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Has The Trump Administration Lost All Compassion Within Its Immigration System?

Rahul D. Manchanda, Esq.

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To be sure, if there was any major reason to support the Donald Trump Presidential Administration, one of the chief reasons would be that he is a successful New York City and international businessman, having amassed billions and billions of dollars as a savvy, intelligent, compassionate and creative man who has employed tens of thousands of workers and created a huge fortune and dynasty building various lucrative projects and real estate ventures all over the world.

But the problem may not be with the President or his understandable policies against rampant and uncontrolled illegal immigration or the continued presence of criminal illegal aliens in the United States, but rather with the men and women that he has placed into powerful positions to run the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (“USCIS”), Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”), Executive Office for Immigration Review (“EOIR”), Board of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”), Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) thereon, and even further with the underlings who have been appointed under those individuals.

Many immigration lawyers, practitioners, and immigrants themselves have reported a massive uptick in seemingly dishonest behavior and underhanded tactics within the U.S. Immigration System all across the country, wherein immigrants applying under various immigration categories are being summarily denied, delayed, obstructed, cheated or otherwise rejected for Work Authorization (Employment Authorization Documents, or “EAD”) when they would normally, in the past few decades under previous administrations, be granted these automatically, when their underlying applications filed at the same time (concurrently) would provide for these EADs right away, even without the need for filing fees.

To be certain, these affected immigrants are not the horrific types of immigrants being paraded about in the conservative media and press, such as gang members, criminal illegal aliens, or other non-sympathetic illegal aliens, but rather, these affected immigrants are people that fall into sympathetic categories such as domestic violence survivors under the Violence Against Womens Act (“VAWA”), Victims of Crime under the U Visa category, Victims of Human Trafficking with T Visa applicants, Political Asylum/Refugee applicants with cases pending 6 months or more, and even people marrying U.S. Citizens under the (c)(9) immediate visa priority date category.

Many immigration lawyers and practitioners, as well as their clients, have reported a massive increase in certain bizarre new “tactics” being used by the USCIS and their workers against people that would normally receive a work authorization card immediately upon filing.

Dishonest, illegal and unethical tactics being used by the USCIS and its employees include such behavior such as (1) taking up many months before issuing arbitrary denials and decisions, or (2) taking and cashing their filing fee checks and then rejecting their applications for strange arbitrary reasons, or (3) demanding filing fee checks when none are required, (4) advising applicants to mail them back into the different incorrect addresses, (5) splitting up concurrently filed petitions so that the work authorization application portion is refused and rejected first, and then turning to the underlying visa application giving them the right to work authorization getting accepted and stamped with a “receipt date notice,” (6) confusing cross-mailed notices designed to create rifts and conflicts by and between immigrants and their lawyers/practitioners to destroy and sow distrust in the attorney-client relationship hoping that the immigrant will simply “give up” or “go bankrupt” and then “self deport,” (7) losing files altogether, and (8) other truly bizarre acts.

Unfortunately, this causes these immigrants (vast majority who have never been arrested or have no criminal record whatsoever) to be forced to become criminals in that they must find new ways to survive and thus work illegally, without a lawful and bona fide Work Authorization Card, creating a whole new class of “criminal immigrants” in order to feed themselves and their families, and then they become “ripe” to be arrested, prosecuted, deported, and have their families split up by vulture-like and ravenous Immigration Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) agents who seem to literally be waiting at their doors or at the companies that dared to hire them in the first place.

This practice by the USCIS also seems to be literally “cutting off the government’s nose to spite its own face” by denying massive amounts of tax dollars (hundreds of billions) that would be raised by the U.S. Government when these people are allowed to work legally, and thus pay their fair share of much needed taxes and revenue needed by the government – the employers would pay as these taxes are automatically deducted and calculated by the government if the immigrant worker has a legal work permit and has a social security number, so even unscrupulous employers would find it difficult to dodge income and other types of employee taxes.

