Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Trump DHS cracks down on undocumented immigrants, but leaves Dreamers alone for now

The Department of Homeland Security has promulgated new rules allowing much more likely deportation, by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) of any undocumented immigrant, except for those covered by DACA, which Trump is leaving in place, for now.  NBC News has a typical story here.

In addition to people convicted of significant crimes or on watch lists (as under Obama), people only with arrests might be deported.  Some observers say that when homes where all family members are undocumented are raided, all will be deported.

CNN reports an incident where a sexual assault victim was “reported” by her attacker.

There was also talk about asylum seekers.  But this action so far seems to focus on people who ask for asylum right after entry at a border, which usually results in detention immediately. It is likely that it cracks down on bringing people across the border deliberately to then seek asylum (but this may have been illegal before).   It does not sound likely that this affects people who later decided they could not return and who have been here a while, but it is still a very delicate matter.

Trump has not yet issued a revision of his January 27 Executive Order.

Update: Later Tuesday

Newsweek has a long article on how asylum seekers entering at the borders are likely to be handled now.  A general tightening of what constitutes a credible threat of persecution is likely, but hard to assess with countries say, like El Salvador, with all the gang violence.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Washington DC church makes visit to Baptist church in Cuba

Some members of the First Baptist Church of the City of Washington DC made a 6-day visit to Cuba, returning February 9.  The pastor and minister of music made the trip.  Housing was reportedly in dormitories.  There are some Facebook photos at this link.
Baptist News had written about openness to Cuba back in 2015

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Can the Trump administration narrow the use of "particular social group" for asylum seekers?

To try to gauge what “could” happen with asylum seeking in the Trump administration and GOP-controlled Congress, it’s helpful to drag out United States Code 1158, Asylum. as well as the USCIS site.

It’s also helpful to look at well-regarded legal sites, like Nolo, here

 Particularly fundamental to the asylum process is the PSG, or Particular Social Group, as explained here in Wikipedia.

The Asylumist has a perspective written right after Trump’s election. and here .
Here is a summary of some appeals court litigation on the PSG concept from Immigration Justice.

The takeaway from these sites is that immigration judges and administrators have a lot of sway in what they view as a credible PSG.  Decisions are supposed to be "case by case".

The statute appears to give a lot of discretion to the Attorney General (Jeff Sessions) and Secretary of Homeland Security.   One can imagine valid reasons to narrow the granting of asylum by PSG (or political speech).  One concern could be the sheer volume of claims at the southern border regarding conditions in Central America.  But a reading of the laws suggest that the AG is not supposed to inject his personal opinions (as about gay rights) into a determination like this; doing so could invite litigation.

Hosts of asylum seekers need to be aware of USC 1324, here.

See coordinated post on GLBT blog Feb. 13.

Update:  Thursday, February 16, 2017

"The Asylumist" writes on Facebook here.  Dzubow answers my question this way: "As long as they are on hold from the courts, the EO's do not affect asylum seekers in the U.S..... However, if the EO's are implemented, it could prevent the asylum seekers from getting a decision. They cannot be deported without due process of law, but they can be put on hold pending "extreme vetting", whatever that is.  I wrote a bit about PSG here  (Nov. 9)

Note well the paragraph "People with asylum cases pending."

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Asylum seekers reminded to carry all USCIS identification and work permits during raids

The Washington Post reports that immigrants are on “high alert” given this weekends ICE raids, story by Jannell Ross, Aaron C. Davis, and Joel Ascehbach.    CNN has a similar story by Ray Sanchez.

DC Center Global advises asylum seekers to carry USCIS identification cards, and work authorization (if they have it).  People caught working illegally can be deported.  People without USCIS identification can be held for up to twelve hours.  In some cases, people could still apply for asylum (link: post today, 2/11).

At least at this point, there is no obvious evidence that Trump intends to interfere with people having legitimate asylum requests according to existing legal standards

Thursday, February 9, 2017

9th Circuit keeps stay on Trump travel ban, 3-0

The 9th Circuit has ruled 3-0 that the Washington state judge’s stay on the Trump travel ban “stays”.

