A Detailed Account of the Dismantling of DACA

The recent deposition of Gene Hamilton offers a rare glimpse of an Administration official candidly discussing the development of a major policy area.
Photograph by Matt McClain / The Washington Post via Getty

Jonathan Blitzer recently reported in The New Yorker  insights into the operations within the Trump administration that culminated with the rescission of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

A handful of officials in the White House, the Justice Department, and the Department of Homeland Security have spent the past year attempting to realize President Trump’s vision of an America that is less welcoming of foreigners. John Kelly, the White House chief of staff; Jeff Sessions, the Attorney General; and Stephen Miller, Trump’s senior adviser, have led this effort. A crucial role has also been played by a lesser-known figure: Gene Hamilton, a lawyer in his mid-thirties who works as a top aide to Sessions at the Justice Department. Federal officials, congressional staffers, advocacy groups, and think-tank researchers know that Hamilton has helped shape Trump’s various travel bans, changes to refugee policies, and the implementation of an aggressive new approach to immigration enforcement. And yet, as one immigration lawyer told me of Hamilton, “he’s had such a light footprint.” Hamilton has rarely spoken to the press, and his relatively short career means that few can claim to know the exact nature of his beliefs or goals.

Last week, I obtained a two-hundred-and-thirty-five-page transcript of a deposition that Hamilton was compelled to give, in late October, as part of a federal lawsuit over the Administration’s handling of DACA, the Obama-era program that protected from deportation some eight hundred thousand undocumented immigrants who had been brought to the U.S. as children. The lawsuit was brought by Make the Road New York, the National Immigration Law Center, and the Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic at Yale Law School. The groups’ argument is that, while the government may have been within its power to cancel DACA, the manner in which it did so—suddenly, and without warning—violated the rights of the people who relied on DACA for work permits, student loans, and other benefits. During the proceeding, Hamilton was pushed to describe the part he’d played in various Administration decisions. Over four hours, he detailed his interactions with senior officials such as Kelly and Miller, shared his personal views on immigration policy, and acknowledged, notably, that he’d been the author of the September 5th D.H.S. memo that formally terminated DACA. And, while Hamilton was careful not to answer more than he had to, the transcript offers a rare glimpse of an Administration official candidly discussing the development of a major area of policy.

More details on this story, click here.

Senate Judiciary Committee Passed Immigration Reform Bill

(Getty Images/AFP/File, John Moore)

Washington, DC– The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” immigration reform bill on Tuesday, sending the measure to the Senate floor for consideration and giving the bill’s backers their first major legislative victory.

Members of the Democratic-controlled panel voted 13-5 in favor of the measure. If enacted, the plan would constitute the first overhaul of the nation’s immigration policy since 1986.

“The dysfunction in our current immigration system affects all of us and it is long past time for reform. I hope that our history, our values, and our decency can inspire us finally to take action,” Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, (D-VT), said.

Spectators cramming the committee room applauded and cheered loudly following the vote.

The panel’s 10 Democrats were joined in supporting the bill by three Republicans: Arizona’s Jeff Flake, South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham, and Utah’s Orrin Hatch. Flake and Graham are two of its four Republican authors.

Both party leaders in the Senate appeared supportive of the effort, a positive sign for backers hoping to win a solid majority in the full chamber.

“I think the ‘Gang of Eight’ has made a substantial contribution to moving the issue forward,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). “I’m hopeful we’ll be able to get a bill that we can pass here in the Senate.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) praised the “masterful” job of Leahy in navigating roughly 300 proposed amendments and advancing the 844-page bill to the floor.

Immigration reform is a priority for both parties in Washington and so far is one example of bipartisanship this year on major legislation in a sharply divided Congress.

A key political aim involves Republicans hoping to attract more Hispanics to their side, while Democrats wishing to keep that growing voter bloc squarely in their camp.

Latinos voted overwhelmingly for President Barack Obama’s re-election. He congratulated the committee on its work and urged the Senate to bring the bill to the floor at its earliest possible opportunity.

