The DOJ sent immigration court employees a link to a racist and anti-Semitic blog post attacking immigration judges

The Justice Department sent immigration court employees an email this week that linked to an article attacking immigration judges with offensive and anti-Semitic slurs, BuzzFeed News reported on Thursday.

The article was posted on the white nationalist website VDare, which routinely traffics in racist and anti-immigration rhetoric and has explicitly targeted immigration judges in the past.

Ashley Tabbador, the head of the National Association of Immigration Judges, said in a letter to the Justice Department that the email came from the department’s Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR).

Tabbador wrote that the article “directly attacks” immigration judges “with racial and ethnically tinged slurs,” and the label ‘Kritarch,'” according to BuzzFeed. “The reference to Kritarch in a negative tone is deeply offensive and Anti-Semitic,” Tabbador added.

Kritarch is a term derived from the concept of a “kritarchy,” or a society run by judges. It’s referenced in the Old Testament’s Book of Judges as a type of rule in ancient Israel. VDare has repeatedly used the term to pejoratively refer to immigration judges. 

Tabbador called on James McHenry, the head of EOIR, to take action following the dissemination of the article.

“Publication and dissemination of a white supremacist, anti-semitic website throughout the EOIR is antithetical to the goals and ideals of the Department of Justice,” she wrote. She added that the court should withdraw the email and issue an apology to immigration judges.

“Separately, EOIR should take all appropriate safety and security measures for all judges given the tone and tenor of this posting,” she wrote.

The post was sent to immigration court employees as part of a daily briefing that usually includes links to news reports about immigration, BuzzFeed reported.

EOIR Assistant Press Secretary Kathryn Mattingly told Insider in a statement, “The daily EOIR morning news briefings are compiled by a contractor and the blog post should not have been included. The Department of Justice condemns Anti-Semitism in the strongest terms.”

[Business Insider]

Trump Administration Seeks Decertification Of Immigration Judges’ Union

The Justice Department late last week moved to seek the decertification of the union representing hundreds of U.S. immigration judges, ratcheting up a simmering battle over the Trump administration’s immigration enforcement policies.

The department filed a petition Friday asking the Federal Labor Relations Authority to determine whether the certification of National Association of Immigration Judges as the union representing some 440 immigration judges should be revoked “because the bargaining unit members are management officials under the statutory definition,” according to a Justice Department spokesperson.

“This is nothing more than a desperate attempt by the DOJ to evade transparency and accountability, and undermine the decisional independence of the nation’s 440 Immigration Judges,” Judge Ashley Tabaddor, speaking in her capacity as president of the National Association of Immigration Judges, said in an emailed statement. “We are trial court judges who make decisions on the basis of case specific facts and the nation’s immigration laws. We do not set policies, and we don’t manage staff.”

The administration and the immigration judges union have been at loggerheads over a variety of issues, including the judges’ status as employees of the Justice Department. Judges are appointed by the attorney general and they are not part of the independent judiciary. They have publicly argued for their separation from the Justice Department.

Last year, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions took the unusual step of reviewingsome judicial decisions in the name of reducing the backlog of hundreds of thousands of cases clogging the courts.

Sessions also ordered judges to end the practice of temporarily removing cases from their dockets without issuing decisions, a move known as “administrative closure.”

The Justice Department also imposed a quotasystem on judges, linking the number of cleared cases to their performance evaluations. The judges’ union said the courts need more immigration judges, not assembly-line proceedings.

President Trump has appointed 190immigration judges since taking office. As of June 2019, there are more than 900,000 pending cases in immigration courts, according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University.

The move to decertify the immigration judges’ union comes as no surprise to many judges.

“Clearly they want to use the judges to ramrod through cases and ramp up deportation regardless of any due process defects their policies have,” said one judge who isn’t authorized to speak for the union and requested anonymity. Without the union, judges would be effectively muzzled and unable to publicly share their views about the courts, the judge added.

