Thousands More Border Kids Swept Into Provider-Attorney Lawsuit

Remember that class-action lawsuit involving legal representation for thousands of “border kids” facing deportation? The one where a senior immigration judge named Jack Well said in a sworn deposition that children did not need legal representation and that he had “taught immigration law literally to 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds” who were facing deportation.
 
Just last month, U.S. District Judge Thomas Zilly certified a class in that lawsuit, filed in 2014 by a coalition of immigration-rights groups, that officials say could impact thousands of immigrant children awaiting deportation hearings. Zilly ordered the class of immigrants swept into the lawsuit to include all children under the age of 18 residing in the 9th Judicial Circuit who are facing so-called “removal proceedings” after June 24. It also includes those children who don’t currently have an attorney and can’t otherwise afford one, and who may be eligible for asylum or protection under the United Nation’s Convention Against Torture, which forbids countries from returning people to any country where there is reason to believe they will be tortured.
 
“This ruling means that thousands of children will now have a fighting chance at getting a fair day in immigration court,” said Ahilan Arulanantham, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrant Rights Project in Los Angeles.
 

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.

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

Trump Promises Deportation, But Obama Already Delivering It

Advocates say immigration raids are making it more difficult to contact potential Latino voters. | AP

Advocates say immigration raids are making it more difficult to contact potential Latino voters. | AP

While Donald J. Trump has outraged immigration advocates by saying he intended to deport massive numbers of undocumented residents, the Obama administration is outraging many of the same people by actually deporting families here to seek asylum from dangerous countries. Politico is reporting that “… the administration has so far declined to confirm specifics about the latest round of raids, which were disclosed in a Reuters report this month. According to a document obtained by the news agency, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have told agents across the country to prepare for a 30-day ‘surge’ of arrests targeting mothers and children who have recently arrived in the country illegally but have been told to return to their home countries.

One part of the political fallout is simply that immigrant families that might worry about their status just don’t come to the door when political organizers visit. Politico is all over the story here:

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2016/05/immigration-raids-latinos-sanders-clinton-223671#ixzz4AFkexpwS

Atlanta Is Worst For Avoiding Deportation

STEVE EBERHARDT FOR THE HUFFINGTON POST Kimberly Pineda Chavez and her mother, Lourdes, came to the U.S. from Honduras.

STEVE EBERHARDT FOR THE HUFFINGTON POST
Kimberly Pineda Chavez and her mother, Lourdes, came to the U.S. from Honduras.

Elise Foley, the Huffington Post’s immigration reporter, has a devastating story about Atlanta being the “worst” for immigrants hoping to avoid deportation. She notes that “… more than a third of the people detained under what the government calls Operation Border Guardian were from the Atlanta area, more than any other ICE jurisdiction.

There’s a reason for this. Immigration law doesn’t vary from state to state or court to court. But immigrants’ odds do, and by the numbers, Atlanta is one of the worst places in the country to be an undocumented immigrant hoping to avoid deportation. Justice Department-appointed judges in that court denied asylum 98 percent of the time in the 2015 fiscal year, the highest rate of any immigration court that heard more than five cases. Eighty-eight percent of cases that went before Atlanta immigration courts ended with a removal order. That’s way over the national average: In the country as a whole, immigration judges denied about 52 percent of asylum claims, and 69 percent of cases resulted in a deportation order.”

She also backgrounds that “…Atlanta immigration judges have been accused of bullying children, badgering domestic violence victims and setting standards for relief and asylum that lawyers say are next to impossible to meet. Given Atlanta immigration judges’ reluctance to grant asylum, some immigrants who fear returning to their native countries don’t even pursue it.”
Read the story here: Here’s Why Atlanta Is One Of The Worst Places To Be An Undocumented Immigrant

Obama Administration Defending Jail-Like Family Detention Camps

Children walk to class at the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas. Charles Reed U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, McClatchyDC Report

Children walk to class at the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas. Charles Reed U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, McClatchyDC Report

Lawyers for the detained families filed a motion with the U.S. District Court of Central District of California Tuesday night charging the administration with violating a federal judge’s ruling last summer that prohibits children from being detained – even with their mothers – in jail-like facilities for more time than it takes to process and release them to family members, reports Franco Ordonez at McClatchy news service.

The report notes that “… U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee in Los Angeles found that the Obama administration’s family detention policy violates an 18-year-old court settlement regarding the detention of migrant children. She gave the government until Oct. 23 to comply with her order that required officials release children within five days. She provided an exception that allows officials to hold families for about three weeks under exceptional circumstances like the 2014 border surge of nearly 70,000 families from Central America.”

