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  1. Letters of the Week: October 30 - November 3

  2. DOJ Settles Immigration-Related Discrimination Claim Against Rustic Inn Crabhouse

    By: Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law

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    The Justice Department, through the Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER), has reached a settlement agreement with Ark Rustic Inn LLC d/b/a Rustic Inn Crabhouse (Rustic Inn), a restaurant located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The agreement resolves the IER’s investigation into whether Rustic Inn discriminated against work-authorized immigrants when verifying their employment authorization.

    The investigation revealed Rustic Inn routinely requested that work-authorized non-U.S. citizens present specific documents, such as Permanent Resident Cards or Employment Authorization Documents, to verify their citizenship status information; however, it did not subject U.S. citizens to the same verification. The anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) prohibits employers from subjecting employees to different or unnecessary documentary demands based on employees’ citizenship, immigration status or national origin.

    Under the settlement, Rustic Inn will pay a civil penalty of $4000 to the United States; review and revise any existing employment policies that relate to nondiscrimination on the basis of citizenship or immigration status and national origin so that it prohibits such discrimination in regard to the I-9 verification process; train its staff by viewing a free IER Employer/HR representative webinar; post notices informing workers about their rights under the INA’s anti-discrimination provision; shall ensure that all individuals, who are responsible for formulating and carrying out its hiring/firing, and employment eligibility verification policies, have available the most current version of the Form 1-9, USCIS Employment Eligibility Verification Handbook for Employers (M-274), and be subject to departmental monitoring for three years.

    The allegation of having different standards for U.S. citizens than non-U.S. citizens is a fairly common error by employers. However, with training by an immigration attorney, well-versed in employer compliance, these errors can easily be avoided. For more information on this issue and many others related to employer immigration compliance, I invite you to read my new book, The I-9 and E-Verify Handbook, which is available at
  3. Asylum for Witches

    Just in time for Halloween, the Witchcraft & Human Rights Information Network (“WHRIN”) has released a report called "Witchcraft Accusations and Persecution; Muti Murders and Human Sacrifice." The report was prepared for the United Nations Expert Workshop on Witchcraft and Human Rights, which was held last month, and it discusses the wide-spread and under-reported human rights problems related to witchcraft and other harmful traditional practices. From the WHRIN report--

    In numerous countries around the world, harmful witchcraft related beliefs and practices have resulted in serious violations of human rights including, beatings, banishment, cutting of body parts, and amputation of limbs, torture and murder. Women, children, the elderly, and persons with disabilities, such as persons with albinism, are particularly vulnerable. Despite the seriousness of these human rights abuses, there is often no robust state led response.

    The report indicates that the “exact numbers of victims of such abuses is unknown and is widely believed to be underreported.” “At the very least,” the report continues, “it is believed that there are thousands of cases of people accused of witchcraft each year globally, often with fatal consequences, and others are mutilated and killed for witchcraft-related rituals.” The number of cases—and the level of violence against victims--seems to be rising, and no area of the world is immune, though most of the documented cases are found in India (120 reported cases in 2016), Nigeria (67 cases), Zimbabwe (29), and South Africa (28).

    This is all very sobering, and sad. In my work, I have represented a number of victims of traditional practices who have filed for asylum in the United States. One memorable case involved a young man from Rwanda who was gay. His family decided that he was possessed by demons, and so they had him kidnapped and held in a rural area where he was subject to a three-week exorcism ritual by some type of priest. The ritual involved beatings and starvation, among other things. We argued that all this amounted to past persecution on account of a particular social group—gay people. The government accepted our argument and approved the man’s application for asylum.

    The success of our case was due, perhaps, to the fact that our client easily fit within a protected category for purposes of asylum (there are five protected categories—race, religion, nationality, political opinion, and particular social group, and under U.S. law, it is well-established that LGBT individuals can constitute a particular social group; unless a case fits within a protected category, asylum will be denied). Not all victims of witchcraft-related persecution fit so neatly into the asylum scheme, as the WHRIN report makes plain—

    Those accused of witchcraft, or at risk of such accusations, are not a well-recognised vulnerable group [under the asylum law], and they do not accrue specially recognised rights as such. They do, however, benefit from human rights protections which are available to all people. Those who face persecution in this way may flee and seek protection in other countries, but their situation is precarious even in exile.

    The WHRIN report primarily discusses British law, but asylum applicants in the U.S. could face a similar problem. I have not seen a case where “witches” or “people accused of witchcraft” has been found to be a particular social group (“PSG”) for purposes of asylum, but it seems that a strong argument could be made in favor of such a PSG. Persecution of “witches” might also be couched in terms of imputed religion—maybe the persecutors view the alleged witch in religious terms and would harm her for that reason. If there is an ethnic or racial component to the persecution, that might also allow the applicant’s case to fit into a protected category.

    Besides witchcraft, the WHRIN report discusses other harmful traditional practices: Human sacrifice and murder for body parts, which are used in certain magic rituals (sometime called Muti murder). People with albinism are particularly vulnerable to such attacks (I wrote about that here), and they would likely constitute a PSG under U.S. asylum law. But other people targeted in this way might not easily fit into a PSG.

