The search for the moderate muslim: Episode 19 preview

We have been looking all over for a moderate muslim to have on our show so they could condemn and apologize for the actions of the extremist muslims in Paris and we think we may have found one. We wanted to have Hassan Ahmed on but he was booked. Dude looks super cool, but we had to settle for Hassan Ahmad. Turns out he’s a great attorney, and he will (hopefully) apologize and condemn all bad acts by muslims over the years, especially algebra.

We will also talk to super great attorneys, Robert Gibbs and Neha Vyas from Gibbs, Houston and Pauw out of Seattle, WA. They’re coming on the show because anyone who coins the phrase “apathetic talons of the SF Asylum Office” deserves to be heard. It’s easy to throw your hands up in frustration when you find yourself bogged down in the quagmire that is “immigration.” Robert and Neha decided to sue, and (spoiler alert) they won.

We also randomly talk about stuff that has been in the news and we will be bringing back the Golden Cantaloupe.

EPISODE 18: The New Era

Episode 18 is our latest and greatest episode. We got new podcast equipment and no idea how to use it. (ok…Stephen has figured it out….I think….) On this episode we talk about the passing of one of my favorite politicians of all time, Mario Cuomo. He was a great governor and should have been President or at least a Supreme Court Justice.

Je suis Charlie! That’s all the rage after the horrific attacks in Paris last week. We discuss this…well, we begin to discuss this as it is pretty clear the ramifications from this story will be with us for some time.

We were going to talk to a super cool immigration attorney, Annie Schwartz, from a super cool law school but one thing led to another, directions go all fouled up and well….we will talk to her soon. Look her up. She’s cool.

We were able to talk to someone from the ACLU…yep, can you believe it? A reputable, national organization actually agreed to talk to us. Well, talk to me….Stephen had super important lawyery stuff to do so he didn’t have time to talk to ACLU attorney extraordinaire, Lindsay Nash.

We talked about family detention and Stephen had me ask her why the ACLU was trying to destroy Amurica. Lindsay has been around to all the super fancy and nice family prisons…detention….let’s call them family retreats and tells us about how nice they are.

Anyways, that was basically our show. You can click here or over there…just click an listen.

Slut Shaming our Refugees

Forgive me. I’m angry. My client was a victim of sexual abuse at the Berks Family Shelter. My client is a 20 year old mother who fled Central America with her three year old son. They were fleeing horrific domestic violence, including sexual assaults. My client had made this journey twice after being ignored, belittled and demeaned by the first set of border patrol agents she met. They ignored her pleas for refuge and deported her back to her country where she again was harmed and threatened with torture and death by the father of her son. This time she escaped again with her son and was allowed in to have her day in court before an immigration judge.

She and her boy were taken to the Berks Family Shelter in Leesport, PA, a prison with crayons. Soon after she arrived a male guard at night took notice of her and began attempting to befriend her. She ignored him but he was persistent. He plied her with treats and allowed her to use his cell phone. He began to promise to make her immigration process go easier and even promised to pay her bond. She became closer to him and soon they began a sexual relationship. Under federal law this is called sexual abuse of a ward and is a strict liability offense, which means there are no defenses of consent like in a traditional sexual assault. This is akin to sexual assaults of a minor or those who are incapable of consent and this is for very good reason. The power dynamics of a guard and a prisoner are such that the concept of consent in these circumstances are not as they are in a traditional sense. In this instance, women who many have been victims of severe sexual assaults and trauma in their past are particularly vulnerable, as was my client.

My client and this guard were caught on at least one occasion by a 7 year old girl who had her own history of trauma caused by sexual violence. This relationship was common knowledge among the other detainees, which brought my client shame and embarrassment. This guard told my client that if she told anyone he would go to jail and she would be deported. This terrified my client and she kept quiet.

The supervisors at the Shelter spoke with my client and she denied the relationship out of fear. They spoke with the 7 year old girl and others at the Shelter who confirmed the relationship. ICE investigators interviewed my client without my knowledge and out of fear she denied the relationship. During neither of these interviews did anyone tell my client that she had done nothing wrong and that the guard was the one that had committed the crime. She remained afraid.

My client finally confided in me and I explained the law. She felt ashamed, embarrassed, used, manipulated and victimized by the system she had put her trust in. The Shelter finally addressed the issue by prohibiting tight clothing, like yoga pants and tight shirts. The other women blame her. The Shelter seems to be blaming her.

