Archive for the 'Politics' Category

Virginia’s Republican Primary – A “ruthless” and “vicious” Campaign

0

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A conservative provocateur and supporter of President Donald Trump won Virginia’s Republican primary Tuesday in the U.S. Senate race, and he has promised to run a “vicious” campaign against incumbent Tim Kaine.

Republican Corey Stewart beat state lawmaker Nick Freitas and Chesapeake minister E.W. Jackson. Stewart – who favors keeping Confederate monuments – had long been on the fringe of the state’s GOP; now the win makes him the standard-bearer of a deeply divided party that hasn’t won a statewide race in nearly a decade.

Stewart said he plans to campaign in a Trump-like way that appeals to blue-collar voters across the political spectrum. He’s also pledged to run a “ruthless” and “vicious” campaign against Kaine.

“We’re going to have a lot of fun between now and November, folks,” Stewart told a raucous crowd at his victory party Tuesday evening.

The crowd chanted “Lock her up” and “Build the wall,” a throwback to popular chants at Trump’s campaign rallies.

A one-time state chairman of President Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, Stewart nearly won the 2017 Republican nomination for governor, despite being heavily outspent.

Stewart campaigned heavily on preserving Virginia’s Confederate monuments and is an immigrant hard-liner who boasts of the number of immigrants in the country illegally who have been deported from his county.

The Prince William County Board of Supervisors chairman and an attorney has courted controversy throughout his political career.

He was fired from the Trump campaign after staging an unsanctioned protest at the headquarters of the Republican National Committee, which Stewart said wasn’t sufficiently loyal to Trump during the presidential campaign.

No Democrats challenged Kaine, a former governor, and 2016 vice-presidential candidate, for his party’s nomination.

Kaine spokesman Ian Sams called Stewart a “cruder imitation of Donald Trump who stokes white supremacy” and would be an “embarrassment for Virginia” if elected.

Once a key swing state whose Senate elections drew intense national interest, this year’s race has gotten scant attention. Kaine is the early favorite to win, and the Republican primary was noteworthy for how sleepy it was.

Several higher-profile Republicans floated the possibility of running against Kaine, but they did not follow through after Democrats scored huge victories in November in state-level elections. That left establishment Republicans to rally behind Freitas, a libertarian-leaning former Green Beret and two-term state House delegate.

Stewart’s victory upset many traditional Republicans. Former Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling said on Twitter he was “extremely disappointed” in Tuesday’s results.

“Every time I think things can’t get worse they do, and there is no end in sight,” Bolling said.

It’s only fair to share…Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInPin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditDigg thisShare on TumblrShare on VKBuffer this pageEmail this to someonePrint this page

‘Dollar a Day’ Forced Labor Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against CoreCivic

0

Project South, Apr. 17, 2018 – “A private prison company under contract with Stewart County to house individual’s detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is forcing detained immigrants at Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Georgia to work for as little as $1 a day to clean, cook, and maintain the detention center in a scheme to maximize profits, according to a class-action lawsuit filed today against CoreCivic, Inc.

Detained immigrants who refuse to work are threatened with solitary confinement and the loss of access to basic necessities, like food, clothing, personal hygiene products and phone calls to loved ones in violation of federal anti-trafficking laws, according to the lawsuit filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), Law Office of R. Andrew Free, Project South, and Burns Charest LLP. Similar lawsuits have been filed in California, Washington, Colorado and Texas challenging private prison companies’ work practices.

Azadeh Shahshahani, Legal and Advocacy Director for Project South, said, “The prison corporation Core Civic is exploiting the labor of detained immigrants to enrich itself– last year its revenues were nearly $1.8 billion. It must be stopped.”

“CoreCivic is placing profits above people by forcing detained immigrants to perform manual labor for next to nothing, saving millions of dollars that would otherwise provide jobs and stimulate the local economy,” said Meredith Stewart, senior attorney at the SPLC. “CoreCivic is padding its pockets by violating anti-trafficking laws.”

