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What To Do When You're Stopped By Police - The ACLU & Elon James White

What To Do When You're Stopped By Police - The ACLU & Elon James White

Know Anyone Who Thinks Racial Profiling Is Exaggerated? Watch This, And Tell Me When Your Jaw Drops.

This video clearly demonstrates how racist America is as a country and how far we have to go to become a country that is civilized and actually values equal justice. We must not rest until this goal is achieved. I do not want my great grandchildren to live in a country like we have today. I wish for them to live in a country where differences of race and culture are not ignored but valued as a part of what makes America great.

Monday, May 20, 2019

16-year-old migrant boy dies in U.S. custody, 5th child to die since December. Negligent homicide is the killing of another person through gross negligence or without malice. It often includes death that is the result of the negligent operation of a motor vehicle, which includes the operation of a boat or snowmobile. It is characterized as a death caused by death by conduct that grossly deviated from ordinary care. Negligent homicide may be charged as a lesser-included offense of manslaughter. It is also sometimes referred to as "involuntary manslaughter". State laws vary, so local law should be consulted for specific requirements.

Image: Border patrol agents search from undocumented migrants crossing the Rio Grande near Palmview, Texas, on April 6, 2019.

16-year-old migrant boy dies in U.S. custody, 5th child to die since December

Intel, Qualcomm and other chipmakers reportedly cut off supplies to Huawei. Russia interferes in our election and #ManchurianPresident does nothing but picks another group of people of color to attack.

Trayvon Martin's mother to run for office in Florida

Opinion | How Trump’s Stonewalling Puts Our Democracy at Risk

"By Ryan Goodman May 20, 2019

You may have a hard time believing a key argument the Trump administration is using to rebuff efforts by Congress to obtain information legislators need to do their job. The administration has claimed — for example, in a letter from the White House counsel to the House Judiciary Committee in response to congressional subpoenas of the full Mueller report — that Congress must demonstrate to the administration’s satisfaction that the information would serve a “legitimate legislative purpose.” In effect, Congress must show that its interests fall within the power under Article I of the Constitution to pass new legislation.

Faced with a similar argument last week in a hearing for a case involving Congress’s subpoena of Mr. Trump’s financial records, a district court judge, Amit Mehta, was highly skeptical.

But especially with the Mueller report, the administration’s claim isn’t just legally ridiculous. It actually puts our country at grave risk.

There’s a lot wrong with the administration’s position, including that oversight and investigations are a fundamental part of Congress’s Article I responsibilities. The Supreme Court has long recognized as much. Showing a specific legislative purpose is not required. That’s what Judge Mehta told Mr. Trump’s lawyers.

In fact, Congress has many important legislative purposes that would be served by access to the full Mueller report and underlying documents. The administration’s attempt to deny or slow roll the release of this information is hampering Congress’s ability to draft new legislation to protect our democracy from foreign adversaries.

I know from experience. Last year the Republican-led Senate Judiciary Committee asked me to testify about several legislative initiatives that could be informed by an understanding of Russia’s 2016 election interference — including any American’s support for those activities. The full Mueller report and underlying documents could provide a trove of valuable information to inform and accelerate such legislation.

Along with Kenneth Wainstein, who served as the head of the Justice Department’s national security division under President George W. Bush, our panel gave the best advice we could on a wide range of legislation proposed by members of the committee, Republican and Democratic, in addition to ideas of our own. The proposed reforms included the expansion of enforcement authority for rules governing foreign agents, closing loopholes in the Lobbying Disclosure Act, defining more precisely the federal crime of conspiracy to defraud the Federal Election Commission, imposing new immigration controls on foreign nationals who interfere in United States elections, prohibiting the use of shell companies to conceal election contributions by foreign nationals, incentivizing collaboration between social media companies and independent evaluators, and adding reporting requirements for political campaigns when approached by foreign agents with stolen information. That is a long list, yet it goes on.

