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  1. Washington Post: Trump Admin. Plans to Destroy USCIS Impartial Decision-Making. Same as With FBI/Russia and CIA/Torture? Roger Algase

    On March 17, former CIA Director John O. Brennan tweeted the following about Donald Trump's latest alleged attempt to interfere with the functioning of the FBI, which is supposed to be an independent law enforcement agency, and force it to support his political agenda - in this case squelching the Robert Mueller investigation into the administration's alleged corruption, and/or collusion with Russia to sway the 2016 election.

    "When the full extent of your venality, moral turpitude and political corruption becomes known, you will take your rightful place as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history."

    It is not necessary to agree with this strong assessment in order to be concerned about Trump's reported attempts to influence or control government agencies which, in theory, are supposed to be independent of the White House and devoted to enforcing the laws as they are written and objectively interpreted - as shown in the administration's vindictive firing of an Andrew McCabe, an FBI official who was under attack by the president, only one or two days before McCabe would have qualified for retirement benefits for his 20-year government service. For more details, see:

    It is a shame that the same John Brennan, instead of also speaking out against the attempt by Trump, who openly supported the use of torture during his presidential campaign, to compromise the independence and integrity of the CIA by picking an alleged torturer, Gina Haspel, as that agency's new chief, instead tried to defend the indefensible in her case.

    See the March 16 article by Vincent Warren, executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights in The Guardian:

    Gina Haspel should be arrested - not put in charge of the CIA

    But, while the above events clearly do not directly relate to immigration policy, the same pattern of forcing independent government agencies to become agents for Trump's political agenda, and to show "loyalty" to him personally, rather than to the laws and institutions of the United States, may also be affecting the integrity of the USCIS.

    The Washington Post reports that there is a similar battle looming behind the scenes which could, conceivably destroy the independent decision-making powers of the USCIS to determine who is qualified for approval for legal immigration benefits such as work permits and green cards. See, March 16:

    U.S. Immigration agency to more closely monitor caseworkers, documents show

    The Post reports that Trump's new USCIS director, L. Francis Cissna, who only just recently sent an unmistakable warning sign that USCIS might no longer feel obligated to protect the interests of today's mainly non-European immigrants - see my earlier post on this issue

    may now be trying to set up a special unit within that agency to oversee the work of immigration adjudicators who are considered to be too "lax", i.e. too immigrant-friendly, in their decision-making.

    For a direct link to the Post's story, see the following article in The Hill (which also reports a claimed denial of the Post's story by USCIS sources - what a surprise! who could have guessed that the agency would try to deny this story?)!

    If the rule of law gives way to Trump's anti-immigrant agenda to the point that no one can rely any longer on the objectivity or impartiality of USCIS adjudications of applications and petitions for immigration benefits (to the extent that this still exists - openly biased agency denials and RFE's have been around since the Clinton era, as many practitioners in this field can attest), then we might as well not have a legal immigration system at all.

    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law

    Updated 03-19-2018 at 12:38 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

  2. Anti-Immigrant Autocrat and Trump Admirer Victor Orban is Destroying Democracy in Hungary. Will This be a Model for the US? Roger Algase

    The Guardian reports that in a fiery speech this week before thousands of cheering supporters, Hungary's right wing nationalist prime minister, Viktor Orban, who was also one of Donald Trump's earliest supporters among European politicians, and who has made Hungary the first country in the EU to build a border fence against immigrants, blasted African and Muslim immigrants as invaders who were leading to his country's destruction. Among other things, Orban said:

    "The countries that don't stop immigration will be lost."

    A spokesman for Orban also said last week that:

    "We are against the idea that migration is good or that it is a human right."

    These statements clearly correspond to many similar ones that Trump has made about non-European immigrants - calling them "criminals", "rapists" and "terrorists"; claiming that the Africa, Asia and Latin-America friendly diversity visa lottery sends the "worst people" to the US; and stating that that if America continues President Obama's (allegedly liberal) immigration policies, we "won't have a country".

    Not surprisingly, in view of their similar opposition to non-European immigrants and efforts to build border walls to keep them out, Trump and Orban have also expressed warm admiration and support for each other.

    Moreover, not only Stephen Bannon's Breitbart News, but other US right wing media also, have been effusive in their praise of Orban and his regime, even to the point of condemning efforts by Trump's own State Department (under its now ousted head, Rex Tillerson) to help preserve what small vestiges of a free press might still exist in that country.

