Weekly Diaspora: Lawless Judges, Immigrant Soldiers, and Deportee Pardons

 

 

 

Weekly Diaspora: Lawless Judges, Immigrant Soldiers, and Deportee Pardons

by Catherine A. Traywick, Media Consortium blogger

Here’s the harsh truth about our immigration system: When 392,000 immigrants are detained per year and 33,000 more are detained everyday with limited staff and minimal federal oversight, institutional misconduct is inevitable.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is moving record-breaking numbers of immigrants through its ancillary agencies and, in the process, immigrant women are being raped by Border Patrol agents, LGBT detainees are being sexually assaulted at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facilities, and citizens and legal residents are certainly being deported.

How can such things come to pass? Simple: a combination of overworked and overzealous officials are enforcing overly broad immigration laws. It should be no wonder that people, inevitably, slip through the cracks—whether immigrant, citizen, or soldier.

Immigration judges subverting the law

Misconduct, corruption and a general inability to handle impossibly high caseloads aren’t exclusive to DHS and its many agencies. On the contrary, organizational mismanagement plagues every aspect of the immigration process.

As Jacqueline Stevens reports at the Nation, immigration courts are rife with lawlessness and corruption. Charged with adjudicating the hundreds of thousands of immigrants thrown their way by DHS every year, judges are authorizing deportations without even seeing the defendants, issuing rulings at mass hearings (usually with no lawyers present), and abandoning due process for a quicker turn-around.

What’s more: the Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR)—a separate agency from DHS—is actively shielding this misconduct from the public and trying to avoid federal oversight:

The public’s ignorance of the idiocies endemic to the EOIR’s business as usual and the calamities these entail is no accident. The agency deliberately withholds basic information from the media and researchers, and its top officials routinely decline requests for interviews […] Complaints about immigration judges fall under the jurisdiction of the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR), and people may file there directly, but the EOIR instructs immigration court stakeholders to lodge complaints with the EOIR itself. Instead of passing complaints on to the OPR, as the website promises, the EOIR top brass, to protect their cronies and avoid outside scrutiny, sweeps complaints under the rug.

Consequently, American citizens—as well as immigrants who could qualify to remain in the country—are being deported indiscriminately by judges whose decisions are rarely, if ever, questioned.

Immigrant soldiers deported after serving in the U.S. military

Immigrant soldiers serving in the U.S. military are among those routinely cheated by deportation-happy immigration judges.

Julianne Hing reports at ColorLines that 17,000 non-citizens are on active duty in the armed forces, and 4,000 immigrant veterans have already been deported or are facing deportation because of criminal convictions. Hing argues that, while some of those veterans are certainly guilty of violent crimes, many others have committed only minor crimes, like drug possession, and have already served time in jail. Deportation is a secondary, and wholly incommensurate, punishment.

A double standard is at play. Veterans, regardless of immigration status, are more likely than the general population to abuse drugs and alcohol and to commit violent crimes. But while non-citizen soldiers are indiscriminately deported for minor offenses, thousands of American military rapists have deftly avoided punishment in the past 15 years.The U.S. government’s prejudicial treatment of non-citizen soldiers isn’t new (to date, Filipino veterans who fought alongside American soldiers in WWII are still waiting to receive the benefits promised to them), but it remains reprehensible.

The unique plight of immigrant veterans certainly puts into perspective the ongoing push for passage of the DREAM Act—proposed legislation that would provide a path to citizenship for immigrant youth who serve in the military.

New York governor to pardon deportees?

Fortunately, some government officials are working towards a fairer immigration system. Elise Foley at the Washington Independent reports that New York governor David Paterson (D) has created a panel to review thousands of pardon requests from immigrant detainees awaiting deportation:

The idea behind the panel is to allow relief from the “extremely inflexible” federal law for green card holders “who have contributed as New Yorkers and who deserve relief from deportation or indefinite detention,” Paterson said when he announced its creation in May. […] While Paterson’s pardon panels would not change the way immigration courts are run, the effort is arguably a push to add a bit of discretion back into the system.