The redacted Mueller report is rich in information, but legislators would very likely benefit enormously by knowing more about a number of things from the pages that have been kept from Congress: how Moscow devised its attempts to penetrate the Trump campaign and the tactical benefits it expected to gain from different parts of the operation, what actions Americans took wittingly and unwittingly to support Kremlin front organizations and WikiLeaks, and why members of the Russian delegation at Trump Tower were not charged with violations of the Foreign Agent Registration Act. Those are just a few of the many pieces missing from the puzzle.

The Mueller report also hints at specific legislative reforms for the Hill to consider. Congress may need to expand the federal offense of trafficking in stolen property to include hacked emails, define what counts as a “thing of value” when offered to a campaign by a foreign government agent, and improve how the intelligence community coordinates its response and warns political campaigns of foreign threats.

The list of possible reforms is daunting, so Congress will also need to figure out what among the worthwhile efforts should be prioritized. But any run at these problems must be informed by an understanding of the organizational and individual weaknesses that allowed the Russian interference operation to gain such traction.

Our legislators aren’t flying blind, but the Trump administration is preventing them from obtaining the kind of visibility that would best serve the country. Time is running short: The electoral calendar won’t bend, and the full threat of foreign interference remains unaddressed.

The administration’s bad faith arguments for keeping this information secret will surely affect how federal judges view the executive branch’s position when Congress takes officials to court over the full Mueller report. Judge Mehta’s reaction to Mr. Trump’s lawyers is a signal of how this will play out.

But we’re a long way off from that battle. In the meantime, the White House is robbing Congress of information vital to protecting our democracy and national security through the exercise of legislative powers.

Ryan Goodman (@rgoodlaw) served as special counsel to the general counsel of the Department of Defense. He is a professor of law at New York University and editor in chief of the blog Just Security."

Opinion | How Trump’s Stonewalling Puts Our Democracy at Risk

Death Investigations: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Opinion | When Will Eric Garner Get Justice?

"Gwen Carr, Eric Garner’s mother, leaving One Police Plaza, Police Headquarters in Lower Manhattan, on Monday.Stephanie Keith for The New York Times

Gwen Carr, Eric Garner’s mother, leaving One Police Plaza, Police Headquarters in Lower Manhattan, on Monday.Stephanie Keith for The New York Times

As Eric Garner lay dying, he was gasping for air and bleeding in his neck and eyes. The arm of a New York City police officer was pressed hard against his throat.

When the medical examiner described Mr. Garner’s last minutes in the small, airless courtroom at Police Department headquarters, police officers, news reporters and family members of Mr. Garner drew sharp breaths.

Some cast their eyes to the floor.

One woman wept as the man beside her gently stroked her back.

Mr. Garner’s family has seen no justice in the five years since his death.

Daniel Pantaleo, the officer who put Mr. Garner in a chokehold during the fatal arrest in July 2014, never faced criminal charges after a grand jury on Staten Island, one of the most police-friendly areas of the city, declined to indict him.

Mr. Pantaleo not only remained on the force but also saw his income rise after Mr. Garner’s death, collecting a 35 percent increase in overtime pay the following year, even though he was on modified duty.

The federal civil rights investigation into the death fell into a dispute between federal prosecutors in Brooklyn and veteran civil rights prosecutors in Washington over whether to file charges. The attorney general at the time, Loretta Lynch, ultimately authorized prosecutors to move ahead toward indictment, but problems with the initial F.B.I. investigation delayed the case until after President Trump took office.

At long last, however, Mr. Pantaleo is standing for a departmental trial, on charges brought by the city’s Civilian Complaint Review Board. The review board accused him of reckless use of a chokehold and intentional restriction of breathing. If a judge finds him guilty, his fate will reside with the police commissioner.

