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Beverly Hills, California, United States
Eli Kantor is a labor, employment and immigration law attorney. He has been practicing labor, employment and immigration law for more than 36 years. He has been featured in articles about labor, employment and immigration law in the L.A. Times, Business Week.com and Daily Variety. He is a regular columnist for the Daily Journal. Telephone (310)274-8216; eli@elikantorlaw.com. For more information, visit beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com and and beverlyhillsemploymentlaw.com

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Friday, June 23, 2017

U.S. Top Court Sets Higher Bar for Stripping Citizenship

Reuters 
By Lawrence Hurley
June 22, 2017

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court handed a setback to the Trump administration on Thursday by making it harder for the government to strip immigrants of U.S. citizenship in a case involving an ethnic Serb woman who lied about her husband’s military service after Yugoslavia’s collapse.

The justices ruled 9-0 that a naturalized American citizen cannot be stripped of citizenship if a lie or omission on immigration forms was irrelevant to the government’s original decision to grant entry into the United States.

The justices sided with Divna Maslenjak, who had her citizenship revoked and was deported to Serbia after being convicted of breaking immigration law by falsely stating her husband had not served in the Bosnian Serb army in the 1990s.

“We hold that the government must establish that an illegal act by the defendant played some role in her acquisition of citizenship,” Justice Elena Kagan wrote for the court.

The justices threw out a lower court ruling in favor of the government and sent the matter back to that court for further consideration. The Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, when it again takes up the case, could still find that Maslenjak’s conviction and loss of citizenship were valid because her statements were in fact material to her bid to gain entry.

Maslenjak entered the United States with her husband and two children in 2000 and settled in Ohio, having been granted refugee status over a claimed fear of ethnic persecution in Bosnia at the hands of Muslims. She became an American citizen in 2007. At issue in the case was her concealment of her husband Ratko’s service in a Bosnian Serb Army brigade that participated in the notorious 1995 massacre of about 8,000 Muslims in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica.

The legal question was whether Maslenjak’s false statements had a material effect on the U.S. decision to grant her refugee status. The Trump administration argued it only mattered that she made a false statement, not whether it had any impact on its decision to grant refugee status.

President Donald Trump has sought to restrict immigration and deport people who have entered the United States illegally. After taking over the case this year, Trump’s administration took the same stance toward Maslenjak that the administration of former President Barack Obama had taken.

At a 2009 hearing to help her husband avoid deportation after he was convicted of making a false statement by concealing his military service, she admitted that when she had applied to be a refugee she had not revealed that from 1992 to 1997 the family lived in Bosnia and her husband served in the military. She was later convicted of lying on her citizenship application.

During the April 26 oral argument in the case, Chief Justice John Roberts said the Trump administration’s position could make it too easy for the government to strip people of citizenship for lying about minor infractions.

Roberts seemed particularly concerned that the government was asserting it could revoke citizenship through criminal prosecution for trivial lies or omissions.

A jury found Maslenjak guilty in April 2014 of violating a law that criminalizes procuring U.S. citizenship illegally and her citizenship was revoked. The 6th Circuit in April 2016 upheld her conviction. She and her husband were deported to Serbia last October.

(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Will Dunham)

For more information, go to:  www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com

U.S. Can’t Revoke Citizenship Over Minor Falsehoods, Supreme Court Rules

New York Times 
By Adam Liptak
June 22, 2017

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Thursday made it harder to strip citizenship from naturalized Americans. It also refused to grant new trials to defendants in a notorious 1984 Washington murder case and to a Massachusetts man whose lawyer failed to object to closing the courtroom for part of his trial.

Stripping Citizenship

The justices unanimously rejected the government’s position that it could revoke the citizenship of Americans who made even trivial misstatements in their naturalization proceedings.

During arguments in April, several justices seemed indignant and incredulous at the government’s hard-line approach in the case, Maslenjak v. United States, No. 16-309.

