recent GAO study, it takes on the average nearly two years to fill an Immigration Judge position. No wonder there are scores of vacancies and an unmanageable backlog!

 

While Sessions claims that he has “streamlined” the process in some mysterious way, his goal of a 6-8 month hiring cycle is still beyond what should be necessary in a properly run and administered merit-based system.

 

And, the results to date have been less than impressive. Most of the recent hires appear to have been “in the pipeline” under the last Administration. As the system crumbles and the DOJ requests additional Immigration Judges, the reality is that 45 judicial positions, more than 10% of the total authorized, remain vacant.

 

And, it’s not that the results of this glacial process produce a representative immigration judiciary. During the Obama Administration, approximately 88% of the Immigration Judge appointments came directly from government backgrounds. In other words, private sector expertise has been almost totally excluded from the 21st Century immigration judiciary.

 

Sessions has actually done slightly better at hiring those with experience in the private sector. However, most attribute this to applicants whose selection was pending “background clearance” at the end of the last Administration, rather than to any conscious decision by Sessions to create a more diverse and representative Immigration Judiciary.

 

Seventh, and finally, the Immigration Courts need e-filing NOW! Without it, the courts are condemned to “files in the aisles,” misplaced filings, lost exhibits, and exorbitant courier charges. Also, because of the absence of e-filing, the public receives a level of service disturbingly below that of any other major court system. That gives the Immigration Courts an “amateur night” aura totally inconsistent with the dignity of the process, the critical importance of the mission, and the expertise, hard work, and dedication of the judges and court staff who make up our court.

 

Sessions has assured us that an “E-Filing Pilot Program” will be in place in the Immigration Courts at some point in mid-2018. But, folks, EOIR has been “studying” and “developing” e-filing since 2001 — a period of nearly 17 yearswithout achieving any meaningful end product! Indeed, most of us involved in that initial e-filing study are now retired, dead, or both. (Happily, I’m in “group one.”)

 

Moreover, those of us who have lived through past DOJ/EOIR “pilot programs,” “upgrades,” and “rollouts” know that they are often are plagued by slipping implementation dates, “Not Quite Ready For Prime Time”(“NQRFPT”) hardware and software, and general administrative chaos.

 

The U.S. Immigration Court, its employees, and its hundreds of thousands of frustrated “customers” deserve modern, professional court management which simply is not going to happen under the DOJ, particularly in the “Age of Trump & Sessions.”

 

III. ACTION PLAN

 

Keep these thoughts in mind. Not surprisingly, based on actions to date, I have no hope that Attorney General Sessions will support due process reforms or an independent U.S. Immigration Court, although it would be in his best interests as well as those of our country if he did.

 

Outrageously, Sessions actually proposes to move the court system in the opposite direction – elevating false efficiencies, case completions, and legislative and administrative gimmicks to truncate rights above fairness, quality, and guaranteeing due process for individuals. What kind of court system does that? Sounds like something out of a Third World dictatorship, not a 21st Century democracy!

 

However, eventually our opportunity will come. When it does, those of us who believe in the primary importance of constitutional due process must be ready with concrete reforms.

 

So, do we abandon all hope at present? No, of course not!   Because there are hundreds of newer lawyers out there who are former Arlington JLCs, interns, my former students, and those who have practiced before the Arlington Immigration Court.

 

They form what I call the “New Due Process Army!” And, while my time on the battlefield is winding down, they are just beginning the fight! They will keep at it for years, decades, or generations — whatever it takes to force the U.S. immigration judicial system to live up to its promise of “guaranteeing fairness and due process for all!”

 

What can you do to get involved now? The overriding due process need is for competent representation of individuals claiming asylum and/or facing removal from the United States. Currently, there are not nearly enough pro bono lawyers to insure that everyone in Immigration Court gets represented.

 

And the situation is getting worse. With the Administration’s expansion of so-called “expedited removal,” lawyers are needed at earlier points in the process to insure that those with defenses or plausible claims for relief even get into the Immigration Court process, rather than being summarily removed with little, if any, recourse.

 

Additionally, given the pressure that the Administration is likely to exert through the Department of Justice to “move” cases quickly through the Immigration Court system with little regard for due process and fundamental fairness, resort to the Article III Courts to require fair proceedings and an unbiased application of the laws becomes even more essential. Litigation in the U.S. District and Appellate Courts has turned out to be effective in forcing systemic change. However, virtually no unrepresented individual is going to be capable of getting to the Court of Appeals, let alone prevailing on a claim.

