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  1. Donald Trump is Poisoning the Well for Legal Immigration, as America Moves Away From "Yes, We Can" toward "No, We Ban". Roger Algase

    Update, April 18 at 12:05 pm:

    On April 23, 2017, almost exactly a year ago, I wrote an Immigration Daily comment predicting the kinds of attempts to dismantle America's legal immigration system which Donald Trump is now engaging in through his speeches, as described below, and administrative action, to be discussed in a forthcoming comment.

    I also predicted that Trump might be disappointed if he expected his appointed Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch to rubber-stamp Trump's immigration policies. This prediction turns out to have been justified by Justice Gorsuch's choosing to vote with the liberal Justices on April 17 in the deportation case of Sessions v. Dimaya.

    For my comment from April of last year, see:

    My comment from earlier today follows below:

    Sometimes I am asked why my comments on this site focus so much on Donald Trump's immigration policies, even though, according to one perspective, Trump is only a part of the overall immigration picture, and allegedly only a small part at that.

    According to this argument, despite Trump's unrelenting anti-immigrant rhetoric and attempts to demonize Hispanic, Muslim, African and Asian immigrants as "criminals", "terrorists", "hut dwellers" and "job stealers" respectively, not to mention the use of harsher language such as "snakes" and, most notoriously of all, citizens of "shithole countries"; and his many calls to change the immigration laws to eliminate visa categories which have been helpful to areas of the world which do not contain "countries like Norway"; there have in fact been no significant changes in the immigration laws in the "Trump Era" so far, and the legal immigration system continues to operate in basically the same way as it did under previous administrations.

    According to this view, much, if admittedly not all, of the legal immigration system is still functioning without any major damage or impairment. EB-5 still lives on; parents of US citizens (including those of First Lady Melania Trump) are still arriving in the US with green cards even though Trump has vigorously called for abolishing this and some other family visa categories; the H-1B lottery is still taking place, even as Trump tries to make these visas more complicated and difficult to obtain than before; and most of the employment-based green card system is still intact.

    Foreign visitors and students are still coming to the US in large numbers from every part of the world, even if those numbers, according to some figures, are reduced from previous years.

    Certainly, on the unauthorized side of the immigration ledger, people who entered the country without permission or overstayed their visas are having a harder time in the "Trump Era", but hey - they aren't supposed to be here anyway! So if a 7 year old child is incarcerated by ICE two thousand miles away from her mother, or non-criminal immigrants are arrested by ICE on their way to court or to the hospital, who do they have to blame but themselves? At least so the argument runs.

    Besides, isn't the all-time US record for deportations still held by a Democratic president, Barack Obama? And wasn't the harsh IIRIRA immigration law of 1996 signed by another Democratic president, Bill Clinton (who also blockaded Haiti to stop refugees from leaving that country - something that arguably goes far beyond Trump's Muslim ban - which itself has been considerably watered down from what was originally intended)?

    Certainly there is an argument to be made that focusing on Trump is one sided and limited - there is much more to immigration in America than only the speeches and actions of this one US president.

    But for the reasons I will explain below, I believe that this is a narrow and shortsighted view, one which overlooks or soft pedals the very real dangers to America's legal immigration system from a president who is openly committed to making drastic changes in, or even destroying, many of its most important and fundamental features.

    First, there is the immense power of the president of the United States to set the national mood toward just about any issue. Under President Obama, even with his record high number of deportations, immigration detention abuses and other many shortcomings in the administration of the immigration system, the general approach to legal immigration was one of welcome - from every part of the world.

    One might even say the this was part of Obama's overall optimistic"Yes, we can!" philosophy.

    In contrast, one could say that Trump's basic attitude toward legal immigration, especially from outside Europe, is rooted in a fundamentally dark view of immigration, if not the world in general (and I am not referring only to the skin color of the people whom Trump wants so much to keep out) which could be summed up in the words:"No, we ban."

