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  Immigration - Legal News


A federal appeals court ruled Friday the Trump administration acted in an “arbitrary and capricious” manner when it sought to end an Obama-era program that shields young immigrants from deportation.

A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2 to 1 that the Trump administration violated federal law when it tried to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program without adequately explaining why. The ruling overturns a lower court ruling a judge in Maryland made last year, which Trump had previously praised via Twitter.

Friday’s ruling will not have any immediate effect as other federal courts have already ordered that DACA be kept in place.

The 4th Circuit ruling said the Department of Homeland Security did not “adequately account” for how ending DACA program would affect the hundreds of thousands of young people who “structured their lives” around the program.

“We recognize the struggle is not over and there are more battles to fight in the Supreme Court on this road to justice, but our families are emboldened by knowing that they are on the right side of history,” said Gustavo Torres, executive director of Casa de Maryland, the lead plaintiff in the case.

Trump and his Justice Department have argued that the Obama administration acted unlawfully when it implemented DACA. The Justice Department declined to comment.

Preserving DACA is a top Democratic priority, but discussions between Trump and Democrats on the issue have gone nowhere.



Scheduling glitches led an immigration judge to deny the Trump administration's request to order four Central American migrants deported because they failed to show for initial hearings Wednesday in the U.S. while being forced to wait in Mexico.

The judge's refusal was a setback for the administration's highly touted initiative to make asylum seekers wait in Mexico while their cases wind through U.S. immigration courts.

One migrant came to court with a notice to appear on Saturday, March 30 and said he later learned that he was supposed to show up Wednesday. He reported in the morning to U.S. authorities at the main crossing between San Diego and Tijuana.

"I almost didn't make it because I had two dates," he said.

Similar snafus marred the first hearings last week when migrants who were initially told to show up Tuesday had their dates bumped up several days.

Judge Scott Simpson told administration lawyers to file a brief by April 10 that explains how it can assure migrants are properly notified of appointments. The judge postponed initial appearances for the four no-shows to April 22, which raised more questions about how they would learn about the new date.


Three decades ago, Lori Ann Bourgeois was guarding fighter jets at an air base. After her discharge, she fell into drug addiction. She wound up living on the streets and was arrested for possession of methamphetamine.

But on a recent day, the former Air Force Security Police member walked into a Veterans Treatment Court after completing a 90-day residential drug treatment program. Two dozen fellow vets sitting on the courtroom benches applauded. A judge handed Bourgeois a special coin marking the occasion, inscribed with the words “Change Attitude, Change Thinking, Change Behavior.”

The program Bourgeois credits for pulling her out of the “black hole” of homelessness is among more than three dozen Oregon specialty courts caught in a standoff between the state and federal government over immigration enforcement.

The Trump administration in 2017 threatened to withhold law enforcement grants from 29 cities, counties or states it viewed as having “sanctuary” policies that limit cooperation with federal immigration agents. Today, all those jurisdictions have received or been cleared to get the money, except Oregon, which is battling for the funds in federal court.

The Veterans Treatment Court in Eugene and 40 other specialty courts, including mental health and civilian drug programs, risk losing all or part of their budgets, said Michael Schmidt, executive director of Oregon’s Criminal Justice Commission, which administers the money.

The commission has managed to keep the courts funded through July, Schmidt said. Unless the Trump administration relents or is forced by court order to deliver the money, or the Oregon Legislature comes up with it, the commission must make “horrible, tough decisions” about where to make the cuts, Schmidt said.

Speaking in her small office in the Eugene courthouse, specialty courts coordinator Danielle Hanson said if the veterans court budget is cut, the vets would have to start paying for drug treatment, and they would be deprived of housing resources and travel funds to go to residential treatment facilities as far as 330 miles (530 kilometers) away. Some veterans might even be turned away.


A federal attorney in South Texas said in court this week that during the ongoing partial government shutdown, he only has been allowed to work on cases related to President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall.

The Texas Civil Rights Project on Thursday released a transcript of a Tuesday hearing in a case where the U.S. government has sued a local landowner for her property along the U.S.-Mexico border. Many other civil cases have been delayed during the shutdown, which was triggered by Trump’s demand for $5.7 billion to build a wall.

