With separate process, ICE arrests generate more scrutiny

Photograph by John Moore / Getty as reported by The New Yorker, 11/8/17.

It’s increasingly likely that the U.S. Supreme Court will end up reviewing the procedures used by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for immigration arrests, according to experts who see this area of law growing more contentious.

The process for ICE arrests is “one of the most complicated areas of immigration law,” Ashley Tabaddor, president of the National Association of Immigration Judges, told Public Radio International.

In an April 12 report, PRI noted, “Broadly, the only evidence that an ICE officer needs to arrest a person is their identification and proof that they are not a citizen.”

One reason for the disparity is that ICE procedures often take place in civil courts.

The New Yorker chronicled the case of Sergio Perez, a native of Guadalajara, Mexico, who was in the United States as an undocumented immigrant before his arrest by ICE.

“Because immigration-removal proceedings are generally carried out under civil laws, they are exempt from many procedures mandated in criminal cases,” the New Yorker explained. “For example, the warrants that ICE uses to arrest unauthorized immigrants like Perez aren’t reviewed by a judge; they’re just written up by ICE office supervisors. Immigrant detainees don’t have a constitutional right to a lawyer. Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure don’t always apply when ICE agents investigate a target for arrest, because the cases typically don’t involve a criminal prosecution.”

Public Radio International cited an upswing in ICE activity under President Trump as one reason for the growing attention.

“From the day Donald Trump took office through Sept. 30, 2017, ICE arrests increased by 42 percent compared to the same time period the year before, according to an analysis of government data by Pew Research,” PRI reported. “Officers have been more aggressive in their tactics, too. They have shown up in courtrooms, conducted worksite sweeps and confronted people in their homes without warrants. Immigration lawyers say there is an increased need for immigrants’ legal protections to be reconsidered. ‘This is a brewing question that is becoming more intense,’ says University of Las Vegas law professor Michael Kagan.”

The legal status of undocumented immigrants took center stage earlier this year.

In February, National Public Radio reported on a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that found immigrants, even those with permanent legal status and asylum seekers, do not have the right to bond hearings.

 

California court backlogs persist in civil, criminal arenas

Photo Credit: Don Bartletti, Los Angeles Times as reported on 5/10/14.

Budget cuts have contributed to delays in the processing of civil cases in California Superior Courts, a television news investigation revealed.

NBC Bay Area reported on the problem five years ago, confirming a situation covered by the state’s other major media.

And earlier this year, the news station revisited the crisis, noting that criminal cases also are caught up in the backlog.

“An NBC Bay Area analysis of state court disposition data shows thousands of felony criminal cases have been delayed for years, and sometimes even decades, in jurisdictions around California,” NBC Bay Area reported in February. “The analysis shows Santa Clara County Superior Court and San Francisco County Superior Court have some of the largest criminal court backlogs and the lowest percentage of felony cases resolved within a year in the state.”

In 2013, NBC Bay Area delved into the situation, noting, “Thousands of Californians, including residents of the Bay Area, must wait up to four times as long as normal to get their day in court. Some residents now wait five years or longer to have their civil complaints heard by a judge or jury. Some residents are dying while waiting for their day in court.”

NBC Bay Area conducted an analysis of state Superior Court data, showing delays in every one of the state’s 58 Superior Court systems.

“In all nine Bay Area county Superior Courts, the Unit found longer delays in processing and scheduling of civil cases on their calendars. … The reason: years and years of budget cuts to the court system, the third branch of government, by the state legislature in Sacramento. According to state court officials, across the state, 175 courtrooms have been closed due to budget cuts.”

In 2014, the Los Angeles Times reported on similar backlogs to civil cases.

“Civil cases are facing growing delays in getting to trial, and court closures have forced residents in some counties to drive several hours for an appearance. The effects vary from county to county, with rural regions hit the hardest but no court left unscathed,” the newspaper reported.

