“FLOATERS” IN THE RIO GRANDE: How Is This An Appropriate Response Of World’s Most Prosperous Country To Individuals Seeking Protection Under Our Laws Or, At Worst, A Better Life?

“Floaters — How The World’s Richest Country Responds To Asylum Seekers”
EDS NOTE: GRAPHIC CONTENT – The bodies of Salvadoran migrant Oscar Alberto Mart??nez Ram??rez and his nearly 2-year-old daughter Valeria lie on the bank of the Rio Grande in Matamoros, Mexico, Monday, June 24, 2019, after they drowned trying to cross the river to Brownsville, Texas. Martinez’ wife, Tania told Mexican authorities she watched her husband and child disappear in the strong current. (AP Photo/Julia Le Duc)
Abigail Hauslohner
Abigail Hauslohner
National Immigration Reporter, Washington Post


Abigail Hauslohner reports for WashPost:

ABRAM, Tex. — The dead man was face down near the riverbank, visible mostly because of the slivers of red on the soles of his sneakers.

“We’ve got a floater,” U.S. Border Patrol agent Deborah Villarreal called out to the rest of her unit. She swung the patrol boat around to get a closer look.

It was predawn, early in Villarreal’s shift, and the purplish-pink sky reflected in the placid waters of the Rio Grande. She furrowed her brow at the grim start to her day, and she thought about the family out there somewhere, missing this man, wondering where he was, not knowing he was dead.

“I hate to see that,” she said.

Villarreal sees dead bodies regularly, floating in this river that separates Mexico from the United States. This was the second her unit had spotted along this particular stretch in about a week.

By the end of her day, she would have steered the boat up and down the river a couple dozen more times, passing the body again and again before Mexican authorities arrived to take it away. She would pass the same series of concrete sheds — holes drilled into the sides so the drug cartels can use them as lookout points — and the same run-down riverfront cafe, where a black car loitered, and a man watched the boat pass. She would wave to the Mexican national guardsmen at their sleepy encampment, push through a cloud of skunk odor — it was their mating season — scour the river reeds for signs of footsteps into the United States, and send her agents up the bank and into the brush after a pair of Mexican migrants, ultimately catching up to them on the edge of a cane field.

This, relative to recent months, was a slow day in the Rio Grande Valley.

The winding body of the river here in South Texas — with its submerged remnants of rafts, its banks trampled by migrant families and cartel workers, and now, by Mexican forces — is a microcosm of all the ebbs and flows of the nation’s approach to immigration. This sliver of the 1,954-mile border with Mexico is primed to deliver a verdict on the effectiveness of the Trump administration’s border policies.

It is here that the spring influx of migrant families and children reached its peak, inundating U.S. Border Patrol stations with too many detainees. But apprehensions in the Rio Grande Valley have dropped 55 percent since May, down from nearly 50,000 to just more than 22,000 in August. Though this area still sees more migrant crossings than any other sector of the border, border agents here have witnessed how Washington policies aimed at decreasing the flow have played out in real time.

To them, it is President Trump’s deal with Mexico to intercept migrants before they cross into the United States that has seemed to have the most impact. They do not know the details of the accord or how long it will last, but they can see the Mexican forces on the other side of the Rio Grande.

“You see a difference,” said Ryan Ansbro, a Border Patrol agent who works alongside Villarreal.

Villarreal and her team, who patrol the river by boat, rush to intercept migrants and smugglers before they cross, and they pluck people from the water when they wind up in it. The precipitous summer decline in migrant crossings has meant quieter shifts on a river that is suddenly more manageable, less frantic.

But the constants remain: the desperation that cannot be deterred by danger; the drug cartels that devise new methods as fast as authorities try to thwart them; the everyday logistical challenges facing the Border Patrol, even as Trump focuses money and rhetorical energy on a border wall.

Though lower than earlier in the year, last month still saw more crossings than any other August in a decade. Will large groups of families and children — sometimes as many as 300 people at once — again pull agents away from their patrol duties, forcing them to become processors and jail guards? Will Mexican troops be able to sustain their effort?

“We’re all in limbo,” Villarreal said. “We don’t know if it’s going to skyrocket again or if this is going to be what helps us. It’s just an unknown.”

The chase is always on

On the river, the chase is always on. Cartel scouts along the Mexican side keep watch for the Border Patrol, launching rafts to the United States full of migrants or drugs whenever they find a gap.

The agents, in turn, speed back and forth, hoping to keep up. They rely heavily on eyes in the sky: helicopters, blimps with cameras, and stationary surveillance technology mounted on the edges of walls and fields to warn them of a raft hitting the water. If they get to the launch point quickly enough, the rafts often double back — sometimes tossing migrants into the water as they do.

“Our job is more of a deterrence unit,” Villarreal said. “And we are involved in a lot of rescues.”

The pale-green water in this region is flat and still, its current barely discernible from the boat deck, as it winds snakelike through the thick scrubland, with curves and switchbacks. Some of the narrowest areas and favored crossing points are less than a football field wide. But the water can be deceiving.

“You look at it right now, and you think there’s no current,” Ansbro said. “But you get in, and you find out there is a current. And a lot of them can’t swim,” he said of the migrants. Others get disoriented in the thick brush on the U.S. side, and in their exhaustion, they try to swim back.

Thick tangles of reeds, known locally as carrizo cane, create dense jungles that stretch from the riverbanks inland, thwarting the movements of migrants and the Border Patrol agents seeking to apprehend them.

The Border Patrol agents tell stories of the people they have found: the 18-year-old who medic Salvador Pastran discovered face up and arms spread in the middle of a dirt road a few years ago, the body reminding him of a snow angel; the young woman and three babies that agent Sheymarie Rosa and colleagues spotted recently, so close to a road, but all dead; or the group of 20 children and adults who Villarreal and her team rescued from the reeds at the water’s edge earlier in the summer.

In three days on the river this month, agents from the McAllen Border Patrol station, including Villarreal’s unit, encountered migrants during every shift who were suffering from heat exhaustion in the cane fields and citrus orchards between the river and the roads, even though the weather was cooler — in the 80s — than it had been in weeks.

‘This is the new Ellis Island, and we are turning people away’: A lawyer struggles to help migrants

(Zoeann Murphy/The Washington Post)

There was a Nicaraguan man who told agents he had lost consciousness in the brush after being deposited there by smugglers early in the morning. Hours later, he came to and crawled out onto a levee, where he was able to seek help from two U.S. National Guardsmen who have been deployed to the border in recent months to assist the Border Patrol.

There was another migrant, who agents believed to be a Chinese national, who began vomiting incessantly — a common symptom of heat exhaustion, Pastran said — shortly after they gave him water to drink.

Many of the migrants are leaving behind abject poverty, gangs, violence — and the dangers of a northbound trek and a hazardous crossing do not dilute the potential promise of life in the United States.

“The conditions here are still better,” Ansbro said.

Echoing the broad contours of arguments the Trump administration has made about why it is necessary to more aggressively deport those who are in the country illegally, Villarreal, Ansbro and other agents said they believe little can be done to stop the flow of migrants without tightening the laws to make it more difficult for asylum seekers and illegal entrants to remain in the United States.

“If they think they can come and stay, they’re going to do it,” Villarreal said.

Policies such as the administration’s Migrant Protection Protocols, which pushes asylum seekers back into Mexico to await U.S. court hearings, and other restrictions such as requiring migrants to first seek asylum in countries they transit on their way to the United States, are aimed at preventing people from even attempting a crossing.

But the Mexican forces are the only policy that the agents on the river can see for themselves.

Change on the Rio Grande

The change came earlier this summer.

Early one morning, Villarreal and her unit caught a glimpse of something unusual in the dark. There, on the Mexican side of the river, was a collection of colorful tent canvases, like a family campsite at a national park. But this was the bank of the Rio Grande, just north of the Mexican city of Reynosa, where the government had notoriously little authority in the face of cartel control. It was only after the tents’ occupants came to life under the beams of the Border Patrol’s flashlights that Villarreal and her agents realized what they were seeing.

“Oh, it’s the Mexican military,” she said, recalling her surprise, referring to the Mexican national guard forces. “We woke those poor guys up.”

There is little direct communication between the agents and the Mexican authorities. An international liaison handles that.

But on this day, Villarreal waved to the men in fatigues as her boat passed. We haven’t seen much today, she calls out to them in Spanish through the boat’s loudspeaker, “but we’ll let you know if we do.”

Two of the men responded with a thumbs-up.

When a late morning call came in over the radio about a group crossing downriver, the intelligence was coming from an agent watching an aerial camera, and Villarreal’s boat unit took off at 47 mph, past the inlet where agents have seen alligators, and past the remnants of a dozen green plastic rafts snagged on tree branches in the shallows.

“Mira,” Rosa told Villarreal in Spanish. “Look.”

The boat slowed next to a forested bank across from an empty Mexican cafe.

“There’s a guy right there.” Across the river, a man was watching them.

They moved up and down along the river bank, searching for signs of trampled reeds. The raft had already crossed. Finding fresh footprints in the mud, Ansbro and Rosa set off in pursuit through the brush, where their uniforms snagged on blades of cane and the air felt heavy and suffocating.

They followed the tracks out to a dirt road along another dense field of cane, and up the road, a snake slipping over the sandy berm to get out of their way. A helicopter moved in overhead.

“Fifty yards ahead of you, there’s going to be two of them,” came a voice from the helicopter over the radio after several minutes. “Right shoulder. Go into the field right there.” And the agents plunged into the cane, emerging seconds later with two muddied men handcuffed together.

They sat them down on the road to collect their belongings and to begin the typical questioning. One was a 44-year-old fisherman from the southern Mexican state of Veracruz. The other was a 32-year-old from Guerrero. Both were fathers of three. Both were exhausted.

They had not eaten in two or three days, the fisherman said. They had come to the United States to look for work.

The agents led them back to the boat, took them upriver, and handed them off to another agent with a truck. They would likely face swift deportation.

In the afternoon, the tiny boat Villarreal had been waiting for since dawn appeared around a river bend. Two bomberos — Mexican firefighters in red vests — stood side-by-side as they steered upriver. Villarreal’s team guided them to the body they had reported that morning.

The man, whose name they would likely never know, was just as they had left him, the red of his sneakers still peeking above the murky green in the shadow of the reeds. They guessed he had been dead for days, and Villarreal furrowed her brow again, this time in pity for what the firefighters would have to do.

“I feel bad for the bomberos. They pay them nothing,” she said as she watched them delicately tie the body to a rope attached to their boat.

When bodies end up on the U.S. side of the border, agents call the local sheriff’s office or justice of the peace to handle the remains and seek identification. When they are on the Mexican side, it is up to the bomberos.

Ansbro and Rosa asked what would become of him. Villarreal shrugged. If he has no identification, she said, he rwill probably be placed in a grave of unknowns.

The bomberos motored away, dragging the man in the boat’s wake.

Villarreal picked up the radio.

“The body has been recovered.”


“Floaters” were actually once live human beings, like you and me.

Dehumanization of migrants and forcing them into life-threatening situations is a morally and legally unacceptable means of “deterrence.” To what depths will we sink under Trump?