This will not stand. This cannot stand. I am angry and sad, but I am not disheartened. I know my client is strong and I believe in our system and I believe our system will correct this wrong. I am angry about my client, but I am also angry about the other women and children whose only crime was to seek out our country for protection and we greet them with prisons with crayons. The most vulnerable amongst us sought us out because we are good and decent. It is about time we stop making them look like fools and start living up to their expectations.

Prisons with Crayons: Our Grapes of Wrath

There is a crime here that goes beyond denunciation. There is a sorrow here that weeping cannot symbolize. There is a failure here that topples all our success. The fertile earth, the straight tree rows, the sturdy trunks, and the ripe fruit. And children dying of pellagra must die because a profit cannot be taken from an orange. And coroners must fill in the certificates – died of malnutrition – because the food must rot, must be forced to rot. – The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck

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As I was walking out of the Berks Family Shelter, a prison with crayons in central Pennsylvania, this passage from The Grapes of Wrath came to mind. On our way in some guards were loading about ten kids, ages 5-10 into a van to take them to Loews in order to take part in the Saturday kids activities they have there, arts and crafts and the such. They looked really happy. It made me feel good for a moment until I remembered that these kids are in jail. They are going to do arts and crafts with prison guards as their chaperones. The cute paintings on the walls and toys in the common area doesn’t change the fact that these children are imprisoned when they do not need to be.

This is the crime that goes beyond denunciation. The vast majority of these kids, if not all, and the so many more like them in Artesia and Carnes and whatever new fangled prison with crayons has opened since I sat down to write this, have caring and loving homes somewhere in the United States that could take them and their moms in while their legal process takes its course. They could be going to Loews with their moms, fathers, uncles, grandpas, older brothers, just anyone other than prison guards. They could bring home their little bird feeder they made and show it with pride to their grandma or their big sister. Instead it will sit on a shelf in their cells with their other property.

They fled their home countries out of fear, with many having either witnessed and/or experienced horrible things that makes you shake and weep. This is  the sorrow that weeping cannot symbolize. My three year old client from Honduras witnessed his mother take daily savage beatings from his father and watched as he raped her repeatedly before his eyes. When he would attempt to comfort his mother he would be beaten as well. In order to escape these beatings and rapes the mother would take him and sleep outside in the woods. When they were able they fled to seek the protection of our great country. His mom is 19 years old and was attempting to reunite with her mother. That reunification will have to wait.

They have a place with fertile earth, trees in straight rows and ripe fruit in order to lay their heads and seek shelter. This place is with her mother and not in jail but there is no profit to turn from these two refugees staying with their family. The pragmatic and compassionate solution of allowing these refugees to reunite with family doesn’t make the President look tough and serious on enforcement and the President needs to look tough and serious. He needs to fill out those death certificates in order for the rest of the crops to be prosperous or so he believes.

The fruit must rot. The fruit most be forced to rot. These kids most be imprisoned and they must be deported. This is the failure that topples all of our successes. This is our grapes of wrath.

Terrorism…in the eyes of the beholder (really just muslim dudes)

Yesterday Zale Thompson attacked a group of people with a hatchet in Queens and was shot dead by two NYC police officer. I know what you’re thinking, I hate Queens, too and that must have been some crazy, mentally disturbed individual. Well, your feelings about Queens is valid but you are wrong about Zale being some mentally disturbed individual, he’s a terrorist. See, Zale is a muslim and that automatically elevates him from crazy guy with a hatchet to a jihadist.  Read about the jihadist here:

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2014/10/23/hatchet-wielding-man-shot-and-killed-after-vicious-attack-on-officer-in-nyc/

About a month ago in northeast Pennsylvania Eric Frein ambushed then shot and killed a Pennsylvania State Trooper. Since that time he has been hiding out in the thick woods of the Poconos. Frein is a survivalist and spent his free time reenacting military battles. Two obvious things come to mind here, the Poconos are beautiful and Frein must be some kind of terrorist. I mean this dude has Northeast PA locked down. He’s out there in the woods with guns and is threatening to kill even more law enforcement officers. Schools have been cancelled because of him. If you think he’s a terrorist, you’re wrong. He’s not a muslim. There has been no reporting on his religion, but rest assured, he’s not a muslim. Read about the non-terrorist here:

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2014/09/19/pennsylvania-residents-urged-to-stay-inside-as-police-reportedly-close-in-on-deadly-trooper-ambush-suspect/

I invite you to read the comments. Oh, these two stories come from one of my favorite web sites, www.theblaze.com. Compare the two comments and you will see one thing in common and one thing that is disparate. The thing in common is that both of these are probably Obama’s fault and the thing that is disparate is that one is clearly terrorism and the other is somewhat heroic and understandable. After you are done reading the comments it is advisable to bathe.

