Essay of the Week I’m a Latinx woman. The way this Administration treats immigrants has shown me that even I have privilege.
The following essay was written by Christina Angelica Avalos, a law student at UCLA School of Law. In 2017, Christina was awarded a fellowship from California ChangeLawyers to defend detained immigrants.
Ask a person of color in America if they’ve ever felt the weight of this country’s race problem on their shoulders as they navigate white spaces.
Chances are they have. I certainly have.
As a Latinx woman trying to become a lawyer, I’ve been made to feel like I don’t belong. There’s something about predominantly white spaces -- like law schools, courtrooms, and law firms -- that makes you question your own self-worth.
And yet I consider myself a privileged person in Trump’s America.
The cruelty this Administration has shown towards immigrant families has shown me that despite being Latinx person, I too have privilege.
I have privilege because I was born a US citizen. I have privilege because I speak English without an accent.
Having no accent shouldn’t be a privilege. But in Trump’s America, it is. Because in Trump’s America, the worst thing imaginable can happen. Mothers can have their babies ripped from their breast. There are parents who will likely never see their children. Ever. Again.
As a future lawyer, I’m ready to embrace my privilege. I will soon have the ability to use my law degree to right historical wrongs. Lawyers are already suing the Administration left and right for what they’ve done to immigrant families.
I’m sharing my story today to ask you to please help me in this fight. Help me increase the number of immigration attorneys fighting at the frontlines to help parents find their missing children.
California ChangeLawyers has set up a Keep the Families Together Fund. 100% of donations will be used to help legal services organizations hire more lawyers and law students to fight attacks on immigrants’ rights.
The organization already has lawyers working throughout the state defending the very communities this Administration has relentlessly targeted for the past year and half. Because of California ChangeLawyers, I spent the summer of my first year of law school stopping deportations at the notorious Mesa Verde ICE Processing Facility in Bakersfield.
They covered the cost of my legal fellowship.
Please donate today. We need to reunite these families.
Essay published on Medium >
Speaking of… Brett Kavanaugh will not defend the immigrants or anyone who is powerless
The following editorial was written by Leah Litman, professor of law at UC Irvine.
If Judge Kavanaugh is confirmed and his work on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit is any indication, the new Supreme Court will rarely act as a shield for groups — such as undocumented women — who are victimized by the political process. And when they do manage to eke out a political victory, the court may serve as a sword against them.
Some people point to the Supreme Court’s relatively conservative history to reassure us that things will not be so bad. That will be largely true for the socioeconomically well-off, mostly white elite Supreme Court watchers who are largely insulated from many of society’s harshest tendencies.
In extraordinary legal proceedings that vacated my father’s conviction nearly 40 years later in 1983, evidence of government misconduct showed that the “military necessity” on which the court predicated its decision was apparently nothing more than a smoke screen.
Consider Judge Kavanaugh’s views in a recent case related to abortion, Garza v. Hargan. An undocumented minor, referred to by the court as Jane Doe, or J. D., was in the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which blocked her efforts to obtain an abortion.
Judge Kavanaugh weighed in on the case when an appeal reached the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. At a moment of great urgency — abortion restrictions in Texas leave a narrow window for the procedure — Judge Kavanaugh and two other judges would have permitted the Office of Refugee Resettlement to force the woman to delay her abortion even further.
Judge Kavanaugh’s reasoning provides a perfect example of how judges can whittle down the right to decide to end a pregnancy so that it is practically unavailable to women even without outright overruling Roe v. Wade. Upholding needless restrictions on abortion can make safe and legal abortion unavailable to women, too.
Imagine a future Democratic Congress wants to offer remedies for victims of police violence that disproportionately affects minorities. Conservative justices have questioned the constitutionality of laws that prohibit policies where the burden falls on some races more than others. Just a few years ago, Justice Anthony Kennedy broke with his more conservative colleagues to allow lawsuits under the Fair Housing Act to proceed where a policy disproportionately affected one race more than others, even if unintentionally. Under Justice Kavanaugh, that would probably not happen; his supporters are already trumpeting the fact that Judge Kavanaugh will probably invalidate race-conscious remedies.