The “Dollar-a-Day” program creates a lucrative profit scenario for CoreCivic: Detained immigrants are forced to purchase basic necessities from CoreCivic’s commissary, and the primary way to fund their purchases is to participate in the work program that is necessary for the operation of the facility. These jobs include providing basic functions at the facility like cooking and cleaning, work for which CoreCivic would otherwise have to hire and pay outside employees.

Plaintiff Wilhen Hill Barrientos is an asylum seeker from Guatemala who has been detained for 33 months while his case is pending. When he arrived at Stewart Detention Center, he was faced with an impossible decision – either work for nearly nothing or lose access to basic necessities, safety, and privacy.

Refusing to work means that Barrientos would not have enough money to pay for costly phone calls to his family and that he would likely be moved from a two-person prison cell to an open dorm that has few bathrooms, round-the-clock lighting, frequent fights; or be placed into solitary confinement.

“When I arrived at Stewart I was faced with the impossible choice—either work for a few cents an hour or live without basic things like soap, shampoo, deodorant, and food,” said Barrientos. He chose to work to live with some privacy and maintain access to the commissary. “If I didn’t work, I would never be able to call my family,” said Barrientos, who works in the kitchen, cooking meals for up to 2,000 people each day.

For his work, Barrientos receives at most $4 to $5 per day for six to eight hours of work; approximately 50 cents per hour. Since Stewart has no paid kitchen staff, officers usually require Barrientos to work seven days a week, even when he is sick. Barrientos was sent to medical segregation for two months after he filed a grievance for being forced to work while he was sick.

“CoreCivic illegally enriches itself on the backs of a captive workforce to bolster their profits,” said Korey Nelson, a partner at Burns Charest, a law firm with offices in Dallas and New Orleans that specializes in complex class action suits.

“CoreCivic’s labor practices at Stewart are an affront to the human dignity of all confined there, and sad reminder of a not-so-distant past when the power to jail meant the opportunity to profit,” said Andrew Free, a Nashville-based immigration and civil rights attorney. “Neither our conscience as a nation nor our human trafficking laws permit this corporation’s conduct.”

In 2014, current and formerly detained immigrants who were forced to work at private detention centers began to file class-action lawsuits alleging violations of federal and state labor laws.”

It’s only fair to share…Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInPin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditDigg thisShare on TumblrShare on VKBuffer this pageEmail this to someonePrint this page

The “American Dream” is a Fallacy

0

Americans continue to kid themselves that if you work hard you can climb the ladder. But the perception and reality are moving farther apart.

Economists at Harvard University recently published research on actual and perceived economic mobility in the United States and four European countries. They found an American public in denial. The data show that Americans believe the chance that a person who is born into the bottom 20% of households in income in the US can reach the top 20% in adulthood is more than 50% higher than in reality.

Not all other countries suffer from such misconceptions. The four European countries the researchers studied—Italy, the United Kingdom, France and Sweden—actually underestimated the likelihood of a person moving from the bottom to the top.

Based on surveys of at least 1,000 people in each country, the following chart shows how likely people think children born into the poorest 20% of families will grow up to be among the richest 20%, along with the most recent high-quality data on the actual probability.

While the average American thinks that about 12% of those in the poorest fifth households make it to the top, the true number is less than 8%. In contrast, people in the other four European countries surveyed are all overly pessimistic about the economic chances of those born poorest. The French, who underestimate mobility from the bottom to the top by two percentage points, is the most erroneously dour.

People on the political right tend to perceive greater economic mobility than those on the left in each country studied. For example, in the US, the average person that the researchers identified as left-wing guessed that 11% of people from the bottom 20% move to the top, and the average right-wing person guessed that it was 12.5%. Due to this bias, European perceptions about intergenerational mobility are more accurate on the right, while in the US, those on the left tend to guess numbers closer to the truth.

Beyond just looking at perceptions of mobility, the researchers also gathered data on people’s beliefs about economic fairness. They found that even though climbing the economic ladder is least likely in the US among the countries they surveyed, Americans have unusually strong beliefs in the fairness of the economic system, and the relationship of hard work to succeed.