CNN’s Jeffrey Toobin discusses the options here. I wasn't aware that Minnesota was also a plaintiff.

Here’s a SCRIBD full opinion on The Washington Post.

Some of the alternatives for Trump include an en banc appeal to the full circuit, a Supreme Court appeal, or a rewrite of the EO with a narrower focus.  If so, please don’t let Steve Bannon rewrite it!

It does seem credible for Trump to argue that people not already here and without previous visas or green cards have no standing before the courts for any claim of constitutional rights (you have to “exist” to have rights.)

But it sounds probable to me that the courts would insist that legal residents and people with green cards or valid visas be allowed to return, short of some compelling new evidence why they should not.

The president is right inasmuch as the country cannot afford to have millions who disregard the law altogether.  16 million people live in a household with an undocumented person.  Totally undocumented immigration does affect life in border areas -- I have some personal contact for what goes on in Texas and in Arizona particularly.  There is a real problem.  We need to figure out how to make immigration lawful and safer.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Trump claims to have learned a lot about terror threats in first two weeks

President Donald Trump addresses some sheriffs today (story ) and said that in two weeks he had learned of terror threats that Americans don’t understand.

It’s possible that this could something to do with a report on CNN tonight about a fake Venezuelan passport scam in Iraq.  Maybe it has to do with WMD’s – but that’s not the sort of thing relevant to refugee bans  (sleeper cells associated with overstayed visa might be another matter).

The Ninth Circuit has yet to rule on his travel ban.  Most likely the president will have to honor green cards for legal residents to return, but most of the rest of the order might stand.

Dan Merica has a video and some analysis of Trump's comments here for CNN.
Trump's remarks about the "so-called judge" and his pinning blame for any future domestic foreign-inspired terror attacks on the judiciary is "disheartening and demoralizing", as Gorsuch said.

While Trump is wrong about the aggregate crime rate and murder rate in the U.S., it is true that the asymmetric aspect of terror increases the risk of violence against some people not previously as vulnerable.  Jeff Sessions mentioned this as he was installed as attorney general today.

Update: February 12

North Korea made a missile test this weekend while Trump was with the prime minister of Japan in Florida.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Trump travel ban temporarily halted nationwide; a legal blog discusses USCIS and asylum seekers now; GOP Catholic hosts Muslim refugees in Virginia

First, a federal judge (James Robart) in Seattle has temporarily stayed Donald Trump’s Executive Order travel ban, as in this Washington Post story.  Earlier a Boston judge had declined to stay the order, and there are at least four states in play (Reuters).

At this point, it is a little uncertain what this means.  Conceivably, affected people could have to reapply for visas.  But the state of Washington could apply to get the visas reinstated.

It would appear that the administration will appeal.  There has been some concern that Trump could create a constitutional crisis by following the Boston judge instead.

Earlier this evening, I had found a blog posting by DC immigration attorney Justin Dzubow.  Note the paragraph, “People from countries of particular concern waiting for an immigration benefit.”  The posting suggests that USCIS is probably not granting asylum right now, but will allow asylum applications to remain in place so most likely the asylees remain here legally.

There could be complications if sanctuary cities lose funding for service organizations (like HIV clinics) if asylum seekers might use.  It’s possible that later immigrants (including asylum seekers who have been allowed to resume benefits) could be subject to deportation if their use of public funds exceeds some threshold, and it’s not clear if the president alone could order this.  That could beg the question of setting up private sponsorship systems (including for asylum seekers) like what Canada has.

(On Feb. 2 Dzubow added a comment that several more countries could be added to the list of countries of particular concern:  Egypt, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Mali, Philippines, Venezuela, Colombia. Philippines is of concern because the print-on-demand industry uses services in Philippines.   The countries are chosen largely on the basis of the stability of their governments and of our relations with them, not on the basis of past terror attacks in the US; but some of the countries have been connected to attacks in Europe.)

While the idea appeals to our idea of charity and morality, some will argue that they could inadvertently add to security risk, abetting the possible formation of sleeper cells.

