"The Voice of the New Due Process Army" ————– Musings on Events in U.S. Immigration Court, Immigration Law, Sports, and Other Random Topics by Retired United States Immigration Judge (Arlington, Virginia) and former Chairman of the Board of Immigration Appeals Paul Wickham Schmidt. To see my complete professional bio, just click on the link below.
A Seattle federal judge ruled Tuesday that asylum-seeking migrants detained for being in the U.S. illegally have the right to a bond hearing in immigration court rather than being held until their cases are complete.
U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman said it is unconstitutional to indefinitely detain migrants who fled to the U.S. seeking asylum protections.
The decision reverses an April directivefrom Attorney General William Barr ordering immigration judges not to release migrants on bail after an applicant successfully establishes “a credible fear of persecution or torture” in the home country — a policy that has been in place since 2005.
“The court finds that plaintiffs have established a constitutionally-protected interest in their liberty, a right to due process, which includes a hearing before a neutral decision maker to assess the necessity of their detention and a likelihood of success on the merits of that issue,” Pechman wrote.
In her ruling, Pechman also took issue with an aspect of Barr’s policy that left open the possibility that migrants, still awaiting a hearing, could be re-detained by ICE after being released on bond.
“The Government’s unwillingness to unconditionally assert that Plaintiffs will not be re-detained means that the specter of re-detention looms and these Plaintiffs and many members of their class face the real and imminent threat of bondless and indefinite detention …,” she said.
The ruling comes amid a widespread shortage of immigration judges that has caused massive delays in processing hearings. The most recent dataavailable from The Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse shows a total of 424 judges nationwide face a backlog of 892,517 cases on the courts’ active dockets as of the end of April.
“The three largest immigration courts were so under-resourced that hearing dates were being scheduled as far out as August 2023 in New York City, October 2022 in Los Angeles, and April 2022 in San Francisco,” TRAC reports
Pechman also modified a preliminary injunction issued earlier this year. The new injunction requires the government to ensure bond hearings are held within seven days after they are requested by eligible asylum-seekers. If the government exceeds that limit, the undocumented immigrant must be released.
Immigrant rights advocates, including the American Civil Liberties Union and the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, sued to block the policy, which was set to take effect this month.
In a statement, Matt Adams, legal director of Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, said: “The court reaffirmed what has been settled for decades: that asylum seekers who enter this country have a right to be free from arbitrary detention.”
Michael Tan, senior staff attorney for the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, added: “Try as it may, the administration cannot circumvent the Constitution in its effort to deter and punish asylum-seekers applying for protection.”
The Department of Justice is expected to appeal the ruling quickly.
Go to the NPR website for a full copy of Judge Pechman’s decision in Padilla v. ICE.
So, while the 9thCircuit is bopping along violating human rights by enabling Trump’s absurdly illegal “Kill ‘Em in Mexico Program,” as a result of a three-judge panel who tanked on their oaths of office, Judge Pechman and some others at the “retail level” of the Federal Judiciary are still on the job and upholding our Constitution against the all-out assault led by Barr on behalf of Trump.
It’s also worth remembering that the U.S. Attorney General is supposed to uphold the Constitution and protect individual rights, rather than serving as tool of racist White Nationalist extremism as Sessions and Barr have done. Already in shambles and a disgraceful ethical morass, there won’t be anything left of the “Justice” Department by the time Barr’s toxic tenure ends.
Bill Barr is a national disgrace and an affront to American justice. But, hey, it’s the Trump Adminisration, so what else is new?
APPELLATE LITIGATION IN TODAY’S BROKEN AND BIASED IMMIGRATION COURT SYSTEM: FOUR STEPS TO A WINNING COUNTERATTACK BY THE RELENTLESS “NEW DUE PROCESS ARMY”
Paul Wickham Schmidt
U.S. Immigration Judge (Retired)
Member of the Roundtable Of Retired Immigration Judges
FBA Immigration Conference
May 18, 2019
Once upon a time, there was a court system with a vision: Through teamwork and innovation be the world’s best administrative tribunals guaranteeing fairness and due process for all. Two decades later, that vision has become a nightmare.
Would a system with even the faintest respect for Due Process, the rule of law, and human life open so-called “courts” in places where no legal services are available, using a variety of largely untrained “judges,” themselves operating on moronic and unethical “production quotas,” many appearing by poorly functioning and inadequate televideo? Would a real court system put out a “fact sheet” of blatant lies and nativist false narratives designed to denigrate the very individuals who seek justice before them and to discredit their dedicated, and often pro bono or low bono, attorneys? This system is as disgraceful as it is dysfunctional.
Today, the U.S. Immigration Court betrays due process, mockscompetent administration, and slaps a false veneer of “justice” on a “deportation railroad” designed to evade our solemn Constitutional responsibilities to guarantee due process and equal protection. It seeks to snuff out every existing legal right of migrants. Indeed, it is designed specifically to demean, dehumanize, and mistreat the very individuals whose rights and lives it is charged with protecting.
It cruelly betrays everything our country claims to stand for and baldly perverts ourinternational obligations to protect refugees. In plain terms, the Immigration Court has become an intentionally “hostile environment” for migrants and their attorneys.
This hostility particularly targets the most vulnerable among us – asylum applicants, mostly families, women, and children fleeing targeted violence and systematicfemicidal actions in failed states; places where gangs, cartels, and corrupt officials have replaced any semblance of honest competent governmentwilling and able to make reasonable efforts to protect its citizenry from persecution and torture. All of these states have long, largely unhappy histories with the United States. In my view and that of many others, their current sad condition is in no small measure intertwined with our failed policies over the years – failed policies that we now are mindlessly “doubling down” upon.
My friends have given you the law. Now, I’m going to give you the “facts.” Let’s go over to the “seamy underside of reality,” where the war for due process and the survival of democracy is being fought out every day. Because we can’t really view the travesty taking place at the BIA as an isolated incident. It’s part of an overall attack on Due Process,fundamental fairness, human decency and particularly asylum seekers, women, and children intoday’s “weaponized” Immigration Courts.
I, of course, hold harmless the FBA, the “Burmanator,” my fellow panelists, all of you, and anyone else of any importance whatsoever for the views I express this morning. They are mine, and mine alone, for which I take full responsibility. No party line, no sugar coating, no bureaucratic BS – just the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, as I see it based on more than four- and one-half decades in the fray at all levels. In the words of country music superstar Toby Keith, “It’s me baby, with your wake-up call.”
So here are my four tips for taking the fight to the forces of darkness through appellate litigation.