One of the many people waiting in line to attend the departmental trial of Officer Daniel Pantaleo.Yana Paskova/Getty Images

One of the many people waiting in line to attend the departmental trial of Officer Daniel Pantaleo.Yana Paskova/Getty Images

The disciplinary hearing, which is being held at Police Headquarters, in downtown Manhattan, has forced a brutal reassessment of a dark moment in the city’s history.

It also serves as a visceral reminder of the cost of refusing to hold the nation’s largest police department accountable when something goes wrong.

On Thursday, when lawyers showed the court an exchange of text messages between a sergeant at the scene of the deadly arrest and a supervising lieutenant, we learned how warped we have allowed the city’s policing culture to become.

“He’s most likely DOA,” the sergeant wrote in a text message to Lt. Christopher Bannon. “Not a big deal,” Lieutenant Bannon replied. “We were effecting a lawful arrest.”

New York has made considerable progress in its policing practices over the years, but there still is not adequate accountability when abuses arise.

One reason is that the department, understandably, has gotten the credit for one of New York’s greatest successes: a celebrated, decades-long drop in crime.

Another is that the department took on a nearly heroic status after the Sept. 11 attacks, which is also understandable. The department also enjoys the political power that comes with having the nation’s largest police union.

These forces have cemented the Police Department’s nearly untouchable status in city politics.

Mayor Bill de Blasio learned this when hundreds of cops turned their backs on him at the funerals of two police officers killed by a man who had spouted anti-police vitriol. The officers were angry that a few months earlier Mr. de Blasio had the audacity to say that the Garner case made him think of the possibility of losing his biracial son in an encounter with the police.

Some police officers turned their backs during a funeral procession, in protest against Mayor de Blasio.Damon Winter/The New York Times

Some police officers turned their backs during a funeral procession, in protest against Mayor de Blasio.Damon Winter/The New York Times

Rudy Giuliani was able to ride the Police Department’s political power to win the 1993 mayoral election, whipping up racist sentiment among the force to unseat Mayor David Dinkins, the city’s first and only black mayor.

Sometimes, deference to the Police Department comes with a price. Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s unquestioning support of the overbroad use of stop-and-frisk under Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, for instance, threatened to tarnish Mr. Bloomberg’s legacy.

Wary of the N.Y.P.D’s power, New York’s mayors have largely allowed the 36,000-officer force to police itself.

What other possible explanation is there for allowing the department to handle Officer Pantaleo with such kid gloves over the past five years?

Mayor Bill de Blasio and his police commissioners initially said they would await the outcome of a federal civil rights investigation into the death before moving forward with any disciplinary measures.

Yet, at the trial this week, the public learned that the department’s own internal affairs investigators found that Officer Pantaleo had used a banned chokehold on Mr. Garner, and they were ordered by a supervisor to recommend that the department bring disciplinary charges against him. But the Police Department never brought those charges, even after it was clear that federal prosecutors had dropped the ball. Why not? Mayor Bill de Blasio owes the Garner family and the public an explanation.

Mr. de Blasio also vowed to retrain the entire police force in the wake of Mr. Garner’s death. But half a decade later, the data shows that officers are still using chokeholds, and that they rarely face serious punishment for doing so.

Few have paid a higher price for the city’s refusal to take police abuse seriously than the family of Eric Garner.

Erica Garner at a vigil for her father in 2015.Carlo Allegri/Reuters

Erica Garner at a vigil for her father in 2015.Carlo Allegri/Reuters

In 2017, Erica Garner, Mr. Garner’s daughter, died of a heart attack at the age of 27 after years of activism against police brutality in the aftermath of her father’s death.

Gwen Carr, Mr. Garner’s mother, has been relentless. This week, she brought earplugs to the trial so she wouldn’t have to hear her son’s cries for help as a video of his arrest played in the courtroom.

Outside Police Headquarters on Thursday, Ms. Carr said she wouldn’t rest until the officers involved were off the force. “They do not think of us New Yorkers as human beings,” she said.

Ms. Carr is right. Eric Garner deserved better, and so do we."

Opinion | When Will Eric Garner Get Justice?

