JOURNAL ON MIGRATION & HUMAN SOCIETY (“JMHS”) PUBLISHES MY TRIBUTE TO JUAN OSUNA (1963-2017): “An Overview and Critique of US Immigration and Asylum Policies in the Trump Era”


New from JMHS | An Overview and Critique of US Immigration and Asylum Policies in the Trump Era
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A publication of the Center for Migration Studies
Donald Kerwin, Executive Editor
John Hoeffner and Michele Pistone, Associate Editors

An Overview and Critique of US Immigration and Asylum Policies in the Trump Era

By Paul Wickham Schmidt (Georgetown Law)

This paper critiques US immigration and asylum policies from perspective of the author’s 46 years as a public servant. It also offers a taxonomy of the US immigration system by positing different categories of membership: full members of the “club” (US citizens); “associate members” (lawful permanent residents, refugees and asylees); “friends” (non-immigrants and holders of temporary status); and, persons outside the club (the undocumented). It describes the legal framework that applies to these distinct populations, as well as recent developments in federal law and policy that relate to them. It also identifies a series of cross-cutting issues that affect these populations, including immigrant detention, immigration court backlogs, state and local immigration policies, and Constitutional rights that extend to non-citizens. It makes the following asylum reform proposals, relying (mostly) on existing laws designed to address situations of larger-scale migration:

  • The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and, in particular, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) should send far more Asylum Officers to conduct credible fear interviews at the border.
  • Law firms, pro bono attorneys, and charitable legal agencies should attempt to represent all arriving migrants before both the Asylum Office and the Immigration Courts.
  • USCIS Asylum Officers should be permitted to grant temporary withholding of removal under the Convention Against Torture (CAT) to applicants likely to face torture if returned to their countries of origin.
  • Immigration Judges should put the asylum claims of those granted CAT withholding on the “back burner” — thus keeping these cases from clogging the Immigration Courts — while working with the UNHCR and other counties in the Hemisphere on more durable solutions for those fleeing the Northern Triangle states of Central America.
  • Individuals found to have a “credible fear” should be released on minimal bonds and be allowed to move to locations where they will be represented by pro bono lawyers.
  • Asylum Officers should be vested with the authority to grant asylum in the first instance, thus keeping more asylum cases out of Immigration Court.
  • If the Administration wants to prioritize the cases of recent arrivals, it should do so without creating more docket reshuffling, inefficiencies, and longer backlogs

Download the PDF of the article


Read more JMHS articles at

Want to learn more about access to asylum on the US-Mexico border? Join the Center for Migration Studies for our annual Academic and Policy Symposium on October 17.






My long-time friend Don Kerwin, Executive Director of CMS, has been a “Lt. General of the New Due Process Army” since long before there even was a “New Due Process Army” (“NDPA”). Talk about someone who has spent his entire career increasing human understanding and making the world a better place! Don is a great role model and example for newer members of the NDPA, proving that one can make a difference, as well as a living, in our world by doing great things and good works! Not surprisingly, Don’s career achievements and contributions bear great resemblance to those of our mutual friend, the late Juan Osuna.


So, when Don asked me to consider turning some of my past speeches about our immigration system and how it should work into an article to honor Juan, I couldn’t say no. But, I never would have gotten it “across the finish line” without Don’s inspiration, encouragement, editing, and significant substantive suggestions for improvement, as well as that of the talented peer reviewers and editorial staff of JMHS. Like most achievements in life, it truly was a “team effort” for which I thank all involved.


Those of you who might have attended my Boynton Society Lecture last Saturday, August 10, at the beautiful and inspiring Bjorklunden Campus of Lawrence University on the shores of Lake Michigan at Bailey’s Harbor, WI, will see that portions of this article were “reconverted” and incorporated into that speech.


Also, those who might have taken the class “American Immigration, a Cultural, Legal, and Anthropological Approach” at the Bjorklunden Seminar Series the previous week, co-taught by my friend Professor Jenn Esperanza of The Beloit College Anthropology Department, and me had the then-unpublished manuscript in their course materials, and will no doubt recognize many of the themes that Jenn and I stressed during that week.


Perhaps the only “comment that really mattered” was passed on to me by Don shortly after this article was released. It was from Juan’s wife, the also amazing and inspiring Wendy Young, President of Kids In Need of Defense (“KIND”):Juan would be truly honored.”

Donald M. Kerwin
Donald M. Kerwin
Executive Director
Center for Migration Studies
Juan P. Osuna
Juan P. Osuna (1963-2017)
Judge, Executive, Scholar, Teacher, Defender of Due Process
Wendy Young
Wendy Young
President, Kids In Need of Defense (“KIND”)








HON. JEFFREY CHASE: Barr Intended To Attack The “Quintessential Particular Social Group In Society” — The Family — As Part Of His Restrictionist Deconstruction of Asylum Protections For Vulnerable Refugees — But, Can He Really Rewrite Reality? — Chase On Matter of L-E-A-!

Jeffrey S. Chase
Hon. Jeffrey S. Chase
Jeffrey S. Chase Blog

Aug 11 L-E-A-: How Much Did the AG Change?

In June 2018, the Attorney General issued his precedent decision in Matter of A-B-.  The AG intended his decision to lead to the denial of asylum claims based on domestic violence and gang violence by asylum officers, immigration judges, the BIA, and the circuit courts.  The decision also aimed to compel asylum officers to find those arriving at the southern border to lack the credible fear necessary for entry into the court system, allowing for their immediate deportation.

However, the decision failed to achieve these goals.  A U.S. District Court decision, Grace v. Whitaker, prohibited USCIS from applying A-B- in credible fear determinations. And Immigration Judges have continued to grant significant numbers of domestic violence claims, concluding that A-B- did not prevent them from doing so, but only required their decisions to contain an in-depth analysis of their reasoning.  The case of A-B- herself presently remains pending before the BIA.

More recently, the Attorney General took the same approach to the question of whether family may constitute a particular social group.  While once again, the administration’s goal is to prevent such claims from passing credible fear interviews and from being granted asylum, the effort also seems likely to fail.

                         *                *                    *

“There can, in fact, be no plainer example of a social group based on common, identifiable and immutable characteristics than that of the nuclear family.  Indeed, quoting the Ninth Circuit, we recently stated that ‘a prototypical example of a “particular social group” would consist of the immediate members of a certain family, the family being a focus of fundamental affiliational concerns and common interests for most people.'”

The above language is from a 1994 decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, Gebremichael v. INS, 10 F.3d 28 (1st Cir. 1994).  It pretty much reflects the view of every circuit court over the past 25 years.  Since Gebremichael, the BIA has added additional requirements of particularity and social distinction to the particular social group (“PSG”) requirements in a series of six precedent decisions issued between 2006 and 2014.  But as a recent practice advisory of CLINIC points out, the First, Second, Third, Fourth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, and Ninth Circuits have all recognized that family can constitute a PSG, and all have reiterated that opinion in decisions issued in 2014 or later, meaning that those courts have not found the BIA’s subsequent requirements to alter their longstanding view on the matter.

For this reason, when L-E-A- was first decided by the BIA in 2017, the parties were not in disagreement on this point – the issue had acquired a “the sky is blue” certainty.  The issue before the BIA was rather about nexus – i.e.  what was required to show that one’s feared persecution was in fact “on account of” such family membership.  The Board settled on a highly restrictive standard for establishing nexus, illustrated by the single example of the Romanov family in 1918 Russia.

Possibly fearing an influx of asylum-seeking Romanovs, Matthew Whitaker, during his very brief tenure as Acting Attorney General, felt the need to certify the decision to himself.  And on July 29, his successor, WIlliam Barr, issued a decision very reminiscent of A-B-.

As in A-B-, Barr justified vacating the Board’s decision because it relied on the parties’ stipulation to the issue in question.   In Barr’s view, this caused the resulting decision to lack the rigorous analysis deserving of a precedent decision.  While it remains unclear why rigorous legal analysis is required where everyone agrees to the correctness of the assertion (do we require rigorous mathematical analysis to the proposition that 2+2 = 4?), it should be noted that unlike Matter of A-R-C-G-, which was the single precedent decision holding that victims of domestic violence could be eligible for asylum, there is 25 years worth of circuit court case law on this point, plus the BIA’s own statement in Matter of Acosta that kinship could be a basis for a PSG, which dates to 1985, a point that the BIA reaffirmed over the next three decades, in Matter of C-A- (2006), and then, by reference to that case, in Matter of M-E-V-G- (2014).  Barr’s excuse is that, in his view, multiple circuits “have relied upon outdated dicta from the Board’s early cases.”

As in A-B-, the AG’s decision affects no change in the applicable legal standard.  The holding is quite narrow, simply overruling the part of the BIA’s decision discussing the cognizability of family as a PSG.  The decision doesn’t preclude such findings, but rather requires adjudicators to spend more time on each case, providing a detailed, step-by-step analysis before granting relief.  This is a critical point, as at least one IJ has said that L-E-A- has closed the door on family-based PSGs.  IJs had a similar reaction in the immediate aftermath of A-B-, stating that they can no longer grant domestic violence claims, only to realize otherwise over time.  Barr specifically states that his decision “does not bar all family-based social groups from qualifying for asylum,” adding “[t]o the contrary, in some societies, an applicant may present specific kinship groups or clans that, based on the evidence in the applicant’s case, are particular and socially distinct.”  He also cautions adjudicators to “be skeptical of social groups that appear to be “defined principally, if not exclusively, for the purposes of [litigation] . . . without regard to the question of whether anyone in [a given country] perceives [those] group[s] to exist in any form whatsoever.”  These are restatements of long-existing law.  Of course, the concept of family was not artificially created for litigation purposes.

