VICE News Outlines Another Immigration Narrative

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

While a recent U.S. Supreme Court made mainstream headlines for dealing President Obama a setback on his attempts to aid undocumented residents, a different narrative has been growing among more alternative media outlets. In particular, VICE has produced some powerful reporting on how the Obama Administration is going after asylum seekers from Central America. A recent pice noted that:

[A] legal coalition, known as the CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Project, reported 40 cases of women and children arrested by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) since the series of immigration raids began in May. The majority of those arrests took place in workplaces, homes, and schools, and the CARA project alleges that federal immigration officials engaged in “aggressive and inappropriate conduct.”

The Department of Homeland Security has said that immigration enforcement actions would target Central American migrants who had exhausted their legal options to remain in the United States, but the CARA project’s report suggests that in at least 21 of these cases, immigrants have valid asylum claims that have not yet been heard in an immigration court. Moreover, several of those arrested by ICE did not have an outstanding deportation order, according to the group.

You can see the VICE story here: Immigration Raids in the US Are Targeting People with Valid Asylum Claims, According to a New Report | VICE | Canada

“Equally Divided Court” (Sorta) Leaves Obama’s Deportation Executive Order In Limbo

Questions will persist on whether President Obama superceded his authority by creating by executive order the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program designed to defer deportation for millions of immigrants.

Today, the Huffington Post reports the Supremes affirmed a lower court ruling that blocked the program stating simply, “The judgment is affirmed by an equally divided court.” While immigration advocates may lament the loss, the order itself rings hollow given the Administration’s renewed call last month to seek out and deport Border Kids escaping gang and drug cartel violence from Central America.

Irrespective of where one stands on the immigration reform debate, the fact is that the question of executive power was left unanswered because now even the judicial branch has been brought to a standstill.

California ACLU Sues Over Drivers License Suspension

Civil rights groups have filed a lawsuit against a Northern California superior court over its practice of suspending the driving licenses of people too poor to pay what advocates consider exorbitant fees for relatively minor offenses. The San Diego Union-Tribune explains that “… the complaint filed in Solano County Superior Court by the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California and others claims the court’s actions violate both the state’s vehicle code and due process protections… the legal action comes as lawmakers across the country are recognizing the impact of escalating fines and fees on impoverished people who either go into debt trying to pay off the ticket, or face suspension of critical driving privileges needed to work.”

The report notes that “… last year, California Gov. Jerry Brown announced an amnesty program for certain drivers, calling the traffic court system a ‘hellhole of desperation’ for the poor.” The process of shifting relatively minor offenses, the sort that do not rise to criminal charges that would require legal representation, into jail-worthy offenses has come under fire nationwide. Car-related offenses are one of the biggest issues.

Read the story here: ACLU sues Northern California court over license suspensions

Reform Afoot In D.C.?

Sara Warner, Publisher, National Courts Monitor

Sara Warner, Publisher, National Courts Monitor

Courts Monitor Publisher Sara Warner shares her thoughts on the mayor of Washington, D.C. in the Huffington Post, along with her interview with Mayor Bowser.

Excerpt: “When I came into office, I committed to creating pathways to the middle class,” explained Mayor Bowser. “Those pathways come in different forms – to a stronger education system, to more good paying jobs for District residents, to the kind of services and programs that ensure every Washingtonian gets a fair shot.”

Read more.

L.A. Times Takes Issues With Denying Immigrants Phone Access

Protestors at the Metropolitan Detention Center during one of several May Day marches in Los Angeles, California. (David McNew/Getty Images)

Protestors at the Metropolitan Detention Center during one of several May Day marches in Los Angeles, California. (David McNew/Getty Image

The Los Angeles Times, in an editorial, is heralding a decision to increase phone access to people facing immigration hearings. Among other issues, the LAT notes that part of the problem is that the government contracts detention of those people to private firms, which have their own policies. The newspaper also notes that lack of phone access equates to lack of legal representation, which is a key factor in deciding who gets to stay and who has to go.

The editorial notes that “… a legal settlement this week should help remove one obstacle facing detainees: their lack of access to telephones. In a case filed in a San Francisco federal court, detainees represented by the ACLU and other civil rights groups argued that the conditions of their detention in four California facilities interfered with their right to find counsel, to gather evidence on their own behalf and to receive a fair hearing when they make their cases in court. How were those rights being impeded? Through policies that severely limited their use of telephones.”

In another point, the Times says that “… part of the problem is the immigration detention system itself, which relies primarily on contracts between the federal government and the county jails or private companies that house detainees as well as other prisoners. Those facilities have their own rules about inmate access to telephones that also apply to immigration detainees even though the latter have not been charged with or found guilty of crimes.”

Read the editorial here: Why should immigration detainees be denied access to telephones?

Central California Justice Among The Nation’s Most Rationed Court

Eastern California is home to some of the nation’s most fertile agricultural regions, but it’s also growing a reputation as the nation’s slowest federal court district. Bakersfieldnow, the online home of ABC’s Eyewitness News in the area, explains in a new report that “… the problem area is the Eastern District of the 9th Circuit Court that serves much of the eastern half of the state, from Bakersfield to the Oregon border.

