JUDICIAL MALFEASANCE AT THE HIGHEST LEVELS: FECKLESS FEDERAL COURTS STAND BY & WATCH WHILE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION ORBITS ASYLUM SEEKERS INTO THE VOID — Apparently Both The Law & Human Lives Have Ceased To Have Meaning For Those Blessed With Lifetime Tenure & No Accountability For Human Rights Abuses!

Hamed Aleaziz
Hamed Aleaziz
Immigration Reporter
BuzzFeed News


Hamed Aleaziz reports for BuzzFeed News:

Trump Is Sending Asylum-Seekers To Guatemala. His Administration Privately Admitted It Had No Idea What Would Happen To Them Next.

BuzzFeed News Reporter

A group of Guatemalan migrants deported from the US arrive at the Air Force base in Guatemala City on Sept. 5.

In the final days before launching a controversial plan to send asylum-seekers arriving at the US border to Guatemala, Department of Homeland Security officials were still scrambling to figure out critical details, including how those seeking protection would obtain shelter, food, and access to orientation services, according to government briefing materials obtained by BuzzFeed News.

Despite the questions, the documents indicate that DHS planned to send 12 asylum-seekers on the first flight to Guatemala, a Central American country that has struggled with violent crime, and was tentatively scheduled to depart on Tuesday.

The materials, drawn up last week for newly appointed acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf, suggest that department officials were trying to finalize key details regarding the implementation of a complicated proposal to send asylum-seekers arriving at the US border to Guatemala as part of a deal similar to a safe third country agreement.

The plan has been highlighted by the Trump administration as a key element in its strategy to deter migration at the border and another method to restrict asylum-seekers from entering the US.

“There is uncertainty as to who will provide orientation services for migrants as well as who will provide shelter, food, transportation, and other care,” read the DHS brief, drafted for Wolf in the run-up to a meeting Friday with Guatemala’s Interior Minister Enrique Degenhart. The implementation plan spelled out that Guatemala would provide the services but recently there had been “confusion” as to whether that would happen, according to the materials.

Wolf was urged to raise the issues with Degenhart in their meeting and clarify the outstanding issues.

“The U.S. needs confirmation from the [Government of Guatemala] that they will provide shelter, transportation, and food,” the briefing materials read. “If not, the U.S. and [Government of Guatemala] need to brainstorm other avenues of assistance.”

It is unclear if the planned flight is still scheduled to take off.

Trump administration officials have said that partnering with countries in Central America ultimately benefits the US by cutting down on the number of asylum-seekers attempting to make the journey to the US. Advocates counter that such agreements place vulnerable populations in countries that lack systems for adequate asylum processing and have high murder rates and rampant crime.

Guatemala is one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere and has the sixth-highest rate of malnutrition in the world. Nearly half of the country suffers from chronic malnutrition, with the prevalence reaching about 70% in some indigenous areas of Guatemala, according to a 2018 report from USAID.

The country has struggled with violence but has seen a drop in murders in recent years, with a homicide rate of 22.4 per 100,000 people. By comparison, the US had a homicide rate of 5.3 per 100,000.

A recent United Nations report also found that about 98% of crimes in Guatemala went unpunished in 2018.

The government posted regulations on Monday that clear the way for asylum officers to begin screening asylum-seekers under the plan. The interim final rule, which takes effect Tuesday, creates a process for asylum-officers to screen migrants thrust into the plan. In short, unless an asylum-seeker can prove it is “more likely than not” that they will be persecuted or tortured in Guatemala, they will be removed to the country to obtain protections there.

Administration officials have previously told congressional staffers that more than 200 individuals had applied for asylum in Guatemala, but only 18 had been processed.

While DHS officials have in the past heralded the involvement of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in helping build up Guatemala’s nascent asylum system, the briefing materials suggest that those efforts have been rocky, at best.

“It is our understanding that for some time now there has been friction between the [Government of Guatemala] and UNHCR regarding UNHCR’s role in the implementation” of the plan, according to the briefs. The UN has told US government officials it would provide orientation services for asylum-seekers who have been sent back to Guatemala.

But Guatemalan officials have told the US that UNHCR would not have access to their “reception centers and asylum programs.”

On Saturday, Reuters reported that US officials said asylum-seekers forced into the plan would not be flown to remote areas of Guatemala, an option the Central American country had proposed.

“All airports are being analyzed,” Degenhart told Reuters. “There are some that’ll qualify but others that won’t.”

The agreement could be one way for the Trump administration to attempt to safeguard a potential court overturn of its policy banning asylum for those who cross through a third country.

While the Supreme Court allowed for the policy to continue while the case continues in a federal appeals court challenge, it’s unclear whether the justices or the federal appellate court will ultimately side with the Trump administration.


So, the Supremes and the 9th Circuit are “ruminating” about these issues while folks are dying or being sent off to oblivion by an Administration notorious for its operational incompetence and its bad faith approach to immigration and asylum laws. How is that a “Safe Third Country” or a “right to apply for asylum regardless of status?” How is that performing the judicial duties for which they supposedly are being paid?

Meanwhile, corrupt immoral Administration officials are out there touting these programs as “deterrents” — not a means of fair adjudication or actual protection under our laws and international Conventions. So, why are Federal Appellate Judges and Supreme Court Justices so oblivious to truth? 

Hopefully, law schools are bringing up a new generation of lawyers that pay more attention to ethics, take the time to understand the human side of the law, and who will be courageous enough to stand up for individuals’ human rights against Government overreach. Obviously, too many of the preceding generations of “lawyers turned appellate judges” flunked on all counts.

Maybe a period of time representing migrants pro bono should be an absolute requirement for future Federal Judicial appointments. No matter how you look at it, we’re experiencing an institutional meltdown in the Federal Appellate Judiciary that, when combined with a lawless authoritarian Administration run wild, is endangering both our country and humanity.



TRUMP’S KIDDIE GULAG HITS NEW MILESTONE IN “RACE TO THE BOTTOM” —  U.S. Now Leads The World In Rate Of Child Imprisonment – We Spend Billions Abusing Kids, Eschew Leadership In Solving Humanitarian Problems!

Stephanie Nebehay
Stephanie Nebehay




By Stephanie Nebehay | GENEVA


U.S. has world’s highest rate of children in detention: U.N. study

The United States has the world’s highest rate of children in detention, including more than 100,000 in immigration-related custody that violates international law, the author of a United Nations study said on Monday.

Worldwide more than 7 million people under age 18 are held in jails and police custody, including 330,000 in immigration detention centres, independent expert Manfred Nowak said.

Children should only be detained as a measure of last resort and for the shortest time possible, according to the United Nations Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty.

“The United States is one of the countries with the highest numbers – we still have more than 100,000 children in migration-related detention in the (U.S.),” Nowak told a news briefing.

“Of course separating children, as was done by the Trump administration, from their parents and even small children at the Mexican-U.S. border is absolutely prohibited by the Convention on the Rights of the Child. I would call it inhuman treatment for both the parents and the children.”

There was no immediate reaction from U.S. authorities. Novak said U.S. officials had not replied to his questionnaire sent to all countries.

