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Blog Comments

  1. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    Of course, this a wonderful oped and it is great that The Guardian published it. Congratulations to Matt!

    Just one point, out of curiosity. According to all the reports if have seen, some 2,000 children, some as young as babies, have been torn away from their parents by the Trump administration in just the last month or so alone. My understanding is that the Obama administration showed the same kind of heartless cruelty to less than 700 children total during its entire 8 years in existence,

    Trump's figure comes to around children 500 a month separated so far since he adopted his inhuman "zero tolerance" policy, using these very rough figures.

    Obama's figure would average about 7 children a month being separated. That is 7 children per month too many, to be sure.

    And this is assuming Obama was responsible for all of these separated children. As I understand it, a few of these separations took place under G.W. Bush.

    Isn't 500 a much bigger number than 7? Don't we have a hugely bigger and more terrible problem now?

    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law
    Updated 06-20-2018 at 10:41 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
  2. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    That's right. Trump's enforcement program can't reduce the number of illegals in the interior of the country at all because of the immigration court backlog crisis. I wonder what he is going to be saying in his tweets when he realizes how hopeless his enforcement situation is.

    Nolan Rappaport
  3. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    Those raids are just for show. Trump can't put the arrested aliens in removal proceedings because of the immigration court backlog crisis, and employer sanctions will become a national joke if the employers start exercising their statutory right to a hearing before OCAHO on the fines imposed and request appellate review at OCAHO if they lose at the trial level. OCAHO only has three judges for the appeals....for the entire country. For more information, see my article, "Enforcing Trump's immigration plan will be harder than he thinks,"

    Nolan Rappaport
  4. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    I think you are missing the point of the concern people have over illegal immigrants committing crimes, which is that they aren't supposed to be in the United States at all. And if our immigration laws were enforced effectively, there would be far fewer of them here to commit crimes.

    Do you have any compassion for people who are the victims of crimes that could have been avoided by deporting the criminals before they committed a crime.....or not letting them into the country in the first place?

    How about Kate Steinle's father? If the police had detained her killer until ICE could pick him up, he would have been deported before he had a chance to kill Steinle's daughter.

    Nolan Rappaport
    Updated 06-06-2018 at 10:20 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
  5. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    The Last Word on 1,475 'Lost' Children

    They're not lost, and releasing more will simply encourage more to come
    By Andrew R. Arthur on June 1, 2018

    Morris "Mo" Udall, the late Democratic congressman from Arizona, once said at a committee hearing: "Everything has been said but not everyone has said it." The press has reached that point with respect to the 1,475 alien minors whom the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has purportedly lost track of.

    As the Washington Post has explained it:

    During a Senate committee hearing late last month, Steven Wagner, an official with HHS, testified that the federal agency had lost track of 1,475 children who had crossed the U.S.-Mexico border on their own (that is, unaccompanied by adults) and subsequently were placed with adult sponsors in the United States.

    Thereafter, the story took on a life of its own, particularly in the context of the administration's plan to prosecute most if not all aliens who have entered illegally under
    section 275 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). As an aside, because the federal government does not prosecute children under that provision, those children must be separated from their illegal-entrant parents during the parents' prosecution and incarceration.

    For example, an opinion piece in USA Today headlined "The feds lost — yes, lost — 1,475 migrant children" that begins: "Before announcing a plan to separate more children from families, shouldn't there be a plan to adequately protect the children?" Thus, the purported "loss" of 1,475 alien minors became conflated with a Trump administration policy to enforce the immigration laws, always a hot topic for certain quarters of the mainstream media.

    As with most "bumper sticker" issues, the story is more nuanced than, for example, it was portrayed above in USA Today. (It took an entire week before the paper issued a correction.)

    Under section 462 of the Homeland Security Act of 2002, HHS makes placement determinations for unaccompanied alien children. Under recent interpretations of a 1997 settlement agreement in Flores v. Reno, there is a presumption that apprehended alien minors (even those arriving with parents) will be released to HHS within 20 days.

    And, as I explained in an opinion piece in USA Today:

    A Democrat-sponsored 2008 trafficking law divides unaccompanied children into two groups: Canadians and Mexicans (who can be returned quickly), and everybody else. The latter go to HHS, even if they haven't been trafficked, and aren't unaccompanied because they have family here. They must be "placed in the least restrictive setting", usually meaning release to family members.

    The alien minors who have been released by HHS are the ones that the department has purportedly "lost". But they have not actually been "lost", as HHS explained in a May 28, 2018, press release:

    "The assertion that unaccompanied alien children (UAC) are 'lost' is completely false. This is a classic example of the adage 'No good deed goes unpunished.' The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), which is part of [HHS], began voluntarily making calls in 2016 as a 30-day follow-up on the release of UAC to make sure that UAC and their sponsors did not require additional services. This additional step, which is not required and was not done previously, is now being used to confuse and spread misinformation.

