The erosion of the rule of law

“Impartiality is anathema to Trumpism. That the Trump administration wants to upend a long-standing system for assuring both the reality and appearance of fairness in agency adjudication may be shocking. But it is not surprising. If you consider yourself on block watch for threats to democracy, take your eyes for a moment off the president’s Twitter feed and turn your attention to administrative law. Danger is lurking amid the complexity.”

The president?s administration is attempting to bring thousands of federal employees under his control, and the public is largely unaware.

Appeals court spanks BIA, Justice Dept.

A wonderful opinion. Here is Bloomberg’s piece and here is the opinion itself.

Some nice quotes: “What happened next beggars belief. The Board of Immigration Appeals wrote, on the basis of a footnote in a letter the Attorney General issued after our opinion, that our decision is incorrect. …

“We have never before encountered defiance of a remand order,and we hope never to see it again. Members of the Board must count themselves lucky that Baez-Sanchez has not asked us to hold them in contempt, with all the consequences that possibility entails.

“The Board seemed to think that we had issued anadvisory opinion, and that faced with a conflict between our views and those of the Attorney General it should follow the latter. Yet it should not be necessary to remind the Board, all of whose members are lawyers, that the ‘judicial Power’ under Article III of the Constitution is one to make conclusive decisions, not subject to disapproval or revision by another branch of government.”

Alas, it’s only getting worse

I can only speak about the Boston immigration court. They’ve hired several new judges but all of them were previously prosecutors for DHS and therefore have to recuse themselves from any case they handled in any way before coming to the bench (and that turns out to be alot since multiple prosecutors wind up working on any given case). In addition, several judges have been out sick multiple times, which results in cases getting rescheduled.

Allow me to cite just one example. I have a Haitian client whose removal case was closed when she was granted Temporary Protected Status (allowing her to stay) She subsequently married a US citizen and is eligible for a green card. I filed a motion to reopen the case in December 2017 and it was granted in the spring of 2018. That judge than retired and the case was assigned to another judge (previously a DHS prosecutor) and I had an individual hearing scheduled for September 2019. At that hearing, the government attorney was unable to move forward because he had not yet received the file from the archives! The judge asked the government attorney if the database showed that he (the judge) had previously worked on the case and the answer was no. The case was then continued until November 2019. At that hearing, the judge revealed that he had looked into it and found that he had indeed worked on the case as a prosecutor and therefore had to recuse himself (apparently he hadn’t looked into it before the previous hearing). The case was assigned to another judge. That judge has missed multiple days (two this week) resulting in the rescheduling of her current cases. I have heard nothing about when my client’s application for a green cared will be heard but I doubt it will be this year.

The administration’s solution to the problem is impose minimum quotas on how many cases I judge is supposed to decide per year. It that results in curtailing the aliens’ due process rights, so be it (a feature, not a bug). The solution proposed by the immigration bar is (aside from hiring more judges) to move the immigration courts out of the executive branch (they’re currently part of the Justice Department) and give them independence by attaching them to the federal courts (similar to the bankruptcy courts). I doubt that will ever happen though. Sigh.

LUMPKIN, Ga. (AP) ? In a locked, guarded courtroom in a compound surrounded by razor wire, Immigration Judge Jerome Rothschild waits -- and stalls. A Spanish interpreter is running late...

This investigation is long overdue

Probe is expected to look into alleged crimes committed by both Israelis and Palestinians, including militant group Hamas

Doubters and defenders of Israel would do well to read Amnesty International’s annual report on Israel and the Occupied Territories. Here’s the overview: “New legislation entrenched discrimination against non-Jewish citizens. Israeli forces killed more than 290 Palestinians, including over 50 children; many were unlawfully killed as they were shot while posing no imminent threat to life. Israel imposed an illegal blockade on the Gaza Strip for the 11th year in a row, subjecting approximately 2 million inhabitants to collective punishment and exacerbating a humanitarian crisis. Freedom of movement for Palestinians in the West Bank remained restricted through a system of military checkpoints and roadblocks. Israeli authorities unlawfully detained within Israel thousands of Palestinians from the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), holding hundreds in administrative detention without charge or trial. Torture and other ill-treatment of detainees, including children, remained pervasive and was committed with impunity. Israel continued to demolish Palestinian homes and other structures in the West Bank and in Palestinian villages inside Israel, forcibly evicting residents. The Israeli justice system continued to fail to adequately ensure accountability and redress for victims of grave violations of international humanitarian and human rights law. The authorities continued to deny asylumseekers access to a fair or prompt refugee status determination process; hundreds of African asylum-seekers were deported and thousands were threatened with deportation. Conscientious objectors to military service were imprisoned.”

Nothing to see here–move along

“The White House this year has turned the Department of Homeland Security — which oversees securing the country’s borders, disaster relief efforts and addressing domestic terrorism and cybersecurity threats — into a revolving door of officials, creating a void of permanent leadership.”

The firing of John Mitnick is the latest in a year of turnover at the Department of Homeland Security.

Know your rights!

Presented as a public service.

YOU HAVE RIGHTS regardless of your immigration status. You may be at risk of being deported if you are undocumented, if you are a non-citizen with a criminal history, if you are on parole or have a prior deportation order.