Trump changes hiring process for administrative law judges

social security administrationPresident Trump has signed an executive order that changes the way administrative law judges are hired. Trump’s executive order eliminates exams and competitive hiring processes for administrative law judges, and leaves hiring authority to agency heads, reports the ABA Journal. There are about 1,900 administrative law judges in the federal government, but the vast majority of them work for the Social Security administration, according to the Washington Post. According to a member of Trump’s staff, the only requirement to become an administrative law judge is an active bar license or a state judgeship.

Judge refuses extended custody of migrant families

migrant familiesA federal judge in California has denied the Trump administration’s request to hold migrant families in custody long-term, the Associated Press reports. US District Judge Dolly Gee called the administration’s request a “cynical attempt” to undermine a longstanding court settlement. The Justice Department had asked the judge to modify a 1997 settlement to allow the government to hold undocumented immigrant families for longer terms. Judge Gee rejected a similar request from the Obama administration three years ago. Her ruling then said that immigrant children couldn’t be held in custody for more than 20 days. The Justice Department says it’s reviewing the judge’s decision and hasn’t decided yet whether to appeal. More on the judge’s decision is also available at the Washington Post. 

6 common myths about estate planning

Everyone needs an estate plan, but some people still don’t get around to creating one. It’s easy to see why: setting one up can quickly become daunting, according to US News and World Report. There are also some misconceptions about what an estate plan can and cannot do. Here’s a list of six things that people planning an estate may be mistaken about, including the belief that estate plans are only for the wealthy.

ADA lawsuit against Florida Board of Bar Examiners can proceed

A lawsuit against the Florida Board of Bar Examiners that claims applicants with mental health conditions must undergo invasive procedures in violation of the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) will be allowed to proceed, the ABA Journal reports. The lawsuit, brought by former Army captain and law student Julius Hobbs, claims he would have to submit to a range of expensive medical and mental evaluations for his bar application to be considered.

The Florida Board of Bar Examiners told Hobbs that it needed all of his medical records. Also, he would need to submit a full medical evaluation, which would include a psychiatric evaluation, a substance disorder use evaluation, a complete physical examination and psychosocial testing, according to the order. The exams had to be done by one of 11 doctors specified by the board, and Hobbs would need to pay for it, with the procedures costing up to $5,000.

Hobbs says his mental health issues, including adjustment issues, anxiety, mood disorders and excessive alcohol use, stemmed from working with explosive devices in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Florida Board of Bar Examiners had moved to dismiss the lawsuit, but Federal Judge Robert Hinkle ruled that it could proceed after dismissing the Florida Supreme Court as a defendant. Read more at the ABA Journal. 

Podcast: Legal immigration under the Trump administration

President Donald TrumpWhile the Trump administration scrambles to reunite immigrant children separated from their parents at the border, it is taking other measures to change the existing legal immigration system. In this podcast from NPR, New York immigration lawyer Cheryl David talks about how the immigration process has been changed by the Trump administration:

The president has signed numerous executive orders in the name of national security safety – the other notion of buy American, hire American. So everything is, you know, vetted more strongly than it was before, probably unnecessarily because we had some very good procedures in place. In October of 2017, the administration had indicated that we are now going to have to interview every applicant applying for a green card. So previously, employment-based cases, for the most part, weren’t interviewed. Now they’re in the queue for interviewing. So that’s set family-based immigration back tremendously.

American Immigration Council demands Trump family separation policies

ICE agents immigrationThe Trump administration’s plans around family separation and reunification of separated family members have been hidden from the public and Freedom of Information Act requests for information about their policies and procedures have gone unanswered. In response, the American Immigration Council filed a lawsuit today on behalf of a coalition of immigration groups demanding the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) release policies, guidance, and data regarding the practice of family separation.

The lawsuit, filed by the Council and international law firm WilmerHale in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, asks the court to compel the agencies to produce documents in response to FOIA requests submitted in April. The requests, filed by the Council, in collaboration with the Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project, National Immigrant Justice Center, Kids in Need of Defense, Women’s Refugee Commission, and WilmerHale asked for information including but not limited to:

1. Records related to any past, current, or planned policy, guidance, or recommendations regarding the separation of families who arrive at the border, including ports of entry.

2. Systems for tracking children and adult family members who are separated.

3. Policies and protocols related to efforts to reunite separated family members.

4. Training of ICE and CBP officers regarding screening of adult family members for referral for criminal prosecution for immigration violations.

