Things That Matter

Justice Sonia Sotomayor Breaks New Two-Minute Rule By Interrupting Lawyer During Immigration Case

There’s no denying Justice Sonia Sotomayor is a passionate person. Some may have the false presumption that the Puerto Rican, Bronx-born judge would be biased toward liberal-leaning causes. However, one of the main reasons she stands in the most elite courtroom in the country is because former President George W. Bush nominated her as a judge on the United States District Court in 1991.

She moved up the ranks with each administration, and in 2009 was nominated for Supreme Court by former President Barack Obama. As the first person of Latino descent to serve on the Supreme Court, Justice Sotomayor has brought a new perspective to the court. In this new term, Justice Sotomayor hit the ground running, even if she stepped in too soon. Turns out there is a new guideline for questions that the justice is still getting used to.

Lawyers who are arguing cases before Supreme Court judges were given a new guideline: they could argue cases without any interruptions for at least two minutes. Justice Sonia Sotomayor, however, forgot, apparently.

Credit: Unsplash

The high profile case that was being argued last week concerned a man named Ramos Garcia, an undocumented immigrant, who was convicted in Kansas for using a fraudulent social security number in order to obtain a job at a restaurant. The matter in question is whether the law that was broken was a federal crime or a state crime.

Garcia’s lawyer argued that he could not be convicted by the state of Kansas because all crimes committed by undocumented immigrants fall under federal law, not individual states. Officials in Kansas said they wanted to charge Garcia for stealing a social security ID number with their state identity theft law. A local court ruled in Garcia’s favor, so the state appealed the matter, which is why the matter is now in the Supreme Court. 

Justice Sotomayor interrupted a prosecutor during his argument to ask a question about when a state has the jurisdiction to prosecute an undocumented immigrant, breaking the new two-minute room.

Credit: Unsplash

According to Fox News, the prosecutor posed the argument “whether states can prosecute immigrants using information obtained on employee verification forms.” 

Justice Sotomayor jumped in and asked, “Even if they were applying to a college?” Chief Justice John Roberts interrupted the exchange by saying, “I’m sorry. You can answer that question after your time has …” Then Justice Sotomayor apologized, according to Fox News. 

She apparently interrupted prosecutors for a second time, but some experts are blaming this mishap on the newness of the rule and the fact that the justices have to adapt to the change.

Credit: Gage Skidmore / Flickr

The new 2-minute rule was introduced in order to give lawyers a chance to make their first arguments before answering questions posed by the justices. According to NBC News, Justice Sotomayor is known to ask a lot of questions. 

Here’s how the new 2-minute rule works, as NBC News reports: “The Court generally will not question lead counsel for petitioners (or appellants) and respondents (or appellees) during the first two minutes of argument. The white light on the lectern will illuminate briefly at the end of this period to signal the start of questioning. Where argument is divided and counsel represents an amicus or an additional party, the white light will illuminate after one minute.”

While the light is used to help the justices know when they can speak, Justice Sotomayor was eager to ask a question, which doesn’t seem like that big of a deal.

Credit: @kimberlyrobinson / Twitter

A public interest litigator tweeted, “Seeing a lot of media reports that Justice Sotomayor ‘violated a rule’ in oral arguments today. But there is no ‘Rule.’ The Guide for Counsel explicitly states it is not a source of Rules and says ‘The Court *generally* will not question…during the first two minutes.’ ‘Generally.'” That means, she’s not really breaking a rule, but going against a new guideline. So why is there all of this fuss about this interruption? She’s only getting accustomed to this new guideline. She’s not trying to be a troublemaker. All of this is to note that Justice Sotomayor is just doing her job.

Fox News noted that perhaps Justice Sotomayor should take pointers from her colleague, Justice Clarence Thomas who, in 2016, asked his first question in ten years.

READ: Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor Married A Gay Couple And It Was The Sweetest Thing

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A Federal Court Just Ended Temporary Protected Status For More Than 300,000 Immigrants, Here’s What You Need To Know

Things That Matter

A Federal Court Just Ended Temporary Protected Status For More Than 300,000 Immigrants, Here’s What You Need To Know

Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

A federal court just handed a huge ‘victory’ to the Trump administration, which has been eager to restart mass deportations. Despite a global health pandemic, the administration has been pressing forward with plans to deport hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants.

Until now, many of these migrants were safe from deportation thanks to Temporary Protected Status, which shields some immigrants from deportation under humanitarian claims. However, the recent court decision – in San Francisco’s 9th Circuit – gives Trump exactly what he wants right before the elections.

But how will it affect immigrant communities across the country? Here’s everything you need to know about this major decision.

The 9th Circuit Court just ended TPS for more than 300,000 undocumented immigrants.

A California appeals court on Monday gave the Trump Administration permission to end Temporary Protected Status for immigrants from El Salvador, Nicaragua, Haiti, and Sudan, clearing the way for officials to force more than 300,000 immigrants out of the country.

The decision affects people from all walks of life, many of whom have lived in the U.S. for decades, have U.S.-born children and have been considered essential workers during the coronavirus pandemic.

This week’s ruling from the circuit court comes after a district court (also in California) temporarily halted Trump’s plan to end TPS in late 2018 after a group of lawyers sued, arguing that Trump was motivated by racial discrimination.