“The legislation that passed the Judiciary Committee with a strong bipartisan vote is largely consistent with the principles of commonsense reform I have proposed and meets the challenge of fixing our broken immigration system,” he said in a statement. “None of the Committee members got everything they wanted, and neither did I, but in the end, we all owe it to the American people to get the best possible result over the finish line.”

The measure approved by the Judiciary panel would create a 13-year path to citizenship for most of the country’s 11 million undocumented immigrants.

It aims to strengthen border security while raising the cap on visas for high skilled workers and establishing a new visa program for low skilled workers on America’s farms and elsewhere.

Proponents say the change is necessary to permanently and fairly resolve the status of undocumented residents. Critics insist the proposed change amounts to amnesty, rewarding those who chose to break the country’s immigration laws.

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) is leading the charge against the “Gang of Eight” proposal and is a tough critic. He has tried to derail the bill at nearly every turn, arguing that adding millions of newly legalized workers to the mix over the next few years will only hurt the most vulnerable segments of the American work force. He also has raised security and other concerns.

“This will be a hammer blow to the wages and employment opportunities of American workers—both immigrant and native born,” Sessions said in a statement after the vote.

“This bill is bad for workers, bad for taxpayers and—as immigration officers have pleaded for us to hear—a threat to public safety and the rule of law,” he said.

In a defeat for backers of expanded gay rights, the committee did not approve a pair of Leahy-sponsored amendments bolstering federal support for bi-national same-sex relationships.

Specifically, Leahy had proposed recognizing same-sex marriages in which one spouse is an American, and allowing U.S. citizens to sponsor foreign-born same-sex partners for green cards given proof of a committed relationship.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, the most prominent Republican in the “Gang of Eight,” was among those who called Leahy’s amendments a poison pill virtually certain to destroy GOP support for the measure.

Leahy’s amendments could be considered again when the bill is taken up by the full Senate. Doing so, however, would be little more than a symbolic gesture, as the proposals have virtually no chance of winning the 60 votes almost certainly needed to clear the 100-member chamber.

Earlier this month, Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) noted the possibility that an upcoming ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court on the federal Defense of Marriage Act could render the whole issue moot.

“The DOMA ruling could change this whole debate,” Durbin said. “They could eliminate DOMA and impose obligations on our federal government (relating to) same gender marriage, and that would dramatically change what we’re trying to achieve.”

The House is working on its own version of immigration reform.

Source: CNN.com

–Kristine Tungol Cabagnot welcomes your questions and comments at kristine@tungollaw.com.

New ICE Toll Free Number for Detainees to Call and New Detainer Form

 

WASHINGTON — As part of a broader effort to improve our immigration enforcement process and prioritize resources to focus on threats to public safety, repeat immigration law violators, recent border entrants, and immigration fugitives while continuing to strengthen oversight of the nation’s immigration detention system and facilitate legal immigration, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) today announced new measures to ensure that individuals being held by state or local law enforcement on immigration detainers are properly notified about their potential removal from the country and are made aware of their rights.

The new measures include a new detainer form and the launch of a toll-free hotline – (855) 448-6903 – that detained individuals can call if they believe they may be U.S. citizens or victims of a crime. The hotline will be staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week by ICE personnel at the Law Enforcement Support Center. Translation services will be available in several languages from 7 a.m. until midnight (Eastern) seven days a week. ICE personnel will collect information from the individual and refer it to the relevant ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) Field Office for immediate action.

The new form also includes:

  • A request that the law enforcement agency (LEA) provide the subject of the detainer a copy of the detainer form and includes a notice advising the subject that ICE intends to assume custody. The notice informs these individuals that ICE has requested the LEA maintain custody beyond the time when they would have otherwise been released by the state or local law enforcement authorities based on their criminal charges or convictions. The notice also includes Spanish, French, Portuguese, Chinese and Vietnamese translations.
  • Further emphasis that LEAs may only hold an individual for a period not to exceed 48 hours (excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays). It also advises individuals that if ICE does not take them into custody within the 48 hours, they should contact the LEA or entity that is holding them to inquire about their release from state or local custody.
  • Directions for individuals who may have a civil rights or civil liberties complaint regarding ICE activities.
  • The new form allows ICE to make the detainer operative only upon the individual’s conviction of the offense for which he or she was arrested.
  • The new form makes clear that the existence of a detainer should not impact or prejudice the individual’s conditions of detention, including matters related to the individual’s custody classification, work or quarter assignments.