    To win asylum, the applicant must show that she faces harm “on account of” a characteristic that the applicant herself possess (for example, her race) or on a characteristic that the persecutor “imputes” to the victim (for example, maybe the persecutor incorrectly believes the applicant is a government opponent and seeks to harm her for that reason). In the case of some traditional practice, the victim may not be able to show that the harm is “on account of” a characteristic or an imputed characteristic, and then asylum would be denied. In our exorcism case, for example, we had a relatively easy job, since our client was gay and was harmed due to his sexual orientation. But what if he was not gay and he was being "exorcised" for some other reason--maybe he was an unruly child and his parents wanted to "cure" him? Such a case would present a real challenge under U.S. asylum law.

    Fortunately, there are some resources available. The WHRIN is the obvious starting point. The Forced Migration Current Awareness blog also has a list of resources, and UNHCR has a comprehensive report about witchcraft accusations against children. Given the severity of the harm and the likelihood that the problem is spreading, it seems to me that more work needs to be done in this area. The recent attention from the UN is a good start. Hopefully, we will see those efforts continued and expanded.

    Originally posted on the Asylumist:
    Tags: asylum, witches Add / Edit Tags
  4. Trump Seeks Authoritarian Power to Ban Immigrants - and Silence Journalists. Will Our Democracy Survive? Roger Algase

    Fox News columnist Juan Williams comments in The Hill as follows about Trump's latest attacks on journalists for writing "whatever they want to write":

    "Clearly the president has an authoritarian bent when it comes to journalism. His latest comments fit in with past labeling of straight news reporters as 'dishonest', 'scum' and 'enemy of the American people.'"

    But Trump's War on the media is, in essence, no different from Trump's War on Muslim, Latin American, and other non-white immigrants. Both are the two sides of the same authoritarian coin.

    The same president who claims absolute power to determine what the news media should be allowed to write about him, in violation of the First Amendment freedom of speech on which America's democracy depends, is also claiming in the Supreme Court and lower federal courts that he has the absolute right to determine which immigrants can enter the United States, even to the extent of banning potentially two hundred million Middle Eastern and African immigrants on transparently "Trumped-up" "national security" pretexts because he doesn't like their Muslim religion.

    This also violates the fundamental First Amendment freedoms which are at the heart of our democracy.

    It is true, of course, that the president has broad powers under INA Section 212(f) to ban immigrants whom he determines would be detrimental to the interests of the United States. But that that authority does not "Trump" the Constitution, which does not allow him to make this decision based on religion, at least when the rights of American citizens are also affected.

    This would also be taking America back almost 100 years to the time when another unpopular religious/ethnic minority, Jewish immigrants, were almost entirely banned from the United States using "national origins" methodology, just as in the case of Trump's Muslim country ban executive orders.

    But the authoritarian aspect of Trump's immigration agenda does not end there. Trump also wants to build a Wall to keep out unwanted Mexican and other Latin American immigrants. There is no clearer symbol of dictatorship than this - as shown in modern times by the Communists' Berlin Wall and the Nazis' Warsaw Ghetto Wall.

    Trump is also planning a major expansion of immigration detention centers, in keeping with his agenda of mass deportation of Hispanic, Asian, Middle Eastern and other non-white immigrants. Will these prisons one day also be filled up with American journalists who write unfavorable news stories about our 45th president and his administration?

    In the ongoing debates over details concerning the future of DACA, H-1B and the attempts to reduce non-white legal immigration through the RAISE Act, lowering refugee quotas and "extreme vetting" ; and over expedited removal, arrests of immigrants at hospitals and other assaults on due process and basic human rights endangered though Trump's mass deportation program, we must not lose sight of the big question - is Trump's immigration agenda only one part of a larger attempt to replace America's democracy with one man rule by a Supreme Leader?

    1:30 pm update, October 30:

    Will Trump be able to silence journalists who are now reporting about the indictments against some of his campaign officials? He may be able to build a Wall against immigrants who have the wrong skin color or religion, but can he Wall off the truth about activities that could threaten his continued presidency?

    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law

    Updated 10-30-2017 at 02:45 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

  5. Sessions Calls Judge "Offensive" and "Disrespectful" for Saying That Ending DACA was "Heartless". But Can't Judges Make Findings of Fact? Roger Algase

    Trump's AG, Jeff Sessions, is continuing the administration's policy of bashing judges who show even an ounce of sympathy or compassion for immigrants by calling out a Brooklyn federal District Court Judge, Nicholas Garaufis, as "offensive" for stating that Trump's DACA cancellation was "heartless".

    According to the above POLiTICO report, Sessions made the following statement in a speech at the right wing Heritage Foundation:

    "...the court said the government 'can't come into court to espouse a position that is "heartless"'. He didn't say it was unlawful. He said, 'I don't like your policy.'...A judge's comments on policy like this is [sic] offensive, and it's disrespectful of the legislative and executive branches [i.e. Donald Trump]...The Constitution gives judges no right to veto a president's actions because they disagree on policy grounds."

    It is certainly true enough that judges have no right to "veto" a legislative or executive action because of a disagreement over policy (even though, as POLITICO also points out, that is, very arguably, exactly what Texas federal District Judge Andrew Hanen did when he struck down President Obama's DAPA/DACA Extension initiative).

    But don't judges have the power to make findings of fact in a litigation? And, as a finding of fact, if not as a conclusion of law, was Judge Garaufis anything other than deadly accurate and on target when he called Trump's DACA cancellation "heartless"?

    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law

    Updated 10-27-2017 at 01:00 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

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