Legal protection, from Minneapolis to Supreme Court and other immigration articles – June 26, 2017

Today’s news starts with a series of legal decisions and actions — and there will be more tomorrow, as the Supreme Court issues its final decisions of the term later today.

First, a Michigan federal court ordered a temporary halt to deportation of about 100 Iraqis arrested there. The ACLU is suing, saying that they will be subject to religious persecution if they are deported back to Iraq.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last week that if an attorney fails to advise that deportation could result from a guilty plea, that’s ineffective assistance of counsel and the guilty plea can be withdrawn.

Of local interest – attorney Bruce Nestor said that the Minneapolis city attorney dropped all charges against Ariel Vences-Lopez on Friday. Vences-Lopez is the Minneapolis Blue Line rider whose questioning about his immigration status by an LRT cop was caught on video and shared on Facebook. He remains in custody, with deportation still pending. 

Temporary restraining order on Iraqi deportations

Judge in Michigan blocks deportation of 100 Iraqis (Reuters, 6/22/17) The federal district judge is considering whether the Iraqis would be persecuted because they are religious minorities, and also considering whether he has jurisdiction in their case.

“The Michigan arrests were part of a coordinated sweep in recent weeks by immigration authorities who detained about 199 Iraqi immigrants around the country.”

Federal court blocks immediate deportation of Iraqi nationals (ACLU, 6/22/17) Read the judge’s decision here.

“The American Civil Liberties Union successfully sought the temporary restraining order, arguing those individuals should have an opportunity to prove their lives would be in danger if they were returned to Iraq.”

Detroit halts deportation of Syrian Christians (AP via MPR, 6/23/17)

Jae Lee and ineffective assistance of counsel

Jae Lee vs. United States (Supreme Court decision, 6/23/17)

Opinion Analysis: Immigrant who received bad advice gets another shot at staying in the United States (SCOTUSblog, 6/23/17) Lee’s trial court attorney told him that a guilty plea would not lead to deportation. Wrong. So should his conviction be overturned for inadequate assistance of counsel? The government said no, because they had plenty of evidence to convict without a plea. The Supreme Court said yes – he’s entitled to good legal advice before making a decision on trial or a plea.

“Lee’s saga – which Chief Justice John Roberts, in his opinion for the court, recounted in some detail – began in 2009, when he pleaded guilty to possession of ecstasy with the intent to distribute it and was sentenced to one year and one day in prison. It was only after he pleaded guilty that Lee – who was a lawful permanent resident of the United States – learned that deportation was mandatory for crimes like his. For Lee, who had come to the United States nearly 30 years before, this was a penalty worse than prison: He owned two restaurants in the United States and was the sole caregiver for his elderly parents; by contrast, he no longer had any ties to South Korea, where he was born….

“Both common sense and the Supreme Court’s own case law, Roberts explained, acknowledge “that there is more to consider than simply the likelihood of success at trial.” Instead, Roberts continued, a defendant who is deciding whether to take a guilty plea will also consider the consequences of his conviction – after both a trial and a guilty plea. And the fact that a defendant’s odds of prevailing at trial may be very low does not end the inquiry: When the question is “what an individual defendant would have done,” Roberts reasoned, “the possibility of even a highly improbable result” – an acquittal – “may be pertinent to the extent it would have affected his decisionmaking.”

Supreme Court gives second chance to man facing deportation because of bad lawyering (Washington Post, 6/23/17)

Justices Side With Immigrant Who Got Bad Legal Advice (New York Times, 6/23/17)

Other legal cases

Matter of DEANG (Board of Immigration Appeals, 6/16/17) BIA holding that Deang is not deportable as an alien convicted of an aggravated felony receipt of stolen property offense. Okay — I know this reads as a complicated and maybe even arcane bit of prose, but it is important.  The bottom line is that the BIA invoked the principle of lenity — of taking the interpretation of the law that is most lenient toward the poor person standing in front of the judge. And that’s a good thing.

“Accordingly, since a necessary element of both generic theft and receipt of stolen property offenses is an intent to deprive the owner of the rights or benefits of the property taken or received, a receipt of stolen property offense committed with a mens rea of “reason to believe” (or a similar mental state) cannot fall within the generic definition of an aggravated felony receipt of stolen property offense under section 101(a)(43)(G) of the Act. See Sanchez-Rodriguez, 830 F.3d at 172–73 (concluding that a conviction under a Florida statute that merely requires proof that a violator trafficked in “property that he or she . . . should know was stolen” is not categorically one for an aggravated felony since “it does not require proof of the specific ‘intent to deprive the owner of rights and benefits of ownership’” (emphasis added)). “

Charges dropped against immigrant whose LRT fare check went viral (Star Tribune, 6/23/17) He’s still in custody of immigration officials.

“Ariel Vences Lopez, 23, was charged with fare evasion, obstruction of process and providing a false name to police. On Friday, all of the charges were dismissed by the Minneapolis city attorney, according to his lawyer, Bruce Nestor of Minneapolis….

