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Blog Comments

  1. JDzubow's Avatar
    Hi Roger - I think civil debate is a tactic. It works in some case and not in others. But once we engage in the type of debate-style used by our opponents, it is difficult to step back from that. In other words, I think civil debate - even in the face of Mr. Trump and his supporters - is a more effective approach to improving the situation for immigrants. That is not always the case, and how we engage in debate needs to be considered in light of who we are debating with and our goals. But I think lowering our leel of discourse is unlikely to help us achieve the ends we seek. Take care, Jason
  2. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    After further thought, I have to admit that Nolan is right in stating that I am inevitably making ad hominem attacks on Trump in the course of my criticism of his policies. When someone accuses a president or other politician of following policies based on racial bigotry or trying to destroy democracy in America, these are of course unflattering statements about the person's character as well.

    If this site also included comments about issues not (yet) directly related to immigration, such as climate change, economic issues, or foreign policy, there would also be many unflattering things one could say about Trump's character. Obviously, this is not the place to go into these issues.

    However, even though this is also admittedly beyond the scope of this site, I trust that Nolan will not object if I say something complimentary (pro hominem?) about the president, even though, again, this is not directly related to immigration policy.

    Whatever else happened in Trump's meetings with Putin and Kim, these meetings have, at least for the moment, brought the world at least a step backward from a war that could end the human race, if not all life on earth (including immigration)!

    That is not a small matter. Let us hope this thaw will turn out to be something more than Neville Chamberlain's "Peace in our time."

    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law
    Updated 07-27-2018 at 04:22 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
  3. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    I will admit that I often wish I could join in with the people who think that being "nice" and "respectful" at all times is the best way to respond to the constant abusive and venomous attacks on non-white immigrants, on our legal immigration system, on elementary due process of law, and on our democracy itself coming from this president and his administration.

    And if Nolan wants to call repeating the president's own words verbatim and referring to his own actions of record constitutes an ad hominem attack, that is of course Nolan's right. He is of course free to define English (or in this case Latin) words anyway he wants.

    But if defenders of our current race-neutral, non-discriminatory immigration system - and our democracy - persist in being too, "respectful", too "civil", too "polite" in defending them, the time may very well come when both this immigration system and our democracy as we know it will disappear.

    Then, even the most polite, civil and and respectful opposition to Donald Trump will lead not only to frenzied mobs of Trump supporters calling to "Lock her (or him, or them) up," but that will become the actual result.

    It already is the actual result in the Russia of Vladimir Putin - for whom Trump has expressed so much friendship and admiration, and where even the most "polite" and "respectful" opposition can and does lead to being thrown in prison - or being murdered - by the regime.

    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law
    Updated 07-25-2018 at 09:01 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
  4. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    Jason's call for civility and following the rules of respectful political advocacy and debate always make a great deal of sense, whether Roger thinks the times are normal or not.

    And yes, Roger is the person I was thinking of when I contrasted Jason's approach to the approach of those who
    engage in name-calling, ad hominem attacks on the people they disagree with.

    Nolan Rappaport



  5. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    Jason's call for civility and following the rules of respectful political advocacy and debate makes a great deal of sense in normal times, but these are not normal times.

    These are times when the discussion is asymmetrical - when one side is trying to get a message out about the positive contribution that immigrants have always made and are still making to our society, and the other side is led by a president who demonizes non-white immigrants in general (i.e. most immigrants) as "criminals" "rapists" "drug" dealers" "MS-13 gang members" and "terrorists" who are "invading" and "infesting" America as if they were rats and vermin; who constantly attacks even certain types of legal visas and procedures as "horrible" and the "dumbest immigration laws in the world", and who also tries to undermine the foundations of a free society on which our current immigration system depends, by making threats against the media, the judiciary and anyone else who opposes him.

    My above comments are not ad hominem attacks; these are quotes from Trump's own words and are matters of record which even Fox News cannot erase.

    And these words and threats are not just idle talk - they have consequences, as between 2,000 and 3,000 innocent, terrified young nonwhite immigrant children, many of whom will be scarred for life by having been detained in cages and ice boxes in the United States of America, not Dachau or Buchenwald, and some of whom may never see their parents again, have been finding out.

    How can we talk only about polite debate when the Attorney General of the United States, our chief law enforcement officer, reportedly laughs (and even repeats the phrase himself:

    https://www.vox.com/2018/7/24/176076...k-her-up-chant

    while a crowd of Trump supporters chant:"lock her up" about a rival politician whose only "crime" (that anyone has charged her with) was opposing Trump in the election and trouncing him in the popular vote by almost 3 million votes (despite the help from Russia's tyrant which even many of Trump's own supporters are now forced to admit that he received)?