In L-E-A-, Barr specifically referenced the canon of ejusdem generis, which the BIA applied in Matter of Acosta to conclude that a particular social group should not be interpreted more broadly than the other four terms (race, religion, nationality, and political opinion) that surround it in the statute.1  As the canon was applied to counter the argument that the legislative intent of the PSG ground was to serve as a broad, catch-all “safety net” for those deserving of protection but unable to fit within the other four protected categories, the AG is happy to rely on the premise in his decision as well.

However, ejusdem generis is a two-edged sword.  In the same way as it prevents the PSG category from being interpreted more broadly than its fellow protected grounds, it similarly prevents those other categories from being interpreted more broadly than PSG.

And therein lies the flaw in Barr’s argument that “as almost every [noncitizen] is a member of a family of some kind, categorically recognizing families as particular social groups would render virtually every [noncitizen] a member of a particular social group. There is no evidence that Congress intended the term “particular social group” to cast so wide a net.”

Every noncitizen is also a member of a race and a nationality.  And most believe in a religion of some type.  But no court has suggested that those categories are therefore too wide to form a protected ground for asylum purposes.  Barr fails to explain that belonging to a protected ground does not make one a refugee; everyone in the world belongs to one or more such categories; many of us belong to all five.  Asylum requires persecution (either suffered in the past, or a sufficient likelihood of suffering in the future), as well as a showing that such persecution was motivated more than tangentially in the persecutor’s view by the victim’s possessing one or more of the protected bases.  When one also considers how extreme the harm must be to be constitute persecution; that such harm must either be by the government, or by a person or group that the government is unable or unwilling to control, and that the asylum seeker must not be able to avoid such harm through reasonable relocation to a safer place within their own country, it is not an easy standard to satisfy.

Barr then further errs in claiming that the test for social distinction is not whether the nuclear family carries societal importance (which in fact is the test), but rather, whether the applicant’s “specific nuclear family would be ‘recognizable by society at large.’”  In that sentence, Barr supported his erroneous claim by misquoting Jeff Sessions in Matter of A-B-, by omitting the word “classes.”  The actual quote, “social groups must be classes recognizable by society at large,” actually supports the argument that nuclear families would enjoy social distinction.  By manipulating the language of case law, Barr attempts to equate “social distinction” with fame.  Under his proposed interpretation, an asylum seeker must be a Kardashian to satisfy the PSG standard, and a Romanov to then prove nexus.  (While such interpretation is clearly incorrect, I am nevertheless coining the term “Czardashian” here).

The true test for social distinction is whether the proposed group is consistent with how society divides itself.  And families are the most basic way that society divides itself into groups.  We are often identified in society as someone’s child, spouse, parent, or sibling.  When we meet someone with a familiar last name, the first thing we ask is “are you related to so and so?”  The reason we care to ask such question is precisely because families are socially distinct.  By comparison, no one has ever asked me if I’m a member of the group of “tall, gray-haired, left-handed immigration lawyers with glasses,” because that is the type of artificially concocted group that in no way reflects how society divides itself.

Barr’s statement that “unless an immediate family carries greater societal import, it is unlikely that a proposed family-based group will be ‘distinct’ in the way required by the INA for purposes of asylum” is nonbinding dicta, expressing the likelihood of success in claims not before him.2  Nevertheless, his statement also overlooks an important aspect of PSG analysis: the impact of persecution on public perception.  Social distinction is measured not in the eyes of the persecutors, but of society.  But as UNHCR points out in its 2002 Particular Social Group Guidelines, at para. 14, even though left-handed people are not a particular social group, “if they were persecuted because they were left-handed, they would no doubt quickly become recognizable in their society as a particular social group.”  So even if we were to accept Barr’s flawed premise that a regular, non-celebrity family lacks his misconstrued version of social distinction, as word spread of the targeting of its members, that family would gain social recognition pretty quickly.

And as CLINIC’s practice advisory astutely notes, societies accord social distinction to even non-famous families in its laws determining how property is inherited, or to whom guardianship of surviving children is determined.


  1. For a highly detailed analysis of the Chevron deference test as applied to Matter of A-B-, including the use of ejusdem generis as a canon of construction in step one of Chevron, see Kelley-Widmer, Jaclyn and Rich, Hillary, A Step Too Far: Matter of A-B-, ‘Particular Social Group,’ and Chevron (July 15, 2019). Cornell Legal Studies Research Paper No. 19-30. Available at SSRN: or
  2. See CLINIC’s Practice Advisory at 3. Much thanks to CLINIC attorneys Victoria Neilson, Bradley Jenkins, and Rebecca Scholtz for so quickly authoring this excellent guide.

Copyright 2019 Jeffrey S. Chase.  All rights reserved.


There can be no doubt of Bill Barr’s anti-asylum bias, his poor lawyering skills, his lack of ethics, and his willingness to serve as a weapon of White Nationalist racist nonsense.  If you serve the cause like a toady, whether or not you “truly believe” becomes irrelevant. 

But, as Jeffrey points out, no matter how much the Barrs of the world would like to rewrite the law without going through the legislative or regulatory process, there is a long history of Article III Courts and the Immigration Courts themselves recognizing family-based asylum cases. 

There is also an irreducible truth staring Barr and his fellow restrictionists in the face: folks have been identifying themselves based on kinship ties from the beginning of history and other folks have been protecting, rejecting, joining, or excluding themselves from those family-based kinship groups since humans first walked the earth. Sometimes these processes have been peaceful, other times violent, sometimes cooperative, and sometimes coercive.

But, the reality is that family-based persecution happens every day of the week, through out our world.  In many many  instances it’s “at least one central reason” for the persecution.

Ironically, folks like Trump and Barr are doing their best to divide our country into as many hostile and sometimes violent, ethnic, racial and social groups as it can. But, in the end, whether within my lifetime or not, the truth will “eat up” the lies and false ideologies that drive Barr and the rest of the Trumpists. Sadly, however, by the time they are rightfully dislodged from power, too many will have died or been irrevocably harmed by their false doctrines and conscious disregard for human life, human decency, and well-established truths of human history.



CTGN VIDEO: “THE HEAT: MIGRATION, ASYLUM & DEPORTATION” – “New Due Process Army Warrior” Paulina Vera Makes Mincemeat Of FAIR’s Matthew O’Brien & His Bogus White Nationalist Narrative!

Pulina Vera
Paulina Vera
Lecturer in Law
George Washington Law


The Heat: Migration, Asylum and Deportation

Anand Naidoo


Published August 14, 2019 at 5:50 PM

Hundreds more undocumented immigrants are being rounded up by U.S. law enforcement and processed for deportation. But the United States is not the only country dealing with these issues.

In 2015 and 2016, a wave of migrants and refugees sought asylum in Europe as they fled wars in Syria and Iraq.  Thousands more have died, or have been rescued at sea, as they tried to reach Europe from Africa. And, Italy is taking a tough stance on migrants by closing reception centers and trying to prevent rescue boats from docking at Italian ports.  Meanwhile Australia has long had some of the toughest asylum policies in the world, as it tries to prevent migrants and refugees from entering its country.

To discuss all of this:

  • Daniel Ghezelbash is a senior lecturer at Macquarie Law School and author of “Refuge Lost: Asylum Law in an Interdependent World.”
  • Reuven Ziegleris an associate professor in international refugee law at the University of Reading.
  • Paulina Vera is a lecturer in law at The George Washington University Law School.
  • Matthew O’Brien is director of research at the Federation for American Immigration Reform.

See the video here: 




Wow! O’Brien is a shameless liar. Hopefully, his descendants will view this video and see for posterity just what a racist apologist opportunist and vile White Nationalist he is.


Unfortunately, this isn’t a “debate.”  It’s a question of O’Brien’s lies, fabrications, and false narratives versus truth. Even DHS’s OWN studies refute many of O’Brien’s White Nationalist talking points!!


It’s sad that in an attempt to present “ both sides” of a picture that has only one legitimate side, the media has to dredge up guys like O’Brien and give them a forum for their ugly, callous, and demonstrably untrue false narratives. Very much like the debate about climate change where lying “pseudo scientists” get equal time with those stating the truth, while the world disintegrates.


In the end, elections and political pandering can determine who holds power, but they can’t change truth. Contrary to Trump and his lackeys, there are no “alternative facts” and Trump himself is a living example of “fake news” and its toxic effects on our country and humanity. In this case, the truth is that under Trump and with support from folks like FAIR, our world is spiraling downward toward chaos and destruction.

ANYBODY, like O’Brien, who claims that “sound judicial practices” are being followed in today’s unfair and dysfunctional Immigration Courts should not be taken seriously by the media or anyone else.


Many congrats to Paulina, a courageous graduate of the “Arlington Immigration Court Internship Program” and a “Charter Member of the New Due Process Army” for taking a stand and speaking truth to the lies and liars who currently hold power.





FRAUD, WASTE, & ABUSE @ “JUSTICE” – Barr & Co. Seek To Punish National Association of Immigration Judges (”NAIJ”) For Daring To Stand Up For Due Process & Judicial Independence!

Christina Goldbaum
Christina Goldbaum
Immigration Reporter
NY Times

Christina Goldbaum reports for the NY Times:

By Christina Goldbaum

  • 10, 2019

The Justice Department has moved to decertify the union of immigration judges, a maneuver that could muffle an organization whose members have sometimes been openly critical of the Trump administration’s immigration enforcement agenda.

The department filed a petition on Friday asking the Federal Labor Relations Authority to determine whether the union, the National Association of Immigration Judges, should have its certification revoked because its members are considered “management officials” ineligible to collectively organize, according to a Justice Department spokesman.

The move suggested escalating tensions between overwhelmed immigration judges desperate for greater resources and a Justice Department pushing them to quickly address a backlog of immigration cases.