5. Training regarding treatment of family members and minor children in ICE or CBP custody who have been separated.

6. Practices and protocols for coordinating communication (telephonic, video, or in-person) between a detained adult family member and a related minor child, following separation.

7. Coordination among CBP, ICE, DHS, Health and Human Services, and the Department of Justice regarding the processing and handling of the separation of adult family members from related minor children.

8. Practices or protocols for verifying a family relationship prior to or after separation.

9. Data regarding the number of minor children separated from adult family members; the number of referrals of adult family members for criminal prosecution where families were separated; the number of referrals for credible fear interviews after separation; and the number of children and parents who departed the United States after separation.

10. Complaints received by the agencies regarding the separation of families.

“The government has taken thousands of immigrant children—including infants—from their parents yet there is no known system for how this vulnerable population is being managed and when the parents can expect to be reunited with their children—if ever,” said Emily Creighton, the Council’s deputy legal director. “This lawsuit intends to uncover documents supporting the policies that the government would rather remain hidden from view. Among them are justifications for family separation, communication among agencies detailing coordinated efforts to separate families, and comprehensive data showing the systemic implementation of family separation and removal.”

Exposing fake immigration lawyers

immigration and crimePeople posing as immigration lawyers are nothing new, and neither are efforts to expose them. But it’s hard to catch and expose those fakes, according to an article at Salon and Reveal. Part of the problem is that victims of immigration scams don’t know where to turn to report the crimes.

“Lawyers and community organizations have known about this issue – notario scams and immigration fraud – for a very long time,” said Prof. Juan Manuel Pedroza, who teaches sociology at University of California at Santa Cruz. “The issue was: Is there way we can figure out where it’s happening and where the prevalence is really high? We’re not there yet.”

Reporting these fraudsters to authorities comes with other risks for undocumented immigrants: tipping off the Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Read more about possible ways to fight immigration fraud at Salon.

American Immigration Council’s Statement on Trump’s Executive Order on Family Separation

Mexico mapPresident Donald Trump signed an executive order today to try to stem criticism of his family separation policy. He has offered an unacceptable alternative: imprisoning mothers and fathers with their children. The president is also asking Attorney General Jeff Sessions to request that a court modify and effectively dismantle the Flores settlement. That settlement protects children held by the government and sets forth standards of care.

The following is a statement from Beth Werlin, Executive Director of the American Immigration Council:

“Today’s executive order does nothing to change the fact that the Trump administration is attacking families and criminalizing asylum seekers. The zero-tolerance policy is cruel and unnecessary. We should not have to choose between separating parents from their children and expanding the shameful practice of imprisoning families. Our experience defending families in detention, first in Artesia, New Mexico and now in Dilley, Texas, has taught us that family detention is never humane.”

Video: Sessions admits separating migrant children is deterrant

While some members of the Trump administration have denied that separating migrant children from their parents at the US-Mexico border is part of a bargaining strategy, Attorney General Jeff Sessions says the policy is being used as a deterrent. Sessions’ “zero-tolerance” policy that takes migrant children away from their parents is being criticized by a bipartisan group of more than 70 former US attorneys. Polls show two-thirds of Americans do not support the Trump administration policy.

Sessions’ decision on immigrant asylum harshly criticized

Attorney General Jeff SessionsAttorney General Jeff Sessions announced that he is taking away a vital lifeline to immigrant victims of severe domestic and gang violence. Sessions issued a decision unilaterally overruling important precedent recognizing that such individuals may qualify for asylum in the United States.

Critics say Sessions’ decision to end asylum for most victims of domestic abuse and gang violence takes US “back to the Dark Ages,” according to The Washington Post. The American Immigration Council has also criticized the decision.

The following is a statement from Beth Werlin, Executive Director of the American Immigration Council. “From its earliest days, the United States has opened its doors to individuals fleeing oppression and persecution. Today’s decision by the Attorney General is yet another attempt to close our doors. Through our work serving detained mothers and children in Dilley, Texas, we see firsthand the trauma of domestic and gang violence and the desperate need for protection. The Attorney General’s decision—if permitted to stand—will no doubt result in sending countless mothers and children back to their abusers and criminal gangs. Turning our backs on victims of violence and deporting them to grave danger should not be the legacy sought by any administration.”

Sessions’ decision on asylum follows another controversial action that allows the separation of immigrant parents from their children.

 
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