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Sessions Threatens to Prosecute Americans who "Harbor" Immigrants in the New "Trump Era". Is Police State Coming Closer? Roger Algase

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Update bulletin, April 12, 1:30 pm:

Now it's official. On April 11, the Attorney General's office released a memo calling on all federal prosecutors to:

"...consider for prosecition any case involving unlawful transprtation of harboring of aliens. or any other conduct prescribed pursuant to 8 U.S.C. Section 1324..." (Italics added.)

(See ilw.com news item April 12.)

As I have mentioned below and in previous Immigration Daily comments, and will explain further in forthcoming comments, this refers to INA Section 274, an extremely broad statute which makes it a felony for anyone, including a US citizen, to "assist" someone who is remaining in the US without permission.

Conceivably, this could include providing legal advice, medical assistance, advocacy or help of any kind to anyone who might turn out to be or could be suspected of being an unauthorized immigrant.

It could also, not inconceivably, include failing or refusing report such a person to ICE for arrest and deportation.

Is America on the way to its own version of the 1936 German Nuremberg laws which made it a crime for non-Jewish Germans to engage in certain types of activities or associations with Jews?

Will the "New Era" of Donald Trump which Sessions mentioned in his April 11 Arizona speech start to resemble the "New Order" in Germany 80 years ago?

My original comment follows:

In an April 11 speech at the Mexican border, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who as a fiercely anti-immigration Senator, issued an immigration "Handbook" for Congressional Republicans in January 2015 containing high praise for the 1924 Immigration Act which excluded most of the world from immigrating to the US except for people from Northern Europe, announced that:

"This is a new era. This is the Trump era."

http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/news/...rizona-9228298

What, other than the highly unfortunate resemblance between "New era" and the "New Order" announced by the German National Socialist government some 80 years ago, exactly does this mean?

One thing that Sessions made clear is means as that unauthorized immigrants themselves are not the only targets of Trump's immigration actions, but that American citizens who "harbor" or "transport" them will be prosecuted.

The reference is to INA Section 274, an extremely broad statute which, while primarily directed against immigrant smugglers, also make it a federal felony to "harbor" or "assist" an authorized immigrant in remaining in the the United States.

As the above Phoenix New Times report quotes Jeanne Atkinson, Director of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC), as saying, the statute "applies to everyone" who might provide help.

As Atkinson puts it:

"You could be talking about a grandma taking a grandchild to the doctor."

The same article also quotes Brent Wilkes, executive director of LULAC as follows:

"They're trying to criminalize and make it a felony to pursue the American dream."

The above report also states, with regard to Wilkes' comment:

"The intent of going after people who harbor or transport undocumented immigrants is to intimidate them and increase fear among the undocumented community, he [Wilkes] said."

One might add that it is not only immigrants who could have a great deal to fear from Sessions' threat to launch criminal prosecutions under INA Section 274.

Any American who lends any kind of assistance to, or even associates with, someone who might turn out to be in the US without legal status, or who fails to report someone whom he/she knows or has reason to suspect may be here illegally to ICE for deportation could also. according to the language of the statute, be subject to prosecution.

In that case, comparisons between Trump's police state New Era and the New Order in Germany eight decades ago would not be by any means accidental or inappropriate.
______________________________

Roger Algase is a New York immigration lawyer who has been helping mainly skilled and professional immigrants receive work visas and green cards for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. Roger's email address is algaselex@gmail.com











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Updated 04-29-2017 at 02:48 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

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Comments

  1. MKolken's Avatar
    You mean like this? The largest workplace raid under the Obama administration just happened in New York

    "The mass arrest of immigrants stems from a two-year long investigation into the three Mexican restaurant owners who are accused of harboring undocumented immigrants and evading taxes. During the raid, agents also seized nine apartments and two houses where dozens of restaurant workers lived. Only a few of the restaurant workers received payroll checks, but undocumented workers were paid between $500 and $800 in cash every week."
  2. MKolken's Avatar
    Just going to leave this here: In 2014 Half of All Federal Arrests were For Immigration Crimes

    Half (50%) of the 165,265 total arrests made by the federal government in fiscal 2014 – the most recent year for which statistics are available – were for immigration-related offenses, such as crossing the border illegally or smuggling others into the United States. A decade earlier (under Republican President George Bush), immigration-related offenses accounted for 28% of all federal arrests.
  3. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    Obama is no longer the president. At the most, he may have been the "John the Baptist" for Donald Trump's era of much wider persecution, which, unlike the Obama administration, could also conceivably send thousands, if not millions of US citizens to jail for helping or failing to report unauthorized immigrants, just as many Germans went to prison or concentration camps for helping Jews in Nazi Germany.