They asked about a form that people seeking American citizenship must complete. It requires applicants to say, for instance, whether they had ever committed a criminal offense, however minor, even if there was no arrest. A government lawyer, in response to questioning, said that failing to disclose a speeding violation could be enough to revoke citizenship even years later.

Writing for the majority, Justice Elena Kagan said that the law required a tighter connection between the lie and the procurement of citizenship.

“We hold that the government must establish that an illegal act by the defendant played some role in her acquisition of citizenship,” she wrote. “When the illegal act is a false statement, that means demonstrating that the defendant lied about facts that would have mattered to an immigration official, because they would have justified denying naturalization or would predictably have led to other facts warranting that result.”

The case concerned Divna Maslenjak, an ethnic Serb who said she had faced persecution in Bosnia. She was granted refugee status, at least partly on that basis, and became a United States citizen in 2007.

In the process, she made a false statement about her husband, saying she and her family had also feared retribution because he had avoided conscription by the Bosnian Serb military. In fact, he had served in a Bosnian Serb military unit, one that had been implicated in war crimes.

When this came to light, Ms. Maslenjak was charged with obtaining her citizenship illegally. She sought to argue that her lie was immaterial, but the trial judge told the jury that any lie, however significant, was enough. Ms. Maslenjak was convicted, her citizenship was ordered revoked, and she and her husband were deported to Serbia.

The Supreme Court, having ruled that Ms. Maslenjak had been convicted under the wrong standard, returned the case to the lower courts to consider whether the government may try the case again under the stricter standard.

Given the significance of Ms. Maslenjak’s lie, she may lose again in a retrial.

Withheld Evidence

In a 6-to-2 decision in Turner v. United States, No. 15-1503, the court refused to grant new trials to seven defendants in a notorious 1984 murder in Washington, rejecting their arguments that prosecutors had withheld important evidence.

The defendants, almost all teenagers at the time, were prosecuted for sexually assaulting and killing Catherine Fuller, 48 at the time. Prosecutors presented no physical evidence, relying only on eyewitness testimony.

In 2010, 25 years after the trial, lawyers for the defendants sought to reopen the case, saying their convictions had been tainted by violations of Brady v. Maryland, a 1963 Supreme Court decision that required prosecutors to turn over favorable evidence to the defense. They said prosecutors had withheld several kinds of evidence, most notably about another suspect, James McMillan.

Justice Stephen G. Breyer, writing for the majority, said the withheld information would not have made a difference in the outcome of the trial.

“Considering the withheld evidence in the context of the entire record,” he wrote, “we conclude that it is too little, too weak or too distant from the main evidentiary points to meet Brady’s standards.”

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Anthony M. Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr. and Sonia Sotomayor joined the majority opinion. Justice Neil M. Gorsuch did not participate in the case, which was argued before he joined the court.

In dissent, Justice Kagan, joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, wrote that the missing evidence would have changed the tenor of the trial, allowing the defendants to cast suspicion on Mr. McMillan rather than one another.

“The government got the case it most wanted — the one in which the defendants, each in an effort to save himself, formed something of a circular firing squad,” Justice Kagan wrote. “And the government avoided the case it most feared — the one in which the defendants acted jointly to show that a man known to assault women like Fuller committed her murder. The difference between the two cases lay in the government’s files — evidence of obvious relevance that prosecutors nonetheless chose to suppress.”

Closed Courtrooms

The court refused to grant a new trial to a Massachusetts man, Kentel Weaver, whose lawyer failed to object to the exclusion of the public from jury selection during his murder trial.

In 2010, the Supreme Court ruled that the Sixth Amendment guarantees criminal defendants the right to insist that jury selection be open to the public. The question in the new case, Weaver v. Massachusetts, No. 16-240, was whether a defendant was entitled to automatic reversal of his conviction in the context of a post-conviction challenge based on ineffective assistance of counsel.

Writing for the majority, Justice Kennedy said the answer was no.