He said the United States had ratified major international treaties such as those guaranteeing civil and political rights and banning torture, but was the only country not to have ratified the pact on the rights of children.

“The way they were separating infants from families only in order to deter irregular migration from Central America to the United States to me constitutes inhuman treatment, and that is absolutely prohibited by the two treaties,” said Nowak, a professor of international law at the University of Vienna.

The United States detains an average of 60 out of every 100,000 children in its justice system or immigration-related custody, Nowak said, the world’s highest rate, followed by countries such as Bolivia, Botswana and Sri Lanka.

Mexico, where many Central American migrants have been turned back at the U.S. border, also has high numbers, with 18,000 children in immigration-related detention and 7,000 in prisons, he said.

The U.S. rate compared with an average of five per 100,000 in Western Europe and 14-15 in Canada, he said.

At least 29,000 children, mainly linked to Islamic State fighters, are held in northern Syria and in Iraq – with French citizens among the biggest group of foreigners, Nowak added.

Even if some of these children had been child soldiers, he said, they should be mainly treated as victims, not perpetrators, so that they could be rehabilitated and reintegrated in society.

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Mark Heinrich)


Why is Trump not being held accountable for leading the “race to the bottom” while littering the track with illegalities and trampling on our Constitution?

This is how we will be remembered by future generations!

Contrary to the rants of dangerous subversive Billy Barr, “The Resistance” may be the only thing that can save American and our national values.

And, let’s “lose” all the GOP/Fox News BS about “reversing election results.” Not only is impeachment an authorized Constitutional process, but, in fact, removal of Trump would result in his replacement by his hand-picked GOP stalwart successor VP Mike Pence. Hardly a “reversal” of results.

As I’ve said before, in some ways Pence could be worse than Trump, because he’s much more competent and knowledgeable on how Government actually works. Where Trump often trips over his own two feet (or, perhaps, “tweet”), Pence might be able to get things done even where they aren’t in the national interest. Nevertheless, that shouldn’t stop anyone from voting to remove Trump, because it’s the right thing to do. Unlikely to happen, though, given the blind commitment of the GOP to Trumpism and its ugly messages of cruelty, intellectual dishonesty, and dehumanization.






STEPHEN MILLER’S OVERT WHITE SUPREMACY ISN’T “IN THE MARGINS” OF THE GOP — IT IS THE GOP! — That’s Why He Isn’t Going Anywhere & Even If He Did His Fascist Message Of Hate Would Remain The Face Of Today’s GOP! — “Republican voters made Trump the white-supremacist-in-chief.“

Cas Mudde
Cas Mudde
US Columnist
The Guardian


By Cas Mudde for The Guardian:

This week, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) published a bombshell article revealing troubling emails that White House senior policy advisor Stephen Miller sent to editors at Breitbart News, the far-right media outlet previously led by Steve Bannon.

Marie Yovanovitch says state department fails to fight ‘corrupt interests’

The emails, which were leaked by former Breitbart editor Katie McHugh and predate Miller’s period in the White House, show Miller’s obsession with immigration and his seemingly successful attempts to get Breitbart editors to write anti-immigration stories, some of which were based on openly white nationalist sources like American Renaissance and V-Dare.

The widespread public outrage in response to the revelations is understandable. Miller is the longest serving senior advisor to President Trump who is not related to the president, and is believed to be the architect of the White House’s draconian anti-immigration policies, which doesn’t just target “illegal immigration” but also aims to return to the country to the infamously racist immigration policy of the early 20th century.

In its response to the leak, the White House tried to discredit the source, SPLC, which has had some internal and external problems recently, but is overall a very reliable authority on the US far right (full disclaimer: I regularly collaborate with the SPLC). One White House spokesperson went full “alternative facts” by accusing SPLC of antisemitism, because Miller is Jewish. By doing so, the White House displayed a complete lack of understanding about what antisemitism is, which is no surprise, given that Trump considers himself “the least antisemitic person you’ve ever seen”.

The Democratic responses were predictable and swift as well. Of all the 2020 candidates, Julian Castro went the furthest in condemning Miller – he called him a “neo-Nazi” – but all agreed that he should resign from the White House.

But would Miller’s resignation change anything? While Miller might be behind the concrete policies that harm immigrants, he is not the main white supremacist in the White House. And Trump can easily find someone else to do Miller’s work, particularly now that almost the whole Republican party has fallen in line with their president.

It also externalizes white supremacy, as if it lives in the margins. But it has been hiding in plain sight within the Republican Party for decades. Miller wrote the emails to Breitbart when he was still an aide to Senator Jeff Sessions, who has been a consistent voice of white supremacy in Congress since 1997. And the Alabama Senator was not alone in Congress either. Representative Steve King has been the most open and unapologetic voice for the cause since 2003. Others, like representatives Louie Gohmert, Paul Gosar, Tom Tancredo and Dana Rohrabacher, might not be as open in their support, but they all encourage white nationalism to varying degrees.

But white supremacy in the Republican party is not limited to just these individual congressmen and women. It runs much deeper than them. White supremacy was at the core of the “Southern Strategy”, dating back to the unsuccessful 1964 presidential campaign of Barry Goldwater, which was formative for the future conservative movement. Perfected by President Richard Nixon, with the help of speechwriter Pat Buchanan, dog whistles to white supremacy have been at the heart of virtually every Republican campaign since the 1970s.

Talking of Buchanan, more than 25 years ago he gave his now famous “culture war” speech at the 1992 Republican convention. While the term has become mainly linked to the religious right, Buchanan is at least as much a white supremacist as a Christian fundamentalist. In many ways, he is the intellectual father of the Trump administration, personifying Mike Pence and Donald Trump in one.

This is why calling for Stephen Miller’s resignation wouldn’t change much. Neither Miller nor Bannon “made” Trump the white-supremacist-in-chief. And Trump is not the only problem either, as Joe Biden seems to believe. He won the Republican primaries, and presidential elections, not despite white supremacy but because of it.

In short, it is time for Democrats to face and name the ugly truth: the Grand Old Party is a party steeped in white supremacy. It is the basis of its electoral support and this will not change in the near future. By focusing on the most brazen examples, like Stephen Miller, Democrats strengthen the misguided belief that the Republican party is a good party with some bad apples. Ultimately, this will help the Republicans more than the Democrats.

  • Cas Mudde is a Guardian US columnist and the Stanley Wade Shelton UGAF Professor in the School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Georgia


Mudde’s conclusion is worth repeating:

In short, it is time for Democrats to face and name the ugly truth: the Grand Old Party is a party steeped in white supremacy. It is the basis of its electoral support and this will not change in the near future. By focusing on the most brazen examples, like Stephen Miller, Democrats strengthen the misguided belief that the Republican party is a good party with some bad apples. Ultimately, this will help the Republicans more than the Democrats.

Let’s take a real life example. Joe Biden clearly would be a huge upgrade over Donald Trump as President, whether or not he’s your “first choice.” But, one of Biden’s “selling points” has been his long experience in the Senate and his good working relationships and mutual respect with GOP Senators.

Yet recently, Trump has shamelessly slandered and blatantly lied about Biden while besmirching his character. This is all without a scrap of actual supporting evidence.