‘They Were Conned’: How Reckless Loans Devastated a Generation of Taxi Drivers - The New York Times

"The phone call that ruined Mohammed Hoque’s life came in April 2014 as he began another long day driving a New York City taxi, a job he had held since emigrating from Bangladesh nine years earlier.

The call came from a prominent businessman who was selling a medallion, the coveted city permit that allows a driver to own a yellow cab instead of working for someone else. If Mr. Hoque gave him $50,000 that day, he promised to arrange a loan for the purchase.

After years chafing under bosses he hated, Mr. Hoque thought his dreams of wealth and independence were coming true. He emptied his bank account, borrowed from friends and hurried to the man’s office in Astoria, Queens. Mr. Hoque handed over a check and received a stack of papers. He signed his name and left, eager to tell his wife.

Mr. Hoque made about $30,000 that year. He had no idea, he said later, that he had just signed a contract that required him to pay $1.7 million..."

‘They Were Conned’: How Reckless Loans Devastated a Generation of Taxi Drivers - The New York Times

The little-noticed surge across the U.S.-Mexico border: It’s Americans heading south

The little-noticed surge across the U.S.-Mexico border: It’s Americans heading south

Justin Amash becomes first Republican congressman to call for Trump's impeachment - CNNPolitics

Justin Amash is the loneliest Republican in Congress

Justin Amash becomes first Republican congressman to call for Trump's impeachment - CNNPolitics

Justin Amash becomes first Republican congressman to call for Trump's impeachment - CNNPolitics

Justin Amash is the loneliest Republican in Congress
Justin Amash becomes first Republican congressman to call for Trump's impeachment - CNNPolitics

Why Politics Should Be Kept Out of Miscarriages - The New York Times

"By Aaron E. Carroll May 14, 2019

Georgia’s much-discussed new law on abortion is one of the most restrictive in the nation. Abortion will be banned as early as six weeks into pregnancy — before many women even know they are pregnant.

This law goes even further, though: Although the intent of the law is to block abortion, it has opened a vigorous debate about whether women who miscarry could be questioned or even prosecuted.

The new law, which goes into effect Jan. 1, gives a 6-week-old fetus the legal status of a human being. One definition of second-degree murder in Georgia includes cruelty to children during which “he or she causes the death of another human being irrespective of malice.” This raises the question of whether a woman who miscarries because of what is perceived to be her conduct could be held liable for that conduct.

“This suggests that women who ‘cause the death’ of a fetus, with or without malice, could be charged with second-degree murder,” said Eric Segall, a law professor at Georgia State University, and a supporter of abortion rights. He said the law would most likely be struck down in the lower courts.

Even if the Supreme Court reverses course on abortion, law enforcement authorities with scarce resources may not investigate women this way. “One would hope,” he said, “that there would be a political cost if they did.” But, he noted, given the ambiguities in the new law and its complex interactions with other Georgia statutes, prosecutors would have a lot of discretion, and it would be “completely up to” them.

Other Georgia criminal statutes may still protect women from prosecution for ending their pregnancies or for miscarrying. Even if that winds up being true, the new law says doctors who perform abortions will be prosecuted, and that could still have an impact on women who miscarry.

Staci Fox, president of Planned Parenthood Southeast, told The Washington Post she didn’t think that the Georgia law could be used to successfully prosecute women, but that a woman who miscarried “could be pulled into an investigation looking at whether someone performed an illegal abortion on her.”

It would be helpful, of course, if legislators and judges and prosecutors understood the basics of miscarriage. Early pregnancy loss is not uncommon. It occurs in about 10 percent of recognized pregnancies. Four out of five cases occur in the first trimester. Many women miscarry before they know they’re pregnant.

About half of miscarriages are because of abnormalities in the fetal chromosomes. These defects are usually incompatible with life, and spontaneous abortions occur. The chance of an early pregnancy loss rises with age. While it is less common in younger women, about 80 percent of pregnancies in 45-year-old women can end this way.

