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  1. Domestic abuse decision doesn't change asylum law, just applies it correctly. By Nolan Rappaport

    © Greg Nash

    Whether Attorney General Jeff Sessionsdomestic abuse decision is morally right or not, the criticism of his legal right to issue it is unjustified.

    Asylum applicants have to establish that they are “refugees” as that term is defined by the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). This requires showing that they are unable or unwilling to return to their own countries because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.

    According to TRAC Immigration, as of November 20, 2017, the outcome for an asylum seeker in removal proceedings depended on which immigration judge was assigned to hear his case.

    For the 6,922 asylum seekers whose cases were decided in the San Francisco Immigration Court over the last six years, the odds of denial varied from only 9.4 percent to 97.1 percent, depending upon which judge heard their cases.

    For the 1,233 individuals whose cases were heard by the Newark Immigration Court, the odds of denial ranged from 10.9 percent to 98.7 percent, depending upon which judge heard their cases.

    The following chart shows the percentage point range of denial rates in the courts with the largest judge-to-judge differences in their asylum decisions.

    The Board of Immigration Appeals is responsible for ensuring that immigration laws are applied uniformly, but it has not met this responsibility.

    Sessions is trying to do something about this by reviewing key cases and rendering decisions that provide guidelines for the judges on how they should be deciding their asylum cases.


    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.

  2. Trump's Deliberately Sadistic Family Separation Policy Is the Inevitable Result of His Larger War Against All Immigrants of Color. Roger Algase

    Trump's policy of deliberate cruelty and sadism in separating Central American children, some as young as 1 or 2 years old, from their asylum-seeking parents, is causing a growing storm of outrage among Americans who care about this country's values and its adherence to the most basic principles of humanity.

    As political science professor Michael Paarlberg, an opinion writer in The Guardian, describes it aptly in his June 14 column:

    Child abuse is now part of America's official immigration policy

    "The trauma caused by these separations for their parents and their children is not an unfortunate by-product of a necessary legal process; it is the whole point. It is a punishment designed to be as grotesque as possible in order to scare other migrants."

    For more details on exactly how "grotesque" Trump's separation policy actually is, see New York Magazine:

    Another Glimpse of State Terror in Trump's America

    Nor is the abysmal violation of the most elementary rights in Trump's dehumanizing separation policy (which shows that MS-13 gang members are not the only immigrants whom Trump is regarding as "animals") something new or unexpected. As Professor Paarlberg also points out in his article, this vicious policy as a means of deterring immigration by legitimate asylum seekers has been under discussion by DHS officials for the past one year.

    CNN also points out in a detailed analysis of this issue that the latest family separation atrocity by the Trump administration is part and parcel of Trump's larger war on immigrants, involving using every method possible to reduce or cut off legal as well as unauthorized immigration from non-white parts of the world.

    This includes ongoing attempts to eliminate the diversity visas and certain family immigration categories which have been especially popular with immigrants from non-European parts of the world; attempts to make the H-1B visa which is relied on by many Indian and other Asian professionals, harder to obtain; and imposing additional financial and interview requirements in family-based and employment-based adjustment of status applications, respectively. See:

    In numerous ways, Donald Trump has made clear that he does not want more immigrants of color coming to the US in any category, legal or otherwise.

    If Trump's latest horror at the US border shows anything at all, it demonstrates that his infamous January 11 statement at a White House meeting that he does not want immigrants coming to the US from "shithole" countries, i.e. not only African but other non-white parts of the world, but only wants immigrants from "countries like Norway", i.e. Europe, was not an idle, offhand, remark as his defenders have maintained. It is the foundation of his entire immigration agenda.

    Over 1,000 mainly Latino children, some almost babies, who have been torn away from their parents under conditions which could well leave them scarred for life, have been paying a terrible price for Donald Trump's white supremacist immigration agenda in the past two weeks alone.

    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law

    Updated 06-15-2018 at 06:25 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

  3. Trump's DHS Goes Completely Lawless: Refuses Entry to All Asylum Seekers in Disregard of Statute; Brings US Closer to Dictatorship. Roger Algase

    The Trump administration's justification for its barbaric and inhuman policy of separating Central American mothers seeking asylum from deadly gang violence in their countries from their traumatized, screaming young children, in order to cause as much anguish and pain as possible to people who commit the "crime" of "EWL" - Entry While Latino - has, up to now, been that the administration is, purportedly, upholding the Rule of Law by prosecuting the parents for illegal entry if they cross into the US at an unauthorized crossing point.