Under the circumstances, you would certainly expect some of Biden’s long time GOP colleagues to speak up in his defense and vouch for his character. Almost all Republicans know that Trump is a chronic liar and everything he says about Biden is untrue.

Yet, not a murmur of support or sympathy from the GOP for their “old buddy Joe.” That would cast at least some doubt on Biden’s optimism that he could work successfully with Mitch McConnell and the GOP in the Senate to get bipartisan things done for the country.

More likely, the GOP would treat him exactly like they treated his former “boss” President Obama. That means opposing and mischaracterizing everything, regardless of merit, in an attempt to make Biden a one-term President and to play to the “Trump base.” 

Even if Trump loses the next election (by no means a given), his white supremacist base will remain critical to the GOP’s future. Without its enthusiastic support, they become perhaps a “20% party” until they finally cease to exist. 

With it, the GOP has a decent chance of imposing some semblance of minority rule over the majority of Americans for decades to come, even if they don’t always control the White House. Given the GOP’s strength in lesser populated states which are “over represented” in the Senate, they also have a decent shot at indefinitely controlling the Senate and therefore the appointments process as well as the judiciary.

Consequently, Trump or no Trump, there is little incentive for the GOP to abandon white supremacy as their fundamental identity. Perhaps that counsels a Democratic strategy of less hand wringing about how to reach out to GOP voters and more of a focus on how to get new Democratic voters registered, get out the Democratic vote, hold the party together (note that the GOP’s “hard right” under Trump didn’t by any means split the party as many pundits had predicted), and use their potential numerical advantages, their wider appeal to a diverse America, and their more positive message to restore at least some semblance of majority rule.

Recapturing the White House certainly won’t solve all of America’s problems. But, it’s an important start.

It could be America’s last chance for survival as a Constitutional Republic. 



THE  9th CIRCUIT’S DESCENT INTO THE LEGAL AND MORAL ABYSS OF TRUMPISM: With Court’s Aid, Trump Administration Helps Smugglers, Kidnappers, & Extorters in Mexico Target Hapless Asylum Seekers! – Can We As A Nation Get Any More Cowardly & Immoral? – This Is What Intellectually Corrupt Federal Judges Are Doing For Their Paychecks While The Innocent Suffer: “Kidnapped migrants generally were told they could avoid being killed by either paying ransom or working for the cartel.”

Maria Verza
Maria Verza
Associated Press




Maria Verza reports for the Associated Press:



Migrants stuck in lawless limbo within sight of America

The gangsters trawling Nuevo Laredo know just what they’re looking for: men and women missing their shoelaces.

Those are migrants who made it to the United States to ask for asylum, only to be taken into custody and stripped of their laces — to keep them from hurting themselves. And then they were thrust into danger, sent back to the lawless border state of Tamaulipas.

In years past, migrants moved quickly through this violent territory on their way to the United States. Now, due to Trump administration policies, they remain there for weeks and sometimes months as they await their U.S. court dates, often in the hands of the gangsters who hold the area in a vise-like grip.

Here, migrants in limbo are prey, and a boon to smugglers.


This story is part of an occasional series, “Outsourcing Migrants,” produced with the support of the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.


They recount harrowing stories of robbery, extortion by criminals and crooked officials, and kidnappings by competing cartels. They tell of being captured by armed bandits who demand a ransom: They can pay for illegal passage to the border, or merely for their freedom, but either way they must pay.

And then they might be nabbed again by another gang. Or, desperate not to return to the homes they fled in the first place, they might willingly pay smugglers again.

That’s what a 32-year-old Honduran accountant was contemplating. She had twice paid coyotes to help her cross into the U.S. only to be returned. Most recently, in September, she was sent back across the bridge from Brownsville to Matamoros.

Now, biding her time with her daughter in the city of Monterrey, she said one thing is for sure: “We are a little gold mine for the criminals.”


Tamaulipas used to be a crossroads. Its dangers are well known; the U.S. has warned its citizens to stay away, assigning it the same alert level as war-torn countries such as Afghanistan and Syria.

Whenever possible, migrants heading north immediately crossed the river to Texas or presented themselves at a U.S. port of entry to file an asylum claim, which would allow them to stay in the U.S. while their cases played out.

But the U.S. has set limits on applicants for asylum, slowing the number to a mere trickle, while the policy known colloquially as “Remain in Mexico,” has meant the return of more than 55,000 asylum-seekers to the country while their requests meander through backlogged courts.

The Mexican government is ill-prepared to handle the influx along the border, especially in Tamaulipas, where it has been arranging bus rides south to the relative safety of the northern city of Monterrey or all the way to the Guatemala border, citing security concerns — tacit acknowledgement, some analysts say, of the state of anarchy.

The gangs have adapted quickly to the new reality of masses of vulnerable people parking in the heart of their fiefdom, experts say, treating the travelers, often families with young children, like ATMs, ramping up kidnapping, extortion, and illegal crossings to extract money and fuel their empires.

“There’s probably nothing worse you could do in terms of overall security along the border,” said Jeremy Slack, a geographer at the University of Texas at El Paso who studies the border region, crime and migration in Mexico. “I mean, it really is like the nightmare scenario.”


Yohan, a 31-year-old Nicaraguan security guard, trudged back across the border bridge from Laredo, Texas, in July with his wife and two children in tow, clutching a plastic case full of documents including one with a court date to return and make their asylum claim to a U.S. immigration judge two months later.

Penniless, with little more than a cellphone, the family was entering Nuevo Laredo, dominated by the Northeast cartel, a splinter of the brutal and once-powerful Zetas gang.

This is the way he tells the story now, in an interview at a nonprofit in Monterrey that provides the family with shelter and food:

The plan was to call and ask help from the only people they knew in the area — the “coyotes,” or people smugglers, who earlier helped them cross the Rio Grande on an inflatable raft and had treated them well. Only that was in Ciudad Miguel Aleman, about a two-hour drive south parallel to the river.

On their way to the bus station, two strange men stopped Yohan while another group grabbed his loved ones. At least one of them had a gun. They were hustled into a van, relieved of their belongings and told they had a choice: Pay thousands of dollars for their freedom, or for another illegal crossing.

All along the border, there have abuses and crimes against migrants by Mexican organized crime, which has long profited off them. But Tamaulipas is especially troubling. It is both the location of most illegal crossings, and the state where the United States has returned the most asylum seekers — 20,700 through Nuevo Laredo and Matamoros as of early October.

The Mexico City-based Institute for Women in Migration, which tracks kidnappings of migrants and asylum-seekers, has documented 212 abductions in the state from mid-July through Oct. 15. And that’s surely an undercount.

Of the documented kidnappings in Tamaulipas, 197 occurred in Nuevo Laredo, a city of about 500,000 whose international bridges fuel the trade economy.

Yohan’s family was among them.

They had left Esteli in northwestern Nicaragua over three months earlier after armed, government-aligned civilian militias learned that Yohan had witnessed the killing of a government opponent, he said. They followed him and painted death threats on the walls of their home.

He is identified only by his middle name, because he and others quoted in this story fear for their lives and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

Yohan borrowed against his mother’s house to pay smugglers $18,000 for the family’s trip. But he had not bargained on the closed door at the border, or the ordeal in Nuevo Laredo, and his bankroll was depleted.

