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According to the Austin (Texas) American-Statesman newspaper a federal judge in that city has stated in open court that he was told firsthand by federal agents that aggressive immigration raids in that city this February were made in direct retaliation for sanctuary policies adopted by a local sheriff.
The newspaper says that this statement was made on March 20 by U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrew Austin.
If this report is accurate, it could be an ominous sign that Donald Trump's agenda for mass deportation of Hispanic and other minority immigrants is bringing America closer to being a police state where any resistance to the leader or his policies brings forth swift and massive retaliation from the state.
A local activist organization, Travis County Campaign, ICE Out of Austin, described the raids as:
"...a vengeful tactic by ICE for all the progress that the immigrant community has gained in this county in the past four years".
These and other raids against Sanctuary jurisdictions described in the above article were followed on March 27 by renewed threats by the administration in the form of a statement by AG Jeff Sessions stating that the administration will cut off funding to any Sanctuary Cities that refuse to cooperate with Trump's mass deportation agenda by withholding information about immigration status from federal officials.
Sessions' threat focuses on 8 USC Section 1373, which prohibits any state of locality from refusing to share such information with the federal government, but this section has been attacked by some legal experts as unconstitutional. Seattle has now filed a lawsuit against implementation of Trump'a executive order.
Beyond the merits or lack of same in the details of the various immigration executive orders that Trump has signed since he became president, one thing has already become clear about the future of immigration under the Trump presidency:
Trump regards large parts of America's immigration system as subject to his one-man control by the simple stroke of a pen, without consulting Congress or anyone else, except a tiny group of top advisers, who, like Bannon and Sessions, have suggested taking America back to the Europeans-only immigration regime of the 1920's.
What this says about the future of America's democracy, and of equal protection of the law regardless of race, creed or color in Donald Trump's America remains to be seen.
Attorney at Law
Updated 03-29-2017 at 10:22 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
By Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law
Although the Office of Chief Administrative Hearing Officer (OCAHO) found Metropolitan Enterprises committed 189 violations and were fined $151,200, it could have been worse as OCAHO dismissed 20 allegations for the failure of ICE to establish employment during the audited period. U.S. v. Metropolitan Enterprises, Inc., 12 OCAHO no. 1297 (March 2017).
The case started in the usual way with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) serving a Notice of Inspection (NOI), seeking I-9 forms for current and terminated employees for a two-year period. Nine months later, ICE issued a Notice of Intent to Fine with Count I alleging 156 violations for various errors in completion of the I-9 forms – no employee signature, no employer signature, blank section 2, and no status box checked, and Count II – failure to prepare/present 53 Form I-9s.
ICE sought a penalty of $195,649 based upon a baseline penalty of $935 (over 50% of the I-9 forms were in error). It aggravated the penalty by 5% for the seriousness of the violation and mitigated the penalty by 5% for good faith. ICE also alleged five employees were undocumented and aggravated by 5% for those 5 Form I-9s.
Although ICE proffered a company payroll register for the two-year period of the NOI, this document did not provide hiring and termination dates. Without such, it is impossible to determine whether Metropolitan was required to retain the I-9 forms of the terminated employees, (Remember if the employee has worked there for over three years, an employer is only required to retain the I-9 form for a year from termination). The ALJ stated “mind reading is not an accepted tool of judicial inquiry.” Despite this shortcoming, OCAHO could discern the applicable dates for 189 employees out of the 209 employees.
However, OCAHO could not discern the hiring and termination dates of 20 employees; therefore, it could not determine whether Metropolitan was required under the law to retain their I-9 forms. Based on this, OCAHO dismissed 20 of the allegations.
Concerning the mitigation of the penalties, OCAHO did not find good faith based upon “wide spread, fundamental errors, which as a whole, have undermined the purpose of the employment verification system.” Furthermore, OCAHO declined to find five employees were undocumented because the ICE auditor did not identify the databases that he searched nor provided any details regarding how he conducted the searches.
OCAHO concluded the penalties proposed by ICE “while arguably defensible, are slightly disproportionate to the overall extent of the violations.” Thus, OCAHO set the penalties at $800 per violation rather than $935 per violation.
This decision was interesting because it detailed ICE’s failure to provide the appropriate facts to established some of the allegations and OCAHO’s astonishment that ICE considered Metropolitan’s conduct would warrant good faith mitigation.