Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Immigrants have been fleeing the United States for Canada, hoping for a less stringent immigration system that will allow them to establish a permanent home in the land of our neighbor to the North. It's an issue we've covered before (here, here, here, here, here, here).
As the NYT reports, "Canadian officials are warning that even liberal Canada has its limits amid concerns, fairly or not, that illegal migration is stretching the immigration system to a breaking point[.]"
Ahmed Hussan, Canada's minister of immigration, notes that only 8% of claims for asylum from Haitian migrants have been granted. That's not a strong shot.
Canada is taking steps to let would-be migrants know that the odds are not in their favor. Worried about Salvadorans fleeing north after the loss of TPS, Canada sent one member of parliament, Pablo Rodriguez, to L.A. to meet with "members of the Hispanic community there to explain the limits of Canadian asylum policy."
It's a strategy Canada has employed before. This summer, another Canadian member of parliament, Emmanuel Dubourg, traveled to Miami to inform members of the Haitian communities there that gaining asylum in Canada would be difficult.
But there is a very large backlog of cases (over 40,000) in Canada. And just waiting for one's asylum case to be heard will inevitably buy migrants some time in Canada. Maybe even years.
Immigration Article of the Day: MS-13 as a Terrorist Organization: Risks for Central American Asylum Seekers by Jillian Blake
In its first year, the Trump Administration has used aggressive rhetoric in a crusade against the transnational gang MS‑13. In April, Attorney General Jeff Sessions called MS‑13 “one of the most violent gangs in the history of our country” and said that the gang “could qualify” as a terrorist organization. Since then, the administration has put its fight against MS‑13 at the front and center of its agenda. In a speech this summer, President Donald Trump called MS‑13 gang members “animals” and vowed to “dismantle, decimate and eradicate” their operations. The president has also used the threat posed by MS‑13 to justify his increased use of immigration enforcement generally.
While the rhetoric coming from the administration against MS‑13 is tough, the president has yet to develop a comprehensive plan to combat the gang. Law enforcement officials argue that Trump’s harsh deportation policies will make the fight against MS‑13 more difficult by impairing their ability to gather intelligence on the gang within immigrant communities. Furthermore, hardline approaches against the gang by Central American governments like El Salvador, to which the administration plans to cut aid, have failed in the past because of the region’s weak security and judicial institutions. In fact, experts warn that the combination of mass deportation and weak institutions in Central America could create the perfect storm for MS‑13 to grow and boomerang back into the United States.
Officially designating MS‑13 as a terrorist organization could be harmful. Draconian provisions within U.S. asylum law bar those who have given support to terrorist organizations from entering the country, even if they gave the support under duress. These provisions mean labeling MS‑13 as a terrorist organization could prevent many of the gang’s victims from seeking asylum in the United States. Reforms are necessary to prevent barring victims of persecution from seeking asylum. While the power and brutality of MS‑13 must be recognized and effectively combated, MS‑13 should not be designated as a terrorist organization because of the damaging effect it would have on the ability of Central American asylum seekers to gain protection in the United States.
Tuesday, January 16, 2018
Breaking News: Trump Administration to skip the Ninth Circuit and go straight to Supreme Court in DACA Rescission Case
Over 65 million people around the world have been forced from their homes to escape famine, climate change and war in the greatest human displacement since World War II. Human Flow, an epic film journey led by the internationally renowned artist Ai Weiwei, gives a powerful visual expression to this massive human migration. The documentary elucidates both the staggering scale of the refugee crisis and its profoundly personal human impact.
Captured over the course of an eventful year in 23 countries, the film follows a chain of urgent human stories that stretches across the globe in countries including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, France, Greece, Germany, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Kenya, Mexico, and Turkey. Human Flow is a witness to its subjects and their desperate search for safety, shelter and justice: from teeming refugee camps to perilous ocean crossings to barbed-wire borders; from dislocation and disillusionment to courage, endurance and adaptation; from the haunting lure of lives left behind to the unknown potential of the future. Human Flow comes at a crucial time when tolerance, compassion and trust are needed more than ever. This visceral work of cinema is a testament to the unassailable human spirit and poses one of the questions that will define this century: Will our global society emerge from fear, isolation, and self-interest and choose a path of openness, freedom, and respect for humanity?