Even the Immigration Courts and the Board of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”) are not immune from some of these dirty underhanded tactics, sometimes sending confusing notices and letters designed to throw the immigrant and their lawyers/representatives into disarray by inconsistently denying and then accepting jurisdiction, rejecting properly filed motions and pleadings and filings repeatedly for various ridiculous reasons, delaying and obstructing case progress and litigation, splitting up remedies for relief and purposefully obfuscating case conclusion, employing mean-spirited, incompetent, and nasty court, clerk and DHS Counsel personnel to scare or intimidate immigrants and their representatives, and other behavior patterns designed to harm immigrants – and all of this has nothing to do with former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions imprudently and possibly illegally took the power away from Immigration Judges to “close” or “terminate” immigration deportation proceedings when it would be unreasonably futile, expensive, disruptive, or frankly idiotic to continue to try and deport immigrants who have solid legal remedies and reasons to remain within the United States.

The above described troubling issues don’t even address the splitting up of families at the border, but that has also been apparently going on for many years, pre-dating the Trump Administration.

If anything, Trump’s presidency has addressed this issue by trying to reunite broken up families one by one, but this is by no means an easy or cost-effective feat, and the results of such a policy for many decades has wreaked untold havoc, hardship, pain, suffering and trauma that no one administration could ever hope to fix – truly a human rights blemish on the United States of America for generations to come, as these broken up families, traumatized children and their offspring, and even sympathetic Americans, will never forget that this had occurred on U.S. Soil.

So to that end, the U.S. Government, and especially its Immigration Service, needs to do a much better job of tackling these humanitarian issues, lest the country lose sight of the fact that it was a nation built by people leaving other countries to become immigrants, run by immigrants, and allowed to prosper by its immigrants.

Ranked amongst Top Attorneys in the United States by Newsweek Magazine in 2012 and 2013.

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Americas

Trump’s New Wall? Mexico’s Southern Border

Lisdey Espinoza Pedraza

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For much of modern history, Mexico defined itself in opposition to the United States. In recent years, the two countries stepped up cooperation on almost all relevant issues, and the two nations are now deeply intertwined politically, economically and culturally. This is bound to change. After months of ignoring Donald Trump’s provocations, López Obrador reacted rapidly to Trump’s shakedown and agreed to a number of resolutions of extraordinary scope and urgency: the new Mexican administration agreed to deploy the country’s federal police to its southern border to crack down on immigration; and opened the door to the controversial “Remain in Mexico” policy that would turn Mexico into a Third Safe Country in less than a month from now.

As stated in the agreement, Mexico would take in all the refugees that the US decides to send back to Mexico to await resolution of their asylum process. This could take years, given the substantial immigration backlog in American courts. The agreement goes further: Mexico is responsible for the provision of education, health care and employment for such refugees. This could easily lead to a serious humanitarian crisis that Mexican institutions will be unable to deal with.

This approach contradicts previous Mexican presidential vows for regional development and humanitarian relief rather than confrontation and enforcement. Conditions on the ground in Mexico are far harsher than the Mexican Foreign Affairs Minister, Marcelo Ebrard and the President, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, would like to admit, and this is partly due to the current administration’s miscalculations: López Obrador has dramatically cut the budget for governmental agencies responsible for managing refugees and processing removals. Mexican border towns are also ill-equipped for handling transient migrant populations; and Mexico also faces other more systematic challenges, such as corruption and lack of rule of law enforcement. The new policy agreed with the American government is likely to result in a significant increase in claims filed for asylum in Mexico. Mexico’s immigration bureaucracies are utterly overwhelmed, and López Obrador’s misguided budget cuts have exacerbated their failings.