    "These children are not 'lost'; their sponsors — who are usually parents or family members and in all cases have been vetted for criminality and ability to provide for them — simply did not respond or could not be reached when this voluntary call was made. While there are many possible reasons for this, in many cases sponsors cannot be reached because they themselves are illegal aliens and do not want to be reached by federal authorities. This is the core of this issue: In many cases, HHS has been put in the position of placing illegal aliens with the individuals who helped arrange for them to enter the country illegally. This makes the immediate crisis worse and creates a perverse incentive for further violation of federal immigration law." [Emphasis added.]

    You read that correctly: HHS places children with family members who arranged to have those children smuggled to the United States.

    Read more at:

    Submitted by Nolan Rappaport

    Updated 06-04-2018 at 11:16 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
  6. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    These are indeed horrific stories of inexcusable abuse of children in immigration detention under President Obama's administration - while being held together with their parents, unless I am missing something in these histories.

    The fact that Donald Trump is now taking the abuses of President Obama's administration even one step further by forcibly and systematically tearing crying, screaming, terrified children who in some cases are barely old enough to talk away from their mothers as officially announced immigration policy - something which is very arguably a form of torture for both parent and child - is even more horrific and alarming evidence that America is trampling on the most basic and elementary of human rights - the parent child relationship - in the "Trump Era."

    To watch a horrifying video of US Border Patrol agents ripping an unauthorized immigrant mother away from her screaming and crying children as part of Donald Trump's campaign of terror against Latino and other non-white immigrants, see:

    For more on the differences between President Obama and Donald Trump regarding family separation at the US border, see: Kristie de Pena of the Niskanen Center, May 31:

    What everyone has gotten wrong about family separation

    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law
    Updated 06-02-2018 at 12:01 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
  7. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    A couple of respectful comments about Matt's above observations:

    First, no one can argue with Matt's point that Obama helped to pave the way for Trump when it came to brutal and inhuman treatment of immigrants, despite some differences in detail - such as the fact that, at least according to the article that Matt cites, Obama did not separate detained parents and children, as Trump is now doing, unless I have missed something in reading Professor Satsuki Ina's article.

    Second, it is also quite true that the Democrats have been far too weak in the past in speaking out against anti-immigrant abuses and restrictionist policies by both Democratic and Republican administrations. There has been a big element of "me too" in attempts by Democratic politicians - and presidents - over the years to show that they can be "tough on immigrants" too, just like the Republicans. Among all too many examples of this, one thinks of President Clinton's blockade of Haiti in order to stop Haitian refugees from leaving their own country!

    Even Trump has not (so far) gone that far.

    But pointing out the similarities between Obama and Trump is only part of the story. The other part is the differences, including the following:

    1) Obama's immigration policies were not accompanied by the overt racism and prejudice of Trump's agenda. To the best of my knowledge, Obama did not label Hispanic immigrants as "criminals", "rapists" and, most recently "animals". He did not label all Muslims as "terrorists" or attempt to impose a Muslim ban on legal immigration. With regard to black immigrants, I so not recall any time that Obama referred to African countries, including the one where his own father came from, as "shithole countries". Nor can I recall Obama's ever saying that America should prefer "countries like Norway" in terms of admitting immigrants. These are not trivial differences, I would respectfully submit. On immigration, as with everything else, words matter.

    2) Especially on the legal immigration side, the differences between Trump and Obama are almost like those between day and night. I am not aware that Obama ever called for abolishing extended family immigration and the visa lottery and trying to link them with crime and terror, as Trump has done.

    (It is true that the Democrats in the Senate "Gang of 8" went along with their GOP counterparts in agreeing to throw the Diversity Visa Lottery under the bus in order to get a CIR bill passed by the Senate which would have legalized millions of unauthorized immigrants.)

    But has we all know, this concession was not enough to save that bill in the GOP-controlled House.

    Nor, so far as I can recall, did Obama ever support major overall reductions in legal immigration, as Trump and his Republican supporters are now doing. Administratively, the Trump administration is making approvals of H-1B, family sponsored green cards, and many other petitions and applications for immigration benefits harder to get than in the past - though biased and unfair RFE's and denials certainly did not originate with this administration.

    There is a strong argument that Trump agenda on reducing legal immigration is deliberately intended to appeal to his white supremacist base. No one could make the same claim about President Obama's policies on legal immigration.

    3) Did Obama ever call for building a 30-foot wall along the entire US-Mexican border, with all the negative symbolism that this involves (think Berlin Wall, Warsaw Ghetto Wall, etc)? I am not aware that he did.

    4) No US president in history, so far as I am aware, has told as many lies, and done so as often, about immigration and immigrants as Trump has done, for the express purpose of stirring up hatred and prejudice against immigrants of a different color or religion from the majority of Americans. Examples are too numerous to list here specifically. See my own comment:

    Trump's Art of the Big Lie:

    posted on May 26 about Trump's use of this strategy as an essential part of his anti-immigrant agenda.