The men who grabbed the family “told us they were from the cartel, that they were not kidnappers, that their job was to get people across and that they would take us to the smuggler to explain,” Yohan said. Then they connected a cable to his cellphone to download its contents.

Yohan’s first instinct was to give the passphrase that his previous smugglers used to identify “their” migrants. “‘That doesn’t mean anything to us,’ one of them told me,” Yohan said — this lot belonged to a different group.

Gangs in Tamaulipas have fragmented in the last decade and now cartel cells there operate on a franchise model, with contacts across Mexico and Central America, said Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera, a political scientist specializing in organized crime, immigration, border security and human trafficking at George Mason University.

“They are contractors. They provide a service, control the territory, operate safe houses and charge for all that,” she said.

Yohan’s family was held in a series of what appeared to be private homes or offices, along with a family from El Salvador, two Cubans and two Mexicans. Everyone slept on the floor.

One captor, a 16-year-old, told him, “We have 15 smugglers, the cartel brings the people to us here and we take them across paying the cartel for the river crossing.”

The gang had been hiring lately: “Since the United States is deporting so many through here, we are capturing them and that has meant more work,” the teen told him. “We’re saturated.”

Initially the captors demanded $16,000. They gave Yohan and his wife a list of names and accounts; relatives were supposed to deposit $450 into each one without using companies seen as traceable by authorities.

But they were able to scrape together just $3,000, and that angered the gangsters.

“I’m going to give you to the cartel,” one shouted.

Then Yohan’s son came down with the mumps. The family got the captors to provide a bit of extra milk for him in exchange for his daughter’s little gold ring, but the boy wasn’t getting better and they abruptly released the family.

“They told us that the cartel doesn’t allow them to hold sick children,” Yohan said.

This is a matter of business, not humanity: A dead child could bring attention from the media, and then authorities, says George Mason’s Correa-Cabrera.

After 14 days captive and before leaving the safe house, Yohan was given a code phrase: “We already passed through the office, checking.” Only hours later they would need to use it. Arriving at the bus station, a group of strange men tried to grab them. Yohan spoke the six words in Spanish, and they were let go, and they went on to Monterrey.

On Sept. 22, Yohan’s family returned to Nuevo Laredo for their court date, bringing with them a report on the family’s kidnapping. Though U.S. law allows at-risk people to stay, they were sent back to the parking lot of a Mexican immigration facility, surrounded by seedy cantinas and watching eyes.

Mexican authorities organized bus transportation for those who wanted to return to their home countries. The family did not intend to go back to Nicaragua, so they asked the driver to leave them in Monterrey where they would await the next hearing.

After they were under way, the driver demanded $200. They couldn’t pay, so he dumped them about 60 miles (100 kilometers) from the city at 1 a.m., along with four others.


Unlike other border cities such as Tijuana or Ciudad Juarez, migrants and asylum seekers are rarely seen on the streets in Nuevo Laredo. Fear keeps them in hiding, and safety isn’t a sure thing even inside shelters. This summer pastor Aarón Méndez was abducted from the shelter he ran. He has not been heard from since.

Nor is it safe on the streets going to and from the station. A couple of months after Méndez disappeared, gunmen intercepted some people who were helping migrants make those trips; those being transported were taken away, and the helpers were told they would be killed if they persisted.

Kennji Kizuka, a researcher for New York-based Human Rights First, told of one woman who crossed into the U.S. for a hearing date, where she had to surrender her phone. While she was incommunicado for hours, calls were placed to relatives in the United States claiming she had been kidnapped and aggressively demanding a ransom.

“It’s clear that they have a very sophisticated system to target people,” Kizuka said.

In another instance, Kizuka said, cartel members were in the Nuevo Laredo office of Mexican migration, openly abducting asylum seekers who had just been sent back from the United States.

One woman hid in the bathroom with her daughter and called a local pastor for help; he tried to drive them away, but they were blocked by cartel members blocks way. The two were taken from the car and held by the gangsters, though they eventually were released unharmed.

A spokesperson for the Mexican foreign affairs secretary declined comment on allegations that Mexico cannot guarantee safety for immigrants returned from U.S.

U.S. Border Patrol officials said recently they are continuing to send asylum seekers back over the border, and that includes Nuevo Laredo. The number of people returned there has been reduced recently, but that was related to a decrease in migrants arriving at the border — and not violence in Tamaulipas.

In an interview, Brian Hastings, Border Patrol chief of law enforcement operations, told AP that officials didn’t see a “threat to that population” in Tamaulipas and “there was basically a small war between the cartel and the state police” there.

But the numbers indicate the danger is real.

As of August, Human Rights First had tabulated 100 violent crimes against returnees. By October, after it rolled out to Tamaulipas, that had more than tripled to 340. Most involved kidnapping and extortion. Kizuka said the danger is even greater than the numbers reflect because they are based solely on accounts his organization or reporters have been able to document.

Of dozens of people interviewed by AP who said they had been victimized in Nuevo Laredo, Reynosa, Matamoros and Monterrey, just one had filed a police report.

Kidnappings of migrants are not a new phenomenon. According to Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission, in just six months in 2009 nearly 10,000 migrants were abducted while passing through the country.

Back then the cartels were splintering amid a government policy targeting their top bosses, leading them to fight among themselves in the people-smuggling business to fill two needs: money and labor. Kidnapped migrants generally were told they could avoid being killed by either paying ransom or working for the cartel.

Tamaulipas became a bloody emblem of the problem in 2010 when 72 migrants were found slain at a ranch in San Fernando, and a year later when the bodies of 193 migrants were found in the same area in clandestine mass graves — apparently murdered by a cartel to damage a rival’s people-smuggling business.

Raymundo Ramos of the Nuevo Laredo Human Rights Committee said gangs today are more interested in squeezing cash from migrants: “They have to recover a lot of the money lost in those wars.”

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has acknowledged that another massacre or escalation of violence is a major fear and has deployed more than 25,000 troops and National Guard agents to police people-trafficking in border regions and along smuggling routes. But all the accounts of violence in this account took place after that deployment.


Reynosa, a factory city of about 650,000, is the largest in Tamaulipas and home to some of the worst drug war violence. It’s also a key part of the migratory route and one of the busiest crossing points along with Ciudad Miguel Aleman.

Disputed by rival gangs, Reynosa has the feel of a place with invisible fences demarcating their territories, and numerous migrants said they had to pay to get past checkpoints at the main entrances to the city.

Lawyer and human rights worker Fortino López Balcázar said the gangs first took control of the river, attacking and beating migrants. Then they started grabbing them from bus stations, and then from the streets.

The airport is also tightly controlled.

A 46-year-old teacher from Havana recalled arriving with her 16-year-old son Aug. 13 by plane from Mexico City with the phone number for a taxi driver, provided by a lawyer who arranged their trip. As they drove into Reynosa, two other taxis cut the vehicle off. Two men got in, took away her cellphone and money and whisked them to a home that was under construction.

The lawyer “sold us out,” the woman said.