    And this is the main point. Under Orban, who is not only opposed to non-white immigrants, but whose statements and actions are also causing anxiety among the native-born Jewish population, which well remembers the Nazi extermination of almost all of Hungary's Jews in WW2

    Hungary no longer has a free press, or any other of the workings of a democratic society.

    The New York Times reports, that, soon after taking power as prime minister:

    "...Mr Orban and his lieutenants began a legislative on the Hungarian Constitution, curbing civil society..."


    "First, (Orban) moved simultaneously to curb the Hungarian media and the judiciary. Next came the erosion of the country's checks and balances, which has helped Mr. Orban share the spoils of power with close friends and important businessmen."

    The Times continues:

    "And then, came the electoral process. The restructuring of Hungary's election system, including a redrawing of the electoral map, has helped him remain in power, even has his party has won fewer votes.

    'The election law does not correspond to democratic features,' said Imre Voros, a founding member of the Hungarian constitutional court, 'and Hungary is therefore not a democratic country.'"

    It will not come as any surprise that many readers will see a strong resemblance between the above developments in Hungary and similar ones in Donald Trump's America.

    True, there are some differences. Unlike Trump, Orban has not made "jokes" about becoming president for life, as Trump did in a recent statement (was it really a joke?) about wanting to emulate China's current leader.

    Orban, again unlike Trump, has not yet ordered a North Korean or Soviet-style military parade to be held in his honor. Nor has Orban, so have as is known, appointed a reported torturer as head of his country's main intelligence agency, as Trump has just done. See my March 14 post about Gina Haspel's alleged activities at a CIA "black site" torture prison in Thailand. See also the following NY Times report:

    But the resemblances between the two leaders are clear and unmistakable - enough to show that demonizing, scapegoating, excluding and deporting immigrants en masse because of their skin color and/or religion as a policy is on a collision course with democracy - both in Europe and the United States.

    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law

    Updated 03-16-2018 at 10:29 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

  3. Will Pompeo's Record of Racial Remarks, Islamophobia and Support for Torture Affect State Dept Visa Issuance? Are These "Our Values"? Roger Algase

    Multiple news stories are highlighting the fact that Donald Trump has appointed a new Secretary of State, current CIA Director Mike Pompeo, who, reportedly, agrees with Trump's agenda more than the ousted DOS Secretary, Rex Tillerson was alleged to have done. Will this personnel change affect visa issuance, particularly to applicants from the non-white parts of the world whom Trump has, from the time when he began his campaign up to the present, identified more with being threats to America than assets to our society?

    Trump has, after all, made "extreme vetting" of immigrants a centerpiece of his policy on admissions to the United States, and, shortly after taking office as president, he emphasized that he only wants immigrants who"love" America and "love our values".

    Given the broad discretion that US consular officials have over visa issuance, based on the principle of minimal interference from the courts beginning with late 19th century Supreme Court decisions under the infamous Chinese exclusion laws, up to the 1972 Kleindienst v. Mandel decision issued at the height of Cold War anti-communist attitudes, it is of some interest to see what Pompeo's record, if any, has been concerning issues which might affect decisions on visa issuance.

    In this regard, a March 14 article in Al Jazeera provides some useful information. See:

    Mike Pompeo on Muslims, torture and Guantanamo Bay

    According to this article, Pompeo, during his successful House campaign in 2010, posted a link to a blog containing in a racial slur (which I will not repeat here) against his Democratic opponent, Raj Goyle, whose parents immigrated to the US from India. Pompeo subsequently apologized, saying that this was inadvertent on his part.

    In 2013, in response to the Boston Marathon bombing, Pompeo issued as statement blaming Islamic leaders across America as being allegedly complicit in the attack.

    The same article also states that Pompeo supported "enhanced interrogation", i.e. torture, of terrorist suspects, and condemned President Obama for closing the notorious CIA "black sites", namely secret prisons where torture took place.

    However, as CIA director, Pompeo has not reopened any of these torture sites.

    Pompeo's deputy and replacement as CIA director, Gina Haspel, reportedly personally oversaw torture at a secret CIA location in Thailand herself, in 2002. In one case, according to a news report, torture was carried out so brutally that the victim was at first thought to have died.

