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By Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law PLLC
A federal judge has ruled for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in a lawsuit concerning the promulgation of a 2016 regulation extending Optional Practical Training (OPT) by an additional 24 months for eligible STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) degree holders. (Washington All. of Tech. Workers v. Dept. of Homeland Sec. (D.D.C. Apr. 19, 2017)).
The Washington Alliance of Technology Workers argued the 2016 regulation exceeded the authority of DHS under several provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Specifically, the Alliance asserted the regulation allows employers to skirt the H-1B temporary visa program for high-skilled workers without providing labor protections for U.S. workers.
The judge decided the Alliance, which represents U.S. workers who are STEM degree holders, did not show that the DHS had violated the INA in the promulgation of the regulation or the substance of the regulation.
Despite this favorable ruling in litigation, on a case that has been in the courts for many years, OPT STEM faces uncertainty as to whether the Trump administration will attempt to eliminate or curtail it. Under last week’s “Buy American and Hire American” executive order, the Secretary of DHS “shall propose new rules and issue new guidance… to protect the interests of United States workers.” Since this language is so broad, Secretary of DHS may propose new rules for OPT STEM. Only time will tell so stay tuned.
Please email your letters to firstname.lastname@example.org
Update, April 24, 10:16 pm:
The latest news reports say that Trump has expressed willingness to postpone his demands for funding the Mexican border Wall until September, 2017 (by which time possibly the entire idea might hopefully be quietly abandoned).
This apparent willingness to avoid a federal government shutdown could be a another one of the few but welcome signs of rationality winning out over ideology regarding immigration at the White House in the Donald Trump Era.
My original comment appears below.
Virtually all leaders in both parties agree that a government shutdown should be avoided at all costs because it would damage the economy (one estimate is to the tune of $24 billion) and cause great hardship to federal employees, veterans, and many other American citizens by interrupting essential government payments and services, as The Guardian reports:
In view of the fact that apprehensions at the border are down, net migration from Mexico is zero or minus, no terrorist incidents have been reported involving anyone coming into the US from Mexico, and Mexico is one of America's most important trading partners, why is it so important to the president to have Congress provide funding for his Mexican border Wall that he would be willing to risk shutting down the federal government if Congress refuses?
The answer can only be that it is not the practical consequences of building or not building the Wall that are of primary importance to Donald Trump.
Rather, it can only be the symbolic meaning of the Wall, as a message to the people of Mexico, and the world, that immigrants from Mexico, Latin America, and the world in general outside Europe will no longer be welcome in America, any more than they were welcome under the 1924 Immigration Act which barred almost all immigration from outside Northern Europe for the following 40 years (although, to be sure, that law did not contain quotas limiting immigration from Mexico or other "Western Hemisphere" countries - not a big factor at that time).
What is there about the proposed Wall that would constitute such a clear, even though symbolic message, and why would the president be so anxious to put such a message out that he would risk something as destructive as a government shutdown to the people of the country that he was elected to lead?
I will venture some answers to these questions below.
First, very possibly most significantly of all, one can begin with Trump's own explanation of the significance of the Wall, as he views it. On June 3, 2016, CNN reported on then candidate Trump's interview with Jake Tapper relating to Trump's claim that Indiana-born Gonzalo Curiel, the presiding Judge in a federal district court lawsuit against Trump personally over Trump University (which has since been settled at a cost to Trump of $25 million) was incapable of deciding the case fairly because of Judge Curiel's "Mexican heritage", as his parents were Mexican immigrants.
CNN quoted Trump's words verbatim as follows:
"He's proud of his heritage. I respect him for that."
Trump then continued:
"He's a Mexican. We're building a wall between here and Mexico." (Bold added.)
Aside from the small detail that Judge Curiel is an American, not a Mexican, having been born in this country, as provided by the 14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States which Trump has since taken an oath as president to defend and protect, the open contempt for Judge Curiel, (whom Trump also called a "hater"),
because of the Judge's ancestry, cannot be explained away, no matter how hard one might try to whitewash it.
It would be difficult to imagine a clearer illustration of the true significance and purpose of the Mexican Wall, at least as far as Donald Trump is concerned.