Amazon Studios and Participant Media present, in association with AC Films, Human Flow, a film directed by Ai Weiwei. Human Flow is produced by Ai Weiwei, Chin-Chin Yap and Heino Deckert and executive produced by Andrew Cohen of AC Films with Jeff Skoll and Diane Weyermann of Participant Media.
A trio of Washington Post reporters have an interesting and revealing story, "based on interviews with more than a dozen White House officials, Capitol Hill aides and lawmakers," about the now-famous meeting last week at the White House, with President Trump's inflammatory remarks about immigrants from "s------ countries." It really is revealing.
President Trump's inflammatory comments about immigration from "s------- countries" continues to provoke commentary and outrage. Admir Skodo on The Conversation writes that the President, in urging admission of fewer immigrants from “s-------” – such as Haiti and poorer African nations – and more from the likes of Norway, labors under the misconception that the Scandinavian countries are ethnically and economically homogeneous.
Among Scandinavian countries, Denmark has the most restrictive immigration policy and Sweden the most open one, with Norway falling somewhere in between. These differences are reflected in the number of foreign-born. In Sweden, 15% of residents are foreign-born; in Norway it’s 11%, and in Denmark 8%.
Skodo looks at the countries of origin for the immigrants to those nations and concludes that "the Scandinavian countries are rather more open to what Trump would call `s------- countries” than the US president might think."
According to a post on Latino Rebels, Facebook last week removed immigration attorney Bryan Johnson’s social media post detailing an attempt by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to intimidate his law firm. On December 26, 2017, ICE agents hand-delivered a letter to the law firm of Amoachi & Johnson, implying that it may be obstructing its law enforcement activities. Johnson is nationally known for his representation of unaccompanied minors in removal (deportation) proceedings. He has also written pieces for Latino Rebels. Johnson had shared images of officers belonging to the ICE HSI gang unit in New York on his firm website, stating in Spanish, “If you see any of the people below who are with the ICE HSI gang unit, avoid them. If you’re outside, stay away. If you are at home, do not open the door.”
Monday, January 15, 2018
This poster by artist Watson Mere is called "My Brother's Keeper." Highlighted by twitter in August 2017, it's picking up internet traffic again today as folks look for ways to express how they feel on this Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
In this article, Walter Ewing considers the relationship between fighting crime and the view of immigrants -- and particularly immigrants of color -- are criminals who deserve removal from the United States. President Trump is far from the first President to use crime-based removals to remove hundreds of thousands of immigrants of color. As Ewing explains:
"Even under the relatively liberal Obama administration, deportations of undocumented immigrants and legal immigrants with minor criminal records took place at a feverish pace. While then-President Obama wanted a comprehensive legislative revamping of the U.S. immigration system, he was unable to get a bill through Congress and reportedly felt obligated to enforce the letter of the existing draconian laws in the meantime.
It is against this backdrop—the rise of mass incarceration, the targeting of both African Americans and predominantly Latino immigrants, and the imposition of an unequal system of justice on the foreign-born—that the Trump administration came to power. And while Trump’s brand of nativism may be extreme, it nevertheless has a long pedigree in U.S. history."
If you have doubts about the racialized nature of immigration enforcement, check out the "ICE Most Wanted" on the ice.gov website.
Summary of the Ruling in Regents of the University of California v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security
In this decision, the court considered the government’s three arguments asserting that the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction: 1) that the rescission of DACA was a discretionary act barred from judicial review under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 2) that the INA bars judicial review, and 3) that only individual plaintiffs, rather than states or public entities, have standing for claims challenging the rescission. Additionally, the court granted partial provisional relief for the plaintiffs.