The story is illustrated with the story of Wesley Morris, a gun-store owner involved in a lawsuit against the state. The plaintiffs, affiliated with the Calguns Foundation, are “… bringing a first amendment challenge to an old state law that regulates handgun advertising.”
Morris’ group filed their case in 2014. It’s not scheduled for trial until 2017. And the news report says that “… a three year wait for a civil case is not uncommon in the Valley. It’s the average, according to federal data obtained by Eyewitness News via public record request. Nationwide, the average civil case takes 26.8 months to finish. In the Eastern District of our circuit court, the average is 37.8 months.”

Read about the rationing here:
http://bakersfieldnow.com/news/investigations/central-valleys-federal-justice-system-among-slowest-in-the-nation

Court Upholds FCC’s ‘Net Neutrality’ Rules

In the photo taken June 19, 2015, the entrance to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) building in Washington. (Photo: Andrew Harnik, AP)

In the photo taken June 19, 2015, the entrance to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) building in Washington.
(Photo: Andrew Harnik, AP)

A three-member U.S. Court of Appeals panel has ruled 2-1 to uphold the FCC’s rules regulating ‘net neutrality.”
 
USA Today explains that “… those Open Internet rules, or net neutrality rules, were crafted to prohibit Internet service providers (ISPs), mainly large cable or telephone companies, from blocking and slowing the transmission of content and from the practice of “paid prioritization,” paying an ISP for faster delivery of content.”
 
The offered a comment from the FCC leadership: “Today’s ruling is a victory for consumers and innovators who deserve unfettered access to the entire web, and it ensures the internet remains a platform for unparalleled innovation, free expression and economic growth,” said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, who cast one of the three commission votes to pass the rules. “After a decade of debate and legal battles, today’s ruling affirms the Commission’s ability to enforce the strongest possible internet protections – both on fixed and mobile networks – that will ensure the internet remains open, now and in the future.”
Read more about the significant court case here: 

Federal court upholds FCC’s net neutrality rules

Judge Delays San Francisco Sugar Warnings

The San Francisco board of supervisors has approved an ordinance that would require warning labels to be placed on advertisements for soda and sugary drinks to alert consumers of the risk of obesity, diabetes and tooth decay. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

The San Francisco board of supervisors has approved an ordinance that would require warning labels to be placed on advertisements for soda and sugary drinks to alert consumers of the risk of obesity, diabetes and tooth decay. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

The city of San Francisco’s efforts to require health warning for soda and other sugar-added beverages, closely watching because of implications for similar warnings in other places, has been placed on hold by a federal judge. The delay, in effect, grants the beverage industry some more time pending the appeals process. The measure was set to go into effect July 25.

The Wall Street Journals explains that San Francisco seeks to “… require that billboards and other public advertisements include the language: ‘WARNING: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay. This is a message from the City and County of San Francisco.'”

The WSJ also notes that “… the American Beverage Association filed a civil complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California last July, arguing that the requirement violates free-speech rights under the First Amendment. The California Retailers Association and California State Outdoor Advertising Association joined the complaint.”

Read more here: San Francisco’s Sugary-Drinks Warnings Delayed Pending Appeal

‘Stairway to Lawsuit’ As Led Zeppelin Defends Iconic Song

Led Zeppelin, from left, John Paul Jones, John Bonham, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, in 1973. Credit Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Led Zeppelin, from left, John Paul Jones, John Bonham, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, in 1973. Credit Hulton Archive/Getty Images

You know they will have to play Stairway to Heaven in court, very likely over and over again. But, in a case that experts say might further evolve copyright law, Led Zeppelin is defending creation of the iconic song. The New York Times, in a page one story no less, says that “… the case focuses on the famous opening of “Stairway to Heaven,” in which an acoustic guitar plays arpeggiated chords in a descending pattern. That part, the suit contends, copied Spirit’s “Taurus,” released in 1968. In the suit’s complaint, Francis Malofiy, the lead lawyer representing the plaintiff, said that Led Zeppelin’s members heard Spirit’s song when the bands crossed paths on the road early in their careers.”

The guy with Spirit who, it is claimed, actually created the signature riff didn’t bring a lawsuit in his lifetime. But in recent years, courts have ruled that such challenges can happen long after a copyright is established by creation, and the musicians’ estate brought the lawsuit, which has been famously making its way through the California justice system for years. Now, it’s expected to be a headliner all summer.

Read the Times’ take here: Led Zeppelin’s ‘Stairway to Heaven’ to Be Scrutinized in Court in Copyright Case

One Nation? It’s All Regional When It Comes To Staying In U.S.A.

The Associated Press, using the Freedom of Information Act, is reporting that “… youngsters whose applications are handled by the U.S. government’s regional offices in San Francisco and Los Angeles are far more likely to win approval from asylum officers than those applying in Chicago or Houston…” and the report also explains that “… the figures offer a snapshot of how the government is handling the huge surge over the past two years in the number of Central American children arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border unaccompanied by adults. Tens of thousands of youngsters — many of them fleeing gang violence in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras — have overflowed U.S. shelters and further clogged the nation’s overwhelmed immigration courts.”

The AP backgrounds that “… under federal law, these children can apply to remain in the country in a process that involves an interview with an asylum officer from one of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ eight regional offices. To win their cases, they must show that they have been persecuted or are in danger of persecution.” The report notes that “.. overall, 37 percent were granted asylum, but the rate varied dramatically from 86 percent at the San Francisco office, which handles applications for a swath of the Pacific Northwest, to 15 percent in Chicago, which covers 15 states from Ohio to Idaho.”

Read how much geography is destiny here: AP Exclusive: Children’s Asylum Approvals Vary by US Region