The Department of Justice set up seven new immigration courts to implement Trump’s January 25 executive orders. The Guardian reported on one of the courts – staffed by a rotating cast of judges pulled from other immigration courts for two-week stints, isolated and far from lawyers and legal resources, and
“fraught with technical flaws that make it tougher to act on behalf of clients and to ensure smooth running of the judicial process: broken fax lines make it hard to send and receive documents, teleconferencing systems often fail when a lawyer is patched in remotely, and there are chronic difficulties contacting prosecutors who have no direct phones lines at the new venue.”
Ordinary immigration courts pose huge obstacles to unrepresented immigrants. These are worse.
Inside Trump’s secretive immigration court: far from scrutiny and legal aid (The Guardian, 6/7/17)
“Behind two rows of high fencing and winding coils of razor wire, and surrounded by thick forest in central Louisiana, hundreds of miles from the nearest major city, stands a newly created court the Trump administration hopes will fast-track the removal of undocumented immigrants.
“Hearings take place in five poky courtrooms behind reinforced grey doors where the public benches, scratched with graffiti, are completely empty. There is no natural light. The hallways are lined with detainees in yellow jumpsuits awaiting their turn before a judge. The five sitting judges were quietly flown in by the US justice department from cities across the United States and will be rotated again within two weeks….
“Lawyers and advocates say the new system increases the risk of due-process violations as cases move more rapidly through the system, at a remote venue that already has the lowest rate of legal representation for detainees in the US. The union representing immigration judges, meanwhile, argues that reassigning judges from around the US where courts are already chronically overburdened is simply a waste of resources.”
And in other news
How U.S. Immigration Law Enables Modern Slavery (The Atlantic, 6/7/17)
“By tying immigrant workers to a particular employer, the U.S.’s immigration system enables modern slavery….
“This feature of U.S. immigration law gives exploitative employers a powerful tool to control their immigrant workers, whose lack of familiarity with the laws and customs of the United States already render them vulnerable. Aware of this advantage that they hold, some employers believe they can abuse employees with impunity. If workers complain or threaten to seek help, they are told that leaving their employer may very well lead to deportation.”
UND Professor under fire after social media comments (Grand Forks Herald, 6/5/17) Sixth-grader Ananya Vinay won the Scripps Spelling Bee. That didn’t go over well with Roxanne Vaughan, a biomedical science professor at the University of North Dakota, who wrote on her personal Facebook page:
“I’m sure she’s an immigrant, not worthy of interacting with our pure Americans. Send her back.”
Lawyers convention leaves Texas over state’s new immigration law (Texas Tribune, 6/7/17) The organization could face financial penalties, but is canceling anyway.
“The American Immigration Lawyers Association was scheduled to hold its 3-day event in Grapevine next year, but said the bill’s “dangerous, destructive and counterproductive proposals” go against the group’s mission. About 3,000 people were expected to attend the convention.”
Two Democratic Senators Are Asking SXSW to Move Out of Texas Over New Anti-Immigrant Law (Spin, 6/7/17) Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Catherine Cortes Masto (D-NV) wrote an open letter asking SXSW to leave Texas. SXSW said it is staying:
“We stand by the City of Austin in their challenge against SB4 and will continue to speak out against it, and all discriminatory legislation.
“We agree with the Senators that the law stands diametrically opposed to the spirit of SXSW and respect their call to action. We understand why, in today’s political climate, people are asking us to leave Texas.”
President Trump’s Immigration Crackdown Is Driving Some Poor People Off Food Stamps (AP via Time, 6/6/17)
“People who are not legal residents of the U.S. are not eligible to take part in what is formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
“But many poor families include a mix of non-legal residents and legal ones, such as children who have citizenship because they were born in the U.S. In those cases, it is often an adult who is not a legal resident who submits the application….
“Immigrant advocates see the aversion to food stamps as a reflection of a climate of fear that drives people in the country illegally deeper underground, which in some cases also makes them reluctant to report crimes.”
North Carolina Immigrant ID Card Praised by Police Is in Jeopardy (NBC News, 6/7/17)
“The Faith Action ID card was created four years ago to give undocumented immigrants in the area a form of identification and prevent their arrests for not providing proper identifications. It’s not government issued and can’t be used as a driver’s license, but 16 local law enforcement jurisdictions in the state accept the ID.
“But the North Carolina General Assembly wants it gone and has proposed legislation for the third year in a row to ban it as part of a larger immigration bill….
“Chief Jeffrey Smythe, of the Burlington Police Department decided to participate in the FaithAction ID program.
“So we met and we did the foundational stuff,” Smythe said. “And then it was so exciting the first couple of times we did an ID drive and there’s 300 and 400 people there lining up at 2 in the morning, in the freezing cold, to get an ID card. You just go, this is the right thing to do.”
NYC Warns Undocumented Immigrants About Sinister ’10-Year-Visa Scam’ (Gothamist, 6/7/17)
“The city’s Department of Consumer Affairs is warning immigrants that scammers are trying to exploit their attempts to get legal status by falsely telling them they can get a visa after living in the United States for 10 years.
“The DCA sent out a warning to look out for the scam, known as the 10-Year Visa Scam, in which unscrupulous immigration service providers and attorneys advertise an “easy” opportunity for immigrants to obtain legal status. Despite being advertised as a simple fix, the DCA warns that getting a green card based on residency requires someone to both enter deportation proceedings and prove their family would undergo “extreme, unusual, and exceptional hardship” if the person was deported.
“According to DCA, at least one immigrant spent $25,000 in pursuit of this “easy” visa, paying tremendous amounts of money for a false path to legal status that puts them in jeopardy.”
‘He will kill me if he sees me again’: abused women seek refuge in Mexico (The Guardian, 6/7/17)
“One in three Central American women interviewed by the UN refugee agency (UNHRC) on Mexico’s southern border at the end of last year were fleeing gender violence….
“Women and girls who dare report sexual abuse, rape and beatings by so-called loved ones are routinely failed by the deep-seated machismo that pervades public institutions.
“It’s this failure of the state to safeguard them that victims of domestic violence must prove in order to gain international protection in Mexico.
‘They treat everyone like criminals’: US asylum fails reporter fleeing Mexico (The Guardian, 5/28/17)
“After months of threats and harassment from corrupt police officers, which forced him to abandon his job and family in Acapulco, Méndez sought asylum in the US.
“The 26-year-old reporter thought the US would protect him, given the unprecedented wave of deadly violence against the press in Mexico, which the country’s government seems unable or unwilling to curtail. He was wrong.”