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Why Immigrant Rights Advocates Cannot Endorse Hillary Clinton

Below is an e-mail written to the New York State Immigration Action Fund (NYSIAF) urging them to reconsider their endorsement of Hillary Clinton given that she has promised to deport children to death in Central America:

“I hope all is well. I write to you to express my outrage on reading reports that the New York State Immigration Action Fund (NYSIAF) will endorse Hillary Clinton for the upcoming primary on April 19.

As attorneys who represent over 300 Central American children with pending deportation cases in the New York Immigration Court and who have won relief for more than 200 children in the past two years, we believe it is unconscionable that NYSIAF is endorsing Hillary Clinton.

Simply put, Mrs. Clinton’s has stated if she were to become President, she would deport children to harm in Central America. In contrast, her opponent Bernie Sanders recently requested that President Obama designate Honduras, EL Salvador, and Guatemala for Temporary Protected Status, which would ensure that no child is sent back to death or harm in Central America.

Mrs. Clinton has appeared to “evolve” on her hawkish statements to CNN in 2014

“We have to send a clear message, just because your child gets across the border, that doesn’t mean the child gets to stay,” she said. “So, we don’t want to send a message that is contrary to our laws or will encourage more children to make that dangerous journey.”

Clinton said the main reason minors are coming is to escape violence in their home countries, predominantly Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.

Amanpour asked if that meant they should be able to remain in the United States, since it is safer.
“Well — it may be safer but that’s not the answer,” Clinton replied.

Yet as recently as February 12, 2016 in a nationally televised debate with Mr. Sanders “Hillary Clinton defended her past statements that Central American migrant children needed to be sent home from the border to “send a message” to other families: Don’t come.”

In a sharp about-face less than a month later, Mrs. Clinton appeared to have undergone a revolutionary change in policy when she said to Jorge Ramos “I will not deport children. I would not deport children,”…I do not want to deport family members either.”

However, Clinton’s statements are directly belied by her persistent (and current) refusal to promise temporary protected status for Central Americans fleeing the war zone of the Northern Triangle.

To wit: when pressed by NPR’s Julio Ricardo Varela on whether Mrs. Clinton agreed with Martin O’Malley and Bernie Sanders’ that Central Americans from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador should be granted Temporary Protected Status, she said, through a spokesperson, “NO.” Specifically,

She believes it is critical that everyone has a full and fair hearing, and that our country provides refuge to those that need it And we should be guided by a spirit of humanity and generosity as we approach these issues.

By clearly refusing to even consider TPS for Central Americans, Hillary Clinton’s position is unequivocal: she will deport children to death, rape, or serious harm in Central America.

NYSIAF should not endorse a Mrs. Clinton given that she has promised to deport children to death or harm in Central America, especially when her opponent Mr. Sanders has promised the categorically prevent the deportation of children to death or harm through the enactment of Temporary Protected Status. 

Thank you for taking the time to hear my concerns.”

 

Office Assistant

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Bilingual Paralegal

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We have an open position for a bilingual (Spanish-English) paralegal.  Paralegals assist attorneys by performing the following duties:

  • Filling out immigration forms
  • Taking client affidavits and statements
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  • Drafting family court petitions for custody and guardianship cases
  • Drafting letters and adjournment requests
  • Translation of documents, including complex legal documents
  • Appearances to the New York Asylum office as interpreters
  • Heavy interaction with clients, in person and over the phone

Requirements:

  • Two- or four-year college degree
  • Verbal & written fluency in Spanish and English
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Salary

We offer a competitive salary, medical benefits, vacation, sick and holiday pay.

The Deporter-In-Chief’s $834 million binge on Charter Flight Deportations

The spending data below is derived from the U.S. Government.

From 2009 to 2016, you will see how much the Immigration and Customs Enforcement paid private aviation companies on a year-by year basis.

As you can see, from 2009 to 2014, the Obama administration’s payments for deportation flights increased with every year as follows: 2009: $49 million; 2010: $104 million; 2011: $106 million; 2012: $129 million; 2013: $130 million; 2014:  $165 million.

In Fiscal Year 2015, the first year after DHS Secretary Johnson’s November 20, 2014 “priorities” memo, spending precipitously dropped by $72 million from the previous year and the lowest since 2009,  Obama’s first year office.

What does this drop mean? That Obama has had significant difficulties in removing  children and families, who are in his eyes the highest priorities for removal.

