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Update: February 17, 3:45 pm.
In a February 17 story, The Guardian provides more details about how national security officials are being shut out of decision making regarding the Trump/Bannon revised US travel ban against seven overwhelmingly Muslim countries, just as they were shut out of the original one. The Guardian writes:
"The goal of the new order [travel ban] is to bolster a signature initiative against ongoing legal and constitutional scrutiny, rather than revise it in a substantive fashion, relax its restrictions or consider any deleterious effect it has on national security, according to Guardian sources."
The Guardian continues:
"The process means domestic political concerns are given greater priority and consideration of their national security impact is marginalized despite the impact on US relations with much of the world."
What does this say about the good faith of the Trump administration's claims in its original and latest briefs before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals arguing that the president's decision to impose the ban is not reviewable by the courts because the president purportedly has the sole power to make national security determinations relating to immigrant entry to the United States?
The more information that comes out showing that the "national security" justification for Trump's seven country ban is not genuine, the more it becomes evident that the 9th Circuit's decision to look behind the DOJ'a "national security" claim and conduct fact finding as to whether the ban was based on religious/racial animosities instead was a sound one.
My original comment appears below.
The Department of Justice, evidently unable to put up a defense of Trump's Stephen Bannon inspired Muslim ban immigration order that it could expect to win in court, has settled instead a strategy that, on the one hand, in effect asks the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to withdraw its TRO against the ban order on the grounds that the order is being replaced by a more "limited" one, while, on the other hand, it argues on the basis of clearly misleading statements that the original order was legally valid and does not need to be withdrawn.
To top it off, according to POLITICO, the administration is preparing a new, more "limited" order which would in fact make only cosmetic changes in the discredited January 27 order.
I will discuss this last point first. According to the POLITICO story, the new, "narrower" seven country Muslim ban order would exempt citizens of the seven targeted countries who already are in the US with legal visas. This would allow them to travel without fear of not being allowed to return.
The new EO would also, again according to POLITICO, clarify that US permanent residents from the seven countries are exempt from the scope of the entry ban, something that, to put it very charitably, was less than clear when the original order was introduced. For the full story and a link to the DOJ's latest brief filed with the 9th Circuit, see:
These changes, no doubt, are welcome, because they make clear that people from the seven affected countries who have already been legally admitted to the US and who have connections with this country will be allowed to continue with their lives in the United States undisturbed by the president's order.
But, if the above POLITICO report about the proposed replacement executive order is accurate, the new order would still ban the almost 200 million citizens of the affected seven 99 percent or close to it Muslim countries (and other Muslim countries which the current order clearly contemplates adding to the ban, if one reads Sections 3 and 4 of the order carefully) who have never been to the United States.
In other words, if the above report is correct, the new proposed ban would still be aimed as keeping as many Muslims out of the United States as possible, based on the underlying assumption that their religion alone automatically makes them a danger to the United States.
There would be no real change in this policy, promoted by Trump's Senior White House Adviser Stephen Bannon, and his recently fired National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn, both of whom are well known for their view that America is in an ideological war, or "War of Civilizations", with the Muslim religion.
Nor, as the DOJ's latest brief that was filed with the Court on February 16 makes clear, has there been any change in the administration's argument that the president has unlimited power to prohibit any immigrants or groups of immigrants he wants from coming to the US.
Finally, as will be clear from the following discussion of the DOJ's latest brief, that there has been no backing down from the government's indefensible claim that Trump's ban affecting almost 200 million people from countries with close to, or in some cases more than, 99 per cent Muslim populations, is not based on religion, but on flimsy, also largely cosmetic, "national security" grounds.
I will discuss these latter two issues in more detail in a forthcoming comment.
Attorney at Law
Updated 02-17-2017 at 04:59 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
After nearly 3,000 Americans were murdered on September 11, 2001, President Bush spoke to the nation and to the world. He assured us—Muslim and non-Muslim—that American was not at war with Islam. Would that President Trump had spoken similar words before instituting his immigration ban on seven majority-Muslim countries. But that is not Mr. Trump’s style.
Lord of the Zings: The President's hateful words may be worse than his harmful EOs.
The resulting firestorm may have been pleasing to the President’s most ardent supporters, who seem to relish the sight of suffering families and damaged government institutions, but for those of us concerned about national security, morality, and the rule of law, the President’s Executive Orders (“EOs”) were a frightening development.
The problem, though, was not so much the EOs themselves, the effect of which is not immediately obvious, and in any case, portions of which have been blocked by the courts, but rather the divisive rhetoric attached to the orders. Let me explain.
The EOs, which are currently blocked by the courts, would bar nationals of Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia, and Libya from entering the United States for 90 days. All refugees would be barred from entering the country for 120 days, and Syrian refugees would be barred indefinitely. On its face, this is not a Muslim ban. If you are from one of the listed countries, you are barred from entry, regardless of your religion, and if you are a Muslim person from another country, you are not barred from entry. But to me, this is a case of “That’s what it says; that’s not what it means.”
So what does it mean? First, in the context of campaign statements disparaging to Muslims, and some statements by Trump surrogates, it’s easy to see why many are interpreting the EOs as a first step towards a more general Muslim ban. Rumors are swirling that the list of countries will be expanded, to include more Muslim nations, such as Pakistan and Afghanistan. In addition, the EOs direct the government to track and publish information about crimes committed by aliens, with a particular emphasis on people convicted of terrorism-related offenses, people who have been “radicalized after entry,” and “gender-based violence against women or honor killings.” Further, the EOs call for a “realignment” of refugee admissions to focus on refugees who are from a “minority religion in the individual’s country of nationality.” It’s hard not to view all this as targeting Muslims.