Mexico’s immigration policy is now bound by an immoral and unacceptable deal that will effectively turn Mexico into Trump’s border wall. The global system for the protection of refugees is based on the notion of shared responsibility among countries. It is very dangerous for the US to use Mexico as a pawn to set an example and ignore its international responsibility. This agreement also violates international law on refugees: Mexico is a life-threatening country for undocumented migrants. Human trafficking, recruitment for organised criminal organisations, abduction, extortion, sexual violence, and disappearances are some of the issues migrants face in Mexico. Finally, Mexico’s National Guard, the agency that will be in charge of monitoring the southern border, was created by López Obrador to tackle domestic crime. Its members have no training nor knowledge on immigration matters. It is an untested new military force that could end up creating more problems than the ones it is trying to solve.  Deploying agents to the border could also have a high political cost for the president.

The agreement with Trump gives López Obrador 45 days to show progress. If Mexico fails, Mexico will be forced to set in motion some version of Safe Third Country agreement, or face further tariff bullying from the US. This deal has been sold by the new Mexican administration as a victory over the US. More migrants, less money, extreme violence and a recalcitrant, unpredictable northern neighbour are the ingredients for a potential, impending refugee crisis, not a diplomatic victory.

Could Mexico have taken a different approach? Yes. Trump’s decision to impose tariffs would exacerbate the underlying causes of immigration in the region and do nothing to address it. His bullying to force Mexico to crack down on immigration was a cheap electoral ploy to mobilise its base with a view to winning the 2020 elections. This is nothing new. Trump is not seeking a solution; he is seeking a political gain. He built his first presidential campaign on an anti-Mexico and an anti-immigrant rhetoric. It worked in 2016, and he is planning to repeat the same formula.

The Mexican administration lack of knowledge on diplomatic matters, and their inability to play politics let a golden opportunity go. Using trade to bludgeon Mexico into compliance with an immigration crack down makes no sense: Mexico is not responsible for the increase in migratory flows. Central America’s poverty and violence trace back to American policies in the 1980s. Mexico is not responsible either for America’s famously dysfunctional immigration system. Trump’s economic threats against Mexico may not even have been legal: both the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and the newly agreed US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) require most trade between members to be tariff free.

Mexico could also have hit back with by levying tariffs that would have hurt swing-state voters, and in turn hurt Trump. This was the golden opportunity Mexico let slip from its hands. Mexico could have responded by hitting Trump where it hurts: Tariffs on American goods heading south. Mexico responded in a similar manner in June last year in response to the steel and aluminium tariffs. Mexico could have raised those tariffs each month in tandem with American levels.

This retaliation would have highlighted the gap between Trump’s anti-Mexican rhetoric and the underlying interdependence of the US and Mexico with stark consequences for the US presidential elections of 2020. Many of the biggest exporters to Mexico such as Arizona. Florida. California, Michigan and Illinois are swing states. New tariffs could have thrown Texas into recession and put its 38 electoral votes into play. It is all too late now, Mexico could have inadvertently helped Trump to get re-elected. Mexico has less than a month left to show some backbone and demand real American cooperation on the region’s shared challenges and rejecting Trump’s threats once and for all. The relationship between Mexico and the US could have been an example of cooperation under difficult conditions, but that would have required different American and Mexican presidents.

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Americas

Scandinavia Veers Left plus D-Day Reflections as Trump Storms Europe

Dr. Arshad M. Khan

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Mette Frederiksen of the five-party Social Democrat bloc won 91 of the 169 seats in the Danish parliament ending the rule of the right-wing Liberal Party group that had governed for 14 of the last 18 years.  The election issues centered on climate change, immigration and Denmark’s generous social welfare policies.  All parties favored tighter immigration rules thereby taking away the central issue dominating the far-right Democrat Freedom Party which has seen its support halved since the last election in 2015.

Ms Frederiksen promised more spending to bolster the much loved social welfare model and increased taxes on businesses and the wealthy.  A left wave is sweeping Scandinavia as Denmark becomes the third country, after Sweden and Finland, to move left within a year.  Mette Frederiksen will also be, at 41, the youngest prime minister Denmark has ever had.