The steady increase in spending up to 2014 also supports many critics’ contention that Obama has intentionally ratcheted up undocumented immigrants deportations for 6 out of his 8 years in office.

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Obama’s Push for Mass Deportation of Children In 2016

On February 3, 2016, a little noticed internal memorandum was released by the Chief Judge of the Immigration Courts. It’s innocuous title, “Revised Docketing Practices Related to Certain EOIR Priority Cases” really meant that the President ordered all children or family unit cases to be scheduled for an asylum hearing before the end of 2016.

To be clear, “Priority Cases” mean mothers with children and unaccompanied children who entered the United States after January 1, 2014.

We experienced the reality first hand. Below is a transcript of a recent hearing before an immigration judge assigned to the priority docket in the New York Immigration Court.

Additionally, all of our clients’ asylum trials previously scheduled in 2017 or 2018 were sua sponte advanced to the year 2016 and sua sponte reassigned to be heard by new immigration judges.

President Obama is making his last stand: to deport as many children as possible before his time is up. He wants this to be his legacy.

To explain the background, the effect of the new accelerated docket will be to strike a blow to availability of both pro bono and private counsel to represent both families and unaccompanied children.

With such a short turnaround in asylum hearings, an overburdened legal support system will be unable to take on new cases, thereby cutting off supply of lawyers for tens of thousands of children.

Here is the excerpt from a hearing on February 18, 2016.

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Judge: Now are you ready to schedule this matter for an individual hearing date?

Me: I am but I did hear that there’s that recent change in scheduling from prior to February for merits hearings…

Judge: Right, we were kind of doing everyone a disservice by having these cases out for that long…

Me: I respectfully disagree given… (judge cuts off)

Judge… Well,  But, it doesn’t matter whether we are or we are not, this is where we are scheduling now that i can hear these cases, and I can schedule this for an individual hearing date as soon as possible.

Me: When are the dates available?

Judge: I have dates in March…do you still need time to get her documents from the home country?

Me: No, your honor, but that is not the issue with March or closer dates, it’s that I have already pre-existing merits hearings…

Judge: So, let’s work with what your schedule is, I mean counsel, you’ve been obviously aware that respondent has been seeking asylum since october, in october of 2014, so all of your actions up to this point should be getting her ready to have her hearing.

Me: “At that time, our schedule was significantly less compromised.

Me: To be frank, with the surge docket and all the individuals that have been scheduled lately, the closest time I would be available would be January of 2017 for a merits hearing.

Judge: “Well, counsel, I will take that into consideration, um, I have dates available as early as next month, in April, in May, I do take into consideration when attorneys need some time to get additional documents that they are waiting or documents from the home country…Um i can give you a date on June 8. I mean are you, counsel, if your hearing time is booked completely from now until January, here is a thought, co-counsel, or associates, your practice is expanding…

Me: I mean, that’s something we have been working on constantly.

Judge: I have a date, are you available on June 8, on June 15?

(pause)

Me: In 2016, no your honor.

Judge: In June 15, 2016?

Me: “I mean…(10 second pause) There’s no dates in 2017 your honor?

Judge: “I’m not going out to 2017, I don’t need to, I have enough hearing time to put this respondent on my docket to hear her case.

Me: “The immigration court has significantly more resources. they were able to create this hearing time out of…”

Judge: “Sir, If you have issues with the court opening up available hearing time, you need to follow up with my court administrator, or the assistant chief immigration judge in new york, i have no say or comment on that. I do know that I have available hearing time and i am trying to schedule folks hearings as readily as i can in accordance with the particular needs of the respondents, not so much for the particular needs of counsel, I am taking into account that you may have conflict with a number of dates that I give you, but I cannot go out to 2017 to fit in your scheduling sir because you have taken on a number of additional cases and you represent a larger swath of Respondents and i am glad that you do but then you also have to have adequate coverage in your firm so you can meet the needs of Respondents. now you may continue.”

Me: I understand that, first of all, a lot of our pre-existing cases were scheduled years before the priority docket was started and in my experience since 2014 with the priority docket is the whole purpose behind it has been to cut down on due process and I am not talking about scheduling, but about how it affects my clients and my ability to dedicate sufficient time adequately vindicate the due process rights of my clients, and right now with this case, and to be frank all of the cases on the rocket docket that are being scheduled for individual hearings, I feel like they are being pushed through at a really fast speed so that we have less time to dedicate to our clients and it really, really prejudices them….

