Author: Jim Hacking

Trump Blows Up at Homeland Security Secretary Regarding Immigration

In a Cabinet meeting regarding immigration last week, Trump was irate and had harsh sentiments for Kirstjen Nielsen, the Homeland Security Secretary.

When Trump was told that for two months in a row the number of undocumented immigrants crossing the border at Mexico had hit 50,000, he was furious.  The enraged Trump, based on an insider’s report, said that Trump’s face reddened and he raised his voice as he told Nielsen that she needed to “close down” the border to Mexico.

Trump’s anger made many in the room feel uncomfortable, and by the time the topic had moved on to healthcare, many were thankful that the talk of immigration was over.

“Why don’t you have solutions?” Trump yelled at Nielsen, “How is this still happening?”  “We eed to shut it down,” he continued, “We’re closed.”

According to sources, Nielsen countered Trump, informing him that the laws were confining her ability to stop undocumented immigrants from entering the country.  Attorney General Jeff Sessions tried to come to Nielsen’s aid, saying that the administration was going to continue trying to find new ways to reduce these numbers.

Rumors flew that Nielsen had drafted a resignation letter after Trump’s outburst.  But, a statement released on Thursday, said that these rumors were unwarranted.

If Nielsen were to suddenly step down, there would not be an immediate replacement because the position for deputy secretary of Homeland Security is currently vacant.

An insider told The Washington Post that Nielsen is probably not looking to resign, saying, “She feels like she’s doing the best she can and doing a good job on immigration, but she also has to follow the law…It’s frustrating to have your boss unhappy about that.”

Trump’s attitude towards Nielsen has always been scathing, according to White House officials, complaining that she is “not tough enough” and that she was a “George W. Bush person.”

For more information, click here.

No Compensation for U.S. Citizen Who Was Nearly Deported by ICE

Davino Watson, a twenty-three-year-old man who has taken into custody by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, is a citizen of the United States.

When he was taken into custody, he told everyone who would listen that he was a U.S. Citizen.  He tried to convince the immigration officers, officials at the jail he was sent to, and the judge at his hearing.  But, no one listened.

Watson, who was not a high school graduate, was unable to obtain a court appointed lawyer—because there is no court-appointed attorneys in immigration court.

So, not sure what to do or how to do it, Watson wrote a letter to the immigration officers and gave them his father’s naturalization certificate, trying to convince them of his status.

But, despite his protestations, he was imprisoned as a “deportable alien” for over three years by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.  Without any apologies or explanations why, he was suddenly released in Alabama—far from his New York home.  The removal proceedings were ongoing for another year.

After Watson was released from his detainment, he filed a complaint.  He was awarded $82,500 in damages by a New York district judge who said that the situation was a “regrettable [failure] of the government.”

But, nine years after Watson was originally detained, an appeals court has reversed the decision saying that even though Watson’s case is “disturbing,” the statute of limitations had expired—shockingly, the statute of limitations expired while Watson was being detained by ICE.

No high school diploma, no attorney, and no one listening to him while he was saying over and over that he was a citizen.  How can he be expected to have fought for his own rights any harder than he did given the situation.

According to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, their hands were tied and they had to follow the precedent.  They said, “There is no doubt that the government botched the investigation into Watson’s assertion of citizenship, and that as a result a U.S. citizen was held for years in immigration detention and was nearly deported…nonetheless, we must conclude that Watson is not entitled to damages from the government.”

The decision made here is truly disappointing.

For more information, click here.

New Policy Criminalizes “100 Percent” of Undocumented Immigration at the U.S. Border

Immigration policy under the Trump administration is continually getting more and more difficult.  A new policy has been created that will separate thousands of families.  The Department of Homeland Security and the Justice Department vow to prosecute every single person they suspect of entering the United States undocumented.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke in San Diego at a news conference and said, “We need legality and integrity in our immigration system.  That’s why the Department of Homeland Security is now referring 100 percent of illegal Southwest border crossings to the Department of Justice for prosecution.”

“If you cross this border unlawfully,” Sessions continues, “then we will prosecute you.  It’s that simple.  If you smuggle illegal aliens across our border, then we will prosecute you.  If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you and that child may be separated from you as required by law.”