An immigration detainer (Form I-247) is a notice that DHS issues to federal, state and local LEAs to inform them that ICE intends to assume custody of an individual in the LEA’s custody and to request that the LEA notify ICE as soon as possible prior to the time when LEA would otherwise release the individual.

Detainers help ensure that individuals who are convicted of criminal charges or have previously been removed are not released back into the community to potentially commit more crimes. Detainers are critical tools in assisting ICE’s identification and removal of criminal aliens, immigration fugitives, illegal re-entrants, recent border crossers and others who have no legal right to remain in the United States.

Woman Turned Over to Immigration after Domestic Violence Incident

Elena Cabrera, seated, says she was turned over to immigration authorities after she called Escondido police to report a domestic violence matter. Her daughter, Tayana Zarate, 17, was left alone to care for herself and her three younger siblings. EDWARD SIFUENTES | esifuentes@nctimes.com

Edward Sifuentes of the North County Times writes:

“A woman who called the Escondido Police Department to report that she was beaten by her boyfriend was herself arrested and later turned over to immigration authorities after she was booked at the Vista jail, a case that critics say illustrates the problems inherent in local police getting involved in immigration enforcement.”

Unfortunately, this kind of thing occurs all too often. See here and here.

Local police involvement with federal immigration enforcement makes it more difficult for police to gain the trust and cooperation of immigrants who live in our communityies. They are less likely to report crime or serve as witnesses at trial. That is why some local police chiefs are frustrated with local involvement in immigration enforcement — it makes the job of local law enforcement in fighting crime and maintaining public safety more difficult.

Report finds Due Process Abuses in Secretive Deportation Program

Using a little-known government program, the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has pushed nearly 160,000 immigrants – many with deep ties to the United States – through an expedited deportation process, sometimes without adequately informing them of their right to a day in court, according to a new analysis of thousands of pages of released government documents.

The report (Download Deportation-Without-Due-Process FINAL (2)), written by attorneys and law professors at Stanford Law School, the National Immigration Law Center, and Western State University College of Law, determined that DHS agents administering the program provided legally inaccurate portrayals of the opportunities to remain in the United States in order to boost deportation numbers, even though judges and others involved in the program voiced their concerns about how the program short-circuited individuals’ rights. Authors procured the previously unreleased documents, which included e-mails, memos, and data, through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit.

According to the report, the documents revealed evidence that agents involved with the program routinely provided inaccurate and misleading information to detainees in deportation proceedings to coerce them into signing “stipulated orders of removal,” which waives a non-citizen’s right to a day in court in exchange for speedy deportation. At least one immigration judge involved in the program determined that, “the waiver is not knowing in almost all cases.” “The stipulated removal program has hit some of the most powerless members of our society the hardest: poor immigrants who are in immigration detention, who don’t have lawyers, and who are facing minor, civil immigration charges. Some of these noncitizens might actually have qualified to apply for lawful immigration status,” said

Jennifer Lee Koh, lead author of the report and assistant professor of law at Western State University College of Law. “Unfortunately, the documents reveal a government agency that is willing to cut corners around immigrants’ Constitutional due process rights in the name of boosting deportation numbers.”