    Don't Trump's supporters understand that "Lock her up", or "Lock 'em up" is exactly what Putin does to his opponents (the ones he doesn't kill, that is); and that that is why there was so much anger and outrage in both parties - and across the entire political spectrum, when Trump went to Helsinki to (figuratively speaking) kiss Putin's ring?

    (And by using the word "ring" here, instead of some other word that would come to mind for many people, I am following Jason's suggestion to be as nice and polite as possible here.)

    In view of Trump's threats to use the enormous power of the presidency to take action against businesses of people who oppose him, as in the case of Amazon, which is owned by the Washington Post's owner, Jeff Bezos, it was very encouraging to see the news that the fashion business of Trump's daughter Ivanka has been closed due to the boycotts of ordinary American (and no doubt immigrant) consumers as one form of protest against her father's nepotism and abuse of power.

    This is one more indication that playing nice is not the most effective way to oppose the clear and present threat to our entire immigration system, and our democracy, originating from the White House in Donald Trump's America.

    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law
    Updated 07-25-2018 at 08:02 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
  6. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    Jason, it's wonderful to see someone making constructive suggestions on how to make things better instead of engaging in name-calling, ad hominem attacks on the people they disagree with.

    Nolan Rappaport
    Updated 07-25-2018 at 02:30 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
  7. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    Regardless of what one thinks of Martin Niemoeller's famous poem, this is an excellent article by Jason Dzubow.

    Taking away basic rights from unpopular or targeted groups of people is the way despots seize power in any country.

    Depriving the Jews of basic citizenship rights, which was one of the first acts of persecution in Hitler's Germany, ultimately led to the mass murder of the Holocaust.

    Trump is not Hitler - he only wants to throw brown skinned immigrants out and shut our gates against them, not to exterminate them, but Niemoeller's poem is still apposite.

    Trump is using fear. prejudice and hatred against targeted immigrant groups as a stepping stone to absolute power and extinguishing the basic rights of all Americans, not just brown immigrants. To that extent, the comparison with Hitler is entirely justified.

    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law
    Updated 07-03-2018 at 08:25 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
  8. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    Jason,

    I don't see Session's disposition of A-R-C-G the way you do. If his description of that decision is accurate, the Board members who decided it should be demoted to file clerks.

    He says:


    Later that year, the Board decided A-R-C-G-, which recognized “married women in Guatemala who are unable to leave their relationship” as a particular social group—without performing the rigorous analysis required by the Board’s precedents. 26 I&N Dec. at 389; see id. at 390–95. Instead, the Board accepted the concessions by the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) that the respondent suffered harm rising to the level of past persecution, that she was a member of a qualifying particular social group, and that her membership in that group was a central reason for her persecution. Id. at 395.

    I do not believe A-R-C-G- correctly applied the Board’s precedents, and I now overrule it. The opinion has caused confusion because it recognized an expansive new category of particular social groups based on private violence. Since that decision, the Board, immigration judges, and asylum officers have relied upon it as an affirmative statement of law, even though the decision assumed its conclusion and did not perform the necessary legal and factual analysis. When confronted with asylum cases based on purported membership in a particular social group, the Board, immigration judges, and asylum officers must analyze the requirements as set forth in this opinion, which restates and where appropriate, elaborates upon, the requirements set forth in M-E-V-G and W-G-R-.

    Nolan Rappaport


  9. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    With the highest respect to Jason Dzubow, who has already, i am quite sure, forgotten more about asylum law than I will ever be able to learn (since I do not practice in the asylum field and have been involved in only a very few of these cases in my 40-year career as an immigration lawyer) as the old saying goes, I do not read the AG's decision on gang violence as a basis for asylum as being quite as harmless as Jason appears to believe.

    Sessions says point blank in that decision that being a victim of gang violence does not put someone in a "particular social group" for asylum law purposes.

    As I understand it, this means that no matter how much a given applicant may have suffered from gang violence or have reason to fear it, this entire claim is now off the table as a basis for asylum.

    Won't this have a devastating effect hundreds, or thousands, of people who are already face the the prospect of being treated like "animals" (as Trump calls MS-13 members, and by immigration all Hispanic immigrants) by Sessions' cruel policy of separating families seeking asylum at the border?

    Isn't Sessions telling them that they now have no chance be being approved for asylum, based upon his sole diktat, and that all the suffering and hardship they have gone through to come to the US and file their claims has been in vain (unless a Circuit Court overrules this heartless, cruel and, as I explain in my own comment, hypocritical decision)?

    See my own June 12 ilw.com comment on this decision.

    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law
    Updated 06-13-2018 at 05:27 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
  10. JDzubow's Avatar
    Hi Nolan - I think it is possible to be concerned about the gang threat without referring to gang members as animals. One has nothing to do with the other. I am concerned about the gang threat - and as I mentioned, I have had numerous clients harmed by the gang. I am also concerned when the president uses the same type of language as used by mass murderers. It is possible to take a very strong stand against gangs while at the same time not indiscriminately labeling and dehumanizing people. Take care, Jason
  11. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    Jason, you might find this study interesting.