Separating children from their parents is one of the immigration enforcement tactics that is most argued by critics as inhumane treatment.

While historically, entering the United States as undocumented was a civil matter and the immigrant was subject to deportation, this change in policy means that every case will be treated as a criminal matter instead.  This means that these immigrants could now face prison in all instances.

According to an anonymous official, “At muster they just said, ‘We are now prosecuting everyone, 100 percent.’  Then there were a few cheers and someone shouted, ‘Thank you, Trump.’ They followed up with family unit situations and said that if a unit was apprehended that the parent with the most criminal history would be prosecuted.’”

But what happens when a family has no criminal history?  Then who is apprehended?

The national secretary of AILA, the American Immigration Lawyers Association, says the new policy, “is yet another solution in search of a problem…Illegal entries are at forty-year lows and net migration with Mexico remains at or below zero.”

For more information, click here.

Chemistry Teacher Facing Deportation Thanks Church Congregation for Coming to His Defense

Syed Jamal, has unending gratitude for the Plymouth Congregational Church for coming to his defense when he was arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents on January 24 at his home.

Jamal was born in Bangladesh and is a chemistry teacher at a local college in Lawrence.

In 2011, a deportation order was issued after Jamal overstayed a visa.  His work permit remains valid until October 2018.  His attorney explains that he was trying to work in a “complicated and unfriendly” immigration system.

After his January 24 arrest, he was being detained in a Missouri jail for 45 days before his March 20 release.  Once released, he was reunited with his wife and three children.

At Plymouth Congregational Church’s Sunday service, Jamal came up to the pulpit and spoke of the good that collective action can do.  The congregation had worked tirelessly to champion his cause, garnering media attention, organizing a letter-writing campaign to the Kansas congressional delegation, and providing courtroom support for his family.  Jamal credits all the hard work of the congregation to his release.

Jamal said, “From that, we learned the lesson that actions do matter, and if we come together, wonderful things can happen…You set an example for others and for my children by what you did, and for that, I say thank you.”

A friend of Jamal’s in the congregation, Alan Anderson, said that he simply did what God would have asked of him.  According to Anderson, “He requires we do something…This congregation did that.  When the history is written on this episode, it will remember all your stories.”

Jamal’s immigration battle is far from over.  His case is now headed to the Board of Immigration Appeals, an administrative appellate court within the U.S. Justice Department.

The length of the BIA process for Jamal is unknown.

For more information, click here.

Oral Arguments Aren’t Making Opponents of the Muslim Ban Comfortable

Oral arguments took place at the Supreme Court last week for the case regarding the legality of Donald Trump’s travel ban, commonly referred to as the “Muslim ban.”

The outcome was not comforting for most.  The Supreme Court of the United States is currently at a conservative majority, which typically does not bode well for challenges against a conservative president—although considering Trump’s unorthodox behavior as a president, ‘conservative’ is not the most commonly used word to describe him.

Some justices seemed concerned about the implications of second-guessing the decisions of the executive branch about those who can and cannot enter the country.

It was the hope of many that Chief Justice Roberts or Justice Kennedy would side with the four liberal justices and say that the ban is unconstitutional.  But, it seems unlikely, based on the questions that they were asking during the oral arguments.

Chief Justice Roberts did question if Trump would be able to avoid addressing the statements he made regarding immigration during his presidential campaign.  Roberts said, “Is there a statute of limitations on that?”

Justice Alito argued that since there are “50 predominantly Muslim countries in the world” the travel ban only affects “about 8 percent of the world’s Muslim population.”  “If you looked at the 10 countries with the most Muslims,” he furthered, “exactly one [from the ban], Iran, would be on that list of the top 10.”

But, the attorney arguing in opposition to the ban was ready.  He argued, “If I’m an employer and I have 10 African-Americans working for me and I only fire two of them…I don’t think anyone can say that’s not discrimination.”

Chief Justice Roberts asked long-winded hypotheticals inquiring about the president’s power to avoid terrorism.  For example, hypothetically, “We have 100 percent solid information that on a particular day, nationals from Syria are going to enter the United States with chemical and biological weapons…In that situation, could the president ban the entry of Syrian nationals on that one day?”