“The president’s vile statements about TPS holders made perfectly clear that his administration acted out of racial animus,”Ahilan Arulanantham, a lawyer for the ACLU of Southern California, wrote in a statement. “The Constitution does not permit policy to be driven by racism. We will seek further review of the court’s decision.”

But today’s 2-1 decision reversed the district court’s temporary order and allowed the federal government to take away TPS protections while the court case continues.

ICE and DHS has promised to wait several months before taking away TPS status if the agency won in court. As a result, the ACLU told NPR that it expects the protections to start ending no sooner than March, meaning that Joe Biden could reverse the administration’s decision if he wins in November, though the organization plans to fight back in the meantime.

Temporary Protected Status was created to protect people in the U.S. from being sent back to dangerous places – and it’s saved lives.

Credit: Daniel Ortega / Getty Images

The TPS program was first introduced in 1990, and it has protected immigrants from more than 20 countries at various points since then. More than 300,000 people from 10 different nations currently use the program, some of whom have lived and worked in the United States for decades.

Trump has sharply criticized the program, sometimes along racial lines, and in one infamous and widely criticized incident two years ago, the president reportedly referred to the program’s beneficiaries as “people from shithole countries.”

TPS provides protection for short periods of up to 18 months, but the federal government has continuously extended it for the countries mentioned in the lawsuit “based on repeated findings that it remains unsafe to return.” 

As a result, it said, most TPS holders have been living in the U.S. for more than a decade, contributing to their communities and raising their families. Many of the more than 200,000 U.S.-citizen children of TPS holders have never been to the country their parents are from and would have to choose between their families and their homes.

The ruling will have a major impact on migrant families and communities across the U.S.

Credit: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Immigration advocacy groups are slamming the court’s ruling, noting it will impact hundreds of thousands of TPS holders as well as their families and communities. In a statement, Beth Werlin, executive director of the American Immigration Council, said the decision will “plunge their lives into further turmoil at a time when we all need greater certainty.” 

As the global pandemic stretches on, immigrants with protected status make up a large portion of the country’s front-line workers. More than 130,000 TPS recipients are essential workers, according to the Center for American Progress. 

“TPS recipients have deep economic and social roots in communities across the nation,” said Ali Noorani, president and CEO of the National Immigration Forum. “And, as the U.S. responds to the COVID-19 pandemic, TPS recipients are standing shoulder to shoulder with Americans and doing essential work.”

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Nearly 9,000 Unaccompanied Child Migrants Have Been Expelled From the U.S. Under Trump’s COVID-19 Restrictions

Things That Matter

Nearly 9,000 Unaccompanied Child Migrants Have Been Expelled From the U.S. Under Trump’s COVID-19 Restrictions

On Friday, previously undisclosed court documents revealed that almost 9,000 unaccompanied migrant children seeking refuge were denied access to the U.S. and subsequently expelled from U.S. soil. None of these children were given a chance in court.

According to reporting done by CBS News, U.S. Department of Homeland Security officials have “suspended humanitarian protections” for most migrants crossing the border, on the grounds that “public health law overrides asylum, immigration and anti-trafficking safeguards” in the era of COVID-19.

CBS news made the shocking discovery when investigating the problematic and increased practice of holding and detaining minors in unregulated, privately contracted hotel rooms.

The government is arguing that the practice is keeping the American public safe from possibly COVID-19 exposure from unauthorized migrants.

“What we’re trying to do…is remove all individuals, regardless of whether they’re children — minors — or they’re adults,” Customs and Border Patrol official Mark Morgan said in an August media briefing.

He continued: “We’re trying to remove [the migrants] as fast as we can, to not put them in our congregate settings, to not put them into our system, to not have them remain in the United States for a long period of time, therefore increasing the exposure risk of everybody they come in contact with.”

via Getty Images

But critics are claiming that the Trump Administration is using COVID-19 as an excuse to unlawfully expel as many migrants as possible–regardless of their age.

On Friday, federal Judge Dolly M. Gee ordered the administration to put an end to the practice of detaining children in hotel rooms, saying that hotels do not “adequately account for the vulnerability of unaccompanied minors in detention”. She asked the government to put an end to the practice by September 15th.

It is in the court documents regarding the above case that 8,800 expelled migrant children number was revealed.

“The numbers are stunning,” said executive director of the Immigrant Defenders Law Center, Lindsay Toczylowski, to CBS News. “…To find out that our government has literally taken children who are seeking protection and sent them back to the very places they fled in such high numbers really took my breath away.”

via Getty Images

US Border Patrol Deputy Chief Raul Ortiz has defended the unsafe hotel detainment and speedy expulsion of migrant children, saying that stopping the practice would increase risk of exposure to health and customs officials alike.

But even if the practice comes to an end, the staggering number of unaccompanied migrant and refugee children left to their own devices is sitting heavy on the soul of advocates and activists.

“It’s just completely contrary, not only to all child protection norms and standards, but also just completely contrary to our values as a nation around protecting the most vulnerable,” said vice president for international programs at Kids in Need of Defense Lisa Frydman to CNN. “Because we are just wholesale shipping them out without making sure that it’s safe for them to go.”

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