“It is true that this case comes here on the assumption that the closure was a Sixth Amendment violation,” he wrote. “And it must be recognized that open trials ensure respect for the justice system and allow the press and the public to judge the proceedings that occur in our nation’s courts. Even so, the violation here did not pervade the whole trial or lead to basic unfairness.”

Justice Breyer, joined by Justice Kagan, dissented. He said that an error by a lawyer that led to a fundamental constitutional violation was enough to entitle a defendant to new trial, whether the error affected the result in the trial or not.

For more information, go to:  www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com

AP FACT CHECK: Trump Spins a Sunny Solar Tale

Associated Press
June 22, 2017

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump says the idea of putting solar panels on the wall he wants to build along the Mexico border sprang from his imagination. Actually, others proposed it, back when he was criticizing solar power as too expensive.

Trump’s speech in Iowa on Wednesday night was rife with misstatements. He claimed beneficial effects to the economy from actions he has not yet taken. He declared that the “time has come” for a welfare moratorium for immigrants that has been in place for two decades. He juiced up the tax burden on Americans beyond reality.

A look at some of his claims:

TRUMP: “We’re thinking about building the wall as a solar wall so it creates energy and pays for itself. And this way, Mexico will have to pay much less money. And that’s good right? … Pretty good imagination, right? Good? My idea.”

THE FACTS: His idea was to run with the idea of others.

The notion of adding solar panels to the border wall was explored in a Wall Street Journal op-ed in March. Vasilis Fthenakis, director of the Center for Life Cycle Analysis at Columbia University, and Ken Zweibel, former director of the Solar Institute at George Washington University, concluded it was “not only technically and economically feasible, it might even be more practical than a traditional wall.”

They said a 2,000-mile solar wall could cost less than $1 billion, instead of tens of billions for a traditional border wall, and possibly become “wildly profitable.” The writers were studying a concept laid out by Homero Aridjis and James Ramey in the online World Post in December.

The idea also was proposed by one of the companies that submitted its design to the government as a border wall prototype. Las Vegas-based Gleason Partners proposed covering some sections of the wall with solar panels and said that selling electricity from it could eventually cover the cost of construction.

Trump repeatedly described solar power in the campaign as “very, very expensive” and “not working so good.”

___

TRUMP: “The time has come for new immigration rules which say that those seeking admission into our country must be able to support themselves financially and should not use welfare for a period of at least five years. And we’ll be putting in legislation to that effect very shortly.”

THE FACTS: A federal law passed in 1996 already has that effect. It bars most foreigners who enter the country on immigrant visas from being eligible for federal benefits like Social Security and food stamps for the first five years. States typically have the authority to determine eligibility for local programs. As for people in the country illegally, they are generally prohibited from those benefits altogether. Same with foreigners who are in the U.S. on non-immigrant visas.

___

TRUMP: “You see what we’ve already done. Homebuilders are starting to build again. We’re not confiscating their land with ridiculous rules and regulations that don’t make sense.”

THE FACTS: Housing starts as tracked by the Census Bureau have actually fallen over the past three months. Trump seems a bit mixed up on deregulation. Some of the biggest constraints on homebuilders come from local governments, rather than federal rules.

___

TRUMP: “Farmers are able to plow their field. If they have a puddle in the middle of their field, a little puddle the size of this, it’s considered a lake and you can’t touch it. And if you touch it, bad, bad things happen to you and your family. We got rid of that one, too, OK?”

THE FACTS: Trump appears to be referring to an executive order he signed in February that the Environmental Protection Agency review its rule on regulations to protect clean water. The rule can stop some farmers from using pesticides and herbicides. But Trump hasn’t overturned the rule at this stage as his remarks suggest.

___

TRUMP: “Unemployment is at a 16-year low.”

THE FACTS: Unemployment is indeed that low, at 4.3 percent.