President Trump was always going to nominate conservative judges, and his selection of the well-credentialed and very smart Judge Kavanaugh is no exception. But there is no point to pretending that Judge Kavanaugh is something he is not, and no use in feigning uncertainty about the substance of Judge Kavanaugh’s views on certain legal issues.
Democrats may think the courts were meant for better things, but they are in the minority. While they are there, they might ask themselves whether the federal courts are worth fighting for or against, and if so, how. And they might even learn a thing or two from the people who decided that they are, and by any means necessary — Mitch McConnell and the Republican Party.
Story by NY Times >
More of This Lawyers sue ICE over “brutal” treatment of detained women immigrants
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement was sued by a civil liberties group claiming one of its contractors transported a group of detained immigrants in brutal conditions that had some feeling like they were going to die.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed the complaint Tuesday in San Francisco federal court after a group of women reported that they were injured and traumatized when they were moved last year between detention facilities in Richmond and Bakersfield, California.
The women were shackled and during one stretch rode in the back of a hot, dark, windowless and airless van that caused some to vomit and at least one to faint. All of them felt like they were suffocating and going to die, according to the lawsuit.
California is in a legal tug-of-war with the U.S. Justice Department, which has argued the state is circumventing federal authority by prohibiting local police from complying with ICE agents and directives. California has maintained the upper hand in the fight, with a Sacramento federal judge upholding the centerpiece of the state’s sanctuary protection and allowing state Attorney General Xavier Becerra to continue to inspect privately owned federal detention centers.
The ACLU wants a San Francisco federal judge to order ICE to turn over information about its contractors, originally requested in December. The government’s response would explain “the standards governing private contractors in their transportation of immigration detainees, and whether private contractors actually comply with such standards,” according to the complaint.
Story by Bloomberg >
Less of This Trump Administration quietly purging “non citizens”
It went largely unremarked, just another bland procedural decision from a government agency. But a quiet policy change at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services last month is the next step toward a nationwide purge of non-citizens.
On June 28, USCIS announced that non-citizens who apply for a “benefit”–such as an extension or change of status, a green card, or citizenship—would be placed in deportation proceedings if that benefit is denied. For years, a criminal conviction has been required to be fast-tracked for deportation. Now, merely losing your petition for visa extension, being charged with a crime, or doing something DHS considers to be criminal (even if never arrested or charged) places you on the same fast-track.
Once in deportation proceedings, the non-citizen must prove she is eligible to stay in the United States. She will not be provided a lawyer; she may be detained, sometimes with no bond. There is no right to a speedy trial, nor trial by jury.
It is becoming harder and harder to comply with the immigration law. Asylum law is being gutted. Immigration judgesare being robbed of the little independence they had, and pressured to order removals. Families have been ripped apart to “send a message” for the “crime” of exercising their human and legal right to seek asylum. There is now a task force dedicated to taking citizenship away from people.
This is the result of years of nativist, protectionist rhetoric peddled by groups like the Federation for American Immigration Reform, the Center for Immigration Studies, and NumbersUSA. Their work hasn’t been cheap: hundreds of millions of dollars have been poured into this effort since the inception of FAIR in 1979. Born from white nationalism, such groups have beaten the drums of war against imaginary hordes of brown and black invaders for decades.
Immigration courts currently face a staggering backlog of over 700,000 cases, and the Trump administration has complained extensively about the bureaucracy required to deal with them. Paradoxically, USCIS will now pump in another stream of cases. This system is going to explode. When it does, the next step in the white nationalist agenda will be to replace it with a new version, stripped of the due process of law.
Story by Quartz >
Even Less of This California prosecutor suspended after calling for “ghetto” Maxine Waters to be shot
Michael Selyem, who leads the Hardcore Gang Unit at the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office, is the subject of an internal investigation, according to a statement from District Attorney Mike Ramos, after reportedly targeting Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), former first lady Michelle Obama, immigrants and Mexicans in comments on his social media accounts.
According to images published in the San Bernardino Sun newspaper, Selyem recently attacked Waters after she called for Trump administration members to be harassed in public.
“Being a loudmouthed . . . in the ghetto you would think someone would have shot” her by now, he wrote, in a much more explicit manner, according to the Sun.To all of her questions, I had to answer: I don’t know.