“Vences-Lopez entered the United States illegally in 2013 and worked for a roofing company. He told his attorneys that he was robbed of $2,000 at knife point in early May, so he couldn’t afford the light-rail fare. He did not report the crime to police until recently.

“As a victim of a crime, Vences-Lopez might qualify for a “U visa,” a category reserved for crime victims who cooperate with law enforcement, his attorneys say.”

And in other immigration news

Too much of a good thing? With unemployment down, some businesses struggle to find workers (MinnPost, 6/23/17) Minnesota dairy farms are particularly hard-hit, as Trump administration restrictions on temporary ag worker visas prevent farmers from bringing back needed workers.

“Milking cows is hard work, and the pay is well above minimum wage, Buck said. But there just aren’t enough people who want to do it. He’d estimate dairy farmers have raised wages, on average, by about 15 percent in the last two years, but still, finding workers is a struggle.

“Maybe there’s less workers and maybe some of them have gone to jobs that were easier to do,” Buck said.”

The Senate Health Care Bill Takes Aim at Some Legal Immigrants (Vox, 6/22/17)

“The Senate bill targets certain legal immigrants (including work and student visa holders, and people currently applying for green cards) who aren’t eligible for most public benefits programs but who are included in the Affordable Care Act. Like its counterpart in the House, the American Health Care Act, the Senate bill keeps those immigrants from being able to get tax subsidies to offset the cost of purchasing insurance.

“But it goes even further than the House bill, preventing them from being able to buy insurance on state Obamacare exchanges entirely. Since there are parts of the US where health insurance is only available through the exchanges, that means some legal immigrants will find it impossible to buy insurance altogether. And many more will find that insurance has been placed miles out of reach.”

Honduran immigrant mistaken for someone else by ICE dies in custody after inadequate medical treatment (New York Daily News, 6/20/17)

“A Honduran immigrant — arrested after being mistaken for another undocumented worker by ICE agents — died in federal custody earlier this month because of inadequate medical treatment, his family’s lawyer alleges.

“Rolando Meza Espinoza, who was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents on April 1, died on June 10 in the Jersey City Medical Center’s intensive care unit, the family’s lawyer Manuel Portela told the Daily News on Tuesday.

“Meza, 35, a father of three, suffered from several chronic illnesses, including cirrhosis of the liver, anemia and diabetes.”

Judge okays lawsuit over once-secret immigrant vetting program (Washington Post, 6/20/17)

“The lawsuit claims the government since 2008 has used the Controlled Application Review and Resolution Program to blacklist thousands of applications for asylum, legal permanent residency or citizenship as national security concerns.

“The program imposes criteria on the applications that go far beyond what Congress has authorized, including holding up some applications if the applicants donated to Muslim charities or traveled to Muslim-majority countries, the complaint alleges.”

Why many young Somali-American Muslims in Minnesota aren’t going to mosque (MinnPost, 6/23/17)

“Young Somali-Americans don’t feel welcomed at mosques,” said Hassan. “The imams can’t relate to them because they don’t speak the same language; they don’t know how to connect with young people. There is a big cultural divide, unfortunately.”

The cultural divide runs from language to hairstyles to political involvement, but some young Muslims are trying to bridge it.

“Hassan, a sophomore at Augsburg College, has been a faith leader even when he was a student at Minneapolis’ South High School, where he founded a Muslim Student Association and advocated for a student prayer room in the school.

“He’s also part of The Brothers Club, a group of young Somali-American Muslims who produce weekly YouTube talk shows in English.”

Minnesota DACA recipients worry over White House’s moves (Star Tribune, 6/24/17)

“Gomez’s anxiety about the future of DACA came to a head in February, when his permit was up for renewal and he expected the president to end the program any day.

“Gomez, who was 8 when his parents crossed the border illegally from Mexico, says he owes a lot to the program. He was able to work and afford his studies at Augsburg College in Minneapolis. The program allowed him to envision a career as an educator helping kids with the same language and academic challenges he encountered as a child. But now, an administration committed to tougher enforcement of the country’s immigration laws had all his personal information, along with that of about 750,000 other DACA recipients nationally, informally known as Dreamers.”

NC Woman’s Deportation Order a ‘Symbol of Everything Wrong With the Immigration System’ (Rewire, 6/21/17) For eight years, she was told that she was not a priority for deportation. Then came Trump, and everything changed.

“For the past eight years, Minerva Cisneros Garcia has checked in regularly with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. But on April 23 everything changed for the North Carolina mother, who is being forced to leave her home of 17 years by bus on June 28….

“Garcia’s oldest, Eduardo, is 21 years old and blind due to complications from cancer. Her second-oldest son died of cancer in 2007, seven years after they first migrated to the United States. Her two remaining children, who are 6 and 3 years old respectively, were born in North Carolina. Winston-Salem is the only home they’ve ever known.”