That night they were moved to a thicket near the Rio Grande where they were held captive in an outdoor camp for a week with dozens of others. They met another group of Cubans, who were also abducted shortly after flying into Reynosa: Several taxi and vans brazenly intercepted them in broad daylight, bringing traffic to a halt.

“It was as if we were terrorists and the FBI had swooped down on us,” one of the men said. He speculated they may have been betrayed by an airport immigration agent with whom they had argued over their travel documents.

López Obrador’s government has said the National Immigration Institute is one of Mexico’s most corrupt agencies. In early 2019 the institute announced the firing of more than 500 workers nationwide. According to a person with knowledge of the purge, Tamaulipas was one of four states where the most firings took place. Some worked in airports, others in the city of Reynosa.

In February the institute’s deputy delegate to the city was fired and accused of charging detained migrants over $3,000 to avoid deportation. Later new complaints surfaced of people being shaken down for $1,500 to be put at the top of wait lists to present claims in the United States.

At the riverside camp, the Cuban teacher was introduced to its “commander” who demanded “rent” and a fine for not traveling with a guide. The ransom was set at $1,000.

Previously the Cuban woman’s only exposure to the world of organized crime came from movies she watched on the illegal satellite TV hookup that caused her to run afoul of authorities back home. Now, they were witnessing things both terrifying and hard to understand.

There was the time a man tried to suffocate another with a plastic bag, or when the kidnappers, some barely in their teens, beat a “coyote” for working for a rival outfit. From what she was able to understand from the shouting, he had been kidnapped along with clients he was guiding and they wanted him to switch loyalties.

The captors at the thicket referred to themselves as “the corporation,” the teacher said. People came and went, some delivered by men in uniforms who may or may not have been police.

Edith Garrido, a nun who works at the Casa del Migrante shelter in Reynosa, said both crooked officers and criminals dressed as police — known as “black cops” or “the clones” — are mixed up in the racket, making the rounds of safe houses to buy and sell kidnap victims.

“They say ‘give me 10, 15, 25.’ They tell them they are going to take them to a safer place, and they give them to the highest bidder,” Garrido explained. “A migrant is money for them, not a person.”

The captors let the Cubans use their cellphones for a few hours to coordinate ransom payments with relatives, always small amounts to different bank accounts. Weeping, the teacher recalled how her 25-year-old daughter in Cuba had to pawn all her belongings.

After the ransom came through, the captors took her picture and she, her son and another woman were put in a taxi and driven off. The cabbie stopped the car along a highway, took her cellphone and said they could go.

She and her son now await their immigration court date in Reynosa, where she has found temporary construction work to pay for rent and food.

There’s not enough space for everyone at the shelters, so many rent rooms, and that demand has pushed prices up. It can range from $35 per person per month for a spot in a cramped five-person bedroom in a seedy area, to $300-$500 for a more secure home.

But nowhere is truly safe. Last month a family from El Salvador missed their turn to present themselves for U.S. asylum after a shootout erupted in the streets and they were afraid to leave their home.

Garrido said some pay protection fees so they are not bothered in their homes, while others rent directly from the gangs.

“So one way or another,” she said, “they make money.”


Associated Press writers Peter Orsi in Mexico City and Colleen Long in Washington contributed to this report.



Beyond disgusting! Profiles in Judicial and Executive cowardice (not to mention Congressional fecklessness) to be sure!

It all goes back to Innovation Law Lab v. McAleenan and a 9th Circuit panel that spoke legal gibberish rather than courageously standing up to the Trump Administration’s outrageously illegal behavior. Then, the full Ninth Circuit has compounded the problem by “sitting on the case” for months. In the meantime, folks are unnecessarily dying and being victimized by judicial abdication of duty.





GREAT MOMENTS IN U.S. HISTORY WITH HEATHER COX RICHARDSON & AL KAMEN: Reliving The “Brooks Brothers Riots” of ‘00! — “Al Gore thought the recount was a high-minded policy debate. He didn’t understand that it was an extension of a war, of a political campaign,” Said Recently Convicted Trumpster Roger Stone!

Heather Cox Richardson
Heather Cox Richardson
Professor, Boston College

American Historian Heather Cox Richardson writes in her daily e-mail for today:

A friend read the proofs for me, and asked why I had not mentioned the Brooks Brothers Riot. I had no good answer, so today I went back to the sources.

For those of you who don’t remember everything that happened in those crazy days when we were all trying to figure out what the heck had happened in the 2000 election, the Brooks Brothers Riot was made up of a bunch of Republican operatives, many of whom had flown in from other states, who gathered on November 22, 2000 at the Miami-Dade polling station where Florida officials were attempting to recount the confusing ballots, to insist that the Democrats were trying to steal the election. Their noise and outrage helped to get the recount called off. As I was reading through the articles about the riot, the name Roger Stone jumped out at me. That name meant nothing to me in 2000, but it sure does today.

This is the same Roger Stone who advised the Trump campaign and who has just been convicted for lying to Congress about his connections to Wikileaks before the 2016 election. Wikileaks worked to hurt Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and promote Donald Trump by dumping emails that Russia had hacked from the Democratic National Committee. Stone is a no-holds-barred political operative who got his start on the 1972 reelection campaign of Richard Nixon, whose face is tattooed on Stone’s back (no, I’m not kidding) and who, after Nixon’s fall, went on to start a political consulting firm with Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign chairman from June to August 2016 (who is also now a convicted felon), and Lee Atwater, the man behind the viciously racist Willie Horton ad that sank Democratic candidate Michael Dukakis in 1988 (Atwater apologized for his actions as he was dying).

At the time of the Brooks Brother’s Riot, Stone claimed he was there “as a volunteer,” and “knew nothing about the protesters other than the fact I approve of Republicans expressing their First Amendment rights.”

This was a lie. In reality, Stone was a key operative, eavesdropping on the Democratic recount team with a walkie-talkie and determined to undermine the recount to get Bush in office, regardless of the popular vote or the real outcome in Florida. “What I admire about Nixon was his resilience,” he later told a reporter, “It’s attack, attack, attack. Al Gore thought the recount was a high-minded policy debate. He didn’t understand that it was an extension of a war, of a political campaign.”

That comment jumped out to me, just as Stone’s name had. That’s it, isn’t it? While the rest of us believe in the rules of democracy, people like Stone and Manafort see political engagement as a war in which winning is everything. It is worth lying, cheating, and stealing, because the goal is not better government, the goal is to win, and then to use that victory to reward your friends and hurt your enemies. After working for Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush, Stone and Manafort advised dictators. Then they turned their hands to the Trump campaign. Their approach to politics appears by now to be embedded in today’s Republican Party. Jennifer Rubin, a conservative writer at the Washington Post, had a story today entitled “The Party of Lying Liars,” in which she laid out a litany of Republican whoppers, designed solely to appeal their base and thus stay in office.”


Heather’s write-up inspired me to dig a little deeper “into the archives.” Here’s what I found:

A picture of “The Rioters” (note the diversity):

Brooks Brothers Rioters
Brooks Brothers Rioters in Action


And a 2005 article by Al Kamen, then with the Washington Post, with a “numbered key” to “to Rioters of note:”



Miami ‘Riot’ Squad: Where Are They Now?

