Tag Archives: ICE

Heller on the Slipface?

angle of reposeLet’s assume for the moment that much of the goings-on at the Residence on Pennsylvania Avenue have less to do with governance, and ever so much more to do with a tender ego, thin skin, and a perfectly illogical, nay irrational, sense of reality.  Further, we might also assume that Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) has calculated a return to his seat in the US Senate predicated on keeping the Trumpian Base happy.  After all, Heller was pleased to support Orange Blossom’s Muslim Ban [RGJ] after expressing some initial “concerns.”  The senior Senator is good at this, i.e. expressing initial concerns prior to caving in faster that a pile of  dry sand with a 35° angle of repose.   So, we shouldn’t be surprised to find he’s caved again.

Thus much for all that opposition to turning Nevada into the nation’s nuclear waste basket (Yucca Mountain), Senator Heller is willing to forgive and forget all that to tell us he has NO reservations about supporting the nomination of Mr. Kavanaugh to the US Supreme Court. [RGJ]  How convenient for the Orange Occupant of the Oval Office?  To have a Senator support the candidate most likely to declare the decision in US vs. Nixon a mistake. [WaPo]  Indeed, how very helpful!

Once having aligned himself with the Orange Occupant’s selection, Senator Heller may have to explain to his audiences (should he decide to have any with living people in them) how he is serving ALL the good people in the Silver State.

People who don’t necessarily believe the decision in Roe v. Wade should be overturned?  People who don’t necessarily believe that gun dealers have more rights than gun violence victims?  People who don’t necessarily believe that people with pre-existing medical conditions should be priced out of the health insurance markets?  People who don’t believe that ICE agents should be arresting and detaining victims of domestic abuse? People who don’t necessarily believe that the function of immigration enforcement agencies is to rip young children away from their parents, and then to be so incapable or incompetent as to make reuniting them nearly impossible — subsequently resorting to the ruse of declaring the un-reunited children as “ineligible” for a return to their parents.  What a cold and miserable calculation that categorization must be?

But, please, Senator Heller, do run as if this were still primary season.  Do cling to the increasingly disjointed, illogical, and downright cruel rantings of the Oval Office Occupant.  Do revert to the wedge issues of the 1980s and 1990s.  I’m sure your opponent, Rep. Jacky Rosen will be pleased to talk about —  offering affordable health care for all Nevadans, promoting women’s health and family well-being, advocating for employment opportunities and equal pay for all Nevada families.

“President Trump is trying to pull up the ladder behind him, leaving the middle class stranded while his super-wealthy buddies turn the federal government into a source of enrichment for themselves. Trump ridicules women, people of color, the LGBTQ community, immigrant families, and anyone who challenges him.” [Rosen]

So, while Senator Heller is clutching the banners on Trump’s bandwagon, Rosen would rather we take our own ride.  We can’t guarantee that the media will do much more than it did in 2016 — spend more time interviewing Trump and the Trumpians than discussing issues raised by Democratic candidates. Therefore, it will be up to Democrats to tell friends and neighbors about Rosen’s (and other Democratic candidates’) position on issues.  Rosen’s are here.

We know we’re about Health Care, Government Reform,  a Clean and Safe Environment, Education, a sane and humane Immigration Policy,  advancing the interests of Senior Citizens, attending to the Security of our Nation.   However, we can’t count on much help from a mass media which treats Republican candidates and their voters like the audience for Duck Dynasty — interesting, intriguing, anomalies who attract their attention.   If Democrats can’t be shiny objects for press and punditry, perhaps we can be loud and proud.

We don’t disparage the different and the disabled. We don’t find it necessary to call the cops on kids selling lemonade, hot dogs, and candy.  We don’t find it uncomfortable if someone who has a “natural tan” is in the swimming pool, or lives next door.  We The People buy up the candy the young lad was selling when the broad beamed bigot decided to launch her verbal assault.  We The People know how to make life a misery for the intolerant who call the cops to barbecues and college common rooms.  We The People know how to identify and shame the shameless. And, if some members of Congress don’t share our values of common decency, concern for the well being of others, or improving the lives of as many of our fellow citizens as possible, then We The People can always change the members of Congress.