Paterson’s laudable commitment to protecting the interests of immigrants, particularly when doing so is far from politically expedient, is proof positive that rectifying our broken immigration system is entirely within the reach of our politicians. Misconduct and corruption within our immigration agencies are not merely the product of overcrowding and understaffing, but rather persistent inaction on the part of powerful lawmakers and government officials.

As Stevens wryly notes for The Nation: President Barack Obama, whose own citizenship is repeatedly questioned, ought to get on board.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about immigration by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Diaspora for a complete list of articles on immigration issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, and health care issues, check out The Audit, The Mulch, and The Pulse . This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

 

 

Squandered Political Capital and the Stench of Failure

Not that they’d listen – they don’t listen to anyone – but I’d counsel Republicans along the same lines as the Democrats when they came to power…keep the fist pumps, terrorist or otherwise, to a minimum. Refrain from the siren call to rub it in, lest you be treated to the swirly next election cycle.

Voters partially returned you to power, but don’t mistake that for an overarching mandate. Their opinion of ALL politicians is only slightly higher than that beagle that shit on their new shoes and they’ll tire of you just as quickly if you can’t turn things around within a few months. That’s highly unlikely and some polls already indicate voters believe there will be as little progress under the Griping Old Pootieheads as there has been under the Demojellies. I fear they are right.

Many voters went Republican not so much because they thought Reps were good, but because they don’t like El Jefe and wanted to send a signal. As goes the President so goes Congress in midterm elections.

Walking on Water to Drowning In Water
No doubt, the O-Man has squandered a tremendous amount of political capital in his two years. CHANGE meant continuing or expanding far too many policies he railed against from the last administration. As for HOPE, he left too much of his base and moderates hoping he would get better – while he didn’t. Had he seized the power of his huge win, he could’ve gotten much more done and he and Congressional Dems would stand a better chance of delivering the Hope and Change they touted. Instead, he let the power of NO run his agenda.

But, it’s not like this hasn’t happened before.

Bush the Lesser squeaked into the White House in an election decided by some moronic guy named Chad who couldn’t operate a punch card without putting an eye out. Dub’s first few months were lackluster at best, but then he got the best political gift a pol could ask for – a scruffy hermit with a penchant for bad home movies dispatched some nuts to cause massive mischief on the Hudson.

He, rightfully at the time, climbed up on a pile of rubble, loudspeaker in hand, and railed against the evil trying to defeat America. People rallied around him as they haven’t done since WWII. In a week he went from just another run-of-the mill stumble bum to someone with more political capital than Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina could ever buy… combined.

Imagine What All That Capital Could Buy
With that amazing power, he could’ve done so many things to help this country. For example, and there were many others, he could’ve used it as a bloody pulpit to preach the dangers of foreign oil dependence. Instead, he encouraged domestic and foreign oil companies to poke more holes in the country than ever before at the expense of enforcing any regulation, no matter how trivial. Today we find ourselves not only more dependent, but watching oilagarchs rob the country blind.

He was still riding high at the beginning of term two, although the first rumblings against the most useless and poorly managed war in history were getting louder. By the time Katrina made his uselessness truly evident, the rumble became a shout and he went down in hot flames of embarrassment.

Everyone else’s embarrassment, not his. And all that political capital he crowed about? He apparently banked with Washington Mutual.

Clinton managed to get a few things done in term one, but pissed it away lying about the world’s most expensive BJ. An entire four years wasted, an incredible historical blot on him, and the final death of whatever shred of bipartisanship and civility was left in Washington.

Bush the Elder fared no better. He squandered the terrific political abundance delivered by Gulf War I by encouraging people to watch his lips as they said, “No new taxes”. He then called every new tax a fee until it got to be such a charade he asked people to stop staring at his lips. Voters repaid him by saying, “Watch our lips. Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.”

He did manage to stay out of jail over that whole Iran/Contra thing though. No small feat that.

Failure is one of the few things that is truly bipartisan. Whether, like Obama, you negotiate like a fear-crazed 90-year old lady buying a used car at Mad Man Dapper Dan’s Used Car Emporium or are so incompetent you choke on a pretzel, whether you can’t keep your Johnson out of your intern’s mouth or puke in the Japanese Prime Minister’s lap, there are a million ways to fail. Failure is cumulative. Failure is contagious. In short, failure fails.