By Al Kamen

Monday, January 24, 2005; Page A13

As we begin the second Bush administration, let’s take a moment to reflect upon one of the most historic episodes of the 2000 battle for the White House — the now-legendary “Brooks Brothers Riot” at the Miami-Dade County polling headquarters.

This was when dozens of “local protesters,” actually mostly Republican House aides from Washington, chanted “Stop the fraud!” and “Let us in!” when the local election board tried to move the re-counting from an open conference room to a smaller space.

With help from their GOP colleagues and others, we identified some of these Republican heroes of yore in a photo of the event.

Some of those pictured have gone on to other things, including stints at the White House. For example, Matt Schlapp, No. 6, a former House aide and then a Bush campaign aide, has risen to be White House political director. Garry Malphrus, No. 2 in the photo, a former staff director of the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on criminal justice, is now deputy director of the White House Domestic Policy Council. And Rory Cooper, No. 3, who was at the National Republican Congressional Committee, later worked at the White House Homeland Security Council and was seen last week working for the Presidential Inaugural Committee.

Here’s what some of the others went on to do:

No. 1. Tom Pyle, who had worked for Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), went private sector a few months later, getting a job as director of federal affairs for Koch Industries.

No. 7. Roger Morse, another House aide, moved on to the law and lobbying firm Preston Gates Ellis & Rouvelas Meeds. “I was also privileged to lead a team of Republicans to Florida to help in the recount fight,” he told a legal trade magazine in a 2003 interview.

No. 8. Duane Gibson, an aide on the House Resources Committee, was a solo lobbyist and formerly with the Greenberg Traurig lobby operation. He is now with the Livingston Group as a consultant.

No. 9. Chuck Royal was and still is a legislative assistant to Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), a former House member.

No. 10. Layna McConkey Peltier, who had been a Senate and House aide and was at Steelman Health Strategies during the effort, is now at Capital Health Group.

(We couldn’t find No. 4, Kevin Smith, a former GOP House aide who later worked with Voter.com, or No. 5, Steven Brophy, a former GOP Senate aide and then at consulting firm KPMG. If you know what they are doing these days, please e-mail shackelford@washpost.comso we can update our records.)

Sources say the “rioters” proudly note their participation on résumés and in interviews. But while the original hardy band of demonstrators numbered barely a couple of dozen, the numbers apparently have grown with the legend.


How to build a great GOP resume!

Interestingly, “Rioter # 2,” Garry D. Malphrus (face partially obscured in the photo) went on to become a U.S. Immigration Judge and later an Appellate Immigration Judge on the Board of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”), supposedly the highest administrative tribunal in immigration (although it now functions within the Department of Justice more or less as an extension of DHS Enforcement and Stephen Miller’s White Nationalist, anti-immigrant agenda).

Judge Malphrus was recently named the Acting Chair of the BIA by Billy Barr. Although Barr is a notorious “law enforcement hard liner,” I guess his strong commitment to “law and order” only goes so far. 

Got to focus on the “real threats” to our democracy: the Dreamers and other hard working, law abiding, tax paying long-time American residents who are propping up our society and our economy so that Barr, Stone, Trump, and the former rioters can “live the good life.” And certainly, insuring the death or abuse of as many asylum applicants and kids as possible should be high on the list of worthy expenditures of our taxpayer dollars and moral capital.

The moral: Liberals get in trouble for rioting; conservatives get promoted!

Meanwhile, who knows?  Could the Supremes be the next stop for Judge Malphrus?




These articles say it all about Barr’s unprincipled attacks on American democracy and his bizarre, yet frightening, rewrite of American history.

Heather Cox Richardson
Heather Cox Richardson
Professor, Boston College

First, from American historian and Professor at Boston College Heather Cox Richardson:

November 16, 2019

7 hr Public post 49

Today’s biggest story set the scene for news that continues to develop about the Ukraine scandal.

The big story, in terms of its ability to frame the crazy events coming at us at top speed, happened last night, when Attorney General William Barr gave a speech to the Federalist Society, a group of conservative and libertarian lawyers who argue for an originalist interpretation of the Constitution. The conviction of members of the Federalist Society that courts should not do anything that is not listed in the original Constitution makes them great friends to business and to white men, since they focus on the protection of property and deny that laws can regulate business, provide a basic social safety net, or protect minority or women’s rights. The Federalist Society organized in 1982 to push back against what its members felt was an activist court system that tried to reorganize society from the bench. It has been extraordinarily successful in taking over the courts: currently five members of the nine-member Supreme Court are current or past Federalist Society members: Clarence Thomas, John Roberts, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh.

In his speech, Attorney General William Barr claimed he was going truly to be an originalist, and explained by taking American history back to its roots. In contrast to every single American historian in, well, American history, Barr argued that Americans had rebelled not against King George III in 1776, but rather against Parliament. What the Founders feared, he said, was not a strong executive, but rather a strong Parliament. (You can tell where this is going, right?) Barr was setting up the idea that Congress has grown far too strong lately (in fact, virtually every scholar will tell you that it is the Executive that has grown terribly strong since 1981) and that it is badly hampering the president’s ability to do his job. The president should be able to act on his own initiative, and not be checked by either congressional or judicial oversight, Barr insisted, in a theory known as that of the “unitary executive.”

Barr did not stop there, though. He went on to blame “The Resistance” for sabotaging the Trump administration, and claimed that its members were “engaged in a war to cripple, by any means necessary, a duly elected government.” More, he claimed “the Left” is “engaged in the systematic shredding of norms and the undermining of the rule of law.” Conservatives, he said, were at a disadvantage against progressive’s “holy war” because they “have more scruple over their political tactics” especially when facing “a hyper-partisan media.” (You might want to reread those last two sentences.)

Richard Painter, who was George W. Bush’s ethics lawyer, called this a “lunatic authoritarian speech.” Attorneys General are supposed to be non-partisan, and Barr lumped all opposition to Trump as the dangerous far left. The “Left,” in America, generally refers to those few people who advocate for communism—a system in which the government owns and controls all industries and businesses– or anarchy, a system in which there is no central authority at all. It’s actually a pretty small group. But Barr, and other recent Republicans, have included in “the Left” everyone who believes that the government has any role to play in regulating business, providing a basic social safety net, and promoting infrastructure, all those things the Federalist Society opposes. In fact, most of us, regardless of whether we vote Republican or Democratic, want some basic regulations, social welfare programs, and infrastructure development.

But now the Attorney General, who is charged with overseeing our justice system, has declared that anyone standing in the way of Trump is not just a member of “the Left” but also is waging war against America. Painter is quite right: this is the language that enables a leader to imprison people he considers his enemies.

Barr is not saying all this in a vacuum. More news dropped today about the Ukraine scandal, filling in the lines we already suspected. Congress released transcripts today from Tim Morrison and Jennifer Williams, both of whom were deeply involved in the Ukraine mess and were on the July 25 call between Trump and Zelensky. A long-time career official in the State Department, Morrison replaced Fiona Hill as the Senior Director for Russia and Europe in July 2019. Williams is another long-standing career officer in the State Department. Since April 2019, she has been the Special Adviser for Europe and Russia for Vice President Mike Pence. Morrison said that Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland made it clear that aid was being withheld until there was an announcement about an investigation into Burisma, the company on whose board Hunter Biden sat.