___

TRUMP: “We’re working really hard on massive tax cuts. It would be, if I get it the way I want it, the largest tax cut in the history of the United States of America. Because right now, we are one of the highest-taxed nations in the world. Really on a large-scale basis, we are the highest tax nation in the world. … And I think it’s going to happen.”

THE FACTS: The overall U.S. tax burden is actually one of the lowest among the 32 developed and large emerging-market economies tracked by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Taxes made up 26.4 percent of the total U.S. economy in 2015, according to the OECD. That’s far below Denmark’s tax burden of 46.6 percent, Britain’s 32.5 percent or Germany’s 36.9 percent. Just four OECD countries had a lower tax bite than the U.S.: South Korea, Ireland, Chile and Mexico.

It’s not clear Trump will sign the largest tax cut in U.S. history. His administration has yet to settle on enough details of any planned overhaul to make that claim. To put the claim in context, Ronald Reagan essentially cut taxes during his first term by slightly more than 2 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product. For Trump to surpass that, his tax cut would essentially have to be more than $400 billion a year.

___

TRUMP: “We have Gary Cohn, who’s the president of Goldman Sachs. That’s somebody. He’s the president of Goldman Sachs. He had to pay over $200 million in taxes to take the job, right? … This is the president of Goldman Sachs, smart. Having him represent us. He went from massive paydays to peanuts. … But these are people that are great, brilliant business minds. And that’s what we need.”

THE FACTS: Trump appears to be confusing taxes paid with stocks sold. Cohn and his family members held about $220 million in Goldman stock, which he had to divest in order to resolve possible conflicts of interest before becoming White House economic adviser. He would have had to pay taxes on any capital gains from the sale, but that sum would only be a fraction of the figure cited by Trump. Moreover, Cohn had to divest the stock in pieces, so the final tally from his sales is unclear, as the stock has declined from highs in March.

It’s also worth noting the president’s about-face praise for Wall Street. His campaign routinely criticized Goldman Sachs and its ties to Hillary Clinton, even using it as a villain in a political ad that included video of the bank’s chairman and CEO.

___

TRUMP: “You have a gang called MS-13. … They do things that nobody can believe. These are true animals. We are moving them out of the country by the thousands, by the thousands. … We’re getting them out, MS-13.”

THE FACTS: There is no publicly available evidence to support this claim about the violent gang. In recent weeks, federal authorities have arrested hundreds of suspected MS-13 gang members. Many of those arrested have been identified by the government as immigrants, but it is unclear if they have yet been deported. Any suspected gang members who are U.S. citizens cannot be kicked out of the country. The gang was formed decades ago in Los Angeles and has spread.

Overall arrests of immigrants in the country illegally have increased in recent months, but deportations have declined slightly, according to the most recently available government data.

___

TRUMP: “Since I was elected, illegal border crossings — and this is without the wall, before the wall — have decreased by more than 75 percent, a historic and unprecedented achievement.”

THE FACTS: That’s overblown, according to government figures about the Mexico border. The decrease in his first four full months in office is about 59 percent, still substantial but not more than 75 percent.

More than 56,600 foreigners have been caught crossing from Mexico illegally between February and May, up from 137,800 people in the same period during President Barack Obama’s last year in office.

The number of illegal crossings is not known because some people slip in undetected. Officials consider the number arrested to be representative of the broader trend of attempts to cross illegally.

___

Associated Press writer Alicia A. Caldwell contributed to this report.

___

Find AP Fact Checks at http://apne.ws/2kbx8bd

For more information, go to:  www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com

In One Rally, 12 Inaccurate Claims From Trump

New York Times 
By Linda Qiu
June 22, 2017

President Trump returned to familiar rhetorical territory during a raucous campaign-style rally in Iowa on Wednesday night, repeating exaggerations and falsehoods about health care, jobs, taxes, foreign policy and his own record.

Here’s an assessment.

He falsely said insurance companies “have all fled the state of Iowa.”

