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Update: March 18, 12:20 pm
POLITICO reports on March 17 that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals judges are escalating their attacks on each other in additional opinions written after the five-judge dissent authored by Judge Jay Bybee, discussed below in my expanded version of my original comment first posted on March 17.
I will have more to say about Judge Bybee's dissent and the fierce reaction to it on both sides in an upcoming comment ilw.com comment.
For the POLITICO story, see:
The expanded version of my original comment appears below.
In what could could be one of the most extraordinary judicial opinions ever written in the history of US immigration law, 9th Circuit Judge Jay Bybee, joined by four other of that court's judges, issued a dissenting opinion which sharply criticized Donald Trump personal attacks on the judges of the court, even while supporting Trump's claim of almost unlimited presidential power to ban immigrants from entering the United States.
For a summary of Judge Bybee's dissent an a link to the full opinion in the American Bar Journal, see:
In a lengthy opinion which relied heavily on the alleged limits on judicial power to interfere with "good faith" decisions of the executive branch to exclude non-US citizens from entering the US (citing Kleindienst v. Mandel, S. Ct. 1972, but said nothing about the Constitutional rights of U.S. citizens to free exercise of religion and equal protection of the law, Judge Bybee wrote in his dissent that:
"We are judges, not Platonic guardians. It is our duty to say what the law is, and the meta-source of our law, the U.S. Constitution, commits the power to make foreign policy, including the decision to permit or forbid entry into the United States, to the President and Congress."
Without going into the origin of the Supreme Court's doctrine of "Plenary Power" being vested in Congress and the executive over immigration, dating from the dark days of the Chinese exclusion laws, it is enough to point out that Trump's Muslim ban orders did not even meet the very basic Kleindienst v. Mandel test, cited by Judge Bybee, of being facially legitimate and in good faith.
However, after making clear in his opinion that he (and the other four judges who joined in the dissent) supported Trump's view that the courts have little or no business questioning his power to bar any foreign citizen or citizens he chooses from entering the US for almost any reason he chooses, Bybee, one of America's most conservative judges, who achieved notoriety as the author of the G.W. Bush administration's "Torture Memos", wrote a denunciation of Trump's authoritarian attempts to intimidate the judiciary which, one can safely predict, will be quoted more many years or even centuries to come, for as long as America continues to remain a democracy:
"Even as i dissent from our decision not to vacate the panel's flawed opinion, I have the greatest respect for my colleagues. The personal attacks on the distinguished district judge and our colleagues were all out of bounds of civic and persuasive discourse - particularly when they came from the parties [i.e. Donald Trump]. It does no credit to the arguments of the parties to impugn the motives or the competence of the members of this court; ad hominem attacks are not a substitute for effective advocacy."
Judge Bybee's stinging rebuke of Trump's personal attacks on judges who do not agree with him concluded:
"Such personal attacks treat the court as though it were merely a political forum in which bargaining, compromise, and even intimidation are acceptable principles. The courts of law must be more than that, or we are not governed by law at all."
As if to lend credibility to Judge Bybee's unprecedented rebuke of a sitting president for undermining the rule of law in America, even while agreeing with Trump's position on the case at hand, Trump responded with another, ominous attack against the court's majority judges who supported a more limited view of presidential power, accusing the 9th Circuit as follows:
"That circuit is in chaos and that circuit is frankly in turmoil."
Trump's latest attack follows a threat in February by Republican Senators to break up the 9th Circuit in response to its original decision blocking Trump's seven country Muslim entry ban.
What does this say about the chances for survival of democracy and the rule of law in America while Donald Trump is president?
As I predicted in an earlier Immigration Daily comment, both Trump's claim of unlimited presidential power over immigration and his personal attacks against judges who disagree with him put the foundations of America's democracy at risk.
The issue raised by Trump's attempt to ban more than 100 million Muslims in six, formerly seven, countries from entering the United States has now escalated from an assault on a particular religion to an attack on the Constitution's separation of powers and judicial independence itself.
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 from diverse parts of the world obtain work visas and green cards.
Roger's email address is email@example.com
Updated 03-18-2017 at 01:29 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
MU Law is proud to announce that MU Law's Maria Schneider has been named to the Board of Trustees of the Cincinnati Bar Association (CBA). Schneiderís two-year term will begin on May 1, 2017. She will be officially inducted at the CBAís Annual Meeting on April 27, 2017.