So, to recap, crazy dude with a hatchet is a terrorist because he’s a muslim. Crazy dude with guns is not a terrorist because he is not  a muslim.

The Toxicity of an Immigration Prison

Getting out of the car the air hits you like a wet, soiled blanket. The smell is almost impossible to describe other than it’s a little worse than awful. It is almost like sulfur, but with a harder, more acidic edge. It’s a smell you would expect to smell if you were in a rancid, dungeon in a horror movie. It’s the kind of smell that wraps you up, enveloping your body and your soul. The smell is found outside the Essex County Correctional Facility in Newark, NJ. A facility gently placed amongst factories who are obviously making chemical weapons for Satan.

Essex, as I will refer to it, is a correctional facility that houses persons convicted of criminal offenses serving their sentences. For these persons it’s a jail, a prison, a correctional facility, if you will. For my clients, those being detained there by ICE, it’s a detention center. The first group is being punished and my clients, and those liked them are merely being detained and held to ensure their compliance with our civil immigration laws. Now, they may be eating lunch right next to a prisoner, but they are really a detainee. The prisoner is being punished and the detainee is simply being detained. An absurdity without a distinction.

I have represented scores of immigrants detained…ok…I’m going to start calling it what it is, imprisoned over the years. Typically they are not in jail for very long as they mostly will either be bonded out or deported, but there are, at times, those who will spend a considerable amount of time in jail. It is fascinating to witness the change of these individuals over time.

I have a client at Essex who was thrown in there back in June. He has a prior order of deportation so he’s not eligible for a bond. He is afraid to go back to his country so we are in the process of having his claim adjudicated and he is also applying for a U visa as a victim of a crime. In short, his U visa application will be approved and he will either be able to immigrate back to the US if deported or allowed to stay here upon approval. He has a wife and three children, a steady job and a minimal criminal record. He is neither a flight risk nor a danger to the community, but his release has not yet been approved.

I will call him, Jason, for the purpose of this tale. When I first met Jason he was extremely anxious, but optimistic about being able to be released. He was scared for sure, but believed he would be released and was somewhat impatient. After explaining the process and the fact that ICE can work slow and that we had many challenges with his case he began to level out.

I visited him a few weeks later and by then he realized that his release was not imminent and contrary to his prior belief, he believed his physical removal to his home country was inevitable and imminent. On this visit I had to reassure him that neither of those two beliefs were reasonable at this point in time. At this visit he was clearly much more agitated than he was on our first visit. His eyes would not focus and the level of trust that he exhibited at the onset seemed to be quickly dissipating.

About a month later I visited Jason again and he opened up and began to share much more of his story with me, which was helpful for his developing the fear he had of return to his country. On this visit I saw clearly that he was terrified to be returned to his country. His fear was no longer a convenience to keep him with his family, it was as palpable and bitter as the air outside the walls that confined him, tormented him and in a way, protected him. His trust level was back and though scared, he exhibited a determination that he had yet to demonstrate.

I just visited him yesterday and Jason was inquisitive about the progress of his case and understanding about how long it was taking. He had begun working in the jail and his job actually brought him outside of the facility to county offices as a cleaning crew. Being able to travel outside meant interaction with non-jail persons and best of all, outside food. It also kept his mind occupied and he seemed sharper and dare, I say, happier. Jason told me that he had gotten used to life inside there and while he it wasn’t ideal, it was survivable at the moment. He had fallen into a routine and had come to accept a very unreasonable situation.

I expect Jason to be released relatively soon as his case is progressing in such a manner. While Jason is adapting well, his family is suffering. Jason’s wife looks like a zombie and their children are emotionally breaking down.

