Nobody, including Trump, really knows what he means by a “tougher” immigration policy, but some of the week’s news gives clues about possible directions. First, there’s his plan to send detained migrants to sanctuary cities. Two other striking moves involve Attorney General Barr redefining immigration courts, and a new regulation that would further include asylum seekers.
The Washington Post reported on Trump’s plan to punish “sanctuary” cities, and especially districts represented by Democratic Congressional leadership, by dumping plane- or bus-loads of asylum seekers on them. He made the proposal in November and again in February, only to have his own DHS and ICE legal advisers firmly reject it on legal, logistical, and budgetary grounds.
“A White House official and a spokesman for DHS sent nearly identical statements to The Post on Thursday, indicating that the proposal is no longer under consideration.
“This was just a suggestion that was floated and rejected, which ended any further discussion,” the White House statement said.”
But who cares what the lawyers say, when the president is clearly above (or beyond( the law? Trump tweeted on Friday that the plan is still very much alive, and that ““The Radical Left always seems to have an Open Borders, Open Arms policy — so this should make them very happy!”
Barr’s Court Packing Plans
Quick review: immigration courts fall under the jurisdiction of the Attorney General, and judges are appointed by him. Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered speed-ups in hearings and changed the rule son asylum, saying that victims of gang violence and domestic violence were no longer eligible. Now Barr has more changes in mind:
“The Justice Department is on the verge of issuing rule changes that would make it easier for a handful of appellate immigration judges to declare their rulings binding on the entire immigration system, The Chronicle has learned. The changes could also expand the use of single-judge, cursory decisions at the appellate level — all at the same time as a hiring spree that could reshape the court….
“Last week, the Justice Department revived a proposed regulation originally initiated during the George W. Bush administration to allow the 21-judge appeals court system that hears immigration cases more latitude to issue cursory opinions without explanation. It would also allow the court to set precedents with only a small minority of appeals judges participating, which could sharply accelerate the administration’s ability to make changes to immigration law that wouldn’t require congressional action….
“All of these pieces add up to taking away due process and speeding people through to their deportation in some sort of assembly line substitute for justice,” said Jeffrey Chase, a former immigration judge and former senior legal adviser to the immigration appeals court.”
Making Asylum Harder
Proposed new regulations would impose a $50 application fee on asylum seekers, and would double the waiting period for work permits:
“The proposal by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services officials, included in a not-yet-finalized regulation, would more than double the time individuals who apply for asylum — either affirmatively while already present in the US or after crossing the border and referred to immigration court — become qualified to receive a work permit, from 180 days to 365 days.
““It doesn’t make any sense. If you’re going to say to a person that they will be considered for asylum and they have to wait, how are they going to feed themselves?” said Ur Jaddou, former chief counsel for USCIS. “How are they going to feed their families? Isn’t that the exact opposite of what we want people to do?”
“The federal agency, which is responsible for granting or denying immigration benefits to migrants, has also been working on a separate proposal that would institute a $50 fee for those who file for asylum after entering the US, sources said.”