The court begins by giving a brief overview and history of deferred action programs. The court summarized the circumstances surrounding the DACA rescission, explaining that the government’s stated reason for rescinding the program was the illegality in the establishment of the program, allegedly similar to the problems found by the Supreme Court with regard to the DAPA program in Texas v. United States. Additionally, the government claims that rescinding DACA would provide an orderly wind-down of the program while avoiding an inevitable injunction from the Fifth Circuit as a result of the DAPA decision. After describing Plaintiffs’ action against the government for the rescission of the program, the court turned to the government’s arguments.
Government’s FRCP 12(b)(1) Dismissals Partially Denied
First, the court explained that Section 701(a)(2) of the APA provides that district courts lack subject matter jurisdiction to review agency action that is “committed to agency discretion by law.” Contrasting the instant case with Heckler v. Chaney, the court determined that ending DACA, a five-year-old program affecting 689,800 individuals nationwide, is distinct from an agency’s discretion to refuse to enforce certain policies; the decision to terminate a program is distinct from an agency’s decision not to regulate. The court concludes that there is law to apply to determine the legality of the program, and that determination is a quintessential role of the courts. Thus, the government’s first argument fails.
For its second argument, the government points to 8 U.S.C. § 1252(g) which limits courts’ “jurisdiction to hear any cause or claim by or on behalf of any alien,” arising from the discretion of the Attorney General. The court rejects this argument, however, determining that judicial review in this case does not inappropriately delay removal of any individual, as the action concerns no individual removal, but rather the across-the-board cancellation of a nationwide program. Thus, § 1252(g) is inapplicable in this case.
The court rejects the government’s third argument, that all non-individual Plaintiffs lack standing, explaining that most of the city and state Plaintiffs have expended resources hiring DACA recipients, and, should those recipients be deported, would be subjected to more expenses in the replacement of those employees. The court points to the University of California’s loss of proprietary interests as a significant harm. Further, the state Plaintiff’s loss of students and teachers at their public universities are sufficient harms. Finally, the court concludes that the SEIU Local 521 has standing because it has members who are DACA recipients, and its stated goals are to protect workers’ interests, regardless of immigration status. The court notes, however, that loss of significant tax revenue and negative impacts on public health programs are so marginally related to the DACA rescission that the states asserting only these claims – Maine and Minnesota – were dismissed.
Plaintiff’s Provisional Relief Partially Granted
Lastly, the court turned to Plaintiff’s request for provisional relief. To support a preliminary injunction, Plaintiffs must establish 1) the likelihood of success on the merits; 2) irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief; 3) that the balance of equities tips in Plaintiffs’ favor; and 4) that the relief is in the public interest.
Stating that the Plaintiffs were likely to succeed in arguing that the DACA rescission was based on legal error, the court explains that the reasoning behind the rescission – that it was unlawfully passed – was incorrect. Instead, the court explains, the DACA program was rooted in authority provided by Congress and the Supreme Court, and in establishing the program, the agency acted within its scope of authority. Further, DACA and DAPA are sufficiently distinct that the results from the DAPA litigation are not determinative for the instant case.
The court concludes that the government’s alternate rationale for ending DACA – to avoid a Fifth Circuit injunction – was a post hoc rationalization. The court notes that the government has blindly accepted that DAPA and DACA present the same legal concerns, without providing an analysis on how the programs are distinct. The government offers no discussion on whether the program was worth fighting for, if it was susceptible to litigation, and has provided no analysis regarding the DACA recipients’ reliant interests on the program after five years of implementation. The lack of any sufficient reasoning for ending DACA supports the assertion that the decision was arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion.
Without this injunction, Plaintiffs would undoubtedly suffer irreparable harm, as discussed in the standing section. The court further found that public interest will be served by DACA’s continuation, pointing to President Trump’s support of the program as evidence. Based on these factors, the court ordered the DACA program to be maintained on a nationwide basis, with a few exceptions: that new applicants need not be processed, that the advanced parole feature need not be continued, and that defendants may take necessary steps to ensure discretion is exercised on an individual basis for each renewal application.