But Trump's open attack on Judge Curiel based on his ethnicity didn't tell America, or the world, anything about his motivation for the Wall with Mexico that was not already obvious from June 16, 2015, the day that Trump announced his campaign for president of the United States and his plan to build a Wall with Mexico in the same speech.
Just in case there is anyone whose memory doesn't go back to that day, not quite two years ago, here is the way that Trump introduced the Mexican Wall plan, as quoted by Time:
"When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best. They're not sending you. They're not sending you. They're sending people that have lots of problems, and they're bringing those problems with us. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people."
This was Trump's only explanation for his promise in the same speech, to build a "great big, beautiful wall" with Mexico (and to humiliate Mexico by making Mexico pay for the Wall).
Whatever else one may say about Trump, he often speaks in plain, clear language, without legalisms or parsing. There was nothing ambiguous in the above statement. The Wall was necessary, in Trump's view, because Mexicans in general are bad people - inferior to Americans - "criminals" and "rapists" who do not deserve to be in this country.
2,000 years ago, in his Aeneid, Virgil used the phrase gens invisum - a despised nation - to describe the goddess Juno's opinion of the Trojans - whom she was anxious to keep from coming to Italy by any means possible (and Virgil's great epic poem describes quite a few - this does not mean that I am impugning the slightest knowledge of Virgil or any other great classical literature to Donald Trump - I am not).
If Virgil were writing today he might well be using the same phrase, gens invisum, to describe the Mexicans whom Donald Trump wants to keep out of the United States, even at the cost of the damage to America's economy and the hardship to millions of Americans that almost everyone on both sides of the aisle in Congress agrees would result from a federal government shutdown.
However, Trump is far from being the only leader in either ancient or modern history who has tried to use a Wall as a symbol of contempt for a despised group of people whom the leader in question has wanted to keep out of his territory at all costs, no matter what it takes.
In the 20th century, one thinks of the Berlin Wall, and, even more ominously and tragically, the Wall which the Germans built to separate the doomed Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto from the non-Jewish part of the city during the Holocaust in WW2.
Going back further in time, both the Great Wall of China, impressive parts of which are still standing today (I have visited this Wall myself), and the Roman Emperor Hadrian's Wall near what is now the dividing line between England and Scotland, were intended to keep out people who were considered inferior and undeserving because of their ethnicity from crossing into the territory of nations, or empires, which considered themselves superior.
The irony is that what remains of all these ancient and modern walls is now treasured and preserved by historians as mementos of the inhumanity which some groups of people have inflicted on others throughout history.
For more details, see:
If Trump ever builds his Mexican border Wall, one prediction can be made with absolute certainty. Just as Trump's predecessor, President Ronald Reagan, predicted would happen to the Berlin Wall, and just as has happened to every other such wall throughout history, Donald Trump's Wall will also one day, most likely sooner rather than later, inevitably be torn down.
There cannot possibly be the slightest doubt about this.
When it is torn down, let us hope that historians, just as happened with the Berlin Wall, the Warsaw Ghetto Wall, and other more ancient walls such as those mentioned above, will be able to preserve a few fragments of them as mementos of man's inhumanity to man and as a warning to future generations.
If and when this happens, then, and only then, might one be able to say that there was a useful, or rational, purpose to Donald Trump's Mexican border Wall.
As an additional note, Walls against outsiders are not normally built by democratic societies, but by autocratic or totalitarian regimes, as in the case of the Berlin Wall and the Warsaw Ghetto Wall. But one does not even have to go back as far as the 20th century to see examples.
Hungary, according to recent news reports, is now building the second stage of its wall against Middle Eastern and North African refugees, even as that country turns away from democracy toward dictatorship, as The Guardian chillingly reported last October:
It is a disturbing, though not surprising, sign that top presidential adviser Stephen Bannon's Breitbart News recently published an article praising Hungary's treatment of immigrants, even as The Guardian reports that refugees in that country have been treated "worse than wild animals".
Is this the future that Donald Trump has in store for America? Is this why he is so willing to shut down the federal government if he does not get his way on funding for the Mexican border Wall?