This is not the first time the Justice Department has tried to decertify the immigration judges’ union. The Clinton administration sought decertification, but the Federal Labor Relations Authority rejectedthe notion that judges are managers who make policy. But some judges are concerned that the FLRA under the Trump administration would be less sympathetic to the union. 

“It’s absurd that anyone would consider us managers,” said Tabaddor, a judge based in Los Angeles. “We don’t even have the authority to order pencils.”

[NPR]

White House blasts ‘tyranny of a dysfunctional system’ after judge holds Trump asylum restrictions

The White House blasted a federal court’s ruling blocking its proposed restrictions on asylum-seekers and pledged to “pursue all available options” against the finding.

“The tyranny of a dysfunctional system that permits plaintiffs to forum shop in order to find a single district judge who will purport to dictate immigration policy to the entire Nation – even in the face of a contrary ruling by another Federal court – must come to an end,” White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement.

U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar issued the preliminary injunction Wednesday evening following a challenge from the American Civil Liberties Union, the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Center for Constitutional Rights.

The rule, which the departments of Justice and Homeland Security announced earlier in July, would disqualify any asylum-seekers passing through another country on their way to the U.S. from applying for asylum.

Tigar called the regulation “arbitrary and capricious” and said it would leave asylum seekers without “a safe and effective alternative via other countries’ refugee processes.”

His ruling came the same day that U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Kelly of the District of Columbia denied a motion to temporarily block the rule in a separate legal challenge, which the White House noted in its statement.

[The Hill]

Trump says he’s considering executive order to force census question

Donald Trump told reporters he is “thinking of” issuing an executive order to force including a question about citizenship on the 2020 Census, according to the White House pool.

Four days ago, the department that oversees the Census, the Commerce department, said it was printing Census forms without the question.

Chaos ensued.

The president said reports that this was happening were fake – even though the Commerce secretary said it was happening – and then a Justice department lawyer had to defend the president’s comment without anyone in the department apparently being briefed on it.

The judge presiding over the case of whether its legal to include a citizenship question in the Census is not happy about how things are playing out.

On Wednesday, just before the Fourth of July holiday, federal district court judge George Hazel convened a call with the attorneys and said:

If you were Facebook and an attorney for Facebook told me one thing, and then I read a press release from Mark Zuckerberg telling me something else, I would be demanding that Mark Zuckerberg appear in court with you the next time, because I would be saying I don’t think you speak for your client anymore.

[The Guardian]

Reality

This would be a constitutional crisis in two ways, first going around the courts, and second the power of the census is given to Congress in Article I while the presidential powers are spelled out in Article II. Trump has no constitutional authority over the census.

Trump attacks judge who blocked border wall plans as ‘Obama activist’

After a federal judge blocked his attempt to build key sections of his border wall with money secured under his declaration of a national emergency, Donald Trump criticised the justice for being an “activist” appointed by Barack Obama.

In what may prove a temporary setback to the president, US district judge Haywood Gilliam Jr’s order, issued on Friday, stopped work from beginning on two Pentagon-funded projects: a section of border barrier spanning 46 miles in New Mexico and another covering five miles in Yuma, Arizona.

Trump inherited barriers covering 654 miles, or about one-third of the border with Mexico, the country he insisted during his 2016 campaign would pay for a border wall but which flatly rejected the idea.

Of the 244 miles of barrier covered by contracts awarded so far, more than half is covered by Department of Defense money. All but 14 miles awarded so far are to replace existing barriers, not extend coverage. Ignoring that, Trump has regularly claimed his wall is being built.

On Saturday, from Japan, Trump pledged to file an expedited appeal.

Echoing other controversial attacks on judges, he tweeted: “Another activist Obama appointed judge has just ruled against us on a section of the Southern Wall that is already under construction. This is a ruling against Border Security and in favor of crime, drugs and human trafficking. We are asking for an expedited appeal!”

While Gilliam’s order applied only to two projects, the judge made clear he felt the challengers were likely to prevail at trial on their argument that Trump was wrongly ignoring Congress’s wishes by diverting defense department money.