COURTS OF INJUSTICE: How Systemic Bias, Bad Precedents, Gross Mismanagement, & Poor Decision-Making Threaten Lives In Immigration Court — What Should Be “Slam Dunk” Grants Of Protection Are Literally “Litigated To Death” Adding To Backlogs While Mocking Justice! — Featuring Quotes From “Roundtable” Leader Hon. Jeffrey Chase!

Beth Fertig
Beth Fertig
Senior Reporter
Immigration, Courts, Legal
WNYC & The Gothamist
Jeffrey S. Chase
Hon. Jeffrey S. Chase
Jeffrey S. Chase Blog


Beth Fertig reports for WNYC:

They Fled Gang Violence And Domestic Abuse. An NYC Immigration Judge Denied Them Asylum


SEPT. 26, 2019 5:00 A.M.

Seventeen year-old Josue and his mom, Esperanza, were visibly drained. They had just spent more than four hours at their asylum trial inside an immigration court at 26 Federal Plaza in Lower Manhattan, answering questions from their attorney and a government lawyer. We are withholding their full names to protect their identities because they’re afraid.

“It was exhausting,” said Josue, whose angular haircut was neatly combed for the occasion. In Spanish, he told us the judge seemed nice but, “you feel bad if you don’t know if you are going to be allowed to stay or if you have to go.”

The teen and his mother crossed the U.S. border in California in the summer of 2018. At the time, a rising number of families were entering the country, and the Trump administration wanted to send a message to them by swiftly deporting those who don’t qualify for asylum. But immigration judges are so busy, they can take up to four years to rule on a case. In November, judges in New York and nine other cities were ordered to fast track family cases and complete them within a year.

This is how Esperanza and Josue wound up going to trial just 10 months after they arrived in the U.S. and moved to Brooklyn. They were lucky to find attorneys with Central American Legal Assistance, a nonprofit in Williamsburg that’s been representing people fleeing the troubled region since 1985.

Listen to reporter Beth Fertig’s WNYC story on Josue and Esperanza’s cases.




Winning asylum was never easy. But in 2018, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions made it tougher for people like Josue and Esperanza when he issued his own ruling on an immigration case involving a woman from El Salvador who was a victim of domestic violence. He wrote: “The mere fact that a country may have problems effectively policing certain crimes—such as domestic violence or gang violence—or that certain populations are more likely to be victims of crime, cannot itself establish an asylum claim.”

Immigration judges were bound to give heavy weight to that ruling. Their courts are run by the Department of Justice, whose boss is the Attorney General. And the AG’s boss, President Trump, frequently asserts that too many migrants lie about being threatened by gangs when they’re just coming for jobs. “It’s a big fat con job, folks,” he said at a Michigan rally this year.

Esperanza and Josue went to court soon after Sessions’ decision. She was fighting for asylum as a victim of domestic abuse; Josue claimed a gang threatened his life. Both would eventually lose their cases.

Josue’s case

Esperanza and Josue are typical of the Central American families seeking asylum these days, who say they’re escaping vicious drug gangs, violence and grinding poverty. The two of them came from a town outside San Pedro Sula, one of the most dangerous cities in the world.

During their trial, Josue testified under oath about how gang members repeatedly approached him outside his high school, asking him to sell drugs to the other students. He tried to ignore them, and gave different excuses for resisting, until one day when they spotted him playing soccer and became more aggressive. That’s when he said the gang leader put a gun in his face.

“He told me that if I didn’t accept what he wanted he was going to kill my whole family, my mother and sister,” he said, through a Spanish interpreter.

“I was in shock,” he said. “I had no other choice to accept and said yes.”

He told his mother and they left Honduras the next day. When Josue’s lawyer, Katherine Madison, asked if he ever reported the threat to the police he said no. “That was practically a suicide,” he said, explaining that the police are tied to the gang, because it has so much power.

Josue said his older sister later moved to Mexico because she was so afraid of the gang.

Winning asylum is a two-step process. You have to prove that you were persecuted, and that this persecution was on account of your race, religion, nationality, social group or political opinion. Madison, Josue’s attorney, argued that in Honduras, defying gangs is a risky political statement.

“They function in many ways as the de facto government of the areas where people like Josue lived,” she told WNYC/Gothamist, summing up the arguments she submitted to the judge. “They make rules. They charge basically taxes, they say who can live there and who can’t.”

And they’re known to kill people who don’t obey.

In her ruling, issued in August, Immigration Judge Oshea Spencer found Josue did experience persecution. But she denied his application for asylum. She said much of what he described “were threats and harm that exist as part of the larger criminal enterprise of the gangs in Honduras and not on the basis of any actual or perceived opposition to the gangs.”

Esperanza’s case

Esperanza’s attorney argued that her life was at risk because the gang member threatened Josue’s family. But Spencer didn’t find that specific enough. She wrote that the gang members “were motivated by their efforts to expand their drug trade, not the family relationship.” Among other cases, she referred to a recent decision by the current Attorney General, William Barr, that makes it harder for the relatives of someone who’s been threatened to win asylum.

Esperanza also lost on a separate claim that she deserved asylum because she was repeatedly beaten by Josue’s father. In court, she testified about years of abuse culminating in an incident in which he chased her with a machete. She said she couldn’t get the police to issue a restraining order, and said he kept threatening her after she moved to another town to stay with relatives.

Madison argued that women like Esperanza belong to a persecuted social group: they can’t get help from the authorities in Honduras because they’re viewed as a man’s property. The country is one of the deadliest places to be a woman; police are known to ignore complaints; and it’s extremely hard for women to get justice.

But Spencer ruled that there is no persecuted social group made up of “Honduran women who are viewed as property” for being in a domestic relationship.

Echoing the Sessions’ ruling, the judge said these categories “all lack sufficient particularity,” and called them “amorphous” because they could be made up of a “potentially large and diffuse segment of society.”

She also cited evidence submitted by the government that showed conditions in Honduras are improving for women. This evidence came from a 2018 State Department report on human rights in Honduras. Immigration advocates claim it’s been watered down from the much harsher conditions described in the last report from 2016. It’s also much shorter in length.

Jeffrey Chase, an immigration lawyer and former New York immigration judge, said it’s not surprising that Esperanza and Josue would each lose asylum. Judge Spencer only started last fall and is on probation for her first two years in the job.

“This was decided by a brand new judge who didn’t have any immigration experience prior to becoming an immigration judge,” he said, referring to the fact that Spencer was previously an attorney with the Public Utility Commission of Texas. He said she went through training which, “These days, includes being told that we don’t consider these to be really good cases.”

Sitting judges don’t talk to the media but Chase noted that they must consider the facts of each individual case, meaning the former Attorney General’s ruling doesn’t apply to all cases. He noted that some women who were victims of abuse are still winning asylum. He pointed to a case involving a Guatemalan woman who was raped by her boss. A Texas immigration judge found she did fit into a particular social group as a woman who defied gender norms, by taking a job normally held by a man.

During Josue and Esperanza’s trial, there was a lot of back and forth over their individual claims. A trial attorney from Immigration and Customs Enforcement questioned why Esperanza didn’t contact the police again after moving to another town, where she said her former partner continued to threaten her. Esperanza said it was because her brother chased him away and the police “don’t pay attention to you.”

The ICE attorney also asked Josue if his father was physically violent with anyone besides Esperanza. Josue said he did fight with other men. San Diego immigration lawyer Anna Hysell, who was previously an ICE trial attorney, said that could have hurt Esperanza’s case.

“The government was able to make the arguments that he didn’t target her because of being a woman that was in his relationship,” she explained. “He just was probably a terrible person and targeted many people.”

Hysell added that this was just her analysis and she wasn’t agreeing with the decision.

Attorney Anne Pilsbury said she believes Esperanza would have won her case, prior to the asylum ruling by Sessions, because she suffered years of abuse. But she said Josue would have had a more difficult time because gang cases were always tough. And like a lot of migrants, Josue had no evidence — he was too afraid to go to the cops. Pilsbury said immigration judges are even more skeptical now of gang cases.

“They’re getting so that they won’t even think about them,” she said. “They aren’t wrestling with the facts. They’re hearing gang violence and that’s it.”

She said Judge Spencer does sometimes grant asylum, and isn’t as harsh as other new judges. New York City’s immigration court used to be one of the most favorable places for asylum seekers. In 2016, 84 percent of asylum cases were granted. Today, that figure has fallen to 57 percent, according to TRAC at Syracuse University. Meanwhile, the government is forcing migrants to wait in Mexico for their immigration court cases or seek asylum in other countries before applying in the U.S., as the national backlog of cases exceeds one million.

Pilsbury, who founded Central American Legal Assistance in 1985, said immigration courts are now dealing with the result of a regional crisis south of the border that’s never been properly addressed since the wars of the 1980s.

“The anti-immigrant people feel it’s broken because people get to come here and ask for asylum and we feel it’s broken because people’s asylum applications aren’t seriously considered,” she explained. “We should be doing more to understand what’s going on in those countries and what we can do to help them address the chronic problems.”

Esperanza and Josue’s cases will now be appealed. Madison said she believes the judge ignored some of her evidence about gangs. She’s now turning to the Board of Immigration Appeals. However, it’s also controlled by the Justice Department — meaning the odds of getting a reversal are slim. If they lose again, the family can go to a federal circuit court which may have a broader definition of who’s eligible for asylum.

But Esperanza and Josue won’t be deported as long as their case is being appealed. On a late summer day, they seemed relaxed while sitting in a Brooklyn park. Esperanza talked about how happy she is that Josue is safe at his public high school, and can even ride a bike at night with his friends.

“He goes out and I’m always trusting the Father that just as he goes out, he comes back,” she said.

Even if they knew they would lose their asylum case, both said they still would have come to the U.S. because the risk of staying in Honduras was too great. Josue said the gang would definitely find him if he ever returned because their networks are so deep throughout the country. He’s now taking the long view. He knows there will be a Presidential election next year.

“It’s like a game of chess,” Josue said. “Any mindset can change at any moment. Maybe Trump changes his mind or maybe not. But I would have always made the decision to come.”

With translation assistance from Alexandra Feldhausen, Lidia Hernández-Tapia and Andrés O’Hara.

Beth Fertig is a senior reporter covering immigration, courts and legal affairs at WNYC. You can follow her on Twitter at @bethfertig.


CORRECTION: An earlier version of this posting incorrectly identified Beth’s network affiliation. She reports for WNYC.

By clicking on the link at the top and going to Beth’s article on The Gothamist, you will be able to get a link to the original WNYC audio broadcast of this story.

It’s not “rocket science.” Better, fairer outcomes were available that would have fulfilled, rather than mocked, our obligation to provide Due Process and protection under our own laws and international treaties.

