Washington Watch

Posted on: May 30th, 2017
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Secretary of Homeland Security Appoints Julie Kirchner, Former Executive Director of the Anti-Immigration Group FAIR, to Citizenship and Immigration Ombudsman

On May 2, 2017, Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly appointed Julie Kirchner as the new Ombudsman for Citizenship and Immigration Services. Before becoming immigration adviser to the Trump campaign, Kirchner served as executive director for the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) for 10 years, from 2005 to 2015. The highly controversial organization has a well-documented history of having staunchly restrictive views on immigration reform, and has been labeled as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

FAIR’s radically anti-immigration agenda has been its central focus since its inception in 1979. Its founder, white nationalist John Tanton, is an unabashed eugenicist who fathered the modern anti-immigration movement in the United States. FAIR has strived for a complete moratorium on immigration to the United States.

Kirchner enjoyed a meteoric rise in her career with FAIR. Starting in 2005 as a deputy director of government regulations, she quickly rose the ranks of the organization, becoming FAIR’s executive director two short years later. In 2006, she authored a piece for FAIR’s newsletter, which lamented the massive pro-immigration marches which took place earlier in the year, which included following excerpt:

“The sight of millions of illegal immigrants and U.S.-born citizen children marching under Mexican flags and asserting their identities as something other than American is very troubling and should be seen as a wake-up call to the political leadership of this country. The United States could well face a situation similar to what has been taking place in France and other parts of Europe, where the children of the last generation of immigrants not only do not identify with the societies in which they live, but are openly hostile to them.”

Kirchner’s new position is influential and powerful; the USCIS Ombudsman works with applicants for immigration status to help resolve issues. It is the responsibility of the Ombudsman, and her office, to aid in cases such as when a petition has fallen through the cracks, where the agency issues flawed analyses.

For more information, view the SPLC article or the DHS announcement.
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Chief Justice Stuart Rabner Objects to ICE Arrests at New Jersey Supreme Court

Chief Justice Stuart Rabner authored a letter addressed to Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly, expressing his complaints regarding Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arresting individuals at the New Jersey Supreme Court. Rabner pled with the agency to refrain from the practice of carrying out these arrests in courthouses, due to his assertion that they qualify as being considered “sensitive locations”. ICE recognizes that it should not conduct surveillance, searches, or arrests in “sensitive locations”, of which its policies explicitly detail such places to include schools, hospitals, houses of worship, public demonstrations, and other events.

Rabner vehemently argued that ICE extend its definition to include courthouses, detailing the societal ramifications that can occur if the integrity of the justice system is compromised. He stated that the public can lose confidence in the justice system if they feel they can be arrested for a civil immigration violation for going to a courthouse on an unrelated matter. Witnesses to violent crimes, for example, might be less likely to testify in court if they fear such consequences could occur. More examples cited by Rabner included victims of domestic violence possibly choosing not to testify, children and families in need of assistance from the court possibly not seeking such help, and defendants in state criminal matters simply avoiding attendance altogether.

According to Rabner, the public’s view of courthouses as safe forums is imperative to the continuance of the effectiveness of the American system of justice, and enforcement actions by ICE agents inside courthouses only acts to threaten this paradigm.

For more information, view the letter from Chief Justice Rabner.

 

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