Chicago’s lawsuit against DOJ over sanctuary city status


Chicago Mayor Emanuel: We won’t be coerced on our values

The City of Chicago escalated its months-long battle with the Trump administration over immigration enforcement Monday, asking a federal court to block Attorney General Jeff Sessions from imposing several new conditions over certain federal grant money.

The suit revolves around specific conditions Sessions announced in July for a federal program, the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant, or Bryne JAG, which provides federal funding to support local law enforcement efforts. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel defended his city’s lawsuit Monday, telling CNN the DOJ’s new stipulations against so-called sanctuary cities “undermines our actual safety agenda.”
“We want you to come to Chicago if you believe in the American dream,” Emanuel, a Democrat, told CNN’s Poppy Harlow on “Newsroom.” “By forcing us, or the police department, to choose between the values of the city and the philosophy of the police department, in community policing, I think it’s a false choice and it undermines our actual safety agenda.”
Emanuel’s office said in a statement over the weekend that the Trump administration’s “latest unlawful misguided action undermines public safety and violates” the Constitution. He said the city is challenging the administration “to ensure that their misguided policies do not threaten the safety of our residents.”
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It’s Children Against Federal Lawyers in Immigration Court

A 15-year-old boy who fled El Salvador for the United States and now lives with his uncle in Tuscon. Credit Caitlin O’Hara for The New York Times

Fernanda Santos of the New York Times writes:

“Every week in immigration courts around the country, thousands of children act as their own lawyers, pleading for asylum or other type of relief in a legal system they do not understand.

Suspected killers, kidnappers and others facing federal felony charges, no matter their ages, are entitled to court-appointed lawyers if they cannot afford them. But children accused of violating immigration laws, a civil offense, do not have the same right. In immigration court, people face charges from the government, but the government has no obligation to provide lawyers for poor children and adults, as it does in criminal cases, legal experts say.

Having a lawyer makes a difference. Between October 2004 and June of this year, more than half the children who did not have lawyers were deported. Only one in 10 children who had legal representation were sent back, according to federal data compiled by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, a research group connected to Syracuse University.”

Agreement Reached: Class Action Lawsuit on Work Authorization for Asylum Seekers

Washington, DC — The U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security have agreed to settle a nationwide class action lawsuit challenging the denial of work authorization to asylum seekers who have been waiting six months or more for a decision on their asylum applications. If approved by a federal judge, this agreement will help ensure that asylum-seekers, who have fled persecution in their home countries, are not unlawfully prevented from working and supporting their families while the government adjudicates their cases.  The settlement agreement represents the culmination of years of advocacy by the American Immigration Council’s Legal Action Center (LAC) and other groups on behalf of deserving asylum seekers.

The agreement stems from a case filed in December 2011 by the Legal Action Center (LAC) and the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP), with co-counsel from the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute and the Seattle law firm Gibbs Houston Pauw.  The complaint challenged widespread problems with the “asylum clock”—the system government agencies use to determine when immigrants who have applied for asylum may obtain permission to work lawfully in the United States.

The case, filed on behalf of asylum-seekers around the country, alleged that the current system unlawfully denies asylum applicants the opportunity to obtain employment authorization if their asylum application has been pending for six months or more. Some end up waiting several months or years for the government to make a decision on their asylum application.  Indeed, one plaintiff from China has been waiting nearly 10 years for his case to be resolved. Employment authorization is critical given that most applicants have fled their home countries without any resources, and thus have no means to support themselves.

“The settlement agreement includes significant changes to ensure that vulnerable asylum-seekers are no longer arbitrarily deprived of the ability to work while the government decides their cases,” according to Mary Kenney, Senior Staff Attorney with the Legal Action Center.

“We are extremely pleased that we were able to achieve a solution that we believe will help hundreds, if not thousands, of people seeking asylum,” said Chris Strawn, director of the asylum unit at NWIRP. “Many asylum seekers who were stuck in limbo, without any way to support themselves or their family members while waiting for their asylum applications to be resolved, will now be able to obtain employment authorization.”

“Getting work authorization has been a huge benefit to me and my family, allowing us to sustain ourselves while waiting for a decision on my asylum application,” said B.H., one of the named Plaintiffs in the suit.

Because the suit involves a class action, the settlement agreement, filed April 12, 2013 in a federal district court in Washington State, will have to be approved by Judge Richard Jones, the judge overseeing the case.