This jibed with the opening statement of David Holmes, the political counselor at the Embassy in Kyiv, who testified for seven hours yesterday behind closed doors. Holmes was an eye-witness to the efforts of Trump, his lawyer Rudy Giuiliani, and Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, to pressure the new Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky into announcing an investigation into Burisma, the company on whose board Hunter Biden sat. Holmes’s opening statement was explosive. It was not only first hand, but also it tied Trump directly into the efforts, and it made very clear that the administration was demanding the announcement of an investigation before it would release the money Congress had appropriated for Ukraine’s fight against Russian incursions. Holmes also said that he had reported what he had heard to John Eisenberg, Legal Advisor to the National Security Council, the same man to whom Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman had reported the July 25 call, and, once again, Eisenberg had done nothing. (Eisenberg is refusing to honor a subpoena to testify.)

Then, CNN dropped the story that at last year’s White House Hanukkah party Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman met privately with Trump and Giuiliani. After the meeting, Parnas told two people that the president had given him a secret mission to pressure the Ukraine government to investigate Joe and Hunter Biden. The Wall Street Journal reports that in February, Parnas and Fruman met with the Ukraine President at the time, Petro Poroshenko, and his Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko, offering to invite Poroshenko to a White House State dinner if he publicly announced an investigation. As I wrote here two days ago, this would have boosted both Poroshenko’s and Trump’s reelection campaigns. In March, Lutsenko smeared U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch to an American reporter and Sean Hannity ran with the story on his show, but the scheme fell apart when voters elected Zelensky instead of reelecting the corrupt oligarch Poroshenko. Then they had to scramble to come up with a new plan, and the whole ham fisted Ukraine scandal took off.

The Ukraine scandal is fleshing out, and it is truly astonishing that there is not more evidence that can be read in Trump’s favor. This increasingly just looks like a shakedown that weakened national security to help Trump rig the 2020 election. Meanwhile, in northern Syria, where Turkish and Russian troops moved in when we moved out, the Russians boasted yesterday that they have now occupied a former U.S. air base.

Trump spent several hours today at Walter Reed hospital. The visit was unexpected and unannounced, but the White House said he had decided to have portions of his annual physical done three months early.


Samantha Michaels
Samantha Michaels
Mother Jones

Here’s Samantha Michaels @ Mother Jones:


Attorney General Bill Barr Is Getting Roasted for His Outrageous Speech Blasting Progressives

As the impeachment hearings continued, Attorney General Bill Barr on Friday trash-talked Democrats for attempting to “drown the executive branch with oversight demands,” saying they were working for political gain without thinking of the consequences.

“In waging a scorched-earth, no-holds-barred war against this administration, it is the left that is engaged in shredding norms and undermining the rule of law,” Barr told a room of attorneys at the annual gathering of the Federalist Society, a conservative legal group that has been influential in determining President Donald Trump’s nominees for federal judges.

The remarks about Democrats ignoring the rule of law were especially ironic because they came a mere hours after Roger Stone, one of Trump’s previous advisers, was convicted on all counts for lying to Congress during its probe into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. The attorney general’s speech also came on the second day of presidential impeachment hearings examining allegations that Trump attempted to interfere in the 2020 elections by asking Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

Barr criticized Democrats for launching a “holy war” and using “any means necessary to gain momentary advantage,” while he said conservatives “tend to have more scruple over their political tactics and rarely feel that the ends justify the means.” 

. . . .

Barr reportedly received a standing ovation, but outside the halls of the Federalist Society, his remarks sparked outrage and intensified calls from the left to impeach not only the president, but the attorney general himself. Others were quick to roast Barr for his statements. “Bill Barr is the type of bare knuckles lawyer the Church would have hired thirty years ago to cover up sex abuse cases,” Richard Painter, a former White House ethics counsel, tweeted.

. . . .

“Yesterday AG Barr addressed a radical political group and gave one of the most vicious partisan screeds ever uttered by a US cabinet officer,” Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) tweeted Saturday morning. “Barr says trump should have king-like powers. Barr is a liar and a fanatic and should be impeached and stripped of his law licenses.”

. . . .


Read Samantha’s complete article which includes the full the two of a number of tweets at the link.

Amy Russo
Amy Russo

And here’s Amy Russo @ HuffPost:


Hours after a new witness testified in the House’s latest impeachment hearing on Friday, Attorney General William Barr railed against Democrats for declaring a “war of resistance against this administration.”

In a speech before the conservative Federalist Society, Barr rebuked lawmakers for probing President Donald Trump’s potential power abuses, suggesting their efforts are illegitimate.

“The sheer volume of what we see today ― the pursuit of scores of parallel investigations through an avalanche of subpoenas ― is plainly designed to incapacitate the executive branch, and indeed is touted as such,” Barr said. “The costs of this constant harassment are real.”

Barr’s portrayal of oversight as harassment echoes Trump’s repeated claims that he is the victim of a partisan “witch hunt” rather than the subject of a justified inquiry into his dealings with Ukraine, which remain at the heart of Democratic-led impeachment proceedings.

“The fact of the matter is that, in waging a scorched earth, no-holds-barred war of resistance against this administration, it is the left that is engaged in the systematic shredding of norms and undermining the rule of law,” Barr added. “This highlights a basic disadvantage that conservatives have had in contesting the political issues of the day.”


Max Boot
Max Boot
Washington Post

Here’s Max Boot in the WashPost:


President Trump is convinced he has the “absolute right” to do anything from asking other countries to investigate his political opponents to pardoning himself. But he couldn’t possibly tell you why — aside from his innate conviction that “when you’re a star, they let you do it” — you can get away with anything. Enter Attorney General William P. Barr to put a pseudo-intellectual gloss on Trump’s authoritarian instincts. In a Friday night speech to the Federalist Society, Barr gave a chilling defense of virtually unlimited executive authority.

Barr’s wrongheaded assumption was that “over the past several decades, we have seen steady encroachment on presidential authority by the other branches of government.” His view faithfully reflects the conservative consensus of the 1970s when he was a CIA analyst and a law student. Few serious analysts share that view today at a time when the president claims the authority to kill suspected terrorists anywhere in the world without any judicial oversight. In fact, conservatives decried President Barack Obama’s tendency to rule by fiat — for example, in protecting “dreamers” from deportation or reaching a nuclear agreement with Iran that wasn’t submitted for Senate ratification.

Trump has now taken rule-by-executive-order to the next level by declaring a “state of emergency” to spend money on his border wall that Congress refused to appropriate. Trump has also misused his authority in myriad other ways, including obstructing justice (as outlined in a special counsel report that Barr deliberately mischaracterized) and soliciting a bribe from Ukraine to release congressionally appropriated military aid.

Yet, to hear Barr tell it, Trump is somehow denied power by the nefarious “Resistance.” Barr decried Trump critics who do not view “themselves as the ‘loyal opposition,’” but rather “see themselves as engaged in a war to cripple, by any means necessary, a duly elected government.”

