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  1. Sessions' Plan to Separate Immigrant Children May Amount to Torture; While "Harboring" Prosecutions Could Create U.S. Police State. Roger Algase

    The following comment has been updated and slightly revised as of May 16 at 8:55 pm.

    Two UCLA professors, Jaana Juvonen and Jennifer Silvers, argue convincingly in a May 15 Washington Post article that the Trump administration's announced policy of separating immigrant children from their parents at the US border not only amounts to cruelty but actually violates US laws against engaging in torture. See:

    Separating children from parents at the border isn't just cruel. It's torture

    (I do not have a direct link to this article, but it can be accessed easily through Google.)

    My original comment appears below.

    The Washington Post reports on May 15 that the Trump administration is now reportedly to be looking at the option of housing children who are separated from their asylum-seeking parents at the border at military bases, instead of HHS foster care, in order to put further pressure on their parents to seek to enter the United States. For a link to the Post's story, see:

    The paper quotes AG Jeff Sessions as offering the following advice to immigrant parents whose young children would be at risk of being traumatized or psychologically damaged for life by being held under harsh military conditions, hundreds or more than a thousand miles away from their parents, because of the latter's "crime" in seeking to escape from gang violence and other dangerous conditions in Central American countries with some of the highest homicide rates in the world:

    "if you don't want your child separated, then don't bring them across the border illegally."

    One can almost see the smirk of the tormentor reveling in the pain inflicted on these families, if not on the face of Sessions himself, then on the face of his boss, the same president who nominated Gina Haspel, who is now trying desperately to live down or explain away allegations of previous involvement with torture, to be the new CIA director.

    In the meantime, the threat that American citizens who offer any kind of help or assistance to unauthorized immigrants, which at least in theory could include medical treatment, legal advice, religious counseling or shelter, or just first amendment advocacy, could face prosecution under an extremely broad federal criminal statute against "harboring" immigrants which, as will be shown in my future comments on this topic, arguably has its origin in the infamous Fugitive Slave Act pf 1850, before the Civil War.

    While the "Harboring" statute (8 U.S.C. Section 1324) arguably was meant to deal with the practice of smuggling immigrants into the United States, it in fact has a much broader reach. A recent DOJ memo contemplating prosecutions under this statute does not by any means limit its possible use to smuggling related cases.

    The National Immigration Forum comments as follows:

    "However, neither the [DOJ] memorandum nor the language of Section 1324 makes an exception for those who interact with undocumented individuals while carrying out a public service or a religious function...Absent clarification by DOJ, the DOJ memorandum suggests that community and faith organizations - including churches and religious ministries - could potentially face criminal prosecution for 'transporting' small groups of undocumented individuals in church-owned vans or buses or 'harboring' them by providing basic services or assistance."

    While the law is far from clear in this area and federal court decisions on this statute are in conflict with each other, the very vagueness of both the statute and the DOJ memo cited in the above article only adds to the fear among US citizens and LPR's of having any kind of contact with someone who "looks" or "sounds" foreign and who, for all that anyone knows, might turn out to be an "alien" who lacks authorization to be in the United States.

    This is the recipe for an American police state in which the prisons (probably private ones - so that some of Trump's biggest campaign donors will not go without their reward!) fill up with American citizens and permanent residents who might have even the most innocent contacts with Latino, Middle Eastern, Asian, African and Caribbean individuals who lack the proper documents - all in the name of "immigration enforcement".

    And while the threat of being prosecuted and possibly even subjected to long prison sentences as a "deterrent" for harboring or "assisting" unauthorized immigrants in remaining in the United States may not be as severe as the Nazi punishment of execution for protecting Jews during the Holocaust, the comparison is not completely inappropriate. See:

    The above comment does not mean to suggest in any way that Donald Trump or anyone in his administration is anti-Jewish or supports genocide. Nothing could possibly be further from the truth.
    Roger Algase is a New York immigration lawyer and a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. He has been helping mainly skilled and professional immigrants from diverse parts of the world receive work permits and green cards for more than 30 years.