The air inside Essex is normal, while the air outside is toxic. In this case and many others, the same can be said about the prisoners. Those on the inside fall into a normal routine becoming calm and resigned to their situation, much like the air on the inside. Their loved ones on the outside begin to breakdown, becoming toxic like the air right outside of Essex. Hopefully Jason will be released soon and him and his loved ones can be far away from the toxic air of Essex and rebuild their lives together.

Correlation Infestation

Guess what happens every year in the fall.  Lots of thing happen in the fall, like football, kids go back to school, the weather turns colder, leaves change and people start to get the flu.  There are a lot of other things that happen in the fall, but lets keep the list simple. Not surprisingly this year people are getting the flu in the fall. This year has seen a seemingly new virus strand called enterovirus D68. It’s scary because young children are dying from it. Now, young children die every year from the flu, but this year seemingly more than others. As a parent of two young children, one in elementary school, this virus has not gone unnoticed. We should be concerned and we have advised our daughter about the importance of washing her hands and other sanitary tips to help protect her from the virus. However, just being scared of the enterovirus D68 is not enough for those on the right, they need a multiplier. They need a reason and the obvious reason for the spread of the virus are the refugee children from Central America.

It only makes sense if you are some sort of asshole with a racist agenda against immigrant children from Central America. These kids come to the US and then once the fall flu season starts, this new, mysterious virus appears, killing US blond hair, blue eyed kids. These brown kids must have some type of secret immunity, probably implanted into them by Obama, that keeps them safe. Now the fact that this particular strain was discovered in Michigan in 1987 in no way concerns assholes like Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage and Pat Robertson. They have an agenda to advance. Read through this from Media Matters and enjoy the stupidity in their own words:

http://mediamatters.org/blog/2014/10/08/conservatives-falsely-blame-undocumented-childr/201071

So, we have those on the right finding a correlation between refugee kids and an outbreak of a virus that originated in the US almost 30 years ago. The thing is that they know there is no correlation. They can’t be that dumb. Of course, they will say they are only asking questions. That is what they do.  Limbaugh: “Obama will not tell anybody where all of the children that have crossed the border in the last four months have been relocated to … Now, are the two stories related or are they not?  Does this sweeping mysterious virus that’s multiplying across the Midwest, does it have anything to do with that or not? We don’t know. That’s the answer. We just don’t know. But some people think there may be some kind of a connection.” See, he’s not saying it’s true.  Just asking questions.

So, is Limbaugh a racist? Does him asking questions the way he does make him a racist? Do they make him a fear monger? We don’t know…but some people think there may be some kind of correlation.

YESSSSS!!!! CNN WINS!!!

You were wondering…ok, maybe it was just me, but I was wondering when the mass media would successfully mash together all the scariest and dog whistlily (my word) subjects together in order to reach the super orgasm of fear.  Now Fox News would be the obvious choice but CNN pulled it off slightly faster and slight dumber than even Fox. Mind you, Fox News has Fox and Friends on in the morning and their line up of dumb so they had an inherent advantage, but CNN did it.

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2014/10/ebola-coverage-extra-dumb-cnn-fox-news.html

CNN called Ebola the ISIS of infectious diseases and while Fox seems to be having a hard time finding a medical expert to give credence to their stupidity CNN found Dr. Alexander Garza, an Associate Dean of Public Health from the University of St. Louis to support theirs.  The CNN host stated that Ebola was the ISIS of infectious diseases and then stated that her description was really scary and asked for a reaction.  Dr. Garza, for some reason, didn’t fall off his chair from laughter.  He actually agreed and said Ebola was just like ISIS because it infects people and they die and ISIS attacks people and they die…so…same same.  Seriously, this is too stupid to write about.  Listen to the interview, look out the window into a dreary landscape covered in dust and dead leaves and contemplate how the world got so stupid.

HAPPY CONSTITUTION DAY!!!

Wahooooo!!! September 17th is Constitution Day and that is a day of never ending irony for those of us who practice immigration law.  Did you know that ICE can illegally stop, search and arrest you as long as what they are doing is not an egregious violation of the constitution?  Yep.  Happy Constitution Day!!