II. FOUR STEPS
First, If you lose before the Immigration Court, which is fairly likely under the current aggressively xenophobic “dumbed down” regime, take your appeals to the BIA and the Circuit Courts of Appeals. There are three good reasons for appealing: 1) in most cases it gives your client an automatic stay of removal pending appeal to the BIA; 2) appealing to the BIA ultimately gives you access to the “real” Article III Courts that still operate more or less independently from the President and his Attorney General; and 3) who knows, even in the “crapshoot world” of today’s BIA, you might win.
After the “Ashcroft Purge of ’03,’’ which incidentally claimed both Judge Rosenberg and me among its casualties, the BIA became, in the words of my friend, gentleman, and scholar Peter Levinson, “a facade of quasi-judicial independence.” But, amazingly, it has gotten even worse since then. The “facade” has now become a “farce” – “judicial dark comedy” if you will.
And, as I speak, incredibly, Barr is working hard to change the regulations to further “dumb down” the BIA and extinguish any last remaining semblance of a fair and deliberative quasi-judicial process. If he gets his way, which is likely, the BIA will be “packed with more restrictionist judges,” decentralized so it ceases to function as even a ghost of a single deliberative body, and the system will be “gamed” so that any two “hard line” Board “judges,” acting as a “fake panel” will be able to designate anti-asylum, anti-immigrant, and pro-DHS “precedents” without even consulting their colleagues.
Even more outrageously, Barr and his “do-bees” over at the Office of Immigration Litigation (“OIL”) intend to present this disingenuous mockery as the work of an “expert tribunal” deserving so-called “Chevron deference.” Your job is to expose this fraud to the Article IIIs in all of its ugliness and “malicious incompetence.”
Yes, I know, many “real” Federal Judges don’t like immigraton cases. “Tough noogies” — that’s their job!
I always tell my law students about the advantages of helping judges and opposing counsel operate within their “comfort zones” so that they can “get to yes” for your client. But, this assumes a system operating professionally and in basic good faith. In the end, it’s not about fulfilling the judge’s or opposing counsel’s career fantasies or self-images. It’s about getting Due Process and justice for your client under law.
And, if Article III judges don’t start living up to their oaths of office, enforcing fair and impartial asylum adjudication, and upholding Due Process and Equal Protection under our Constitution they will soon have nothing but immigration cases on their dockets. They will, in effect, become full time Immigration Judges whether they like it or not. Your job is not to let them off the hook.
Second, challengethe use of Attorney General precedents such as Matter of A-B- or Matter of M-S- on ethical grounds. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, in a recent decision written by Judge Tatel invalidating the rulings of a military judge on ethical grounds said: “This much is clear: whenever and however military judges are assigned, rehired, and reviewed, they must always maintain the appearance of impartiality.”
Like military judges, Immigration Judges and BIA Judges sit on life or death matters. The same is true of the Attorney General when he or she chooses to intervene in an individual case purporting to act in a quasi-judicial capacity.
Yet, Attorney General Barr has very clearly lined himself up with the interests of the President and his partisan policies, as shown by his recent actions in connection with the Mueller report. And, previous Attorney General Jeff Sessions was a constant unapologetic cheerleader for DHS enforcement who publicly touted a White Nationalist restrictionist immigration agenda. In Sessions’s case, that included references to “dirty attorneys” representing asylum seekers, use of lies and demonstrably false narratives attemptingto connect migrants with crimes, and urging Immigration Judges adjudicating asylum cases not to be moved by the compelling humanitarian facts of such cases.
Clearly, Barr and Sessions acted unethically and improperly in engaging in quasi-judicial decision making where they were so closely identified in public with the government party to the litigation. My gosh, in what “justice system” is the “chief prosecutor” allowed to reach in and change results he doesn’t like to favor the prosecution? It’s like something out of Franz Kafka or the Stalinist justice system.
Their unethical participation should be a basis for invalidating their precedents. In addition, individuals harmed by that unethical behavior should be entitled to new proceedings before fair and unbiased quasi-judicial officials — in other words, they deserve a decision from a real judge, not a biased DOJ immigration enforcement politico.
Third, make a clear record of how due process is being intentionally undermined, bias institutionalized, and the rule of law mocked in today’s Immigration Courts. This record can be used before the Article III Courts,Congress, and future Presidents to insure that the system is changed, that an independent Article I U.S. Immigration Court free of Executive overreach and political control is created, and that guaranteeing due process and fundamental fairness to all is restored as that court’s one and only mission.
Additionally, we are making anhistorical recordof how those in charge and many of their underlings are intentionally abusing our constitutional system of justice or looking the other way and thus enabling such abuses. And, while many Article III judges have stood tall for the rule of law against such abuses, others have enabled those seeking to destroy equal justice in America. They must be confrontedwith their derelictions of duty. Their intransigence in the face of dire emergency and unrelenting human tragedy and injusticein our immigration system must be recorded for future generations. They must be held accountable.
Fourth, and finally, we must fight what some have referred to as the “Dred Scottification” of foreign nationals in our legal system. The absolute mess at the BIA and in the Immigration Courts is a result of a policy of “malicious incompetence” along with a concerted effort to make foreign nationals “non-persons” under the Fifth Amendment.
And, while foreign nationals might be the most visible, they are by no means the only targets of this effort to “de-personize” and effectively “de-humanize” minority groups under the law and in our society. LGBTQ individuals, minority voters, immigrants, Hispanic Americans, African Americans, women, the poor, lawyers, journalists, Muslims, liberals, civil servants, and Democrats are also on the “due process hit list.”
III. CONCLUSION & CHARGE
In conclusion, the failure of Due Process at the BIA is part of a larger assault on Due Process in our justice system. I havetold you that to thwart it and to restore our precious Constitutional protections we must: 1) take appeals; 2) challenge the precedents resulting from Sessions’s and Barr’s unethical participation in the quasi-judicial process; 3) make the historical record; and 4) fight “Dred Scottification.”
I also encourage all of you to read and subscribe (it’s free) to my blog, immigrationcourtside.com, “The Voice of the New Due Process Army.” If you like what you have just heard, you can find the longer, 12-step version, that I recently gave to the Louisiana State Bar on “Courtside.”
Folks, the antidote to “malicious incompetence” is “righteous competence.”The U.S Immigration Court system is on the verge of collapse. And, there is every reason to believe that the misguided “enforce and detain to the max” policies, with resulting “Aimless Docket Reshuffling,” intentionally “jacked up” and uncontrollable court backlogs, and “dumbed down” judicial facades being pursued by this Administration and furthered by the spineless sycophants in EOIR management will drive the Immigration Courts over the edge.