    Can Elites Shape Public Attitudes Toward Immigrants?: Evidence from the 2016 US Presidential Election

    René D Flores

    Social Forces, Volume 96, Issue 4, 1 June 2018, Pages 1649–1690, https://doi.org/10.1093/sf/soy001

    Published:
    27 April 2018

    Article history











    Abstract

    It is well known that political elites can shape public attitudes toward policies and values. Less is known, however, about whether elites can also influence public perceptions of social groups they praise or denounce. I test this by analyzing the attitudinal effects of Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign announcement speech, in which he referred to Mexican immigrants as “rapists” and “criminals.” First, to provide causal estimates, I analyze survey data using a counterfactual approach. I find evidence that Trump’s statements negatively affected public opinion toward immigrants particularly among groups with restrictionist tendencies. Second, using a panel survey experiment, I corroborate this causal relationship but find that these effects are short-lived. This explains why restrictionist politicians like Trump constantly prod natives to keep their messages’ effects from dissipating. I also find that only negative messages are consequential and find no evidence that elite statements are more impactful than those from non-elites, suggesting that the power of elite rhetoric lies primarily in its capacity to reach the masses via the news media.
    Issue Section:
    Original Article









    Nolan Rappaport
  12. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    Jason,

    You acknowledge that gangs like MS-13 are doing terrible things, but you don't show much concern for the threat they pose. Your concern is over the threat that you think the use of politically incorrect language can have. You conclude with the observation:

    "The White House, the President of the United States, and the U.S. government are referring to human beings as "animals." And when governments negate the humanity of people--even people deemed undesirable--it puts us on a path where the only destination is death. All of us have a responsibility to bring back humanity and decency to our country. Let us resolve to do what we can before it is too late." ("and the U.S. government"? What other government officials are using that term?)

    That seems to be quite a stretch to me. In any case, even if it is a real possibility, which I strongly doubt, I am much more concerned about the threat that violent gangs pose to our country.

    Did you study the gang threat when you were working on your article? I think you might have shown more concern for that threat if you had known more about it...and for the victims of their crimes. I suspect that most of the victims are immigrants. Try reading the FBI's Gang Report.

    It is available at https://www.fbi.gov/file-repository/...-2015.pdf/view

    Nolan Rappaport
    Updated 05-23-2018 at 10:33 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
  13. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    Thank you for this excellent comment, Jason. Whether our field is asylum, removal or skilled worker visas, as in most my work, every lawyer, every immigrant and every American should share the utmost concern about Trump's reversion to the "animals", "vermin" mentality toward immigrants that characterized the Nazi genocide of the Jews and other extermination campaigns in both historical and modern times.

    I say this despite the fact that Trump is obviously ont anti-Jewish and certainly does not support genocide or mass murder of anyone. But his attempt to demonize any class of immigrants as criminals who are less than human can lead to the most dangerous consequences.

    This is the language of despots, not democrats.

    And, even more horrifyingly, Trump continued his demonizing and dehumanization of Latino and other darker skinned immigrants in a "Roundtable" with a group of sycophantic federal and local low enforcement officials who fawned over him for his "great leadership" in attacking MS-13, which everyone knows is only a metaphor for all Latino immigrants.

    My comments on this latest exercise in authoritarian-style hate mongering are at:

    http://blogs.ilw.com/entry.php?10593

    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law
    Updated 05-23-2018 at 07:07 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
  14. JDzubow's Avatar
    Thank you for the comments - My impression is that the more experienced IJs and Asylum Officers rely less on the reports than their less experienced colleagues. However, at least in my local asylum office, there is a lot of turn-over, and so the majority of AOs are new, and I think they do pay attention to the DOS reports. For lawyers like me, we know to submit more specific country-condition evidence to help overcome the reports when necessary. But for pro se applicants, they are much less likely to supplement the record, and so the DOS reports become more important. My larger concern here is the blatant dishonest of the reports. If you want to make a human rights report, make a human rights report; don't Bowdlerize the reports to try to present an obviously false impression of country conditions. Take care, Jason
  15. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    I do not practice in the asylum law area and I cannot claim to have even a small fraction of Nolan's experience or expertise in this field, having only handled a very few such cases many years ago.

    But with regard to Nolan's above suggestion that immigration judges might not be necessarily paying much attention to DOS country reports, I note that in the 2006 case of In re C-C 23 I&N Dec. 899, the BIA expressly relied on a DOS country report relating to the issue of alleged forced sterilization in China as one of its grounds to refusing to accept an expert opinion which had been submitted in support of the asylum claim.