Here’s how:

  • Esperanza’s claim is a clear asylum grant for “Honduran women” which is both a “particular social group” (“PSG”) and a persecuted group in Honduras that the government is unwilling or unable to protect.
  • Although the last two Administrations have intentionally twisted the law against Central American asylum seekers, Josue has a clear case for asylum as somebody for whom opposition to gang violence was an “imputed political opinion” that was “at least one central reason” for the persecution. See, e.g, https://www.jeffreyschase.com/blog/2018/6/3/3rd-generation-gangs-and-political-opinion.
  • In any event, on this record, Josue clearly showed that he faced a probability of torture by gangs with the acquiescence of the Honduran government, and therefore should have been granted mandatory protection by the Immigration Judge under the Convention against Torture (“CAT”).
  • The Immigration Judge’s assertion that things are getting better for women in Honduras, one of the world’s most dangerous countries for women where femicide is rampant, not only badly misapplies the legal standard (“fundamentally changed conditions that would eliminate any well founded fear”) but is also totally disingenuous as a factual matter. See, e.g., https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/04/05/opinion/honduras-women-murders.html.
  • Additionally, Honduras remains in a state of armed conflict. See, e.g., https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/23740973.2019.1603972?needAccess=true. Under an honest Government, granting TPS to Hondurans (as well as Salvadorans and Guatemalans affected by environmental disasters heightened by climate change) would be more than justified.
  • Under honest Government following the rule of law, well-documented cases like this one could be quickly granted by the USCIS Asylum Officer or granted on stipulation in short hearings in Immigration Court. Many more Central Americans could be granted CAT relief, TPS, or screened and approved for asylum abroad. They could thereby be kept off of Immigraton Court dockets altogether or dealt with promptly on “short dockets” without compromising anybody’s statutory or constitutional rights (compromising individual rights is a “specialty” of all the mostly ineffective “enforcement gimmicks” advanced by the Trump Administration).
  • Over time, the overwhelming self-inflicted Immigration Court backlogs caused by the Trump Administration’s “maliciously incompetent” administration of immigration laws (e.g., “Aimless Docket Reshuffling”) would be greatly reduced.
    • That, in turn, would allow the Immigration Courts to deal with cases on a more realistic timeline that would both aid rational, non-White-Nationalist immigration enforcement and provide real justice for those seeking protection under our legal system.
  • As I’ve said before, it’s not “rocket science.” All it would take is more honest and enlightened Government committed to Due Process, good court management, and an appropriate legal application of laws relating to refugees and other forms of protection. I doubt that it would cost as much as all of the bogus “enforcement only gimmicks” now being pursued by Trump as part of his racist, anti-migrant, anti-Hispanic agenda.
  • Poor judicial decision making, as well illustrated by this unfortunate wrongly decided case, not only threatens the lives of deserving applicants for our protection, but also bogs down an already grossly overloaded system with unnecessarily protracted litigation and appeals of cases  that should be “clear grants.”
  • Contrary to the intentionally false “party line” spread by “Big Mac With Lies” and other corrupt Trump sycophants at the DHS and the DOJ, a much, much higher percentage, probably a majority, of asylum applicants from the Northern Triangle who apply at our Southern Border should properly be granted some type of legal protection under our laws if the system operated in the fair and impartial manner that is Constitutionally required. The Trump Administration aided by their sycophants and enablers, all the way up to the feckless Supremes, are literally “getting away with murder” in far, far too many instances. 
  • Consequently, quickly identifying and granting relief to the many deserving applicants would be a more efficient, humane, and lawful alternative to the “Kill ‘Em Before They Get Here” deterrence  programs being pursued by Trump, with the complicity of the Supremes, the Ninth Circuit, and some of the other Federal Circuit Courts who have been afraid to put a stop to the extralegal nonsense going on in our Immigraton Courts, detention centers (the “New American Gulag”), our Southern Border, and countries like Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, and El Salvador where we are basically encouraging extralegal abuses and gross human right violations against migrants. It will eventually come back to haunt our nation, or whatever is left of our nation after Trump and his gang of White Nationalist thugs, supporters, appeasers, apologists, and enablers, are done looting and destroying it.



BIG DAY FOR NDPA: “Trip Wins” In USDC On Friday Over Trump Administration’s Unlawful Immigration Programs Shows Both The Promise & The Problems Of Relying On Federal Courts To Stand Up To Trump’s Abuses — Supremes & Courts Of Appeals Haven’t Consistently Defended Constitution & Rule Of Law Against Trump’s Illegal Actions!

Brittany Mejia
Brittany Mejia
Metro Reporter
LA Times
Joel Rubin
Joel Rubin
Federal Reporter
LA Times


Brittany Mejia and Joel Rubin report for the LA Times:

Trump dealt 3 legal defeats on immigration

White House assails ‘misguided’ court rulings it says hinder law enforcement.

By Brittny Mejia and Joel Rubin

In a third defeat in less than a day for the Trump administration, a federal judge blocked it from vastly extending the authority of immigration officers to deport people without first allowing them to appear before judges.

The decision late Friday came before the policy, which was announced in July, was even enforced. The move would have applied to anyone in the country less than two years.

The decision came just after a federal judge barred Immigration and Customs Enforcement from relying solely on flawed databases to target people for being in the country illegally.

Early Friday, the administration suffered what would be its first defeat on the immigrant front in less than 24 hours when a federal judge blocked its plan to dismantle protections for immigrant youths and indefinitely hold families with children in detention.

Those protections are granted under the so-called Flores agreement, which was the result of a landmark class-action court settlement in 1997 that said the government must generally release children as quickly as possible and cannot detain them longer than 20 days, whether they have traveled to the U.S. alone or with family members.

In a statement Saturday, the White House responded angrily to the decision to halt its plans for expedited removal of immigrants.

“Once again, a single district judge has suspended application of federal law nationwide — removing whole classes of illegal aliens from legal accountability,” the statement read in part. “For two and a half years, the Trump administration has been trying to restore enforcement of the immigration laws passed by Congress. And for two and a half years, misguided lower court decisions have been preventing those laws from ever being enforced — at immense cost to the whole country.”

The American Civil Liberties Union, which had sought the injunction, granted just before midnight, celebrated the result.

“The court rejected the Trump administration’s illegal attempt to remove hundreds of thousands of people from the U.S. without any legal recourse,” said ACLU attorney Anand Balakrishnan, who argued the case. “This ruling recognizes the irreparable harm of this policy.”

In the first setback Friday for the Trump administration, U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee said new rules it planned to impose violated the terms of the Flores settlement. Gee issued a strongly worded order shortly after, slamming the changes as “Kafkaesque” and protecting the original conditions of the agreement.

Gee wrote that the administration cannot ignore the terms of the settlement — which, she pointed out, is a final, binding judgment that was never appealed — just because leaders don’t “agree with its approach as a matter of policy.”

Barring a change in the law through congressional action, she said, “defendants cannot simply impose their will by promulgating regulations that abrogate the consent decree’s most basic tenets. That violates the rule of law. And that this court cannot permit.”

The new regulations would have eliminated minors’ entitlement to bond hearings and the requirement that facilities holding children be licensed by states.

They also would have removed legally binding language, changing the word “shall” to “may” throughout many of the core passages describing how the government would treat immigrant children.

The government is expected to appeal.

In the second decision Friday, U.S. District Judge Andre Birotte Jr. issued a permanent injunction barring ICE from relying solely on databases when issuing so-called detainers, which are requests made to police agencies to keep people who have been arrested in custody for up to two days beyond the time they would otherwise be held.

ICE is also blocked from issuing detainers to state and local law enforcement in states where there isn’t an explicit statute authorizing civil immigration arrests on detainers, according to the judge’s decision.

The decision affects any detainers issued by an ICE officer in the federal court system’s Central District of California.

That designation is significant because the Pacific Enforcement Response Center, a facility in Orange County, is an ICE hub from which agents send out detainer requests to authorities in 43 states, Guam and Washington, D.C. It is covered by the Central District.

“ICE is currently reviewing the ruling and considering our legal options,” Richard Rocha, an agency spokesman, said in a statement.

“Cooperation between ICE and local law enforcement agencies is critical to prevent criminal aliens from being released into our communities after being arrested for a crime.”

Tens of thousands of the requests are made each year to allow ICE agents additional time to take people suspected of being in the country illegally into federal custody for possible deportation. Approximately 70% of the arrests ICE makes happen after the agency is notified about someone being released from local jails or state prisons.

In fiscal year 2019, ICE has lodged more than 160,000 detainers with local law enforcement agencies, according to the agency.

Although police in California do not honor these ICE requests because of earlier court rulings that found them unconstitutional, agencies in other parts of the country continue to enforce them.

The civil case, which has wound its way through years of delays and legal wrangling, has broad implications for President Trump’s crackdown on illegal immigration as the ACLU and other groups sought to upend how immigration officers target people for being in the country illegally.

“I think the decision is a tremendous blow to ICE’s Secure Communities deportation program and to Trump’s effort to use police throughout the country to further his deportation programs,” said Jessica Bansal, senior staff attorney with the ACLU of Southern California.

The class-action lawsuit, which represents broad categories of people who have been or will be subjected to detainers, alleged the databases that agents consult are so badly flawed by incomplete and inaccurate information that ICE officers should not be allowed to rely on them as the sole basis for keeping someone in custody.

The judge agreed with that assessment, finding that the databases often contained “incomplete data, significant errors, or were not designed to provide information that would be used to determine a person’s removability.”

These errors, according to the decision, have led to arrests of U.S. citizens and lawfully present noncitizens. From May 2015 to February 2016, of the 12,797 detainers issued in that time frame, 771 were lifted, according to ICE data. Of those 771, 42 were lifted because the person was a U.S. citizen.

The detainer process begins when police arrest and fingerprint a person. The prints are sent electronically to the FBI and checked against the prints of millions of immigrants in Homeland Security databases. If there is a match — such as someone who applied for a visa or was apprehended by Border Patrol — it triggers a review process, which often culminates with an agent at the center deciding whether to issue a detainer.

Last year, the Pacific Enforcement Response Center issued 45,253 detainers and alerted agents at field offices to more than 28,000 additional people released from law enforcement custody before ICE could detain them.

Trump has singled out police in California and elsewhere for their refusal to honor detainers, using them to highlight what he says are problems with the country’s stance on immigration enforcement and the need to take a more hard-line approach.

In the years since the lawsuit was filed, ICE has amended its policies, saying the changes made the process for issuing detainers more rigorous.

Times staff writers Andrea Castillo and Molly O’Toole and the Associated Press contributed to this report.


These are important decisions by the Federal District Courts upholding the Constitution and the rule of law. Whether the higher Federal Courts will do their duty by “Just Saying No” to Trump’s abuses or go “belly up” as they did in Barr v. East Side Sanctuary Covenant and Innovation Law Lab v.McAleenan remains to be seen.

Go New Due Process Army! Beat back the Trump Administration’s extralegal attacks on migrants and the rule of law.



EXPANSION OF EXPEDITED REMOVAL BLOCKED: Federal Judge Finds Latest Enforcement “Gimmick” By Trump, Miller, & “Big Mac With Lies” Is Illegal!

Spencer S. Hsu
Spencer S. Hsu
Investigative Reporter
Washington Post


Spencer Hsu reports in the WashPost:

A federal judge has blocked the Trump administration from dramatically expanding its power to deport migrants who have illegally entered the United States in the past two years by using a fast-track deportation process that bypasses immigration judges.

In a 126-page ruling, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued a nationwide preliminary injunction shortly before midnight Friday, halting enforcement of the administration’s July 23 policy widening application of the “expedited removal” program to undocumented immigrants located anywhere in the country who entered over the past two years.

Previously, only migrants caught within 100 miles of the border who illegally entered within two weeks were subject to deportation without access to courts or lawyers.

