Legal Fights Loom Over National Emergency Move

Immigrant rights advocates, property rights activists, environmentalists, Democratic lawmakers and state officials are signaling plans for lawsuits to block the president from what they call an unconstitutional end-run around the usual budget process.

President Trump’s decision to declare a national emergency to access funds Congress refused to appropriate for his border wall will unleash a legal war that could bog down the project for months or years, Politico reports. Immigrant rights advocates, property rights activists, environmentalists, Democratic lawmakers and state officials are signaling plans for lawsuits to block the president from what they have denounced as an unconstitutional end-run around the usual budget process. Judges sometimes have blocked spending seen as unauthorized by Congress, but it has been almost unthinkable for judges to second-guess a president’s declaration of a military or national security emergency.

Legal experts said Trump’s history of erratic statements and his tendency to see crises that others view as contrived mean that challengers stand a strong chance of finding a judge willing to throw a monkey wrench into the president’s plans. “Presidents traditionally get tremendous deference, but Trump is not going to get the same level of deference,” said University of Texas law Prof. Bobby Chesney. When U.S. intelligence chiefs testified in the Senate last month about global threats, there was only brief discussion of migration and no mention of a crisis related to caravans at the southern border. “That really strips away the core rationale …. and creates much more chance than normal that even at that initial step there’s a non-negligible chance that [Trump’s plan] could be rejected,” Chesney said. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who has filed dozens of suits against Trump policy moves, said, “There is no national emergency … we will do what we must to hold him accountable. No one is above the law.” Trump is expected to rely on the National Emergencies Act of 1976. Then administration officials will tap into various accounts that can be freed up by such a declaration.

from https://thecrimereport.org

ICE Stops Force-Feeding Indian Immigrants in Texas

Immigration officials have stopped for now the force-feeding via nasal tubes of nine Indian immigrants who were conducting a hunger strike inside an immigration detention center in El Paso, Tx.

Immigration officials have stopped for now the force-feeding via nasal tubes of nine Indian immigrants who were conducting a hunger strike inside an immigration detention center in El Paso, Tx., reports NPR. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Thursday night, “there are 12 individuals on a hunger strike — nine citizens of India and three from Cuba — in the custody of [ICE].” While ICE says that at least two of the nine men have been on a hunger strike since late December, “No hunger strikers housed in El Paso are currently being fed pursuant to court orders at this time.”

Last month, eleven immigrants were refusing food in protest over the length and conditions of their detention. Six were being force-fed. That number grew to nine. The case has drawn international attention. Last week the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed concern that the force-feeding of hunger strikers could be a violation of the U.N. Convention Against Torture. The American Medical Association also opposes the practice. The change in treatment was revealed in a closed door court hearing in El Paso to discuss the status of two detained immigrants, Malkeet Singh and Jasvir Singh. An ICE physician. Dr. Michelle Iglesias, discussed the condition of the two immigrant detainess before U.S. District Judge David Guaderrama. The judge then held an open court hearing in which Dr. Iglesias testified generally about the force-feeding regimen and the long-term damage the body sustains in the process of starving.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Latest Funding Deal: $1.38B for Border Barriers, No VAWA

President Trump is likely to sign the latest border-security legislation that would keep the government from closing this weekend. It includes far less money than Trump wanted for a border wall, and no extension of the Violence Against Women Act.

President Trump is likely to sign the latest border-security legislation that would keep the government from closing this weekend, but he continues to look for ways to supplement the modest funding it contains for barriers, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Democrats are expected to challenge any efforts to move money around without congressional approval.

The biggest snag was whether to include back pay for federal contractors to make up for lost compensation during the record-long partial government shutdown that ended last month. Democratic lawmakers supported the back pay, but the White House balked.

The bill is expected to pass both chambers, though it will face opposition on both the left and right. The measure would allocate $1.38 billion for 55 miles of physical barriers—including bollard fencing and levee walls, but not concrete walls—along the Rio Grande Valley of the U.S.-Mexico border.