The researchers also discovered that, within the US, an overly optimistic outlook about economic mobility is concentrated in the parts of the country where actual mobility is lowest. The Southeast is the area of the US with the lowest economic mobility and highest inequality. Yet the average Southeasterner believes that the chances of someone from the bottom 20% reaching the top are almost double what they actually are.

ratioeconomicopportunitymap

The idea that anybody can make it in the US if they work hard enough has been a bedrock of American life since the country’s birth. At one time, this might have been truer than today. Because historical data is difficult to obtain, researchers are unsure of whether economic mobility has decreased in the US, but it likely has. Inequality and economic mobility are highly correlated, and inequality has been on the rise in the US for the last half-century. If it’s true that mobility has decreased, awareness has not caught up to reality.

These misperceptions matter. Beliefs about economic mobility are strongly related to support for higher taxes on the rich (pdf) and government spending on education and public health. Even for those who don’t believe the government is effective at solving social problems, accurate perceptions of how likely it is for the poor to reach the top may change attitudes to philanthropy and volunteerism.

The US is no beacon of economic opportunity. It’s time Americans realized it.

It’s only fair to share…Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInPin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditDigg thisShare on TumblrShare on VKBuffer this pageEmail this to someonePrint this page

BIA to Downgrade New Staff Attorney Hires

0

Eugene Kiely and D’Angelo Gore, May 30, 2018 – “The claim: “Think of it, a lottery. You pick people. Now, let me ask you. So these countries that are sending people in — do you think they are sending us their finest?”

The facts: Trump is again distorting the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, which uses a computer lottery system to randomly issue up to 50,000 immigrant visas each year to qualified applicants from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States. Countries aren’t “sending us” anybody. Individuals submit applications, and those eligible must meet certain requirements and pass a security background check. Stephen W. Yale-Loehr, who teaches immigration law at Cornell Law School, told us: “Among other things, the consular officer must make sure the individual is not ‘inadmissible.’ This means that the person has not committed a crime, doesn’t have a serious health problem, isn’t a terrorist, hasn’t committed fraud, and hasn’t overstayed in the U.S. before.”

It’s only fair to share…Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInPin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditDigg thisShare on TumblrShare on VKBuffer this pageEmail this to someonePrint this page

BIA to Downgrade New Staff Attorney Hires

0

Jeffrey S. Chase, May 27, 2018 – “In another employment-related development that has drawn little public notice, the Department of Justice on May 17 posted a hiring ad for 38 vacant staff attorney positions at the BIA. The twist is that for the first time, the positions were advertised as being entry level grade positions with no potential for promotion. EOIR Director James McHenry had hinted since his appointment that he believed BIA attorney positions should be downgraded. There is something disingenuous about such statement. I can think of at least three immigration judges who were appointed to the bench directly from their positions as non-supervisory BIA staff attorneys. Two of the four temporary BIA Board Members at present are long-term BIA staff attorneys. The present BIA chairperson, David Neal, previously served as a Board staff attorney for 5 years, a position that apparently qualified him to directly become chief counsel to the Senate Immigration Subcommittee. Nearly all of the BIA’s decisions, including those that are published as precedent binding on the agency and DHS, are drafted by its staff attorneys.

Some of those attorneys have accumulated significant expertise in complex areas of immigration law. A number of Board staff attorneys have participated as speakers at the immigration judge training conferences. The question thus becomes: how are experienced attorneys who are deemed qualified to move directly into immigration judge and BIA Board Member positions, to craft precedent decisions and to train immigration judges only deemed to be entry-level, non-career path employees? There has been much attention paid to the nearly 700,000 cases pending before the nation’s immigration courts. As the agency moves to hire more judges and limit continuances, and recently had its power to administrative close cases revoked by the AG, the number and pace of cases appealed to the BIA will speed up significantly. It would seem like a good time for the BIA to be staffed with knowledgeable and experienced staff attorneys. Instead, the agency’s move essentially turns new BIA attorney hires into short-term law clerks. New attorneys undergo a full year of legal training to bring them up to speed to handle the high volume and variety of complex legal issues arising on appeal. However, attorneys are unlikely to remain in such positions for much more than a year without the possibility of promotion.”