    In that comment, among other examples, I mention a fantasy that Trump has repeated more than once to the effect that a radicalized Muslim immigrant who killed 8 people in New York City last October had allegedly sponsored 24 relatives for immigration. Not a single one of these purported "relatives" has ever been identified, to the best of my knowledge.

    Indeed, Mark Krikorian, the head of the restictionist Center of Immigration Studies and generally a Trump supporter on immigration, was quoted as saying that Trump's above claim was impossible under current law.

    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law

    Updated 05-29-2018 at 03:23 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
  8. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    Matthew, I don't understand what you find appalling. You say, "Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said Tuesday that it’s up to individual schools to decide whether to call U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement if they suspect their students are undocumented."

    That''s what the schools wanted
    when I was an immigration counsel on Judiciary, and I strongly suspect that they still feel that way. Their argument was that they should not be in the enforcement business, particularly with respect to their own students. They said that was the government's responsibility.

    In other words, the same argument being used to justify sanctuary cities.

    Nolan Rappaport
  9. MKolken's Avatar
    It was appalling under Obama and it is appalling under Trump.
  10. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    It certainly appears that Trump doesn't have to look very far back to find precedents for his own anti-immigrant repression. Just as a detail, did school officials also report undocumented children under Obama, or is this part new with Trump?

    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law
  11. MKolken's Avatar

    ICE Agents Are Arresting Teens On Their Way To School

    Yefri is just one of hundreds of teenagers arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents so far this year, as the Obama administration has carried out extensive immigration raids focused on targeting Central Americans who crossed the border after January 2014. Yefri was swept up in a raid known as Operation Border Guardian that took 336 people into custody.
  12. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    Did the Obama administration have a similar policy? I am just asking out of curiosity, not to be argumentative.

    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law
  13. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    It's more meaningful from an enforcement standpoint to distinguish between removing aliens trying to get into the country and aliens who are already here, i.e., the 11 million undocumented aliens currently living in the US. I address Trump's progress on this front in an article I submitted to The Hill a few minutes ago. The following is from that article:

    "Deporting the aliens in this group (aliens trying to get into The country) who do not establish eligibility for relief from deportation will prevent them from increasing the undocumented alien population, but it won’t reduce the size of that population. That requires removal of aliens who are living in the United States, i.e., interior enforcement, which is handled by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

    ICE deportations have dropped by almost 50 percent in the last five years. In October 2012, ICE deported 34,543 individuals. By December 2016 that figure had declined to 20,833. And in October 2017, only 18,428 were deported.

    Trump has not reversed this trend. ICE only deported 156,071 aliens from February 2017 to October 2017. At that rate, it would take more than 70 years to remove the 11 million undocumented aliens who are living in the United States."

    I predict that Trump will concentrate on getting more interior removals, which necessarily will include may noncriminal aliens.

    Nolan Rappaport
  14. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    Matthew, did you look at the qualifications required to be an immigration judge? Do you think they are adequate?

    Nolan Rappaport
  15. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by MKolken
    Looking forward to reading it.
    Immigration judge quotas will not eliminate the backlog crisis (April 4, 2018),

    Nolan Rappaport
  16. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    I think you are missing the point of concern about crime committed by illegal aliens. The point is that they aren't supposed to be here. If the law were to be enforced more effectively, fewer illegal aliens would be committing crimes here.

    Nolan Rappaport
  17. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    It's a pleasure to see someone reporting on the good things that the Trump administration is doing with respect to immigration enforcement.

    It wasn't that long ago when the Democrats were opposed to illegal immigration. Can anyone tell me when they did an about face on that issue and why they did it?

    Nolan Rappaport
  18. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    I would agree with the ABA President but for the fact that the immigration judges and the Board of Immigration Appeals have done such a poor job. They need more supervision, not more independence.

    If you want to know why I say that, see my article, "Immigration judge quotas will not eliminate the backlog crisis" (April 4, 2018),

    Nolan Rappaport
  19. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by MKolken
    This really isn't anything new. 52% of ALL federal criminal prosecutions under Obama were immigration related crimes.
    It's not new to you or to me, but I don't think many people realize that entry without inspection is a crime and that two or more entries make it a felony.

    If Trump plans to prosecute first time entries, which are only a misdemeanor, he is likely to incarcerate the aliens found guilty at military bases. That apparently is his plan to be able to provide the additional bed space needed to end catch and release.

    If Trump gets serious about enforcement, we will see much greater military involvement for detention as well as to assist CBP at the border. As Dylan said, "The times, they are a changing."

    Nolan Rappaport
  20. MKolken's Avatar
    This really isn't anything new. 52% of ALL federal criminal prosecutions under Obama were immigration related crimes.
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