    The administration's message to asylum-seekers, again up to now has been, in effect:

    "Go to an authorized port of entry to present your asylum claim (under a 2008 statute allowing Central American asylum seekers to do so) and we will let you into the US in order to process your claim according to the law."

    However, the Washington Post reports on June 13 that asylum seekers who follow this directive and attempt to comply with the law by going to an authorized border-crossing point to present their claims are now being turned away by CBP officers on the grounds that the authorized border crossing points have no room! Some asylum seekers, according to the Post, have been turned away repeatedly after waiting for several days.

    Who are the lawless parties now? Central American asylum seekers trying to present their claims at a legal crossing point, exactly as they have the right to do under the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 ("Wilberforce Act") and have been directed to do by Trump's DHS officials, or those same DHS officials who are turning them away in direct violation of that same statute?

    And what does this say about the rule of law in America? It is no secret that Donald Trump hates and despises the Wilberforce Act because it allows thousands of Latino and other non-European immigrants to enter the US legally every year in order to have asylum claims processed and decided one way or the other according to this nation's asylum laws (which AG Jeff Sessions is now desperately trying to rewrite by personal diktat in violation of every notion of fundamental fairness, due process and judicial independence - see my June 13 Immigration Daily comment, originally posted on June 12).

    Trump has ranted that the United States has the "dumbest immigration laws" of any country in the world.

    There can be no question that the Wilberforce Act is at or very near the top of his complaint list in this regard.

    The Center for Immigration Studies, a leading anti-immigrant advocacy group with a long record of lobbying for more deportations and less legal immigration, just as Trump is fighting so hard for now, identifies the Wilberforce Act as one the "main impediments" to ending the border "catch and release" policy which Trump has been consistently lashing out against.

    As he has also been accused of doing on many other occasions, Trump has totally shredded even the faintest idea of the truth by calling this law a"Democrat
    Bill" , even though it was passed with the overwhelming support of both parties and signed by a Republican president, George W. Bush.

    America's chief executive has also said, in the course of one of his frequent rants that Americans won't "have a country" because of all the (brown) people who are allegedly able to "pour into our country" because of the Democrats' purported "open borders" policies, that he may need to "close up our country" against asylum seekers (and, based on his previous, January 11 statements at a White House meeting, all other immigrants who don't come from "Countries like Norway").

    Will America continue to be a country governed by the rule of law, or will it be governed according to the dictates of a single Strongman whose administration is doing everything in its power to seal our borders (with or without a Wall) against all non-white immigrants, regardless of what the laws of this country say, and which is now (according to the above WP report), openly defying and trashing a law which our nation's Highest Leader may not happen to like?

    And the biggest question of all - if the Trump administration can engage in this kind of lawlessness and exercise in one-man rule against immigrants today, what will stop him from doing the same thing against American citizens tomorrow?
    Roger Algase is a New York immigration lawyer and a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. For more than 30 years, Roger has been helping mainly skilled and professional immigrants from diverse parts of the world obtain work visas and green cards.

    Roger's practice is primarily concentrated in H-1B specialty occupation, O-1 extraordinary ability and J-1 trainee work visas, and in green cards through Labor Certification (PERM) and through marriage and other family relationships. His email address is

    Updated 06-14-2018 at 04:21 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

  4. Stench of Hypocrisy: Sessions Denies Asylum to Central American Gang Victims, While Using US Gang Victims to Demonize Immigrants. Roger Algase

    In a June 11 decision which Jeff Sessions made on his own after taking the case away from the Board of Immigration Appeals, Attorney General has engaged in a demonstration of hypocrisy and use of the double standard which can only be called appalling. See Matter of A-B- Interim Decision #3929. 27 I&N Dec. 316 (A.G. 2018).

    In this decision, among other things, Sessions ruled that immigration judges must from now on deny asylum to Central American men, women and children who come to the US to escape intolerable gang violence which the governments of their countries arev unable to prevent or control.

    He based his decision, as I read it, solely on the grounds that gang violence victims purportedly fail to qualify as a "particular social group" for asylum purposes. The fact that gangs are not connected with or controlled by the governments concerned was not the stated reason for his ruling, which appears to recognize and accept the fact that persecution by private criminal organizations which the government cannot control can be a legitimate basis for an asylum claim under our law.

    In the words of Sessions' decision:

    "Victims of gang violence often come from all segments of society, and they possess no distinguishing characteristic or concrete trait that would readily identify them as members of such a
    [particular social] group."