The Trumpians, for all we care, can slide down the slipface of history.

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Filed under Heller, Nevada, Nevada politics, Politics

It’s Official: No More Phony Memo Here

The cable news obsession with the highly questionable (I’m trying to be polite) memo from Devin Nunes’ staffers is sucking up the oxygen, and nitrogen, argon, carbon dioxide, and water vapor from the air…or at least from the airwaves. So, how about some news that isn’t Dumb Memo related?

As if one weren’t too many, there’s a fellow being styled as the “next David Duke.”  The Huffington Post has an interesting article about this bit of algae mass in stagnant water.  It seems the “White Ethno-State” is as phony as the leader.   In a related publication the New York Daily News offers a good piece on the NFL and the players’ protests, speaking of the origins of the flag ceremonies:

However, that’s not the case anymore. In 2015, two senators released a report that found that the Department of Defense spent $6.8 million on “paid patriotism” between 2012 and 2015. The money, which was spread out amongst 50 pro teams from the NFL, NBA, MLB, and others, was for teams to do flag presentations, honor military members and reenlistment ceremonies.

Which begs the question: How can black players who protested the flag be unpatriotic if the faux patriotism that we see before every NFL game had a price tag?

Good question.

Be careful of slipping on ICEPBS reports: “Federal immigration authorities formalized a policy Wednesday to send deportation agents to federal, state and local courthouses to make arrests, dismissing complaints from judges and advocacy groups that it instills fear among crime victims, witnesses and family members.”   The official guidelines are here (pdf).   Gee, what could possibly go wrong?  Oh, how about a person showing up at a traffic court?  The man’s crime, in case anyone’s interested, is that his DACA status expired although he is still eligible for an extension.  He has no other criminal record. Or how about detaining an immigrant (with green card) while he and his wife were in court as part of an interview to establish their official status as a married couple.  Or, the Polish immigrant doctor arrested on January 16, 2018 by ICE for having two misdemeanor offenses on his record as a teen; he was released on bond  yesterday.  Then there are the two detainees in Florida who have died in custody.    At least there’s one federal judge who isn’t amused.

America alone means China First:  at least in terms of amassing trade deals, “From deals with blocs including the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to bilaterals with tiny countries like Maldives, China’s FTAs already cover 21 countries. That compares with the 20 countries covered by U.S. agreements. More than a dozen additional pacts are being negotiated or studied, according to the Ministry of Commerce. ” (FTA = Free Trade Agreement)

Renegotiate a better NAFTA?  Maybe not, the administration’s trade rep is clashing with the neighbors.   Secretary of State Rex Tillerson appears to be trying to help clean up the mess.

Jobs Jobs Jobs: Harley Davidson is cutting production (read: layoffs) as a result of declining sales.  Wal-Mart is planning on store closures and other layoffs, “in the thousands.”  Sears is laying off 220 from its corporate offices. Whirlpool confirms it is planning layoffs.  Pandora is laying off 5% of its workforce.  Kimberly Clark is paying for its layoffs with its shiny new tax cuts.

Closer to home: The Nevada Independent reviews some important state races. (Highly recommended reading)  Reno city officials are having a tough time explaining how they handled an ex-employee’s sexual assault complaint.  Rep. Jacky Rosen announces her introduction of a bill to assist homeless veterans.

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Filed under Nevada politics, Politics

Respect Must Be Earned: ICE and CBP aren’t helping themselves

Law enforcement isn’t an easy job, not that it’s one of the most dangerous, it isn’t. The most dangerous job is logging, followed by commercial fishing, law enforcement ranks 15th on the list.  However, it’s not high on the popularity list in some quarters, and actions by ICE and the CBP aren’t helping.