“This is a misguided effort to minimize our impact,” said Judge Amiena Khan, vice president of the judges’ union, which has publicly criticized the use of a quota system in immigration court and other attempts to speed up proceedings.

“We serve as a check and balance on management prerogatives and that’s why they are doing this to us,” said Judge Khan.

Unlike other federal judges who are part of the judicial branch, immigration judges are appointed by the attorney general and are employees of the Justice Department. Though sitting judges are prohibited from speaking publicly about issues that could be considered political, representatives of the immigration judges’ union can speak publicly about Justice Department policies on behalf of its members.

This is not the first time an administration has challenged the organization. The Clinton administration also tried to decertify the immigration judges’ union, a move that the Federal Labor Relations Authority rejected, according to former immigration judges.

Both Judge Khan and the union president, Judge Ashley Tabaddor, have spoken out repeatedly against what they say is an attempt to turn immigration judges from neutral arbiters of the law to law enforcement agents enacting the White House’s policies. They have called for immigration judges to be independent of the Justice Department.

Last year, the union criticized the department’s quota system, which required immigration judges to complete 700 cases per year, as well as a move to bar judges from an administrative tool they had previously used to reduce their caseloads. The union says the focus on efficiency impedes judges’ ability to work through complicated cases and could affect the due process rights of immigrants in court.

The pressure to hear more cases more quickly amounts to “psychological warfare,” Judge Tabaddor said last year.

Addressing some of the union’s concerns, the Justice Department has tried to tackle the backlog, which now totals more than 830,000 cases, by hiring more immigration judges. Judges appointed by President Trump now make up 43 percent of the nation’s immigration judges, a larger share than under any of his five predecessors, according to a recent analysis by The Associated Press. A large number of his appointees are former military or Immigration and Customs Enforcement lawyers, the analysis found.

But that hiring has not been accompanied by other necessary support, Judge Khan said.

“I can’t work alone, I am reliant on support staff,” said Judge Khan. “Right now there are two judges to one support staff person,” which has delayed the progress of cases despite the additional judges, she said.

The judges’ union plans to officially respond to the Justice Department’s petition once it receives official notification from the Federal Labor Relations Authority.

If the attempt to decertify the union is successful, it could leave judges without recourse for their already overwhelming workload, judges said.

“The union won’t be able to help judges with overall working conditions at a time when most all judges would tell you working conditions are worse now than they have ever been,” said Paul Schmidt, a former immigration judge.

Judge Khan called the Justice Department’s petition part of “a systematic attack on unions” representing federal employees under the Trump administration. Last year, Mr. Trump signed a series of executive orders that rolled back the workplace role of unions for at least two million federal workers and made it easier to fire them. The administration said the move would make the government more efficient.

The Justice Department’s recent petition will most likely prompt an investigation by the Federal Labor Relations Authority, according to a department spokesman.



Seems like the investigation ought to be into ethical violations and attempts to misuse Federal labor laws by Bill Barr. A substantially identical challenge to the NAIJ was soundly rejected by the same agency, the FLRA, back in the late 1990’s under the Clinton administration.


Since then, over the strong objection of the NAIJ, the status of Immigration Judges has been even farther reduced to that of glorified “deportation clerks.” The idea that individuals whose little remining discretion has been removed have somehow morphed into “management officials” is both totally absurd and a confirmation that so-called “management officials” in the Federal Government under the Trump Administration have nothing to manage.


Seems like this clear abuse of our legal system by Barr and his cronies should be a subject for investigation by the House Judiciary Committee and would warrant commencement of impeachment proceedings against arrogant, anti-American scofflaw Bill Barr. Not that Barr hasn’t already been found in contempt of Congress and the American people – he has. He’s a disgusting character – a disgrace to public service and the legal profession.


I suppose he will escape accountability in his lifetime. But, the “Jefferson Davis of the Justice Department” will certainly receive the judgement of history against him for his betrayal of his country and his racist, White Nationalist misconduct clothed in a thin veneer of undeserved credibility based on his success in the corporate legal world. If anything, that a sleazy and corrupt character like Barr could prosper in the world of “white shoe corporate law” is an indictment of that system and its total lack of values and ethical standards.


Meanwhile, it appears that the actions of the NAIJ have been successful in striking a nerve among the DOJ kakistocracy. As with the corrupt, inept, and racist-infested DHS, the current inability of the DOJ as an institution to stand up to Barr’s dishonesty, corruption, and lawless behavior certainly merits a reexamination of the role and structure of the DOJ down the line with an eye toward determining how an institution supposedly staffed with “officers of the court” could be so cowardly and inept when it comes to standing up against internal abuses and contempt for our Constitution.


In addition, the latest abuse of authority by Barr emphasizes the need for immediate removal of the Immigration Courts from Barr’s control and a reversal of the “Chevron doctrine” of “judicial task avoidance” that has granted the DOJ’s immigration kakistocracy clearly unwarranted and unjustified “deference.”


Finally, I pass along my favorite quip from one of my former colleagues about the exalted “management role” of today’s Immigration Judges: “I often say I am not even permitted to manage the pencils in my courtroom.”


While there is a certain type of “dark humor” in the actions of Barr and the other “malicious incompetents” in the Trump Administration, there is nothing funny about the innocent lives being lost or threatened by their actions or the damage that these “evil clowns” are inflicting on our Constitution and our instructions.








NO MISSION, NO CREDS, NO SHAME: DHS Abandoned Our “National Security” When Trump Took Power — Now (Wittingly or Not) It’s Largely A White Nationalist Tool With A Huge Racism Problem Whose Highest Profile Activities Harm America, Rip Off Taxpayers, & Have Little Or No Relation To Real Law Enforcement — In Plain Terms, A Dangerous & Unnecessary Internal Political Police Force!


Angela Stuesse writes in the Washington Post:


By Angela Stuesse

Angela Stuesse is a cultural anthropologist at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. To learn more about immigrant and U.S.-born workers in Mississippi’s poultry industry, pick up her book, “Scratching Out a Living: Latinos, Race, and Work in the Deep South.”

August 9 at 6:00 AM

On Wednesday people across the United States were shocked by the news that ICE raids at a handful of Mississippi chicken plants had resulted in the largest single-state immigration enforcement action in U.S. history, with nearly 700 people detained. As surprising as the news was, coming on the heels of a deadly mass shooting that targeted Latinos, perhaps just as surprising was the location of the raids in the deep, rural South.

The prominence of Latinos in Mississippi’s chicken plants and communities today was not accidental. It was calculated, strategic and intimately related to deeply rooted structures of labor exploitation in the region. Beginning in the 1990s, Latin American immigrants were recruited to the state by the poultry industry, where they arrived to work in some of the lowest-paid and most dangerous jobs in the country. This week’s raids target deeply rooted workers and families and leave behind a devastated community, while also terrorizing many others across the country.

The roots of the heavily Latino workforces in Southern poultry plants lie in the growing American appetite for chicken during the 1990s, and the stirrings of a labor movement by African American plant workers. As poultry production expanded, workers’ pay and opportunities remained stagnant. As a result, labor organizing among the plants’ predominantly African American workforce began to gain traction.

Facing the prospect of its first union contract negotiations and in search of more “flexible” (read: exploitable and expendable) workers, in 1994 a chicken plant in Morton, Miss., headed to Miami in search of immigrant labor.

Advertising in Cuban stores and local papers, it took the poultry processor just one week to fill a Greyhound bus of immigrants eager for work. This experiment marked the beginning of the plant’s formal Hispanic Project, which included not just recruitment and transportation from Florida but also the provision of housing — mostly in dilapidated and overcrowded trailers — as well as local transportation and leisure activities, all for fees deducted from workers’ paychecks that often reduced their meager earnings to below minimum wage.

In its roughly four years of operation, the Hispanic Project recruited nearly 5,000 workers to two Mississippi towns with a combined population of less than 10,000. Not everyone stayed, but this scheme caught on, and other plants began recruiting Latinx immigrant workers from Florida, Texas and even farther afield.

Getting creative, one poultry processor offered its workers $600 for each new employee they recruited who stayed at least three months. Entrepreneurial individuals took full advantage of this incentive to recruit family, friends and others in their social networks in the United States and in their home countries. Once these connections were made, the plants no longer had to leave the state to recruit foreign workers. In the words of the architect of the Hispanic Project, “They were right here.”

By the time I arrived to work in Mississippi’s poultry communities alongside the Mississippi Poultry Workers’ Center in 2002, over half of the country’s quarter-million poultry workers were immigrants, most of them in the South. A mapping of poultry production and Latino population growth shows that poultry has been a major driving force of a demographic transformation in the region. In Mississippi, it was the driving force, increasing the Latino population in some poultry towns by over 1000 percent in the 1990s.

And this transformation of the poultry workforce has only continued over time. Today’s Mississippi poultry workers are from nearly every part of the continent, hailing from Argentina, Peru, Guatemala, Mexico, Uruguay, Nicaragua, Cuba, Honduras, Venezuela and other Latin American and Caribbean countries. They are doing work that is hazardous, painful and often degrading. They work long hours for low pay, scratching out a living so that the rest of us can buy cheap chicken.

And they do so because they were literally invited, recruited and incentivized to come. For ICE to be conducting raids in Mississippi ignores this history and ignores how the poultry workers recruited to these towns a quarter century ago have laid down roots. They have made Mississippi home and raised families.

Though industry leaders didn’t predict it at the time, the Hispanic Project changed the landscape of Mississippi and the rural South. In poultry towns across the region, today you can find authentic Mexican food, pickup soccer games, an abundance of Spanish-language churches, and schools brimming with bright and eager young Latinx Americans, U.S. citizens who are growing up as Southern as their peers.

