Posts Tagged ‘DOJ’

Daily Dispatch 8/21/18

A new series in which we (will aspire to) offer a sampling of today’s headlines on immigration, race, and related stories.

August 21, 2018

Top Stories:

Today begins what is intended to be a 19 day strike by prison inmates across the nation, demanding an “end to prison slavery.” In prisons and immigrant detention centers, prisoners are made to work for as little as $1 a day, sometimes in life-threatening work – fighting wildfires or working kill lines. The strike, set to end on the anniversary of the Attica uprising, is largely organized by prisoners themselves in response to recent deadly riots in a South Carolina facility. Jailhouse Lawyers Speak issued a list of “national demands,” including the rescinding of recent prison reform laws, fair pay standards, and restoration of voting rights. 

The Policies:

There seems to be a theme here: first DHS began using kids as bait to lure undocumented sponsors for deportation. Then CBP and ICE began taking kids away from their parents as a punishment/deterrent for crossing the border. Now the Department of State is getting in on the hurt-the-kids-to-hurt-the-parents trend, making changes to the Foreign Affairs manual to expand the definition of “public charge” to include government benefits (including CHIP, Earned Income Credit, Obamacare subsidies) received by US citizen children if one of their parents is a legal immigrant, rendering that parent ineligible for a green card. This isn’t exactly breaking news, but a couple of articles today are worth a mention. Check out Salon’s “Trump’s immigrant family separation strategy 2.0 targets children as they return to school” and this segment from All Things Considered.

Immigration policy takes center stage at the VMAs, as Logic builds a human wall.

An exploration of the many Stephen Millers of American history.

Examining Trump’s immigration policies from the POV of an immigration restrictionist.

The New York Time’s “The Daily” podcast begins a three-part series on family separations. Today’s installment examines how it all started (also available via Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, and RadioPublic).

The Courts:

29 parents who were separated from their children and denied asylum have filed suit against the government for violation of due process.

From the Salt Lake Tribune: Warrantless genital inspections at baggage claim by Customs and Border Protection. These stories recounted in great detail in multiple lawsuits against the agency are very disturbing.

American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) head discusses new national campaign and associated resolution to establish an Article I immigration court system. Another AILA representative also published an opinion piece.

After two years in ICE custody, court confirms US citizen’s status as US citizen.

A DOJ employee who joined a group of activists protesting DHS Sec Kirstjen Nielsen at a DC restaurant and criticized family separation online has not violated the Hatch Act, according to the US Office of Special Counsel, which is “closing this matter without further action.”

95 year old Nazi war criminal deported to Germany – which is, frankly, a little surprising.

The Circus:

Trump salutes ICE and… Canadian public radio?  Reading from a teleprompter, Trump refers to Customs and Border Protection as CBC eight out of eight times. It’s CBP. (Full video of the ceremony with transcript.)

And then this happened:

 

 

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Gov deports plaintiffs in lawsuit, Judge says no, threatens Sessions w/contempt

Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, US District Court, ordered that a plane to El Salvador carrying a mother/daughter who are plaintiffs in an ACLU lawsuit be turned around or else Jeff Sessions could be placed in contempt of court.

The two are party to a lawsuit challenging Sessions’ exclusion of domestic violence and gang violence as objects of ‘credible fear’ in asylum cases. Despite government assurances, the two were put on a plane during a hearing in which attorneys were appealing their removal.

Judge Sullivan described the move as “outrageous,” saying: “That someone seeking justice in U.S. court is spirited away while her attorneys are arguing for justice for her? I’m not happy about this at all. This is not acceptable.”

After Judge Sullivan ordered the government to bring the plane back, threatening that Sessions and DHS Sec. Kirstjen Nielsen would otherwise “be ORDERED to appear in Court to SHOW CAUSE why they should not be held in CONTEMPT OF COURT,” DOJ agreed to put the mother and daughter on another plane to the U.S. as soon as the outbound flight landed.

I guess Sessions doesn’t want a taste of prison life – yet.

Additional coverage.  And here is the order:

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Government says reuniting deported parents not its problem – it’s the ACLU’s

Yesterday, ahead of today’s 1:00 p.m. PST conference call, the Department of Justice filed a status report (see pp.3-4) in the federal court of the Southern District of California, suggesting that the responsibility for finding deported parents for the purposes of reunification with their children rests on… the ACLU.

DOJ argues that the ACLU is better positioned to locate the parents because of its “considerable resources” and extensive networks of volunteers, attorneys, and like-minded organizations. Once they have been located, the DOJ is offering to facilitate communication between parents and their minor children who remain in federal custody. 

