🚂🛤GARLAND’S DEPORTATION RAILROAD KEEPS ROLLIN’ — WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM TWO GOP JUDGES IN 4TH — Mejia-Velasquez v. Garland — After 6 Years, 3 Flawed Tribunals, A Woman Claiming Politically-Motivated Gang Abuse In Honduras Sent Packing Back To Danger & Corruption Without A Merits Hearing!
Mejia-Velasquez v. Garland, 4th Cir., 02-16-22, published
PANEL: NIEMEYER, MOTZ, and RICHARDSON, Circuit Judges.
OPINION BY: Judge Niemeyer
DISSENT: Judge Motz
KEY QUOTE FROM DISSENT:
Under the current immigration statutes, DHS has good reason to require applicants for relief from removal to submit fingerprints and other biometrics. But before DHS does so, it must first comply with specified notice obligations. Where, as here, DHS fails to do so, I would not fault the applicant. As the Supreme Court explained in Niz-Chavez, “[i]f men must turn square corners when they deal with the government, it cannot be too much to expect the government to turn square corners when it deals with them.” 141 S. Ct. at 1486.
I respectfully dissent.
The IJ and the BIA relied on a wrong BIA precedent. The 4th Circuit majority judges recognized its incorrectness, but took OIL’s invitation to fashion another rationale for denying this asylum applicant a hearing on the merits of her life or death claim. While the respondent was represented by counsel, the disputed “warnings” and dialogue relating to the missing biometrics were not translated into Spanish, the only language she understood.
While this case was pending, USCIS finally delivered the long and inexplicably delayed biometrics appointment letter to the respondent. But, that made no difference to a group of judges anxious to railroad her back to Honduras (one of the most dangerous and thoroughly corrupt countries in the hemisphere) without a meaningful chance to be heard.
With a dose of macabre irony, the 4th Circuit’s tone-deaf decision came just as the US was requesting extradition of former Honduran President, and Obama and Trump Administrations’ buddy, Juan Orlando Hernández on drug trafficking charges! https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/immigration/2022/02/violence-in-honduras-tied-to-ex-president-now-arrested.html
Of all the Federal Judges who looked at this case over the years, only Judge Motz was interested in providing the respondent a due process hearing on her life-determining claim. The rest evidently were more fixated on creating reasons for NOT hearing her case. With the same amount of judicial and litigation effort, likely less, the respondent probably could have received a due process hearing on the merits of her claim. Additionally, there would have been consequences for the BIA’s defective “good enough for government work” precedent.
Of course, like Garland, none of the exalted judges involved in this disgraceful dereliction of duty have actually represented an asylum applicant in Immigration Court and had to deal with the confusing, convoluted, backlogged, and often notoriously screwed up DHS/EOIR biometrics process. See, e.g., “USCIS Biometrics Appointment Backlog,” https://www.stilt.com/blog/2021/02/biometrics-appointment-backlog/.
I suspect that folks contesting a parking ticket get more consideration in our system than this asylum applicant got from Garland’s unfair and dysfunctional Immigration Courts and the OIL lawyers who defend these mis-handled cases. And, in the world of “refugee roulette,” where human lives are treated like lottery tickets, a different Circuit panel of judges might have joined Judge Motz in getting it right.
The problem starts with EOIR — tribunals that receive deference without earning it through expertise, quality scholarship, and prioritizing due process, fundamental fairness, and best practices. It’s aggravated and multiplied by Garland — an Attorney General indifferent to injustice and the trail of broken lives and dashed hopes left in its wake. And, it’s aided, abetted, and enabled by judges like the panel majority here, who can’t be troubled with the hard work of understanding the consequences of their dilatory approach and demanding fair, competent, and reasonable expert judging from EOIR.
As several of my colleagues have said about the broken, dysfunctional, unfair Immigration Court system, the haphazard review by some Circuit Courts, and the disturbing systemic lack of judicial courage when it comes to fairly applying the Due Process Clause of our Constitution to migrants of color: “The cruelty is the point.”
It’s also worthy of note that the failure of all the Federal Judges, save Judge Motz, to make any meaningful inquiry into the respondent’s clearly expressed fear of return to Honduras appears to violate mandatory requirements for withholding of removal under the INA and international conventions. Perhaps that’s not surprising as Federal Judges have allowed Garland, Mayorkas, and their predecessors to use the transparent pretext of “Title 42” to systemically violate the legal and human rights of refugees at our borders — every day!
It’s also worth putting into context the Biden Administration’s continuing pontification about the human rights of Ughyurs, Afghans, women, and other persecuted minorities, as well as their professed commitment to racial justice in the U.S., which has not been matched by actions. Indeed, the Biden Administration’s actual approach to human rights looks much more like “Miller Lite Time” than it does a courageous, competent, and fair reinstitution of the rule of law!
According to recent reports, many of the Ughyurs and Afghans who were fortunate enough to reach the U.S. and avoid arbitrary “turn backs” at our borders, are now mired in the endless, mindless Mayorkas/Garland bureaucracy that masquerades as an “asylum system” — subject to long waits, missing work authorizations, and sometimes arbitrary and secretive “denials” blasted by human rights advocates. In a functional system these would be the “low hanging fruit” that could rapidly be removed from limbo and given the ability to fully function in our society. But, not in the “Amateur Night at the Bijou” atmosphere fostered by Mayorkas and Garland.
The “strict enforcement” of regulatory requirements on the respondent in this case stands in remarkable contrast with the lackadaisical “good enough for government work” approach of Garland’s BIA and DOJ to the Government’s intentional non-compliance with the statutory requirements for a Notice to Appear (“NTA”). See, e.g., https://immigrationcourtside.com/2022/02/01/%f0%9f%97%bd%e2%9a%96%ef%b8%8fhon-jeffrey-chase-garland-bias-double-standard-strict-compliance-for-respondents-good-enough-for-govern/ Talk about “double standards” at Garland’s DOJ!
Due Process Forever!