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  1. How Demonizing Immigrants Could Destroy America's Democracy, Part 2. Roger Algase

    Update, July 5, 9:10 am

    I am posting this update in order to make an uncharacteristic defense of Donald Trump. The bulk of my comments below are devoted to remarks made by Trump's supporters at one of his recent rallies which test the limits of rationality, such as the comment quoted below by one of Trump's fans that Hillary Clinton should be hanged in public for treason. (This comment is of course Constitutionally protected. That does not make it rational.)

    However, while Americans should be concerned about the future of this country if it elects a president who openly suggests that the President of the United States may be sympathetic to Muslim terrorists and therefore wants to being them into the United States, there is one charge against Trump now filling up the headlines which is equally absurd.

    This is the charge that Trump intentionally posted an anti-Semitic image, namely a Jewish Star of David, in a tweet attacking Hillary Clinton as the "most corrupt" candidate ever.

    Trump has occasionally used offensive Jewish stereotypes, in common with all too many non-Jews in America, but he does not have a history of attacking Jews in general, as he does, for example in the case of Muslims. One of Trump's daughters is a convert to Judaism, and Trump praised the great Jewish writer and Holocaust survivor Elie Weisel, on the announcement of the latter's death this past weekend.

    There is no reason not to accept Trump's explanation that the unfortunate choice of a Star of David in his tweet was inspired by the similar shape of a sheriff's badge. Americans, and our media, should focus on the real issues with Donald Trump's candidacy, of which there are plenty, as described below, not this "Trumped-up" one (pun strictly intended) whose only purpose is to grab media headlines.

    The following is my (somewhat revised) original post:

    The following is a continuation of my March 26 post. While that post focused specifically on the threat to America's democracy posed by attempts to scapegoat and demonize Muslim immigration in particular, the same point applies to attacks against all minority immigrants (and, as in the case of federal judge Gonzalo Curiel, their American-born children).

    I start by wishing all readers a very happy 4th of July holiday, as we celebrate the founding of our country on the principles that all people are created equal, and that America will always be a refuge from tyranny and persecution in all its forms. On this July 4, these principles are under unusually heavy assault, arguably more than on any previous July 4 in modern times, from forces which are trying to fan the flames of anti-immigrant hatred to the point where they could engulf our entire democracy.

    On June 21, Slate ran a story about a Las Vegas Trump rally appearing entitled: Hillary for Prison: 2016: In Vegas, Donald Trump took a longtime psychosis of the GOP base and amplified it

    This story gives examples of the vituperative, intolerant rhetoric which (while of course permitted by our Constitution) could lead to replacing our free society with a dictatorship. See:

    This incendiary rhetoric is not unrelated to a July 1 story in The Hill about Donald Trump's latest threat to violate US federal criminal law by torturing (not "just" waterboarding, which he says is not "tough enough") terrorist suspects overseas. See my previous post for the link.

    (During the holiday weekend,The Hill also ran no less than seven stories about Hillary's emails and one about Benghazi. Is this objective or balanced journalism?)

    The above federal statute carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison, or even death, if the torture victim dies.
    See 18 U.S.C. Sections 2340 and 2340A. It applies specifically to US citizens who conduct torture outside the United States. See my July 1st and July 2nd posts for a further discussion of Trump's torture proposals.

    According to the above June 21 Slate article, speakers at Trump rallies are accusing both Hillary Clinton and President Obama of treason and sedition, and demanding that they be sent to prison (or in Clinton's case, as one attendee reportedly recommended to Slate, hanged in public!) because of their immigration policies.

    According to the same Slate story, two of the introductory speakers at the Trump rally, with the support and cheers of many attendees, accused Obama of bringing in Muslim immigrants who want to hurt the United states and promised that Trump would prosecute both Obama and Clinton, while someone in the crowd shouted: "She's s traitor!"

    Not that every attendee was entirely against immigration. One woman who was interviewed by Slate said that she was fine with allowing immigration as long as the immigrants were from Italy, Germany, or Russia (her own country of origin). The same woman, according to Slate's article, also agreed with Trump's claim that President Obama might have "something else in mind" ​(i.e. treason) when it comes to his alleged failure to prevent terrorism.

    Slate also interviewed a Trump supporter at the rally as follows:

    "' She's done treasonous acts',..

    What should the punishment be for these crimes of Clinton's?