    What does this say about America's "values" in the Donald Trump era, which the president expects immigrants to "love" as a condition of admission to the United States?

    For more details of Haspel's alleged participation in CIA torture, see.

    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law

    Updated 03-16-2018 at 10:16 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

  4. Did Trump Fire Tillerson for Issuing Too Many Visas to Immigrants From Non-White Countries? Will Visas be Harder to Get Outside Europe? Roger Algase

    No one will claim that Rex Tillerson was a popular or respected Secretary of State, and the extent to which disagreement between him and his boss, Donald Trump, over various foreign policy issues led to the March 13 announcement that Tillerson has been fired and replaced by CIA chief Mike Pompeo is beyond the scope of these comments in any event.

    But a by now almost forgotten December 23, 2017 New York Times story indicates that disagreement over visa policy, particularly toward black immigrants, may have had something to do with Tillerson's ouster.

    The Times reported that in a White House meeting, Trump complained that the US was admitting too many immigrants from countries such as Haiti, where, according to the president, "they all have AIDS" and Nigeria, whose immigrants to the US, Trump stated "would never go back to their huts".

    While the White House, predictably, denied these specific statements, there can be little doubt that Trump expressed dissatisfaction with admitting dark skinned immigrants, as he reaffirmed only three weeks later in his notorious "shithole" comment.

    According to the same NY Times story, Tillerson asked in reply to Trump whether the president wanted him to stop issuing visas altogether.

    Nor is there any reason to believe that these were isolated, merely incidental conversations. As long ago as last July, the Washington Post reported that the was a movement inside the White House led by Trump's top immigration Steve Miller, whose record shows that he is no friend of non-European immigrants, and who is widely believed to have written Trump's jingoistic July 6, 2017 Warsaw, Poland speech favoring "Western Civilization"ueber alles (to borrow a favorite expression from WW2 Germany), to switch control over visa issuance from the State Department to DHS. See, July 9, 2017:

    Battle emerging inside Trump administration over who controls immigration and refugees

    (Please go to Google to access - I do not have a link.)

    Ironically, if DHS were to take control of issuing and refusing visas, instead of DOS, that could conceivably make it harder for Trump to carry out a whites-only policy in this crucially important area of immigration, because it is well settled that DHS immigration approvals and denials are subject to review by the federal courts, whereas US consular visa refusals are not subject to court review except in the very narrow circumstances set forth by the U.S. Supreme Court in Kleindienst v. Mandel (1972).

    Trump and Miller might want to be careful what they wish for.

    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law

    Updated 03-13-2018 at 12:54 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

  5. ACLU Lawsuit Will Claim That Cancelling TPS for 200,000 Promotes Trump's Unconstitutional White Supremacist Anti-Immigrant Agenda. Roger Algase

    The Guardian reports on March 12 that the ACLU is preparing to file a lawsuit in the US federal District Court in San Francisco challenging DHS's decision to cancel TPS for 200,000 immigrants from El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua and Sudan. According to the new story, a draft copy of the complaint alleges that this latest DHS action violates the Constitutional rights of US citizen children of the TPS holders by forcing the children to leave the United States if they want to stay with their parents.

    The article also states:

    "The complaint also contends that the administration's restrictive view of the TPS laws was unconstitutional as it was adopted to further the administration's anti-immigrant, white supremacist agenda."

    Just as the US 4th Circuit Court of Appeals invalidated one of Trump's Muslim ban executive orders because of the president's strongly expressed "animus" against the entire Muslim religion (not just specific terrorist groups) as a presidential candidate, the above report indicates that the president's equally strongly enunciated hatred and contempt for non-white immigrants in general may be grounds for concluding that his entire set of immigration policies, of which ending TPS is only one part, amount to unconstitutional racial discrimination.

    However, while in the Muslim Ban litigation, the Trump administration argued (with highly questionable good faith) that campaign statements were irrelevant to assessing the motives for Trump's actions as president (as if there were no such thing as fulfilling a campaign promise!), no such argument is available in the case of Trump's attack on black and brown-skinned immigrants as a whole.

    As The Guardian points out, Trump's notorious "shithole" comment about inhabitants of black and Latino countries was made only two months ago, after he had already been the president for almost a full year.

    For The Guardian's full story, see:

    When further information becomes available about this lawsuit and the contents of the complaint, the above comments will be updated.

    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law

    Updated 03-13-2018 at 09:01 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

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