This talking point is no longer true. Medica, the state’s last company in the individual health insurance market, threatened to pull out in early May. Then it said earlier this month that it would stay in the state but that it would charge much higher premiums. And the Trump administration itself may be responsible for part of the uncertainty and volatility by suggesting it may not fund cost-sharing subsidies, as the company’s chief executive suggested to CNBC.

He exaggerated his legislative accomplishments.

Mr. Trump has signed nearly 40 bills into law, but it’s hard to argue, as he did, that any were “really big.”

The 14 bills rolling back Obama-era rules did signal a significant shift in regulatory policy, but are not considered major pieces of legislation. Three others named federal buildings, four made symbolic gestures toward women and veterans, three appointed Smithsonian Institution regents, two set minor rules for federal employees, one affirmed NASA’s mission, one improved weather forecasting, and one aided Minnesota’s bid for a world’s fair in 2023.

In the same time period, President Franklin D. Roosevelt began public works projects in response to the Great Depression, Mr. Obama had enacted a stimulus package to counter the financial crisis, and President George W. Bush had signed major tax cuts.

He falsely claimed the United States is “the highest-taxed nation in the world.”

In 2015, the United States ranked in the middle or near the bottom compared among 35 advanced economies in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development by the typical metrics: No. 28 for total tax revenue as a percentage of gross domestic product, No. 22 for corporate tax revenue as a percentage of G.D.P. and No. 13 for tax revenue per capita.

He misrepresented the trend in home building.

Contrary to Mr. Trump’s claim that “homebuilders are starting to build again,” construction hit an eight-month low in May and was 2.4 percent lower compared to May of last year. The number of units authorized by permits, too, have fallen since January and declined by 0.8 percent compared to the same time last year.

He falsely claimed that an Obama-era rule applied to “a little puddle in the middle of their field.”

Mr. Trump rolled back a rule that limits pollution in the country’s waters. But that rule explicitly excludes puddles and most ditches, and it really only applies to streams and rivers that drain into major bodies of water.

He falsely claimed Gary Cohn paid “$200 million in taxes” to serve as his economic adviser.

Mr. Cohn, the former president of Goldman Sachs, was required to divest company shares under ethics laws, and sold about $220 million worth of Goldman stock. He also received a cash payout of about $65 million. The nearly $300 million payout is, of course, eventually subject to taxation but characterizing it as money paid to the I.R.S. is not accurate.

He exaggerated the increase in military spending as “historic.”

Mr. Trump proposed to add $52.8 billion to the Pentagon’s budget, which amounts to nearly a 10 percent increase. There have been at least 10 larger increases to the base defense budget since the 1977 fiscal year and four since 2002.

Factoring in war spending, Mr. Trump’s claim is even less credible. There have been 27 years since 1940 in which the military spending was as high or higher than the proposed increase. As a percentage of gross domestic product, there have been roughly 35 years in which military spending matched or surpassed Mr. Trump’s request.

He took undue credit for a new coal mine in Pennsylvania and the creation of 33,000 coal-mining jobs.

Corsa Coal Corporation held a grand opening for a new coal mine in southeastern Pennsylvania in early June, but the plans for the mine precede Mr. Trump’s election by months. The company made its decision in August 2016 and showcased the project to investors in October.

And according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the entire mining and logging sector added about 38,000 jobs from December to May, but coal mining jobs specifically grew by 1,300.

He repeated inaccurate claims about the Paris agreement.

Mr. Trump misleadingly pointed to China’s compliance pledge to argue that the climate deal “puts us at a permanent economic disadvantage.”

Though China says it expects emissions to peak by 2030, that doesn’t mean the country is planning to ignore the pledge until then nor can it meet its goal overnight in 2029. It is already on track to beat that target and also pledged to get 20 percent of energy from non-fossil-fuel sources by 2030.

And despite Mr. Trump’s protest “like hell it’s nonbinding,” there are no serious legal restraints or penalties for falling short of declared targets in the deal.

He exaggerated his actions toward Cuba as “canceling the prior administration’s completely one-sided deal.”