Migrant Quilt Project: Expressing Compssion for Migrants from Mexico and Central America Who Have Died
This discussion will bring together a wide range of voices for a frank conversation about how to “heal the disconnect between people of America from different ideological, cultural, socioeconomic and geographic backgrounds.”
Moderated by pastor and author John Gray, scheduled to appear are:
- Pastor Mike Hayes, Founder of Covenant Church, Texas
- Raphael Warnock, Pastor Ebenezer Baptist Church, Atlanta
- Robert E. Lee, Descendant of Confederate General Robert E. Lee
- Daryl Davis, Musician, author, lecturer, actor and race relations expert
- Scott Shepherd, Former Grand Wizard, KKK
- Bishop Harry Jackson, Pastor of Hope Christian Church
- Jaime Harrison, Chair of South Carolina Democratic Party.
- Randy Evans, Law Partner at Dentons LLP, and future Ambassador to Luxembourg
Sunday, January 14, 2018
From NBC News:
On a quiet winter morning, Ingvild Rosseland walked her two dogs through a snowy forest in Huk, a public park in the capital of Norway — a country recently designated by President Donald Trump as not being a "shithole."
The president used the vulgarity while referring to immigration from African nations, and told a group of lawmakers that the United States should have more people coming from places like the Scandinavian nation, according to a Democratic aide.
“It’s nice that people want us,” Rosseland, 40, said as she walked along the frozen banks of the inner Oslo Fjord, “but I didn’t react to it as a compliment."
Many in Norway have been saying "thanks but no thanks" to what they perceive as backhanded praise from the U.S. president, which came the same day he had met with Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg. Read more...
Today, executives from the seven national Christian organizations that form the leadership of the Evangelical Immigration Table released a statement regarding recent reported comments from President Trump and the bipartisan Congressional negotiations over a legislative solution for recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
This joint statement follows additional statements on this topic from Evangelical Immigration Table organizations, including the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference and World Relief.
“Jesus emerged from the despised and disregarded town of Nazareth, a reminder that we ought never pre-judge any person based on his or her community of origin,” they write. “These biblical values inform our national values as well. The United States was founded upon the conviction that all people are created equal—though, as Martin Luther King, Jr. reminded our country, we have not always lived up to that truth.
“Our president reportedly made statements recently that stand in opposition to these core biblical and American values. The President has now denied some of the reported language. We would hope that nothing approaching what was reported would ever be said by an American leader.”
The statement then calls upon Congress to work together for a solution for Dreamers.
Following initial reports on Jan. 11, the president’s remarks have been met with dismay across the faith community. The following are quotes from other evangelical leaders:
Mark Labberton, President of Fuller Theological Seminary:
“As a fellow human being, as a citizen of the United States, as a seminary president, and specially as a disciple of Jesus Christ, I am horrified by and ashamed of Trump’s comments about Haiti and African countries, and their peoples…May this moment awaken a profound national lament, true repentance of racist hearts, and a fresh commitment to personal and systemic change that honors all human beings as creatures made in the image of God.”
Eugene Cho, Lead Pastor of Quest Church in Seattle, Washington:
“God loves the nations. The Scriptures make this clear. No one - let alone, the leader of a country - should ever disparage other nations with such a disgusting comment. To Haiti & many countries of Africa: We are so sorry. Please accept our apologies on behalf of President Trump.”
Ann Voskamp, Bestselling Christian Author:
“It's not political but biblical to stand & say it is indefensible, incomprehensible, reprehensible & completely unacceptable to profanely disdain countries of People of Color, but entertain welcoming people of blonde hair. Demonizing people is the 1st step to justifying anything.”
The Evangelical Immigration Table is a broad coalition of evangelical organizations and leaders advocating for immigration reform consistent with biblical values.