[Trump administration to expand its power to deport undocumented immigrants]

Jackson ruled that the suing immigration advocacy groups, Make the Road New York, LUPE (La Unión del Pueblo Entero) and We Count!, were likely to prevail in ongoing litigation and show irreparable harm being suffered by their members, including many legal immigrants and asylum seekers who could be swept up and expelled from the country without legal recourse.

“The court’s decision to stop the expansion of this process will protect hundreds of thousands of longtime U.S. residents from being deported without a court hearing and prevents the country from becoming a ‘show me your papers’ regime,” said Trina Realmuto, directing attorney of the American Immigration Council, which argued the case alongside the American Civil Liberties Union.

Jackson rejected the Department of Homeland Security’s argument that it has authority under immigration law to bypass federal notice and rulemaking requirements, saying it was likely plaintiffs would be able to prove the sweeping change was “arbitrary and capricious, and therefore unlawful, because DHS failed to address significant flaws in the expedited removal system,” and because it ignored the impact of the expansion “on settled documented noncitizens and their communities.”

The ruling came hours after a federal judge in Los Angeles, U.S. District Judge Dolly M. Gee, separately blocked the Trump administration from implementing new rules vastly expanding its ability to detain migrant children with their parents for indefinite periods of time.

Nearly 300,000 of the approximately 11 million unauthorized immigrants in the United States could be subject to expedited removal, according to the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute. The typical undocumented immigrant has lived in the United States for 15 years, according to the Pew Research Center.

In announcing the policy in July, acting Department of Homeland Security chief Kevin McAleenan said “the implementation of additional measures is a necessary response to the ongoing immigration crisis.”

In a statement Saturday, a Justice Department spokesman said, “Congress expressly authorized the Secretary of Homeland Security to act with dispatch to remove from the country aliens who have no right to be here. The district court’s decision squarely conflicts with that express grant of authority and vastly exceeds the district court’s own authority.”

Officials said the new strategy responds to an influx of Central Americans and others at the southern border. The change allows the U.S. government to crank up deportations despite huge backlogs in understaffed immigration courts and the high cost of prisonlike Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention centers.

[ICE’s chief called family detention ‘summer camp.’ Here’s what it looks like inside.]

Under the new policy, any immigrants apprehended in the United States would have to prove to immigration officials that they have lived inside the country continuously for the past two years, or they could end up in an immigration jail facing summary expulsion.

Immigration lawyers said the unprecedented expansion effectively makes U.S. agents both “judge and prosecutor,” denying immigrants due process before a judge or access to an attorney.

“Under this unlawful plan, immigrants who have lived here for years would be deported with less due process than people get in traffic court,” said ACLU Immigrant’s Rights Project director Omar Jadwat.

McAleenan, in a federal notice, wrote that the new rule “will reduce incentives” for migrants to enter the United States and swiftly move away from the border to avoid the faster deportation process.

Federal officials said they could make exceptions for people with serious medical conditions or “substantial connections” to the United States, and they said deportation is not necessarily immediate. Officials said they have safeguards in place for migrants who might be U.S. citizens or legal residents.

Asylum officers will interview immigrants who fear returning to their home countries, to determine whether they qualify for asylum or another form of protection, and they potentially could refer them to full deportation proceedings. Unaccompanied minors from non-neighboring countries are not eligible for speedy deportations under federal law.

The U.S. government invoked its authority to fast-track deportations of undocumented immigrants who arrived by sea in 2002, after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. President George W. Bush expanded the program in 2004 to apply to all undocumented immigrants, however they entered the country, caught within 14 days within 100 miles of the border. The Bush administration said issuing removal orders deters migrants from trying to reenter the United States because it makes it easier to charge them criminally if they are caught again.

Expedited deportations soared from about 50,000 immigrants in 2004 to 193,000 in 2013, about 44 percent of the total number of people deported that year, according to the American Immigration Council.

Since 2017, the immigration-court caseload has spiked to more than 900,000 cases, and ICE has more than 50,000 migrants in custody each day, a record.

In her opinion, Jackson noted that DHS implemented its “New Designation policy” about 2½ years after Trump signed an executive order to expend expedited removals to the fullest extent possible shortly after his swearing in, without ever issuing a proposed rule or notice or soliciting public comment.

The Trump administration argued its new program is exempt from the Administrative Procedure Act’s public-comment requirements, and that DHS sought comments on the change when announcing its launch. It said the policy would take effect Sept. 1, but told the court it has not been applied yet.


More racially motivated “malicious incompetence,” more injunctions, more appeals, more confusion.

What if the same amount of time, energy, and resources were put into making the immigration system work in a fair and impartial manner in accordance with the Constitution?



HOW CORRUPT? — Billy “The Smirking Sycophant” Barr Aiming To Overtake “Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions & “John The Con” Mitchell As Most Lawless & Corrupt AG In My Lifetime! — Federal Courts Share Blame For Deterioration Of Ethical Standards! — Judicial Complicity Has Real Life Consequences!

Michelle Goldberg
Michelle Goldberg
Opinion Writer
NY Times


Michelle Goldberg writes in the NY Times:

Just How Corrupt Is Bill Barr?

By Michelle Goldberg

Opinion Columnist

SEPT. 26, 2019

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By now you have probably read the opening of the whistle-blower complaint filed by a member of the intelligence community accusing Donald Trump of manipulating American foreign policy for political gain. But the whistle-blower’s stark, straightforward account of stupefying treachery deserves to be repeated as often as possible.

“In the course of my official duties, I have received information from multiple U.S. government officials that the president of the United States is using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election,” the whistle-blower wrote. “This interference includes, among other things, pressuring a foreign country to investigate one of the president’s main domestic political rivals. The president’s personal lawyer, Mr. Rudolph Giuliani, is a central figure in this effort. Attorney General Barr appears to be involved as well.”

. . . . The whistle-blower’s complaint was deemed credible and urgent by Michael Atkinson, Trump’s own intelligence community inspector general, but Bill Barr’s Justice Department suppressed it. The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel issued an opinion saying that the complaint needn’t be turned over to Congress, as the whistle-blower statute instructs. When Atkinson made a criminal referral to the Justice Department, it reportedly didn’t even open an investigation. And all the time, Barr was named in the complaint that his office was covering up.

Under any conceivable ethical standard, Barr should have recused himself. But ethical standards, perhaps needless to say, mean nothing in this administration.

In the Ukraine scandal, evidence of comprehensive corruption goes far beyond Trump. Former prosecutors have said that Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney, may have been part of a criminal conspiracy when he pressed Ukrainian officials to open an investigation into Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. Vice President Mike Pence is also tied to the shakedown of Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, having met with him this month to talk about “corruption” and American financial aid. When this administration complains about Ukrainian “corruption,” it almost inevitably means a failure to corruptly pursue investigations that would bolster conspiracy theories benefiting Trump.

The whistle-blower wrote that White House officials moved a word-for-word transcript of Trump’s phone call with Zelensky from the computer system where such transcripts were typically kept into a separate system for the most highly classified information. “According to White House officials I spoke with, this was ‘not the first time’ under this administration that a presidential transcript was placed into this codeword-level system solely for the purpose of protecting politically sensitive — rather than national security sensitive — information,” the whistle-blower said.

According to Stephen Gillers, a professor of legal ethics at New York University School of Law, any lawyers involved in hiding these transcripts might have done something illegal. “The rule is it is both unethical and a crime for a lawyer to participate in altering, destroying or concealing a document, and here the allegation is that the word-for-word transcript was moved from the place where people ordinarily would think to look for it, to a place where it would not likely be found,” said Gillers. “That’s concealing.”

Then there’s Barr’s personal involvement in the Ukraine plot. In the reconstruction of Trump’s call with Zelensky that was released by the White House, Trump repeatedly said that he wanted Ukraine’s government to work with Barr on investigating the Bidens. Barr’s office insists that the president hasn’t spoken to Barr about the subject, but given the attorney general’s record of flagrant dishonesty — including his attempts to mislead the public about the contents of the Mueller report — there’s no reason to believe him. Besides, said Representative Jamie Raskin, a former constitutional law professor who now sits on the House Judiciary Committee, “the effort to suppress the existence of the phone conversation itself is an obvious obstruction of justice.”

But Barr’s refusal to recuse creates a sort of legal cul-de-sac. It’s only the Justice Department, ultimately, that can prosecute potential federal crimes arising from this scandal. Barr’s ethical nihilism, his utter indifference to ordinary norms of professional behavior, means that he’s retaining the authority to stop investigations into crimes he may have participated in.

“The administration of justice is cornered because the ultimate executive authority for that government role includes the people whose behavior is suspect,” said Gillers.

That makes the impeachment proceedings in the House, where Barr will likely be called as a witness, the last defense against complete administration lawlessness. “Just as the president is not above the law, the attorney general is not above the law,” said Raskin. “The president’s betrayal of his oath of office and the Constitution is the primary offense here, and we need to stay focused on that, but the attorney general’s prostitution of the Department of Justice for the president’s political agenda has been necessary to the president’s schemes and he will face his own reckoning.”

I hope Raskin is right. But until that day comes, people who care about the rule of law in this country should be screaming for Barr’s recusal, even if he won’t listen. He is now wrapped up in one of the gravest scandals in American political history. Can America’s chief law enforcement officer really be allowed to decide whether to criminally investigate misdeeds he might have helped to commit or to conceal? The answer will tell us just how crooked the justice system under Trump has become.


Another serious transgression: This shockingly biased and corrupt Trump political toady is literally running the U.S. Immigration Courts into the ground while neither Congress nor the Article IIIs have the guts to require that migrants receive the “fair and impartial” adjudications to which they are entitled under the Due Process Clause of our Constitution.

Sure, Billy Barr is “the pits!” But those in Congress and the Article IIIs who are “letting him get away with murder” are equally to blame. Bullies like Barr take advantage of the “go along to get along” cowardice of those charged with holding them accountable.

Another example of how Barr’s DOJ has become an “ethics free zone:” Yesterday, before Judge Dolly Gee in the Flores litigation Barr’s DOJ lawyer August Flentje presented a totally disingenuous position. 

“How can you as officer of the court tell me that the regulations are not inconsistent with the settlement agreement?” the judge asked a Justice Department lawyer. “Just because you tell me it is night outside does not mean it is not day.”


But in the end, even Judge Gee, no “shrinking violet,” merely expressed her displeasure and ruled against the DOJ.

Why weren’t Flentje and his supervisors, all the way up to Barr, referred to their respective state bars for ethical violations and knowingly trying to mislead the court by presenting a frivolous “defense?”  Would private counsel’s dishonesty before the court have been treated as leniently? At one time DOJ lawyers were expected to have higher ethical standards than the minimum. Now they have become ethical scofflaws. 

But, as long as Federal Courts are unwilling to hold Barr & company ethically  accountable, the dishonesty and disrespect for the system will continue to grow. When the Article IIIs find themselves in the middle of a morass of frivolous litigation and outright lies presented by the DOJ, they will have only themselves to blame for the deterioration of civility and ethical standards.