Schneider founded, chaired, and now Vice Chairs the CBAís Immigration Practice Group. Twice, under Attorney Schneiderís direction, the Immigration Practice Group won the CBAís Ingenuity Award. Schneiderís cover article on President Trumpís Executive Orders on immigration will be featured in the CBA Report in April 2017.
The CBA will reach itsí 150th Anniversary in January 2022. The CBA Board will focus on ď150 Prime,Ē a five-year strategically eruptive and positively disruptive plan to prepare, engage, envision, and motivate success representing attorneys in the Greater Cincinnati area. The CBA has 3800 members throughout the Greater Cincinnati community.
Please read the Musillo Unkenholt Healthcare and Immigration Law Blog at www.musillo.com and www.ilw.com. You can also visit us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
The following comment includes revisions made as of March 17 at 9:02 am:
A federal district court judge in Hawaii, Derrick Watson, late in the day on March 15, issued a temporary restraining order putting a nationwide hold on Trump's latest version of the ban on entry to the US by some 100 million citizens of six 99 per cent Muslim countries.
In his opinion, the judge cited a mountain of evidence, both during the presidential campaign and after his inauguration, that the ban was motivated by an intent to disfavor Muslims and their religion, in violation of the guarantee of religious freedom in the first Amendment to the Constitution.
Trump's history of attacking all Muslims as potential terorists as the motivation for the six country ban and his previous seven country version (which Trump said as recently as March 15 that he wishes he had stuck with!) is so obvious that it cannot be seriously challenged.
However, Trump's lawyers are now claiming that the court should have disregarded the obvious truth and accepted Trump's alternative version of reality, that the ban is somehow related to national security despite the very thin veneer of evidence to support that claim produced so far, because many of his antt-Muslim statements were made during the presidential campaign, when candidates will say anything and everything to get elected, rather than after he actually took office.
This ignores the fact that everything Trump has done and said about admitting Muslims to the US is entirely consistent with what Trump said about Muslims and threatened to do to them during the campaign.
Trump's Orwellian insistence that the courts should disregard the open and obvious hatred of Muslims in which he has been revelling ever since he called for a world-wide ban on Muslim entry to the US in December, 2015, would do more than merely violate the religious freedom guaranteed to all Americans, Muslims not excepted, by the First Amendment to our Constitution.
In addition to paraphsasing Orwell's famous dictum in Animal Farm that "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others." by holding, in effect, that "All religions are equal in America, but Islam is less equal than others", Trump is also, in effect, claiming that, as president, he has the power, as Big Brother did in Orwell's 1984, to declare that "2+2 equals 5."
Fortunately, not only for America's core value of freedom of religious belief, but also for continued democracy in America, Judge Watson rejected Trump's extreme claim, not only to be the sole determiner of immigration policy but the sole arbiter of reality - what is true and what is false.
The District Court's decision can be accessed at:
Roger Algase is a New York immigration lawyer and a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. For more than 35 years, Roger has been helping mainly skilled and professional immigrants from diverse parts of the world obtain work visas and green cards.
Roger's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
Updated 03-18-2017 at 11:30 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
Famed Constitutional Law Professor Alan Dershowitz believes Trump's executive order banning travel from 6 Muslim majority countries will be easily upheld by the Supreme Court stating "I do not think it's unconstitutional. I think the Supreme Court will uphold it even if Gorsuch is not yet on the Supreme Court. But if he does make it there in time then it will be a clearer victory for the Trump administration in the Supreme Court."
Following the December 2, 2015 terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California, where the husband-and-wife perpetrators had purportedly become radicalized via the internet, Congress requested that the Department of Homeland Security ("DHS") take steps to better investigate the social media accounts of immigrant applicants (the husband was an American-born U.S. citizen of Pakistani decent; his wife was a lawful permanent resident from Pakistan). In response, DHS established a task force and several pilot programs to expand social media screening of people seeking immigration benefits and U.S. visas. DHS also approved creation of a Social Media Center of Excellence, which would conduct social media background checks for the various DHS departments. The Center of Excellence would "set standards for social media use in relevant DHS operations while ensuring privacy and civil rights and civil liberties protections."
The director of the Center of Excellence, Bill S. Preston, Esquire.
Last month, the DHS Office of Inspector General released a (clumsily) redacted report detailing the efficacy of DHS's efforts and making suggestions. Due to the incomplete redaction job, it seems likely that the pilot program focused on refugees and perhaps asylum seekers, but the plan is to expand the program to cover all types of immigration benefits.