Congressional action on addressing the announced end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program is now overshadowed in the news by President Trump's inflammatory remarks about immigrants from Haiti, Africa, and nations other than Norway.
The Hill reports that the White House believes it can brush off the controversy, with allies arguing the blowback over President Trump's remarks about “shithole” countries is just the latest example of "overcooked media outrage and weak GOP lawmakers buckling under pressure."
The president had few defenders on the airwaves on Friday, as cable news outlets had a great deal of coverage about President Trump's remarks about restoring protected status for immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador and African nations.
In response to an injunction entered earlier this week, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced on its website yesterday that it will accept renewals for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals:
Jan. 13, 2018, Update: Due to a federal court order, USCIS has resumed accepting requests to renew a grant of deferred action under DACA. Until further notice, and unless otherwise provided in this guidance, the DACA policy will be operated on the terms in place before it was rescinded on Sept. 5, 2017.
Individuals who were previously granted deferred action under DACA may request renewal by filing Form I-821D (PDF), Form I-765 (PDF), and Form I-765 Worksheet (PDF), with the appropriate fee or approved fee exemption request, at the USCIS designated filing location, and in accordance with the instructions to the Form I-821D (PDF) and Form I-765 (PDF). USCIS is not accepting requests from individuals who have never before been granted deferred action under DACA. USCIS will not accept or approve advance parole requests from DACA recipients.
If you previously received DACA and your DACA expired on or after Sept. 5, 2016, you may still file your DACA request as a renewal request. Please list the date your prior DACA ended in the appropriate box on Part 1 of the Form I-821D.
If you previously received DACA and your DACA expired before Sept. 5, 2016, or your DACA was previously terminated at any time, you cannot request DACA as a renewal (because renewal requests typically must be submitted within one year of the expiration date of your last period of deferred action approved under DACA), but may nonetheless file a new initial DACA request in accordance with the Form I-821D and Form I-765 instructions. To assist USCIS with reviewing your DACA request for acceptance, if you are filing a new initial DACA request because your DACA expired before Sept. 5, 2016, or because it was terminated at any time, please list the date your prior DACA expired or was terminated on Part 1 of the Form I-821D, if available.
Deferred action is a discretionary determination to defer a removal action of an individual as an act of prosecutorial discretion. Further, deferred action under DACA does not confer legal status upon an individual and may be terminated at any time, with or without a Notice of Intent to Terminate, at DHS’s discretion. DACA requests will be adjudicated under the guidelines set forth in the June 15, 2012 DACA memo (PDF).
Additional information will be forthcoming.
For the New York Times report on the announcement, click here.
Saturday, January 13, 2018
Transylvanian born artist Ioan Florea, photo NYFA
The New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) has an Immigrant Artist Program (IAP). The goal of the program is to "connect artists with services and resources to foster their creative careers, gain support and exposure for their work, and integrate into the cultural world of New York and beyond while upholding their distinct identities."
Despite coming out of the NYFA, it's not NY-limited. The IAP will be heading to Detroit in March where there will be "two weekend boot camps, one-on-one mentoring, informal gatherings and follow-up consultations."
Check out the IAP Newsletter which features different immigrant artists, like Ioan Florea pictured above, who developed his own "custom 3D image fused resin and pigment transfer on canvas" and uses "liquid metal paint" that he formulates!
The 1993 Movie Falling Down stars Michael Douglas. An unemployed defense worker frustrated with the various flaws he sees in society, begins to psychotically and violently lash out against them. The film stars Michael Douglas in the lead role of William Foster, a divorced and unemployed former defense engineer. The film centers on Foster as he treks on foot across the city of Los Angeles, trying to reach the house of his estranged ex-wife in time for his daughter's birthday party. Along the way, a series of encounters, both trivial and provocative, cause him to react with increasing violence and make sardonic observations on life, poverty, the economy, and commercialism.
As President Trump talks about different groups of people, I am often reminded of the film.