Earth to Barr: Trump does not treat his critics as “the loyal opposition.” He calls them “human scum,” “traitors” and “the enemy of the people,” using the language of dictators. And it is Trump and his toadies — not his opponents — who are “willing to use any means necessary to gain momentary advantage.”

Barr went on to blame the “Resistance” for Trump’s failure to get more nominees confirmed. The real problem is Trump’s incompetence and his preference for “acting” appointees to dodge the constitutional requirement to seek the Senate’s “advice and consent.” (Trump has not nominated anyone for nearly 20 percent of the top federal jobs.) If Barr wants to find a real abuse of the confirmation process, he should talk to Merrick Garland.

As devoid of self-awareness as his master, Barr whines about “the pursuit of scores of parallel ‘investigations’ through an avalanche of subpoenas.” He conveniently forgets that Republicans tried to impeach President Bill Clinton for lying about sex and spent years probing the Benghazi, Libya, attack in a failed attempt to blame Hillary Clinton. Trump is stonewalling congressional subpoenas at an unprecedented rate, forcing Congress to seek judicial assistance to enforce legitimate requests for documents and witnesses. But Barr denies that the courts have any right to “resolve … disputes” between the executive and legislative branches — effectively allowing the president to act like a king.

The attorney general went on to rail against judicial review of administration actions such as “the travel ban.” This was ultimately upheld by the Supreme Court after the administration rewrote the initial versions, which constituted clear discrimination on religious grounds. Yet Barr is still aggrieved that the courts dared “to inquire into the subjective motivation behind governmental action” — i.e., to look at Trump’s own words about banning Muslims rather than accept the administration’s disingenuous explanations.

Barr blamed the courts and the president’s critics for the fact that so many administration actions have been challenged in court. The truth is Trump has nobody but himself to blame. Many of the lawsuits accuse the administration of violating the Administrative Procedure Act, which the executive branch can comply with simply by showing that its actions are not “arbitrary and capricious.” This is an incredibly low standard, which is why the normal “win rate” for the government in such cases is about 70 percent. According to the Institute for Policy Integrity at the New York University School of Law, the Trump administration’s win rate is less than 7 percent.

Trump likes to blame such setbacks on “Obama judges,” but many of the judges ruling against him are Republican appointees. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., for example, wrote the 5-to-4 decision in June in which the Supreme Court blocked Trump’s attempt to include a citizenship question on the 2020 Census.

“In this partisan age,” Barr sanctimoniously concluded, “we should take special care not to allow the passions of the moment to cause us to permanently disfigure the genius of our Constitutional structure.” He is right, but not in the way he intended. The real threat to “our Constitutional structure” emanates not from administration critics who struggle to uphold the rule of law but from a lawless president who is aided and abetted in his reckless actions by unscrupulous and unprincipled partisans — including the attorney general of the United States.


Mary Papenfuss
Mary Papenfuss

Finally, let’s hear from Mary Papenfuss, also at HuffPost:


Attorney General William Barr’s latest extreme defense of Donald Trump has triggered a wave of calls for his impeachment — and disbarment.

Richard Painter, the former chief White House ethics attorney in the George W. Bush administration, tweeted that Barr’s remarks Friday before the conservative Federalist Society were “another lunatic authoritarian speech” amid an impeachment investigation into the president. He claimed that Barr — a member of the conservative Catholic society Opus Dei — is “the type of bare knuckles lawyer the Church would have hired thirty years ago to cover up sex abuse cases.”

. . . .


Read the rest of Mary’s article at the link.


Somewhat “below the radar screen:” Barr’s repetition of Session’s blatantly unethical performance by acting as a “quasi-judicial decision maker” in Immigration Court cases where he clearly has both an actual and apparent bias in favor of a party, the DHS, and against another party, the individual migrant, particularly any asylum seeker. 

Obviously, viewed through Barr’s perverted historical lens, we’ve made some seriously wrong moves.  According to Barr’s interpretation, we should have allied ourselves with Hitler during World War II. Now, there’s a guy who understood the concept of the “Unitary Executive.” And, he sure knew how to deal with opposing legislators, “the resistance,” and others who were “enemies of the state” or of “inferior stock.” Why on earth would we have aligned ourselves with, and helped rebuild, the noxious parliamentary democracies of the West?

One of our allies, Stalin, did actually demonstrate the wonderful power of the “Unitary Executive” — talk about a guy who WAS the State and annihilated all opposition, real and imagined! He certainly would have known what to do with subversives who preached “impeachment” under the Constitution!

But, concededly, Stalin’s godless communism doesn’t fit in well with Barr’s Catholic Christian theocracy (minus, of course, the social justice teachings of Christ and the Catholic Church). Hitler’s pure Aryian Christian superiority was a much better fit with Barr’s historical outlook.

Of course, according to the Barr view, the seminal figure in Republicanism, Abe Lincoln, erred by not aligning himself with Jeff Davis and the Confederacy. Davis certainly knew how to operate without much legislative accountability. And the founders of the Confederacy also possessed Barr’s superior understanding of the relationship between the State and the Divine: “establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity — invoking the favor and guidance of Almighty God.” 

Sure, easy to believe that God was always a big fan of enslavement, rape, brutality, white privilege, and theft of services from enslaved African Americans, who also happened to be believers in God. Fits right in with Barr’s dehumanization of Hispanic workers, trashing of LGBTQ Americans, denial of rights to asylum seekers, threats to political opponents, and war on Hispanic Americans who have the audacity of wanting to vote and live peacefully in their communities without being terrorized by DHS enforcement.

George Washington, who wrongly refused to install himself as either King or “President for Life” was, according to Barr’s historical perspective, a dangerous wimp who diminished the potential powers of the “Unitary Executive.”

Undoubtedly, our Founders had their flaws. After all, the Constitution not only enshrined the dehumanization of African Americans, who had actually made the success and prosperity of the American Republic possible, but also excluded the majority of inhabitants from political participation. 

But, unlike Barr and his fellow “originalists,” our Founders were largely persons of vision and good will who had enough self awareness and humility to see a better and more dynamic future. They would certainly be shocked and dismayed to find out that rather than viewing our Constitution rationally, as a blueprint to be built upon for a better, more inclusive, more tolerant future, two plus centuries later, individuals like Barr holding supposedly responsible positions under our Republic, would be mindlessly and immorally urging us never to escape the limitations and mistakes of our distant past.

Disturbingly unqualified as he is to serve as our Attorney General, Barr does illustrate the moral and legal bankruptcy of the “fake doctrine” of “originalism.” It’s actually an intellectually indefensible excuse for an empowered, largely White, predominantly male, minority to exclude the majority of America’s inhabitants and their hopes and dreams from full participation in our democracy. It’s as ugly and dishonest as Barr’s own tenure as Attorney General.



ATTENTION NEW DUE PROCESS ARMY: A Call To Action By Professor Lindsay Muir Harris: “Speak out, ask questions, and take action. We cannot continue to sign off on these practices because they fundamentally undermine the human rights of asylum seekers, and, in turn, our own humanity.”

Professor Lindsay Muir Harris
Professor Lindsay Muir Harris


Friday, November 15, 2019

Guest Post: Lindsay M. Harris, Silence is Not an Option: We Cannot Sign On to New Asylum Policies

By Immigration Prof