When that happens, a large chunk of the entire American justice system and the due process guarantees that make America great and different from most of the rest of the world will go down with it. As the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., said in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
The Immigration Court’s once-noble due process vision is being mocked and trashed before our very eyes by arrogant folks who think that they can get away with destroying our legal system to further their selfish political interests.
Now is the time to take a stand for fundamental fairness and equal justice under law! Join the New Due Process Army and fight for a just future for everyone in America! Due process forever! “Malicious incompetence” never!
NPR’s Michel Martin speaks with Jeffrey Chase, a former immigration judge, about how President Trump’s new proposals will affect immigration courts.
MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I’m Michel Martin. Immigration, both legal and unauthorized, has been a central issue for Donald Trump since he announced his candidacy for president. Last week, he announced his plan for an overhaul to the current system, which emphasizes family ties and employment, moving to a system that would prioritize certain education and employment qualifications.
Overshadowing all of this, however, is the huge backlog of immigration cases already in the system waiting to go before the courts. More than 800,000 cases are waiting to be resolved, according to The New York Times. We wanted to get a sense of how the immigration courts are functioning now and how the new system could affect the courts, so we’ve called Jeffrey Chase. He is a retired immigration judge in New York. He worked as a staff attorney at the Board of Immigration Appeals. We actually caught up with him at the airport on his way back from a conference on national immigration law, which was held in Austin, Texas.
Mr. Chase, welcome. Thank you so much for joining us.
JEFFREY CHASE: Thank you. Yeah, it seems appropriate to be at JFK Airport talking about immigration. So…
MARTIN: It does.
CHASE: It worked out.
MARTIN: So, first of all, just – as you said, you’re just coming back from this conference. Could you just give me – just overall, what are you hearing from your colleagues, particularly your former colleagues in the courts, about how this system is functioning now? How do they experience this backlog? Is it this unending flow of cases that they can’t do anything with? Or – how are they experiencing this?
CHASE: Yeah. You know, the American Bar Association just put out a report on the immigration courts recently in which they said it’s a dysfunctional system on the verge of collapse. And that was, basically, agreed to by everybody at the conference, including sitting immigration judges. What the judges have said is that the new judges being hired are pretty much being told in their training that they’re not really judges, that instead, they should view themselves as loyal employees of the attorney general and of the executive branch of government. They are basically being trained to deny cases not to fairly consider them.
So, you know, the immigration court itself has to be neutral, has to be transparent and has to be immune from political pressures. And unfortunately, the immigration courts have always been housed within the Department of Justice, which is a prosecutorial agency that does not have transparency and which is certainly not immune from political pressures. So there’s always been this tension there, and I think they’ve really come to a head under this administration.
MARTIN: Well, the president has said that his new proposal should improve the process by screening out meritless claims. And I think his argument is that because there will be a clearly defined point system for deciding who is eligible and who is not, that this should deter this kind of flood of cases. What is your response to that?
CHASE: Yeah, I don’t think it addresses the court system at all because he’s talking – his proposal addresses, you know, the system where people overseas apply for visas and then come here when their green cards are ready. And those are generally not the cases in the courts. The courts right now are flooded with people applying for political asylum because they’re fleeing violence in Central America.
MARTIN: Well, can I just interrupt here? So you’re just saying – I guess on this specific question, though, you’re saying that this proposal to move to a system based on awarding points for certain qualifications would not address the backlog because that is not where applicants come in. Applicants who are a part of this backlog are not affected by that. Is that what you’re saying?
CHASE: Yes. Applying for asylum is completely outside of that whole point system and visa system. And that’s saying that anyone who appears at the border or at an airport and says, I’m unable to return; I’m in fear for my life, goes on a whole different track.
MARTIN: And so, finally, what would affect this backlog? What would be the most – in your view, based on your experience – the most effective way to address this backlog – this enormous backlog of cases?
CHASE: I think, to begin with, any high-volume court system – criminal courts, you know, outside of the immigration system – can only survive when you have – the two parties are able to conference cases, are able to reach pre-case settlements, are able to reach agreements on things. If you could imagine in the criminal court system, if every jaywalking case had to go through a – you know, a full jury trial and then, you know, get appealed all the way up as high as it could go, that system would be in danger of collapse as well. So I think you have to return to a system where you allow the two sides to negotiate things.
And you also have to give the judges – let them be judges. Give them the tools they need to be judges and the independence they need to be judges. And lastly, you have to prioritize the cases.
MARTIN: Before we let you go, I assume that there were different political perspectives at this conference, given that people come from all different sectors of that – of the bar. And I just wondered – and I assume that there are some there who favor more restrictionist methods and some who don’t. I was wondering, overall, was there a mood at this conference?
CHASE: I think the overall mood, even amongst the restrictionist ones – the idea that, you know, look; judges have to be allowed to be judges and have to be given the respect and the tools they need to do their job is one that’s even held by the more restrictionist ones. And although the government people aren’t allowed to speak publicly under this administration, I think privately, they’re very happy about a lot of the advocates fighting these things and bringing – making these issues more public.
MARTIN: Jeffrey Chase is a former immigration judge. He’s returned to private practice. And we actually caught up with him on his way back from an immigration law conference in Austin, Texas. We actually caught up with him at the airport in New York.
Jeffrey Chase, thank you so much for talking to us.
CHASE: Thank you so much for having me on the show.
Go to the link for the full audio from NPR.
I agree with my friend Jeffrey that the sense at the FBA Immigration Conference in Austin, TX was that EOIR had hit “rock bottom” from all angles: ethics, bias, and competence, but amazingly was continuing in “free fall” even after hitting that bottom. It’s difficult to convey just how completely FUBAR this once promising “court system” has become after nearly two decades of politicized mismanagement from the DOJ culminating in the current Administration’s “malicious incompetence” and EOIR’s aggressive disdain for its former “Due Process mission.”
JUSTICE BETRAYED: THE INTENTIONAL MISTREATMENT OF CENTRAL AMERICAN ASYLUM APPLICANTS BY THE EXECUTIVE OFFICE FOR IMMIGRATION REVIEW
Paul Wickham Schmidt
U.S. Immigration Judge (Retired)
Federal Bar Association Immigration Conference
May 17, 2019
Hi, I’m Paul Schmidt, moderator of this panel. So, I have something useful to do while my wonderful colleagues do all the “heavy lifting,” please submit all questions to me in writing. And remember, free beer for everyone at the Bullock Texas State Museum after this panel!