Indeed, the Supremes’ own shameful performance in Barr v. East Side Sanctuary Covenant, where they allowed the Solicitor General to unethically “short circuit the system,” dissolved a proper stay issued by a U.S. District Judge, and allowed an unconstitutional, illegal, not to mention immoral, program of racially targeted elimination of asylum opportunities sends a strong signal that the Supreme themselves have become part of the “ethics free zone.” Trump and Barr  and their sycophantic subordinates have taken  notice.

Chief Justice John Roberts might disingenuously moan the loss of civility and the dysfunction in the Legislative and Executive Branches. But, fact is, his Court’s unwillingness to fulfill their oaths of office by enforcing the Constitution and standing up for the rule of law by reinforcing it against Trump’s arrogant overreach is a major part of the problem. He and his spineless Supremes’ majority have essentially left America defenseless against the tyranny and corruption of Trump, Barr, and company.

And, as asylum applicants are abused, human lives are ruined, the Immigration Courts dissolve, and Trump’s betrayal of our nation unfolds each day, we see that there are “real life consequences” to the Supremes’ complicity.


THE UN-AMERICANS: Under Trump & His Neo-Nazi Lieutenant Stephen Miller, Our Nation Projects The Ugliest Side Of History: “The Trump administration has systematically acted to bar as many refugees and asylum seekers as possible, virtually from its first day, supplanting America’s traditional welcome to the world’s desperate people with a spirit of xenophobia and bigotry.”


From The NY Times Editorial Board:

President Trump’s latest assault on immigration, cutting the number of refugees accepted to a mere 18,000 from 30,000 last year, is better than the complete ban that some of his aides were seeking. But looking at mere numbers misses the point.

This is the administration’s latest message to anyone dreaming of a freer life in America: that they should just stay away. The Trump administration has systematically acted to bar as many refugees and asylum seekers as possible, virtually from its first day, supplanting America’s traditional welcome to the world’s desperate people with a spirit of xenophobia and bigotry.

Led by Stephen Miller, a zealot who has planted lieutenants throughout the government, the Trump White House has made its anti-immigration campaign something akin to a crusade, with “the wall” along the Mexican border as its symbol.

The administration has tried to scare away Central Americans by separating children from their parents when families arrive at the border seeking asylum; it threatened to end “temporary protected status” for people escaping natural and other disasters in a number of countries, including Haiti, Nicaragua and Sudan; it suspended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which let undocumented immigrants who arrived here as children stay and work; it has dramatically deported immigrants without regard for their ties to family and community; and it has enacted a system that would prevent migrants from seeking asylum if they passed through another country without first seeking asylum there.

Any question about the mind-set guiding the administration should have been put to rest by President Trump’s icy explanation to reporters earlier this month for why he was barring residents of the hurricane-battered Bahamas from taking refuge in the United States.

“I don’t want to allow people that weren’t supposed to be in the Bahamas to come into the United States, including some very bad people and some very bad gang members, and some very, very bad drug dealers,” he said. He offered not a shred of proof of any such danger, while the shattering evidence of Bahamians’ needs still lies everywhere.

The limit announced by the State Department on Thursday is far below the 110,000 refugees a year that President Barack Obama said in 2016 should be let in. Most of the 18,000 slots, moreover, are already filled by Iraqis who worked with the American military, victims of religious persecution and some Central Americans. That would leave only 7,500 slots for families seeking unification, like parents of Rohingya children who have already been admitted.

The proffered reason for the cut was the huge backlog in immigration courts as the number of people seeking asylum is expected to reach 350,000. Most refugees trying to enter the United States, though, have already been cleared. So it’s not immediately clear how lowering the annual limit will help ease the backlog.

There are enormous backlogs, and the United States cannot let in everyone who wants to come. But the severity of the cutbacks makes clear that the administration’s rationale hides its real motive: to score political points with a base of voters fearful of immigration by seeming to keep out as many people as possible.

This shortsighted politicking denies a fundamental virtue — and key advantage — of America’s democracy: that it is a land of immigrants and refugees. It ignores the contributions of immigrants to the greatness of the United States.

There is no sensible argument for opening the borders to everyone. Any refugee or asylum program needs a solid vetting process. But Mr. Trump’s approach is not the answer. Congress should have stepped in long ago with serious immigration reform. But that failure is no reason for Americans to be taken in by Mr. Trump’s fear-mongering and evasive explanations.


The New Due Process Army is out there courageously standing up against racist cowards like Trump, Miller, “Cooch Cooch,” and their sycophantic minions like “Big Mac With Lies,” Matt Albence, and the totally corrupt and immoral Billy Barr!

Due Process Forever — Trump, Miller, & Their Corrupt Cronies, Never!

Go New Due Process Army!





Maria Sacchetti
Maria Sacchetti
Immigration Reporter, Washington Post




Maria Sacchetti reports for WashPost:


A federal judge in Los Angeles has blocked the Trump administration from activating new regulations that would have dramatically expanded its ability to detain migrant children with their parents for indefinite periods of time, dealing a blow to the president’s efforts to tamp down unauthorized border crossings.

U.S. District Judge Dolly M. Gee issued the permanent injunction Friday, hours after hearing arguments from the Justice Department and advocates for immigrants in a long-running federal case in the Central District of California.

Lawyers for the Justice Department had urged Gee to allow the Trump administration to withdraw from the Flores Settlement Agreement, a 1997 federal consent decree that sets basic standards for detaining migrant children. The decree led to a 20-day limit for holding children in detention facilities that have not been licensed by the states for the purpose of caring for minors.

[Trump administration moves to terminate court agreement, hold migrant children and parents longer]

President Trump has called Flores a “loophole” that has enabled hundreds of thousands of families, many from impoverished Central American countries, to cross the southern boundary and claim asylum. Those migrants generally are quickly released into the United States because of the 20-day limit on detaining children.

The Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Health and Human Services issued new rules in August that sought to terminate the settlement and lift the 20-day limit by allowing the federal government to license such facilities.

In the ruling Friday, Gee wrote that the regulations “fail to implement and are inconsistent with the relevant and substantive terms of the Flores Settlement Agreement,” and therefore cannot take effect, noting that the agreement is a binding contract that was never appealed.

“Defendants cannot simply ignore the dictates of the consent decree merely because they no longer agree with its approach as a matter of policy,” she wrote. “Defendants cannot simply impose their will by promulgating regulations that abrogate the consent decree’s most basic tenets.”

The Justice Department is widely expected to appeal the decision, but a spokesman for the department did not signal the administration’s next steps Friday.

“The Department of Justice is disappointed that the court is continuing to impose the outdated Flores Agreement even after the government has done exactly what the Agreement required: issue a comprehensive rule that will protect vulnerable children, maintain family unity, and ensure due process for those awaiting adjudication of their immigration claims,” a spokesman said. “The Trump Administration will continue to work to restore integrity to our immigration system and ensure the proper functioning of the duly enacted immigration laws.”

Withdrawing from the settlement is part of Trump’s “beautiful puzzle,” an assortment of tough immigration enforcement measures designed to reduce the flow of Central American families and unaccompanied minors streaming across the U.S.-Mexico border.

Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Tex.), chair of the congressional Hispanic Caucus, hailed the ruling Friday.

“I am pleased that our justice system has stopped the Trump Administration plans to indefinitely detain families in prisonlike conditions,” Castro said. “This victory gives us hope and is a reminder to us all — elected officials, immigration lawyers, organizers, and advocates — to keep fighting. Flores is not a loophole — it’s a lifesaving standard that protects the basic rights and dignity of migrant children.”

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan, who has pushed for the termination of the Flores pact, said officials did not want to hold families longer than 50 days, but critics said the proposed regulations left open the possibility that minors could be detained for months or years.

More than 800,000 migrants have been taken into federal custody at the border this year, and the majority have been in family units. Advocates say they are fleeing dangerous and unstable regions in Central America’s “Northern Triangle,” the nations of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.


Undoubtedly, Trump’s personal “Solicitor General,” Noel Francisco, will ask the Supremes to bypass the Ninth Circuit and endorse official child abuse. And, based on she Supremes’ majority’s totally spineless performance in allowing the “Let ‘Em Die In Mexico” program to proceed, notwithstanding its blatant Constitutional, statutory, and regulatory defects, why not? (Barr v. East Side Sanctuary Covenant). The Supremes are establishing themselves as “Trump’s Court” – a feckless and complicit body of judicial cowards — just like he arrogantly claims.


How many more kids and families will die, be mistreated, or scarred for life because the supposedly most powerful judges in our nation are afraid to stand up to lawless, immoral, and inhumane actions by Trump & his toadies?




WHILE IMPOTENT CONGRESS & FECKLESS ARTICLE IIIs TURN THEIR COLLECTIVE BACKS: THINK THAT U.S. IMMIGRATION COURT HASN’T BECOME “CLOWN COURT” WITH POTENTIALLY DEADLY CONSEQUENCES? – Try This Out For Size: “Border Patrol Agents Are Writing ‘Facebook’ As A Street Address For Asylum-Seekers Forced To Wait In Mexico: ‘It’s wild…People are having to make things up as they go along.’”

Adolfo Flores
Adolfo Flores
Immigration Reporter
BuzzFeed News


Adolfo Flores reports for BuzzFeed News:

An asylum-seeker from Honduras who presented himself at the southern border this summer seeking protection was forced to wait in Mexico until his court date in the United States. In case the government needed to contact him, a Border Patrol officer listed an address on his forms: “Facebook.”

The man, who asked to only be identified by his last name Gutierrez, told BuzzFeed News that shortly before he was sent back to Mexico along with his family, a Border Patrol agent asked him to confirm that a shortened version of his name was indeed the one he used on Facebook.

“I said ‘Yes, why?'” Gutierrez recalled. “The agent told me ‘Because that’s how we’re going to send you information about your court case.’ I thought that was strange, but what could I do?”

The form Gutierrez was given, called a Notice to Appear (NTA), is a charging document issued by the Department of Homeland Security that includes information on where an immigrant must present themselves for their first court hearing, and critically, should include an address where the applicant can be contacted if the time, date, or location of the hearing is changed.

If an immigrant fails to appear at court hearings they run the risk of being ordered deported in absentia by an immigration judge, which makes having accurate and detailed information on the forms crucial for asylum-seekers.

Gutierrez said he was never contacted about his case via Facebook and it’s unclear how DHS officials would contact an immigrant via social media.


A US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) spokesperson did not respond to questions about why an agent would write “Facebook” as a known address, or whether the agency was using immigrants’ social media accounts as a way to inform them of any changes or updates to their hearings.

Attorneys and advocates working with asylum-seekers at the border, including those forced to wait in Mexico under the Trump administration’s Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) said they’ve seen other notices with “Facebook” addresses, or no address at all.

“‘Facebook’ is the most egregious example of the Department of Homeland Security doing away with the aspect of proper notice,” Leidy Perez-Davis, policy counsel at the American Immigration Lawyers Association told BuzzFeed News. “Facebook is not an adequate way to serve an NTA.”

Perez-Davis said she’s heard from other attorneys who had viewed documents from immigrants with improper or inadequate addresses such as shelters, which are often already full or only allow immigrants to remain there for a few days. Asylum-seekers are often given initial US court dates months in the future.

“This is procedurally incorrect, but DHS has been doing it anyway because there hasn’t been oversight on insufficient NTAs,” Perez-Davis said.