Rooted members of the community, regardless of immigration status, deserve better than to be ripped away from their jobs and loved ones. Although neighbors and community organizations like the Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance are working to support affected children and families, these raids ripple through communities, devastating individuals and families, and the most vulnerable people pay the highest price. As the alt-right celebrates this wreckage as another win for white nationalists, let us keep in view that these immigrants are here because 25 years ago one Mississippi poultry executive conceived an inventive idea, to flood the processing lines with eager and compliant immigrant workers.

And while they come at enormous costs to thriving, vibrant communities, these raids do little to affect immigration trends; people continue to migrate to the United States to survive. What they do affect is the working conditions for everyone. With the threat of family separation, detention and deportation hanging over people’s heads, immigrant workers are less likely to organize and less likely to speak out against poor conditions — and employers are more likely to take advantage of them. This ripples through the economy, depressing wages for U.S.-born workers, as well. The mounting threat of deportation and rising xenophobia help keep workers compliant, serving owners’ interests and consumers’ pocketbooks — but harming the people who prepare our food.


Today, DHS has morphed into an agency without legitimate purpose, direction, values, or decency. It operates largely without regard for  strategically effective use of limited public resources. It’s also horribly managed, mostly by “malicious incompetents.”

Undoubtedly, there are many necessary and legitimate functions within the “DHS mess.” And probably the majority of DHS employees are dedicated public servants, trying to do the best they can under the circumstances. But, the “DHS experiment” has miserably failed. Time to cut our losses as a nation.

The DHS should be dissolved, ridded of its racist culture, and the essential security, public service, and law enforcement functions reassigned to other agencies with legitimate missions, workable management structures, and proven competence (e.g., FBI, HHS, State, U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, etc.).

The “civil” immigration enforcement function likely could be sharply reduced in terms of both funding and personnel without any adverse effect on true “national security.” Indeed, elimination of the current misdirection of resources toward cruel, inhumane, and overwhelmingly unnecessary “civil detention,” mindless enforcement of provisions that often defeat the national interest (like the cruelly inane operation described in this article), failure to exercise prosecutorial discretion in a rational and professional manner, and racist grandstanding would greatly increase our actual national security while allowing resources to be directed in a more efficient and effective manner. And safeguards and oversight should be put in place to ensure that immigration enforcement and adjudication never again become tools of White Nationalism, racism, and neo-fascism.

A focus on election security and stopping White Supremacist domestic terrorism, missions that DHS has shamefully swept under the table, at best, and actively undermined, at worst, is also essential.




COURAGEOUS U.S IMMIGRATION JUDGES LIKE PAUL GAGNON OF THE BOSTON IMMIGRATION COURT CONTINUE TO PROTECT ABUSED REFUGEE WOMEN UNDER THE LAW DESPITE SESSIONS’S EXTRALEGAL ATTEMPT TO ELIMINATE PROTECTION IN MATTER OF A-B- — Continuing Threats By Bill Barr & EOIR Against Judges Who Act Fairly & Impartially Fail To Deter Some From Upholding Their Oaths Of Office — Of Course, “Women in Guatemala” are a “Particular Social Group,” As Beautifully & Convincingly Set Forth By Judge Gagnon’s Recent Decision, A Primer On The Proper Application Of Asylum Law That Carries Out The Intent Of The Supreme’s 1987 Decision in Cardoza-Fonseca!

Boston Judge Gagnon Decision

Thanks to Judge Jeffrey Chase, leader of our Roundtable of Former Immigration Judges for sending this to me.

Also, I join Judge Chase in congratulating Gerald D. Wall and the Greater Boston Legal Services (a clinical program of Harvard Law School) for providing pro bono representation in this case.

Note how succinct, straightforward, logical, and well-supported by authority Judge Gagnon’s decision is. Compare that with the nearly incomprehensible 30+ page anti-asylum, lie-filled, intellectually dishonest, and legally incorrect screed written by Sessions in support of his cowardly extralegal attack on some of the most vulnerable and deserving of protection among us in his Matter of A-B- atrocity.

Now think of how the system could work if Judge Gagnon’s correct decision were the precedent and all asylum applicants had access to qualified pro bono counsel.

Many cases could be promptly granted by an honest USCIS Asylum Office committed to properly applying protection law.  They would not even have to reach the backlogged Immigration Courts or be subjected to toxic, counterproductive “gimmicks” like “Let ‘Em Die in Mexico” or absurdities like claiming that everyone should apply in Guatemala, from which this respondent was fleeing for her life and which has neither a functional government nor a credible asylum system.

That, plus perhaps using retired judges from all types of courts and bringing back retired Asylum Officers and adjudicators trained to recognize and quickly grant “slam dunk” asylum cases like this would be the key to establishing a credible, independent, Immigration Court and a reestablishing a functioning asylum system of which we all could be proud.

Instead, our current maliciously incompetent White Nationalist regime continues to ignore our laws, our Constitution, and our international obligations in leading a cowardly and disreputable “race to the bottom” in which the richest and most powerful country in the world conducts itself as a “Banana Republic” led by a tinhorn dictator.




THE ROUNDTABLE IN ACTION: HON. ILYCE SHUGALL DELIVERS POWERFUL STATEMENT IN THE LA TIMES ON WHY SHE COULD NO LONGER SERVE AS A JUDGE IN OUR OBSCENELY DISTORTED AND UNFAIR U.S. IMMIGRATON COURT SYSTEM – “But nothing prepared me for the unprecedented, unfair and unworkable policies the Trump administration imposed on the courts and the immigration process.”

Hon. Ilyce Shugall
Hon. Ilyce Shugall
U.S. Immigraton Judge (Retired)
Director, Immigrant Legal Defense Program, Justice & Diversity Center of the Bar Assn. of San Francisco.


LA Times

AUG. 4, 2019


I have been an immigration lawyer dedicated to fairness and due process for immigrants my entire career. In 2015, convinced that my 18 years of experience as an advocate would make me a good immigration judge, I applied for the job.

Most immigration judges are former attorneys from the chief counsel’s office of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, former assistant U.S. attorneys or former attorneys from other federal government agencies. Former advocates are appointed less frequently, but I believed in the importance of having judges from varied backgrounds on the bench and therefore applied.

I made it through the application and vetting process and was appointed to the bench in September 2017. I resigned this March because I could no longer in good conscience work as an immigration judge in the Trump administration.

I knew when I joined the bench that there would be frustrations, as immigration courts are governed by the Justice Department and lack the independence of other courts in the federal judicial system. But nothing prepared me for the unprecedented, unfair and unworkable policies the Trump administration imposed on the courts and the immigration process.

I believed it was my job to ensure that all people who appeared before me understood their rights and had the opportunity to fully present their cases. I found the job fulfilling when I was hearing cases. I enjoyed learning about the lives of people from all over the world and analyzing complex legal issues. It was also heartbreaking. I heard stories of horrific violence, terror and pain. I was moved by the struggles and resolve of those who leave everything behind to seek safety and refuge, those who dedicate their lives to caring for family members, and those who overcome incredible obstacles to make a better future for themselves and their families.

In 2018, Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions and the director of the Executive Office for Immigration Review, which oversees the immigration courts, began imposing quotas and performance metrics that affected the day-to-day function and independence of the judges. We were notified that all judges were expected to complete 700 cases a year to receive a satisfactory performance review. EOIR also published performance metrics for the judges that established specific timelines for adjudication of cases and motions.

During a conference of immigration judges in June 2018, agency leadership informed us that the quota policy would go into effect in October. Sessions, during his keynote speech at the conference, announced that he would be issuing his decision in the case of Matter of A-B-, which dealt with asylum claims based on domestic violence. His decision to prohibit grants of asylum for victims of domestic violence and persecution perpetrated by other nongovernment actors was announced later that day. I left the conference extremely demoralized.

My colleagues and I felt the impact of the case quotas on our ability to render correct and well-reasoned decisions. My calendar was fully booked with cases through 2021. The judges in San Francisco, where I served, were told we could not schedule any cases in 2022 until our calendars showed that three cases were scheduled every day through the end of 2021.


This meant that the judges were forced to schedule at least two cases in one time slot (there being two slots a day) — regardless of whether it was possible to hear two cases in such a short time frame or whether this would allow a judge to consider fully the merits of each case, which often involved determining life or death issues.

This was the way to push us to complete 700 cases a year. Failure to hit the quota would also result in failing to meet other performance metrics. In August 2018, Sessions also issued a decision limiting continuances of cases in immigration court.

Shortly after we were told to hear three cases a day, we were also told we could not schedule interpreters for two different languages in each of the morning or afternoon sessions. We were told we needed to match languages or pair English-language cases with other languages, though we had no tools to assist us in coordinating languages.

The impact of these administrative policies, while bad on judges’ morale and workloads, was worse for the immigrants appearing at court. The pressure to complete cases made me less patient and less able to uphold the constitutional protections required to properly adjudicate cases.

In addition to these policies, the Trump administration announced several new policy changes to limit the rights of noncitizens to apply for asylum. One was the “Remain in Mexico” policy, which required asylum applicants to stay in Mexico while awaiting their court hearings. Another was the administration’s attempt to eliminate eligibility for asylum for individuals who did not present themselves at a port of entry while simultaneously preventing asylum seekers from being processed at the ports of entry.

In November 2018, the EOIR director issued a memorandum to push through cases of “family units” on a fast track. These cases continue to be docketed and heard on an expedited basis. This policy prevents indigent noncitizens from having adequate time to secure counsel or evidence to support their cases. And it often leads to individuals being ordered removed without a hearing because clerical errors caused hearing notices to be sent to incorrect addresses.

As more policies were issued, it became clear that this administration’s attack on immigrants and the independence and functioning of the immigration courts would only get worse.