Welcome to the front lines of the battle for our legal system, and ultimately for the future of our constitutional republic. Because, make no mistake, once this Administration, its nativist supporters, and enablers succeed in eradicating the rights and humanity of Central American asylum seekers, all their other “enemies” — Hispanics, gays, African Americans, the poor, women, liberals, lawyers, journalists, civil servants, Democrats — will be in line for “Dred Scottification” — becoming “non-persons” under our Constitution. If you don’t know what the “Insurrection Act” is or “Operation Wetback” was, you should “tune in” to today’s edition of my blog immigrationcourtside.com and take a look into the future of America under our current leaders’ dark and disgraceful vision.
Before I introduce the “Dream Team” sitting to my right, a bit of asylum history.
In 1987, the Supreme Court established in INS v. Cardoza-Fonseca that a well founded fear of persecution for asylum was to be interpreted generously in favor of asylum applicants. So generously, in fact, that someone with only a 10% chance of persecution qualifies.
Shortly thereafter, the BIA followed suit with Matter of Mogharrabi, holding that asylum should be granted even in cases where persecution was significantly less than probable. To illustrate, the BIA granted asylum to an Iranian who suffered threats at the Iranian Interests Section in Washington, DC. Imagine what would happen to a similar case under today’s regime!
In the 1990s, the “Legacy INS” enacted regulations establishing that those who had suffered “past persecution” would be presumed to have a well-founded fear of future persecution, unless the Government could show materially changed circumstances or a reasonably available internal relocation alternative that would eliminate that well-founded fear. In my experience as a judge, that was a burden that the Government seldom could meet.
But the regulations went further and said that even where the presumption of a well founded fear had been rebutted, asylum could still be granted because of “egregious past persecution” or “other serious harm.”
In 1996, the BIA decided the landmark case of Matter of Kasinga, recognizing that abuses directed at women by a male dominated society, such as “female genital mutilation’ (“FGM”), could be a basis for granting asylum based on a “particular social group.” Some of us, including my good friend and colleague Judge Lory Rosenberg, staked our careers on extending that much-need protection to women who had suffered domestic violence. Although it took an unnecessarily long time, that protection eventually was realized in the 2014 precedent Matter of A-R-C-G-, long after our “forced departure” from the BIA.
And, as might be expected, over the years the asylum grant rate in Immigration Court rose steadily, from a measly 11% in the early 1980s, when EOIR was created, to 56% in 2012, in an apparent long overdue fulfillment of the generous legal promise of Cardoza-Fonseca. Added to those receiving withholding of removal and/or relief under the Convention Against Torture (“CAT”), approximately two-thirds of asylum applicants were receiving well-deserved, often life-saving legal protection in Immigration Court.
Indeed, by that time, asylum grant rates in some of the more due-process oriented courts with asylum expertise like New York and Arlington exceeded 70%, and could have been models for the future. In other words, after a quarter of a century of struggles, the generous promise of Cardoza-Fonseca was finally on the way to being fulfilled. Similarly, the vision of the Immigration Courts as “through teamwork and innovation being the world’s best administrative tribunals guaranteeing fairness and due process for all” was at least coming into focus, even if not a reality in some Immigration Courts that continued to treat asylum applicants with hostility.
And, that doesn’t count those offered prosecutorial discretion or “PD” by the DHS counsel. Sometimes, this was a humanitarian act to save those who were in danger if returned but didn’t squarely fit the somewhat convoluted “refugee” definition as interpreted by the BIA. Other times, it appeared to be a strategic move by DHS to head off possible precedents granting asylum in “close cases” or in “emerging circumstances.”
In 2014, there was a so-called “surge” in asylum applicants, mostly scared women, children, and families from the Northern Triangle of Central America seeking protection from worsening conditions involving gangs, cartels, and corrupt governments.There was a well-established record of femicide and other widespread and largely unmitigated gender-based violence directed against women and gays, sometimes by the Northern Triangle governments and their agents, other times by gangs and cartels operating with the knowledge and acquiescence of the governments concerned.
Also, given the breakdown of governmental authority and massive corruption, gangs and cartels assumed quasi-governmental status, controlling territories, negotiating “treaties,” exacting involuntary “taxes,” and severely punishing those who publicly opposed their political policies by refusing to join, declining to pay, or attempting to report them to authorities. Indeed, MS-13 eventually became the largest employer in El Salvador. Sometimes, whole family groups, occupational groups, or villages were targeted for their public acts of resistance.
Not surprisingly in this context, the vast majority of those who arrived during the so-called “surge” passed “credible fear” screening by the DHS and were referred to the Immigration Courts, or in the case of “unaccompanied minors,” to the Asylum Offices, to pursue their asylum claims.
The practical legal solution to this humanitarian flow was obvious — help folks find lawyers to assist in documenting and presenting their cases, screen out the non-meritorious claims and those who had prior gang or criminal associations, and grant the rest asylum. Even those not qualifying for asylum because of the arcane “nexus” requirements appeared to fit squarely within the CAT protection based on likelihood of torture with government acquiescence upon return to the Northern Triangle. Some decent BIA precedents, a robust refugee program in the Northern Triangle, along with continued efforts to improve the conditions there would have “sealed the deal.” In other words, the Obama Administration had all of the legal tools necessary to deal effectively and humanely with the misnamed “surge” as what it really was — a humanitarian situation and an opportunity for our country to show human rights leadership!
But, then things took a strange and ominous turn. After years of setting records for deportations and removals, and being disingenuously called “soft on enforcement” by the GOP, the Obama Administration began believing the GOP myths that they were wimps. They panicked! Their collective “manhood” depended on showing that they could quickly return refugees to the Northern Triangle to “deter” others from coming. Thus began the “weaponization” of our Immigration Court system that has continued unabated until today.
They began imprisoning families and children in horrible conditions and establishing so-called “courts” in those often for profit prisons in obscure locations where attorneys generally were not readily available. They absurdly claimed that everyone should be held without bond because as a group they were a “national security risk.” They argued in favor of indefinite detention without bond and making children and toddlers “represent themselves” in Immigration Court.
The Attorney General also sent strong messages to EOIR that hurrying folks through the system by “prioritizing” them, denying their claims, “stuffing” their appeals, and returning them to the Northern Triangle with a mere veneer of due process was an essential part of the Administration’s “get tough” enforcement program. EOIR was there to “send a message” to those who might be considering fleeing for their lives — don’t come, you won’t get in, no matter how strong your claim might be.
They took judges off of their established dockets and sent them to the Southern Border to expeditiously remove folks before they could get legal help. They insisted on jamming unprepared cases of recently arrived juveniles and “adults with children” in front of previously docketed cases, thereby generating total chaos and huge backlogs through what is known as “aimless docket reshuffling” (“ADR”).
