Monday, June 11, 2018
Sessions hits the stop button on legal immigration
Meanwhile, back in the states:
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Monday overturned a grant of asylum to a Salvadoran domestic abuse victim, potentially excluding immigrants seeking refuge from sexual, gang and other forms of violence in their home countries.
The decision to refuse asylum to the Salvadoran woman, whose former husband raped and beat her for 15 years, narrows who can qualify for asylum when they become victims of criminal activity, as opposed to government persecution.
Sessions’ finding followed his unusual move to intervene personally in the case known as the “Matter of A-B-.” The woman, who is only identified by her initials, had won an appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals, which had overturned a lower immigration court judge’s denial of her asylum petition.
“In reaching these conclusions, I do not minimize the vile abuse that the respondent reported she suffered at the hands of her ex-husband,” Sessions wrote in his order.
“I understand that many victims of domestic violence may seek to flee from their home countries to extricate themselves from a dire situation or to give themselves the opportunity for a better life,” he continued. “But the ‘asylum statute is not a general hardship statute,’” he said, citing an earlier immigration case.
An attorney for A-B, Karen Musalo, called the decision “devastating” and said it had been anguishing for her client.
“You have a woman who barely survived more than a decade of horrific violence, who finally feels that she secured safety … and now she’s thrown into total turmoil again,” said Musalo, who directs the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies at the University of California Hastings’ law school.
The woman could still potentially appeal the case again to the Board of Immigration Appeals, then a federal appeals court and ultimately the U.S. Supreme Court.
Sessions’ decision drew immediate rebukes from dozens of immigration rights advocate groups and lawyers. Some said the decision could have wide-ranging impacts on immigrants fleeing gang violence and gender-based violence, including female genital cutting or honor killings.
Unlike the federal judiciary system, U.S. immigration courts fall under the Justice Department’s jurisdiction, and the attorney general can intervene.
In immigration court, certain opinions published by the Board of Immigration Appeals, the highest immigration court, serve to set national legal precedent. However, as the United States’ chief law enforcement officer, the attorney general can intercede in its decisions to shape law.
Sessions has been unusually active in this practice compared to his predecessors by exercising his intervention authority to make it harder for some people to legally remain in the United States.
In making his determination, he declared that a decision in a 2014 case before the Board of Immigration Appeals, which allowed victims of gender-based violence to claim U.S. asylum, “was wrongly decided and should not have been issued as a precedential decision.”
He remanded the case of A-B- back to Judge Stuart Couch in Charlotte, North Carolina, for further proceedings.
An investigation by Reuters last year found that Couch orders immigrants deported 89 percent of the time.
Monday’s decision marks Sessions’ latest effort to greatly restrict immigration. Cracking down on illegal immigration and tightening legal immigration were major themes of President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign.
Earlier this year, Sessions declared he would attempt to ensure that every person who crosses the border illegally would be prosecuted, and he has staunchly defended a new policy of separating women and children at the border, including those seeking asylum.
Let's not kid ourselves, it was always about legal immigration too. Sessions was open and above board about that. I wrote about this for Salon back in 2015:
Jeff Sessions had a lot to say about this in his "IMMIGRATION HANDBOOK FOR THE NEW REPUBLICAN MAJORITY" dated January 2015. It's a fascinating document and well worth reading. It is the perfect example of right-wing populism at its most traditionally xenophobic.
He sets forth an argument that income inequality is not a result of the tax structure or the concentrated power of wealth but rather the result of immigrants stealing the jobs of natural born Americans:
The last four decades have witnessed the following: a period of record, uncontrolled immigration to the United States; a dramatic rise in the number of persons receiving welfare; and a steep erosion in middle class wages.
But the only “immigration reforms” discussed in Washington are those pushed by interest groups who want to remove what few immigration controls are left in order to expand the record labor supply even further.
The principal economic dilemma of our time is the very large number of people who either are not working at all, or not earning a wage great enough to be financially independent. The surplus of available labor is compounded by the loss of manufacturing jobs due to global competition and reduced demand for workers due to automation. What sense does it make to continue legally importing millions of low-wage workers to fill jobs while sustaining millions of current residents on welfare?
He put it into philosophical and historical perspective:
We need make no apology in rejecting an extreme policy of sustained mass immigration, which the public repudiates and which the best economic evidence tells us undermines wage growth and economic mobility. Here again, the dialect operates in reverse: the “hardliners” are those who refuse even the most modest immigration controls on the heels of four decades of large-scale immigration flows (both legal and illegal), and increased pressures on working families.
Conservativism is by its nature at odds with the extreme, the untested, the ahistorical.
The last large-scale flow of legal immigration (from approximately 1880–1920) was followed by a sustained slowdown that allowed wages to rise, assimilation to occur, and the middle class to emerge.
There's a lot more. But as you can see, he's been pushing to end immigration completely.
And you have to either laugh or cry at the contention by President Donald Trump's Attorney General that "conservativism is by its nature at odds with the extreme, the untested, the ahistorical."
Conservatism ain' what it used to be.
This policy is horrifying and getting worse every day. It's been reported that border patrol officers are removing little children from their mothers and telling them they are taking them away to bathe them and will be right back --- and the children are never returned. I'm sure I don't have to tell you the image that evokes ...
digby 6/11/2018 05:00:00 PM