An immigrant in Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), shows documents to a US border agent at Paso del Norte border bridge to attend a court hearing for asylum seekers.In June 2018, the Supreme Court ruled that an immigrant’s notice to appear was invalid because it didn’t have the date or location of his scheduled court appearance. Attorneys have pointed to the ruling to argue that NTAs with inadequate information should also be invalid.

The Trump administration policy, also known as “Remain in Mexico,” has seen more than 47,000 asylum-seekers sent back to the country, straining local resources that help immigrants in the border communities. In addition to facing violence, kidnappings, and discrimination, some immigrants live on the streets and rely on donations to feed themselves.

If an immigrant receives an improperly addressed notice to appear, they can challenge whether it was legally serviced in court, Perez-Davis said, giving an immigrant the chance to reopen their case if they do not appear at their scheduled hearing and are ordered removed in their absence.

“It goes back to the issue of due process,” Perez-Davis said. “They can’t initiate proceedings without telling someone the details of the proceedings.”

Zoe Bowman, a law student who interned with Al Otro Lado, a binational border rights project and legal service provider, said she saw at least five immigrant NTAs that had “Facebook” listed as the known address. The first of which she saw in May or June of this year.

“It’s wild,” Bowman told BuzzFeed News. “Some wouldn’t have any addresses listed at all.”

The US asylum process is not set up for cases to be fought from Mexico, making the issue uncharted territory for the US government, immigrants, and attorneys, Bowman said.

“The issues with the NTAs is just one branch of that,” Bowman said. “People are having to make things up as they go along.”

Many of the other asylum-seekers returned to Mexico along with Gutierrez left for their home countries almost immediately. Gutierrez tried to wait for his court date, but only lasted three weeks in Tijuana. Facing a months-long wait for their first court hearing without money or space in a shelter, Gutierrez said he decided to go back to Honduras with his family.

“Tijuana is dangerous, I can’t be traveling with my family to the bridge at 4 a.m.,” Gutierrez said of the early hour he was expected to appear at a border crossing for his hearing. “We were in Mexico without money or a place to stay, I couldn’t make my daughter suffer through that.”


Yup! This won’t go down as one the finest moments for America, the Executive, the Article III Courts, or any of the folks involved in implementing what can only be termed a program of blatantly illegal and overt human rights abuses.


Those of us fighting for our Constitution, human life, and the true rule of law appear to be losing the battle for the time being, given the cowardly and inept performances of those few institutions like Congress, the Supremes, and Article III Appellate Courts who could put an end to these travesties and require reform and compliance with the Constitution and the rule of law respecting treatment of refugee applicants.


But, we are making a legal and historical record of who stood up for human rights and who planned, executed, and enabled what can only be termed “crimes against humanity.”

This week’s coveted “Five Clown Award” goes jointly to the Supremes and Congress for their joint catastrophic failure to put an end to this illegal nonsense and reestablish Due Process and the Rule of Law.






MICHELLE HACKMAN @ WSJ:  Immigration Judges’ Union Fights Back Against DOJ’s Heavy-Handed Attempt To Quash It! – Like The “Whistleblower,” The NAIJ Has Been Outspoken In Exposing Bias, Denial Of Due Process, & Improper Politization Of U.S. Immigration Courts By Corrupt DOJ!

Michelle Hackman
Michelle Hackman
Immigration Reporter
Wall Street Journal
Hon. A. Ashlley Tabaddor
Hon. A. Ashley Tabaddor
President, National
Association of Immigration Judges (“NAIJ”)



 From the WSJ:

By Michelle Hackman

September 27, 2019, 10:00 a.m. EDT

WASHINGTON—The union representing the nation’s more than 400 immigration judges filed a labor complaint against the Justice Department, escalating an already tense situation between the Trump administration and the judges carrying out its immigration policy.

The judges—who unlike most other jurists work for the Justice Department—based their complaint on two recent incidents.

The most recent occurred in late August, when the Executive Office of immigration Review, which oversees the judges, included a link to a blog post on a white nationalist website in its daily news briefing emailed to all employees. The blog post in question described immigration judges using several racial and ethnic slurs, angering judges around the country and prompting a formal letter to the office’s director.

The other incident came in April, when the union sought clarification from the Justice Department on whether the judges’ positions made them regular employees or managers in the course of contract negotiations. The Justice Department didn’t respond to the query but later filed a petition with the Federal Labor Relations Authority to decertify the union, on the basis it considered the judges managers.

The union’s complaint was filed with the Federal Labor Relations Authority, and could slow the Justice Department’s attempts to disband the union.

The judges’ union, known formally at the National Association of Immigration Judges, allows its leadership to fill a unique role as government employees empowered to criticize their employer and, by extension, the administration’s immigration policies.

The union has been outspoken about the government’s efforts to exert increasing political control over the nation’s immigration court system, narrowing the judges’ discretion around who can qualify for asylum.

Attorney General William Barr, for example, overruled the Board of Immigration Appeals in deciding people with family ties to gang targets or others with domestic violence claims couldn’t qualify for asylum. More recently, the administration has been temporarily allowed to enforce a rule disqualifying anyone for asylum if they traveled through a third country en route to the U.S. The rule faces further court challenges.

In its effort to move more quickly through a backlog of pending cases that has grown to more than one million, the Justice Department has also placed new quota requirements on the judges. It has pressed individual judges to move through cases faster, giving judges a one-year deadline to decide each case and setting a 700-case annual quota. Only about a third of judges are on track to meet that goal, according to A. Ashley Tabaddor, the union’s president.

The administration has also begun shifting cases to judges known to work quickly, sometimes handing cases to courts located far from where an immigrant is living. More recently, it has also begun diverting some judges from their normal duties to hear cases of the government’s “remain in Mexico” program, under which migrants who have claimed asylum must wait in Mexican cities while their cases make their way through the courts.

The government has set up makeshift tent courts at ports of entry to process these cases more quickly, and judges have been hearing cases using a videoconferencing tool. These courts, unlike most others in the country, aren’t open to the public or to journalists.

The union rebuked the tent courts’ closed conditions as “another glaring reason why the immigration courts have been deprived of key characteristics of what it means to be a court in the United States.”

The union has also argued that immigration courts should be given judicial independence, rather than answering to the Justice Department’s political leadership.

Write to Michelle Hackman at Michelle.Hackman@wsj.com



Thanks, Michelle, for bringing into the national spotlight this important story about the DOJ’s improper influence over the U.S. Immigration Courts and their outrageous attempts to suppress and punish truth and dissent.


We need an independent Article I U.S. Immigration court enacted by Congress. Until that happens, vulnerable individuals will continue to have their most important rights denied by this unconstitutional parody of a fair and impartial court system. In the meantime, the Article III Courts continue to ignore the glaring constitutional defects that must be addressed before approving any more defective “removal orders” and denials of asylum and other relief emanating from these fatally defective “captive courts” that have been “redesigned” to function as part of the DHS enforcement apparatus.




CNN:  WHITE HOUSE CONFIRMS KEY PART OF WHISTLEBLOWER’S “COVER UP” CHARGE – Yeah, Just Like the WB Said, WH Aides Tried To Hide The Improper Conversation With Ukrainian President In The Classified Docs System!

Pamela Brown
Pamela Brown
Senior White House Correspondent



Pamela Brown reports for CNN:


Washington (CNN)The White House acknowledged Friday that administration officials directed a now-infamous Ukraine call transcript be filed in a highly classified system, confirming allegations contained in a whistleblower complaint that have roiled Washington.

In a statement provided to CNN, a senior White House official said the move to place the transcript in the system came at the direction of National Security Council attorneys.

“NSC lawyers directed that the classified document be handled appropriately,” the senior White House official said.

White House officials say the transcript was already classified so it did nothing wrong by moving it to another system.


Four days that pitched America into an impeachment nightmare

The admission lends further credibility to the whistleblower complaint description of how the July 25 transcript with the Ukrainian president, among others, were kept out of wider circulation by using a system for highly sensitive documents.

But the statement did not explain whether anyone else in the White House was part of the decision to put the the Ukraine transcript in the more restrictive system.

Nor did it delve into an accusation in the complaint that other phone call transcripts were handled in a similar fashion.

The suggestion that officials sought to conceal the content of the phone call — during which Trump suggested to his Ukrainian counterpart that he order an investigation into Joe Biden and his son — has led to accusations of a cover-up. There is no evidence of wrongdoing by Biden or his son.

The transcript of the Ukraine phone call — which the White House released publicly on Wednesday — did not contain information like intelligence secrets or military plans that might ordinarily merit moving it to a highly classified system.

Officials familiar with the matter say Trump and others at the White House sought to restrict access to phone calls with foreign leaders after embarrassing leaks early in the administration.

The White House’s statement on Friday indicates an effort to paint the practice as sanctioned by lawyers and overseen by the National Security Council, rather than a politically motivated attempt to keep Trump’s conversations from becoming public.

Trump himself lashed out against the whistleblower on Thursday for revealing information about his phone call to relevant authorities.

“I want to know who’s the person, who’s the person who gave the whistleblower the information? Because that’s close to a spy,” Trump said during a private event in New York. “You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart? Right? The spies and treason, we used to handle it a little differently than we do now.”

CNN’s Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.



Once again, the crack political analysis team at immigrationcourtside.com was out in front on this one by observing yesterday that there was little, if any, reason for the GOP to be attempting to sow doubts about then “second hand nature” of the Whistleblower’s factual allegations, since their credibility had already been largely confirmed by the White House’s own releases.  https://immigrationcourtside.com/2019/09/26/betrayal-of-america-what-on-earth-are-trumps-sycophantic-gop-defenders-talking-about-the-evidence-of-wrongdoing-released-by-the-white-house-confirms-the-whistleblower/.


This is further proof of what I said yesterday. The facts here are actually much clearer than they are in any “normal” investigation of wrongdoing. Trump acted inappropriately, broke the law, endangered national security, lied about it, and the GOP is trying to help him “cover-up” (hard to do, since the damning facts are public) or “obfuscate” to maintain their minority political power. In other words, the “Trump Doctrine” of corruption, unbridled greed, and selfishness, driven to a large degree by racism, taken to its logical conclusion.


Speaking of being “”out front,” it finally dawned on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that Attorney General Billy Barr has “gone rogue.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-whistleblower-impeachment/2019/09/27/55b99276-e0a8-11e9-8dc8-498eabc129a0_story.html.

That’s hardly “news” to faithful readers of Courtside! https://immigrationcourtside.com/2019/09/26/doj-is-a-national-disgrace-under-trump-the-race-to-the-bottom-started-under-white-nationalist-zealot-gonzo-apocalypto-becomes-a-death-spiral-under-shamelessly-corrupt-trump-toady/.


To me, it doesn‘t look like both the Trump Presidency and our nation can survive in the long run. Our next election will be about what we really want as a people: a Constitutional Republic committed to humane values and the rule of law; or a corrupt, selfish, cowardly racist charlatan who seeks to seeks to replace that republic with a “Cult of Personality.”



BETRAYAL OF AMERICA: What, On Earth, Are Trump’s Sycophantic GOP Defenders Talking About? — The Evidence Of Wrongdoing, Released By the WHITE HOUSE, Confirms The Whistleblower’s Complaint!