Hurry up scheduling and ADR also resulted in more “in absentia” orders because of carelessly prepared and often inadequate or wrongly addressed “notices” sent out by overwhelmed DHS and EOIR court staff. Sometimes DHS could remove those with in absentia orders before they got a chance to reopen their cases. Other times, folks didn’t even realize a removal order had been entered until they were on their way back.
They empowered judges with unusually high asylum denial rates. By a ratio of nine to one they hired new judges from prosecutorial backgrounds, rather than from the large body of qualified candidates with experience in representing asylum applicants who might actually have been capable of working within the system to fairly and efficiently recognize meritorious cases, promote fair access to pro bono counsel, and insure that doubtful cases or those needing more attention did not get “lost” in the artificial backlogs being created in an absurdly mismanaged system. In other words, due process took a back seat to “expedience” and fulfilling inappropriate Administration enforcement goals.
Asylum grant rates began to drop, even as conditions on the ground for refugees worldwide continued to deteriorate. Predictably, however, detention, denial, inhumane treatment, harsh rhetoric, and unfair removals failed to stop refugees from fleeing the Northern Triangle.
But, just when many of us thought things couldn’t get worse, they did. The Trump Administration arrived on the scene. They put lifelong White Nationalist xenophobe nativists Jeff Sessions and Stephen Miller in charge of eradicating the asylum process. Sessions decided that even artificially suppressed asylum grant rates weren’t providing enough deterrence; asylum seekers were still winning too many cases. So he did away with A-R-C-G- and made it harder for Immigration Judges to control their dockets.
He tried to blame asylum seekers and their largely pro bono attorneys, whom he called “dirty lawyers,” for having created a population of 11 million undocumented individuals in the U.S. He promoted bogus claims and false narratives about immigrants and crime. Perhaps most disgustingly, he was the “mastermind” behind the policy of “child separation” which inflicted lifetime damage upon the most vulnerable and has resulted in some children still not being reunited with their families.
He urged “judges” to summarily deny asylum claims of women based on domestic violence or because of fear of persecution by gangs. He blamed the judges for the backlogs he was dramatically increasing with more ADR and told them to meet new quotas for churning out final orders or be fired. He made it clear that denials of asylum, not grants, were to be the “new norm” for final orders.
His sycophantic successor, Bill Barr, an immigration hard-liner, immediately picked up the thread by eliminating bond for most individuals who had passed credible fear. Under Barr, the EOIR has boldly and publicly abandoned any semblance of due process, fairness, or unbiased decision making in favor of becoming an Administration anti-asylum propaganda factory. Just last week they put out a “bogus fact sheet” of lies about the asylum process and the dedicated lawyers trying to help asylum seekers. The gist was that the public should believe that almost all asylum seekers from the Northern Triangle are mala fide and that getting them attorneys and explaining their rights are a waste of time and money.
In the meantime, the Administration has refused to promptly process asylum applicants at ports of entry; made those who have passed credible fear “wait in Mexico” in dangerous and sometimes life-threatening conditions; unsuccessfully tried to suspend the law allowing those who enter the U.S. between ports of entry to apply for asylum; expanded the “New American Gulag” with tent cities and more inhumane prisons — dehumanizingly referred to as “beds” as if they existed without reference to those humans confined to them; illegally reprogrammed money that could have gone for additional humanitarian assistance to a stupid and unnecessary “wall;” and threatened to “dump” asylum seekers to “punish” so-called “sanctuary cities.” Perhaps most outrageously, in violation of clear statutory mandates, they have replaced trained Asylum Officers in the “credible fear” process with totally unqualified Border Patrol Agents whose job is to make the system “adversarial” and to insure that fewer individuals pass “credible fear.”
The Administration says the fact that the “credible fear” pass rate is much higher than the asylum grant rate is evidence that the system is being “gamed.” That’s nativist BS! The, reality is just the opposite: that so many of those who pass credible fear are eventually rejected by Immigration Judges shows that something is fundamentally wrong with the Immigration Court system. Under pressure to produce and with too many biased, untrained, and otherwise unqualified “judges,” many claims that should be granted are being wrongfully denied.
Today, the Immigration Courts have become an openly hostile environment for asylum seekers and their representatives. Sadly, the Article III Courts aren’t much better, having largely “swallowed the whistle” on a system that every day blatantly mocks due process, the rule of law, and fair and unbiased treatment of asylum seekers. Many Article IIIs continue to “defer” to decisions produced not by “expert tribunals,” but by a fraudulent court system that has replaced due process with expediency and enforcement.
But, all is not lost. Even in this toxic environment, there are pockets of judges at both the administrative and Article III level who still care about their oaths of office and are continuing to grant asylum to battered women and other refugees from the Northern Triangle. Indeed, I have been told that more than 60 gender-based cases from Northern Triangle countries have been granted by Immigration Judges across the country even after Sessions’s blatant attempt to snuff out protection for battered women in Matter of A-B-. Along with dependent family members, that means hundreds of human lives of refugees saved, even in the current age.
Also significantly, by continuing to insist that asylum seekers from the Northern Triangle be treated fairly in accordance with due process and the applicable laws, we are making a record of the current legal and constitutional travesty for future generations. We are building a case for an independent Article I Immigration Court, for resisting nativist calls for further legislative restrictions on the rights of asylum seekers, and for eventually holding the modern day “Jim Crows” who have abused the rule of law and human values, at all levels of our system, accountable, before the “court of history” if nothing else!
Eventually, we will return to the evolving protection of asylum seekers in the pre-2014 era and eradicate the damage to our fundamental values and the rule of law being done by this Administration’s nativist, White Nationalist policies.That’s what the “New Due Process Army” is all about.
Here to tell you how to effectively litigate for the New Due Process Army and to save even more lives of deserving refugees from all areas of the world, particularly from the Northern Triangle, are three of the “best ever.” I know that, because each of them appeared before me during my tenure at the Arlington Immigration Court. They certainly brightened up my day whenever they appeared, and I know they will enlighten you with their legal knowledge, energy, wit, and humanity.
Andrea Rodriguez is the principal of Rodriguez Law in Arlington Virginia. Prior to opening her own practice, Andrea was the Director of Legal Services at the Central American Resource Center (CARECEN). She is a graduate of the City University of New York Law and George Mason University.
Eileen Blessinger is the principal of Blessinger Legal in Falls Church, Virginia. Eileen is a graduate of the Washington College of Law at American University. In addition to heading a multi-attorney practice firm, she is a frequent commentator on legal issues on television and in the print media.
