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BIA broadens meaning of "material support to a terrorist organization"

In Matter of A-C-M-, the Board of Immigration Appeals determined that "An alien provides 'material support' to a terrorist organization if the act has a logical and reasonably foreseeable tendency to promote, sustain, or maintain the organization, even if only to a de minimis degree." Worse, the alien's inconsequential support - "cooking, cleaning, and washing [] clothes" - disqualified her for asylum and withholding of removal despite the Board's acknowledgment the alien had been "forced" to provide it. 

The late Board member Juan P. Osuna observed that definition of "terrorist organization" under the Immigration and Nationality Act is "breathtaking in its scope" (Matter of S-K-, 23 I&N Dec. 936 , 948 (BIA 2006)), including any organization that has ever taken up arms against any government for any reason. Osuna cites U.S. allies in Afghanistan as improbable "terrorist organizations," but better examples abound: the "terrorist" label affixes neatly to the African National Congress and participants in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising against the government of Nazi-occupied Poland. Absurd!

Border Patrol prevents asylum seekers from approaching ports of entry

In defense of the Trump administration's policy of separating undocumented families and prosecuting the parents for illegal entry, DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen insists that these families “have an option to go to a port of entry and not illegally cross into our country.” Yet at land ports of entry from Mexico, Border Patrol officers - who work under Ms. Nielsen's direction -  block refugees from approaching in order to ask for asylum.

Persecution by gangs often rooted in victim's political opinion

Under section 208(a) the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), only a "refugee" can get asylum. A "refugee," says section 101(a)(42)(A) of the INA, is a "person [] outside [the] country of such person’s nationality... who is unable or unwilling to return to... that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion." Attorney General Jeff Sessions has certified to himself the question whether “being a victim of private criminal activity” can constitute a particular social group for asylum purposes. Framing the issue this way, the Attorney General leaves little doubt that his answer will be "No." 

In his blog, colleague Jeffrey Chase blunts the impact of Sessions' anticipated assault on reason and decency by arguing that Central American gangs' predations are most often "on account of" their victims' political opinion.


Attorney: U.S. State Department whitewashes human rights abuses

To a degree not seen since the 1980s, when the State Department refused to acknowledge human rights violations committed by governments allied with the United States, the annual Human Rights Report has been hijacked for political purposes. During every administration since Pres. Reagan, the State Department's annual report has largely "told it like it is," criticizing friend and foe alike for human rights abuses. No longer. The State Department’s 2017 report drops references to reproductive rights for women and stops using the phrase “Occupied Territories” to describe Israel’s presence in Gaza and the West Bank. 


Attorney quoted in article on Texas Rangers' sister's bid for asylum in the U.S.

In an article published last month in the Dallas Morning News, the attorney provided his perspective on the challenges confronting the sister of Texas Rangers catcher Robinson Chirinos as she seeks asylum in the United States. Excerpt: "It is not a particularly good moment to be navigating the immigration system. Immigration has become a polarizing political topic and, according to Dallas immigration attorney Paul Zoltan, extreme vetting has made the process all that much more difficult. Zoltan said, however, that threats using Chirinos by name should help strengthen the case for asylum."

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