    The power of the president to set the climate in which the details of any given issue or set of policies are determined is immense. This used to be known once upon a time as the "bully pulpit" and it is now known as the tweet.

    It is hard to deny that Donald Trump is radically changing the immigration climate in America (even as he is very arguably putting the entire planet in danger by doing everything possible to advance climate change in the atmosphere and oceans, and turn the EPA into a polluters agency, not an environmental protection one - but this beyond the scope of these comments).

    Every US president and administration for the past half century, ever since the landmark civil rights era reform of 1965 which was intended to end 40 years of open racism and white supremacy in our immigration laws embodied in the "Nordics"-only immigration quotas of the 1924 law, has distinguished between legal immigration, which has been supported as being one of America's most fundamental values, and illegal immigration, which has of course been opposed.

    Donald Trump, however, is very arguably the first US president since Calvin Coolidge openly to condemn legal immigration as well as illegal immigration as a danger to America, and to call for drastic changes in the immigration laws aimed at not only cutting down on overall legal immigration numbers, but making it harder for immigrants from outside Europe to come to or stay in America legally.

    This is most evident in his support for the RAISE Act, which would be a major step back toward the white supremacist 1924 law; and in Trump's own "framework" for, inter alia, eliminating extended family immigration - falsely and maliciously referred to by restrictionists by the term "chain migration"; as well as eliminating the diversity visa lottery - which no politicians in either party had a problem with in its original ("AA-1") whites (almost) only form before 1994, but which Trump now condemns without any evidence as dangerous to national security when most of the beneficiaries come from Africa and other places outside Europe.

    Anyone who thinks that Trump can continue to attack legal as well as unauthorized immigrants, week after week, in speech after speech, rally after rally and tweet after tweet, as "criminals", "rapists", "drug dealers", "'gang members" "terrorists", "cheap labor" and people who do not "love America" or "share our values", while appointing people with ties to restrictionist groups which the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has labeled as "hate organizations" to key positions in the administration or the immigration bureaucracy - see my forthcoming comments on this point - without this leading to major changes in many different aspects of our legal immigration system is simply putting on the blinders and engaging in self-delusion.

    In my next comment on this topic I will show how Trump is using the vast administrative power over immigration which the federal courts originally bestowed on the executive branch in an earlier, openly white supremacist, era dating back to the notorious Chinese exclusion laws of the late 19th century, to dismantle key parts of, if not totally destroy, America's legal immigration system as we now know it without needing or receiving Congressional approval.

    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law

    Updated 04-18-2018 at 11:05 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

  2. Muslim Advocates Legal Director Says Trump's "Discriminatory, Racist and Bigoted" Campaign Rhetoric is now Policy of the United States. Roger Algase

    Ahead of the Supreme Court oral arguments in the Muslim Ban case, Trump vs. State of Hawaii, Jonathan Smith, legal director of Muslim Advocates has released a statement as follows:

    "What was once discriminatory, racist and bigoted campaign rhetoric is now the policy of the United States of America."

    For the organization's full report on the "great lengths" that Trump administration has gone to to "circumvent the constitution", see:

    Recent developments, including but not limited to Trump's latest threats to shut down the investigation into alleged ties with Russia and/or improper business dealings by him and or his associates and place himself above the law by firing Robert Mueller and Rod Rosenstein

    are showing that what began as a ban against Muslim immigrants because of their religion could now be heading toward a "Total and Complete Shutdown" of America's democracy.

    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law

    Updated 04-17-2018 at 10:17 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

  3. Border security weaknesses more serious than so-called caravan. By Nolan Rappaport

    © Getty

    Pueblo Sin Fronteras (People Without Borders) gathered approximately 1,500 asylum-seeking Central American migrants together in March 2018, to form a caravan for a 2000-mile march to the United States. It attracted a lot of attention which turned out to be much ado about nothing.

    On April 3, 2018, DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen tweeted:

    I’ve been advised by Mexican officials that the caravan is dissipating. GOM has repatriated several hundred participants to Central America and is offering refugee status to others who qualify. I thank the GOM for their partnership on this and other security issues.

