Category Archives: Immigration

Useful Advice

Tips For Staying Civil While Debating Child Prisons.

A sample: “Avoid unkind generalizations like equating the jailing of ethnic minorities with some malevolent form of fascism.” And “Make sure any protests are peaceful, silent, and completely out of sight of anyone who could actually affect government policy.”

Previously: Yes, We Have Reached a New Low

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Yes, We Have Reached a New Low

…and I suspect we’ll go lower.

A lawyer from the US Department of Justice argued (with by all accounts a straight face and no embarrassment) to a federal court of appeals that the US has no obligation to give soap or toothbrushes to children being detained — in cages — in a federal facility while their asylum claims are pending.

Meanwhile the online crowds are debating what to call these places where kids sleep on concrete floors under foil blankets, and will no longer get English lessons or even playground access.

Is it wrong to call them “concentration camps”? That’s what the British authorities called the camps in which they imprisoned Afrikaners; the US called the WWII-era camps in which they put US citizens of Japanese origin “internment camps” but I’ve head people call them concentration camps. The terminology gets muddied when one brings in the Nazis. Historians distinguish between the Nazis’ “concentration camps” and the Nazis’ “death camps”, but I suspect a large part of the non-Jewish public today mostly doesn’t.

Personally, although I have no problem with the term “concentration camp” since it’s historically accurate, I think the best word is “atrocity”.

PS. Just to head off one common and inaccurate rejoinder, a recent study shows that “When families and unaccompanied children have access to legal representation, the rate ofcompliance with immigration court obligations is nearly 98 percent.”

And to anticipate a second rejoinder, Godwin’s Law does not apply here.

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ICE Routinely Seeks to Detain US Citizens in Miami-Dade County

When I can summon the energy to do so, I worry that the current unpleasantness threatens to exhaust my capacity for outrage.

However, I am now able to report that some news still shocks and surprises, such as this report from the ACLU, Citizens on Hold: A Look at ICE’s Flawed Detainer System in Miami-Dade County. It is not pretty reading.

Miami-Dade County’s records show that between February 2017 and February 2019, ICE sent the jail 420 detainer requests for people listed as U.S. citizens, only to later cancel 83 of those requests—evidently because the agency determined, after the fact, that its targets were in fact U.S. citizens. The remaining individuals’ detainers were not canceled, and so they continued to be held for ICE to deport them.

The ACLU reports that false detainer requests are fairly common across the country, but that we here in Miami are the epicenter.

Immigrant-rights groups say ICE’s databases are filled with outdated information. (And the ACLU says ICE’s data bases often fails to reflect that people become naturalized citizens.) And, ACLU notes a CNN investigation that showed ICE agents routinely forging their bosses’ signatures on critical detention warrants to skip mandatory document reviews.

Meanwhile, the State Legislature is considering a bill that would require local cops to honor ICE requests.

(Spotted via New Times, ICE Issued False Deportation Requests for 420 U.S. Citizens in Miami-Dade, ACLU Reports.)

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What He Said

NYT letter to the editor, responding to Seeking Mercy From the U.S., at 2 Years Old:

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The Assault on Citizenship–and Citizens

The Trump administration has taken many official actions that are transparently illegal. For example, there have been a laundry-load of illegal attempts to stop the implementation of various valid regulations that the new EPA, Dept. of Interior, and other agencies want to amend or withdraw. Our law doesn’t work that way, and federal judges have done a decent job of laughing those transparently illegal actions out of court and keeping the old regulations in place until a valid new one is promulgated.

Worse, there have been terrible and illegal actions by the Trump administration preventing asylum-seekers from presenting their claims, and especially evil actions in which the administration has gone out of its way to separate refugee children from their parents–a policy whose harms were intensified by ineptitude, or more likely intentional viciousness, in which the Trump administration then lost the children, or never collected or lost the information about which child belonged with which parent, or deported the parents and then said it was unable or unwilling to reunite the families. Children in detention have at times received no care, little care, or been caged much like animals. At least one toddler died following, and as far as we can tell as a result of, this captivity. Here too, we have more than one judge with a spine doing what they can to force the Trump administration to clean up the mess it made. Cooperation has been imperfect at best, and there is evidence that suggests outright obstruction at times.

Do not be fooled into the complacent view that only foreign people are at risk. The Trump administration is gunning for naturalized citizens. Where once denaturalization was an exceptional remedy for significant immigration fraud (such as failing to admit WW2 Nazi ties), now it’s an enforcement goal to be applied more broadly.

But that’s not all: the Trump administration is also trying to denaturalize natural-born citizens. We learn now that the Trump administration is coming for the citizenship of a substantial number of Mexican-Americans. The purported reason is doubts about the validity of their birthright citizenship due to the existence of some cases (perhaps a very small number, it isn’t clear yet) of actual fraud in which children born south of the Rio Grande were said to have been born north of it. The degree of particularized suspicion sounds, from what we know so far, quite thin. The near-impossibility of finding proof of birth location by midwife 30+ years after the fact is obvious. And, not that it should matter, many of the victims of this policy are veterans, cops, or holders of other jobs of trust and responsibility.

These cases are only part of a more general pattern of aggressive enforcement against Black or Brown people. In one case, ICE held a (Black) citizen in detention for 1,273 days. ‘Mistakes’ are legion.

Some of these policies are not new in principle but have been greatly generalized in application from rare and exceptional to routine and careless or grossly and gleefully reckless, thus including cases where proof is thin or lacking. In time they too may founder in the courts. Meanwhile they will deal pain, spread fear, and could stop a large number of people from voting while their cases are being litigated, for fear of committing the federal crime of non-citizen voting. Win-win for Trump.

Trump notoriously envies Russian strong-man policies. How long before the Trump administration attempts to adopt Russian policies on removing citizenship of dual nationals, or of dissidents? Unthinkable? I would have said revoking some citizens’ passports and locking up others on the grounds they are fake citizens should cross every line and serve as ample warnings. The behavior we have already seen by the US Government was considered unthinkable when I was in law school 30 years ago. When I palled around with the cypherpunks in the 90’s and they worried about oppressive domestic regimes, it was easy to dismiss them as paranoid; I myself wavered at times on the extent to which they were sensibly cautious or plain nuts (and, admittedly, it may have varied among them).

Clichéd perhaps from overuse, but more apt then ever, are the words of Martin Niemöller:

First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

My wife, a green-card-holder, is going abroad today for a week in which she’ll attend an academic conference. Will the Trump administration let her back into the US next week? Nothing to worry about, I think, because she’s white, and British even if she is an academic. Not the targeted group at present. That we should have to make this calculation and measure our privilege is an outrage for us, a far more serious wrong for those lacking it, and a tragedy for this country.

Posted in Immigration, Law: Right to Travel, Trump | 2 Comments

9th Cir Declines to Strike Down EO TRO

A sensible, cautious, and careful opinion. It will probably drive Trump nuts.

Posted in Immigration, Trump | 3 Comments