Daniela Vargas was 7 years old when her family came from Argentina. That makes her a Dreamer, and supposedly protected from deportation under the current administration’s directives.  Her status, with a renewal application pending, should have been safe, but it wasn’t because she spoke out and was immediately detained by ICE for a “visa overstay.”

Sara Beltran Hernandez a 26 year old asylum seeker from El Salvador has been in detention for about 450 days, on February 10 she collapsed and was diagnosed with a brain tumor. [LAT] Report vary about the conditions under which she was held and her access to legal representation and family support. However, no one is disputing that she was shackled at one point until medical staff ask that the restraints be removed so her medical needs could be addressed.

Muhammad Ali Jr. was detained at a Florida airport by agents who asked him about his religion.  Ali, who was born in Philadelphia, was asked “How did you get your name?” The most obvious answer would be that he happened to be the son of Muhammad Ali, and American icon.  An American man, traveling with his American passport is detained by immigration agents?  Worse still, he’s asked about his religion. The agency denied he was detained because of his religion, but what else could it be?  Unless, of course, we’re going to start detaining and questioning all black travelers coming to America, or coming back to America?

Henry Rousso, born in Egypt, one of the pre-eminent scholars of the Holocaust was detained for almost ten hours and threatened with deportation by agents in Houston, TX.  The Houston CBP agents didn’t appear to understand that those academics who are paid a stipend to speak to conferences such as the one organized by Texas A&M, are allowed to travel on a tourist visa. The agents were described as “inexperienced”and Texas A&M officials were successful in providing the “inexperienced” ones with some on the job training.

Passengers on a domestic Delta Airlines flight were delayed at JFK airport on February 22nd, when CPB and ICE agents decided to check the identification of all passengers on the flight while looking for an individual — who was not on the flight.

All five of these incidents do not place either ICE or CBP in a kindly light as protectors of our national security.  In none of these incidents were any “bad hombres” detained and deported, not one.  What they do seem to indicate is that agents are insufficiently trained, questionably supervised, and now endowed with a sense of their own authority, sufficient to constitute a danger to our Constitution and the safety of our citizens.

If ICE and CBP agents want our respect they must do a better job of earning it.


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Filed under Human Rights, Immigration, Politics

Gung Ho Isn’t Always The Way To Go

So, some ICE agents are saying that under the slackening of requirements for detentions the job is fun again?  This raises some serious questions about law enforcement in this country, the most significant of which may be: Is a person innocent until proven guilty? Or, is an immigrant guilty until he or she can “show papers?” There’s a related tangential question as well: Do we detain individuals on a selective basis, or do we round up greater numbers and risk “collateral” damage to those who have committed no felonious acts?

The Obama Administration focused on arresting, detaining, and deporting the very individuals the current administration says it is focused on — criminals engaged in felonious activities.  However, the “unshackling” appears to have emboldened some agents to engage in behaviors that sound more like the directive given by Arnaud Almaric, “Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius.” (Kill them all; let God sort them out.)

The anti-immigration rejoinder is often “they’ve all broken the law by being here,” and “we’re just enforcing what is already on the books.”  These generalities require closer inspection.  The first offense under 8 US Code 1325 is a misdemeanor, punishable by a possible jail sentence of less than one year.  It is not until there is  subsequent unlawful entry that the punishment reaches felony level.  Some of the more vocal anti-immigrant voices may want to refer to 8 US Code 1227 which outlines deport-able offenses. In light of at least one recent detention, it should be noted that there are waiver provisions for victims of domestic violence. Thus, the current administration has a decision to make.

Is it the policy of the administration to round up and deport all those who are not authorized to be in this country? Or, is it the policy to detain and deport those who have committed felonious acts while residing here without authorization?  The actions of ICE agents seem to reflect the former, while the words coming our of the White House appear to be consistent with the latter.

Removing the “bad dudes” from our midst doesn’t look all that compatible with reports of:

  • ICE agents removing a Salvadoran brain tumor victim from a hospital and placing her in detention.
  • ICE agents detaining a victim of domestic violence who had gone to court to seek assistance, on a tip possibly coming from her abuser.