    The BIA also cited two Federal Court decisions, Wang v. BIA 437 F.3 270, 276 (2nd, Cir.2006) and Huang v. United States INS 421 F. 3rd 125 (2nd, Cir 2005) in support of the legitimacy of relying on DOS country reports to support or refute asylum claims.

    I do not know if there are more recent BIA or federal court decisions on this issue.

    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law
    Updated 05-03-2018 at 07:42 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
  16. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    Jason, I wrote decisions for the Board of Immigration Appeals for more than 20 years, a few thousand of which were asylum cases. Every case was supposed to have a state department report. It was a long time ago, but I don't recall finding the reports particularly useful.

    Are you sure that they are influencing decisions now? My guess is that the judges just refer to the reports as additional support for their decisions without paying much attention to what the reports say.

    Nolan Rappaport
  17. JDzubow's Avatar
    It's a fair question - but I think the problem is not so much whether cases are denied or granted, as whether judges are able to follow due process. Also, if judges are pushing cases along, many unrepresented aliens may not receive the time they need to have their cases properly evaluated. Such people are less likely to appeal, and those who do are at a great disadvantage before the Board.
  18. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    Jason, why do you think it takes more time to deny and asylum application than it does to grant one? I wrote decisions for more than 1,000 asylum appeals when I was an attorney advisor at the Board of Immigration Appeals, and I can't think of any reason why that would be the case.

    For instance, many of the cases are in the ninth circuit, which used to require solid justification for adverse credibility findings and probably still does.

    It certainly will take more time to deny an application on the basis of an adverse credibility finding in that circuit. And probably in the rest as well.

    Nolan Rappaport
  19. JDzubow's Avatar
    Thank you - I certainly agree with the point that the BIA is not providing enough guidance to IJs (the Board decides about 40,000 cases per year, but only publishes about 40 decisions). I don't believe that one decision can change that. The Board needs to publish many more decisions to provide guidance to IJs in all sorts of situations. The more decisions we have, the more guidance we have. I take your point that the AG has asked for briefing, but his questions is very vague, and that makes it difficult to address the issue (whatever that may be). Also, I had not heard about any plan to replace the BIA with something else. Maybe a rose by any other name is still a rose, but they need to have some adjudicative body to decide these cases and provide guidance to IJs. I tend to favor the Article I court idea, though maybe not as strongly as others, since I think asylum is inherently political, but whatever court adjudicates these cases, I think we need much more guidance. Take care, Jason
  20. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    Jason, I don't see this situation the way you do. I wrote decisions for the Board for 20 years, so I am very familiar with the AG's authority to set precedents for the Board. There is an office within the Department that does the analysis and writes the decision for the AG. It handles difficult policy issues of all kinds for the AG. I had a friend in that office. He got a phd in philosophy at MIT before he went to law school. Extremely bright. It's a very high level policy office. I think you will realize that when you read their decision. Which isn't to say that I expect you to agree with it.

    The AG normally doesn't use that authority. I only know of it happening when the Board is screwing up badly. I could give you examples if you are interested.

    Incidentally, I don't recall an AG requesting amicus briefs before. Sessions is going out of his way to make sure that his staff gets as much input as possible from interested parties. I mean other than the alien and the gov't attorneys who handled the case.

    If you are planning on submitting a brief, don't get caught up in the facts of the case. This isn't about that case. The case is just the vehicle that Sessions is using to clarify asylum law in an area that the Board has failed to clarify adequately.

    I don't know what Sessions intends to do in the current situation, but I can make a good guess. The immigration judges have caused a major problem with asylum cases. The results of an asylum application vary widely depending on which judge the alien draws. You probably would think it's great that many judges grant asylum in a high percentage of their cases and terrible that many deny asylum in a high percentage of their cases. But I think you will agree that this is a problem, and the Board has not done anything about it.

    The Board should be providing guidance on asylum law and making sure that the judges are applying the law properly. In fact, that's the reason for having a Board.

    I think Sessions has selected an asylum claim that the judges are not handling properly so that he can have his staff write a precedent that will provide the judges with the guidance they need to handle the cases properly. In other words, do what the Board should already have been doing with all of the asylum issues that come up frequently. If I am right Sessions will continue to certify cases for his review until the judges are applying the law correctly.

    Incidentally, the Board is not a statutory body. It was created by the AG's office with regulations. If Sessions can't get the Board to do provide the judges with the guidance they need, there's a good possibility that he will eliminate the board by promulgating new regulations to replace it with some other type of appellate body.

    I don't mean the Article One court system the judges and now the Federal Bar Association have been advocating for more than a decade. I am absolutely sure that he is not going to favor rewarding the board members or the judges with higher status and more pay as federal judges.

    Nolan Rappaport
    Updated 03-14-2018 at 10:20 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
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