Donald Trump has used the 75th anniversary of D-Day commemorations to garner positive publicity.  The supreme promoter has managed to tie it in with a “classy” (his oft-chosen word) state visit to the UK spending a day with royals.  It was also a farewell to the prime minister as her resignation is effective from June 7.  Add a D-Day remembrance ceremony at Portsmouth and he was off to his golf course in Ireland for a couple of days of relaxation disguised as a visit to the country for talks — he has little in common with the prime minister, Leo Varadkar, who is half-Indian and gay.

Onward to France where leaders gathered for ceremonies at several places.  It is easy to forget the extent of that carnage:  over 20,000 French civilians were killed in Normandy alone mostly from aerial bombing and artillery fire.  The Normandy American cemetery holds over 9600 soldiers.  All in all, France lost in the neighborhood of 390,000 civilian dead during the whole war.  Estimates of total deaths across the world range from 70 to 85 million or about 3 percent of the then global population (estimated at 2.3 billion).

Much has been written about conflict resolutions generally from a cold rational perspective.  Emotions like greed, fear and a sense of injustice when unresolved lead only in one direction.  There was a time when individual disputes were given the ultimate resolution through single combat.  Now legal rights and courts are available — not always perfect, not always fair, but neither are humans.

It does not take a genius to extrapolate such legal measures to nations and international courts … which already exist.  Just one problem:  the mighty simply ignore them.  So we wait, and we honor the dead of wars that in retrospect appear idiotic and insane.  Worse is the attempt to justify such insanity through times like the “good war”, a monstrous absurdity.

It usually takes a while.  Then we get leaders who have never seen the horror of war — some have assiduously avoided it — and the cycle starts again.

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Americas

To Impeach Or Not To Impeach? That Is The Question

Dr. Arshad M. Khan

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Robert Mueller let loose a thunderbolt midweek.  Donald Trump had not been charged, he said, because it was Department of Justice policy not to charge a sitting president.  Dumping the issue firmly into Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s lap, he reminded us of the purpose of the impeachment process.  According to Mueller there are ten instances where there are serious issues with the president obstructing justice adding that his report never concludes that Trump is innocent.

So here is a simple question:  If Mueller thought the president is not innocent but he did not charge him because of Justice Department policy, and he appears also to favor impeachment, then why in heaven’s name did he not simply state in his report that the preponderance of evidence indicated Trump was guilty?

Nancy Pelosi is wary of impeachment.  According to the rules, the House initiates it and when/if  it finds sufficient grounds, it forwards the case to the Senate for a formal trial.  The Senate at present is controlled by Republicans, who have been saying it’s time to move on, often adding that after two years of investigation and a 448-page report, what is the point of re-litigating the issue?  They have a point and again it leads to the question:  if Special Counsel Mueller thinks Trump is guilty as he now implies, why did he not actually say so?

Never one to miss any opportunity , Trump labels Mueller, highly conflicted, and blasts impeachment as ‘a dirty, filthy, disgusting word’,  He has also stopped Don McGahn, a special counsel at the White House from testifying before Congress invoking ‘executive privilege’ — a doctrine designed to keep private the president’s consultations with his advisors.  While not cited anywhere in the Constitution, the Supreme Court has held it to be ‘fundamental to the operation of government and inextricably rooted in the Separation of Powers under the Constitution.’  Separation of powers keeps apart the executive branch, the legislature and the judiciary, meaning each one cannot interfere with the other.

Nancy Pelosi is under increasing pressure from the young firebrands.  Rep Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez has already expressed the view that it is time to open an impeachment inquiry against Trump given the obstruction of lawmakers’ oversight duty.

Speaker Pelosi is a long-time politician with political blood running through her veins — her father was Mayor of Baltimore and like herself also a US Representative.  To her the situation as is, is quite appealing.  Trump’s behavior fires up Democrats across the country and they respond by emptying their pockets to defeat the Republicans in 2020.  Democratic coffers benefit so why harm this golden goose — a bogeyman they have an excellent chance of defeating — also evident from the numbers lining up to contest the Democratic presidential primaries, currently at 24. 

Will Trump be impeached?  Time will tell but at present it sure doesn’t look likely.

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