Daily Dispatch 4/17/2019

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Daily Dispatch

April 17, 2019

Trump vetoes resolution to end U.S. support for Saudi war in Yemen

Yesterday Trump to end U.S. support for Saudi Arabia’s war on the people of Yemen. The resolution had bipartisan support in both the House and Senate and passed both by significant margins – but not enough to override the veto (unless Members decide that defending the constitutional obligations and power of congress are more important than short-term partisan interests). So, yeah, the veto will likely stand.

While Trump’s move has been , as it should be, it is worth pointing out the hypocrisy of Trump’s war on immigration, which has, in recent weeks, included mocking people seeking asylum. To mock asylum-seekers and refugees, while spending billions to fuel the worst humanitarian crisis on the planet at the moment, is morally reprehensible. The war in Yemen has displaced 3 million people, 10% of the population, while half the population faces starvation. (Imagine over 30 million U.S. Americans displaced by violence, and another 160 million facing starvation). It is hard to imagine that level of destruction, and if we ever get to that point, thanks to Trump, no country on the planet will be willing to help.

That said, the war in Yemen and the U.S. government support for Saudi Arabia, has been a moral disgrace for a long-time. Trump, once again, is taking bad, long-standing policy, and making it worse.

Trump administration will block bond for asylum seekers

To only make the above point more clear, the Trump’s Attorney General, William Barr, has issued new rules overturning a precedent that allowed asylum seekers to seek bond hearings while waiting the adjudication of their cases. Barr is seeking to change that rule, effectively denying bond hearings to people who cross the border outside of regular ports of entry. The impact will be horrendous for tens of thousands of people, who will now face indefinite detention.

With the immigration court backlog at – there are close to 900,000 pending cases – asylum-seekers are waiting on average for their cases to be processed, meaning Barr’s decision could lead to the indefinite detention of thousands of people.

Immigration enforcement is currently holding a record number of people, , in detention as part of the Trump administration’s broad crackdown on migrants. Barr’s decision is likely to significantly add to that number as the Department of Homeland Security [DHS] prepares to .

Good News (yeah sometimes we have this!): Court overturns Trump’s effort to end TPS for Haiti

From the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild :

“In a victory for due process and a blow to Trump’s racially-biased, anti-immigrant policies, yesterday, federal district judge William F. Kuntz II issued a preliminary injunction blocking the Trump administration’s decision to end Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haiti.”

Ten items to highlight from the ruling:

  1. In an unusual step, the Court issued the injunction not only against DHS, but also against President Trump, to ensure the White House operates in accordance with the law (pp. 67-70).
  2. The Court found that Acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke sought to terminate TPS for Haiti due in part to President Trump’s “America First” policy of reducing the number of non-white immigrants in the U.S., and unrelated to conditions in Haiti (pp. 91-93).
  3. The Court found that former DHS Secretary Kelly unlawfully predetermined the termination of Haiti’s TPS when he made his decision to extend TPS for Haiti in May of 2017. The Court cited to a “privileged” email directive to the agency that it should announce a 6-month extension, but also make clear in the federal register notice that Haiti’s TPS will be terminated in 6 months. In other words, it was unlawful for DHS to predetermine to cancel TPS at the same that time that DHS extended TPS (p. 29, pp. 93-95).
  4. The Court found that high level officials furthered the agenda to dismantle the TPS program, including Gene Hamilton, then-Senior Advisor to Secretary Kelly and previously a member of President Trump’s transition team on immigration, who wrote, “African countries are toast...Haiti is next” (p. 115, p. 132).
  5. The Court found that after the Haiti termination decision was announced, a DHS official admitted in a privileged email that it was the White House who led the TPS decision-making process for Haiti and influenced Duke. This included a November 2017 meeting orchestrated by the White House, during which Jeff Sessions, attorney general at the time, and many other White House officials, leaned on Duke to terminate Haiti’s TPS status. The implication of this finding is that the White House did indeed pressure DHS to change its process about TPS decisions (p. 128, p. 129).
  6. The Court found that State Department officials manipulated the process to reach a pretextual decision by ignoring the views of U.S. embassy officials in contravention of longstanding practice, rescinding an already-delivered recommendation to extend Haiti’s TPS from June, labeled in a privileged email by Secretary Nielsen as a mistake, and coordinating its review with DHS to terminate Haiti’s TPS (pp. 36-42, p. 100).
  7. The Court found that DHS officials Kathy Kovarik, Robert Law, Francis Cissna, and others manipulated the facts to reach a preordained decision by omitting negative information of Haiti’s country conditions from its memos and searching for any positive facts. For example, DHS official Robert Law noted to Kathy Kovarik that the draft decision memo for Haiti is “overwhelmingly weighted for extension which I do not think is the conclusion we are looking for.” In fewer than thirty minutes, and thus with no time to conduct any factual or legal analysis, Law returned another draft director memorandum, that “made the document fully support termination” (pp. 95- 97).
  8. The Court also pointed to then Secretary Kelly’s atypical and unprecedented directives to his staff to “search for criminality and welfare data” as “further evidence the agency was fishing for reasons to terminate TPS for Haiti,” and as evidence of discriminatory intent (pp. 23-25, p. 134). The Court also took note of Kelly’s racist statement that Haitians are “not a bad people, but they are welfare recipients” (p. 31, pp. 98-99, p. 132).
  9. The Court found that DHS unlawfully changed its past practice of looking to all country conditions to determine whether it was safe for nationals to return to their home country to only conditions related to the originating event, without explanation and in contravention of the statute (pp. 105-110).
  10. While the decisions to terminate Honduras’ and El Salvador’s TPS were delayed, the Court found that those decisions were predetermined in 2017 for Haiti, as evidenced by privileged government memos about the implications of the impending terminations for those countries. This means that the Judge, after examining evidence he could only see, found that Honduras and El Salvador were treated in a similar matter as Haiti (p. 132).