    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law
  4. MKolken's Avatar
    There isn't "much wider persecution." In fact, the pattern is virtually identical: Immigration Court Cases Post-Trump Not Dissimilar to Obama.

    But it is nice to see Democrats caring about immigrant communities again now that a Republican is back in the White House. And yet, I can't help but wonder where you all were for the past 8 years when a Democrat controlled the deportation apparatus and lied about his deportation record.
  5. MKolken's Avatar
    Statistics from Obama's last year:

    "During FY 2016, for example, immigration matters accounted for 53.2 percent of [Federal] prosecutions. These were largely prosecutions for illegal re-entry (8 USC 1326) and illegally smuggling people into this country and/or illegally harboring them (8 USC 1324)."
  6. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    Obama admittedly gave Trump a broad base of immigration-related criminal prosecutions which Jeff Sessions has now announced he will expand on. Does anyone seriously doubt that Sessions will be true to his word?

    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law
  7. MKolken's Avatar
    ...or that Obama wasn't.
  8. MKolken's Avatar
    (and that Democrats didn't/don't care)
  9. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    Here's a question for Matt:

    Did Obama prosecute any lawyers for giving legal advice to unauthorized immigrants who wished to stay in the US? Did he prosecute doctors for giving them medical advice or assistance?

    What guarantee do you or anyone else have that Trump will not prosecute in these instances?

    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law
  10. MKolken's Avatar
    "Did Obama prosecute any lawyers for giving legal advice to unauthorized immigrants who wished to stay in the US? Did he prosecute doctors for giving them medical advice or assistance?"

    Has Trump?

    I'm sure you'll let me know if he does.
    Updated 04-12-2017 at 01:53 PM by MKolken
  11. MKolken's Avatar
    ...And there are only two guarantees in life: death, and Democrats voting to raise taxes.
  12. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    Yes, Roger, the Police State is coming.....if by Police State you mean a country in which the immigration laws are enforced.

    Nolan Rappaport
  13. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by ImmigrationLawBlogs
    Here's a question for Matt:

    Did Obama prosecute any lawyers for giving legal advice to unauthorized immigrants who wished to stay in the US? Did he prosecute doctors for giving them medical advice or assistance?

    What guarantee do you or anyone else have that Trump will not prosecute in these instances?

    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law
    Have you read the harboring provisions in the Immigration and Nationality Act. Or my recent article on harboring? Or are you just assuming bad things will happen because Trump is involved?

    You know that lawyers are not going to be prosecuted for assisting aliens with understanding the law or representing them in proceedings. If you want to discuss the issue on that level, don't forget cops who stop a mugger from stealing an undocumented alien's ill-gotten pay check, or the bus driver who takes him to his illegal job, or the waitress who serves his lunch. The availability of such examples is endless.

    "Sanctuary cities 'harboring' aliens: Trump's next immigration target?"
    http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blo...ary-cities-and

    Nolan Rappaport
  14. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    Jeff Sessions is now prosecuting a woman who laughed while his own confirmation hearing was taking place, even though there is no claim that her laughing during one sentence that took place during the hearing disrupted it in any way.

    Nevertheless, Nolan is asking us all to take it on faith that we can trust Sessions to continue with the reasonably narrow view of an extremely broadly drafted statute which has prevailed to now.

    This is despite Sessions' own statements that he will increase Section 274 prosecutions.

    Whose statements and actions are more reliable as a predictor of future activities in this regard, Nolan's, however well intended, or that of the highest law enforcement officer of the United States?

    That question answers itself.

    In many ways, Jeff Sessions is much more dangerous to our democracy than Trump himself.

