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  1. Trump's "Extreme Vetting" and Surveillance of Immigrants for Political Views are Bringing America Even Closer to Fascist Dictatorship. Roger Algase

    Again, I will begin this comment with an explanation to a few of my highly respected and well meaning friends who have been asking me why so many of my observations about immigration are focused on Donald Trump. Obviously, Trump does not personally write every USCIS guidance memo, adjudicate every petition or decide every Immigration Court case.

    In my experience at least, many, if not the great majority of immigration officials (in my practice, chiefly USCIS petition adjudicators) are still doing their jobs fairly and objectively (i.e. issuing approval notices!), without any noticeable interference from the top.

    To be sure, America is not yet at the stage of countries such as Russia, North Korea, or Hungary (whose right wing government - much admired by some of Trump's white nationalist supporters - is destroying democracy even as it builds a wall against African and Middle Eastern immigrants and engages in a nationwide propaganda campaign against a well-known Jewish financier, George Soros).

    But, just as no serious observer could get very far in writing about any aspect of government in the above three countries without mentioning Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong Un, or Viktor Orban, it is becoming increasingly difficult to write about any aspect of administration or policy in America today without mentioning America's president.

    This certainly applies to immigration policy as much as, if not even more than any other issue, given the prominence that Trump has given to this area of governance both as a candidate and as the nation's chief executive - and the fact that immigration law is the province of the federal government in any administration.

    Moreover, many of the attempts to limit the rights of immigrants in Donald Trump's America constitute a clear and present danger to the most basic democratic rights of American citizens as well - including the right to free speech.

    In an April 20 piece in The Guardian, Carrie DeCell, a staff attorney at the Knight First Amendment Institute, writes about the highly dangerous and disturbing surveillance that the Trump administration is conducting over the social media, cell phone messages and other communications of visa applicants from around the world, and the denial of visas or entry to people who have or might have views which are opposed to Trump's views on various issues.

    The above article lists a number of recent incidents where civil rights (or in one case a trans rights) activists, especially those with Muslim names (though coming from countries not on the Muslim country banned list) were denied visas or turned back upon entry for unexplained reasons.

    Harassment at points of entry to the US has not been limited to foreign citizens. DeCell writes:

    "American activists, too, have confronted increased government scrutiny at the border. Also this month, border agents interrogated the journalist and civil rights advocate Shaun King upon his return from a family trip to Cairo. Along with his exhausted wife and children, King fielded questions about his reasons for traveling to Egypt and his role in the Black Lives Matter movement. King reported that the officer who questioned him had 'clearly been reading my tweets and knew all about me.'"

    The same article also mentions instances of non-citizen activists in the US who have been detained or threatened with deportation for speaking out against Trump's immigration policies. It continues:

    "These recent
    incidents are part of a broader government scheme to wield immigration authority to since activists both within and beyond US borders. CBP and ICE agents conduct suspicionless searches of travelers' electronic devices - including their text messages, emails, social media posts and photographs - when they cross the US border. Under the rubric of 'extreme vetting', the administration now plans to require immigrant and non-immigrant visa applicants to surrender their social media handles, including pseudonyms and aliases, in connection with their applications."

    The article concludes:

    "These extreme vetting measures threaten to chill the expressive and associative activities of any individual who may seek to enter or remain in the United States...

    Just as the travel ban effectively excludes individuals from this country on the basis of their religion, extreme vetting explicitly excludes individuals from this country on the basis of their statements and beliefs."

    In effect, immigration and visa officials are becoming something similar to an American thought police. There is a word for this. It is known as "fascism".

    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law

    Updated 04-21-2018 at 01:26 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

  2. 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 04-20-2018 at 07:43 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

  3. 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

  4. 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

  5. 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

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