    This very casual and dismissive approach to the horrors of gang violence in Central America and its devastating effect on its victims or potential victims, including hundreds (so far) of women and young children who under Sessions' vindictive and barbaric policy of separating mothers from their young children are in effect being treated like "animals" - the same term that Donald Trump uses to characterize gang members when Americans are the victims - by the Trump administration when they arrive at the US border seeking refuge here, contrast with Sessions expression of concern for American (and therefore mainly white) victims of one of these same gangs, i.e. MS-13.

    Here is Jeff Sessions talking about American gang victims at an April speech in Long Island, NY:

    "The MS-13 mantra is to kill, rape and control, and so that should tell us about what kind of groups we confront...Our motto is justice for victims and consequences for criminals."

    Nothing in those remarks indicated any difficulty in recognizing gang victims or potential victims in the US as a distinct group, whose protection is a top priority of the US government at the very highest level - the president himself.

    Indeed, Trump is now frequently engaged in using American victims of MS-13 as a rallying point for his entire anti-immigrant agenda, denying that gang members even qualify as human beings (a charge that many of his supporters will take as being meant to refer to Latino and other non-white immigrants in general, whether gang members or not), and using gang violence and other immigrant criminal activity as a talking point for totally unrelated items in his agenda, such as cutting back on or eliminating family immigration and the diversity visa lottery.

    Trump frequently mentions American MS-13 victims by name, brings their families with him at "Roundtable" meetings on this topic, and otherwise uses them as part of his attempts to demonize most or all Latino immigrants as violent criminals just as he did with Mexican immigrants at the beginning of his presidential campaign.

    Victims of or people threatened gang violence are not a distinct social group?

    Only not, it seems, when they are brown-skinned Central Americans desperately trying to flee the horrors of gang violence which their governments are obviously unable to control. But when the victims of these same gangs are white American citizens, protecting them from gang violence becomes a top priority of the Trump administration.

    But don't all gang victims deserve such protection under our law and the principle of equal justice which our country stand for - even if they are brown-skinned immigrants whom Donald Trump doesn't want in America because they are not from Countries like Norway?

    Sessions' decision denying gang violence, which is such an important issue for him when the victims are (mainly white) Americans, as a basis for giving protection to its victims when they are brown immigrants instead, reeks with the Stench of Hypocrisy.

    So far, I have said nothing about the dangerous precedent for America's justice system and rule of law that Sessions has created by choosing this particular issue as a basis for using his statutory power to take cases away from the BIA and decide them himself.

    It is true that the immigration law gives Sessions such authority. But using this authority to decide such an important case, with its huge adverse implications for racial justice and human rights in America, when Sessions, as head of the Justice Department is also the chief litigant on one side of this same case and is also one of the chief actors in carrying out Trump's political agenda of excluding and deporting as many Central American and other non-white immigrants as possible, is a total perversion of America's justice system and goes against every principle of equality before the law that America stands for.

    The immediate victims of this kind of authoritarianism, in which one of the King's top agents decides a case in which that same top agent, acting on behalf of the King, is one of the parties, may be a few thousand Central American women whom Sessions is already treating like animals by inhumanly separating them from their children when their arrive in the United States under often horrendous detention conditions (as I have mentioned in a previous comment).

    But the ultimate victims could well turn out to be the American people themselves, through the destruction of our democracy by eviscerating the core principle of equal justice before the law on which our liberty stands.

    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law

    Updated 06-14-2018 at 03:49 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

  5. Will Trump's Peaceful Gestures to Kim Include Taking North Korea off the Muslim Entry Ban List? Or Does Trump Still Need This Fig Leaf? Roger Algase is not a foreign policy discussion site (except insofar as immigration is considered as part of foreign policy, as the Supreme Court has maintained for well over a hundred years). Therefore I make no comment on the June 12 Kim-Trump meeting other than to express a general thought that any action which might decrease the danger of blowing up the planet in a nuclear holocaust should be welcome as a benefit to the world's immigrants, along with the rest of humanity.

    But there is one point about the meeting between these two leaders which does concern immigration directly. North Korea is now on Trump's entry ban list, the legality of which the Supreme Court is expected to rule on shortly.

    There is good reason to think that the ban on North Korea was (along with one directed against Venezuela) simply thrown in as "window dressing" (or a fig leaf) to cover the real purpose of the ban, namely discrimination against Muslims because of their religion.

    As a peace gesture to Kim, might Trump be considering removing the North Korea ban - which has largely been meaningless up to now - how many readers have ever seen or met a North Korean?

    Or does he need this fig leaf so badly as part of his efforts to pretend that the ban was motivated by anything other than anti-Muslim animosity that he will decide to keep it in place, despite his other apparent attempt to conduct friendly discussions with the North Korean dictator?

    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law

    Updated 06-12-2018 at 10:30 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

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