Judge: “Mr Johnson, i appreciate your thoughts, but the purpose of my master calendar is not to have a forum for you to express whatever opinions you have and i respect and understand your frustration and in a perfect world, all respondents would have their hearings within 6 months to a year, that actually is reasonable, many folks have family members who are at home and are at risk and who wish to have their hearings expedited rather than have asylum hearings delayed to 2019 and i think our court is doing our utmost to ensure that. Now I am going to offer you a couple of dates sir, and I am telling you, I am not stretching this case out to January of 2017, and I think sir as a practitioner, that you are taking on a number of hearings and respondents that you are representing and you also need to meet their needs and goals, so either you represent them and take on their hearing dates or if you are booked then you should take on or expand your practice, that is your personal consideration.

Judge: Are you available July 27 at 1 o’clock?

Me: Yes, your honor.

The Chronicles of Jeh “The Child Executioner” Johnson

Spring is in the air and to President Obama this means Central American migration is also in the air.

Like clockwork, President Obama dispatched DHS Secretary Jeh “The Child Executioner” Johnson to send a renewed message to attempt to curtail a repeat of the 2014 exodus.

Here is the translation:

“Our borders are not open to illegal immigration. If someone is captured crossing our border illegally, an immigration court orders their removal, they do not have any appeals pending and do not have the requirements for asylum or other humanitarian claim under our laws, they will be repatriated”

Our policy of immigration control is centered on public security and border security. We are primcipally focusing on the removal of persons with criminal convictions and persons the represent a threat to the public security, such as persons who are detained at the border. This has been out constant policy since President Obama and I announced it in November of 2014, and it has not changed.

In concordance with these priorities, last month Immigration and Customs Enforcement of the United States initiated operations focused on the removal of families that were detained upon crossing the border illegally after January 1, 2014, have a final order of deportations issued by the immigration court and do not have any pending appeals or applications for asylum or any other humanitarian claim. Given that we are a nation of laws and we must secure our borders, these types of operations will continue to take place.

 

Meanwhile, our resources for enforcement of the immigration laws will not be utilized to deport those who have not committed serious crimes, that have been in the United States for years and have family there. In accordance with our policy, these persons are not priorities for deportation.

It is also certain that when our officials enforce the immigration laws, except in emergency circumstances, they will not arrest a person in a place of worship, a school, a hospital or medical clinic or other delicate place.

The trip to the United States in the hands of criminal human traffickers can be very dangerous. After charging high amounts of money, the smugglers can take advantage of the parents and of the children and put them at risk of physical harm, sexual abuse and exploitation. The smugglers can also demand additional money once the children are in the United States before releasing them.

As part of our renewed effort to secure our border, we are working with the Department of justice to redouble our efforts to find and charge criminal traffickers that take advantage of families.

Placing the lives of your loved ones in the hands of criminal smugglers is not the only option. We recognize that some individuals from Central America have legitimate reasons to ask for refuge. Our Secretary of State, John Kerry, recently announced that we are expanding our Refugee admission program to help men, women and vulnerable children secure refuge in the United States through a secure, legal, and orderly process.

The United States government is working with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and nongovernmental organizations in Central America to implement these changes as soon as possible. This program will only be available for those who seek refugee status in the Central American region, not for those individuals who are already in the United States.

Our policy is clear: we will continue enforcing our immigration laws and securing our borders. A the same time, we will offer certain vulnerable individuals in Central America safe and legal alternatives to the dangerous trip north and the opportunity to apply for refugee status.

 

It is disturbing that the U.S. government is willing to distort reality or lie to Central Americans  to prevent them from seeking asylum in the United States as is their right.

Jeh Johnson, after all, is a licensed attorney in the State of New York. He is ethically obligated to be truthful.

Mr. Johnson begins his missive with a sentence that makes it appear that individual will be ordered removed by an immigration court immediately up0n being detained at the border.

The statement does not even explain that a person has the right to apply for asylum before an immigration judge and that in most circumstances a person will not be ordered removed until the immigration court denies their asylum claim or other application for relief.

The biggest misrepresentation is the claim that “Placing the lives of your loved ones in the hands of criminal smugglers is not the only option” to find refuge in the United States from violence in one’s home country.

Mr. Johnson continued “we are expanding our refugee admission program to help men, women, and children secure refuge in the United States through a secure, legal, and orderly process.”