The new directive prohibits self-directed trips to Cuba and business transactions with firms controlled by the Cuban military, but many Obama-era policies were unaltered. Embassies in Washington and Havana will remain open, commercial planes will keep flying between the two countries, and Cuban-Americans can still send money and visit family in Cuba. Mr. Trump also declined to restore an immigration policy eliminated by Mr. Obama that allowed Cubans come to the United States without a visa to remain.

He said he would bar immigrants from receiving welfare benefits for five years, but they already are prohibited.

The requirements sought by Mr. Trump have largely been in place for two decades since the passage of welfare reform or the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996.

Legal permanent residents who haven’t worked in the United States for 10 years are not eligible for food assistance or Medicaid within the first five years of entering the country. States have the option of waiving the Medicaid rule for pregnant immigrants and children.

Refugees, asylees and victims of trafficking can collect some benefits, and immigrants who’ve served in the military are eligible without a time requirement.

He prematurely touted “hundreds of billions of dollars” of deals made in Saudi Arabia.

This figure is puffed up. The United States offered Saudi Arabia defense capabilities valued at $110 million, a fifth of which occurred under the Obama administration. It also remains to be seen how much the kingdom will purchase. Several U.S. companies also announced commercial deals, but the vast majority of these announcements were memorandums of understanding or letters of intent — not finalized, formal business contracts.

For more information, go to:  www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com

Judge in Michigan Blocks Deportation of 100 Iraqis

Reuters 
By Dan Levine
June 22, 2017

(Reuters) – A U.S. judge on Thursday temporarily blocked the deportation of about 100 Iraqi nationals rounded up in Michigan in recent weeks who argued that they could face persecution or torture in Iraq because they are religious minorities.

U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith in Michigan issued an order staying the deportation of the Iraqis for at least two weeks as he decides whether he has jurisdiction over the matter. Goldsmith said it was unclear whether the Iraqis would ultimately succeed.

The arrests shocked the close-knit Iraqi community in Michigan. Six Michigan lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives urged the government to hold off on the removals until Congress can be given assurances about the deportees’ safety.

The Michigan arrests were part of a coordinated sweep in recent weeks by immigration authorities who detained about 199 Iraqi immigrants around the country. They had final deportation orders and convictions for serious crimes.

The roundup followed Iraq’s agreement to accept deportees as part of a deal that removed the country from President Donald Trump’s revised temporary travel ban.

Some of those affected came to the United States as children and committed their crimes decades ago, but they had been allowed to stay because Iraq previously declined to issue travel documents for them. That changed after the two governments came to the agreement in March.

A U.S. Department of Justice spokeswoman could not immediately be reached for comment on the ruling.

Lee Gelernt, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union representing the Iraqis in Michigan, said: “The court’s action today was legally correct and may very well have saved numerous people from abuse and possible death.”

The U.S. government has argued that the district court does not have jurisdiction over the case. Only immigration courts can decide deportation issues, which can then only be reviewed by an appeals court, it said.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has said that people with convictions for murder, rape, assault, kidnapping, burglary and drugs and weapons charges were among the Iraqis arrested nationwide.

The ACLU argued that many of those affected in Michigan are Chaldean Catholics who are “widely recognized as targets of brutal persecution in Iraq.”

Some Kurdish Iraqis were also picked up in Nashville, Tennessee. In a letter on Thursday, Tennessee Representative Jim Cooper, a Democrat, asked the Iraqi ambassador whether Iraq would be able to ensure safe passage for them if they were returned.

(Reporting by Dan Levine in San Francisco and Eric Walsh in Washington; Editing by David Alexander and Cynthia Osterman)

For more information, go to:  www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com

Federal judge temporarily blocks deportation of Iraqi Christians

CNN 
By Ellen Kaufman
June 22, 2017

(CNN) A federal judge temporarily blocked the deportation of over 100 Iraqis in Michigan on Thursday by granting a 14-day stay of removal.