 

 

Several state and local government initiatives like those in New York, California, and Chicago have been very successful in expanding Immigration Court representation, particularly in detained cases, improving results, and resisting Administration enforcement overreach. I understand that a similar movement in Maryland might soon be underway. If it happens, all you Maryland residents in the audience should let your state legislators know that you stand behind due process, fairness, and justice for our immigrant communities.

 

I have been working with groups looking for ways to expand the “accredited representative” program, which allows properly trained and certified individuals who are not lawyers to handle cases before the DHS and the Immigration Courts while working for certain nonprofit community organizations, on either a staff or volunteer basis. The “accredited representative” program is also an outstanding opportunity for retired individuals, like professors, teachers, and others who are not lawyers but who can qualify to provide pro bono representation in Immigration Court to needy migrants thorough properly recognized religious and community organizations.

 

Even if you are a lawyer not practicing immigration law, there are many outstanding opportunities to contribute by taking pro bono cases. Indeed, in my experience in Arlington, “big law” firms were some of the major contributors to highly effective pro bono representation. It was also great “hands on” experience for those seeking to hone their litigation skills.

 

Those of you with language and teaching skills can help out in English Language Learning programs for migrants. I have observed first hand that the better that individuals understand the language and culture of the US, the more successful they are in navigating our Immigration Court system and both assisting, and when necessary, challenging their representatives to perform at the highest levels. In other words, they are in a better position to be “informed consumers” of legal services.

 

Another critical area for focus is funding of nonprofit community-based organizations, and religious groups that assist migrants for little or no charge. Never has the need for such services been greater.

 

Many of these organizations receive at least some government funding for outreach efforts. We have already seen how the President has directed the DHS to “defund” outreach efforts and use the money instead for a program to assist victims of crimes committed by undocumented individuals.

 

Undoubtedly, with the huge emphases on military expansion and immigration enforcement, to the exclusion of other important programs, virtually all forms of funding for outreach efforts to migrants are likely to disappear in the very near future. Those who care about helping others will have to make up the deficit. So, at giving time, remember your community nonprofit organizations that are assisting foreign nationals.

 

Finally, as an informed voter and participant in our political process, you can advance the cause of Immigration Court reform and due process. We have seen a graphic example this week of how decent citizens who have had enough of this Administration’s lawless behavior, anti-American attitudes, and trampling on our Constitution and our humane national values can rise up, be heard, and succeed in changing the future for the better, even against supposedly prohibitive odds. For the last 16 years politicians of both parties have largely stood by and watched the unfolding due process disaster in the U.S. Immigration Courts without doing anything about it, and in some cases actually making it worse.

 

The notion that Immigration Court reform must be part of so-called “comprehensive immigration reform” is simply wrong. The Immigration Courts can and must be fixed sooner rather than later, regardless of what happens with overall immigration reform. It’s time to let your Senators and Representatives know that we need due process reforms in the Immigration Courts as one of our highest national priorities.

 

Folks, the U.S Immigration Court system is on the verge of collapse. And, there is every reason to believe that the misguided “enforce and detain to the max,” “haste makes waste” policies being pursued by this Administration will drive the Immigration Courts over the edge. When that happens, a large chunk of the entire American justice system and the due process guarantees that make American great and different from most of the rest of the world will go down with it.

 

Trump, Sessions, and their arrogant cronies have a dark xenophobic, homophobic, Islamophobic plan for America that completely ignores or downgrades the essential contributions of immigrants of all types, all nationalities, and all economic and educational levels. It essentially “ disses” our true heritage and greatness as a “country of immigrants.”

 

This darkness does not represent my view of America as a humane, generous, and tolerant nation of immigrants, both “documented” and “undocumented,” nor do they reflect my understanding of the proper meaning of the Due Process Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which applies equally to all individuals in the U.S., not just citizens. I sincerely hope that they do not reflect your views either! If not, please join me in standing up and being heard in opposition to this Administration’s aggressively xenophobic, homophobic, Islamophobic programs and their intentional downgrading of due process and fairness in our U.S. Immigration Courts.

 IV. CONCLUSION

 

In conclusion, I have shared with you the U.S. Immigration Court’s noble due process vision and the ways it currently is being undermined and disregarded. I have also shared with you some of my ideas for effective court reforms that would achieve the due process vision and how you can become involved in improving the process.

 

Now is the time to take a stand for fundamental fairness! Join the New Due Process Army! Due process forever!

 

Thanks again for inviting me and for listening.

 

(Revised, 12-19-17)

 

[1] I’ve since joined the WBA.

 

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PWS

12-19-17