Things That Matter

A Trump Immigration Judge Threatened A Toddler With An Unreal Punishment If He Didn’t Settle Down

If President Donald Trump had a Glassdoor profile for his administration, it would not be a positive one. Consider for a moment all of the people that have come and gone since his election (even prior). The man has seriously had an influx of employees that have been fired, arrested, tried in court, and some that have just vanished. The most surprising aspect about this revolving door of employees is that regardless of the job title, Trump can always find someone else for that job no matter if they’re qualified for that job or not. One of his latest hires — not for National Security Adviser John Bolton who just got fired yesterday — but rather an immigration judge sure has a murky past. (Maybe they forgot to do a background check?) 

Judge V. Stuart Couch was placed on the Justice Department’s Board of Immigration Appeals last month, but his record shows that he once threatened a toddler in court that a dog would bite him if he didn’t behave. 

This story at first sounds hilarious and unbelievable, but it’s actually quite disturbing and very real.  According to a Mother Jones report in 2016, Couch told a Guatemalan toddler who was in court for an asylum hearing to stop making noise or else he would get a dog to attack him. The boy was in a courtroom in Charlotte, North Carolina with his mother. The pair were in a hearing in Couch’s courtroom where he would decide their fate over whether they would get asylum or not. 

The judge told the 2-year-old: “I have a very big dog in my office, and if you don’t be quiet, he will come out and bite you!”

The entire exchange between the heated judge and the toddler was witnessed by Kathryn Coiner-Collier, a then a coordinator for a project run by the Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy. Coiner-Collier recounted her story to Mother Jones and said that she, along with the boy, and his mother, experienced trauma unlike ever before. She said that Couch scolded this young boy to behave and made a Spanish translator tell the boy exactly what he was saying. 

“Want me to go get the dog? If you don’t stop talking, I will bring the dog out. Do you want him to bite you?” Coiner-Collier recalled to the publication. For anyone wondering how she could remember what Couch said in 2016, Coiner-Collier wrote down every single work the judge said because not only was it incredibly terrible but she needed a record of what happened that day. Coiner-Collier also believed Couch would possibly bring the dog in the courtroom because it’s very typical for police dogs to be sniffing around. 

The boy was eventually removed from the courtroom and the entire family was left traumatized by the judge’s outburst. Coiner-Collier said that she has witnessed Couch be a “fair and thorough” judge in previous cases, but that he definitely has a temper. 

Couch ended up removing himself from the case. The following judge who heard the asylum case on this young boy and his mother from Guatemala ended up rejecting their case. The mom has now filed an appeal. But here’s the ironic twist. 

Now that her asylum case is headed to the appeals court, and the new judge could be…you guessed it:  Judge V. Stuart Couch. 

Couch was one of six new hires on the Justice Department’s Board of Immigration Appeals and his record for rejecting asylum cases is just what you would expect. This tidbit of facts by Mother Jones is especially interesting: 

“All six judges reject asylum requests at a far higher rate than the national average; Couch granted just 7.9 percent of asylum claims between 2013 and 2018, compared to the national average of about 45 percent. (Before becoming an immigration judge, Couch served as a military prosecutor and attracted widespread attention for refusing to prosecute a Guantanamo detainee because he had been tortured.).”

People on Twitter were livid, though not surprised, to find out that a judge like Couch would now be calling the shots in immigration appeals court.

Laila L. Hlass, a law professor tweeted, “Is #immigrationtwitter surprised Judge Couch, known for trying to end refugee protections for domestic violence survivors also threatened a 2 yr old child in court with a dog attack? Or that he was recently promoted? In a word, no. #immigrationlaw.”

It’s almost as if Trump hired this judge for the very reason that he threatened a 2-year-old.

We know the type of people Trump likes on his side, including racists types such as Joe Arpaio, the former Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, who he pardoned in 2017. And let’s not forget Stephen Miller, Steve Bannon, and former Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Shall we go on?

