It’s another rough day to be an immigration attorney in America. Yesterday, a decision was issued that seriously undermines the ability of immigrants to seek asylum in this country. The administration is continuing its war against immigrants, building its invisible wall to complement the one they want to put on the border and finding new ways to keep immigrants from coming here or from obtaining protections. A crazy thing about our immigration system it is that the Immigration Courts are entirely under the control of the Department of Justice (DOJ).
Last night, Jen Cook and I went to the National Council for Transgender Equality’s (NCTE) 10th Anniversary event. The evening was themed “Our Moment,” reflecting the organization’s intention to build upon the successes of the gay rights movement in the past year, including the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the Windsor decision, and the many states that have enacted gay marriage. In fact, even as the party went on, the festivities were interrupted to announce that Hawaii became the 16th state to allow for gay marriage.
The air is noticeably crisper, the baseball playoffs have begun, I have started to see decorative gourds, but the traffic got a whole lot lighter today. It is October 1, 2013, the first day of the fiscal year 2014 (FY2014), and the federal government has shut down over the inability of Congress to pass a budget that does not seek to undo the Affordable Care Act.
On Tuesday, August 20, approximately fifty people gathered at Benach Collopy’s offices in Washington, DC to meet and support a 27 year old candidate for Congress from the 4th District of Iowa. Jim Mowrer, born on a farm in Boone Iowa, and a veteran of our war in Iraq, is challenging the incumbent Steve King for his seat in Congress. Readers of this blog need no introduction to Steve King as he is a leader of the extreme anti-immigrant faction of American politics.
Yesterday, by a vote of 13-5, the United States Senate Judiciary Committee passed S. 744, the immigration reform bill. Three Republicans (Lindsey Graham (SC), Jeff Flake (AZ) and Orrin Hatch (UT)) joined all ten Democrats to vote the legislation out of committee. The five opponents were the five Republicans who had spent the several mark-ups attempting to torpedo the legislation with odious and unworkable amendments, most of which were defeated.
Dear Congressman Bachus, Thank you very much for speaking out about the overuse of detention by Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) in civil proceedings to determine the removability of individuals in the U.S. By stating and asking “it looks to me like there is an overuse of detention by this administration. If these people are not safety risks . . . why are we detaining them?,” you have joined the growing chorus of Americans who wonder why the government, during a time of fiscal crisis, spends so much money locking people up during immigration proceedings when they present no danger to society.
The past few days have revealed tremendous silliness in the immigration reform debate. It is a true pity given the serious stakes involved for everyone persecuted by the U.S.’ brutal immigration laws. Just today, we saw prominent immigrant rights groups’ applauding the honesty of ICE bureaucrat representative, Chris Crane because he stated in some forum or another: For this pearl, Mr. Crane has been lauded by all sorts of ostensibly pro-immigrant types as a whistleblower.
This morning, we had a chance to review the five page blueprint for immigration reform produced by a bipartisan group of eight Senators. There is a lot to discuss on the blueprint, but one thing specifically jumped out at me: “Once the enforcement measures have been completed, individuals with probationary legal status will be required to go to the back of the line of prospective immigrants, pass an additional background check, pay taxes, learn English and civics, demonstrate a history of work in the United States, and current employment, among other requirements, in order to earn the opportunity to apply for lawful permanent residency.
The publication of the rule allowing for processing of provisional waivers for unlawful presence in the United States was another act of administrative rule-making that the President has undertaken to make the immigration laws more humane. Over the past year, the effort at prosecutorial discretion, the introduction of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and the provisional waiver have created a much improved immigration system that attempts to solve real immigration problems for families.
As most of us in Washington returned to work on January 2, 2013, we noticed that many of our fellow Washingtonians were bleary-eyed and slow-moving. Unfortunately, their lethargy stemmed not from all night and day new year’s electro-funk raves, but from hours of C-SPAN, watching the country go over the fiscal cliff, then climb back up the cliff, and then just hang out somewhere in the middle.