That marks a far lower funding level than the $5.7 billion Trump sought for a wall.

Fox News host and Trump adviser Sean Hannity called it a “garbage compromise.” An administration official cast the deal as a win for Trump. “We are a long way from Pelosi’s $1,” the official said, referring to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s  joking that she would allot $1 for Mr. Trump’s wall.

Lawmakers debated an extension of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

House Democrats pushed to reintroduce later a new version of the bill that would prevent people under protective orders from possessing firearms and would bar evictions of victims of domestic violence based on the actions of abusers.

Lawmakers finally decided not to include VAWA or back pay for contractors in the bill.

Domestic violence advocates said it’s not only a potentially dangerous consequence of political strife in Washington, D.C., but an insulting message to send to women.

“We don’t treat violence against women with the urgency that it deserves,” said Deborah Tuerkheimer, a Northwestern University law professor who has specialized in domestic violence prosecution.

“We, as a society, are not grappling with the severity of the problem, the pervasiveness of the problem and the way it affects so many lives. The desperate search for funds (for the Violence Against Women Act) in the 11th hour is one indication of that.”

The Violence Against Women Act, or VAWA, enacted in 1994, provides protections for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, and must be reauthorized every five years by Congress. The act also provides funding for social service agencies and programs that support survivors of such violence, which must be renewed annually.

After Congress failed to pass a budget and parts of the federal government shut down, many of VAWA’s funding sources remain on hold. Although one budget bill extended some funds through early February, U.S. Department of Justice employees who issue those checks are among federal workers furloughed during the shutdown, according to social service providers.

While some local social service providers say they are optimistic the act eventually will be reauthorized, they worry about funding being in flux every year for programs that serve as a safety net for victims — and the message that sends.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Border Deal Doesn’t Limit ICE Immigrant Detention

Democrats came up short in a quest to limit detention of immigrants as part of a bipartisan border deal reached this week. The arcane math left lawmakers citing different numbers and activists on both sides crying foul.

Democrats came up short in their quest to limit detention of immigrants as part of a bipartisan border deal reached this week, reports the Wall Street Journal. The arcane math left lawmakers citing different numbers and activists on both sides crying foul. A dispute over funding for Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention beds emerged as a sticking point in the negotiations. Democrats wanted fewer beds and sought to prioritize the detention of criminals over other immigrants, such as people who overstayed their visas. Republicans wanted more beds and no constraints on which immigrants ICE can detain. In the last fiscal year, Congress funded an average daily ICE population of 40,520. Under the new agreement, the administration will get funding for an average daily population of 45,274 in the current fiscal year. ICE holds over 49,000 people in custody.

Democrats said the negotiated number means ICE will have to reduce detention to make the new average work. Republicans countered that ICE has the ability to transfer money, as it has been doing, to maintain a higher level of beds. The complexities led to varying takes on Capitol Hill, with lawmakers disagreeing on whether the deal increased or decreased the number of detention beds. Pro- and anti-immigration activists saw problems with the deal. Sandra Cordero of Families Belong Together said the deal would keep detention levels steady and was “funneling more money to agencies that ripped thousands of children from their parents’ arms.” Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), a member of the 17-member group that negotiated the border deal, said Democrats didn’t get everything they had hoped for on beds, a reflection of GOP control of the Senate and White House.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Border Deal Doesn’t Limit ICE Immigrant Detention

Democrats came up short in a quest to limit detention of immigrants as part of a bipartisan border deal reached this week. The arcane math left lawmakers citing different numbers and activists on both sides crying foul.

Democrats came up short in their quest to limit detention of immigrants as part of a bipartisan border deal reached this week, reports the Wall Street Journal. The arcane math left lawmakers citing different numbers and activists on both sides crying foul. A dispute over funding for Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention beds emerged as a sticking point in the negotiations. Democrats wanted fewer beds and sought to prioritize the detention of criminals over other immigrants, such as people who overstayed their visas. Republicans wanted more beds and no constraints on which immigrants ICE can detain. In the last fiscal year, Congress funded an average daily ICE population of 40,520. Under the new agreement, the administration will get funding for an average daily population of 45,274 in the current fiscal year. ICE holds over 49,000 people in custody.