    'Public hanging, to be honest with you,' he said.

    Does [he] actually believe this?

    "I do," he said. He'd want the execution to be public. 'I believe that would probably be the biggest pay-per-view event in the history of cable.'"

    Trump certainly cannot be held responsible for every off-the-wall remark that one of his supporters may make. But his frequent insinuations that both President Obama and Hillary Clinton are more sympathetic to terrorists than caring about the safety and security of the American people are not all that far away in tone or substance from Adolf Hitler's accusations that the Jews were responsible for "stabbing Germany in the back" during WW1 and that the democratically Weimar Republic leaders allowed themselves to become stooges for the Jews

    If 20th century history is any guide, this combination of racism and ultra-nationalism contains the seeds from which fascism grows.

    To quote Lucretius' famous line once again:

    tantum religio potuit suadere malorum ("Superstition was able to cause such great evil.")

    Again, I hope that all readers had an enjoyable Independence Day holiday.

    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law

    Updated 07-05-2016 at 08:30 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

  2. If Foreign Terrorist Suspects Are Tortured, Could US Citizens Be Next? Roger Algase

    This post will continue my July 1 comment on the possible dangers for our democracy posed by Donald Trump's proposal to use torture against ISIS and other foreign terrorists,

    A distinguished immigration legal scholar, Nolan Rappaport, in commenting on my post, tried to revive the Bush era argument that waterboarding might not really be "torture" and is therefore not prohibited by US or international laws against this odious and inhuman practice. However, I don't need to respond to Nolan's argument, because Donald Trump has already done that himself.

    As quoted in an article in The Hill cited in my above post, Trump has stated that he not only likes waterboarding "a lot", but that waterboarding isn't "tough enough". In other words, if waterboarding isn't torture, Trump wants to use something that is.

    Therefore we can move beyond any question about whether Trump supports the use of torture, which is about as much open to question as whether Trump is famous for having yellow hair, and instead look at the question of whom he wants to torture. Would torture be limited to real or suspected foreign terrorists, or would ordinary American citizens also be at risk of becoming targets?

    Trump says that he only wants to torture foreign terrorists in order to get information that would allegedly make America safer from attack. In this respect, Trump has wide support among Americans in both parties, with Republicans, perhaps not surprisingly, outnumbering Democrats.

    This is according to a March 30 Reuters/Ipsos poll which reports 82 per cent of Republicans as saying that torture is "often" or "sometimes" justified in order to elicit information, compared with 53 per cent of Democrats who say the same thing.


    At the outset, for anyone concerned about adherence to the laws of the United States, or respect for the rule of law, the above poll results raise some basic questions.

    Suppose, instead of being asked whether torture is "sometimes" or "often" justified, the poll respondents had been asked whether smuggling illegal immigrants into the United States, or assisting such immigrants in committing violent crimes or selling drugs, is justified in the same way.

    One can be quite sure that the percentage of people answering "yes" would be zero, or very close to it. But under federal law, using torture against anyone, even outside the United States, is an extremely serious crime punishable by uo to 20 years in prison, or in some cases, even death. See 18 U.S.C. Sections 2340 and 18 U.S.C. Section 2340A

    How often has the United States had a major party presidential candidate who openly boasts that he would commit an extremely serious federal crime if he were elected, and who might be supported in doing so by a majority of the American people?

    Let us look at the actual text of this statute:
    18 U.S.C. Section 2340 defines what torture is. I will skip this section, since , as mentioned above it is not necessary to argue about whether waterboarding comes within the definition, because Trump is promising to use something "tougher", without mentioning any limits on which practices he would employ.

    18 U.S.C. 2340A provides as follows:

    (a) Offense. -

    Whoever outside the United States commits or attempts to commit torture shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both, and if death results to any person from conduct prohibited by this subsection, shall be punished by death or imprisoned for any term of years or for life.

    (b) Jurisdiction. - There is jurisdiction over the activity prohibited in subsection (a) if -

    (1) the alleged offender is a national of the United States; or

    (2) the alleged offender is present in the United States, irrespective of the nationality of the victim or alleged offender

    (c) Conspiracy. -

    A person who conspires to commit an offense under this section shall be subject to the same penalties (other than the penalty of death} as the penalties prescribed for the offence, the commission of which was the object of the conspiracy.