    Roger believes that immigration law must be looked at, first and foremost, from the perspective of racial justice and human rights. His email address is

    Updated 05-17-2018 at 01:02 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

  2. Link to the 70 immigration policy articles I have written for The Hill. Nolan Rappaport

  3. Harboring undocumented aliens is still a crime — expect Sessions to prosecute it. By Nolan Rappaport

    © Greg Nash

    I raised the possibility a year ago that Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel will face criminal charges for harboring undocumented aliens if he goes much further with his sanctuary policies.
    Punishment for harboring ranges from a fine and/or up to a year in prison to life in prison or a death sentence.

    It hasn’t happened…yet. But Attorney General Jeff Sessions has called for more harboring prosecutions and is not limiting the reach of the harboring provisions.

    The Border Patrol arrested a member of the No More Deaths humanitarian group in the Arizona desert a few months ago and charged him with harboring for giving aliens who had made an illegal crossing food, water, and a place to sleep for three days.

    Harboring prosecutions are still uncommon, but I expect this to change when Sessions realizes that the immigration court backlog crisis is making it impossible for him to enforce the immigration laws effectively.

    He will have to find ways to make America a less desirable place for undocumented aliens to live. In other words, he will have to encourage “self-deportation.”

    Harboring prosecutions can serve this purpose by making individuals, landlords, employers, humanitarian organizations, etc., afraid to become involved with undocumented aliens. Even church congregations would be vulnerable.

    The immigration court backlog.


    Published originally on The Hill.

    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.

  4. John Kelly's "Racist Rant": Latino Immigrants Lack Education, Skills, English; "Can't Assimilate": Same As Kelly's Immigrant Ancestors. Roger Algase

    The following has been updated as of 10:00 pm on May 13 to include a comment appearing on the website ThinkProgress about White House Chief of Staff and former DHS Secretary John Kelly's remarks-demonizing Latino and other mainly non-white immigrants discussed below:

    In a May 10 NPR interview which Zack Ford, writing on the website ThinkProgress, has criticized as a "Racist Rant"

    Donald Trump's Chief of Staff, John Kelly, made disparaging remarks about Mexican and other Latino immigrants which, while not as openly hostile in tone as Trump's campaign charge that they are "criminals" and "rapists", still reflected racist attitudes that were once directed against Kelly's own Irish and Italian immigrant ancestors. He stated, with regard to "illegal" (i.e. primarily Mexican and other Latino) immigrants:

    "They're not criminals. They're not MS-13 - but they're also not people that would easily assimilate into the United States, into our modern society. They're overwhelmingly rural people. In the countries they come from, fourth, fifth , sixth grade educations are kind of the norm. They don't speak English...They don't integrate well; they don't have skills."

    Kelly was apparently unaware of the irony of his repeating, almost word for word, the same kind of racist attacks that were make against minority immigrants beginning over a hundred years ago, including not only Chinese, Jewish and Eastern European immigrants, but also his own Irish and Italian immigrant ancestors, including, reportedly, his Italian maternal grandfather, who was a fruit cart peddler and never spoke a world of English.

    Kelly's paternal grandfather was a railroad brakeman

    The above cited Think Progress article, after first recalling that similar prejudices were responsible for passage of the openly racist Chinese exclusion laws in the 1880's, comments as follows:

    "Similar arguments have been used since to justify xenophobia against Italian, Irish, Jewish and - most recently - Muslim immigrants over the past century.,,the Library of Congress still characterizes Kelly's Irish ancestors as having 'left a rural lifestyle'; these 'destitute' immigrants were 'unprepared for the industrialized, urban centers of the United States.'

    But Kelly seems to have no problem applying these same stigmatizing assumptions to immigrants from Mexico and Central America who seek a better life in the U.S."

    Neither of the above described careers of Kelly's forbears would have fit into the so-called "Merit-Based" immigration paradigm now being "peddled" to Congress and the public by Donald Trump, whose own immigrant grandfather was a barber - also not among the occupations favored by Trump's four point immigration "Framework" or by the Cotton-Perdue RAISE Act in the Senate, or the Bob Goodlatte House immigration bill which Trump also supports.