Some observers note that absolute travel bans by country may violate the Geneva Convention, which I remember from my Army Basic at Fort Jackson in 1968.  Trump has never been in the military (although he went to military high school).

Wikipedia attribution link for picture of Amazon headquarters in Seattle (SounderBruce, CCSA 2.0).

Update: Feb. 4

Trump is appealing to the Ninth circuit.

Rick Sincere passed a long a story Ashley McKinnes in "America: The Jesuit Review":  "Meet my Dad: the Republican who's hosting Muslim refugees" in his northern Virginia home (from Afghanistan). As I have explored elsewhere, there is legal uncertainty and risk in doing this right now.  Is this a matter of "faith"?

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Trump's outburst at Australian PM settles down as Trump agrees to Obama's deal over refugees in Manus

There was a lot of flak about the reported anger that President Trump expressed over the phone when talking to Australia Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, concerning a deal that the Obama administration had negotiated regarding taking some of the asylum seekers from wretched camps on Nauru and Manus Islands north of Australia.  The Guardian has a major story here.

I tweeted my own apology to a friend in Australia, who answered that no apologies were in order and that “our guy is a terrible leader.”

Now Sean Spicer says that Trump will honor the agreement but would apply “extreme vetting” to every possible refugee.

But by definition, in the US, asylum seekers have not gone through “extreme vetting” before coming here.

Wikipedia attribution link for map of Manus Island. P.d., by Sadelmalik

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Trump could wind up billing relatives (sponsors) of immigrants who use government services: could this matter to asylum seekers?

Vox (Dara Lind) has an article today discussing an anticipated Trump Executive Order in which “legal immigrants” might be subject to deportation if they use publicly (or at least federally) funded services.  This matter appears to refer to the I864 process by which people can enter the country legally with family “sponsorship” of sorts (which is not the same thing as Canadian-style refugee sponsorship).

US citizen family relatives could be forced to pay for benefits they have used, even after deportation.
I wonder if this could apply to asylum seekers.  Right now, there is no legal recognition of “sponsorship” for a host (as is possible in Canada).  But if a hosted asylum seeker used publicly funded health care services (like HIV medication, for example) and the host had the assets to pay, could the host be assessed for the benefits, down the road?  Or would this, ironically, argue that the US needs a legal sponsorship process for asylum seekers.

Dave Bier of the Cato Institute has some impressive analysis in the New York Times, Jan. 27, “Trump’s Immigration Ban Is Illegal”  He mentions that the term “immigrant” only properly refers to a legal permanent resident.

Monday, January 30, 2017

The role of Bannon in the immigration order; green card order affects many more tech workers than you would expect; Vox storystream

Vox has a story-stream and video on Trump’s immigration order by Andrew Prokop.

There is a lot of focus on Steve Bannon, who may have written the order, as if he were writing a movie script using FinalDraft.  But this is real life.

Besides the refugee ban for 120 days and the extra ban on any entry from the seven countries, one of the most devastating aspects of the ban is the fact that, as of this writing, it looks as though most green card holders cannot return, from any of the seven countries.   Trump had apparently waffled on this point before finally “denying” everything.

This has led to some tech companies, especially Google, telling their employees from those countries not to travel outside the US if they are here now.

I was surprised at how many employees Google has from these countries.

Here's an article on "Medium" asking if Trump is testing the limits of constitutional checks and balances to see what he can get away with and consolidate power.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Trump's refugee ban strands people with green cards overseas

There is a lot of flurry today about the detention of people trying to return from blacklisted countries (especially Iraq) on green cards.  There is already some litigation, with a complaint published by the Washington Post.

There are protests at Dulles Airport and at JFK (the latter carried live by filmmaker Nev Schulman from “Catflish”.

Google has advised some of its employees not to leave the US, as the ban seems to apply to 500000 green card holders (story).

Vox as a detailed analysis of Trump’s executive order late Friday here.
Look up Kirk Johnson and The List Project.  He was just interviewed on CNN.

Update 2:

The ACLU has won an injunction in NY. and VA has won an injunction at Dulles.  Legal challenges are moving quickly.

California is threatening to withhold federal taxes over the sanctuary city issue.