Lisa Johnson-Firth is the principal of Immigrants First, specializing in removal defense, waivers, family-based adjustment, asylum and Convention Against Torture claims, naturalization, U and T visas, and Violence Against Women Act petitions. She holds a J.D. from Northeastern University, an LLB from the University of Sheffield in the U.K., and a B.A. degree from Allegheny College.
Andrea, starting with you, what’s the real situation in the Northern Triangle and the sordid history of the chronic failure of state protection?
Declaring the U.S. asylum system to be “in crisis,” President Donald Trump directed immigration officials on Monday night to introduce a slew of tough new rules for migrants seeking humanitarian protection in the United States.
The measures, outlined in a presidential memorandum, include the introduction of a fee for asylum applications and banning asylum seekers who’ve entered the U.S. illegally from receiving work permits. The memo also calls for the adjudication of asylum applications within 180 days.
The new rules, Trump said, are aimed at safeguarding “our system against rampant abuse of our asylum process.”
. . . .
It currently costs nothing for someone to file for asylum in the United States and immigration experts have warned that even a small fee could prove to be an impossible burden for some migrants seeking refuge. As The Washington Post noted, a vast majority of countries do not impose a fee on asylum claims.
“The majority of people coming to the United States seeking asylum are coming with little more than the shirts on their back,” Victoria Neilson, a former official at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, told Reuters.
Trump, who’s repeatedly lambasted migrants for exploiting what he says are legal loopholes in the asylum system, also ordered asylum seekers who’ve entered the country illegally to be banned from obtaining work authorization “before any applicable application for relief or protection from removal has been granted.” Currently, asylum seekers who’ve entered the U.S. both legally and illegally are allowed to work while their claims are pending.
“There’s a reason that we give people work permits while they are waiting for asylum, so that they can support themselves and don’t have to be depending on government assistance during that time,” Michelle Brané of the Women’s Refugee Commission told The New York Times.
. . . .
The memo also demands that all asylum applications, save for those involving “exceptional circumstances,” are adjudicated in immigration court within 180 days of filing.
As the Post noted, U.S. law already dictates that asylum cases are adjudicated within that time ― but due to an overwhelming number of cases and inadequate resources, asylum seekers can often wait years before their claims are processed.
“The provision to process cases in 180 days has been on the books for over two decades,” Ashley Tabaddor, president of the immigration judges’ union, told the paper. “The problem is that we have never been given adequate resources to adjudicate those claims in a timely fashion.”
Trump has directed Attorney General William Barr and Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan to introduce the new asylum regulations within 90 days. Immigration advocates, however, are expected to challenge the measures in court.
The administration is already involved in several court battles over earlier changes to U.S. asylum rules, including the so-called “remain in Mexico” policy requiring some asylum seekers to return to Mexico to await court hearings.
Regulatory Incompetence.Changing legal regulations requires 1) notice and an opportunity for public comment; and 2) a rational legal explanation for the proposed changes. So far, the Trump Administration has shown little ability for either. Indeed both their “preferred method” of policy change by “Executive Action” (e.g., DACA) and past attempts to change regulations (e.g., barring asylum for illegal entrants) have often ended up blocked or modified by the courts.
Time Limits Don’t Work. The current law, INA s. 208(d)(5)(A)(iii), already provides a statutory 180 day limit for asylum adjudications. But it has never been achievable in practice for various reasons including due process, chronic understaffing of Immigration Courts, and unavailability of private counsel. It might be possible to develop a system that could fairly process the vast majority of asylum claims through the Immigration Judge level within 180 days. But, that would require three things that an Administration committed to “malicious incompetence” has rejected: 1) clearing most of the 1.3 million backlogged cases off Immigration Court dockets through aggressive use of “prosecutorial discretion” (“PD”) as a first step toward a much-needed legalization program; 2) working cooperatively with NGOs, states, and municipalities to provide universal representation of asylum seekers; and 3) granting many more asylum cases at the Asylum Office and Immigration Court level.
The Administration Doesn’t Control Article III Courts (Yet). As the Immigration Courts and the BIA become more biased against asylum seekers, more individuals will seek review by the Article III Courts. The number of cases in the Article IIIs, who operate largely beyond the Administration’s control, is likely to grow exponentially. “Fake timetables” (on top of the mindless “deportation quotas” already in effect for Immigration “Judges”) result in “haste makes waste” poor quality at EOIR that, in turn, leads to lots of remands from the Article IIIs, thereby further clogging the Administrative system.
“Asylum Only” Hearings Aren’t Substantively Different From “Full” Removal Hearings. Trump reportedly would like to limit asylum seekers to “Asylum Only” hearings where asylum, withholding of removal, and relief under the Convention Against Torture are the only forms of relief available. But, few recently arrived asylum seekers apply for other forms of relief “right off the bat.” The major difference is often eligibility for bond in a “full removal hearing.” But, AG Barr has already acted to make most who pass “credible fear” ineligible for bond in his recent precedent Matter of M-S-, overruling 15 years of contrary BIA law originating in the Bush II Administration. The due process limitations on indefinite detention of asylum seekers will be fought out in the Article IIIs regardless of whether the Administration uses “Asylum Only Proceedings” or “Full Removal Proceedings.” And, so far, the Administration has consistently lost on the Constitutional issue in the lower Federal Courts.
Article IIIs Have Already Slammed This Administration’s Prior Attempts To Illegally Misconstrue Asylum Law To Reduce The Number Of Positive “Credible Fear” Determinations. Sessions & Nielsen already unsuccessfully tried to game the credible fear system against legitimate asylum seekers. They were strongly rebuked by U,S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan (DC) in Grace v. Whitaker. Judge Sullivan barred Immigration Judges from using most of Session’s erroneous Matter of A-B- precedent in “credible fear reviews.” He also required USCIS to rewrite its “Credible Fear” instructions to restore the generous intent of the law. It’s likely that what Trump is seeking to do will run afoul of Judge Sullivan’s order. Sullivan isn’t afraid to hold Cabinet officials accountable. So, while Trump himself might be beyond the court’s reach, “Trump‘s Chumps” McAleenan and Barr might want to have their jail bags packed and check their personal liability insurance before accepting Trump’s invitation to violate the law. Also, the Administration’s actual and threatened misuse of “expedited removal” in an attempt to implement a “lawless credible fear” policy has inspired the Ninth Circuit to recognize a right to appeal to the Article IIIs, even in expedited removal. THURAISSIGIAM v. USDHS, https://immigrationcourtside.com/2019/03/07/9th-cir-says-statute-barring-meaningful-judicial-review-of-expedited-removal-process-violates-constitutions-suspension-clause-throws-monkey-wrench-into-administra/ In other words, the field that Trump is mindlessly ordering McAleenan and Barr to plow has already been largely ruled “off limits” by the Article IIIs.