    As a different Zack by the name of Zack Beauchamp writes in the above cited article:

    "Some critics were quick to point out that these comments were broad, and arguably racist, generalizations about a group of heavily Latino immigrants. Kelly is asserting that they don't 'assimilate' when the best evidence suggests that undocumented immigrants integrate well and commit crimes at lower rates than native born Americans."

    He continues:

    "The best evidence we have suggests that on most qualitative metrics - rate of English language acquisition, penchant to commit crime, and the like, Latino immigrants are as successful, if not more, than previous waves of immigrants that we'ed now mostly describe as "white" (Italian, Irish, etc.).

    But there were panics about the ability of those groups to 'assimilate' in the past as well. back when they weren't considered to fall into the same ethnoracial categories as white Angko-Saxon Protestants. The language of 'assimilation' is more often than not code for a kind of cultural panic, a sense that these immigrants don't 'belong here'..."

    To be sure, Kelly's rehash of ancient anti-immigrant prejudices dating back to the anti-Irish Know Nothings of 150 years ago and using them against Latino and other non-European immigrants today might well be called "soft bigotry" as opposed to Trump's "hard bigotry" of calling them "criminals", rapists", gang members, drug dealers and "terrorists", while referring to refugees as "snakes".

    But whether the bigotry and hatred against Latino, Muslim, African, Asian and other non-white immigrants now coming out of the White House is "hard" or "soft", the reality is that policy in all areas of immigration - legal as well as unauthorized - at the very highest level of this administration is now, beyond any possible question, being based on hatred, fear, scapegoating and prejudice against immigrants who, in Donald Trump's own words, do not come from "Countries Like Norway".

    Basing our immigration policy on bigotry, hard or soft, not only threatens to destroy the non-discriminatory, race neutral immigration system that the United States has had for the past 50 years, but it also undermines the values of equality of all human beings on which this nation was founded and on which our democracy depends. This is the direct imperial road to dictatorship in America.
    Roger Algase is a New York immigration lawyer and a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. He has been helping mainly skilled and professional immigrants from diverse parts of the world receive work visas and green cards for more than 30 years. Rogers email address is

    Updated 05-14-2018 at 03:59 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

  5. NY Times: DHS Secretary Nielsen Threatened to Quit After Trump's Latest Tirade Against Central American Immigrants and the Rule of Law. Roger Algase

    Update, May 12, at 6:24 am

    POLITICO reports on May 11 that Trump's dissatisfaction with Nielsen did not begin only with the recent uptick in illegal border crossings, but that it dates back at least to late 2017, when she stated at her confirmation hearings that she favored a permanent solution for DACA recipients and opposed Trump's border wall plan.

    As a result of these statements, she was attacked by Fox News immigrant-hating commentators such as Lou Dobbs and Ann Coulter. Coulter, according to POLITICO, called Nielsen an "Open Borders Zealot".

    The same publication also reports that Trump was "livid" with Nielsen because of these comments and threatened to pull her nomination. This raises a question whether White House immigration policy is being made in the Oval Office, or whether it is originating with Fox News. See:

    Update, May 11 at 3:49 pm:

    The Washington Post also reports the story described below in the New York Times about Trump's May 10 cabinet meeting outburst against DHS Secretary Nielsen, apparently brought on by a seasonal increase in illegal border crossings from Mexico. According to the WP, Trump shouted at Nielsen:

    "Why don't you have solutions? How is this still happening? We need to shut it down. We're closed."

    Nielsen's protests that the DHS has to follow the law regarding what actions it can take, apparently made no impression on Trump, despite the attempts of AG Jeff Sessions, who does certainly not have a reputation as a supporter of illegal immigration, or nonwhite immigration in general, to defend her.