Without randomized controlled trials, which really aren’t possible here, we can’t know for sure what is causing many miscarriages not involving chromosomal abnormalities. We have a great deal of information about what is associated with them, but that is not the same.

A woman who has health problems in general is more likely to suffer early pregnancy loss than one who does not. Women with high blood pressure, diabetes and thyroid disease are at higher risk. So are those who have hormone problems, immune disorders or infections.

Circumstances at work can be associated with miscarriages. A 2013 systematic review found that working nights was a risk factor, as were things like working in a three-shift schedule, working 40 to 52 hours per week, and standing for six to eight hours per day.

Smoking has been associated with an increased risk of miscarriage, according to a meta-analysis that included 98 studies. Obesity has also been linked to recurrent miscarriage.

To be clear, there is no evidence that any of the factors I’ve mentioned causes a miscarriage. All of these data arise from observational studies that investigate associations, not causes. It’s easy to make an erroneous leap from one to the other. Smoking, obesity and night-shift work are each associated with being poorer and having fewer resources for health. This probably wouldn’t stop some people from quickly blaming women for their choices rather than considering their socioeconomic status.

Ask almost any medical professional what caused a miscarriage, especially one early in pregnancy, and — other than chromosomal abnormalities — they will say that “we do not know.” If medical professionals cannot make that determination, it’s hard to understand how someone in law enforcement might.

A bigger concern is that a fear of becoming part of an investigation may cause women to avoid medical care. Women who are bleeding or are heading toward septic shock may not come to the emergency room or doctor’s office. They could die. This would only increase America’s maternal mortality rate, which is already much higher than that of most other advanced nations.

John Becker, a state representative in Ohio, recently sponsored a bill that would also change how pregnant women with unsustainable pregnancies are treated. He suggested that ectopic pregnancies, which are not viable, should in part be handled by “removing the embryo from the fallopian tube and then reinserting it in the uterus so that’s defined as not an abortion.”

This procedure is not possible. It’s not clear that those who are writing many of these bills understand how pregnancy works.

We do know some things about how miscarriage works: It’s a common, natural and unavoidable health outcome for many heartbroken people. Inserting politicians and the criminal justice system into the grieving process seems as if it could only cause further pain."

Why Politics Should Be Kept Out of Miscarriages - The New York Times

Friday, May 17, 2019

Flynn told Mueller that people tied to Trump and Congress tried to obstruct probe, Evidence of more obstruction of justice services. This is witness tampering a very serious crime.

"Former national security adviser Michael Flynn told investigators that people linked to the Trump administration and Congress reached out to him in an effort to interfere in the Russia probe, according to newly-unredacted court papers filed Thursday.
The court filing from special counsel Robert Mueller is believed to mark the first public acknowledgement that a person connected to Capitol Hill was suspected of engaging in an attempt to impede the investigation into Russian election interference.
“The defendant informed the government of multiple instances, both before and after his guilty plea, where either he or his attorneys received communications from persons connected to the Administration or Congress that could’ve affected both his willingness to cooperate and the completeness of that cooperation,” the court papers say.
Flynn even provided a voicemail recording of one such communication, the court papers say.
Prosecutors did not identify any of the people who reached out to Flynn, but said the special counsel's office was in some instances "unaware of the outreach until being alerted to it by the defendant."
No other details were provided in the filing, but the Mueller report noted that President Donald Trump's personal lawyer left a voicemail message for Flynn in late November 2017 that addressed the possibility of him cooperating with the government.
"[I]t wouldn't surprise me if you've gone on to make a deal with ... the government," the attorney said in the voicemail message, according to Mueller.
[I]f... there's information that implicates the President, then we've got a national security issue [so] ... we need some kind of heads up. Just for the sake of protecting all our interests if we can .... [R]emember what we've always said about the President and his feelings toward Flynn and, that still remains."
In a separate court filing, Judge Emmet Sullivan ordered federal prosecutors to file a transcript of the voicemail message, as well as transcripts of any other recordings of Flynn including his conversations with Russian officials.
Flynn's lawyer Robert Kelner did not immediately return a request for comment. The White House also did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Two of Trump's personal lawyers, Rudy Giuliani and Jay Sekulow, said they never spoke with Flynn or his attorney.
Flynn pleaded guilty in December 2017 to a charge of lying to the FBI about his conversations with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak in the weeks before Trump took office. He faces up to six months in prison. A judge has yet to set a sentencing date.
Mueller's office had previously told the court that Flynn should receive little to no jail time due to his "substantial assistance" in the special counsel's investigation into Russian election interference.
Mueller wrapped up the probe in March, concluding that there was no proof Trump or a member of his campaign conspired with Russia. But the special counsel declined to make a judgement on whether Trump obstructed justice.
Attorney General William Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein determined that there was insufficient evidence to pursue the matter further.
Tom Winter is a producer and reporter for the NBC News Investigative Unit based in New York, covering crime, courts, terrorism, and financial fraud on the East Coast."