READ: Judge Says Immigration Officials Didn’t Follow Protocol With DREAMer Jessica Colotl

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Biden Says He Will Introduce An Immigration Bill “Immediately” But What Will Be In It?

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Biden Says He Will Introduce An Immigration Bill “Immediately” But What Will Be In It?

Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

During the 2020 election, Latinos were a massive electoral voting bloc. In fact, for the first time ever, the Latino vote outnumbered the Black vote. According to the Pew Research Center, there are now 32 million eligible Latino voters and that accounts for 13 percent of all eligible voters. 

And, Latinos helped deliver the presidency to Joe Biden. So it can be expected that the community has high expectations for Joe Biden to deliver on his campaign promises of immigration reform.

During a recent speech about his first 100 days in office, Joe Biden outlined his priorities once he’s sworn in on January 20th, and said he would “immediately” send an immigration bill to congress.

Joe Biden promises swift action on immigration reform as soon as he takes office.

Over the weekend, President-Elect Joe Biden promised he would take swift action when it comes to immigration reform and rolling back many of the cruel and dangerous policies put into place by the Trump administration.

“I will introduce an immigration bill immediately,” he said in a news conference on Friday.

Although he didn’t go into detail regarding the proposed legislation, he’s previously committed to ending Trump’s ban on immigration from predominantly Muslim nations, and that he wants a path to citizenship for Dreamers, and an increase in guest worker permits to help bring undocumented agricultural workers – many of whom are now considered “essential workers” – out of the shadows.

Biden had already promised an immigration overhaul within the first 100 days of his presidency but this commitment definitely increases the pressure on him and congress to get things done.

Biden also said his justice department will investigate the policy of child separation.

During the same press conference, Biden said that his Justice Department will determine responsibility for the family separation program, which led to more than 2,600 children being taken from caregivers after crossing the U.S. southern border, and whether it was criminal.

“There will be a thorough, thorough investigation of who is responsible, and whether or not the responsibility is criminal,” Biden said. That determination will be made by his attorney general-designate, Merrick Garland, he added.

During the campaign, Biden finally took responsibility for many of his administration’s immigration failures.

Nicknamed the “Deporter in Chief,” Obama deported more immigrants than any other president in U.S. history with over 3 million deportations during his time in office. 

But as part of that administration, Joe Biden is also complicit. That’s why during the campaign he seemed to acknowledge at least some of the pain the duo caused.

“Joe Biden understands the pain felt by every family across the U.S. that has had a loved one removed from the country, including under the Obama-Biden Administration, and he believes we must do better to uphold our laws humanely and preserve the dignity of immigrant families, refugees, and asylum-seekers,” Biden’s immigration plan reads. 

While Obama’s methods pale in comparison to the cruel tactics like family separation, inhumane conditions, and targeted raids, the impact the deportations have had on families is cannot be quantified.

Biden, like any Vice President, is put in the position of having to defend his president, but also himself as the future president. This isn’t a bad thing, Biden must distinguish himself from his predecessor but if the shadow of Obama’s legacy is buying him goodwill, it might be difficult to undermine that administration’s stances.

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New DACA Applications Were Processed At The End Of 2020 For The First Time In Years

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New DACA Applications Were Processed At The End Of 2020 For The First Time In Years

Sandy Huffaker / AFP / Getty Images

Update January 7, 2021

The lives of hundreds of thousands of young people in the U.S. were thrown into jeopardy in September 2017. That was when Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals was originally halted by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Three years later, new applications are finally being processed.

More than 170 new DACA applications were approved at the end of 2020.

A report given to a federal court in Brooklyn shows that the Department of Homeland Security approved 171 new DACA applications. About 500 applications have been denied or rejected while more than 2,700 applications were submitted.

In June 2020, a federal judge ruled that President Trump wrongfully ended the DACA program in 2017. However, the then-acting head of the Department of Homeland Security stated that the department would not accept new applications. Furthermore, Chad Wolf’s memo stated that renewals would be made for one year instead of two years.