Source: A.B.T. et al. v. USCIS, et al. A Nationwide Class Action to Fix the “Asylum Clock” Terms of Settlement, The Legal Action Center

–Kristine Tungol Cabagnot welcomes your questions and comments at

Arizona Takes On the U.S. Supreme Court

Washington, D.C.—The Supreme Court will soon hear arguments in Arizona v. United States, a dispute over the legality of the immigration law known as “SB 1070.” More than any matter in recent history, the case involves a range of important questions regarding the role that states may play in the enforcement of federal immigration law. The Court’s decision will likely affect not only the future of SB 1070, but the fate of other state immigration laws being challenged in court and the odds of similar laws being passed around the country.

This action is more than just a misguided attempt by the state to assume responsibility for immigration policy; S.B. 1070 represents legally sanctioned racial intimidation. By targeting certain groups of people living within the state, the Arizona law amounts to an ethnically divisive and deeply hostile social policy. It raises the specter of states treating people differently based solely on their appearance rather than on their actions. And it does so at a time when the face of our nation is changing dramatically, and ethnic diversity is becoming the norm—not just in isolated urban pockets but also throughout the country. By 2040 the country is projected to no longer have a single ethnic majority.

See the Center for American Progress’ in-depth report on this matter for more details.

ACLU: Maricopa County Reach Settlement in Lawsuit by U.S. Citizen Illegally Arrested During Worksite Raid

The American Civil Liberties Union today announced that it has settled a lawsuit against the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO), home of Sheriff Joe Arpaio,  over the illegal stop, arrest and detention of a U.S. citizen and a legal resident during a 2009 immigration raid at Handyman Maintenance, Inc. in Phoenix. As part of the settlement, Maricopa County agreed to pay $200,000 to Julian and Julio Mora and their lawyers in exchange for the dismissal of the lawsuit.

The settlement resolves a lawsuit filed in August 2009 by 68-year-old Julian Mora, a legal permanent resident who has lived in the U.S. for 30 years, and his son Julio Mora, 21, a U.S. citizen. The father and son were singled out from white drivers on a public roadway, stopped without justification, ordered out of their truck, zip-tied, and transported to a worksite immigration raid being conducted nearby. Once taken to the worksite, they were detained by Sheriff’s Office personnel for three hours (along with over a hundred Latino workers) without food, water, or the ability to use the bathroom unescorted, until they were given a chance to prove that they were lawfully in the United States.

In April, a federal court judge in Arizona ruled that the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office violated the Fourth Amendment in stopping and arresting the Moras without cause and that the County was liable for damages.

The Moras were represented by the by the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona, the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project and the cooperating law firm Ryals & Breed of St. Louis.

Lawyers on the case, Mora, et al. v. Arpaio, et al., include Wang and Andre Segura of the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project, Lai and Pochoda of the ACLU of Arizona, and Stephen Ryals of Ryals & Breed, P.C., of St. Louis, Missouri.

Read the April federal court decision and the complaint.

Kid-Killing Minutewoman Shawna Forde’s Accomplice Guilty on All Counts in Murders

The Phoenix New Times reports that Shawna Forde’s co-defendant, Jason Eugene Bush, was found guilty late last week in a Pima County Superior Court for the murders of Raul “Junior” Flores and his 9-year-old daughter, Brisenia, at their home in Arivaca, Arizona.

Last month, Forde, a founder of the Minutemen American Defense, was sentenced to death for her role in the murders. Following the murders, Forde told authorities she planned to take the group to “the next level” by leading a raid on the Flores home looking for drugs and money to fund the group.

Bush, like Forde, will be eligible for the death penalty if the jury finds that aggravators are proven.

For more on this story, click here.

Day Laborers in Immigration Enforcement Sting get $650,000 in Settlement

Danbury, CT: A group of day laborers who were arrested in a sting operation in Danbury, Connecticut, in 2006, have sued both the local and federal authorities for racial profiling and violation of their civil rights. In two separate settlements, eight laborers will receive a total of $650,000. Previously Danbury city officials and the group of day laborers called the Danbury 11, agreed on a $400,000 settlement. In addition the day laborers will receive $250,000 from the federal government. In the sting operation that happened more than four years ago, the workers were picked up by a van driven by a Danbury city police officer who posed as a contractor. The police officer then delivered the workers to the U.S.Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The workers who were arrested in the sting operation claim that they were victims of racial profiling. The Yale Law School student who represented the Danbury 11, Katie Chamblee, says the settlement is the “largest monetary settlement ever paid out to day laborers by any municipality in the country.” According Danbury mayor Mark Boughton, the settlement shows that the city did nothing wrong, because no one who’s civil rights were violated would be satisfied with a money settlement, but would demand a change in policy. A representative for the National Day Laborer Organizing Network says settlements with immigrant workers usually involve policy change by the local governments.