It’s only fair to share…Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInPin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditDigg thisShare on TumblrShare on VKBuffer this pageEmail this to someonePrint this page

Expert: Anne Frank Analogy Appropriate to DOJ Prosecution Proposal

ø

Stuart Anderson, May 9, 2018 – “Imagine your child faces death or enslavement at the hands of predators and all legal avenues of escape and refuge have been blocked. Would you attempt to enter another country unlawfully and seek asylum? Found hiding in an attic, Anne Frank died in the Holocaust after her father exhausted all legal means of escape, including being unable to get a visa to America. If her father had entered the United States without papers and asked for asylum should he have been prosecuted for illegal entry? Should he have been prosecuted for “smuggling” his own child?

“The Anne Frank analogy to the current Department of Justice policy is appropriate,” Stephen Yale-Loehr, a Cornell Law School professor and an advisor to the National Foundation for American Policy, told me in an interview. “The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognizes the right of persons to seek asylum. It defeats that purpose to prosecute them instead for illegal entry or smuggling.” … Sessions said the Department of Homeland Security would refer “100 percent of illegal Southwest Border crossings to the Department of Justice for prosecution.” He is sending 35 prosecutors and 18 immigration judges to take up the new caseload. Sessions declared, “If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you and that child will be separated from you as required by law.”  It is unclear whether parents are now facing charges for “smuggling” for traveling with their child across the border unlawfully but the threat is there. Attorneys have told me there already are many cases of parents being prosecuted for illegal entry even if they apply for asylum.

Moreover, if parents come to a lawful port of entry and request asylum, many parents are being separated from their children and held in detention facilities.  In other words, if mothers or fathers approach a lawful port of entry and request asylum, even if they are not prosecuted for unlawful entry, they will still be separated from their child. Not only can this be traumatic for both parent and child, attorneys argue doing so as a deterrent may be unlawful. … Some may argue that a parent with children fleeing from deadly gangs in Central America is not analogous to the situation of Anne Frank. Her family had no legal way to enter America, just like the girls fleeing today from Honduras and El Salvador. However, unlike them, Anne Frank did not attempt to enter the United States illegally. She died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.”

It’s only fair to share…Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInPin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditDigg thisShare on TumblrShare on VKBuffer this pageEmail this to someonePrint this page

Two New AAO I-601 Hardship Waiver Victories

ø

Alan Lee writes: “The law firm won two recent non-precedential decisions at the U.S.C.I.S. Administrative Appeals Office which sided with us in our appeals of I-601 denials.  An I-601 approval is required to waive grounds of inadmissibility, which in these cases involved fraud or misrepresentation.  The standard required for waiver approval is the establishment of extreme hardship to a U. S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse or parent.  Following such a determination of extreme hardship, U.S.C.I.S. must also make a decision on whether a waiver should be approved in the discretion of the agency.  The decisions may be of some interest to the readers.

In the first one, Matter of L-C-, ID #553828 (AAO Nov. 2, 2017), a large factor in establishing extreme hardship was that although both applicant and qualifying spouse were Chinese, the spouse was born and raised in Hong Kong, and had no ties to mainland China, the home country of the applicant.  Also that he maintained that he was unfamiliar with the language, culture, and customs of China.

In the second case, Matter of P-Y-K-, ID #639671 (AAO Oct. 31, 2017), the AAO favorably balanced on the side of the applicant the negative factors on discretion of fraud or misrepresentation when procuring a nonimmigrant visa and subsequently entering the United States, the applicant’s failure to depart pursuant to a voluntary departure in 1987, her deportation order in 1993 (which we had previously reopened and terminated), and periods of unlawful presence and employment in the U. S. against a showing of many factors including her son’s service in the Armed Forces of the U. S.”

The full decisions can be read here: Matter of L-C-, and Matter of P-Y-K-.

It’s only fair to share…Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInPin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditDigg thisShare on TumblrShare on VKBuffer this pageEmail this to someonePrint this page