But perhaps I’ve gotten it all wrong. There have been counter-arguments advanced by the President’s defenders. After all, the EOs do not directly refer to Muslims, and the listed nations are either chaotic (Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, Libya), malignant (Iran) or both (Sudan, Syria). Also, as the EOs require, we should be keeping track of aliens who engage in criminal behavior or who support or commit terrorism (indeed, I myself have argued for such transparency in this blog).
But here is why I don’t buy the counter-arguments and why I believe the EOs are designed to target Muslims: The President is very aware that many people view the orders as a Muslim ban, but he has said nothing to allay the fears of Muslims and immigrants in the U.S. or our Muslim allies abroad. He could easily have issued these same exact EOs and avoided the chaos by better explaining his intentions. He chose to not do that. Maybe it’s me projecting, but I can’t help but feel that he and his core staff are getting some sadistic pleasure watching the suffering and confusion that they are causing. I imagine they also view the mess they’ve made as evidence that they are fulfilling their promises to get tough on immigration and to protect the homeland.
It almost goes without saying that things could have been done differently. The ban could have been explained as a necessary and temporary policy adjustment to enhance our national security. President Trump could have expressed his sorrow that such orders were needed, and he could have reassured people that the ban was only temporary. He could also have made some positive statements about immigrants and Muslims, especially those who are serving with us in the war on terror. But he did not. So all of us are left to wonder whether this is a short-term measure targeting only the listed countries, or whether it is the beginning of something bigger. For American Muslims and immigrants, and for our allies abroad, the uncertainty of the EOs is probably worse than the EOs themselves.
The question, though, is what do we do from here? At this point, it would be naïve to expect any comforting rhetoric, or even common decency, from our President, so I think it is up to us—immigrants, advocates, and their supporters—to craft a response to the new reality.
For me, the protests are a good start. They show our solidarity and our strength (indeed, this is precisely why we held the Refugee Ball last month). There is some comfort in knowing that you are not alone and that the larger community is ready to defend you, and refugees and immigrants in our country are certainly not alone. Tens of thousands of protesters in the streets and at airports have demonstrated as much. We also see this as hundreds of elected representatives and other leaders have been speaking out in defense of our non-citizen neighbors.
Lawsuits—such as the lawsuits by the ACLU and several state governments—are also crucial. Thus far, they have blocked some of the most offensive portions of the EOs. The lawsuits show that the protections of our laws and Constitution extend to all non-citizen in our country and quite possible to some non-citizens who are outside our country. This will, I hope, provide some comfort to those in the Administration’s crosshairs.
Legislation in various states and municipalities is also important. Such action can serve to shield non-citizens from some provisions of the orders, particularly those that seek to encourage (or more accurately, coerce) local governments to help enforcement federal immigration law. They also potentially help build momentum for more positive legislative change on a national level.
Finally, volunteering to assist non-citizens--with housing, food, job search, English--helps such people integrate into our communities and feel more welcome in our country. If you are looking for volunteer opportunities, you might try contacting a local non-profit organization.
While these actions cannot fully allay the fear felt by refugees, asylum seekers, immigrants, Muslims, and many others in our country, they are all signs of the strong resistance President Trump faces to his policies and to his divisive world view. As we move through this difficult time, we must continue to resist hatred and work to support each other.
Originally posted on the Asylumist: www.Asylumist.com.
February 16, 2017
Grand Island, N.Y. – On February 14, 2017, U.S. Border Patrol received an anonymous call that there were 12-20 illegal immigrants at an address on Long Rd. In response, agents assigned to the Buffalo Border Patrol Station increased patrols in the area.
Border Patrol agents arrest subjects
illegally present in the U.S.
During the increased patrols, agents observed two vans containing multiple occupants in the area. Both vans pulled into a local food chain restaurant on Grand Island Boulevard. One of the vans parked and the other van went through the drive through. Agents initiated a consensual encounter with the subjects in the parked van who exited to go inside the restaurant. Two of the subjects attempted to flee on foot but were apprehended a short time later at a local drug store. A total of four subjects exited the vehicle; all were questioned by agents and determined to be illegally present in the United States.
Other agents initiated a vehicle stop on the second vehicle as it exited the drive through. That vehicle contained six subjects; three of the subjects were determined to be in the country illegally. One subject was determined to be a United States citizen, he was identified and released at the scene.
All subjects, with the exception of the United States citizen, were taken to the Buffalo Border Patrol Station for processing. Another subject claimed to be a lawfully admitted permanent resident but did not have his card present with him. Once at the station, his identity as a lawful permanent resident was confirmed and he was released. A third subject was found to have been registered as a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA); therefore, he was also released.
Initial records checks on one of the subjects from Mexico revealed that he was a convicted sex offender in 2008 in North Carolina. He was deported shortly after his conviction and re-entered the United States sometime thereafter.
A total of seven male subjects, five from Mexico and two from Honduras, are being held for immigration proceedings.
The Border Patrol welcomes information regarding suspected illicit activity, and can be contacted 24/7 at 1-800-331-0353.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.
February 16, 2017
Updated 02-16-2017 at 09:26 AM by MKolken