Guatemalans Sue U.S. Over Medical Experiments

Then-U.S. President Bill Clinton apologized in 1997 to victims of a 40-year U.S. syphilis experiment program.

The CNN Wire Staff reports that a group of Guatemalans who were infected with syphilis during U.S. human experiments and their heirs have filed a lawsuit against U.S. health officials.

The class action lawsuit, filed this week, alleges that the U.S. government violated a number of national and international laws when it carried out the experiments in Guatemala between 1946 and 1948.

Law firms representing the victims said the United States intentionally infected the Guatemalans in an effort to study the effects of the disease. One lawyer for the Guatemalans, Piper Hendricks, had said last week that she hoped an agreement would be reached that would avoid litigation and a trial.

The United States has apologized for the experiments, but did not reach a settlement with the plaintiffs.

For more on this story, click here.

DHS Agrees to Pay $400,000 to U.S. Citizen, Army Veteran, Unlawfully Detained by Immigration for Over Seven Months

From the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project:

Years after being wrongfully detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Rennison Castillo, a United States citizen and Army veteran, is finally receiving an apology and just compensation from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

In November of 2005, Mr. Castillo had just completed his sentence for violation of a protection order and harassment. Instead of being released from jail, he was transferred to the custody of ICE, which held him at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, WA for the next seven and a half months. During his detention, Mr. Castillo, who was born in Belize but became a United States citizen in 1998 while serving in the U.S. Army, repeatedly explained to several different ICE officers, and then to an Immigration Judge, how he had not only been naturalized as a U.S. citizen, but had also honorably served this country in the U.S. military.  ICE claimed that Mr. Castillo was in the country illegally and began deportation proceedings against him.

Like other immigration detainees faced with deportation, Mr. Castillo was not entitled to a court-appointed attorney, and he could not afford to hire a private attorney. He was only released after Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP) took up his case on appeal.

Subsequently, Mr. Castillo received assistance from NWIRP attorneys Matt Adams and Angélica Cházaro, who agreed to represent him against the ICE officers who were responsible for his detention.

“What was most disturbing to me in reviewing this case was the callous indifference of the ICE officials,” said his attorney, Matt Adams. “We knew we had to take some sort of action to try to prevent this abuse of power from happening again in the future.”

After learning of the case, the law firm of K&L Gates agreed to provide pro bono representation to Mr. Castillo. K&L Gates lawyers representing Mr. Castillo included Douglas Greenswag, Theo Angelis, and Kymberly Evanson. Theo Angelis, a partner with K&L Gates and one of Castillo’s attorneys explained: “Our soldiers deserve honor, respect, and justice. We are proud of helping Mr. Castillo obtain an apology and just compensation.”

The government agreed to enter settlement negotiations after a federal district court judge denied the government’s motion to dismiss. In addition to the damages award and the formal statement of regret, DHS announced a revised policy to help prevent similar incidents in the future.

For more on this article, click here.


Justice Prevails in Shawna Forde Murder Case

A Pima County jury on Monday convicted Shawna Forde in the 2009 killing of an Arivaca man and his 9-year-old daughter. The jury deliberated for seven hours over two days. Photo Courtesy of ColorLines

We recently reported on the Forde allegedly was involved in a group affiliated with the Minuteman. Pima County jury convicted Shawna Forde today of two counts of first-degree murder in the May 30, 2009 deaths of Arivaca residents Raul Junior Flores and his 9-year-old daughter, Brisenia. The jury also convicted Forde of attempted first-degree murder in the shooting of Flores’ wife, Gina Gonzalez, as well as related aggravated assault and robbery counts.

A Pima County jury convicted Shawna Forde on February 14th of two counts of first-degree murder in the May 30, 2009 deaths of Arivaca residents Raul Junior Flores and his 9-year-old daughter, Brisenia. The jury also convicted Forde of attempted first-degree murder in the shooting of Flores’ wife, Gina Gonzalez, as well as related aggravated assault and robbery counts.

Gonzlez started crying as soon as the first guilty verdict, the killing of her daughter, was read just before noon in a packed courtroom at Pima County Superior Court. The jury deliberated for seven hours over two days. Jurors will now be asked if the death penalty ought to be considered. On the first day of the trial, which has gained national attention, Gonzalez testified her husband woke her to say the police were at the door. The woman at the door identified herself and the man with her as law enforcement officers looking for fugitives, Gonzalez said.

For more on this story, click here.

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