As I expected, the attacks continued. Since I resigned, the Department of Homeland Security has expanded expedited removal. Recently, EOIR began using a video to comply with federal regulations requiring that all noncitizens be advised of their rights and responsibilities in court. The video, which replaces in-person interpreters, will inevitably cause confusion and make it far harder for individuals to defend themselves.

Just last week, Atty. Gen. William Barr issued a decision that largely eliminates asylum eligibility for those facing persecution because of family ties. This ruling could affect thousands of legitimate asylum seekers fleeing violence in Mexico and Central American countries, as well as other parts of the world.

I expect the Trump administration’s relentless attacks against immigrants and the immigration system to continue. The way to limit the damage is to establish an independent immigration court that is outside the Justice Department. Until that happens, the immigration courts will be subject to the politics driving the administration rather than the principles of justice immigration judges are sworn to uphold.

Ilyce Shugall is the director of the Immigrant Legal Defense Program at the Justice & Diversity Center of the Bar Assn. of San Francisco.






 Well said, Judge Shugall, my friend, colleague, and fellow member of the Roundtable of Former Immigration Judges!


Ilyce explains and gives “real life examples” of two concepts that I discuss often at “Courtside:”


  • AIMLESS DOCKET RESHUFFLING (“ADR”): Arbitrarily or maliciously moving cases around without actually deciding them to the disadvantage of the respondents, their lawyers, the judges, court staff, and often even ICE counsel (who, as far as I can tell, are never consulted in advance or given meaningful input on major policy changes at DHS, despite probably being the best qualified individuals in the agency to understand the real legal framework and practical implications of various policy decisions imposed “from above”);

  • MALICIOUS INCOMPETENCE (“MI”): Using White Nationalist restrictionist policies, not based on either the law or empirical data, usually irrational and impractical, to limit the ability of migrants to exercise their legal rights, create chaos in the court system, and ultimately to destroy the system and replace it with something even more draconian and more completely unfair.








Veronica Stracqualursi
Veronica Stracqualursi
Politics Reporter
Kirsten Gillibrand
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand introduces new legislation that would provide asylum seekers with attorney

Veronica Stracqualursi


Updated 2:18 PM EDT August 2, 2019

2020 Democratic presidential candidate and New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrandintroduced a bill Wednesday that would provide immigrants with an attorney as they seek asylum or other legal protections in the US as the Trump administration has been dramatically limiting the ability of Central American migrants to claim asylum.

Immigrants, for example, have the right to counsel and may hire a lawyer themselves, but unlike in the criminal justice system, representation is not guaranteed.

Under Gillibrand’s proposed bill, legal counsel would be required for eligible groups facing removal proceedings — including children, individuals with disabilities, victims of abuse, torture, and violence, and individuals at or below 200% of the federal poverty level.

The Funding Attorneys for Indigent Removal (FAIR) Proceedings Act “would ensure that some of the most vulnerable individuals in this process can be represented by an attorney,” Gillibrand said in a statement Friday.

“This would not only guarantee a more humane way to process asylum claims and other legal protections, but it would improve the efficiency of our immigration courts and help our country do a much better job of managing our immigration system,” Gillibrand said.

She accused the Trump administration of being “far too willing to fast-track deportation cases even when people have credible claims to asylum.”

Democratic Reps. Donald McEachin from Virginia and Zoe Lofgren from California have introduced a House companion to Gillibrand’s bill. Sens. Cory Booker and Bernie Sanders, two other 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls, and Richard Blumenthal have also signed onto the Senate bill as co-sponsors.

The Trump administration has worked to limit immigration and toughen the US asylum process amid overcrowded conditions at border facilities and a spike in apprehensions at the US-Mexico border over the recent months.

Last month, the departments of Justice and Homeland Security also rolled out an interim rule that would prohibit migrants who have resided or “transited en route” in a third country from seeking asylum in the US, therefore barring migrants from Central America traveling through Mexico from being able to claim asylum and as a result, drastically limiting who’s eligible for asylum.

A federal judge blocked the asylum rulefrom going into effect, deeming it “likely invalid because it is inconsistent with the existing asylum laws.”

The Trump administration also moved to expanda procedure to speed up deportations to include undocumented immigrants anywhere in the US who cannot prove they’ve lived in the country continuously for two years or more.

The notice, filed in the Federal Register on July 22, casts a wider net of undocumented immigrants subject to the fast-track deportation procedure known as “expedited removal” which allows immigration authorities to remove an individual without a hearing before an immigration judge. The American Civil Liberties Union has said it will sue to block the policy.

© 2019 Cable News Network, Inc. A WarnerMedia Company. All Rights Reserved.


Competent lawyers have been beating the Trump Administration like a drum on immigration issues. That’s why corrupt officials like Trump, Barr, Miller, “Big Mac With Lies,” and “Cooch Cooch” are so desperate to railroad asylum applicants out of the country while unlawfully denying them access to even the limited number of pro bono lawyers available under current law.

The Federal Courts have also “tanked” on their constitutional duty to insure Due Process by requiring appointed counsel in immigration cases, something that should make the entire Article III judiciary hang their collective heads in shame. The Federal Courts have also been “asleep at the switch” by allowing the Trump Administration to use inhumane coercive detention in obscure places and other gimmicks intentionally designed to defeat asylum applicants’ right to counsel of their own choosing.




COURT OBSERVATION TEAMS EXPOSE SYSTEMATIC INJUSTICE IN AMERICA’S MOST IMPORTANT COMPLETELY DYSFUNCITONAL COURT SYSTEM – Our U.S. Immigration Courts, “Where The Rubber Meets The Road,” Are Running On Four Flat Tires, Leaving A Human Carnage Of Injured & Dying Victims In Its Wake! — This Is What “Irreparable Harm” Looks Like!

Rewire.News reports:

All eyes are on the border crisis our government has created.

The news of horrific conditions at immigrant detention centers, an onslaught of restrictions preventing refugees from seeking asylum, and reports of ICE raids have sent thousands of people to the streets to protest.

Amid these atrocities, many people in the United States are asking how they can help. For those who want to contribute, there is a simple way that doesn’t require donating money, living in a border town, or speaking Spanish: volunteering as a court observer.

Court observers attend asylum hearings to shed light on the immigration court system, which is among the least transparent institutions of the justice system. Qualifications are minimal—one needs only a valid government photo ID and the ability to observe in silence and take legible notes, since recording devices aren’t allowed. Volunteers can plug into different programs to share their observations, as well as discuss the process with family and friends or post their findings on social media. Collectively, this information can be used to highlight judges or courts that are particularly unfriendly to asylum seekers. It can also empower advocates pushing for systemic reform of the 50 immigration courts in 29 states, Puerto Rico, and the Northern Mariana Islands deciding the fate of every asylum seeker, many of whom are forced to return to the place they just barely escaped from.

“The immigration court system has been so insulated from public view,” Michele Garnett McKenzie, deputy director of The Advocates for Human Rights, an organization that has been running a court observation program since 2017, told Rewire.News. “It’s small, it’s under the radar, and it lulls us to thinking that there are a set of rules and if the rules are followed, justice will be done.”

Reports, however, are surfacing of judges who haven’t granted a single asylum out of 200 cases. Asylum seekers who are deported are sent back to a place where they might be tortured or killed.

Ariel Prado, who organizes the volunteer-based court watch program in Atlanta, Georgia, for Innovation Law Lab, hasn’t encountered a judge who has denied 100 percent of asylum cases. “But there are judges in Atlanta with a denial rate in the high 90s,” Prado told Rewire.News. 

These high denial rates don’t tell us the full story, Prado noted. “You might think [the judges] have a different understanding of the law or they have a constrained understanding of what asylum is or they apply the law differently,” Prado said. “In [immigration court], it’s a much more human level than that. You see women who describe sexual abuse, repeated rape over the span of the year, being in captivity, being forcefully drugged … and you watch mostly male judges almost doze off through the testimony and totally trivialize [the woman’s] experience in their summary.”

Other advocates echo similar frustrations. Emem Maurus is an immigration attorney for Al Otro Lado, a bi-national nonprofit serving asylum seekers who seek to migrate to the United States, in Tijuana, Mexico. The organization recently launched a court observation program to collect information and bring transparency to Migrant Protection Protocols. Without accountability, Maurus told Rewire.News, “it’s a black hole in terms of what’s happening” to asylum seekers. Maurus described a judge who asked an asylum seeker to designate the country of his removal in case his asylum was denied. “The man said, I can’t go back to Honduras,” said Maurus. The judge then asked the government lawyer for a recommendation. “[The government lawyer] very glumly said, ‘Honduras.’ And the judge said, ‘OK, Honduras,’” added Maurus.

Although Maurus finds these incidents difficult to observe, they believe it’s crucial to document “the human cost of [the collective policies] that Trump [has] enacted.”

Under the “Remain in Mexico” policy, asylum seekers are forced to wait in Mexico for their case to be heard, and when they eventually appear for court, most are unrepresented. Lack of representation can be detrimental to an asylum case.

As part of her court observation for Al Otro Lado, volunteer Sarah Gibb Millspaugh records whether asylum seekers appear with a lawyer and if they try to obtain council. Although the San Diego immigration court provides asylum seekers with a list of legal aid, only 5 percent of people she observed had legal representation. “When you’re living in shelters, [it is difficult] to find a lawyer across the border that will connect with you in Mexico,” Millspaugh told Rewire.News. “The list they had posted in the court were all in San Diego and not in Tijuana.”

Compounding the issue, many U.S.-based immigration law firms don’t answer phone calls from Mexico, according to Maurus. And there are other obstacles. In several immigration courts, interpreters communicate through video as they aren’t present. “So if the judge talks to the prosecutor, it doesn’t get interpreted for the asylum seeker,” said McKenzie. “The interpreters only translate questions addressed to the asylum seekers.” Given such circumstances and the lack of adequate representation, it is highly unlikely for asylum seekers to receive a fair trial.