Democrats said the negotiated number means ICE will have to reduce detention to make the new average work. Republicans countered that ICE has the ability to transfer money, as it has been doing, to maintain a higher level of beds. The complexities led to varying takes on Capitol Hill, with lawmakers disagreeing on whether the deal increased or decreased the number of detention beds. Pro- and anti-immigration activists saw problems with the deal. Sandra Cordero of Families Belong Together said the deal would keep detention levels steady and was “funneling more money to agencies that ripped thousands of children from their parents’ arms.” Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), a member of the 17-member group that negotiated the border deal, said Democrats didn’t get everything they had hoped for on beds, a reflection of GOP control of the Senate and White House.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Trump OK Uncertain for Border Wall Compromise

Congressional negotiators agreed Monday night to far less money for President Trump’s border wall than the White House’s $5.7 billion wish list, settling for a figure of nearly $1.4 billion.

Congressional negotiators reached agreement to prevent a government shutdown and finance construction of new barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border, overcoming a late-stage hang-up over immigration enforcement issues, the Associated Press reports.  Republicans were desperate to avoid another bruising shutdown. They tentatively agreed Monday night to far less money for President Trump’s border wall than the White House’s $5.7 billion wish list, settling for a figure of nearly $1.4 billion. The funding measure is through the fiscal year, which ends on Sept. 30. It’s not clear whether Trump will support the deal, however.

The agreement means 55 miles of new fencing — constructed through existing designs such as metal slats instead of a concrete wall — but far less than the 215 miles the White House demanded in December. The fencing would be built in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas. It actually closely mirrors Trump’s original budget request from last winter. The split-the-differences compromise contains plenty to anger lawmakers on the right and left — too much border fencing than many Democrats would like and too little for conservative Republicans. Its authors praised it as a genuine compromise that would keep the government open and allow everyone to move on. “With the government being shut down, the specter of another shutdown this close, what brought us back together I thought tonight was we didn’t want that to happen” again, said Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL). Details of the plan were not to be released until Tuesday afternoon.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Trump to Visit El Paso; His Crime Data Are Questioned

 From 2005 to 2008 — before fencing was erected along the Rio Grande — El Paso’s violent crime rate fell below the national average. A member of Congress forecasts a President Trump “dog and pony show.”

El Paso, Tx., residents are used to their city being mischaracterized as a war zone, an impression that emerged more than a decade ago when its sister city, Ciudad Juárez, was in the throes of cartel and gang violence, the Texas Tribune reports. In his State of the Union speech, President Trump said El Paso was one of the nation’s most violent cities until a border fence was constructed in 2008. The dig at El Paso was part of a 14-minute passage about the U.S.-Mexico border by a commander in chief intent on convincing Congress to pay for his long-promised border wall even as political gridlock threatens to bring another government shutdown this week. Negotiations to reach a compromise on immigration appeared to break down over the weekend; negotiators said the impasse was over how many immigrants Immigration and Customs Enforcement can detain.

That raises the stakes for Trump’s planned rally Monday in El Paso. The city “has always been safe, long before a wall was constructed,” U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-TX) said, saying that Trump will “attempt to use our community for a dog and pony show.” In 1993, an operation spearheaded by former El Paso Border Patrol Sector Chief Sylvestre Reyes, a Democrat who would later represent El Paso in Congress for 16 years, caused the most significant drop in illegal border crossings in the city’s history. “As Border Patrol apprehensions and petty crime rates dropped in El Paso, the operation was hailed as a critical success in the popular press,” said a 1997 report by the Congressional Research Service states. From 2005 to 2008 — before fencing was erected along the Rio Grande — El Paso’s violent crime rate fell below the national average. It began to rise again over the next four years, after the fencing went up.

from https://thecrimereport.org

North Carolina Man Arrested After Taking Video of ICE Raid

Some immigration advocates are questioning whether Canales was arrested “in retaliation” for bringing attention to the raid.