In November, a federal judge ruled that Wolf was illegally appointed to his position as acting head of DHS. The Trump administration didn’t challenge the ruling and it immediately invalidated Wolf’s memo. DHS was notified that they had to public post that new applications will be accepted.

If you want to submit a new DACA application or if yours lapsed during the uncertainty, click here for resources.

Original: In a major victory for the community, a federal judge has ruled that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which was created by President Barack Obama in 2012, must be completely reinstated and open to new applicants starting today.

However, this case could still end up before the Supreme Court (which now has three conservative Trump appointees) making its future uncertain. This is why congressional action is so critical in protecting our friends, family, and neighbors from the whims of ever-chasing political landscapes.

DACA gets another lifeline as federal judge orders Trump to restart the program in full.

On Friday, a federal judge handed immigrants and their families a major victory with a ruling on DACA. Judge Nicholas Garaufis said in his ruling, that the terms of the federal program must be immediately restored to what they were “prior to the attempted rescission of September 2017” when the White House began a series of maneuvers to dismantle the program. 

The case is Batalla Vidal v. Wolf, and largely hinges on the argument that Chad Wolf – the DHS official who issued the memo ending the program – wasn’t acting within his legal authority to do so.

In his order, Garaufis said that DHS must “post a public notice, within 3 calendar days of this Order … that it is accepting first-time requests for consideration of deferred action under DACA.” Which means that unless a higher court blocks his order, DHS must begin accepting new applications for as soon as today. 

Garaufis also ordered the government to produce a status report on the DACA program to him by Jan. 4, and said it must include the number of first-time DACA applications it’s received, adjudicated, approved, denied and rejected from Nov. 14 to Dec. 31 of this year.

Eligible migrants will be able to apply for DACA protection immediately.

DACA currently protects about 640,000 undocumented young immigrants. As of July, an estimated 300,000 young people living in the U.S. are eligible for the program and still waiting for a chance to apply. That includes 55,000 who have aged into eligibility over the last three years.

So the good news for DACA-eligible immigrants is that, barring a decision from a higher court blocking Garaufis’s most recent order, those immigrants will soon be able to obtain DACA status. And even if the order is blocked, President-elect Joe Biden has also pledged to fully reinstate DACA once he takes office on January 20.

The judge also instructed officials to reinstate two-year permits for qualifying applicants. Over the summer, the administration had begun issuing one-year permits. 

This ruling is the latest blow to the administration’s attempts to undermine the Obama-era program.

Credit: Sandy Huffaker / AFP / Getty Images

Since taking office in 2017, the Trump administration has repeatedly tried to completely dismantle the DACA program. However, they’ve also faced serious pushback on the legal front in their attempts to do so.

In 2017, Trump’s DHS issued a memo that sought to wind down the DACA program, but the Supreme Court ruled last June that DHS’s initial attempts to end it were void because the department did not adequately explain why it was doing so.

Nevertheless, the future of DACA remains uncertain. For one thing, the Supreme Court’s June decision blocking the Trump administration’s initial attempts to end the program was a  5-4 decision, with the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the majority. Since then, Trump has replaced Ginsburg with the far more conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett. And even before Barrett arrived at the Supreme Court, several members of the Court had signaled that they thought DACA is illegal.

So there’s a reasonable likelihood that the Court’s new 6-3 Republican majority will strike down the DACA program even as Biden tries to preserve it.

Although a major win, the ruling could also have major consequences for Biden’s presidency.

Although a major win for the immigrant community, Garaufis’s ruling could have serious consequences for Biden’s presidency. In his opinion, Garaufis is basically placing limits on the authority presidents have to make acting appointments. And if the Senate remains under Republican control, they will essentially have the power to block any Biden nominee.

All of this boils down to the upcoming Georgia senate races. If Republicans win in either race, then Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will continue to lead the Senate, and Republicans will have the power to block any Biden nominee to any Senate-confirmed job.

That’s why the January run off races in Georgia are bigger than just Georgia. They will help shape everything from the country’s COVID-19 response and foreign policy to how Biden fixes years of attacks on the nation’s immigrant community.

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