According to the transcript, U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez noted that government attorneys working on border wall cases have not been furloughed despite the shutdown.

The prosecutor, Eric Paxton Warner, responded, “This is all I’m allowed to work on, Your Honor.”

Warner and a spokeswoman for the local U.S. attorney’s office did not return messages. A spokesman for the Department of Justice says each U.S. attorney had the authority to determine which civil cases should move forward or be delayed, but that civil cases would be delayed “to the extent this can be done without compromising to a significant degree the safety of human life or the protection of property.”

U.S. Customs and Border Protection said last year that it planned to start building in February. But unlike on other parts of the border, most border land in South Texas is owned privately. That requires the government to seize it through eminent domain, suing private landowners in cases that can take months or years. Some landowners who would be affected have already vowed to fight the government in court.


President Donald Trump issued a proclamation Friday to deny asylum to migrants who enter the country illegally, tightening the border as caravans of Central Americans slowly approach the United States. The plan was immediately challenged in court.

Trump invoked the same powers he used last year to impose a travel ban that was upheld by the Supreme Court. The new regulations are intended to circumvent laws stating that anyone is eligible for asylum no matter how he or she enters the country. About 70,000 people per year who enter the country illegally claim asylum, officials said.

“We need people in our country, but they have to come in legally,” Trump said Friday as he departed for Paris.

The American Civil Liberties Union and other legal groups swiftly sued in federal court in Northern California to block the regulations, arguing the measures were illegal.

“The president is simply trying to run roughshod over Congress’s decision to provide asylum to those in danger regardless of the manner of one’s entry,” said ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt.

The litigation also seeks to put the new rules on hold while the case progresses.

The regulations go into effect Saturday. They would be in place for at least three months but could be extended, and don’t affect people already in the country. The Justice Department said in a statement the regulations were lawful.

Trump’s announcement was the latest push to enforce a hard-line stance on immigration through regulatory changes and presidential orders, bypassing Congress, which has not passed any immigration law reform. But those efforts have been largely thwarted by legal challenges and, in the case of family separations this year, stymied by a global outcry that prompted Trump to retreat.


The California Supreme Court on Thursday made it easier for some immigrant children who are abused or abandoned by a parent to seek a U.S. visa to avoid deportation in a ruling that advocates said would help thousands of children.

State judges cannot require that children drag an absentee parent living abroad into court in their visa application process, the justices said in a unanimous decision. Immigration rights advocates had warned that such a requirement would make it nearly impossible for the children to fight deportation. That's because courts in California cannot establish authority over a foreign citizen and the parent may want nothing to do with a child claiming abuse, and would refuse to participate in a court proceeding in the U.S., immigration groups said.

The ruling overturned a lower court decision. The California Supreme Court said it was sufficient to adequately notify the absent parent of the court proceedings, but that parent did not have to be a party to the case.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in court documents that the case had implications for a "substantial portion" of the thousands of children who have fled to the U.S. from Central America and Mexico and settled in California. Kristen Jackson, an attorney for the plaintiff in the case, estimated the ruling would affect thousands of children.


Immigration courts from Boston to Los Angeles have been experiencing fallout from a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that has caused some deportation orders to be tossed and cases thrown out, bringing more chaos to a system that was already besieged by ballooning dockets and lengthy backlogs.

The little-known ruling addressed what might seem like a narrow procedural issue over how to properly provide notices to immigrants to appear in court for deportation proceedings. But it is having broader implications in immigration courts that are in charge of deciding whether hundreds of thousands of people should be allowed to stay in the United States.

Since the decision was issued in June, immigration attorneys have been asking judges to throw out their clients' cases. Some immigration judges have refused to issue deportation orders for immigrants. And in a recent case in Washington state, a Mexican farmworker had an indictment for illegally re-entering the country tossed out.

It isn't clear how many people's immigration cases could be affected. Some immigration judges have denied attorneys' requests, but others in states including Tennessee, New Jersey and California have granted them.

"The potential consequences of the decision are massive," said Jeremy McKinney, an immigration attorney in Greensboro, North Carolina.

The Supreme Court's 8-1 decision focused on the case of a Brazilian handyman seeking to apply for a special green card given to immigrants who have been in the country at least 10 years, have good moral character and whose American relatives would suffer if they were deported.


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