In his latest column for Huffpost, America’s Voice Communications Manager and DACA-recipient Juan Escalante calls out Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Trump administration for their attempts to bend the judiciary to their own xenophobic purposes.
Escalante’s piece is excerpted below and available in full here.
President Donald Trump’s “unshackled” agents at Immigration and Customs Enforcement aren’t the only villains terrorizing immigrants and refugees these days. Trump’s legion of xenophobic allies are fighting the anti-immigrant crusade on several judicial fronts.
The villain of the week right now is U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen, who is presiding over a Texas-led lawsuit that could dramatically change my life and the lives of 800,000 Dreamers across the country.
Judge Hanen previously blocked the Obama administration from expanding immigration protections for Dreamers and parents of U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents. His record is so anti-immigrant that ThinkProgress labeled him the love child of Kansas official Kris Kobach (America’s No. 1 voter fraud conspiracy theorist) and ICE. For me, however, Hanen will always be the “Joe Arpaio of the federal judiciary.”
The judge heard arguments this week on the future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which allows certain Dreamers to drive, work and live a life temporarily shielded from deportation. In a move that’s at odds with the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, which considered the DACA to be lawful back in 2014, the U.S. government is not defending the program in court. The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and other interveners in the case have taken over that responsibility.
The Trump administration is turning immigration judges into its own attack dogs and annexing them as part of its immigration police force. In what can only be classified as a deliberate attack on judicial independence, Sessions recently ordered the swift removal and replacement of an immigration judge in Pennsylvania who delayed the deportation of a Guatemalan man by asking for more information on the case.
The Philadelphia Inquirer described Sessions’ removal of Judge Steven Morley as an attempt to “subvert” the judicial process, “undermine” Morley’s independence, and impugn “his competence and integrity, all to obtain a particular outcome in the case.” The National Immigration Lawyers Association, the union that represents immigration judges, filed a grievance under its collective bargaining agreement and called the re-assignment of Morley’s case “outrageous.”
We must recommit to pressuring Congress to fight the disastrous consequences of what Trump, Sessions and the rest of the current administration are inflicting on our nation. Either our elected leaders pass common-sense laws to reunite migrant families, protect Dreamers and address the moral and humanitarian crisis our country is facing, or who knows what will be the next horror that Trump unleashes on those of us seeking the American Dream.