Roger Algase is a New York immigration lawyer and graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. For more than 35 years, he has been helping mainly skilled and professional immigrants from diverse parts of the world receive work visas and green cards.
Roger's email address is email@example.com
Updated 04-24-2017 at 09:18 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
The following comment has been updated and expanded as of Saturday evening, April 22.
The Hill reports on April 21 that anti-immigrant hard-liner Representative Steve King (R-Iowa), whose statements that Hispanic immigrants are "drug mules" and other verbal attacks on minority immigrants have aroused a storm of criticism and opposition, is now threatening to sue the Trump administration over the president's refusal to date to rescind President Obama's DACA - Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a/k/a DREAMERs.
According to the report, King is arguing that "Defenders of the Constitution" may need to sue Trump to force him to cancel this program.
No one who has been reading my blog comments on this site will mistake me for an admirer of the president or a supporter of his immigration policies. But King's threat is at least a small indication that Trump is not totally bad when it comes to immigration.
One might hope that this could lead to more recognition of reason, reality and humanity in Trump's immigration policies than is apparent from his executive orders as president so far.
It is time to put respect for the equality of all people on which our nation was founded ahead of the hard line ideology of Steve King, Steven Bannon, Jeff Sessions and others of Trump's key supporters or advisers who want to revert back to America's long and sorry history of prejudice and persecution of immigrants because of their ethnicity, religion or country of origin - the ideology which helped Donald Trump win the presidency in the first place.
Does Trump have it in him to transcend the narrowness and animosity against immigrants who may look, talk, or pray differently from America's white, Europe-based majority which did so much to put him in the White House?
One would hope that, for the sake not only of many millions of immigrants to the US from around the world, but for the American people, who treasure this country's most fundamental values and ideals, we might be hearing a lot more threats from Steve King and others like him to launch lawsuits over immigration against Donald Trump.
Unfortunately, Trump's threat to shut down the government if he does not get his way with Congress for funding for his Mexican border Wall and permission to deny funding to Sanctuary Cities which stand up against attempts to bludgeon them into line in favor of mass deportation, is not a sign that he is ready to put his inflammatory campaign rhetoric and narrow, divisive executive orders against Hispanic, Middle Eastern, African and Asian immigrants behind him. See:
It is not yet clear if Steve King will ever need to sue the president over immigration.
Roger Algase is a New York immigration lawyer and a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. For more than 35 years, he has been helping mainly skilled and professional immigrants receive work visas and green cards without regard to ethnicity, religion or country of origin. Roger's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
Updated 04-23-2017 at 05:34 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
Via Syracuse University's TRAC Immigration:
The latest available court records through the end of March 2017 reveal little observable change in filings since President Trump assumed office. In fact, the pace of DHS issuances of NTAs (notices to appear) that initiate proceedings in Immigration Court under the Trump Administration remain similar to the pace in earlier months under President Obama. Indeed, the monthly numbers of new NTAs under President Trump continues much the same as the levels that prevailed all through the second half of FY 2016.
However, because of filing and recording delays, any estimate of overall trends must be considered very preliminary in nature. Indeed, just over half of the NTAs filed during the post-Trump period still reflect NTAs initiated under President Obama. These results are based upon the latest case-by-case court records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act and analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University.
The court's records reveal that since Trump assumed office, a total of 25,942 cases have been initiated by DHS seeking removal orders. This represents the number of DHS Notices to Appear (NTAs), or comparable forms, dated after January 20, 2017 that had been filed in court as of the end of March 2017. NTAs are the official notification to an individual that DHS is seeking to deport them. NTAs dated after Trump assumed the presidency and that have already been filed and recorded by the court are referred to as "Trump" cases." In contrast, court-recorded NTAs dated during FY 2017 but before Trump assumed office are denoted as "Obama" cases.
While the pace of filings remains unchanged, there has been a sharp change between Trump and Obama cases in whether individuals are detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) while their cases are pending. At the time of the court filing the majority (54%) of Obama's cases were not detained. This was true for only a quarter (25%) of Trump's cases. Most of the remaining individuals were still detained. Figure 1 compares the detention status of Obama versus Trump cases as of the end of March 2017.
Click here for the rest of the report.