What is different from the enforcement procedures of the Obama Administration is that these incidents are more likely to occur because the requests for “collateral” arrests from ICE agents is now closer to being standard operating procedure. A 2011 memorandum restrains agents from making arrests in sensitive areas — churches, schools, etc. But, the problem, of course, is that under current guidelines ICE could use those areas as targets, lending unwarranted credence to the rumor mills.  Coordinated raids and collateral arrests are not something commonly witnessed during the Obama Administration, while the current administration could likely to utilize those processes.

Collateral arrests create collateral damage.  Some rumors of detentions at schools or other public places proved to be incorrect, but the more the agency uses large scale raids and arrests ‘collateral’ suspects, the less cooperation there is likely to be from members of the community when it comes to detaining and deporting those truly worthy of being deported.

A second unfortunate prospect is that local police forces, already stretched and strained by hiring limitations imposed by budget restraints, will find themselves asked to play additional roles in federal enforcement, adding logistical issues to the possibility of less local community cooperation on other matters.

Until there is more clarity, and far less bombast, from the administration on the extent and justification for collateral arrests the situation may continue to be ripe for rumor mills, and fears among immigrant communities that “papers please” will be injudiciously applied to anyone fitting a “profile” including legal residents and US citizens.

Collateral arrests may also have unintended economic consequences, in agriculture, in tourism, in restaurants, and in real estate. In short, the old saw “Be Careful What You Wish For” may be applicable in this instance.  Short term gains for political grandstanding purposes could transform into long term losses for several sectors of the US economy.

Gung Ho may be popular with some rank and file ICE employees, but it may very well prove to be the sort of gloss that corrodes the underlying credibility of the agency in the long run.  There need to be some adults in the room as we have this discussion, some adults who can reach compromise positions on comprehensive immigration policy reform, and can curtail some of the excesses of the advocates for collateral arrests.

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Profound Cruelty and Indiscriminate Enforcement

If the President meant what he said, “The crackdown on illegal criminals is merely the keeping of my campaign promise,” the president wrote. “Gang members, drug dealers & others are being removed!” that is one thing, and few would be opposed to the practices. It’s the “and others” portion that is causing problems.

How does one explain entrapping a 50 year old undocumented house painter in an ICE raid?  Hardly one of those ‘bad hombres’ of Republican terrors.  Or, “one hardworking father, heading to work at 5:30 in the morning was approached by two plainclothes officers asking for his ID and they showed him a few pictures of people they were looking for. Once he gave him his ID, they identified themselves as ICE, he was detained and arrested.” [BBB]

And now this, the administration would deport the father of a young woman who gave her life in the service of this country; she gave her life in Kuwait as a member of the National Guard in 2007. Not that Gold Star Families have gotten much respect from the President lately.  But wait, there’s more:

“This week, this administration rescinded the Parole in Place program, harming thousands of military families across the country. This is another example of the careless excess of the administration’s immigration policy.” [NYT]

Yes, family members of our military personnel, who are not documented, can be rounded up and deported.  Those people to whom the Republicans are always saying “Thank you for your service…” now face the prospect that members of their own families can be caught up in an ICE raid and deported. This doesn’t sound like a morale builder, and if memory serves Republicans have been particularly interested in preserving morale.

All the while the President pugnaciously tells us this enforcement is for our own good – to keep us safe – from the people who are specifically tasked with keeping us safe?

All this for the benefit of the crowds who chanted Build The Wall, all this for the benefit of looking like his administration has a rational plan for dealing with complex immigration issues. 

Time was when executive orders and departmental guidelines were strictly reviewed to present guidance as free from complications and litigation as possible, but with this administration the pattern appears to be shoot first and try to answer all the questions later.

And there will be questions, and there will be litigation, and there will be pain created by profound cruelty and indiscriminate enforcement.