    I do not have a direct link to the WP story, but it can be accessed through Google. My original comment appears below:

    The New York Times reports on May 10 that DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, who by all reports has been loyally and faithfully making every[possible effort to carry out Donald Trump's "zero tolerance" policy toward Central American immigrants seeking entry to the US to pursue asylum claims, has written but not submitted a resignation letter after Trump berated her in front of the entire cabinet during a lengthy anti-immigrant tirade for allegedly failing to secure the nation's borders.

    It appears from The Times' report that one of the main bones of contention was over the fact that current immigration law allows asylum seekers to present asylum claims ant the border and grants them the right to a hearing before an immigration judge if a border inspecting officer finds that the applicant has a credible fear of persecution.

    It also appears that Trump was evidently holding Secretary Nielsen responsible for the fact that there is such a law, and that her department is evidently attempting to obey it by allowing some asylum claimants to enter the US for this purpose.The Times reports that Trump vented his anger as follows:

    "We've very much toughened up the border, but the laws are horrible...The laws in this country for immigration and illegal immigration are absolutely horrible. And we have to do something about it - not only the wall, which we're building sections of right now."

    Aside from the obvious untruth in this last comment, since no part of Trump's wall is in fact being built now other than repairs to existing fencing, Trump's above rant has all the fury of a dictator's wish to do away with laws that he doesn't like and hatred of what the great Roman poet Virgil 2,000 year ago called a gens invisum (despised race or nation of people - see Aeneid, Book 1).

    Last week, in an even more ominous attack against non - only non-white immigrants, but the Rule of Law in America in general, Trump stated as follows in a speech about immigration to the NRA, according to the same report:

    "We don't have laws. We have laws that were written by people who could not truly love our country....

    "We're going to start defending our country. We're going to start defending our borders."

    In other words, Latino and other non-white immigrants are the enemy. And people who enact laws which protect their rights are traitors. This is what the president of the United States appears to be saying.

    In addition to berating Secretary Nielsen for following this country's laws giving asylum seekers at the border certain rights, The Times reports that Trump is also dissatisfied with Nielsen for failing to show sufficient cruelty toward immigrant families seeking entry at the border:

    "One persistent issue has been Mr. Trump's belief that Ms. Nielsen and other officials in the department
    were resisting his direction that parents be separated from their children when families cross illegally into the United States, several officials said. The president and his aides in the White House had been pushing for a family separation policy for weeks as s way of deterring families from trying to cross the border illegally."

    (One has to suspect that Stephen Miller, a top immigration adviser to the president who has often been accused of supporting white supremacist causes

    may have been one of these officials, but this is only speculation. I have no actual knowledge beyond the NYT report.)

    It is also important to note that in the above quoted extract from his outburst over the fact that America's current immigration laws do not always neatly fit in with his own immigration agenda, Trump stated (or shouted) that the laws in this country are "horrible" for both "immigration and illegal immigration".

    Contrary to what some of Trump's defenders might argue whenever he makes a statement that is hard for any reasonable person to defend, there is no reason to assume that this was merely a slip of the tongue by a president who is not famous for being precise with words. The obvious meaning was that Trump is highly dissatisfied with America's legal immigration system, not only with alleged loopholes for unauthorized immigrants.

    Anyone who has not been totally asleep since Trump took office on January 20 of last year can tell from Trump's own statements and actions as president that he has a very hard time dealing with a legal immigration system which allows Muslim refugees, South and East Asian H-1B and other highly skilled professionals, African diversity visa lottery winners, and close relatives of American citizens who come from Latin America and every other part of the world other than "Countries Like Norway" to immigrate to the US with legal visas.

    As Trump's presidency continues, for however long that may turn out to be, we can expect that there will be even more attacks on non -white immigrants from various parts of the world, and more officials responsible for for the immigration system who may be leaving or threatening to leave this administration because of attacks from the president for adhering to the rule of law in America.
    Roger Algase is a New York immigration lawyer and a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. He has been helping mainly skilled and professional immigrants from diverse parts of the world receive work visas and green cards for more than 30 years. Roger's email address is

    Updated 05-12-2018 at 05:43 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

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