    Nevertheless, President Donald Trump was concerned about the caravanwhen he sent a memorandum to the secretary of Defense directing him to arrange for the deployment of National Guard troops at the border. And the House Subcommittee on National Security held a hearing on it, “A ‘Caravan’ of illegal immigrants: A test of U.S. borders.”

    Despite political spin to the contrary, the border is not secure, and the hearing highlighted problems which are preventing DHS from securing it.

    The National Immigration Forum submitted a statement claiming that U.S. border policies have been effective, but that claim was contradicted by testimony from the director of the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), Colonel Steven McCraw.

    According to McCraw, the federal government did not respond to numerous requests from Texas Governor Greg Abbott to provide the Border Patrol with the resources it needs to secure the border, so Texas has had to provide the necessary assistance at its own expense.

    Texas deployed State Troopers, Special Agents, and Texas Rangers to the border to conduct around-the-clock ground, marine, and air operations. Then, three years later, it deployed 500 State Troopers, tactical marine boats, aircraft and detection technology assets, and the Texas National Guard to the border.

    But illegal crossings and smuggling continued and crime in the border region continued to rise.


    About the author. Nolan Rappaport was detailed to the House Judiciary Committee as an executive branch immigration law expert for three years; he subsequently served as an immigration counsel for the Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Claims for four years. Prior to working on the Judiciary Committee, he wrote decisions for the Board of Immigration Appeals for 20 years.

    Updated 04-18-2018 at 12:04 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

  4. If Trump Cares Enough About the Syrian People to Bomb Assad For His War Crimes, Why Won't Trump Admit More Syrian Refugees to the US? Roger Algase

    Donald Trump, in one of his occasional ventures into accuracy, has called Assad a "monster" over the latter's latest war crime in using chemical weapons against children and other Syrian civilians, while the US bombed some of Assad's chemical weapons facilities.

    This may give a few Syrians a brief respite from Assad's next atrocity, but no one claims that it will have any effect on his regime or be of any more than the most fleeting kind of benefit to the Syrian people. What would be more help would be to let a least a few Syrian refugees into the US so that they could find safety in this country from Assad's gas attacks.

    But admitting refugees from Muslim countries (or any other non-European countries) is no more popular with the Trump administration than admitting Jewish refugees trying to escape from Hitler's gas chambers was with American officials during the Holocaust.

    The Guardian reports that during President Barack Obama's last year in office, 2016, the US resettled 15,479 Syrian refugees (at least ten times that number would have been more in tune with our moral responsibility and values as a country).

    In 2017, Trump's first year, the US took in only 3,024 Syrians, and this year so far only 11 have been admitted. That's 11 total, not 1,100.

    It is fine to condemn Syria's inhuman dictator and hit him with a couple of what most media are reporting as weak and ineffective strikes. But a little humanity toward the people of Syria on the part of America's president would be welcome too.

    However, instead of humanity, the Trump administration is offering an Orwellian excuse for not admitting Syrians, such as UN ambassador Nicky Haley's statement, also reported in the above article, that Syrian refugees do not want to come to America, but are anxious to go "home" to Syria ASAP.

    Of course they want to go back to Syria, so they can be tortured and executed in Assad's prisons or gassed by his chemical weapons too. That is why so many Syrian refugees have drowned in the Mediterranean while trying to reach safety in Europe.
    Roger Algase is a New York immigration lawyer and a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. For more than 35 years, Roger has been helping mainly skilled and professional immigrants from diverse parts of the world obtain work visas and green cards through employment or family sponsorship.

    Roger's email address is

    Updated 04-16-2018 at 02:47 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

  5. ICE Tries to Deport Man Sentenced to Death by Egypt's Dictatorship, While Trump Brings America Closer Toward Authoritarian Abyss. Roger Algase

    Update, April 16, at 12:47 pm:

    More than 4,000 years ago, according to the ancient Babylonian "Epic of Gilgamesh" an authoritarian ruler by that name in the city of Uruk, in what is now Iraq, (who later becomes the hero of that poem) "saw into the abyss" (sha nagba imuru, in Akkadian).