Among the most troubling documents obtained through the lawsuit is a Spanish-language script, apparently used by agents administrating the program, to convince immigrants to sign the Stipulated Order of Removal. The script, which is replete with grammatical errors and legal inaccuracies, erroneously informs immigrants that the “only” way to “fix” their papers is through certain family relationships and openly discourages immigrants from taking their cases to court. “This report confirms what attorneys working in detention centers have heard for years: non-citizens, especially those with limited English skills, are pressured into signing documents without being informed of the severe consequences of their actions,” said Karen Tumlin, managing attorney at the National Immigration Law Center and co-author of the report. “Such activity flies in the face of our constitutionally-protected due process rights. Sadly, the DHS seems to have determined that flagrant disregard for the Constitution is a fair price to pay for the expedient expulsion of thousands of members of our communities.”

The report shows that the program, which began nearly a decade ago and dramatically expanded in 2003, has been encouraged by DHS Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers at various levels of the organization. According to documents reviewed by the authors of the report, field offices were encouraged to use the program to boost deportation numbers and given incentives to increase the number of Stipulated Orders of Removals signed by detainees in their jurisdictions. “The stipulated removal program is a misguided solution to the U.S. government’s practice of over-detaining immigrants,” said Jayashri Srikantiah, professor of law and director of the Immigrants’ Rights Clinic at Stanford Law School and co-author of the report.  “The Obama administration should reconsider its detention practices instead of pressuring detainees to sign their own deportation orders. Due process requires more than a coerced choice between continued detention and giving up one’s day in court.”

The documents released show evidence that the noncitizens ensnared by the program were not given accurate information about their rights or current immigration law, and the documents reviewed suggest there are no policies preventing administrators from offering stipulated orders of removal to juveniles, the mentally ill, or other vulnerable populations. In 96% of all cases under the program analyzed by the authors of the report, immigrants did not have access to a lawyer, who could have provided immigrants with an accurate description of the often permanent ramifications of signing a Stipulated Order of Removal.

CHECKPOINT NATION: Racial Profiling by Law Enforcement on the Rise in The US since 9/11

Breakthrough and Rights Working Group (RWG), a coalition focused on ending racial profiling and fighting other human rights violations in the U.S., today released “CHECKPOINT NATION? BUILDING COMMUNITY ACROSS BORDERS,” a documentary video depicting the reality of racial profiling.

Several federal initiatives — such as 287(g) and Secure Communities, which give local and state police authority to enforce federal immigration law — have intensified racial profiling of migrants and people assumed to be migrants. Laws similar to Arizona’s SB1070, which would require Arizona residents to carry ID documents to prove their immigration status — and which lead to increased discrimination — are being passed in states around the country.

In CHECKPOINT NATION?, a woman named Maria describes being stopped and harassed by Arizona police for no discernable reason while nine months pregnant — and subsequently trailed by immigration agents into one of the most intimate moments of her life.

Set in the U.S./Mexico border area, which sees more and more migrant deaths every year, the video also demonstrates how diverse groups of allies — including Muslim, Arab-, South Asian-, African-, and Latino-Americans; civil rights lawyers and media activists — have found common ground in each other’s histories and united in the shared goals of justice, equality, and respect.

CHECKPOINT NATION? was produced to complement the release of a new report and Week of Action around the 10th anniversary of September 11th spearheaded by RWG, a national coalition of more than 300 civil liberties, national security, immigrant rights and human rights organizations committed to restoring due process and human rights protections that have been eroded in the name of national security. The report, “Reclaiming Our Rights: Reflections on Racial Profiling in a Post-9/11 America,” will be released on September 14th. CHECKPOINT NATION can be viewed here.

Employers Beware: An ICE Storm of Immigration Audits is Coming

Corporate Counsel reports that, for the second time this year, auditors at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement are cracking down on employers to ensure compliance with workplace eligibility laws. The government announced last week its intention to audit the hiring records of 1,000 employers of all sizes across the country. In February, the agency made a similar announcement and investigated 1,000 employers. The latest action brings the number of I-9 audits for fiscal year 2011 up to 2,300. ICE has been looking specifically at companies that traditionally hire a large volume of undocumented workers, such as the agricultural industry, the construction industry, and the hospitality industry. Other employers likely to be audited are those whose employees are privy to sensitive government information.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...