    In view of the above plain and unambiguous language of the statute, and its harsh penalties, it is not surprising that U. S. military and intelligence officials have publicly stated that they would not obey an order by Trump to engage in torture in violation of law, if he were to issue such an order as president.

    This raises the following question: Suppose that the above law were to be amended to make an exception for torture used into order to find out information about possible terrorist attacks on America, and suppose that such an exception could withstand a challenge on the grounds of the 8th Amendment's prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment and the 5th Amendment's guarantee of due process of law and against self-incrimination.

    Would there be any protection against ordinary American citizens being tortured by their own govern ment, especially since the above statute does not ban torture inside the United States?

    Donald Trump, for example, has (without the slightest evidence) accused American citizen Muslims in general of allegedly knowing about upcoming terror attacks and deliberately failing to report this. Would he try to justify torture against 3 million Muslim-Americans using the objective of getting information about alleged terrorist activities as an excuse?

    And if he can do that to Muslim US citizens, what is there to stop him from torturing millions of non-Muslim Americans as well, on that or almost any other pretext he chooses?

    The history of torture as used by autocrats in modern times, does not give very much support to those who argue that once this odious practice, which is strictly prohibited under international, not only domestic US law, is used, it can be limited to affect only a specific, narrowly and precisely defined class of victims, such as, for example known ISIS fighters or avowed members of other specifically enumerated terrorist organizations.

    Tell that to Hitler, to Stalin, to Mao Zedong, to Pol Pot, or to lesser 20th century dictators such as Pinochet, Marcos, Suharto, Idi Amin, or many, many others, past and present, too numerous to mention. Most, if not all of these tyrants began by torturing foreigners first, then moving on to unpopular political, racial or religious minorities within their own countries, and finally picking ordinary citizens of their own countries as their victims.

    And even if limitations on the classes of people selected as victims were possible or feasible, who would make the decision about which individuals merited being at the receiving end of the waterboarding buckets, electric shocks or whatever other methods of inflicting pain the ingenuity of whoever is doing the torturing could come up with?

    The idea that torture could be controlled by objective standards is absurd, just as the idea that there can be any objective limits on which American citizens the Obama administration has already been targeting for assassination? See an article in The Guardian to be discussed in a forthcoming post) is also delusional.

    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law

    Updated 07-07-2016 at 05:56 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

  3. Would "Torturer Trump" Respect Any Laws Protecting Immigrant Rights? Roger Algase

    Nothing is more alien to democracy or foreign to the rule of law than the use of torture in any of its horrible forms. This holds true no matter how odious the victim might be or how compelling the 'justification" for this heinous practice, which is strictly prohibited by U.S and international law, might allegedly be.

    This is why, more than any of his other anti-democratic proposals or actions - whether banning immigrants from our shores purely on the basis of their religion; "opening up" the libel laws and banning media he considers unfriendly from covering his campaign in order to harass and intimidate anyone who disagrees with him; building a Berlin (or Warsaw Ghetto) Wall against Mexico, a friendly neighboring country; or engaging in mass deportation of 11 or 12 million mainly Latino and Asian immigrants; Trump's repeated, not to say enthusiastic, support of using torture calls his willingness to follow democratic procedures, and our Constitution, into very serious question.

    But let there be no mistake about it - Trump, once again, is openly calling for the use of torture against enemies, real or perceived, something that even Hitler refrained from doing in the case of captured allied soldiers who were protected by the (1929) Geneva convention relating to treatment of prisoners of war, which the Nazi Fuehrer respected but Donald Trump evidently wants to tear up, at least in spirit if not in the letter.

    The Hill reports as follows on July 1:

    "'What do you think about waterboarding?' Trump asked an Ohio crowd at a rally the night of the [Istanbul] attack. 'I like it a lot. I don't think it's tough enough.'"

    Of course, it is easy to understand why one would instinctively want to torture the ISIS fighters, whom Trump was referring to and who inflict unimaginable cruelties on their victims while trying to kill as many innocent people as possible wherever and whenever they can. But the history of the use of torture shows that once begun, torture never ends with the most obvious, original avowed targets.

    Hitler may have spared Allied soldiers from torture in order to comply with a treaty obligation (and perhaps protect captured German soldiers from suffering the same fate at Allied hands), but his storm troopers and SS tortured and brutally murdered many millions of people at Dachau, Buchenwald, Auschwitz and countless other concentration camps and Nazi prisons throughout Europe.