Of course, these hypotheticals further seem to prove that the point of the travel ban is to ban Muslim countries because of the common xenophobic idea that all Muslims are terrorists.  Banning Syrians for one day for a national security reason is vastly different than a travel ban that exists much longer than 24 hours and spans more than one singular group of people.

It is a blanket statement hiding behind ‘national security.’

We can only hope that the Supreme Court agrees.

For more information, click here.

700 Children Taken From Their Parents at the Border

Mirian, a young woman who had fled Honduras, showed up at the Texas border with her eighteen-month-old son on February 20, 2018.  She begged border agents for refuge from the political violence that plagues her home country.

But, the agents told her to put her son in a government automobile, and he was driven away from her.

Unfortunately, Mirian’s story is not an uncommon one.  Data from the Office of Refugee Resettlement (part of the Department of Health and Human Services) shows that, since October of 2017, over 700 children have been separated from adults who say they are their parents—over 100 of these children are younger than four years old.

The Office of Refugee Resettlement takes custody of these children who have been separated from their parents.  The Department of Homeland Security had tried to deny these statistics at the beginning, but multiple federal officials confirmed the numbers to the New York Times, and eventually, a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services also confirmed the numbers.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, these separations are not used as a tactic to deter undocumented immigrants from crossing the border.  A spokesperson said, “As required by law, DHS must protect the best interests of minor children crossing our borders, and occasionally this results in separating children from an adult they are traveling with if we cannot ascertain the parental relationship, or if we think the child is otherwise in danger.”

But, considering this has happened over 700 times in seven months, it seems hard to believe that the motives are purely innocent.

Michelle Brane, the director of the Migrant Rights and Justice Program (part of the Women’s Refugee Commission), said “The idea of punishing parents who are trying to save their children’s lives, and punishing children for being brought to safety by their parents by separating them, is fundamentally cruel and un-American.”

For more information, click here.

Judge Rules Dreamers Can Dream Another Day

Tuesday, April 24, 2018 came good news for the immigrant community.

A federal judge ruled that Trump cannot stop DACA and new applications should be accepted again.

According to the New York Times, The Honorable John D. Bates of the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia said that Trump’s order ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program “was based on the ‘virtually unexplained’ grounds that the program was ‘unlawful.’”

The DACA program was a product of the Obama administration that helped young, undocumented immigrants who would been brought to the United States as children.  Approximately 700,000 undocumented immigrants have applied for DACA, which they must renew every two years.

Bates’s decision is stayed for 90 days, meaning that the Department of Homeland Security has 90 days to more further explain why DACA is being cancelled.  According to the decision, if the Department of Homeland Security is unable to do this, DHS “must accept and process new as well as renewal DACA applications.”

This is the third federal ruling against Trump’s choice to end DACA.  In Brooklyn, New York and San Francisco, California, other federal judges have ordered injunctions to keep DACA.  But, Bates’s decision is different from the other decisions because he also said the government must accept new applications rather than just honor the existing program, something that the other two decisions had not specified.

In the decision, Bates said that the Trump administration deciding to stop the DACA program was “arbitrary and capricious because the department failed adequately to explain its conclusion that the program was unlawful.”

On the evening of Tuesday, April 24, the Justice Department issued a statement saying it would “continue to vigorously defend” why it chose to end the DACA program and that it looks “forward to vindicating its position in further litigation.”

For more information, click here.

Muslim Ban 3.0 Heads to the Supreme Court

Since Donald Trump has taken office, the Supreme Court of the United States has been relatively silent regarding his many changes that have rocked public opinion and caused many media storms.

But, Trump’s travel ban, i.e. the “Muslim Ban” 3.0, is going to be the issue that stops the Supreme Court silence.

Those who have disagreed with the travel ban in lower counts have called it a “Muslim ban” because the countries listed have majority Muslim populations.  A “Muslim ban” is not unsurprising as a Trump policy, considering his campaign included claims to stop Muslims from entering the United States.

Arguments in front of the Supreme Court regarding the case are scheduled for Wednesday.  According to an article in Missouri Lawyers Weekly, the arguments “could offer some indication about how a court that runs on respect for traditions and precedent will deal with a president who regularly breaks with convention.”

Many things could be brought up during the arguments, including Trump tweets and anti-Islam rhetoric.