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Train Wrecks and Exercises in Futility: Laxalt Joins Texas Immigration Suit

Futility 2 It’s nothing unexpected, Nevada Attorney General Adam “Train Wreck” Laxalt has inserted Nevada into the Texas lawsuit (pdf) concerning executive actions on immigration.  This is one Tea Party invitation anyone could have predicted Laxalt would accept.  The lawsuit is also the kind of political theater the Tea Party/GOP enjoys: All Puff, Fluff, Sound, Fury based on the premise that an objection to an executive action on ideological grounds is always “constitutional.” So, what exactly has “Train Wreck” gotten us into?

#1. An argument over immigration policy with only an extremely thin veneer of constitutional controversy.   The second point made in the case is that: “This lawsuit is not about immigration. It is about the rule of law, presidential power, and the structural limits of the U.S. Constitution.”  Yes, and I am a giraffe…because I say I am.  Because the remaining points in the suit are all about Immigration, about the proposed DREAM Act, about DACA, about the Nava-Martinez Case, about the DHS directive.   It’s easy to make a pronouncement disclaiming any anti-immigrant intent; it’s far more difficult to assert this claim when the objections are predicated exclusively on actions involving immigration policy.

It is also all the more difficult to explain away the anti-immigrant content of the litigation when the lead plaintiff (the state of Texas) has said the case is about immigration policy. [Newmax] One of the contentions is that the implementation of the Administration’s immigration policy creates an economic harm for the state.  If it’s not about immigration policy then what happens to the economic harm element?  It’s about immigration.  And, we can figure this out from the next clue – where the case is being filed.

Interestingly enough, the case was handed to Judge Andrew Hanen, a Bush appointee, who is already on record opposing the Obama Administration’s immigration policy. [AmThink] How convenient?  It might have been easier (and more literally convenient) had the case been sent to a court in Dallas? Austin? But, for obviously political reasons the case is sent to Judge Hanen’s realm in beautiful downtown Brownsville.

#2An argument about immigration policy in which the Office of Legal Counsel (Department of Justice) has already established guidelines for executive action.  The language in the lawsuit implies that the President didn’t follow the directions of the Office of Legal Counsel in a “unilateral creation of the DACA program.”  It might have been helpful if someone had perhaps read through the OLC’s directive in full?   There is this segment which we should take into consideration:

“Nonetheless, the nature of the Take Care duty does point to at least four general (and closely related) principles governing the permissible scope of enforcement discretion that we believe are particularly relevant here. First, enforcement decisions should reflect “factors which are peculiarly within [the enforcing agency’s] expertise.” Chaney, 470 U.S. at 831. Those factors may include considerations related to agency resources, such as “whether the agency has enough resources to undertake the action,” or “whether agency resources are best spent on this violation or another.” Id. Other relevant considerations may include “the proper ordering of [the agency’s] priorities,” id. at 832, and the agency’s assessment of “whether the particular enforcement action [at issue] best fits the agency’s overall policies,” id. at 831.”

In short, if the agency’s resources require prioritization of actions then the agency/executive have the authority to create priorities. In this case the priorities are to deport undesirable individuals such as those who have committed crimes, etc., and to place youngsters with no criminal history at the bottom of the ‘to do list.’  And, did the Department of Homeland Security do what is permissible under the law?

“In our view, DHS’s proposed prioritization policy falls within the scope of its lawful discretion to enforce the immigration laws. To begin with, the policy is based on a factor clearly “within [DHS’s] expertise.” Chaney, 470 U.S. at 831. Faced with sharply limited resources, DHS necessarily must make choices about which removals to pursue and which removals to defer. DHS’s organic statute itself recognizes this inevitable fact.”

The argument over authority could now be reversed such that we could ask if the Texans and their Tea Party allies may interfere in the lawful prioritization of executive department implementations of statutes?  In one of the sillier arguments presented the Texans and Tea Partiers offered the following:

“Although OLC had cautioned the President that it was “critical” to DACA’s legality that the Administration evaluate every application on a case-by case basis, the President and DHS ignored that advice. According to the latest figures available, the Administration granted deferred action to 99.5-99.8% of DACA applicants.”