“Congress’s ‘absolute’ control over federal expenditures, even when that control may frustrate the desires of the executive branch regarding initiatives it views as important, is not a bug in our constitutional system,” the judge wrote in a 56-page opinion.

“It is a feature of that system, and an essential one.”

It was not a total defeat for Trump. Gilliam, who is based in Oakland, rejected a request by California and 19 other states to prevent the diversion of hundreds of millions of dollars in Treasury asset forfeiture funds to wall construction, in part because he felt they were unlikely to prevail on arguments that the administration skirted environmental impact reviews.

The administration faces several lawsuits over the emergency declaration but only one other seeks to block construction. A judge in Washington DC on Thursday heard arguments on a challenge brought by the House of Representatives that says the money-shifting violates the constitution.

In February, Trump declared a national emergency after losing a fight with the Democratic-led House that led to a 35-day government shutdown. As a compromise, Congress set aside $1.375bn to extend or replace existing border barriers in the Rio Grande Valley, the busiest corridor for illegal crossings.

Trump grudgingly accepted the money, then declared the national emergency in order to siphon money from other government accounts, identifying up to $8.1bn. The funds include $3.6bn from military construction funds, $2.5bn from defense department counter-drug activities and $600m from the treasury asset forfeiture fund.

The Pentagon has transferred the counter-drug money. Patrick Shanahan, the acting defense secretary, is expected to decide soon whether to transfer the military funds. Gilliam’s ruling gives a green light, at least for now, for the administration to tap the treasury funds.

Trump’s adversaries say the emergency declaration was an illegal attempt to ignore Congress. The administration says Trump was protecting national security as unprecedented numbers of asylum-seeking families arrive at the southern border.

[The Guardian]

Trump Retweets Call for Fox News to Take Andrew Napolitano Off the Air

President Donald Trump is calling for Fox News to take one of the networks biggest critics off their air, in a Sunday morning retweet of Twitter User @HH41848213, aka “HowardH” who joined Twitter in 2016 and has roughly 235 followers until today.

The analysis of  Mueller Report drama — and the competing news narratives that have followed suit — has been, for the most part, predictable. That is to say, that media outlets that have been consistently critical of President Trump have amplified evidence of Executive Branch malfeasance, while those that traditionally take a pro-Trump perspective (take Fox New for example) have been quick to promote Trump’s “no collusion, no obstruction” story.

The most notable exception to that pretty hard and fast rule has been Fox News Senior Legal Analyst, Judge Andrew Napolitano, who has consistently demonstrated his independent judicial perspective, much to the disappointment of Trump and his supporters.

Trump’s retweet:

When you look at the continuous incorrect statements by Napolitano over the past 2 years, it is fair to ask FNC why they allow him to have national air time. The man has been significantly wrong on at least 8 major occasions. Unacceptable! Take him off the air!

What has Napolitano said that has raised the ire of the commander in chief? Where to start? His insights have been remarkably critical of Mueller Report findings on Trump’s obstruction of justice, the behavior of Attorney General William Barrand even the curious behavior of Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner.

Donald Trump’s use of Twitter has flouted previous presidential decorum for years. But the retweeting of some rando on Twitter calling for the ostensible firing of the well-respected legal mind of Andrew Napolitano is a new level that we haven’t quite seen before.

[Mediaite]

Trump: Fox’s Napolitano asked me to pardon his friend, put him on Supreme Court


President Trump
 tweeted Saturday that Fox News analyst Andrew Napolitano met with him and urged him to nominate Napolitano to the Supreme Court as well as grant a pardon to one of Napolitano’s friends.

Napolitano, a former superior court judge in New Jersey, works as a legal analyst for Fox News. In a pair of tweets Saturday evening following his campaign rally in Green Bay, Wis., the president accused the commentator of becoming “very hostile” after Trump supposedly turned him down for the nation’s highest court.

“Thank you to brilliant and highly respected attorney Alan Dershowitz for destroying the very dumb legal argument of ‘Judge’ Andrew Napolitano,” Trump wrote.