To repeat: The government of the United States of America is suggesting (a) that it does not bear responsibility for reuniting the families it separated through detention and deportation and (b) that it does not have the financial or administrative resources to so.

The ACLU is, to be sure, a well-funded organization. However, a quick perusal of public records shows a fund balance of $118 million for the ACLU while the Department of Justice has $29 or so billion in discretionary budget authority.

Here is a brief comparative breakdown:

In light of the above, the government’s claim seems dubious.

One might surmise that the government is admitting either to incompetence or to what many have charged all along – namely, that the Trump administration intended family separations to be permanent from the beginning and thus has no motivation to establish procedures and best practices for reunification.

Want to take action? Call the attorneys who authored this court filing:

Sarah Fabian, Senior Litigation Counsel
Nicole Murley, Trial Attorney
DOJ Office of Immigration Litigation
(202) 532-4824

Adam Braverman, US Attorney
Samuel Bettwy, AUSA
Office of the US Attorney, Southern District of California
(619) 546-7125

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Guidance for Jeff Sessions and other news

Yesterday, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services released a Policy Memorandum offering guidance for border officers in dealing with asylum cases, in accordance with Jeff Sessions’ ruling that domestic violence and gang violence will no longer constitute credible fears for asylum applications. The memo can be read here, the ruling here, and some news coverage here.

A couple of weeks ago, Sessions recounted some of the ugly crimes committed by MS-13 members while defending the family separation not-exactly-policy-but-definitely-not-law. Trump invokes them nearly every day to stoke the fires of his base and create straw-men for politicians and journalists. The problem with this tactic is that it shines a spotlight on the administration’s (a) lack of logical consistency and/or (b) blatant race-based hypocrisy. Trump and Sessions want to revel in the heinousness of the crimes in order to demonize the very people seeking asylum to escape those crimes.

Is the gang violence bad? Yes? Then asylum is a legitimate claim. Is asylum from gang violence legitimate? No? Then the violence must not be that bad. In case he is a more visual learner, I have created this helpful flowchart that Sessions might want to consult in order to understand that he cannot have it both ways.

By denying asylum to those fleeing gang violence, Sessions is telling us that Central American parents should just accept the fact that their children will either likely be recruited to commit such crimes or be killed in a manner he deems unacceptable – at least for (non-Central) Americans.

Frankly, the only framework in which Sessions’ argument is coherent is one that sees Central Americans as a virus to be subjected to quarantine until it dies out and children from these countries as less deserving of the protections we seek for kids in the United States; in other words, a racist framework. (Laura Bush wrote an op-ed comparing family separation and detention to FDR’s Japanese American internment camps during WWII.)

In other news:

  • CLINIC and ASAP released a study on In Absentia removal of asylum seekers.

  • Alex Azar, Health and Human Services Secretary, stated that the facilities for kids who have been taken from their parents by the government are “one of the great acts of American generosity and charity.”

  • Paula White, Trump’s “spiritual advisor,” said:

“I think so many people have taken Biblical Scriptures out of context on this, to say stuff like, ‘Well, Jesus was a refugee.’ Yes, he did live in Egypt for three-and-a-half years. But it was not illegal. If he had broken the law, then he would have been sinful and he would not have been our Messiah.”

Setting aside the significant historical and theological problems with her statement, we are still left to ask: Is she suggesting that babies can be criminals? And is this part of her “spiritual advice” to Trump?

  • And finally, ICYMI, Sessions doesn’t mind joking about family separation:

 

 

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Take Action: Tell Homeland Security to Stop Using Children As Bait

Since publicly announcing the tactic of separating children from their parents when detained by ICE (including asylum seekers), the government has seen an increase in the number of unaccompanied children they need to house. 

Now, the Department of Homeland Security has issued a public system of records notice (SORN) detailing its intent to modify its system to allow greater sharing between DHS and Health and Human Services, which oversees the placement of unaccompanied children into foster care. Frequently, relatives come forward as sponsors but this measure will discourage family members from doing so. This seemingly dull and bureaucratic measure masks the intention of serving as an immigration check on the sponsor and all members of the sponsor’s household.

Let’s say Johnny has an aunt in the U.S. who is a citizen, but she lives with her sister who is undocumented. Johnny’s aunt knows that if she comes forward as a sponsor for her nephew, her sister will likely be detained and deported. She therefore chooses not to come forward and Johnny remains in a group home…or on a military base.

In short, DHS, HHS, and ICE are using children as bait.

The public comment period on this notice will remain open until June 7. We urge you to comment on the notice and perhaps to politely tell DHS where to shove it.  

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