    Nor is there any reason to think that if "Torturer Trump" gives an illegal order to America's military or intelligence agencies to torture avowed inhuman monsters such as ISIS fighters, that he would refrain from torturing any other other people on the very long and growing list of people whom he sees as "enemies" or "haters of Donald Trump" (his charge against Federal Judge Gonzalo Curiel).

    Is there any assurance that Trump would refrain from torturing the "lots of bad dudes" whom he is promising "to get rid of". i.e. up to 12 million mainly Latino and Asian immigrants who entered thsi country EWI or overstayed their visas, if he thought that would help to kick them out faster or to discourage other immigrants from coming to or staying in America without permission?

    Or what would stop Trump from torturing employers who hire illegal immigrants - or ordinary Americans who fail to report their own spouses, parents, children or other family members who might be in this country without authorization?

    The Obama administration is already being sued for mistreating hundreds, if not thousands, of unauthorized immigrants at its privately run, for profit prisons which in some respects reportedly already begin to resemble concentration camps. See:

    What would happen if this mistreatment were to increase exponentially under a Trump administration and extend to millions of people, as it in all probability would?

    What would stop Trump from torturing thousands of Muslim or Latino US citizens for allegedly "supporting" or "assisting" foreign-based terrorists or criminals? What would stop him from torturing American reporters who ask him questions he doesn't like or federal judges whose decisions he disagrees wit?. In the hands of an autocrat, anyone and everyone can be at risk of being tortured. There are no boundaries.

    And could a president who would not hesitate to issue illegal orders to use torture (see the above The Hill report for further details) be relied on to respect or obey any other legal norms or requirements regarding the rights of immigrants - such as allowing immigration court hearings before sending them home - or obeying a court order prohibiting the removal of a given immigrant or class of immigrants, or ordering their release from detention, as in the case of the federal court decision issued a year ago that was referred to in the above cited Los Angeles Times article?

    Don't bet your waterboarding bucket on America's would be Torturer in Chief's willingness to obey any immigration-related laws or court orders.
    Roger Algase is a New York lawyer and a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School who has been helping mainly skilled and professional immigrants obtain work visas and green cards for more than 35 years. Roger believes that if the basic human and Constitutional rights of immigrants are denied or disregarded because of attempts to exploit fear and hatred against minorities for political purposes, the rights and freedoms of all Americans will be in danger and our democracy could disappear.

    Roger's email address is

    Updated 07-01-2016 at 04:51 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

  4. Experts Slam Trump Over Mass Deportation, Contempt for Rule of Law. Roger Algase

    Will Trump's latest claim that his immigration policies should not be called "mass deportation", and that he only plans to "get rid of a lot of bad dudes"..."humanely" and with a "big heart" be enough to overcome criticism that his "deportation task force proposal is authoritarian and just one more sign that he has no respect for America's constitution or the rume of law? See:

    Trump would have to make a very big change indeed in order to rebut criticism last month from former Massachusetts Republican governor and U.S. Holocaust Commission member William Weld,who is now running for VP on the Libertarian Party ticket, that Trump's plan to deport 11 or 12 million immigrants who are in the US without legal status bears comparison with the Nazi Kristallnacht persecution in 1938, when Jewish synagogues, stores and businesses were smashed all over Germany and tens of thousands of Jews were rounded up and sent to concentration camps, in what many historians regard as the beginning of Hitler's final extermination program

    Here is am extract from Gov. Weld's interview with CNN's Jake Tapper on May 22:

    TAPPER:"Let's talk about immigration. You've differed with Donald Trump sharply on this issue of mass deportation, his plan to deport the estimated 11 or 12 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. You told the New York Times about that plan: 'I can hear the glass crunching on Kristallnacht...when I hear that'...Is that a little strong, you think, to talk about the Holocausr?"

    WELD: "No, no, I don't think so. I served five years on the U.S. Holocaust Commission...if we don't remember, we absolutely will forget. And you got to forget a lot of things to think it's a good idea to round up and deport [11] million people living peaceably, most of them working in America, in the middle of the night. No, not in the United States. China maybe, not in the United States."


    Trump's mass deportation plan (whether he likes to use that term or not) is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of doubts that are being increasingly raised among conservatives (not only liberal Democrats and other Hillary Clinton supporters) about whether Trump would respect the rule of law and our Constitutional system of checks and balances if he were president.