“Ever since Andrew came to my office to ask that I appoint him to the U.S. Supreme Court, and I said NO, he has been very hostile! Also asked for pardon for his friend. A good ‘pal’ of low ratings Shepard Smith,” the president added, referring to Fox’s chief news anchor, who has often been critical of the White House.

The White House did not immediately return a request for comment regarding when the conversation with Napolitano occurred or whom the Fox News commentator supposedly asked Trump to pardon.

Trump frequently showers praise on Fox News figures who are seen as allies of his administration, including Dershowitz, who has defended the president amid the now-concluded investigation into Russia’s election interference and Trump’s campaign.

[The Hill]

Trump Reportedly Told Border Agents to Do Something That’s Illegal

President Donald Trump unsuccessfully pushed to close the border in El Paso, Texas, told Border Patrol agents to turn back migrants despite the fact that doing so would be illegal, and has been pushing to reinstate a more aggressive family separation policy than the one that tore apart more than 2,500 families last spring, CNN reported on Monday. 

Last month, Trump ordered since-ousted Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to shut down some or all El Paso border crossings the next day, on March 22, at noon, according to CNN. Nielsen told Trump that would be a bad and even dangerous idea, and that the governor of Texas, Republican Greg Abbott, has been very supportive of the President. She proposed an alternative plan that would slow down entries at legal ports. She argued that if you close all the ports of entry all you would be doing is ending legal trade and travel, but migrants will just go between ports. According to two people in the room, the President said: “I don’t care.”The federal government is required to process migrants who cross the border without authorization and allow asylum seekers to make their cases for protection if they demonstrate a “credible fear” of being persecuted in their home countries. Trump reportedly told Border Patrol agents in Calexico, California, on Friday that they should simply force back the migrants they encounter.Behind the scenes, two sources told CNN, the President told border agents to not let migrants in. Tell them we don’t have the capacity, he said. If judges give you trouble, say, “Sorry, judge, I can’t do it. We don’t have the room.” After the President left the room, agents sought further advice from their leaders, who told them they were not giving them that direction and if they did what the President said they would take on personal liability. You have to follow the law, they were told.Trump has also spent months pushing to reinstate some form of the family separation policy that he was forced to abandon in June, CNN and NBC News are reporting. Trump is calling for a more comprehensive version of the policy than the one that was adopted across the border last spring. Instead of separating families who cross the border without authorization by prosecuting them for illegal entry, Trump also wants to split families who come to official ports of entry to request asylum, which now requires weeks of waiting.According to multiple sources, the President wanted families separated even if they came in at a legal port of entry and were legal asylum seekers. The President wanted families separated even if they were apprehended within the US. He thinks the separations work to deter migrants from coming. Sources told CNN that Nielsen tried to explain they could not bring the policy back because of court challenges, and White House staffers tried to explain it would be an unmitigated PR disaster. “He just wants to separate families,” said a senior administration official.

The CNN report comes three days after Trump unexpectedly pulled his nominee to lead US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, one day after Trump pushed out Nielsen, and the same day the New York Times reported that the hardline head of US Citizenship and Immigration Services—the DHS agency responsible for legal immigration—is also expected to leave government soon. Trump’s most important asylum crackdown, known as Remain in Mexico, was also temporarily blocked by a federal judge on Monday.

[Mother Jones]

Trump Slams Nonexistent ‘Judge Flores’ for Landmark Immigration Ruling Actually Named After Migrant Teen

President Trump had a lot to say Friday about a landmark immigration ruling that limits how long the government can detain undocumented migrant children. Unfortunately, his argument took a turn for the incoherent as soon as he publicly called out a nonexistent judge for a 20-day cap on detaining immigrant minors.

Complaining about a build-up of migrants at the border while visiting Calexico, California, Trump blamed it on “some very bad court decisions,” singling out the “Flores decision” as a “disaster.”

“I have to tell you, Judge Flores, whoever you may be, that decision is a disaster for our country,” Trump said during a meeting with border patrol officials.