Airbnb is connecting refugees to hosts overseas (and probably Canada) who will shelter refugees free.  Canada says it can accept stranded refugees because it has a private sponsorship program.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Trump set to suspend refugee immigration from Syria, Iraq, and 5 other Islamist countries; might be temporary; effect on LGBTQ asylum seekers from countries is unclear.

Donald Trump has announced intentions to start building portions of “The Wall” against Mexico soon, and expect reimbursement from Mexico later for some of the cost.

But more controversial is the plan, to be announced Thursday, to stop immigration from up to seven countries, including Syria, Iran, and Iraq, for at least one to four months, as explained, for example, in a Wall Street Journal story here.

It is unclear whether visas already approved would be canceled.

It is also unclear is asylum applications from those already here from those countries can be approved, be delayed, or whether asylum seekers would be sent back.  This might affect some LGBTQ asylum seekers.

President Trump also wants to stop all funding to sanctuary cities, although it’s unclear how to draw the lines.  Wouldn’t police get regular funding?  Advocacy organizations that get funding indirectly could get cut off.

Update: Later Wednesday

Trump has postponed an executive order on the terror-country-list refugee ban apparently until the first of next week.  He appears to be rethinking it.  CNN AC360 aired a report at 8:50 PM tonight about the resettlement in Rutland, VT.  The reporter did NOT believe refugees already settled will be in jeopardy.  Here's another story on Rutland and the refugees.

Apparently all entry will be denied in seven countries (including Syria) and suspend all refugee settlement for four months.

Wikipedia attribution link for picture of Rutland by Shawn Pemrick under CC 3.0.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Trump's aggressive plans on ISIS could lead to more chatter at home

The Pentagon has prepared aggressive new actions against ISIS, according to CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr, as in this story. Trump had said he would demand an aggressive plan against ISIS within 30 days, and it has already been drawn up, but never approved by Obama.

Several combat brigades could be sent to northern Syria, to provide some combat, or combat support, or combat service support to existing forces, especially Kurds, who might actually try to take Raqqa on the ground.  There don’t seem to be any plans to have US forced directly enter Raqqa or ISIS controlled cities.

Still, the escalation could inspire more terror operations in the US, especially attempts at Internet recruiting of loan wolves, which could put social media in a bind.  In the Fort Lauderdale shooting case recently, the man arrested had been talking in :jihadi chatrooms, although he had also claimed he heard voices and was being manipulated as a Manchurian candidate.

There is controversy over whether Trump will continue to use Twitter.  He told CNN he doesn’t like it but needs to reach millions himself.  What if he changes his mind?

Trump has other controversial proposals, like discarding "One China", which could compromise getting China to throttle North Korea, and withdrawing from supporting NATO, especially if other countries don't pay their fair shares.

Monday, January 16, 2017

"Criminals" remaining from Cuban Mariel boatlift in 1980 now can be deported by agreement with Cuba

The New York Times has run several stories about the “long delayed” expulsion or deportation of some Cuban refugees from the 1980 Mariel Boat Lift back to Cuba, those with criminal records.  President Obama has ended the “wet-foot dry-foot” policy and ordered their removal.  The pact with recognizing Cuba means that the US can send them back. The most recent story is here.
Most Cuban refugees were law-abiding, and church groups in the south pressured members to house them, especially in LGBT populations, back in 1980.  At the time, the churches probably were not aware that Castro had released some people from prisons or mental hospitals into the boatlift.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Overseas governments, including Germany, crack down on "fake news" and even censor speech about refugees

Joshua Philipp has a long article about “Fake news, once decried as censorship, spreads around the world” in the Epoch Times, link here.

The story, which I read a lunch in a “faith-owned” rural coffee shop in a rural town today, goes into the way many foreign governments view citizen-spread news as a threat to stability.  Even in some western countries there have been some serious incidents.  In Germany, a couple was taken to court for a Facebook post critical of the immigration policy, where they apparently “falsely” reported crimes committed by Trojan horses among refugees.  I have actually heard that from a personal contact in New York. In some countries, people can be chased for links to fake stories and even Facebook likes.