The goal of the pilot program was to help develop policies and processes for the standardized use of social media department-wide. "USCIS had previously used social media in a limited capacity, but had no experience using it as a large-scale screening tool." The pilot program relied on manual and automated searches of social media accounts to "determine whether useful information for adjudicating refugee applications could be obtained." It seems that the ability of DHS to investigate social media accounts was limited by technology: At the time the pilot program was launched in 2016, "neither the private sector nor the U.S. Government possessed the capabilities for large-scale social media screening."
In one portion of the pilot program, applicants were asked to "voluntarily" give their social media user names. USCIS then "assessed identified accounts to determine whether the refugees were linked to derogatory social media information that could impact their eligibility for immigration benefits or admissibility into the United States."
DHS has also been looking into social media, email, and other computer files of people entering or leaving the United States, including U.S. citizens, and this inquiry is far from voluntary. There have been numerous recent reports of DHS Customs and Border Protection ("CBP") agents demanding passwords for cell phones and computers. The number of people subject to such searches increased significantly at the end of the Obama Administration, and seems to be further increasing under President Trump. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the large majority of people targeted for these searches are Muslim.
All this means that DHS may be looking at your accounts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc. to determine whether you pose a threat and (possibly) to assess your credibility. They might also gain access to your email and other information stored on your computer or your cell phone. This data could then be used to evaluate your eligibility for immigration benefits, including asylum.
On the one hand, it seems reasonable that DHS would want to look into social media and other on-line material. After all, it is well-known that terrorists rely on the internet to spread their messages, and as DHS notes, "As the threat landscape changes, so does CBP." Also, most immigration benefits are discretionary, meaning that even if you qualify for them, the U.S. government can deny them in the exercise of discretion. Therefore, if DHS "requests" certain information as part of the application process, and the applicant fails to provide it, DHS can deny the benefit as a matter of discretion.
On the other hand, the inter-connectivity of the on-line world could yield evidence of relationships that do not actually exists. For example, one study estimates that Facebook users (all 1.6 billion of them) are connected to each other by 3.57 degrees of separation. That means there are--on average--only 3.57 people between you and Osama bin Laden (assuming he still maintains his Facebook page). But of course, it is worse than that, since there are many terrorist suspects on Facebook, not just one (Osama bin Laden). So if you are from a terrorist-producing country, it's likely that suspected terrorists are separated from you by less than 3.57 degrees of separation. Presumably, DHS would take these metrics into account when reviewing on-line data, but you can see the problem--your on-line profile may indicate you have a relationship with someone with whom you have no relationship at all.
So what can you do to protect yourself?
First, don't be paranoid. It's nothing new for DHS or other government agencies to search your on-line profile. Since everything posted on-line is, at least in a sense, public, you should be discrete about what you post, and you should be aware that anyone--including the U.S. government--could be reading it.
What's more problematic is when CBP seizes electronic devices at the border and then reviews emails and other confidential information. This is extremely intrusive and an invasion of privacy. There is also an argument that it violates the Fourth Amendment right to be free of unlawful searches, but generally, people coming and gong from the U.S. have less protection than people in the interior (though I imagine that as CBP steps up the practice, we will see lawsuits that further define Fourth Amendment rights at the border). Knowing that you could be subject to such a search at least enables you to prepare yourself. Don't travel with devices if you don't want them searched. Be careful what you store on your devices and in the cloud.
Also, if you think you have problematic on-line relationships or derogatory on-line information, be prepared to explain yourself and present evidence if the issue comes up.
On-line information can affect an asylum or immigration case in more subtle ways. For example, if you state in your application that you attended a protest on a particular date, make sure you got the date correct--DHS may be able to find out the date of the protest, and if your account of events does not match the on-line information, it could affect your credibility. The same is true for more personal information. For instance, if your asylum application indicates you attended high school from 1984 to 1987, that should match any available information on the internet. Mostly, this simply requires that you take care to accurately complete your immigration forms, so that there are no inconsistencies with data available on-line.
Again, it's not really news that DHS is reviewing social media and other on-line information. It does appear that such practices will become more common, but as long as applicants are aware of what is happening, they can prepare for it.
Originally posted on the Asylumist: www.Asylumist.com.
Updated 03-15-2017 at 10:46 AM by JDzubow