BETRAYAL OF AMERICA: What, On Earth, Are Trump’s Sycophantic GOP Defenders Talking About? — The Evidence Of Wrongdoing, Released By the WHITE HOUSE, Confirms The Whistleblower’s Complaint!

By Paul Wickham Schmidt

Exclusive for Immigrationcourtside.com

Sept. 26, 2109

Congressional Republicans continue to spout utter nonsense about the Whistleblower’s admitted lack of “first hand evidence” of Trump’s inappropriate conversations with the Ukrainian President that were both criminal and a threat to our national security.

But, the White House released a “transcript” that clearly shows that Trump improperly asked the Ukraine for a “favor” — to investigate political rival Joe Biden and his family in return for improved relations. Not the least among the latter was release of the Congressionally appropriated defense funding that Trump had put on hold and then lied about his reasons. His initial claim that funds were withheld out of a concern about “corruption” (this, from the most corrupt President in US history who recently closed bogus immigration “Safe Third Country Agreements” with the notoriously unsafe and blatantly corrupt Governments of the Northern Triangle) was later contradicted by an equally incredible claim that he was trying to get European Governments to pay their imaginary “fair share.”

The same transcript also shows Trump “pressing” the Ukrainian President about a fabricated right wing conspiracy theory relating to the non-existent Democratic Party “server” as well as making completely inappropriate and unethical references to Attorney General Barr and Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, in connection with investigating the Biden family. (In fact, Hunter Biden was cleared of wrongdoing by a previous Ukrainian investigation, and there have never been any credible allegations of wrongdoing by Joe Biden).

In other words, the heart of the Whistleblower complaint was confirmed by Trump’s own evidence of his own misconduct.

So, in this context, the lack of first-hand information is totally irrelevant. Trump himself has corroborated the Whistleblower’s major concerns.

That GOP sycophants keep raising irrevancies as bogus ”defenses” merely confirms what everyone outside ”Trumpworld” already knows: There is no defense for the President’s illegal and unethical conduct and the GOP’s continued support of this sleazy charlatan.



BELOW THE RADAR SCREEN: Trump Uses UN Speech To Urge Return To Unbridled, Racist, Xenophobic Nationalism That Caused Two World Wars, The Holocaust, & Fueled The Rise Of Communism, While Killing 80-100 Million People! — He’s An Existential Threat To Civilization!


Letters to the Editor [LA Times]: Trump’s U.N. speech extolling nationalism was frightening

President Trump’s speech at the U.N. dismissing globalism and praising nationalism endorsed the very ideologies the U.N. was formed to combat.

To the editor: In his speech to the General Assembly on Tuesday, President Trump called for rejecting everything the United Nations stands for and a return to nationalism. Great.

This is what comes from someone who is ignorant of history — and fairly recent history at that. It was nationalism that brought us the two most catastrophic wars in human history. It is nationalism that has been at the root of many conflicts since then.

The U.N. was created to combat this most destructive of ideologies. For the most part, it has been succeeding, but in small, incremental, not often seen ways.

Now, the man in the White House wants to throw it all away. And for what? Self-aggrandizement? Profit for defense companies? Or just to give fodder to his followers?

Stephen McCarthy, Monrovia


Stephen McCarthy “gets” it. Unfortunately, Trump, the GOP, and their enablers don’t!

Will the electorate “wake up” in time. Or, will we repeat the worst mistakes in history with America as the main culprit?



“I’M HENRY VIII, I AM, HENRY VIII, I AM, I AM” – Unhinged Trump Confuses Himself With The State, Threatens “Whistleblower” Sources With Treason – Will “Drawing & Quartering” Be Next? — Audience “Stunned” By Latest Evidence Of Unfitness for Office!


I’m Henry VIII

Herman’s Hermits

I’m Henry the eighth I am
Henry the eighth I am, I am
I got married to the widow next door
She’s been married seven times before

And every one was an Henry (Henry)
She wouldn’t have a Willy or a Sam (no Sam)
I’m her eighth old man, I’m Henry
Henry the eighth I am

Second verse same as the first

I’m Henry the eighth I am
Henry the eighth I am, I am
I got married to the widow next door
She’s been married seven times before

And every one was an Henry (Henry)
She wouldn’t have a Willy or a Sam (no Sam)
I’m her eighth old man, I’m Henry
Henry the eighth I am

I’m Henry the eighth I am
Henry the eighth I am, I am
I got…


Source: LyricFind


Maggie Haberman
Maggie Haberman
White House Correspondent
NY Times
Henry VIII
Henry VIII
Former King, England
Executed Those Who Wouldn’t Swear Personal Allegiance



Maggie Haberman reports for the NY Times:


By Maggie Haberman

President Trump told a crowd of staff from the United States Mission to the United Nations on Thursday morning that he wants to know who provided information to a whistle-blowerabout his phone call with the president of Ukraine, saying that whoever did so was “close to a spy” and that “in the old days,” spies were dealt with differently.

The remark stunned people in the audience, according to a person briefed on what took place, who had notes of what the president said. Mr. Trump made the statement several minutes into his remarks before the group of about 50 mission employees and their families at the event intended to honor the mission. At the outset, he condemned the former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s role in Ukraine at a time when his son Hunter Biden was on the board of a Ukrainian energy company.

Mr. Trump repeatedly referred to the whistle-blower and condemned the news media reporting on the complaint as “crooked.” He then said the whistle-blower never heard the call in question.

“I want to know who’s the person who gave the whistle-blower the information because that’s close to a spy,” Mr. Trump said. “You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart with spies and treason, right? We used to handle it a little differently than we do now.”

The complaint, which was made public on Thursday morning, said the whistle-blower obtained information about the call from multiple United States officials.

“Over the past four months, more than half a dozen U.S. officials have informed me of various facts related to this effort,” the complaint stated. It described concerns that the president was using his phone call with the Ukrainian president for personal gain to fulfill a political vendetta.

Full Document: The Whistle-Blower Complaint

The complaint filed by an intelligence officer about President Trump’s interactions with the leader of Ukraine.


Some in the crowd laughed, the person briefed on what took place said. The event was closed to reporters, and during his remarks, the president called the news media “scum” in addition to labeling them crooked.

The ambassador to the United Nations, Kelly Knight Craft, was in the room.

A White House spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

An intelligence whistle-blower law protects intelligence officials from reprisal — like losing their security clearance or being demoted or fired — as long as they follow a certain process for bringing allegations of wrongdoing to the attention of oversight authorities.

The whistle-blower followed that process — filing a complaint with the inspector general for the intelligence community. The Trump Justice Department later proclaimed that the information the whistle-blower put forward did not qualify under the intelligence whistle-blower law, raising the question of whether the official was still protected from reprisal. The acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, has said he would not permit the official to suffer retaliation, but the inspector general has pointed out that this personal assurance is not a legal shield.

Moreover, whistle-blower laws are aimed at channeling complaints to certain officials with oversight responsibilities — Congress, supervisors or inspectors general — and do not protect officials who provide information to other people without authorization. For that reason, these laws almost certainly do not protect the officials who told the whistle-blower about the call in the first place.

Mr. Trump spoke as the director of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence was testifying before Congress that the president had never asked for the identity of the whistle-blower, whose complaint was initially withheld from Congress by the Trump administration.

At a fund-raiser at Cipriani 42nd Street in Manhattan immediately after the United Nations event, Mr. Trump walked out before the crowd of several hundred donors clutching paper in one of his hands and said, “This is the call.” He then said it was “the greatest thing” to happen to the Republican Party because they had raised so much money off the controversy.

In a Twitter post later in the day, Mr. Trump referred again to the whistle-blower having “second hand information” and called the inquiry “Another Witch Hunt!”

Editors’ Picks


Charlie Savage contributed reporting.


Those of us who have been saying for some time now that Trump’s conduct makes him a “clear and present danger” to the continued existence of our nation have been proved right again. Not, of course, that it means that Trump, with lots of help from the GOP and complicit courts, won’t succeed in destroying American democracy. Democracy is “on the ropes” while Trump is still in office.

What would Thomas More, former Lord High Chancellor of England, say about Trump’s rhetoric? More was famously executed in 1535 for refusing to recognize Henry VIII as the head of the Church in England.

In a time where Trump, Barr, McAleenan, Mulvaney, Pence, Graham, McConnell, Pompeo, the majority of the Supremes, and many others illustrate the complete absence of integrity and ethics in Government, the “Whistleblower” reminds us that there still are are some persons of integrity left in our Government. Sadly, they appear to be an “endangered species.”

Voters have a chance to save our nation by throwing Trump and his GOP scoundrels out of office, at every level, in 2020. Whether they are “up to the task” or not remains to be seen.







DOJ IS A NATIONAL DISGRACE UNDER TRUMP: The Race To The Bottom, Started Under White Nationalist Zealot “Gonzo Apocalypto,” Becomes A Death Spiral Under Shamelessly Corrupt Trump Toady Billy Barr!  — “Malicious Incompetence,” White Nationalism, & Anti-Democracy Are Institutionalized @ DOJ, Enabled By Feckless Article III Courts Pretending To Look The Other Way Rather Than Standing Up To Tyranny & Assaults On Our Constitution & The Rule Of Law By The Trump Administration! 

Mark Joseph Stern
Mark Joseph Stern
Reporter, Slate


Mark Joseph Stern writes in Slate:

As more details emerge about Donald Trump’s whistleblower scandal, it’s clear the man standing in the way of any investigation into the president’s actions, once again, is Attorney General William Barr. The House’s now formal impeachment inquiry may be the last remaining tool that Barr cannot tamper with.

Barr has already successfully stymied one investigation of presidential misconduct: Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe. The attorney general released a misleading “summary” of the report before its publication, one that rankled Mueller himself. He also devised dubious legal standards to find insufficient evidence that Trump obstructed justice. Barr then prefaced the report’s release with an appalling press conference that painted Trump as the real victim. In congressional testimony, he trashed his own Justice Department to further defend Trump. Later, Barr took pains to hide the full Mueller report from Congress, deploying a baseless legal theory to conceal key redactions from lawmakers.

With each new development in the Ukraine scandal, we are seeing the Trump administration run the Barr playbook all over again. But there is an important difference. When Barr took the reins at DOJ, the Mueller investigation was near its end: Barr could not interfere with the probe itself; he could only run damage control once it concluded. This time, Barr has been in control from the start. And his Justice Department has blocked every avenue through which Trump might be held accountable.

Notes on the telephone conversation between Trump and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky suggest Barr is implicated in Trump’s dirty work. (The memo is not a transcript, but rather a compilation of “notes and recollections” from officials listening in.) Trump mentions his attorney general six times as a resource for Zelensky. The president urges Zelensky to investigate his potential 2020 rival, Joe Biden—referring to unsubstantiated allegations that, as vice president, Biden used his position to quash a Ukrainian investigation into his son. “[W]hatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great,” Trump adds. He also told Zelensky that he would have his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani “give you a call and I am also going to have Attorney General Barr call and we will get to the bottom of it.”

Barr has been in control from the start.