As background, it is also noted that the “… court filing is only the latest in the family detention saga to cast a shadow on the Obama administration since resurrecting the controversial detention policy because of the surge… the United States is worried enough about violence in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras that its expanding the refugee program for vulnerable migrants. At the same time, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security continues to detain and deport families – many of whom have requested asylum because of the violence – to those same countries.”
Read the story here:
Obama administration pulled back to court over family detention

Sen. Patrick Leahy: Many children facing deportation are forced to proceed before a judge without a lawyer

Immigrant children and their mothers arrive in Guatemala after being deported from the United States in 2014. The migrants had come to the U.S. to flee a humanitarian crisis in their homeland. Photo Credit CNN Report, 5/9/2016

Immigrant children and their mothers arrive in Guatemala after being deported from the United States in 2014. The migrants had come to the U.S. to flee a humanitarian crisis in their homeland. Photo Credit CNN Report, 5/9/2016

A powerful U.S.senator, who serves as the ranking Democrat on the Senate’s justice committee and on the body’s subcommittee on immigration, has authored a national CNN piece opinion piece blasting the nation’s current approach to the “border kids,” our term for often unaccompanied children seeking asylum in the U.S. Asserting that a fair day in court is “… a bedrock principle of our justice system,” Sen, Patrick Leahy of Vermont said that having legal representation is “… especially important for children who cannot advocate for themselves.”

The Democrat didn’t call out the Obama Administration, but does ask “… so how could we possibly expect children to navigate court proceedings on their own?” He answers by noting “… and yet, each year, the United States government does just that. In immigration court, in case after case, a trained federal prosecutor represents the interests of the government while too many children facing deportation are forced to proceed before a judge without a lawyer.” He also says that “.. it is the longstanding policy of the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice to pursue immigration cases against children, even very young children, without lawyers. And it is a longstanding executive policy they are actively defending in federal court, right now.”

You can read his comments, which do not include plans from his various committees, here:

http://www.cnn.com/2016/05/09/opinions/children-need-lawyers-leahy/

Supreme Court’s Immigration Case Sparking Nationwide Protests

 Protesters opposed to President Obama's executive actions on DACA and DAPA rally in front of San Bernardino City Hall.  (Herald News photo by Alejandro Cano)


Protesters opposed to President Obama’s executive actions on DACA and DAPA rally in front of San Bernardino City Hall. (Herald News photo by Alejandro Cano)

It’s a long way from Washington, D.C., to the Inland Empire section of California near Los Angeles. But immigration activists there are taking to streets, along with other demonstrations across the United States, to encourage the U.S. Supreme Court to side with President Obama over his sweeping immigration reforms.

The Fontana Herald-News backgrounded that “… the Supreme Court on April 18 began hearing oral arguments on President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration that would shield more than 4 million undocumented residents from deportation. Five out of eight votes are needed for the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) to go forward; however, the Court seemed divided 4-4 along conservative and liberal lines.”

Five out of eight votes are needed for the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) to go forward; however, the Court seemed divided 4-4 along conservative and liberal lines. Transcripts from oral arguments indicated that while Justices John Roberts and Samuel Alito worried about the language of Obama’s decrees, Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg noted the humanitarian side of the actions.

The Herald-News says that “… the division could be seen in the streets of the nation, including the Inland Empire, where two opposing groups rallied in Riverside and San Bernardino that day.”
Read the solidly reported story here: http://www.fontanaheraldnews.com/news/supreme-court-hears-oral-arguments-on-immigration-case-protesters-rally/article_e51d93c6-073b-11e6-8f1d-377d69ce8da9.html

Supreme Court Begins Immigration Case With Sharp Questions

Demonstrators gathered outside the Supreme Court on Monday as it heard a challenge to President Obama’s plan to shield millions of immigrants from deportation and allow them to work. Photo Credit, New York Times report, 4/18/2016

Demonstrators gathered outside the Supreme Court on Monday as it heard a challenge to President Obama’s plan to shield millions of immigrants from deportation and allow them to work. Photo Credit, New York Times report, 4/18/2016

The New York Times reports that the U.S. Supreme court seemed “sharply divided” during extended arguments over a 26-state challenge to President Obama’s order to shield millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation and allow them to work in the country legally.

The Times backgrounded that “… Scott A. Keller, Texas’s solicitor general, said Mr. Obama’s plan was unprecedented and unlawful. He faced skeptical questions from the court’s more liberal members about whether his state had suffered the sort of direct and concrete injury that gave it standing to sue. The case, United States v. Texas, No. 15-674, was heard by an eight-member court, and the absence of Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in February, has altered the judicial dynamic. A 4-4 deadlock is now a live possibility, one that would leave in place an appeals court ruling that blocks the plan without setting a Supreme Court precedent.”

Back in January, when the high court agreed to consider the case, the possibility was that the court would issue a major decision – in effect, the thinking was, the court might ask if President Obama had met his constitutional obligations to enforce the nation’s laws.

Of course the case, formally entitled “United States v. Texas, No. 15-674,” is being considered by an eight-member court after the February death of Justice Antonin Scalia. That opens the very real chance of a 4-4 deadlock, which would leave the lower court’s ruling against the president’s plan in place, but would not set a legal policy.

Read the NYT piece here:
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/19/us/politics/supreme-court-immigration.html?emc=edit_na_20160418&nlid=60665555&ref=cta&_r=0