While Imposing Fees For Asylum Applications Is Undoubtedly Cruel, Unnecessary, & Unprecedented, It Won’t Be A Long-Term Deterrent. By misusing “metering” to make it difficult or impossible to apply for asylum at legal ports of entry the Administration already has increased smuggling fees, made routes more dangerous for asylum seekers, and predictably increased the number of illegal entries to apply for asylum; but, it hasn’t “deterred” asylum seekers. It just shifted the traffic from legal ports of entry where it could have been more easily controlled to other places on the border, where it’s harder to control. Stupid? Yeah, of course. Basically, the Trump Administration now wants to get in on the financial bonanza it has created for human smugglers by charging its own version of illicit fees. While cruel and punitive, it’s unlikely to have much impact on the flow of refugees.
Denial Of Work Authorization Will Create Hardship, Without Deterrence, & Actually Hurt Our Economy. Under current law, asylum seekers can’t get work authorization for at least 180 days. If the Administration really were able to fairly process asylum applications in that period, there actually wouldn’t be much need for work authorization. Also, work authorization doesn’t apply to those detained for asylum hearings and most juveniles. Assuming that legitimate asylum applicants continue to get released and shunted into the backlogged Immigration Court system, denial of work authorization will deprive them of the opportunity to use their (usually ample) skills to be self-supporting and contribute to our economy, regardless of whether they ultimately are granted asylum. Many such folks will now be forced into the “underground economy” where they are more likely to be both underemployed and exploited by unscrupulous employers. Trump is turning a “win-win” into a “lose-lose.” But, it’s unlikely to deter those fleeing for their lives.
Eventually, Trump’s “Malicious Incompetence Approach” Might Convince Asylum Seekers That Our Legal System Is A Cruel Farce That Must Be Avoided. Smugglers will simply take refugees into the interior of the U.S. for higher fees. They will stop turning themselves in to use a bogus legal system. Some will die; a few will get caught and removed; but, the chances of entering illegally and losing oneself in the U.S. for as long as one wants are probably much better than the chances of getting legal asylum in Trump’s increasingly bogus, biased, and dishonest system.
Two Things Are For Certain: 1) Desperate People Will Continue To Come No Matter What Trump Does On This End; and 2) Once Trump Destroys The Legal Asylum & Immigration Systems, They Won’t Easily Be Rebuilt. The result will be a permanent “immigration underground/black market.” That’s a “lose-lose” that will be horrible for migrants, but even worse for America’s future.
Coming up:A New Washington Post/ABC Poll Shows Little Public Support For Trump’s Harsher Asylum Policies.
Hon. A. Ashley Tabaddor, President, National Association of Immigration Judges (“NAIJ”)
Immigration judge calls Barr’s move to deny asylum-seekers bond hearings ‘highly problematic’
Immigration Judge Ashley Tabaddor called the Justice Department’s latest move to deny asylum-seekers bond hearings “highly problematic,” saying courts should not be used as a political tool by law enforcement.
“This in terms of the procedure that has been used is highly problematic,” Tabaddor, who is the president of the National Association of Immigration Judges, told Hill.TV’s Buck Sexton and Krystal Ball in an appearance on “Rising.”
“It is allowing the chief prosecutor of the United States to step in, in the middle of judicial proceedings and rewrite the law,” she continued.
Tabaddor added that Barr’s move is another example of why the immigrant court system should function independently of the Justice Department.
“It yet highlights again why immigration court proceedings should really be removed from the Justice Department and be outside of the purview of the political usage of the court as an extension of law enforcement,” she told Hill.TV.
Attorney General William Barr last week issued a new order directing immigration judges not to release asylum-seekers and detain them indefinitely while they await their court hearings.
Barr’s decision reverses a 2005 order, which said certain migrants who passed a “credible fear” interview could stay in the U.S. and seek release on bond until their case is heard in court. But Barr wrote that only the Department of Homeland Security has the authority to release asylum seekers.
The change comes amid an ongoing legal battle over the Trump administration’s policy that requires asylum-seekers to wait in Mexico while their claims make their way through the immigration court system.
Earlier this month, a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction against the policy, saying it failed to protect migrants from danger. Days later, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals took action allowing the Trump administration to temporarily resume returning asylum-seekers to Mexico as it considers the administration’s appeal to the injunction.
Trump’s program of returning migrants to Mexico was initially launched in January, and the program is part of the administration’s crackdown on the recent influx of migrants at the southern border.
During a recent visit to the border, Trump said the U.S. is being overwhelmed by Central American migrants seeking asylum.
“We can’t take you anymore. I’m sorry. Can’t happen, so turn around,” Trump said, referring to the migrants.
Undoubtedly, the participation of Chief Trump Cheerleader and immigration enforcement advocate Bill Barr creates an “appearance of bias.” Indeed, it’s more than an “appearance;” it’s actual bias. So, his interference in the quasi-judicial process is unethical.
The only real question is why Barr, like his predecessor Sessions and their predecessors, is allowed to get away with violating clear standards of ethical conduct. Why don’t “real” Article III Courts fulfill their constitutional role by vacating both the decisions and any case in which an Immigration Judge relies on these invalid attempts to influence and control the quasi-judicial decision-making process for the benefit of a party — the DHS?
About Dan’s Show “”The Dan Abrams Show: Where Politics Meets The Law” on “POTUS Channel” on SiriusXM —
Dan Abrams, ABC News’ Chief Legal Analyst and Host of A&E’s “Live PD,” to Anchor Weekday Show Exclusively for SiriusXM
“The Dan Abrams Show: Where Politics Meets The Law” will premiere on SiriusXM P.O.T.U.S. channel on October 29 NEW YORK, Oct. 25, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Today SiriusXM announced that Dan Abrams will host an exclusive SiriusXM radio show starting October 29. “The Dan Abrams Show: Where Politics Meets The Law” will air live on weekdays on P.O.T.U.S. channel 124 at 2:00 p.m. ET.
On his new show, Abrams will analyze the biggest news stories of the day from a legal perspective. With so much of today’s breaking political news having a legal component, Abrams will delve into the issues with a team of specialists, including former federal prosecutors and other high-prole experts. The program will also feature one- on-one interviews with top newsmakers, panel discussions, and listener calls.
The addition of Dan Abrams to SiriusXM P.O.T.U.S. further positions the channel as a top source for political news, analysis, and discussion.