The stay prevents any of the Iraqis detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents from being deported for two more weeks. It also gives detainees an opportunity to go before an immigration judge and make their case for why they believe they should be allowed to stay in the United States.

ICE has arrested 199 Iraqi nationals since May; 114 of them from Detroit, according to its press secretary Gillian Christensen. ICE says most have criminal records.

Four days after more than 100 Iraqi nationals were detained last week, some detainees and the American Civil Liberties Union filed a petition in federal court arguing that if they were forced to return to Iraq they would face “persecution, torture, or death.”

Iraqis and supporters rallied Wednesday outside a federal court in Detroit.

ICE is reviewing the judge’s order.

“The agency intends to comply with the terms of the order, while determining the appropriate next steps,” an ICE spokesperson said.

Iraqi and Christian

Many of the Iraqis who were detained are Chaldeans, members of an Iraqi Christian group that has historically faced problems in Iraq. The Detroit metropolitan area is home to the largest US group of Chaldeans.

Some of them started immigrating to the United States in the 1920s for opportunities and freedom, the Chaldean Community Foundation said.

Many faced persecution during the Saddam Hussein era, during the Iraq war and after ISIS seized territory in Iraq.

“The court took a life-saving action by blocking our clients from being immediately sent back to Iraq,” Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, who argued the case, said in a statement. “They should have a chance to show that their lives are in jeopardy if forced to return.”

The ACLU plans to ask the judge to extend the restraining order beyond 14 days, Gelernt said.

A second chance

In Michigan, many of the Iraqis detained have been living in the United States for years.

Shoki Konja, 57, was excited about the judge’s decision to grant a temporary stay. His brother, Najah Konja, 55, was detained and is being held at the ICE detention center in Youngstown, Ohio.

“We had no hope yesterday, but now our hopes are getting in the right direction,” Konja told CNN. “We are American, and we are part of the system. This is a step in the right direction within the process.”

Najah Konja has a criminal record. After coming to the country as a 15-year-old, his brother said he fell in with the wrong crowd. He was convicted of drug conspiracy charges as a 21-year-old and spent about 20 years behind bars. Since getting out, his brother said, he has turned his life around.

Najah owns a tobacco shop in the Detroit area. He’s engaged and has been staying out of trouble, his brother said. He lost the ability to have a Green Card because of his conviction, but he has been checking in annually with ICE, most recently in November. Then he was detained on June 11.

The temporary stay issued on Thursday gives detainees a chance to have a hearing before an immigration judge.

Shoki hopes a judge will rule that his brother can stay in the United States, where he’s lived for almost 40 years.

“Hopefully someone will have a heart to keep him here,” Shoki said.

What’s next

Over the next two weeks, US District Judge Mark Goldsmith, who issued the decision, will try to determine whether or not a federal district court has jurisdiction over the matter in the first place.

The US attorney’s office argued that a federal district court did not have jurisdiction over whether or not these Iraqis can be deported. They believe it should be handled by an immigration court, according to Gina Balaya, public information officer for the US attorney’s office for the Eastern District of Michigan.

Goldsmith didn’t exactly agree or disagree with the US attorney’s office in his decision granting the temporary stay. Instead, he argued that the potential “harm far outweighs” the government’s interest in immediately enforcing the removal orders, according to court documents.

Goldsmith granted the stay “pending the Court’s determination regarding whether it has subject-matter jurisdiction,” according to court documents.

CNN’s Sonia Moghe, Dave Alsup, Nicole Chavez and Lauren del Valle contributed to this report.

For more information, go to:  www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com

Michigan judge halts deportation of more than 100 Iraqi Christians

The Hill 
By John Bowden
June 22, 2017

A federal judge in Michigan on Thursday blocked the deportation of more than 100 Iraqi Christians, according to an ACLU press release.

The ACLU filed for a restraining order, which the judge granted. The 114 Christians, most of whom are from the Chaldean sect, say they risk death if they are forced to return to Iraq.