The “decision” the president was referring to was Reno v. Flores—otherwise known as the Flores Settlement—which protects migrant children from being held indefinitely in custody and grants them certain basic rights, like the right to food, medical assistance, drinking water, and toilets while in detention. The Trump administration tried unsuccessfully to modify the agreement last year to allow for longer detention periods for minors.

The agreement was named not after a judge, but 15-year-old Jenny Lisette Flores, who fled El Salvador in the 1980s and was detained upon trying to enter the U.S. to live with her aunt. The teen was the lead plaintiff in the case, which came before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court. It was settled in 1997, with Clinton-era Attorney General Janet Reno as the defendant.

The Flores Settlement has been an obstacle for the Trump administration since their family separation policy rollout and for current immigration policies, with lawsuits claiming the government is holding children indefinitely and violating the settlement.

Trump’s criticism of the imaginary judge sparked a barrage of mockery on social media, where many were quick to point out the flub came in the same week the president claimed windmills cause cancer and falsely said his father was born in Germany.

Earlier Friday, the president also claimed those approaching the southern border to seek asylum in the U.S. were running a “scam” during his visit to Southern California.

“Asylum, you know I look at some of these asylum people, they’re gang members. They’re not afraid of anything… and they say ‘I fear for my life,’ they’re the ones causing fear for life. It’s a scam, it’s a hoax,” he said, before fitting in a jab at Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into potential Russian interference in the 2016 election.

“I know about hoaxes, I just went through a hoax,” Trump said, referring to his previous remarks claiming the “Russia hoax” was “finally dead.”

Trump also claimed the United States no longer had the capacity to accept more asylum seekers or undocumented migrants entering through the southern border.

“The system is full. We can’t take you anymore. Whether it’s asylum. Whether it’s anything you want. It’s illegal immigration,” Trump said, according to CNN. “Can’t take you anymore. Can’t take you. Our country is full… Can’t take you anymore, I’m sorry. So turn around. That’s the way it is.”

[Daily Beast]

President Trump Ranted About ‘Getting Rid of Judges’

Apparently, we had something of an “episode” in the Oval Office Tuesday afternoon.

“Sure, it’s going to have a negative impact on the economy,” the president jovially admitted of his proposed shutdown. “It is one of the biggest trade deals in the world that we’ve just done with the USMCA. It is a very big trading partner. Trading is very important, the borders are very important, but security is what most important. I have to have security. And we’re going to have security in this country. That is more important than trade. Let me just give you a little secret, security is more important to me than trade, so we’re going to have a strong border, or we’re going to have a closed border. I’m totally prepared to do it.”

“Well I haven’t made that intention known and I’m ready to close it if I have to close it. Mexico has the strongest immigration laws in the world. Nobody has stronger. I guess some have the same but you can’t get any stronger than what Mexico has and we don’t want people coming up on this dangerous journey and coming in. And what we have to do is Congress has to meet quickly and make a deal. I could do it in 45 minutes. We need to get rid of chain migration, we need to get rid of catch and release and visa lottery and we have to do something about asylum and to be honest with you, I have to get rid of judges.”

Oh. And there were some pronunciation issues.

Meanwhile, those “rural voters” who, evidently, are the only voters that truly matter, are getting hammered all over the midwest. From NBC News:

Farmers will have to destroy any grains that were contaminated by floodwater, which could also prevent some growers from planting oversaturated fields. Near Crescent, Iowa, farmer Don Rief said the flood damaged more than 60,000 bushels of his grain, worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. He tried to move the crops before the flood, but dirt roads were too soft from the storm to support trucks. “We were just hurrying like hell,” Rief said. “Hopefully USDA will come in and minimize some of the damage.” The USDA does not have a program that covers flood-damaged grain because farmers have typically received more advance notice of rising waters, allowing them to move crops and limit losses, said Tom Vilsack, who ran the agency under former President Barack Obama.

That’s going to have to change, it seems. We don’t get many warnings about sudden calamities anymore and, the ones we get, we don’t listen to anyway.

[Esquire]

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