A man who shot live video Tuesday outside a North Carolina business that had just been raided by immigration officials has been charged with threatening sheriff’s deputies, The News & Observer reports. Christian Enrique Canales, 27, of Sanford was taken into custody Wednesday and released on bail. He was charged with communicating threats to law enforcement officers and driving with a revoked license, Lee County Sheriff Tracy Carter said in statement on Facebook.

Now some immigration advocates are questioning whether Canales was arrested “in retaliation” for bringing attention to the raid. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested 27 people Tuesday at the business on McNeill Road in Sanford. An ICE spokeswoman said 25 people face criminal charges and two face civil immigration violations. In a Facebook Live video posted around 9 a.m. Tuesday, Canales can be heard interacting with law enforcement. At one point during the roughly 8-minute video, a man can be heard using expletives to tell people they need bullet-proof vests. It’s not clear from the video who the man was addressing. The Lee County Sheriff’s Office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Arizona Officials Want Razor Wire Removed From Border Wall

The City Council in Nogales, which sits on the border with Nogales, Mexico, wants the federal government to remove all concertina wire installed within the city limits. Otherwise, Nogales Mayor Arturo Garino said the city will sue.

Officials in a small Arizona border city passed a resolution Wednesday night condemning the installation of new razor wire that now covers the entirety of a tall border wall through downtown, the Associated Press reports. The City Council in Nogales, which sits on the border with Nogales, Mexico, wants the federal government to remove all concertina wire installed within the city limits. Otherwise, Nogales Mayor Arturo Garino said the city will sue.

City officials say Army troops installed more horizontal layers of the wire along the border wall last weekend. The council’s resolution says the razor wire would harm or kill anyone who scales the wall and “is only found in a war, prison or battle setting” and should not be in downtown Nogales. In a statement, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection said the wire was added after a request “for additional support in high-risk urban areas commonly exploited by criminal smuggling organizations.” It did not say who made the request.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Trump Makes Dubious Immigration, Drug Statements

Despite the president’s statement about the “lawless state of our southern border,” apprehensions of people trying to cross there have been in decline since 2000.

President Trump made dubious statements about immigration and drugs in his State of the Union address Tuesday night, the Washington Post reports. Here is a brief rundown: Trump said that one in three women is sexually assaulted on the long journey north. The White House attributes the estimate to a 2017 report by Doctors Without Borders. The statistic is derived from the experiences of 56 women and cannot necessarily be considered representative of migrant women. Trump said, “The lawless state of our southern border is a threat to the safety, security and financial well-being of all Americans.” Apprehensions of people trying to cross the southern border peaked at 1.6 million in 2000 and have been in decline since, falling under 400,000 in fiscal 2018. There are far more cases of travelers overstaying their visas than southern border apprehensions.

The wall would be built inland from the border. Many of those attempting to immigrate are Central Americans seeking asylum. To petition for asylum, a person needs to be on U.S. soil under current law. Immigrants could cross the border and file a legally valid petition for asylum before reaching Trump’s wall. Trump said El Paso, Tx., had high rates of violent crime and is now one of the safest cities. The city had the third-lowest violent crime rate among 35 U.S. cities with a population over 500,000 in 2005, 2006 and 2007, before construction of a 57-mile-long fence started in mid-2008. Trump said, “Tens of thousands of innocent Americans are killed by lethal drugs that cross our border and flood into our cities, including meth, heroin, cocaine and fentanyl.” Most drugs come into the U.S., across the southern border with Mexico, but a wall might not stanch the flow, as much of these drugs are smuggled through legal ports of entry or underground tunnels.

from https://thecrimereport.org