Millspaugh found the immigration judges she observed to be compassionate. Even so, like other advocates, she thinks the law is unjust. “Some of the most emotional points were that [the judge] said we’ll review [the] case at the next hearing in September.” This meant the asylum seekers would have to live in Mexico shelters for another two-and-a-half months or on the streets of one of the most dangerous cities in the world, with no money or means to protect themselves. “A woman said a man had followed her twice, [while she was in Mexico awaiting her court hearing], [trying] to take her daughter,” Millspaugh added. “Her daughter was about three.” A man and his son who had been threatened in Mexico asked the judge if she could hold the hearing any sooner. Due to a backlog in cases, the judge was able to expedite the case by only two weeks.

Millspaugh observed another judge who asked asylum seekers to not bring their children to their court hearing. Afterwards, Millspaugh wrote the judge a letter stating that given the unstable and unsafe conditions in Mexico, asylum seekers have no choice but to bring their children to the court. “I wouldn’t leave my child in Mexico. I would bring my child,” said Millspaugh.

The advocates Rewire.News spoke to encouraged people of all backgrounds to volunteer as court observers. Given the background and different experiences of volunteers, McKenzie believes they can observe court hearings from different angles. “[We have] an amazing array of retired people who go [into the immigration courts] with 40 years of professional experience as a psychologist or a child protection worker,” she said.

Prado, who is helping develop an Immigration Court Watch browser-based app, believes who controls the narrative is important. “It’s all [up to] the community to investigate where the truth lies. Court observation is the core of truth finding and it’s meant to be a national project.”

Scheduled to launch in mid-August, the app uses standardized forms to document immigration judges’ conduct, the hearing outcome, and other factors. “That way we can compare the immigration judge conduct and hearing outcomes by more than just [what the government and the Department of Justice] is willing to share,” said Prado. The forms are uploaded onto the app, which will read responses, ask follow-up questions, and store the information in a centralized location.

“Court observation makes sure what happens [to asylum seekers] isn’t completely shrouded and opaque,” Prado said. There are times, however, that immigration judges determine a hearing should be closed to the public in order to protect the asylum seeker from having to share sensitive details in front of an audience. Other times a judge would rather not be scrutinized or might be concerned the observers will be disruptive. Prado noted it would be ill-advised for observers to challenge the judge. Instead they should document they were ordered to leave the immigration court along with any reasons the judge provides.

McKenzie believes court observation could help the justice system become accountable and even change the behavior of the judges. “The system is designed to operate for the benefit of the system and not the public,” McKenzie said. “Without public engagement there is no sunshine, no transparency. Transparency and accountability are fundamental to protecting the human rights of the people.”

When Millspaugh shared her experience as a volunteer court observer with friends, they were concerned that it is difficult to witness such heartbreaking proceedings. But Millspaugh is undeterred, as she feels contributing to stopping human rights violations is empowering. “There is something that’s very life-giving … about actually engaging in the system. When we know what’s happening and we’re not connecting with it, there is a helpless despair we can feel. We can do something. Even if we [don’t] stop it, we are mitigating the horrors that are inflicted.”


As this article aptly points out, every concerned American can take part in supporting the many traumatized individuals being sentenced to injustice in our disgracefully broken U.S. Immigration Courts. You don’t have to be a lawyer or a journalist. These “courts that function more like star chambers” have been “weaponized” by the Trump Administration against the very individuals they are supposed to be protecting against unlawful Government actions, Executive overreach, and the intentional misconstruction of the laws granting asylum and other immigration benefits.

This article also correctly points out that the so-called “border crisis,” largely created and totally aggravated by this “maliciously incompetent” Administration, has been used to divert attention from the gross violations of legal and human rights and basic morality that the Administration inflicts daily in the “captive” Immigraton Courts as it mocks constitutional Due Process and fundamental fairness.

History will record the intentional misdeeds, lack of human empathy, and the often life-threatening harm being cowardly and unfairly inflicted on those seeking mercy and refuge under our laws.









THE VOICE OF REASON: ANGELINA JOLIE @ TIME ON WHY THE U.S. SHOULD NOT BE ABANDONING OUR TRADITIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS LEADERSHIP ROLE! — “It is troubling to see our country backing away from these, while expecting other countries, who are hosting millions of refugees and asylum seekers, to adhere to a stricter code. If we go down this path, we risk a race to the bottom and far greater chaos. An international rules-based system brings order. Breaking international standards only encourages more rule-breaking.” — Advocates Independent Article I Immigration Court For Fair & Impartial Adjudication Of Asylum Claims!

Angelina Jolie
Angelina Jolie
Actress, Writer, Human Rights Advocate

Angelina Jolie writes in Time:

Angelina Jolie: The Crisis We Face at the Border Does Not Require Us to Choose Between Security and Humanity

Angelina Jolie

Jolie, a TIME contributing editor, is an Academy Award–winning actor and Special Envoy of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees

We Americans have been confronted by devastating images from our southern border and increasingly polarized views on how to address this untenable situation.

At times I wonder if we are retreating from the ideal of America as a country founded by and for brave, bold, freedom-seeking rebels, and becoming instead inward-looking and fearful.

I suspect many of us will refuse to retreat. We grew up in this beautiful, free country, in all its diversity. We know nothing good ever came of fear, and that our own history — including the shameful mistreatment of Native Americans — should incline us to humility and respect when considering the question of migration.

I’m not a lawyer, an asylum seeker, or one of the people working every day to protect our borders and run our immigration system. But I work with the UN Refugee Agency, which operates in 134 countries to protect and support many of the over 70 million people displaced by conflict and persecution.

We in America are starting to experience on our borders some of the pressures other nations have faced for years: countries like Turkey, Uganda and Sudan, which host 6 million refugees between them. Or Lebanon, where every sixth person is a refugee. Or Colombia, which is hosting over 1 million Venezuelans in a country slightly less than twice the size of Texas. There are lessons — and warnings — we can derive from the global refugee situation.

The first is that this is about more than just one border. Unless we address the factors forcing people to move, from war to economic desperation to climate change, we will face ever-growing human displacement. If you don’t address these problems at their source, you will always have people at your borders. People fleeing out of desperation will brave any obstacle in front of them.

Second, countries producing the migration or refugee flow have the greatest responsibility to take measures to protect their citizens and address the insecurity, corruption and violence causing people to flee. But assisting them with that task is in our interest. Former senior military figures urge the restoration of U.S. aid to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, arguing that helping to build the rule of law, respect for human rights and stability is the only way to create alternatives to migration. The UN Refugee Agency is calling for an urgent summit of governments in the Americas to address the displacement crisis. These seem logical, overdue steps. Our development assistance to other countries is not a bargaining chip, it is an investment in our long-term security. Showing leadership and working with other countries is a measure of strength, not a sign of weakness.

Third, we have a vital interest in upholding international laws and standards on asylum and protection. It is troubling to see our country backing away from these, while expecting other countries, who are hosting millions of refugees and asylum seekers, to adhere to a stricter code. If we go down this path, we risk a race to the bottom and far greater chaos. An international rules-based system brings order. Breaking international standards only encourages more rule-breaking.

Fourth, the legal experts I meet suggest there are ways of making the immigration system function much more effectively, fairly and humanely. For instance, by resourcing the immigration courts to address the enormous backlog of cases built up over years. They argue this would help enable prompt determination of who legally qualifies for protection and who does not, and at the same time disincentivize anyone inclined to misuse the asylum system for economic or other reasons. The American Bar Association and other legal scholars and associations are calling for immigration court to be made independent and free from external influence, so that cases can be fairly, efficiently and impartially decided under the law.

There are also proven models of working with legal firms to provide pro-bono legal assistance to unaccompanied children in the immigration system without increasing the burden on the U.S. taxpayer. Expanding these kinds of initiative would help to ensure that vulnerable children don’t have to represent themselves in court, and improve the effectiveness, fairness and speed of immigration proceedings. Approximately 65% of children in the U.S. immigration system still face court without an attorney.

We all want our borders to be secure and our laws to be upheld, but it is not true that we face a choice between security and our humanity: between sealing our country off and turning our back to the world on the one hand, or having open borders on the other. The best way of protecting our security is by upholding our values and addressing the roots of this crisis. We can be fearless, generous and open-minded in seeking solutions.

TIME Ideas hosts the world’s leading voices, providing commentary on events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. Opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of TIME editors.


Wow!  Great thoughts on how caring people might actually help to constructively address human migration issues rather than cruelly making them worse through “malicious incompetence.”

It’s painfully clear that we have the wrong “celebrity” leading our nation. But, Jolie wasn’t on the ballot (not will she be). Nevertheless, in a saner and more law-abiding Government, there should be a place for ideas and leadership from Jolie and others like her.

HISTORICAL NOTE: If my memory serves me correctly, Angelina Jolie once appeared before my esteemed retired colleague U.S. Immigration Judge M. Christopher Grant, as an expert witness in an asylum case before the Arlington Immigration Court.



AILA CONDEMNS BARR’S LATEST COWARDLY EXTRALEGAL ATTACK ON VULNERABLE ASYLUM SEEKERS — “Matter of L-E-A- is a poorly-reasoned decision from an Administration that seems intent on ending legal asylum. AG Barr’s decision ignores decades of circuit court case law which has concluded that families are the ‘prototypical’ or ‘quintessential’ particular social group to qualify for asylum.”

