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Background: US Customs and Border Protection

Attorney General William Barr would like to remind you that fuxxoring the Mueller report isn't his only duty as AG, even if that does remain his first love. Yesterday, Barr issued an order telling immigration courts that certain classes of people seeking asylum in the USA have to be kept locked up until their asylum cases are decided, and therefore cannot apply for release on bond. Does the Executive Branch have that power? You bet your due-process-loving ass it acts like it does, because the immigration courts are run by the Department of "Justice," not the judicial branch. Whether Barr's ruling is constitutional is another matter, and the American Civil Liberties Union is gearing up to challenge the ruling in court as soon as possible.

We'll let the New York Times 'splainer how Barr's order attempts to remake a huge part of immigration law so that some asylum seekers can be jailed forever:


For more than a decade, migrants who are deemed to have a "credible fear" of persecution in their home countries have been allowed to request a bond hearing so they can be released on bail while they wait for their asylum cases to be heard, sometimes months or years later [...]

But Mr. Barr's order came in a case involving an Indian man who crossed into the United States from Mexico and claimed asylum. Mr. Barr, exercising his authority as the top official overseeing the immigration courts, said that migrants in similar cases do not have the right to bail.

Such an immigrant, "after establishing a credible fear of persecution or torture, is ineligible for release on bond," Mr. Barr wrote in his order, which overrules a previous Board of Immigration Appeals case from 2005.

The upshot is that thousands of people fleeing persecution or torture will now be treated to months or years in detention with almost no hope of being released unless they're granted parole by the Department of Homeland Security (which has sharply reduced parole under Donald Trump). Since the order is likely to add even more people to an already over-capacity system of ICE detention facilities, Barr generously delayed the order's effective date to allow DHS to find more spots in which to pack people who have committed the crime of wanting not to be killed in their home countries. Good time to buy more stock in private prisons!

The order would not apply to families with minor children or to unaccompanied minors, because despite Trump's complaints about our stupid laws and judges, children under 18 can't be held for more than 20 days. Supposedly.

Barr's ruling is based in the same quirk of immigration law former AG Jeff Sessions exploited in his attempt last June to force immigration judges to reject asylum claims from people fearing domestic abuse or gang violence in their home countries. Since immigration courts are actually part of the executive branch, not the judiciary, the AG has the power to unilaterally decide whether previous immigration cases were decided lawfully, as if the AG were a little bitty Supreme Court of Immigration.

That power isn't absolute, though, since federal courts still have ultimate jurisdiction when it comes to whether the AG's immigration decisions are lawful. In December, a federal court threw out most of the new rules Sessions imposed, ruling Sessions had ignored the intent of Congress.

In response to Barr's ruling yesterday, Omar Jadawat, the director of the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project, promised a lawsuit on constitutional grounds, because due process is still a thing:

This is the Trump administration's latest assault on people fleeing persecution and seeking refuge in the United States. Our Constitution does not allow the government to lock up asylum seekers without basic due process. We'll see the administration in court.

Even before Barr issued his ruling, a federal judge in Seattle ruled earlier this month that asylum seekers have a right to request release on bond. Judge Marsha Pechman ordered immigration courts to conduct bond hearings within seven days of a request, and "said it's up to the U.S. government to prove why the immigrants shouldn't be released." That ruling came in a case over the slow pace of bond hearings for asylum seekers, so it's not clear how it may bump up against Barr's attempt to restrict the right to bond altogether -- Yr Dok Zoom is not a lawyer, but we would guess federal courts might be awfully skeptical of any attempt to restrict a fairly common legal right, no?

Needless to say, if Barr's rule is eventually overturned, look for Donald Trump to tell immigration judges he'll pardon them if they deny bail anyway.

[NYT / Department of Justice / ACLU / Spokane Spokesman-Review]

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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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You guys, hi, hello, it is almost the holiday weekend, so we are going to share you a real video posted last night by "Doctor" Sebastian "Don't Call Me A Nazi" Gorka, that hilarious old knucklecuck. We guess now that he had to give up (or gave up voluntarily!) his Fox News contract, he just makes videos for the Twitter. Hoo ... ray?

Anyway, Gorka is super-excited that Donald Trump issued that order last night, giving Bill Barr all kinds of new powers to expose the Deep State for what it is and PROVE once and for all that the gremlins who live inside Trump's diarrhea are correct when they say Hillary ordered the Deep State to do an illegal witch hunt to Trump, yadda yadda yadda, you've seen these people huff paint before, we don't have to type it all.

Here is the video, after which Wonkette will either transcribe it OR we will provide our own dramatic interpretation. Which one will it be? We don't know! Would you be able to tell the difference between the two? We don't know!

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We want to say right here at the outset that we hate Julian Assange. Aside from the sexual assault allegations against him, and aside from the fact that he's just a generally stinky and loathsome person who reportedly smeared poop on the walls at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, while reportedly not taking care of his cat, an innocent creature, he acted as Russia's handmaiden during the 2016 election, in order to further Russia's campaign to steal it for Donald Trump. All signs point to his campaign being a success!

So we are justifiably happy when bad things happen to Julian Assange. We are happy his name is shit the world over, and that any reputation WikiLeaks used to have for being on the side of freedom and transparency has been stuffed down the toilet where it belongs. We are happy he looked like such a sad-ass loser when the Ecuadorian embassy finally kicked him out and he was arrested.

And quite frankly, we were OK with the initial charge against him recently unsealed in the Eastern District of Virginia. If you'll remember, he was charged with trying to help Chelsea Manning hack a password into the Defense Department, which is not what journalists do. Journalists do not drive the get-away car for sources. Journalists do not hold their sources' hair back while they're stealing classified intel. Assange is essentially accused of doing all that.

Now, put all that aside. Because -- and this is key -- journalists do publish secrets they are provided by sources. That's First Amendment, chapter and verse, American as fucking apple pie and fast-food-induced diabetes. And that is what much of the superseding indictment of Assange unsealed yesterday was about. (And nope, it wasn't about anything regarding Assange's ratfucking the 2016 election or Hillary's emails. Why would the Trump Justice Department prosecute anything about that? It's all about the older Chelsea Manning stuff, the stuff the Obama Justice Department considered charging Assange with, but ultimately declined, because of that little thing called the First Amendment.)

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