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As we have noted several times, there's a certain horrifying brilliance to the endless schemes Stephen Miller has contrived to limit immigration — not just by those terrible murderers and rapists Donald Trump scares Fox viewers with, but anyone trying to use the legal means of immigration the Right is always screaming about. It's very much like the infinitely creative ways the white power structure in the Jim Crow South came up with to humiliate black people and make their lives miserable. Someone should do a study on the psychology of all that, how it's tied to authoritarian thinking. Miller and his minions have managed to weaponize virtually every part of federal law to keep people out.

That zero tolerance of immigration extends even — or especially — to those the law is supposed to help. Like for instance victims of crimes. Washington Post columnist Catherine Rampell explores the administration's latest twist of the bureaucratic knife, in which an undocumented woman she calls "Yolanda" went to the police to report she'd been violently raped, then left trapped in a basement for hours. Congress passed a law allowing crime victims who cooperate with police to apply for what's called a "U Visa," because fighting violent crime is a good thing. But not as important to this administration as blocking all immigrants.

Yolanda's application was denied because the administration decided last fall it will now reject visa applications that include any blank spaces, even when there's no earthly reason to fill in the blank. Yolanda's son has no middle name, so she wrote nothing for that item. Sorry, your application has been rejected because it's incomplete.


Rampell is entirely too kind when she writes, "If that sounds arbitrary and irrelevant, that's probably by design" and observes, "It's not clear what problem this new policy was intended to solve." But of course she and the reader both know.

The problem is that Congress allowed any undocumented people at all a humanitarian option that would also help public safety, and humanitarianism is just a "loophole," like the internationally recognized — even, once, by the US — right to asylum. Deporting illegals is far more important than solving crimes, especially when the victim is not even a human being with rights, at least in the view of these racists. Anything that makes immigration numbers go down, however arbitrary, makes America great again.

The policy got rolling sometime last fall, with a notice on the USCIS webpage for asylum applications — no formal notice, because this administration doesn't announce this shit.

"We will not accept your [application] if you leave any fields blank," reads a note you wouldn't know existed unless someone told you where to find it. "You must provide a response to all questions on the form, even if the response is 'none,' 'unknown' or 'n/a.'

There's a note on the site, and if you didn't read every part of the page, you're lazy and don't belong in this nation of obsessive end-user agreement readers anyway.

Oh, wait, the Kafka gets even stronger: On December 30, when people are really combing federal websites for policy changes, USCIS expanded the policy to U-visas. And isn't this a funny trick to play on those awful illegals!

In both cases the processing changes were effective immediately — even if documents had been mailed in before the policy was announced.

Such was the case for Yolanda [...]

Yolanda's lawyer mailed her application as soon as he received all the required paperwork, including a certification from police proving Yolanda's assistance. It went out Dec. 28 and arrived at the USCIS service center on Dec. 30. That's the same day the new policy was announced online, so some faceless bureaucrat decided to reject her.

Yolanda's application was also rejected for missing other vital information, too. In addition to not writing in the middle name her son doesn't have, she also withheld important information simply because it didn't exist:

For example, she checked the boxes saying each of her sons is "single." A subsequent section says: "If your family member was previously married, list the names of your family member's prior spouses and the dates his or her marriages were terminated." Because no "prior spouses" exist, she didn't enter anything; USCIS cited this, too, among the reasons for rejection.

Well now how is USCIS supposed to check into whether the spouses they never married had errors in their divorce paperwork, like the dates those non-marriages ended? It's fun to turn bad Kafka fanfiction into policy!

Yolanda is hardly alone in this nightmare. Turns out plenty of other immigrants have been told their immigration judge is Major Major Major Major, and they can attend a hearing just as soon as he leaves the courtroom:

The American Immigration Lawyers Association has collected 140 other examples of allegedly "incomplete" forms: an 8-year-old child who listed "none" for employment history but left the dates of employment field blank. An applicant who entered names of three siblings, but the form has spaces for four.

And while immigration lawyers are spreading the word to get those blanks filled with "none" or "n/a," most asylum-seekers don't have attorneys (remember, immigration courts are part of the executive branch, so no court-appointed lawyers, ever). And USCIS's solution to the supposed crisis of blank spaces may come back and bite applicants on the ass:

"There's going to be just hundreds of people processed under the Trump administration who will legally have the middle name 'N/A,' " said Jessica Farb, an attorney with the Immigration Center for Women and Children, the nonprofit that represents Yolanda.

Clearly, the next step will be to deport all those folks for having lied about their middle names.

Fortunately, a USCIS spokesperson got back to Rampell when she sent a detailed list of questions about why the new policy was put in place. Just not with any detailed answers. In an email, the USCIS flack

sent only a vague statement saying applicants "must provide the specific information requested and answer all the questions asked."

We'll assume the email was sent by Washington.Irving@uscis.gov. Says Rampell,

It's hard not to see this as a preposterous new layer of red tape designed to deny visas to legally eligible applicants such as Yolanda.

Indeed. HOLLOW MORDANT LAUGHTER, too.

If you really want to know what's up here, you need look no farther than the July 2019 email an unidentified National Security Council official sent, relaying Stephen Miller's stated desire to have the Border Patrol, not USCIS, do more initial screenings of asylum applicants, because Miller thought USCIS's approval rate for applicants was too high. In that email, the NSC official wrote what may as well be inscribed on Stephen Millers tombstone, even if the words are the NSC official's, not a direct quote of Miller:

My mantra has persistently been presenting aliens with multiple unsolvable dilemmas to impact their calculus for choosing to make the arduous journey to begin with.

Perhaps if Trump is reelected, USCIS can simply be rebranded the Multiple Unsolvable Dilemmas Agency. It would be more honest.

[WaPo / NBC News]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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