According to the ACLU’s deputy legal director, Cecillia Wang, “The court could get the right outcome without getting into the question of his tweets.  But I think the president set it up so that it’s virtually impossible to ignore him when he’s shouting from the rooftops about what his purpose was in the three versions of the ban.”

The first travel ban was announced only a week after Trump took office.

The travel ban 2.0 took Iraq off the list of countries—leaving Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen in the hot-seat.  Travelers that had visas already were not to be affected.  But, the Fourth Circuit and Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals were not playing ball.  The Fourth Circuit said that the ban “drips with religious intolerance, animus, and discrimination” and the Ninth Circuit said the ban was a violation of immigration law.

Again tweaked, the “Muslim ban” 3.0 has still been failing in the lower courts and this time the Supreme Court will weigh in.  A decision will most likely be issued by the end of June 2018.

For more information, click here.

CBP Wants You To Think More Agents Are Being Assaulted Than is True

Off the side of the road on Interstate 10, two U.S. Border Patrol agents were found unconscious and having sustained multiple injuries last November.  According to news outlets everywhere, the two agents had been hit with rocks in West Texas.

Right-wing news reports were made that alleged the responsible parties were undocumented immigrants.  Donald Trump used this hysteria to help his campaign and again argued for a border wall.

Four months later, the FBI’s investigation into the situation was complete and the FBI found that the death of CBP agent, Martinez, was most likely caused due to an accidental fall.

But, statistics were already showing up that showed a higher number of assaults against Border Patrol agents.

These statistics made no sense and were in direct conflict with statistics that the number of undocumented immigrants crossing the Southern border between Mexico and Texas was decreasing.

In 2016, 454 assaults on CBP agents nationwide were reported by CBP.  For 2017, 786 assaults were reported—an increase by 73 percent.  But, the number of undocumented immigrants apprehended decreased by over 100,000 the same year.

The 271 additional assaults that were reported in 2017 were alleged to have occurred in the Rio Grande Valley, which is in South Texas.  Apparently, many of the assaults even occurred on the same day.

Christiana Coleman, a public affairs spokesperson for CBP, said, “an incident in the Rio Grande Valley Sector on February 14, 2017, involved seven U.S. Border Patrol Agents assaulted by six subjects utilizing three different types of projectiles…totaling 126 assaults.”

This should have been tallied as seven assaults (because there were seven agents), but it was listed as 126 assaults which completely spiked and spewed the data.  It looks like 126 agents were assaulted that day, when really, this was far from true.

Moreover, even if the water bottles or rocks that get thrown at agents do not actually hit the agents, the act is still labeled as an assault for reporting purposes.

For more information, click here.

Green Card Interviews for Couples Are Not Easy

U.S. Citizens and their “alien” spouses, i.e. non-U.S. citizen spouses, have to go through a lot of work in order for the non-U.S. citizen spouse to obtain a green card.  The immigration process is always grueling, but what gives many couples the most stress is the interview process.

Immigration officials can be quite tough and, at many times, intimidating.  They are trained to beware people trying to cheat the immigration system.  If a couple is caught in a fraudulent marriage or lying abut the basis of their relationship, the result could be time in prison and a fine of anything up to $250,000.

Their goal is to make sure the marriage is because of a real relationship and true love, not because someone wants to obtain legal permanent residency in the United States.

Such a goal seems innocent enough.  Of course, we want marriages to be built on love.  Of course, we don’t want people cheating the immigration system.

But, unfortunately, this goal can result in the immigration officials asking questions to the U.S. Citizen and their non-citizen spouse that many people—in regular, real relationships—would not be able to answer.

Some questions are easy:  How did you meet?  What was your wedding like?  When did you meet each other’s families?

Other questions can be much more difficult: Draw a diagram of your bedroom.  When was the last time your spouse saw your mother?  What subway does your spouse take to work?

According to an immigration lawyer in Austin, “We have seen more scrutiny and more questions about marriage lately.”

Officers may even make house visits to see if couples are actually living together.  They are also entitled to chat with the couple’s neighbors.

A New York Times article says that immigration officers see large gaps in age, religious disparities, and language differences as red flags.

For more information, check out the New York Times article here.