The Justice Department released a statement Wednesday claiming that neither Trump nor Giuliani have spoken with Barr about pressuring Ukraine to investigate Biden and his son. But there is ample evidence that Barr played a substantial role in protecting Trump from a whistleblower complaint over the call. House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler has already insisted that Barr recuse himself “until we get to the bottom of this matter.” House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff also sent a letter to Barr Wednesday saying the DOJ’s involvement “raises the specter that the Department has participated in a dangerous cover-up to protect the President.”

Before Barr’s possible involvement in the Ukraine affair had even been made public, the DOJ stepped in to mute the whistleblower complaint over this call. Under the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act, or ICWPA, whistleblowers in a federal intelligence agency must send their complaint to Michael Atkinson, Intelligence Community inspector general. The law tasks Atkinson with deciding whether the complaint is credible and of “urgent concern.” If it is, Atkinson must send it to acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire. ICWPA states that Maguire, in turn, “shall … forward” the complaint to congressional intelligence committees within seven days.

This process worked as intended—until the DOJ stepped in. Atkinson received the whistleblower complaint and found it to be a credible allegation of “urgent concern.” So he sent it to Maguire. Instead of sending it to Congress, as he was legally obligated to do, Maguire asked the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel, which makes law that binds the executive branch. The OLC declared that he could not pass it on in an opinion later released to the public in modified form, holding that the whistleblower complaint did not pertain to a matter of “urgent concern.”

This opinion is bizarre, because the law does not allow Maguire—and, by extension, the OLC—to overrule Atkinson’s assessment of a whistleblower complaint. It tasks Atkinson with deciding whether the complaint meets ICWPA’s standards, not Maguire. OLC claimed a right, on Maguire’s behalf, to independently determine whether the complaint constitutes an “urgent concern.” No such right exists.

The OLC then followed a different law, which requires executive branch officials to notify the attorney general if they discover potential “violations of Federal criminal law involving Government officers.” So instead of going to Congress, the whistleblower’s complaint went to the DOJ and, apparently, to Barr himself. The DOJ then assessed whether Trump may have committed a campaign finance violation, since it is a federal crime for any person to “solicit” any “thing of value” from a foreign national in connection with an election.

On Wednesday, the DOJ released a statement announcing that the agency had determined that “that there was no campaign finance violation and that no further action was warranted.” It reached this finding by deciding that dirt on a political opponent is not a “thing of value”—disagreeing with Robert Mueller, who believed opposition research could qualify as a “thing of value.” The DOJ’s contrary conclusion theory of campaign finance law is far-fetched if not outright incorrect, ignoring the immense value that Trump and Giuliani evidently saw in a Biden investigation.

We don’t know for sure that Barr’s fingerprints are on this decision. But the OLC purported to follow a statute that required the whistleblower complaint to be “expeditiously reported to the Attorney General.” Thus, Barr was, at a minimum, presumably aware of the criminal referral. Moreover, there is no indication that Barr recused himself from the whistleblower matter, even though Trump invoked him on the call at the center of the affair.

In short, Barr’s Justice Department first manipulated ICWPA to prevent Maguire from sending the whistleblower complaint to Congress. It then manipulated campaign finance law to determine that Trump had committed no crime and refused to open an investigation. And the Attorney General himself, who appears to be implicated in the whistleblower’s complaint, almost certainly played a role in quashing any probe into the president.

Faced with this stonewalling at DOJ, House Democrats have no choice but to pursue impeachment if they want to get to the bottom of this scandal and punish Trump accordingly. Barr and his allies at the Justice Department certainly aren’t going to do it. To the contrary, the Justice Department seems eager to shield the president from any consequences. Under Barr, the DOJ has defended Trump’s refusal to comply with congressional subpoenas into his personal finances. It has even intervened on behalf of his former campaign chairman, convicted felon Paul Manafort, lobbying for him to receive special privileges behind bars. The Justice Department has all but announced that it will aide Trump’s allies and fight his enemies.

Barr will do whatever he can insulate Trump from federal law. We can certainly expect his DOJ to fight the House’s impeachment inquiry by attempting to stop executive officials from testifying, as it has before. But there is one important power that Barr lacks: He cannot stop Congress from concluding that the president has committed high crimes and misdemeanors.


Stern doesn’t even get into the equally serious problem of Barr’s “maliciously incompetent” mis-management, his intentional misconstruction of immigration law, and his promotion of biased, xenophobic, anti-asylum applicant decision making in the failing U.S. Immigration Courts which, despite their clearly unconstitutional structure, continue to operate as an appendage of DHS enforcement within the DOJ, as the Federal Appellate Courts disgracefully (and spinelessly) pretend to look the other way. History won’t be so kind to the “enablers” on the Federal Bench.



REFUGEES FLEEING FOR THEIR LIVES UNLIKELY TO BE DETERRED BY TRUMP’S & FEDERAL COURTS’ ILLEGAL & UNETHICAL “DETERRENCE THROUGH EXTREME CRUELTY” PROGRAM! — “The bleak reality is that, to deter people from seeking safety in our country, we would have to do so much worse than locking them up with their children indefinitely. Unless we are willing to be more cruel than what they are fleeing, deterrence is not an option.”

Dr. Eleanor Emery
Dr. Eleanor Emery
Indian Health Services
New Mexico


Dr. Eleanor Emery writes in USA Today:


Asylum seekers I meet flee something even worse than Trump’s unethical immigration agenda

Our immigration policies seek to discourage border crossings by making life difficult for migrants. But almost nothing could be worse than going home.

Updated 8:38 am EDT Sep. 24, 2019

The Trump administration recently announced it intends to end the Flores settlement, an agreement that has been in place since 1997 and sets minimum standards for the treatment of children in detention. Under Flores, the detainment of children is restricted to a maximum of 20 days in order to limit their exposure to the harsh conditions and negative health impacts of detention. Overturning this agreement would allow children to be detained with their families indefinitely.

As a physician who works with adults seeking asylum in the United States, part of my role is to understand the magnitude of violence that a person has experienced and that has motivated their journey to our country. The stories I hear, and the physical and psychological scars that these asylum seekers bear, are a vivid portrayal of the forces driving migration.

The Trump administration has rationalized their decision to overturn Flores using the concept of deterrence. Ken Cuccinelli, acting director of Citizenship and Immigration Services, explained the decision this way:

“This is a deterrent, because they know that instead of rushing the border, which is what’s been going on for a number of years now, by using the massive numbers coming to the border and overwhelming our facilities and our capacity to hold folks and our court rulings, which is what the Flores rule was, that now they can and will to the extent we’re able to do so, hold them until those hearings happen.”

In other words, if migrant families know they face prolonged detainment in the United States, they might reconsider making the journey at all. This flawed logic exemplifies a fundamental misunderstanding of the context of migration to our southern border today.

‘Push’ and ‘pull’ — but especially ‘push’

Migration is driven by a combination of “push” and “pull” factors. In economic migration, migrants are being pulled to the USA by promises of better jobs or educational opportunities in the destination country.

But much of the record level of migration from Central America here has been driven, not by the allure of better opportunities, but by an epidemic of violence in the home countries — by push factors. In fact, a recent Doctors Without Borders report found that nearly 40% of migrants cited direct attacks or threats to themselves or their families as the main reason for fleeing their countries. The majority of these people originate from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala — the Northern Triangle — one of the most violent parts of the world today.

Latinos have no excuse: I asked Latinos why they joined immigration law enforcement. Now I’m urging them to leave.

The principle of deterrence is based on the idea that any act has associated positive and negative outcomes. If you are able to increase the associated negative outcomes, then you may ultimately reach a tipping point where it is no longer in the actor’s best interests to perform the act.

In the case of migration, if you can increase the negative consequences of crossing the border without legal status, then at some point the harm of doing so outweighs the potential benefit. But as I listen to the histories of asylum seekers — to the accounts of torture, of gang rape, of family members, including children, being murdered in front of you — deterrence seems not only morally dubious but futile. When this is the push, is there anything in the world that could deter you from running?

How cruel are we willing to be?

I recently met one asylum seeker fleeing years of imprisonment and brutal sexual violence by a gang in her home country in the Northern Triangle. After a harrowing escape and journey leading to our border, she presented herself to Customs and Border Patrol Protection agents and requested asylum. She was taken into custody and sent to a detention facility in California, where she had been awaiting her asylum hearing for months.

After sitting with her for hours, hearing her story and examining her scars, I asked her how she felt about being in detention. She shrugged. When she arrived at the U.S. border seeking safety, she certainly hadn’t expected to be put in jail. But she also told me that the detention center wasn’t all that bad — no one rapes her there.

Our immigration policies hurt Americans: An illegal immigrant killed my daughter. Trump’s right — we must complete the border wall.

Many of the asylum seekers I have met give a similar, stark assessment of the pros and cons of migrating to the USA. I have led clinics in New York, Massachusetts and California that conduct forensic medical evaluations for people seeking asylum, and the terror that they are fleeing is consistent.

Through my work with the Los Angeles Human Rights Initiative, I met another young woman who had been imprisoned by a gang and subjected to torture and gang rape before escaping and coming to the United States. She told me she would rather die in detention than be deported home to the Northern Triangle to face her former captors who awaited her there.

A third woman in California, who was applying for asylum on the grounds of domestic violence, was resolute when she spoke with me about her heart-breaking decision to leave her son behind with family when she fled her ruthless husband, a police officer in her town. When I asked whether she ever regretted her decision, she said no. Leaving her son had felt like dying, but the abuse her husband had subjected her to was worse than death.

Apart from being unethical, the human rights abuses generated by the Trump administration’s immigration policies will simply not accomplish their objective of stemming the tide of migration. The bleak reality is that, to deter people from seeking safety in our country, we would have to do so much worse than locking them up with their children indefinitely. Unless we are willing to be more cruel than what they are fleeing, deterrence is not an option.

Dr. Eleanor Emery is a member of the Physicians for Human Rights Asylum Network and a program officer at the Center for Health Equity Education and Advocacy at Cambridge Health Alliance. She lives and practices internal medicine with the Indian Health Service in New Mexico. Her views do not reflect the views of her employer.

You can read diverse opinions from our Board of Contributors and other writers on the Opinion front page, on Twitter @usatodayopinion and in our daily Opinion newsletter. To respond to a column, submit a comment to letters@usatoday.com.

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Originally Published 6:00 am EDT Sep. 24, 2019

**Updated 8:38 am EDT Sep. 24, 2019**


Unfortunately, I think that Dr. Emery has underestimated the racism-fueled intentional cruelty of the Trump Administration as well as the cowardice and fecklessness of many Federal Judges, particularly at the appellate level.

Sending asylum applicants to Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, some of the most dangerous country in the world, plagued by corruption, and without functional asylum systems takes lawlessness, cruelty, complicity, and open mockery of our justice system to a new level! 

I agree with her that it probably won’t be enough to stop refugees from coming. But, it might well be enough to stop them from using our legal system and to just take their chances with the smugglers and the extralegal immigration system that Trump and his courts have been working so hard to expand and enable.  

As I have said numerous times, Trump and his immoral scofflaw DHS & DOJ sycophants are the “best friends” of professional smugglers, cartels, gangs, rapists, kidnappers, and extortionists. By diverting attention and resources from real law enforcement to punishing individuals who are trying to use our legal system, Trump and his cronies and enablers have been an amazing boon and “profit center” for criminals.