Unfortunately, I’d say odds are far more than even that we’re well on the way to another failure.

And, it will no doubt be one huge MoFo.

Cross posted at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks!

Squandered Political Capital and the Stench of Failure

Not that they’d listen – they don’t listen to anyone – but I’d counsel Republicans along the same lines as the Democrats when they came to power…keep the fist pumps, terrorist or otherwise, to a minimum. Refrain from the siren call to rub it in, lest you be treated to the swirly next election cycle.

Voters partially returned you to power, but don’t mistake that for an overarching mandate. Their opinion of ALL politicians is only slightly higher than that beagle that shit on their new shoes and they’ll tire of you just as quickly if you can’t turn things around within a few months. That’s highly unlikely and some polls already indicate voters believe there will be as little progress under the Griping Old Pootieheads as there has been under the Demojellies. I fear they are right.

Many voters went Republican not so much because they thought Reps were good, but because they don’t like El Jefe and wanted to send a signal. As goes the President so goes Congress in midterm elections.

Walking on Water to Drowning In Water
No doubt, the O-Man has squandered a tremendous amount of political capital in his two years. CHANGE meant continuing or expanding far too many policies he railed against from the last administration. As for HOPE, he left too much of his base and moderates hoping he would get better – while he didn’t. Had he seized the power of his huge win, he could’ve gotten much more done and he and Congressional Dems would stand a better chance of delivering the Hope and Change they touted. Instead, he let the power of NO run his agenda.

But, it’s not like this hasn’t happened before.

Bush the Lesser squeaked into the White House in an election decided by some moronic guy named Chad who couldn’t operate a punch card without putting an eye out. Dub’s first few months were lackluster at best, but then he got the best political gift a pol could ask for – a scruffy hermit with a penchant for bad home movies dispatched some nuts to cause massive mischief on the Hudson.

He, rightfully at the time, climbed up on a pile of rubble, loudspeaker in hand, and railed against the evil trying to defeat America. People rallied around him as they haven’t done since WWII. In a week he went from just another run-of-the mill stumble bum to someone with more political capital than Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina could ever buy… combined.

Imagine What All That Capital Could Buy
With that amazing power, he could’ve done so many things to help this country. For example, and there were many others, he could’ve used it as a bloody pulpit to preach the dangers of foreign oil dependence. Instead, he encouraged domestic and foreign oil companies to poke more holes in the country than ever before at the expense of enforcing any regulation, no matter how trivial. Today we find ourselves not only more dependent, but watching oilagarchs rob the country blind.

He was still riding high at the beginning of term two, although the first rumblings against the most useless and poorly managed war in history were getting louder. By the time Katrina made his uselessness truly evident, the rumble became a shout and he went down in hot flames of embarrassment.

Everyone else’s embarrassment, not his. And all that political capital he crowed about? He apparently banked with Washington Mutual.

Clinton managed to get a few things done in term one, but pissed it away lying about the world’s most expensive BJ. An entire four years wasted, an incredible historical blot on him, and the final death of whatever shred of bipartisanship and civility was left in Washington.

Bush the Elder fared no better. He squandered the terrific political abundance delivered by Gulf War I by encouraging people to watch his lips as they said, “No new taxes”. He then called every new tax a fee until it got to be such a charade he asked people to stop staring at his lips. Voters repaid him by saying, “Watch our lips. Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.”

He did manage to stay out of jail over that whole Iran/Contra thing though. No small feat that.

Failure is one of the few things that is truly bipartisan. Whether, like Obama, you negotiate like a fear-crazed 90-year old lady buying a used car at Mad Man Dapper Dan’s Used Car Emporium or are so incompetent you choke on a pretzel, whether you can’t keep your Johnson out of your intern’s mouth or puke in the Japanese Prime Minister’s lap, there are a million ways to fail. Failure is cumulative. Failure is contagious. In short, failure fails.