Merely because a policy might apply to 99.5% of the applicants doesn’t mean that all such applications will be automatic.  In fact, the Obama Administration policy doesn’t provide automatic categorization, as we can see from the OLC analysis:

And, significantly, the proposed policy does not identify any category of removable aliens whose removal may not be pursued under any circumstances. Although the proposed policy limits the discretion of immigration officials to expend resources to remove non-priority aliens, it does not eliminate that discretion entirely. It directs immigration officials to use their resources to remove aliens in a manner “commensurate with the level of prioritization identified,” but (as noted above) it does not “prohibit or discourage the apprehension, detention, or removal of aliens unlawfully in the United States who are not identified as priorities.” Johnson Prioritization Memorandum at 5. Instead, it authorizes the removal of even non-priority aliens if, in the judgment of an ICE Field Office Director, “removing such an alien would serve an important federal interest,” a standard the policy leaves open-ended. Id. Accordingly, the policy provides for case-by-case determinations about whether an individual alien’s circumstances warrant the expenditure of removal resources, employing a broad standard that leaves ample room for the exercise of individualized discretion by responsible officials.”  (emphasis added)

We might boil this down to some essentials.  First, the Department of Homeland Security has the authority to prioritize its activities based on the resources at its command. Secondly, the Obama immigration policy does NOT create any categories of ‘removable aliens’ who cannot be removed. And, third, there is, in fact, provision for a case by case determination of an alien’s circumstances and responsible officials may exercise their discretion.

That the Texans and Tea Partier Allies may wish to jump up and down crying “Amnesty!” doesn’t mean that the actual Office of Legal Counsel guidelines, and the actual Obama Administration’s policy directives, and the actual Department of Homeland Security plans are anything close to a rational definition of ‘amnesty.’

#3. A lawsuit including the now-defunct “child crisis at the border.”  The Nava-Martinez section and the ‘defendants cause a humanitarian crisis’ portion are a rehash of the right wing talking points during the reactionary assault on a very well intentioned law enacted in the waning days of the Bush Administration, the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008. [Vox]

#4. A lawsuit which strings together some quotations from the President about the necessity of enacting comprehensive immigration reform statutes.  Amen to that, but neither the President’s actions in terms of the DACA directives nor the Trafficking Victims Protection Act preclude the enactment, or non-enactment for that matter, of comprehensive immigration acts.  Nor can it be established that since Congress didn’t do anything about immigration policy reform that the President can’t do anything either.

#5. A lawsuit which is blatantly anti-immigrant per seThe DHS directive will increase the number of undocumented persons in plaintiff states.  If we remove the deportation threat the U.S. will seem more attractive to undocumented persons. It will trigger a new wave…” And this is terrible because…?  Any sovereign state should have control of its borders, but that doesn’t mean the Great Wall of China (a ‘wall’ which also served as a channel for international  trade as well as defense).   Additionally, the states will have to spend money on childrens’ health care and indigent health services… and when did we become so callous that taking care of children, even other people’s children, is to be categorized as an unconscionable expense?

#6. A political suit which could easily put the Republican Party in Nevada at peril in the next round of elections.  “Attorney General Adam Laxalt announced today that Nevada will join a multistate coalition suing President Barack Obama’s contentious deportation deferral program, his first major publicized legal action and one he’s carrying out without the backing of Gov. Brian Sandoval.” [LVSun

The suit may very well make it through Judge Hanen’s court, but for the most part this will probably be yet another exercise in futility by the reactionary Right, for the reactionary Right, and from the reactionary Right. This matters little to the ideologues of the Right.  We’re looking at what highlights the differences between Establishment and Reactionary Republicans, and  we may also be looking at what a Train Wreck the Nevada GOP could become?

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