    On April 16, in a scathing editorial, the New York Times writes that Donald Trump, by his threats to seize absolute power and put himself above the law by firing everyone who is investigating his or his associates' alleged collusion with Russia and/or corrupt business dealings, is putting America's lawmakers "on the edge of an abyss, with the Constitution in their hands."

    If America's democracy falls into the abyss and this country becomes a dictatorship, it will be due, in large part, to Trump's success in exploiting fear and hatred of non-white immigrants, as discussed further below. This may make him a hero to white nationalists, but not to those who believe in our Constitution and the freedoms which it guarantees to all of us.

    My original comment follows:

    In yet another sign that Donald Trump's cruelty and lack of even the most basic humanity toward immigrants from Muslim and other non-European countries are going hand in hand with his own moves toward absolute dictatorship in America, ICE has arrested and reportedly might deport an Egyptian schoolteacher who is under death sentence in Egypt for having protested against that country's dictatorship.

    Huffington Post reports that Ahmed Abdelbasit, an Egyptian citizen who came to the US in 2016 on a valid visitor visa and subsequently applied for asylum after having been sentenced to death in Egypt for protesting against the military dictatorship in his country, has been arrested by ICE as a "deportable alien" even though his asylum case is still pending without decision a year after his interview in April 2017.

    Abdelbasit has been working as a science teacher at a private Islamic school in New Jersey, and has no criminal record or evidence of presenting any danger to the US. He is now in immigration detention and his case has been transferred to the immigration court.

    According to the Huffington Post, he would be in danger of immediate execution if he were sent back to Egypt. One can only hope that he will receive a fair hearing in the immigration court, despite the Trump administration's attempt to pressure immigration judges into issuing rubber stamp deportation orders without due process by imposing an arbitrary quota of competing 700 cases per year for each judge, in order to reduce the number of Muslim and other non-European immigrants in the US as quickly as possible and tighten Trump's control over the entire US immigration system to serve his white nationalist political agenda.

    For a link to the Huffpost story, see:

    As I mentioned in an update to an originally posted April 9 comment, Trump himself warned about the danger to democracy presented by people who attack immigrants in order to gain political power, in an 1999 LA Times op-ed. See:

    Trump is now showing the validity and urgency of his own warning by increasing his threats to fire special counsel Robert Mueller and his boss Rod Rosenstein, in order to shut down the former's investigations into possible abuses of power, obstruction of justice and other alleged wrongful acts by Trump or his associates.

    His pardon of former Cheney aide Scooter Libby for perjury and obstruction of justice relating to the "outing" of former CIA agent Valerie Plame is also an unmistakable signal that anyone who lies to investigators to protect Trump can expect to be rewarded with a pardon later - another blow against the rule of law.

    Also, in a manner more typical of dictators than democratic leaders, Trump is now ordering a review of Postal Service rates in an obvious threat against, which is owned by Jeff Bezos, whose Washington Post newspaper is one of Trump's strongest critics, something that one commentator accurately calls: "banana republicanism".

    The war on brown immigrants which began almost two years ago with Trump's attack on Mexicans as "criminals" and "rapists" and is continuing in a variety of different ways under his direction, most recently with the DOJ's attempt to deprive detained immigrants of due process of law by terminating the Vera Institute of Justice's program for providing them with legal assistance.

    has now brought Trump nearer to the goal of gaining absolute power. This is bringing America closer and closer to the extinction of democracy and transformation into rule by one man only - a chief executive who is totally above the law. For more about the danger of autocracy under Trump, see:
    Roger Algase is a New York immigration lawyer and a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. For more than 35 years, Roger has been helping mainly skilled and professional immigrants from diverse parts of the world obtain work visas and green cards through employment or family sponsorship.

    Roger's email address is

    Updated 04-18-2018 at 06:11 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

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