“The court took a life-saving action by blocking our clients from being immediately sent back to Iraq,” the ACLU said in a statement. “They should have a chance to show that their lives are in jeopardy if forced to return.”

According to the ACLU, many of the 114 Iraqis have been living in the U.S. for decades. They were arrested in recent Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids in the greater Detroit area.

“We are thankful and relieved that our clients will not be immediately be sent to Iraq, where they face grave danger of persecution, torture or death,” the ACLU statement continues. “It would be unconstitutional and unconscionable to deport these individuals without giving them an opportunity to demonstrate the harm that awaits them in Iraq.”

U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith halted the deportation for 14 days while he decides whether his court has jurisdiction to hear the case. ICE says that all of the detainees have criminal convictions.

For more information, go to:  www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com

Supreme Court could reveal action on travel ban at any time

Associated Press 
By Mark Sherman
June 23, 2017

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court has almost certainly decided what to do about President Donald Trump’s travel ban affecting citizens of six mostly Muslim countries.

The country is waiting for the court to make its decision public about the biggest legal controversy in the first five months of Trump’s presidency. The issue has been tied up in the courts since Trump’s original order in January sparked widespread protests just days after he took office.

The justices met Thursday morning for their last regularly scheduled private conference in June and probably took a vote about whether to let the Trump administration immediately enforce the ban and hear the administration’s appeal of lower court rulings blocking the ban.

The court’s decision could come any time and is expected no later than late next week, after which the justices will scatter for speeches, teaching gigs and vacations.

Exactly when could depend on whether there are justices who disagree with the outcome and want to say so publicly. It might take time for such an opinion to be written — and perhaps responded to by someone in the majority.

It takes five votes to reinstate the ban, but only four to set the case for argument. Justice Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s nominee who was confirmed in April, is taking part in the highest-profile issue yet in his three months on the court.

The case is at the Supreme Court because two federal appellate courts have ruled against the Trump travel policy, which would impose a 90-day pause in travel from citizens of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, said the ban was “rooted in religious animus” toward Muslims and pointed to Trump’s campaign promise to impose a ban on Muslims entering the country as well as tweets and remarks he has made since becoming president.

The San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the travel policy does not comply with federal immigration law, including a prohibition on nationality-based discrimination. That court also put a hold on separate aspects of the policy that would keep all refugees out of the United States for 120 days and cut by more than half, from 110,000 to 50,000, the cap on refugees in the current government spending year that ends Sept. 30.

Trump’s first executive order on travel applied to travelers from the six countries as well as Iraq, and took effect immediately, causing chaos and panic at airports over the last weekend in January as the Homeland Security Department scrambled to figure out who the order covered and how it was to be implemented.

A federal judge blocked it eight days later, an order that was upheld by a 9th circuit panel. Rather than pursue an appeal, the administration said it would revise the policy.

In March, Trump issued a narrower order, but it too has been blocked.

The justices have a range of options. They could immediately allow the administration to stop travel from the six countries and hear arguments on the administration’s broader appeal in October. That’s the path the administration has urged.

But the 90-day ban will have run its course by then, and there might be little left for the court to rule on.

The government has said the ban was needed to allow for an internal review of the screening procedures for visa applicants from the six countries.

That too should be complete before the Supreme Court reconvenes for its new term on October 2.

The administration also could issue a new ban that includes more countries or is permanent, or both. That might make the current case go away and also could give rise to new legal challenges.

The high court also might keep the ban on hold, but set the case for argument in October. This course might be palatable both to justices who object to the ban and those who don’t like the breadth of the lower court rulings against the president.

But it also could mean that a new policy is in effect before the court ever hears the case.

The justices also could keep the ban from being reinstated and, at the same time, decline to review the lower court rulings. That outcome would essentially end the case.

One barrier to that option could be that the court usually likes to have the last word when a lower court strikes down a federal law or presidential action.

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