    Trump may be narcissistic, vainglorious and self-aggrandizing, like some of the foreign dictators he admires so much - see my comment on Brent Budowsky's article which I cite in the May 3 Immigration Daily Letters section, but Trump is at the same time inconsistent and unpredictable, which shows at least some small indication of a possible inkling or two of flexibility and an open mind lurking behind all his wild tweets and irrational threats against any and all of his opponents, if not our democracy itself.

    Sessions, on the other hand, is a firm ideologue with a definite goal which he has stated, at least indirectly on more than one occasion, namely to turn America back toward the 1920's system of whites only immigration, by any means he can find.

    If one compares Trump to the Pope during the Inquisition, one could then compare Sessions to Torquemada.

    And this a man whom Nolan is asking us to trust not to let INA Section 274 out of the box?

    With all due respect to a great legal scholar such as Nolan, now I am the one whose turn it is to laugh.

    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law
    Updated 05-03-2017 at 09:56 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
  15. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by ImmigrationLawBlogs
    Jeff Sessions is now prosecuting a woman who laughed while his own confirmation hearing was taking place, even though there is no claim that her laughing during one sentence that took place during the hearing disrupted it in any way.

    Nevertheless, Nolan is asking us all to take it on faith that we can trust Sessions to continue with the reasonably narrow view of an extremely broadly drafted statute which has prevailed to now.

    This is despite Sessions' own statements that he will increase Section 274 prosecutions.

    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law
    I don't know the circumstances surrounding the laughter incident.

    Yes, I do expect Sessions to follow the law the way it has been interpreted...when he has to make a decision or approve something a subordinate has prepared for him.

    Have you ever worked for a large organization like the Justice Department? I worked there for 20 some years. I can tell you with complete assurance that the AG doesn't get involved in immigration enforcement to the extent that you are suggesting.

    He is running the largest law firm in the country and it deals a vast array of legal issues. He isn't going to be sitting in his office writing policy memos on how to enforce section 274 or any other law that the Justice Department enforces.

    For instance, the "AG" occasionally writes a decision reversing the Board of Immigration Appeals. His signature even appears on the decision (put their with a computer program). But he doesn't write it. His Office of Legal Counsel writes such decisions for him. I know because one of the lawyers in that office was a friend of mine.

    That office has super bright lawyers who do extensive research to make sure that whatever goes out under the AG's name is technically correct and applies whatever policy guidelines apply to the topic. Yes, they aren't always right, but you can't blame the AG for that fact.

    No the AG doesn't write the policy guidelines himself either. Subject matter experts in his department put them together with whatever guidance they have from the AG or other people they work for, which probably isn't much when you get to the head of the organization.

    Stick with Trump. He does get involved with policy details. He is probably tweeting some right now in the White House. It will be interesting to see if he is still doing it a year from now. I predict that he won't be.

    Nolan Rappaport
  16. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    I have now looked more closely at the newspaper reports on the woman who laughed during Sessions' confirmation hearing and seen that the main reason for her misdemeanor conviction was disorderly conduct after being escorted from the hearing room because of her having let out what she claimed was an involuntary laugh during the hearing.

    I will withdraw my previous comment implying that this incident shows that Sessions is responsible for moving America toward dictatorship under his leadership of the criminal justice system.

    She refused a plea bargain offer and demanded a jury trial, after which the jury found that her overall conduct had in fact disrupted or tried to disrupt the confirmation hearing.

    However, this story has nothing to do with my point about the dangers of Sessions' threat to expand the use of INA Section 274, an extremely broad statute which, if interpreted literally, could send almost every American who has ever had even the most trivial or harmless contact with an immigrant who might turn out a some point not to have proper documentation of lawful presence in the US to prison.

    OK, my reference to the woman who laughed at the hearing was not a good example.

    But Sessions, by threatening to widen the scope of prosecutions for "harboring" or "assisting" illegal immigrants, could be striking a dagger at the heart of our democracy in his zeal to turn America back toward the 1924 whites only immigration system which he so lavishly praised in his January, 2015 immigration manifesto directed to his fellow Congressional Republicans.

    America in 2017 could start to bear a closer resemblance to Germany in 1933.

    There were plenty of people who wanted to, and did, enforce the Nuremberg laws to their fullest extent. Neither Nolan, myself, nor any other American who cares about our democracy would ever want to see that happen here.

    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law


    Updated 05-04-2017 at 06:03 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
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