Unfortunately, I’d say odds are far more than even that we’re well on the way to another failure.

And, it will no doubt be one huge MoFo.

Cross posted at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks!

Weekly Diaspora: The Final Fight for the DREAM Act

 

by Catherine A. Traywick, Media Consortium blogger

It’s a now-or-never moment for the DREAM Act, a bill that would provide a conditional path to citizenship for certain immigrant youth. The bill’s prospects won’t improve with next Congress’ influx of Republican legislators, and thousands of undocumented students and their bipartisan supporters are urging the Senate to pass the DREAM Act. But as the Senate appears ready to finally vote on the landmark bill, state lawmakers are moving in the exact opposite direction.

In California, Colorado and Minnesota, state legislators have recently filed enforcement bills modeled after Arizona’s draconian SB 1070, and a cadre of conservative citizens are already mobilizing in support of the measures. But whether those measures will hold up in light of mounting evidence that such bills are fiscally irresponsible remains to be seen.

Some lawmakers never learn…

New America Media reports that a Tea Party-backed immigration enforcement bill was filed in California last week, bolstered by a signature drive to raise support for the measure‘s inclusion on the 2012 ballot. Reading like a roll call of Arizona’s most controversial immigration measures to date, the bill would require law enforcement to perform immigration status checks, require businesses to use the notoriously ineffective E-Verify program, ban undocumented persons from driving or soliciting work on the street and prohibit sanctuary cities.

Meanwhile in Colorado, State Senator-elect Kent Lambert (R) announced his plans to introduce “a carbon copy of SB 1070” early in the next session, according to Scot Kersgaard at the Colorado Independent. Eschewing concerns about the bill’s constitutionality, Lambert added that if the bill is not passed and signed by Governor-elect John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, he would move to put the measure on the ballot.

And in Minnesota, Andy Birkey of the Minnesota Independent reports that a group called Minnesotans Seeking Immigration Reform (MINNSIR) is launching a petition to build support for an SB 1070 copy-cat bill expected to reach the House floor in the upcoming session. The group, derived from the Minnesota Minutemen (whom the Southern Poverty Law Center classifies as “Nativist Extremist”), is known for spreading misinformation about immigrants, including the erroneous claim that Mexican immigrants spread leprosy.

SB 1070 vs. the Dream Act: A Cost Benefit Analysis

But while obstinate lawmakers doggedly push for SB 1070-styled legislation, evidence is mounting that such draconian measures are fiscally irresponsible.

As Marcos Restrepo reports at the American Independent, a new study commissioned  by the Center for American Progress reveals that Arizona has lost $400 million in economic output and $130 million in earnings as a result of SB 1070-provoked conference cancellations alone. Defending the measure, moreover, has already cost the state more than $1 million—a bill other states can anticipate footing should they move forward with similar legislation.

Restrepo notes that the high costs of imposing and defending such measures is economically impractical—especially when compared to the potential economic benefits of passing the DREAM Act. That bill could increase the nation’s pool of higher-income workers by up to 2 million college graduates, according to the Migration Policy Institute, which could ultimately generate $3.6 trillion for the economy over the next 40 years.

The DREAM Act builds momentum

The DREAM Act has the potential to be so beneficial that, as the clock ticks towards the 11th hour vote, the bill is garnering significant new bipartisan support. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has voiced her support for the measure, according to William Fisher at of the Inter Press Service News Agency, as have the editorial staffs of both the Wall Street Journal and the Economist. Moreover, former Secretary of State Colin Powell is a long-time vocal advocate of the act on the grounds that “immigrants strengthen America.” (Campus Progress has more on that).

And the Obama administration has come fully on board, finally assuming a “high profile, public role” in passing the DREAM Act, according to Julianne Hing at ColorLines. Hing notes that the move is a stark, if welcome, departure from the administration’s usual approach to immigration reform, which has favored punitive, enforcement heavy bills over comprehensive reform.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about immigration by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Diaspora for a complete list of articles on immigration issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, and health care issues, check out The Audit, The Mulch, and The Pulse<. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

 

Diaries

Advertise Blogads