Jeremy McKinney
Jeremy McKinney, Esquire
Greensboro, NC
AILA 2nd Vice President


AILA: AG’s Decision Ignores Precedent and Is the Latest Attempt to Restrict Asylum

AILA Doc. No. 19072905 | Dated July 29, 2019

George Tzamaras
Belle Woods


WASHINGTON, DC — On July 29, 2019, Attorney General (AG) William Barr issued a precedent decision in Matter of L-E-A- and announced that in his view, families cannot be considered a particular social group (and thus grounds for asylum) unless they are recognized by society as such.

AILA Second Vice President Jeremy McKinney stated, “Matter of L-E-A- is a poorly-reasoned decision from an Administration that seems intent on ending legal asylum. AG Barr’s decision ignores decades of circuit court case law which has concluded that families are the ‘prototypical’ or ‘quintessential’ particular social group to qualify for asylum. Courts, like the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, have voluminous case law directly contradicting the Attorney General’s decision today.


“The impact of AG Barr’s decision, along with the other decisions issued by his immediate predecessors on asylum and the nation’s immigration courts, cannot be overstated. Last summer, the AG issued Matter of A-B- attempting to end the category of persecution – essentially restricting domestic violence victims and other victims of crimes perpetrated by private, non-government actors from their ability to qualify for asylum. Today, the AG’s office further attempts to restrict asylum by targeting a new category of asylum seekers: families. This will cause irreparable harm. We know that these are some of the most vulnerable of asylum seekers as parents flee with their children in order to protect them from persecution. This decision unnecessarily makes asylum harder. Clearly, our nation needs an independent immigration court system separate from the Department of Justice.”


Cite as AILA Doc. No. 19072905.

Laura A. Lynch, Esq.

Senior Policy Counsel

Direct: 202.507.7627 I Email:


American Immigration Lawyers Association

Main: 202.507.7600 I Fax: 202.783.7853 I

1331 G Street NW, Suite 300, Washington, DC 20005




Cowardice is the very definition of when those in power whose job and solemn duty is to protect and vindicate the rights of others, particularly the most vulnerable among us like refugees, instead grossly abuse their power by picking on them, bullying them, and abusing them. Whether or not Barr and the other White Nationalist restrictionists in the Trump Administration are committing actual crimes under U.S. law, they are certainly guilty of “crimes against humanity” in any normal sense of the word.


It is for legal scholars, historians, and moral philosophers to insure that Trump, Pence, Barr, Sessions, “Cooch Cooch,” “Big Mac With Lies,” Miller, Nielsen, Kelly, Homan, Morgan, and others who have enthusiastically supported and enabled this debacle do not escape the negative judgements of history!




HOW LOW CAN THEY GO? — Many Thought It Couldn’t Get Any Worse Than Sessions’s Targeting Of Abused Women Refugees — But, Barr Seeks To Outdo Him With Unprovoked Attack On Persecuted Families!

MATTER OF L-E-A-, 27 I&N Dec. 581 (A.G. 2019)


(1) In Matter of L-E-A-, 27 I&N Dec. 40 (BIA 2017), the Board of Immigration Appeals improperly recognized the respondent’s father’s immediate family as a “particular social group” for purposes of qualifying for asylum under the Immigration and Nationality Act.

(2) All asylum applicants seeking to establish membership in a “particular social group,” including groups defined by family or kinship ties, must establish that the group is (1) composed of members who share a common immutable characteristic; (2) defined with particularity; and (3) socially distinct within the society in question.

(3) While the Board has recognized certain clans and subclans as “particular social groups,” most nuclear families are not inherently socially distinct and therefore do not qualify as “particular social groups.”

(4) The portion of the Board’s decision recognizing the respondent’s proposed particular social group is overruled. See Matter of L-E-A-, 27 I&N Dec. at 42– 43 (Part II.A). The rest of the Board’s decision, including its analysis of the required nexus between alleged persecution and the alleged protected ground, is affirmed. See id. at 43–47 (Part II.B).


As my friend Dan Kowalski of LexisNexis has pointed out, the AG’s ruling conflicts with most Circuit Court precedents which have recognized the nuclear family as the “quintessential particular social group.” So, Barr’s latest assault on human rights and the rule of law is likely to engender years of unnecessary and wasteful litigation.

But, the New Due Process Army and the Roundtable will be leading the change for truth, justice, and the American way!



SENTENCED TO DEATH WITHOUT DUE PROCESS: Trump’s Legal Shenanigans Kill Innocent People!

Beth Werlin
Beth Werlin
Executive Director
American Immigration Council

Beth Werlin writes in The NY Times:

The Trump administration’s expansion of the use of fast-track deportations through “expedited removal” will create a “show me your papers” regime nationwide in which people — including citizens — may be forced to quickly prove they should not be deported. This policy allows Immigration and Customs Enforcement to quickly deport someone without going before an immigration judge, undermining American principles of fundamental fairness and putting United States citizens, permanent residents and asylum-seekers at risk of wrongful deportation.

For 15 years, the government has been applying expedited removal in a limited way to those within 100 miles of the Canadian or Mexican border who have been in the United States for less than two weeks. The entire process consists of an interview with an immigration officer during which the burden is on the individual to prove a legal right to remain in the United States. One could be questioned, detained and deported very swiftly with little time to consult a lawyer or to gather evidence to prevent deportation. The extremely short timeline of the expedited-removal process increases the chances that a person who is legally entitled to stay in the United States can end up being removed anyway. The government now says it will apply it across the country for many people who cannot prove they have been present in the United States for two years or more. The expansion could affect thousands of people nationwide.

During just one year of the Trump administration, 27,540 citizens were questioned by ICE — five times more than the last year of the Obama administration. The expansion of the expedited removal process will further increase the number of people questioned, creating a heightened risk that citizens will be arrested, detained and wrongfully deported.

The process has many shortcomings. First, in expedited removal proceedings, immigration officers serve as both prosecutor and judge — charging someone as deportable and making a final decision to deport him, often all within a day. These rapid deportation decisions fail to take into account many critical factors that an immigration judge would consider, including whether the individual is eligible to apply for lawful status in the United States or whether he has citizen family members.

Second, there is generally no opportunity to consult with a lawyer. Having one can make all the difference. With a lawyer, a person is 10 times more likely to prevail in an immigration case. Moreover, there is typically no judicial oversight, with relatively low-level government officers authorized to issue the deportation orders.

Despite the backlogs in the immigration court system and even though the courts often fail to live up to expectations, they can help ensure a basic level of fair process. They safeguard against unlawful removals, afford people the opportunity to obtain counsel, and provide a streamlined appeal process.

This is particularly critical today, given that many people who will be subject to expedited removal are asylum seekers. These particularly vulnerable people could face serious harm or death in their countries of origin if they’re deported.

The lack of safeguards and information in expedited removal is compounded by well-documented abuse of the process. Immigration officers applying expedited removal are obligated to inform individuals of their opportunity to seek asylum and refer a person who expresses a fear of returning to their home country for a “credible fear interview.” Unfortunately, multiple investigations have revealed that officers at the border sometimes fail to fulfill these obligations.

One hallmark of the American justice system is a fair day in court before an impartial decision maker. This is the ultimate distortion of that system. Rather than strengthening the immigration court system, the administration is planning to bypass it entirely, and the human costs will be great.

Beth Werlin is the executive director of the American Immigration Council


Trump’s cruel abuse of vulnerable refugees and his wanton destruction of the U.S. Immigration Court system are national disgraces!




ROUNDTABLE NEWS: Judge Jeff Chase & I Quoted By Nicole Narea In Law360 On How Trump’s Latest Assault On Immigrants’ Rights Could Go Belly Up Even With Some Statutory Support!

Nicole Narea
Nicole Narea
Reporter, Law360
Jeffrey S. Chase
Hon. Jeffrey S. Chase
Jeffrey S. Chase Blog

Deportation Rule May Violate Due Process, Procedural Law

By Nicole Narea

Law360 (July 25, 2019, 8:31 PM EDT) — The Trump administration’s recent expansion of its power to fast-track deportations is likely to invite legal challenges if the new process is seen as a violation of administrative law and the Constitution’s due process guarantees.

Under a rule published Monday, unauthorized noncitizens across the entire U.S. — not just those apprehended within 100 air miles of a land border — who arrived in the last two years via a land border could be subject to expedited removal proceedings and deported without an immigration court hearing. The American Civil Liberties Union has vowed to challenge the rule, which went into effect Tuesday and, by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s estimates, will affect more than 20,000 immigrants a year.

Contrary to the Trump administration’s claims, however, the rule may not qualify for an exception to the Administrative Procedure Act’s public notice requirements that allows the DHS secretary to unilaterally change the scope of the agency’s expedited removal authority. It also raises due process concerns for individuals who may not be able to prove their period of residency in the U.S. and for asylum-seekers who might be erroneously subject to expedited deportation.

“Unleashed expedited removal undermines our immigration system and the rule of law,” said Shoba Wadhia, a professor at Penn State Law in University Park.

Administrative Procedure Act

To justify the rule, acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan invoked his authority under the Immigration and Nationality Act to have “sole and unreviewable discretion” to alter the scope of expedited removal proceedings. The rule is therefore exempt from the Administrative Procedure Act’s requirement to give the public an opportunity to comment on it before it goes into effect, DHS said in its announcement.

But Paul Schmidt, former chairman of the Board of Immigration Appeals during the Clinton administration, said there “does not appear to be any legitimate reason” for noncompliance with the APA’s notice-and-comment requirements, especially given that the rule had such a long gestation period. Trump has been considering such a rule since the first days of his administration.

Wadhia said opponents of the rule could argue that the government failed to show “good cause” that invoking notice and comment is in fact “impracticable, unnecessary, or contrary to the public interest” as the APA requires.

“The government’s position that there is a ‘good cause’ lacks integrity,” she said.

Most lawsuits that have succeeded in challenging Trump immigration policies have brought claims under the APA, including the recent challenge to a question about citizenship status on the 2020 census. The U.S. Supreme Court ultimately found that the decision to include the question on the census did not abide by the APA’s requirement that agencies provide a reasoned explanation for their actions.