Selyem also posted a fake picture of Michelle Obama holding a sign that said “Trump grabbed my penis,” the Sun wrote. The notion that Michelle Obama is a man is a smear that has grown in some conspiracy-theory-minded circles on the right.
Beneath a Breitbart article, he reportedly wrote: “I am all for white males immigrating here legally and starting a business. It is the terrorist a–holes sneaking in here wanting to kill me an[d] my family that I am opposed to.”
He also posted a picture of a man in a large sombrero with the caption: “Mexican word of the day: Hide.”Why so many unknowns? This administration appears to have no infrastructure, policy or plan in place to deal with the destruction of families seeking refuge or a new life in our country.
Selyem faces possible disciplinary action, including termination, Ramos said — a step for which some activists have already called. His caseload is being reassigned, Ramos said.
Story by Washington Post >
Podcast of the Week Prosecutors can help end mass incarceration, featuring Larry Krasner
Have you heard about Larry Krasner? He’s a lefty progressive lawyer in Philadelphia that made his name by defending the underdogs, representing activists and suing police officers. Last year, he was elected as Philadelphia’s District Attorney, meaning he now runs the mass incarceration machine he’s spent his decades-long career criticizing. He might be the last person in the world you would expect to be the chief prosecutor for the city of Philadelphia, but if you truly want to see criminal justice reform what better place to start?
Speaking of… Why are we sentencing juveniles to die in prison?
The following editorial was written by three prosecutors. Karl Racine is the first elected attorney general in the District of Columbia. Miriam Aroni Krinsky spent 15 years as a federal prosecutor and is the executive director of Fair and Just Prosecution, a national network of elected prosecutors committed to new thinking and innovation. Shay Bilchik is a research professor and director of the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform at Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy. He was formerly an assistant state attorney in Miami-Dade County and administrator of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention in the U. S. Department of Justice.
Sometimes the Supreme Court gets it wrong. In the case of Bobby Bostic, the mistake will likely cost him his life in prison.
The court refused to hear the appeal of Bostic, a Missouri man who committed a series of robberies and participated in a kidnapping when he was 16 years old. Bostic, has been in jail for 21 years and will not be eligible for parole until he is 112 years old — effectively a life sentence.
Some of the nation’s leading prosecutors weighed in on Bostic's case and urged the court to follow its own precedent.
Even the judge who put Bostic in jail has since called that sentence a mistake and expressed her regret as she publicly urged the court to hear the case. Instead, the court chose to bow out and allow this deeply troubling result to stand.
Prosecutors are gatekeepers to the justice system. Prosecutors can wield influence over how justice is served — with or without the engagement of the Supreme Court.
Prosecutors are in the business of relying on evidence. In the realm of juvenile and young adult justice, scientific evidence often challenges practice. Not only do we know that adolescent brains are different, we now know that adolescents and young adults often age out of crime. But most important, we know that adolescence is a window of opportunity — young people are defining their sense of self and the brain experiences its last great window of plasticity. In short, adolescence is a phase in life that is ripe for second chances.
Raising the age at which young people can be tried as adults to at least 18 is another reform prosecutors can champion that reflects scientific reality and can improve not simply the plight of the individual, but also avoid exposing young people to an adult system that's ill equipped to address their needs and more likely to instead put them on a pathway to recidivism.
The evidence is clear: Children and young adults are different, the justice system must do better, and prosecutors can lead the way.
Even if the Supreme Court is unwilling to engage on cases like that of Bostic, a new generation of prosecutors must work to create a more fair and just future for all young people.
Story by USA Today >
Event Scholarships for Justice presented by California ChangeLawyers
Scholarships for Justice is an event that celebrates the bright, diverse students who will become tomorrow's legal changemakers and the lawyers who right historical wrongs in our courtrooms, classrooms, and beyond.
Featuring former US Attorney General Eric Holder.
Get your tickets here >
Free Clinic FEMA Clinic hosted by Legal Aid of Sonoma County
The FEMA process is incredibly important and many survivors rely on FEMA assistance for recovery. Please help us help the community by sharing, posting, tweeting, or whatever else you can think of to spread the word.
144 South E Street in Santa Rosa
July 28, 2018.
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