“The legal side of news stories is more important and prominent than ever,” said Abrams. “I’m thrilled to have this opportunity on SiriusXM to really dig in and separate the legal realities from the wishful spin for listeners and people calling in to the show.”
“Dan is the perfect voice to add to our great P.O.T.U.S. lineup,” said Megan Liberman, Senior Vice President of News, Talk, and Entertainment at SiriusXM. “There has never been a more critical time to address the intersection of law and politics, and I can’t think of anyone better to lead that conversation.”
Over the course of his career, Abrams has established himself as one of the nation’s top legal analysts, rst covering the O.J. Simpson trial for Court TV and NBC News. Now the Chief Legal Analyst for ABC News, Abrams is well known for his shrewd analysis of legal issues ranging from high-prole criminal trials to the Mueller investigations and the Supreme Court.
Abrams is also the host of A&E’s Live PD, the highest rated live show on all of cable among adults 18-49 and 25-54.
As a media entrepreneur, he created the inuential website Mediaite.com, which chronicles the intersection of media and politics, and founded the popular OTT and linear network Law&Crime, among other projects. His work has been acknowledged with numerous Emmy and Edward R. Murrow Awards, and he has covered nearly every major national legal story of the past two decades. The Duke University and Columbia Law School graduate also recently penned the New York Times bestselling book Lincoln’s Last Trial.
Below is the new SiriusXM P.O.T.U.S. lineup of top non-partisan political news and analysis programs:
The Morning Brieng with Tim Farley, 6:00 – 9:00 a.m. ET The Michael Smerconish Program, 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. ET Let’s Get After It with Chris Cuomo, 12:00 – 2:00 p.m. ET The Dan Abrams Show, 2:00 – 3:00 p.m.
Press Pool with Julie Mason, 3:00 – 6:00 p.m.
The Big Picture with Olivier Knox, 6:00 – 7:00 p.m.
In addition to listening to “The Dan Abrams Show: Where Politics Meets The Law” on channel 124, SiriusXM subscribers with streaming access can hear the program on a wide variety of connected devices including smart TVs, Amazon Alexa devices, Apple TV, Sony PlayStation, Roku, Sonos speakers and more. Go
to www.SiriusXM.com/AtHome to learn more.
Check it out on your Sirius XM App, POTUS Channel, On Demand!
WASHINGTON, DC – On April 16, 2019, Attorney General William Barr issued a decision in Matter of M-S- in which he determined that asylum seekers who establish a credible fear of persecution and will be placed in removal proceedings are not eligible for an individualized determination of their custody status before the immigration court.
AILA Treasurer Jeremy McKinney stated, “With this decision, the Attorney General is unilaterally depriving asylum seekers of their right to a bond hearing in front of an immigration judge despite the fact they have passed a credible fear interview administered by a USCIS asylum officer. By overturning Matter of X-K, which provided for an independent review of the government’s justification to detain someone, the Attorney General is sweeping aside 14 years of standing Board of Immigration Appeals precedent that the courts and DHS have long implemented. This is a devastating blow to those seeking protection from persecution at the U.S. border, since far more will be held in detention. This decision further expands mandatory and prolonged detention of people who are neither dangerous nor flight risks, practices which are constitutionally suspect and a waste of taxpayer money. This administration is using detention as a sword against both due process and the humanitarian principles our nation was founded upon.”
AILA Executive Director Benjamin Johnson added, “While Matter of M-S- will not take effect for 90 days, the impact of Attorney General Barr’s decision, along with the other decisions issued by his immediate predecessors on asylum and the nation’s immigration courts, cannot be overstated. With full control over the immigration court system, the Attorney General is not only rewriting asylum and detention law but also stripping judges of the most basic operational authorities and judicial independence. Asylum seekers arriving at the southern border can be processed in an orderly way while also being provided with thorough and fair review of their asylum cases. To accomplish that, the immigration courts must be allowed to operate as courts, not puppets of the Attorney General. Without delay Congress should create an Article One immigration court system, separate from the Department of Justice to counteract the political machinations of the administration.”
Cite as AILA Doc. No. 19041734.
There is no end to this Administration’s campaign of unrelenting cruelty toward asylum seekers. Even lack of ability to carry out their morbid fascination with creating the “New American Gulag” —- this time targeting individuals who actually have established a “credible fear” of persecution — doesn’t deter their inhumanity. It’s likely to face Constitutional obstacles, at least in the lower Federal Courts.
AILA gets it right. It would be possible to fairly process asylum seekers with additional trained Asylum Officers (not Border Patrol Officers masquerading as Asylum Officers) through an independent Article I Immigration Court System committed to fairly and efficiently applying asylum laws. Lawyers are an essential part of the equation.
We should stop confusing families seeking asylum with “security threats.” Indeed, the obsession with those who present no real threat to our country actually detracts from efforts to combat real threats — drug smugglers and human traffickers. Those require undercover and anti-smuggling investigative techniques that have little to do with individuals and families turning themselves in at or near the border to apply for asylum or building physical barriers (although a modest building program could be part of a rational border security package).
True “Border Security” doesn’t require harsh, demeaning, or unfair treatment of asylum seekers, nor does it involve huge walls or more immigration prisons. A fairly administered asylum system along with targeting of smugglers and other criminals and more attention to the root causes of the migration would actually enhance real border security along with Due Process and adherence to the rule of law.
(1) Matter of X-K-, 23 I&N Dec. 731 (BIA 2005), was wrongly decided and is overruled.
(2) An alien who is transferred from expedited removal proceedings to full removal proceedings after establishing a credible fear of persecution or torture is ineligible for release on bond. Such an alien must be detained until his removal proceedings conclude, unless he is granted parole.
Because Matter of X-K- declared a sizable population of aliens to be eligible for bond, DHS indicates that my overruling that decision will have “an immediate and significant impact on [its] detention operations.” DHS Br. 23 n.16. DHS accordingly requests that I delay the effective date of this decision “so that DHS may conduct necessary operational planning.” Id. Federal circuit courts have discretion to delay the effective dates of their decisions, see Fed. R. App. P. 41(b), and I conclude that I have similar discretion. I will delay the effective date of this decision for 90 days so that DHS may conduct the necessary operational planning for additional detention and parole decisions.
An increase in mandatory detention is sure to mean more “Aimless Docket Reshuffling” (“ADR”); as more detained cases are moved to the front of the docket, they will displace lower priority (but “ready to try”) non-detained cases which will be “shuffled off to Buffalo” thus increasing the already overwhelming backlog; as more Immigration Judges are sent to detention facilities near the border, they will “leave behind” already full dockets creating even more chaos in an already dysfunctional system;