Johnson’s use of the word “expanding” creates the impression the new refugee program is all but in place and all that remains is to cross the “t”s and dot the “i”s.

However, there is no alternative way to reach the United States for individuals who wish to apply for asylum in the United States but to do so by making the dangerous journey by land to the U.S./Mexico border. (Of note, it is far more dangerous to make the trip to the United States without aid of a human smuggler given one is completely vulnerable to the whims powerful organized crime groups or corrupt Mexican officials. In most scenarios, a human smuggler simply provides all inclusive transportation–bribes to corrupt officials included–to the U.S./Mexico border and then guidance to the point of crossing into the United States.)

At best, individuals under the expanded refugee program will not even be able to send in their applications for several more months.  It will then be another year or more of waiting to see if one is allowed to reach the safety of the United States.

 

 

All of this is further predicated on the assumption that the administration that replaces President Obama in January of 2017 does not cancel the refugee program for Central Americans.

So what is Jeh Johnson’s message really?

Stay in your country and die. If you get to the United States, we will send you back. We do not care what happens to you. We are only interested in ensuring you do not become a political liability for us.

Corrected Headline: Illegal Border Crossings By Families Increases Steeply

Yesterday, several news articles revealed that the Obama administration is eager to convince the public that its brutal raids and and subsequent deportations of women and children fleeing war in Central America have yielded a decrease in unaccompanied children and family unit apprehensions made this January. 

Julia Preston, who is one of rare journalists that Jeh Johnson provides direct quotes to, wrote an article in the New York Times titled “Illegal Border Crossings by Families Drop Sharply.”, in which she repeatedly emphasized a “steep drop” in crossings in January of 2016, as one can see here: 

A 65 percent drop from December to January in crossings by families — mostly women with their children from three violence-torn countries in Central America — came after widely publicized raids in the first days of this year in which 121 migrants were arrested for deportation. 

Here is the extraordinarily limited data that Preston cites to support her article: 

In January there were 3,145 apprehensions by the Border Patrol of migrants in families, down from 8,974 in December. Additionally, agents caught 3,113 children crossing without parents in January, a 54 percent decrease from 6,786 in December. Overall apprehensions at the southwest border declined 36 percent from December and were at the lowest levels since January 2015, according to the figures.

For family units, DHS’ month by month apprehension data from FY2013 to FY2015 show that the number of apprehensions in January of 2016–3,145–is the highest number in history for the month of January. 

Here is the breakdown for number of apprehensions family units in January from 2013, 2014, & 2015. 

In January of 2015, only 1,632 family units were apprehended. See this chart: 

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As you can see, there were 1,632; 2316; and 855 family unit apprehensions for 2015; 2014; and 2013, respectively. Which begs the question, why are January’s numbers being reported as a decline when in fact they are nearly twice as high as January of 2015? 

The complete and utter lack of context in reporting the numbers from which the supposed decline fell from–specifically, December of 2015–further illustrates how egregiously misleading the New York Times and other reports are.

In December of 2015, there were 8,974 family unit apprehensions.

As such, family unit apprehensions in December of 2015 were more than three times as much than December of FY 2015 and significantly higher than any month of FY 2015 and historically the highest number for the month of December. 

The statistics on unaccompanied children apprehensions for January of 2016 are also reported in grossly misleading light. 

Record High Numbers of Children Continue to Flee Central America for Asylum in the United States

In January of 2016, the 3113 unaccompanied children were apprehended at the border was the second highest recorded for the month of January, slightly less than  the 3,711 apprehensions in the “surge” year of 2014 yet significantly higher than the 2,123 apprehensions in the immediately previous January of 2015. 

The 6,786 unaccompanied kids apprehended in December of 2015 was a record high for the month of December, more than doubling the 2,862 apprehensions from December of 2014.

So, what do these numbers mean in light of how they have been reported in the mainstream media? 

That DHS is given VIP treatment in how stories are framed in order to further their agenda. Here, it is to create an inference that there is a plausible link between the January 2016 raids and what turns out to be an illusory decline in number of apprehensions. 

To have integrity, reporting on these numbers requires comparison to all previous years where data is available, not solely the immediately preceding month. 

Here are more accurate headline ideas, customized for the New York Times’ addiction to using the word illegal to describe anything relating to immigration. 

 “Illegal Border Crossings by Families Increases Steeply” or “Illegal Border Crossings by Families Is Record High for Month of January.” 

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