 

Trump administration targets opioid manufacturers

President Trump visited NH on 3/19/18 to speak about the opioid epidemic. Photo credit: Doug Mills/The New York Times as reported by The New York Times on 3/19/18.

President Trump and the U.S. Justice Department have championed lawsuits against opioid manufacturers as part of a broader push to stem the deadly rise in opioid addiction.

CNBC reported that the U.S. Justice Department launched a new task force to “target the makers and distributors of prescription painkillers who, according to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, have contributed to an epidemic of fatal overdoses from opioids by selling too much of the addictive drugs.”

Sessions said he is ordering the task force “to examine existing state and local government lawsuits against opioid manufacturers to determine if we can be of assistance,” CNBC reported.

President Trump made his first visit to New Hampshire since the 2016 election on Monday, March 19, when he rolled out a plan to curb opioid addiction.

The New York Times noted that the plan included “the death penalty for drug dealers and a crackdown on illegal immigrants.”

New Hampshire experienced the nation’s third-highest rate of deaths from overdoses, The New York Times reported. “Drug overdoses killed roughly 64,000 people in the United States in 2016, according to initial estimates from the C.D.C., and have become the leading cause of death for Americans under 50,” the newspaper reported.

In response to the President’s speech, Sessions said he assigned “a dozen experienced prosecutors in opioid hot-spot districts to focus solely on investigating and prosecuting opioid-related health care fraud.”

Sessions, in a speech on Thursday, March 22, noted that the President has voiced his “strong support for the Department of Justice’s new Prescription Interdiction and Litigation — or PIL — Task Force,” which will “focus on and coordinate the Department’s efforts to investigate, prosecute or bring lawsuits against opioid manufacturers and distributors who have unlawfully contributed to this epidemic” and will review existing laws. It will also consider assisting with ongoing state and local government lawsuits against opioid manufacturers.

Fertility clinic malfunction spurs Calif. lawsuit

After a tank failed, a California-based fertility clinic was confronted with a class action lawsuit due to damage to the eggs of potentially hundreds of clients.

A San Francisco woman, who was assured that her eggs would remain frozen until she needed them, brought the litigation. The case was filed in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, San Francisco Division.

“In this first suit to be filed after a rare malfunction that remains under investigation, the woman, who remains anonymous for privacy, is seeking compensation for negligence and breach of contract from the Prelude Fertility, where she received treatment in 2016, and Pacific Fertility Center, which stored her eggs,” The Mercury News reported.

The eggs and embryos of hundreds of other patients “were stored in malfunctioning Tank No. 4 at Pacific Fertility Center’s lab on Francisco Street — and are now presumed damaged.”

The  law firm, Sauder Schelkopf of Berwyn, Penn., is seeking a class action certification, “saying that at least 400 individuals may have been harmed by the incident.”

Appeals court upholds Texas ban on ‘sanctuary cities’

Photo credit: REUTERS/Jon Herskovitz/File Photo, as reported in the article U.S. court upholds most of Texas law to punish ‘sanctuary cities’ on March 13, 2018.

A Texas ban on “sanctuary cities,” which threatens sheriffs, police chiefs and other officials with jail time and removal from office if they do not cooperate with federal immigration authorities, can take effect while legal challenges proceed, an appeals court ruled on Tuesday, 3/15.

Reuters reported, “The law was the first of its kind since Republican Donald Trump became president in January 2017, promising to crack down on illegal immigration and communities that protect the immigrants.”

While upholding the bulk of the law, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down a provision “to punish local officials who endorse policies running contrary to the law.”

The New York Times explained, “The law in question — Senate Bill 4, passed by the Texas Legislature in May 2017 — requires police chiefs and sheriffs to cooperate with federal immigration officials, and allows the police to question the immigration status of anyone they arrest. It was passed in response to the proliferation of sanctuary cities, which restrict such cooperation and have gained national attention as President Trump pursues stricter immigration policies.”