    See; The Guardian: Legal experts on Donald Trump: 'He lacks respect for basic norms' (June 18)

    The Guardian writes:

    "'My concern is that [Trump] lacks respect for basic norms', said Robert Smith, a former associate judge on the New York court of appeals who was appointed by ex-governor George Pataki, a Republican. 'He's a totally irresponsible egomaniac, and it should be no surprise he pays no attention to the law and other basic social norms...

    Trump's notion of bringing back waterboarding also outrages [Judge] Smith, who says that the now-banned practice is tantamount to 'torture [which] violates American and international law.'".

    The Guardian also quoted Judge Smith on Trump's proposed Muslim immigration ban:

    "I think the idea of a religious test for immigration is un-American and appalling."

    Trump i also receiving criticism from conservative lawyers for his proposal to "open up" the libel laws in order to stifle criticism of his policies. Te Guardian reports:

    "'f you open up the libel laws, the first person who would be sued is Donald Trump,' said Richard Epstein, a law professor at the University of Chicago who is highly regarded in conservative legal circles. 'He makes false and malicious statements about public and private people...I regard him as semi-hysterical and self righteous [and] utterly unfit to be president of the United States.'"

    In view of the above comments by a former Republican governor and U.S. Holocaust Commission member, as well as distinguished legal scholars, including those in Trump's own party, one also has to ask whether there would still be such a thing as free and open discussion of immigration policy (or any other issues) under a Trump presidency, or whether the voices of pro-immigration advocates would be stifled in a general climate of fear and intimidation if Donald Trump were to obtain control of the enormous powers of the highest office in the land.
    Roger Algase is a New York lawyer and a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. He has been helping mainly skilled and professional immigrants obtain work visas and green cards for more than 35 years.

    Roger believes that when the basic human and civil rights of immigrants come under attack, the freedoms of all Americans, and our democracy itself, are put in danger. His email address is

    Updated 06-30-2016 at 07:34 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

  5. Will America Go The Way Of UK's Brexit Anti-Immigrant Nationalism? Roger Algase

    Update, June 28, 9:35 am:

    Just in case there is anyone who thinks that nationalism and racism had nothing to do with the Brexit vote in the UK, the following Huffington Post report should set them straight: See:

    Racist incidents skyrocket after Brexit Vote:
    The referendum result has stoked dangerous nationalistic fervor across Britain.

    My original (slightly revised) post follows:

    I am not a political scientist and I am certainly not an expert on UK politics. But one writer who is an expert in this area, Matthew Goodwin, professor of politics and international relations at the University of Kent and a senior fellow at Chatham House has no hesitation about identifying the main reason for the decision of UK voters to leave the European Union.

    Writing in POLITICO, Professor Goodwin states:

    "It is difficult to see how the underlying divides that gave birth to Brexit can be resolved. If anything they may sharpen further as those who are now responsible for negotiating with the EU begin to backtrack on earlier promises about reducing immigration, which was by far the dominant concern for Brexit voters."

    Earlier in the same article, Goodwin writes that the success of Brexit was due mainly to older, white, working class voters who feel left out economically by globalization and who blame increased immigration for their problems. See:

    It is no coincidence, therefore, that Donald Trump was quick to praise Brexit voters for "taking their country back" during a visit to Scotland (which voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU).

    Trump obviously. is appealing to the same voters in the United States, and no one seriously doubts that he owes the Republican nomination mainly to the support of less educated white voters who are all too eager to make non-white immigrants scapegoats for their economic frustrations.

    Will this fall's US election be mainly a referendum on immigration, as Goodwin in essence argues that the Brexit election was? And if so, are there enough working class, non-college educated white voters in America to put Trump and his extreme anti-immigrant proposals into the White House?

    According to estimates, white voters account for about 63 percent of the US electorate, as opposed to 80 per cent in Britain. Trump may need to modify some of his wilder anti-immigrant proposals if he wants to win this fall.

    In walking back his world-wide anti-Muslim ban, and also reportedly indicating that he might not carry out "mass deportation" of the 12 million Latino and other non-white immigrants who are in America without legal status, but instead might only go after"a lot of bad dudes" whom "we are going to get rid of", See:

    Trump might possibly be moving in a more "moderate" direction on immigration. He will still have a long way to go.

    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law

    Updated 06-28-2016 at 10:34 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

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