‘Minerva Is Our Neighbor’: Communities Unite to Fight Deportation of North Carolina Mother (Rewire, 6/23/17)

“I think some Americans understand these [executive] orders impact people like me, but maybe they don’t care,” Garcia said, referring to Trump’s orders doubling down on immigration enforcement. “I don’t understand, because if they were born in Mexico and faced my situation, where my husband died and my blind son needed more opportunities, they would do what I did. They would look for the best for their kids.”

“She has noticed a shift in how she is treated while out in the world, which is almost a stark contrast to the kindness exhibited by the near-strangers who have been fighting her deportation alongside her. It is a reality that doesn’t reflect the “humanitarian” spirit she believes the United States to have.

“When I used to go to the store, the people smiled at you. After this election, they don’t smile at you,” Garcia said. “They used to talk to the kids. Now they don’t do that. They’ve changed.”

Bay Area family’s choice: Apart in U.S. or together in Mexico? (San Francisco Chronicle, 6/23/17)

“After spending months puzzling over her family’s immigration dilemma, Salazar decided to move with Nubia from Solano County to Guadalajara, Mexico — even though they were both native-born U.S. citizens who preferred to stay. Even though she would be leaving behind a grown daughter struggling with medical issues. Even though they had grown close with their community and their church.

“It breaks my heart,” Salazar said. “This is something I would never have voluntarily done.”…

“The other option was to stay put and accept living apart from the family patriarch, who was forced to leave the country in August. Though Cuauhtemoc “Temo” Salazar, 46, had been brought to the U.S. at age 6 with a visa by his mother, and though he married an American at age 23, he never obtained citizenship — and a couple of drug-possession convictions he picked up as a young man may have cost him the chance to vie for legal status.”

Mayors to Trump: Immigration orders meddle with cities (Star Tribune, 6/24/17) The U.S. Conference of Mayors, meeting in Miami, is considering resolutions opposing Trump’s sanctuary city policies and supporting DACA. And even Republican mayors have problems with his deport-everybody push:

“The Republican Mayor of Carmel, Indiana, Jim Brainard, who is also bucking his party on the climate front, says he opposes Trump’s immigration views.

“Punishing cities makes no sense,” Brainard said. “Everyone who has come to this country, regardless of whether it was illegal, ought to have a pathway to legalization and then we can move to issues that really can help make our country better.”

Immigration in Europe

Desperate Journeys: Refugees and migrants entering and crossing Europe via the Mediterranean and Western Balkans routes (UNHCR, June 2017) The total number of refugees entering Europe was lower in 2016 than in 2015, but deaths at sea increased.

“The number of deaths of refugees and migrants in the Mediterranean as they attempted to reach Europe in 2016 is the highest on record, primarily due to 4,578 deaths in the central Mediterranean, compared to 2,913 in the whole of 2015. The proportion of those refugees and migrants that died while attempting to cross the central Mediterranean in 2016 is one death for every 40 persons crossing, which is higher than the one in 53 recorded in 2015. Despite the presence of multiple governmental and NGO search and rescue vessels, people continue to drown as boats capsize, including during rescue attempts, with some trapped or locked below deck.”

Life and Death on the Mediterranean (Medium, 6/20/17) The EU-Turkey agreement has not made life better for refugees.

“Testimonials from rescued migrants and refugees, along with reports from human rights groups, paint a grim picture of migrants and refugees in Libya.

“Armed groups and competing powers operate across the country, which lacks any central government with significant territorial control. And even if Libya did have a functioning government, the country is not party to the 1951 Refugee Convention.

“Kidnapping by armed groups, forced labor, frequent sexual assault and other horrors plague migrants and refugees in Libya before they even reach the Mediterranean waters.

“And many of those who voluntarily embark on a journey to Libya may find themselves transformed into human cargo by traffickers.”

This refugee squat represents the best and worst of humanity (The Guardian, 6/23/17)

“Refugee and volunteer-run squats provide a stark alternative to Greece’s government run camps, most of which are squalid, dangerous and degrading. In camps that I visited last November, refugees slept on concrete, sheltered only by cheap nylon tents. They queued for hours for food that might be infested with maggots, and had little access to education, work, or respite from the endless, pointless wait to continue their lives.

“Squats like City Plaza accomplish their work without a cent of government or NGO funding. In contrast, despite the $803m euros that since 2015 have flowed to the Greek government and NGOs to help them deal with the refugee crisis, refugees froze to death in camps last winter. Desperate, several more have tried to burn themselves alive. Even the best camps isolate refugees from cities, keeping them quarantined like carriers of a disease.”

About Mary Turck

News Day, written by Mary Turck, analyzes, summarizes, links to, and comments on reports from news media around the world, with particular attention to immigration, education, and journalism. Fragments, also written by Mary Turck, has fiction, poetry and some creative non-fiction. Mary Turck edited TC Daily Planet,, from 2007-2014, and edited the award-winning Connection to the Americas and AMERICAS.ORG, in its pre-2008 version. She is also a recovering attorney and the author of many books for young people (and a few for adults), mostly focusing on historical and social issues.
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