The very point of excluding illegally obtained evidence is to deter law enforcement from using illegal and unconstitiutional tactics.  Well, Sandra Day O’Conner had some deep thoughts on this issue in INS v. LOPEZ-MENDOZA, 468 U.S. 1032 (1984).   In Lopez-Mendoza she wrote, justifying not fully expanding the exclusionary rule to deportation proceedings, the following:

“Every INS agent knows, therefore, that it is highly unlikely that any particular arrestee will end up challenging the lawfulness of his arrest in a formal deportation proceeding.”

Yep, INS agents (now ICE) know that the vast majority of those whose rights they violate won’t complain.  Now, that is solid reasoning.  In her opinion she basically rules that it’s pointless to challenge an unlawful arrest and validates her stance by pointing out that people generally do not challenge unlawful arrests, which makes the unlawfulness apparently not that big of a deal.  I mean, if no one complains then nothing unlawful happened, right?

She then offered this nugget:

“The exclusionary rule provides no remedy for completed wrongs.” Right…other than excluding the illegally obtained evidence, it offers no remedy.

She wasn’t done in the value she placed on our Constitution:

“Other factors also weigh against applying the exclusionary rule in deportation proceedings. The INS currently operates a deliberately simple deportation hearing system, streamlined to permit the quick resolution of very large numbers of deportation actions, and it is against this backdrop that the costs of the exclusionary rule must be assessed.”

Oh…now, we are getting there.  The INS had shit to do and all this talk about the Constitution was slowing stuff down.  It’s funny that our criminal courts, which handle way more cases on a daily basis can figure out how to incorporate that darn Constitution into proceedings, but the immigration courts can’t. She wanted this whole deportation mill to move quickly and simply.  Understood.

She ends with as blatant a lie as one can find in a Supreme Court decision:

“We do not condone any violations of the Fourth Amendment that may have occurred in the arrests of respondents Lopez-Mendoza or Sandoval-Sanchez.”

Well, spoiler alert, nothing was excluded and the Fourth Amendment violations were condoned.  She absolutely condoned the violations and did so because they were not “egregious”.  So, yes, ICE can violate the Fourth Amendment as long as they do not do so egregiously….so Happy Constitution Day!!!  Go celebrate non-egregiously!

Happy Anniversary VAWA!

The Violence Against Women Act will be 20 years old tomorrow, September 13th.  This anniversary comes on the heels of the explosion over the Ray Rice video where we see exactly what we knew had happened all along and that is Ray Rice punching his then fiance and knocking her unconscious.  To many the mere report that Ray Rice had punched and knocked his fiance unconscious was enough to hold him in contempt and feel that he should face a much greater punishment than the two game suspension he had initially received from the NFL, but there were many others that needed to witness the brutality before coming to such a conclusion.

Unfortunately this is a common reaction or non-reaction to domestic violence.  When we hear about it in the abstract we are disapproving and shake our head in disgust, but we go on with our business.  When we are forced to confront it in a much more personal manner, perhaps through a relative, friend or in my case, clients, it becomes much more disturbing.  People who have dealt with domestic violence survivors know all too well that the reaction by Janay Palmer, she married him shortly after the incident, is all too common.  Survivors often stay with their abusers despite the physical punishment and humiliation they are forced to endure.

I have had many clients who were survivors of domestic abuse tell me that had to stay with their husbands or boyfriends because they relied upon them for their and their children’s economic support. They felt trapped and believed that if they left they could not provide for themselves or their children. They would also express guilt and culpability for the abuse, much like we heard from Janay when she apologized for her part in the incident that night in Atlantic City.

All survivors of abuse face so many hard obstacles to overcome, but undocumented immigrants face many more. It is why VAWA is so important and such a wonderful piece of legislation.  It has freed so many immigrant women (and men) from the clutches of domestic violence.  I love being able to tell clients who are survivors to let me worry about their immigration status and everything will be ok and that all they need to concentrate on is being safe and growing stronger.

All of this also coincides with a great victory by Attorney Roy Petty (listen to our 3rd podcast) from Arkansas at the BIA where they officially recognized abused married women from Guatemala who cannot receive protection from their spouse as a particular social group and eligible for asylum under our laws.  Immigration attorneys have been winning these type of battered women cases for some time now, but the official recognition is wonderful.

There is a lot wrong about our immigration system, but the movements it has made in protection survivors of domestic violence is not one of them.  So, tomorrow I will raise a glass to VAWA and to all the survivors out there.