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Sessions Warns Judges Against 'Sympathy' for Immigrants
Written by <a href="index.php?option=com_comprofiler&task=userProfile&user=49007"><span class="small">Sophie Weiner, Splinter</span></a>   
Tuesday, 11 September 2018 12:58

Weiner writes: "In a speech given to 44 new judges in Virginia, Sessions explicitly called for the new recruits to fight back against immigration lawyers."

An immigrant family. (photo: Paul Sancya/AP)
An immigrant family. (photo: Paul Sancya/AP)

Sessions Warns Judges Against 'Sympathy' for Immigrants

By Sophie Weiner, Splinter News

11 September 18


ttorney General Jeff Sessions angered immigration judges today by giving them unwanted advice on how to handle their cases, according to Buzzfeed News. In a speech given to 44 new judges in Virginia, Sessions explicitly called for the new recruits to fight back against immigration lawyers.

“Good lawyers, using all of their talents and skill, work every day—like water seeping through an earthen dam—to get around the plain words of the [Immigration and Nationality Act] to advance their clients’ interests. Theirs is not the duty to uphold the integrity of the act. That is our most serious duty,” he said.

“When we depart from the law and create nebulous legal standards out of a sense of sympathy for the personal circumstances of a respondent in our immigration courts, we do violence to the rule of law and constitutional fabric that bind this great nation. Your job is to apply the law—even in tough cases,” Sessions added.

Current and former immigration judges disagreed.

“The reality is that it is a political statement which does not articulate a legal concept that judges are required to be aware of and follow,” Dana Marks, a spokesperson for the National Association of Immigration Judges, the union that represents the country’s 350 immigration judges, told Buzzfeed. “It did appear to be a one-sided argument made by a prosecutor.”

Other judges noted that asylum laws were actually designed to be flexible enough for judges to make calls driven by their morality. “We possess brains and hearts, not just one or the other,” Jeffrey Chase, a former immigration judge, told Buzzfeed. “Sessions is characterizing decisions he personally disagrees with as being based on sympathy alone, when in fact, those decisions were driven by sympathy but based on solid legal reasoning.”

Why would Sessions would feel he has the right to comment on these judges decisions at all? Buzzfeed explains:

Unlike other US courts, immigration judges are employees of the Justice Department whose evaluations are based on guidelines Sessions lays out. In that role, Sessions already has instituted case quotas, restricted the types of cases for which asylum can be granted, and limited when judges can indefinitely suspend certain cases. Advocates believe the Trump administration has made these decisions in order to speed up deportations. His comments on sympathy to immigrants appeared intended to bolster a decision he made recently to limit when asylum can be granted out of fear of domestic or gang violence.

Sessions also told the judges that they should focus on maximum production and urged them to get “imaginative and inventive” with their high caseload. The courts currently have a backlog of hundreds of thousands of deportation cases.

The National Association of Immigration Judges has spent years advocating for a separation from the Department of Justice to prevent being influenced or coerced by individuals like Sessions.

“We cannot possibly be put in this bind of being accountable to someone who is so clearly committed to the prosecutorial role,” Ashley Tabaddor, an immigration judge in Los Angeles and the president of the judge’s union, told Buzzfeed. She noted that Sessions didn’t seem at all concerned about due process or fairness, two other principles that judges are tasked with upholding.

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+4 # laborequalswealth 2018-09-11 13:53
Hmmm... The immigration courts are part of the Justice Dept? Doesn't that violate the Separation of Powers doctrine? How can the prosecution (the "Just-Us" Dept) also assume the role of judge, a role reserved to the judiciary?

Is someone challenging these courts on Constitutional grounds?
+3 # laborequalswealth 2018-09-11 13:58
The 14th Amendment to the US Constitution requires that "all PERSONS" (not just "citizens", who are discussed early in the Amendment) are entitled to Due Process before they can be deprived of liberty or property.

How is being judged by the PROSECUTION "Due Process"? It's a kangaroo court and clearly in violation of the US Constitution.
+2 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-09-11 20:34
It is beyond irony that many democrats now feel a great deal of sympathy for Sessions and don't want to see him fired. Me -- I say fire him right now. He's been a horrible attorney general.

The department Sessions heads is called The Department of Justice. It is not the Department of Punishment and Vengeance. Justice includes mercy and compassion. It also is equally concerned for clearing people of accusations that are not true. It used to be the motto of the Justice Department that it was better to see ten guilty people go free than one innocent person convicted. The Justice department had to bend over backwards to protect all of the rights of the accused.

No longer. Now we have sociopaths like Mueller, Sessions, and all the rest who see themselves as a latter Roy Bean, the hanging judge of the law west of the Pecos. Now it is time to let Session hang by his own words and actions. Fire him now and deport him to Alabama.
+4 # Citizen Mike 2018-09-12 07:49
Shows you what the Republican Party has become, with race and class hatred as central values!
+3 # Rcomm 2018-09-12 12:33
RR, I was about to give your comment a thumbs up until I saw you reverted to form and grouped Mueller with Sessions.

Why don't you give it up? Mueller is not a "sociopath." The man he is investigating is, and more.