Due Process Issues

Ken Johnson, dean of University of California, Davis School of Law, said the new rule could also be subject to due process challenges in light of the Supreme Court’s 1982 case Landon v. Plasencia, in which the justices applied a balancing test of interests in deciding the constitutionality of immigration admission procedures. That decision established that the interests of a noncitizen who has lived in the country for two years are much weightier than the interest at stake for a noncitizen who has been in the country for only two weeks because they have stronger ties to their community, he said.

Since the new rule expands expedited removal to apply to individuals who have lived in the U.S. for up to two years, they may be entitled to a higher standard of due process. Trump’s expansion of expedited removal also appears to exceed the limits provided by the Immigration and Nationality Act, resulting in further due process concerns.

Jeff Chase, a former legal adviser to the BIA and immigration judge, said the original intent of expedited removal was to stem an increase of inadmissible noncitizens arriving at airports in the 1990s who were paroled into the U.S. after announcing they were seeking asylum. The new rule, however, far surpasses that purpose.

“The present rule extends the application well beyond the purpose of controlling entry to the country, and now threatens to deprive those already here of their rights to apply for relief,” he said.

He said he also anticipates that expedited removal will be mistakenly applied to those beyond the scope of the rule, impacting those with a period of residence longer than two years, whose “attempts to stay under the government’s radar will create difficulty meeting their burden of establishing their period of residence in the U.S.”

Wadhia said that genuine refugees may also be erroneously denied due process, turned away as opposed to referred to an asylum officer to determine whether they have fear of persecution in their home countries, as required by law. Even if they have a credible fear interview, they are unlikely to pass in light of reports that asylum officers have been pressured to significantly lower their credible fear approval rates, Chase said.

Even U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, unaccompanied children and others who are exempt from expedited removal by statute could be unfairly and unlawfully targeted by the DHS, Wadhia said.

“The opportunity for profiling and violations of due process by DHS is rampant,” she said.

–Editing by Breda Lund and Kelly Duncan.


The Government’s case for an “emergency” exemption to the APA is laughable. This bogus “immigration emergency” is actually a human rights tragedy that has been unfolding in “super slow motion” before us since before last Thanksgiving. Virtually every part of it is a predictable result of Trump’s “maliciously incompetent” racist-driven approach to migration situations. To say that it now requires an “emergency” exemption, when Trump announced the proposed policy change in an Executive Order over two years ago, and his incompetent agencies have been fiddling around with it ever since, is simply absurd.

The Constitutional problem raised by Dean Johnson and others is very real.

And, there is no question that Trump’s DHS will misuse this authority to detain and deport lawful permanent residents and even U.S. citizens. Indeed, it’s already happening even without the regulatory change. See, e.g., “Texas-Born Student Held In Immigration Custody For Weeks Released,”

Yes, some Federal Judges can be tone deaf to the plight of ordinary individuals, particularly when they wrongly think that they are “above the fray.”

Perhaps we need to hope that the DHS wrongfully detains a Federal Judge, a Federal Judge’s spouse, or the child of a Federal Judge so that the message about how Trump’s misguided policies affect ALL of us gets through to the “Judicial Ivory Tower” sooner, rather than later.




Miriam Jordan
Miriam Jordan, National Immigration Reporter, NY Times
Zolan Kanno-Youngs
Zolan Kanno-Youngs
Reporter, NY Times

Miriam Jordan & Zolan Kanno-Youngs report for The NY Times:

LOS ANGELES — A federal judge on Wednesday ordered the Trump administration to continue accepting asylum claims from all eligible migrants arriving in the United States, temporarily thwarting the president’s latest attempt to stanch the flow of migrants crossing the southern border.

Judge Jon S. Tigar of the United States District Court in San Francisco issued a preliminary injunction against a new rule that would have effectively banned asylum claims in the United States for most Central American migrants, who have been arriving in record numbers this year. It would have also affected many migrants from Africa, Asia and other regions.

The decision came on the same day that a federal judge in Washington, hearing a separate challenge, let the new rule stand, briefly delivering the administration a win. But Judge Tigar’s order prevents the rule from being carried out until the legal issues can be debated more fully.

The rule, which has been applied on a limited basis in Texas, requires migrants to apply for and be denied asylum in the first safe country they arrive in on their way to the United States — in many of the current cases, Mexico — before applying for protections here. Because migrants from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala make up the vast majority of asylum seekers arriving at the southern border, the policy would virtually terminate asylum there.

“This new rule is likely invalid because it is inconsistent with the existing asylum laws,” Judge Tigar wrote in his ruling on Wednesday, adding that the government’s decision to put it in place was “arbitrary and capricious.”

The government, which is expected to appeal the decision, has said that the rule intends to prevent exploitation of the asylum system by those who unlawfully immigrate to the United States. By clogging the immigration courts with meritless claims, the government argues, these applicants harm asylum seekers with legitimate cases who must wait longer to secure the protection they deserve.

Under the policy, which the administration announced on July 15, only immigrants who have officially lost their bids for asylum in another country or who have been victims of “severe” human trafficking are permitted to apply in the United States.

Hondurans and Salvadorans have to apply for asylum and be denied in Guatemala or Mexico before they become eligible to apply in the United States, and Guatemalans have to apply and be denied in Mexico.

The policy reversed longstanding asylum laws that ensure people can seek safe haven no matter how they got to the United States. On July 16, the day the new rule went into effect — initially in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas — the American Civil Liberties Union challenged the policy in court in San Francisco. The case in Washington was filed separately by two advocacy organizations, the Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition and Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services, or Raices.

“The court recognized, as it did with the first asylum ban, that the Trump administration was attempting an unlawful end run around asylum protections enacted by Congress,” said Lee Gelernt, the A.C.L.U. lawyer who argued the case in San Francisco.

The groups challenging the rule argued that immigration laws enacted by Congress expressly state that a person is ineligible for asylum only if the applicant is “firmly resettled” in another country before arriving in the United States. The laws also require an asylum seeker to request protection elsewhere only if the United States has entered into an agreement with that country and the applicant was guaranteed a “full and fair procedure” there, they said.

Judge Tigar agreed. “The rule provides none of these protections,” he said in his ruling.

During a hearing in the case on Wednesday, a lawyer for the Justice Department, Scott Stewart, said that a large influx of migrant families had spawned a “crisis” that had become “particularly stark” and created a “strain” on the asylum system.

“Migrants understand the basics of the incentives and are informed about how changes in law and policy can affect their options,” Mr. Stewart told the judge.

Judge Tigar voiced concern about forcing asylum seekers to apply for protection in Mexico or Guatemala. “We don’t see how anyone could read this record and think those are safe countries,” he said, referring to the rule’s language that migrants must apply to the first safe country.

The judge also said that the government did not address the “adequacy of the asylum system in Guatemala,” which is not equipped to handle a surge in applications.

Charanya Krishnaswami, advocacy director for the Americas at Amnesty International, said it was inhumane and cruel to force people fleeing violence to seek safety in places that are as dangerous as the homes they fled. “Everyone seeking protection has the right to humane treatment and a fair asylum process under U.S. and international law,” she said.

In federal court in Washington, two advocacy groups made similar arguments against the new policy.

But that judge, Timothy J. Kelly, found that the groups did not sufficiently support their claim that “irreparable harm” would be done to the plaintiffs in the case if the policy were not blocked. While the rule would affect migrants seeking asylum, the judge said, “the plaintiffs before me here are not asylum seekers.”

“They are only two organizations, one of which operates in the D.C. area, far from the southern border,” he added.

In recent years, the number of migrants petitioning for asylum has skyrocketed.

Migrant families and unaccompanied children have been turning themselves in to Border Patrol agents and then requesting asylum, which typically enables them to remain in the United States for years as their cases wind through the backlogged immigration courts. Only about 20 percent of them ultimately win asylum, according to the government, and many of those whose applications are rejected remain in the country unlawfully.

The administration announced the new asylum policy despite the fact that Guatemala and Mexico had not agreed to the plan, which means those countries have made no assurances that they would grant asylum to migrants intending to go to the United States. Talks with Guatemala broke down and the country’s president, Jimmy Morales, backed out of a meeting that had been scheduled for July 15 at the White House. On Wednesday, President Trump said that his administration was considering imposing tariffs on Guatemalan exports or taxing money sent home by migrants.

The new asylum rule is just one of many efforts by the Trump administration to curb the entry of migrants.

At ports of entry, Customs and Border Protection agents have significantly slowed the processing of applicants through metering — limiting how many migrants are processed to as few as a dozen per day.

And some 16,000 migrants are waiting in Mexican border towns like Tijuana under a policy commonly referred to as “Remain in Mexico,” which forces asylum seekers to wait in Mexico until the day of their court hearing. The policy makes it more difficult for the migrants to secure a lawyer to represent them in the United States, undermining their chances of winning protections.

In November, President Trump unveiled a separate policy that banned migrants from applying for asylum if they failed to make the request at a legal checkpoint. Judge Tigar, who was also hearing that case, issued a temporary restraining order blocking that rule. The case is currently on appeal in the Ninth Circuit.

Zolan Kanno-Youngs reported from Washington, and Miriam Jordan from Los Angeles.


It’s a much more reasonable order than that issued by Judge Kelly in DC earlier in the day which declared “open season” on asylum seekers. Judge Tigar has been on the front lines of Trump’s war on Due Process and the rule of law. Significantly, he pointed out the absurdity of the Trump Administration’s outrageous scofflaw attempt to classify Guatemala, one of the most dangerous countries in the world, without a functioning asylum system, as a bogus “safe third country.”

It’s on to the appellate courts!