Flynn told Mueller that people tied to Trump and Congress tried to obstruct probe

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

State Department to LGBT Married Couples: Your ‘Out of Wedlock’ Kids Aren’t Citizens

"Children of U.S. citizens are falling victim to a policy that de-recognizes their parents’ marriage—and strips them of their birthright citizenship.

Scott Bixby05.15.19 5:12 AM ET

No parent can ever be fully prepared for the arrival of a new baby. But when Roee and Adiel Kiviti brought home their newborn daughter Kessem two months ago, they figured that they were as ready as they could be. After all, they’d gone through the same process two years earlier with their son Lev, who, like Kessem, was born with the help of an egg donor and a gestational surrogate in Canada.

“It was as straightforward as one can imagine,” Roee told The Daily Beast, recalling the ease of bringing Lev home in late 2016, the infant’s newly printed Canadian passport in hand, soon to be supplanted by an American one. But this February, when Kessem’s fathers contacted the U.S. consulate in Calgary to obtain a Consular Report of Birth Abroad for their daughter—the legal equivalent of a birth certificate for Americans born outside of the United States—something was different this time.

“They first indicated that they needed proof of our marriage, which I found quite odd,” Roee said. “They needed the original marriage certificate, which we didn’t have with us, but I didn’t actually think anything more about it. I thought, ‘We don’t have time for this, we’ll just deal with it in the U.S.’”

Roee and Adiel obtained Kessem’s Canadian passport—a stopgap, they figured, until they could get her U.S. passport back home—and traveled back to their home in the United States.

But Kessem was about to become the latest victim of a government policy that effectively de-recognizes her parents’ marriage, granting her no automatic rights to American birthright citizenship despite the fact that both her fathers are U.S. citizens. That policy, Kessem’s fathers told The Daily Beast, poses a unique threat to LGBT families, and could change the decades-old legal understanding of what the word “family” even means.

“This is a very clear attack on families, on American families,” Roee, who married Adiel in California in 2013, told The Daily Beast. “Denying American married couples their rights to pass their citizenship, that is flat-out discrimination, and everyone should be concerned about this.”

For years, President Donald Trump has called for the elimination of birthright citizenship for the children of undocumented immigrants who are born on American soil. Those children, slurred as “anchor babies,” are accused of being birthed with the sole purpose of tethering their non-citizen parents to the United States. The Trump administration’s promised executive orders ending this “loophole” have not materialized, but the president’s war on birthright citizenship has many fronts—and one little-noticed State Department policy has now resulted in a reverse version of Trump’s “anchor baby” scenario, where the children of U.S. citizens born abroad are effectively being stopped at the border.

Last summer, the State Department issued new rules unilaterally changing the department’s interpretation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), a 1952 law that, along with the 14th Amendment, codifies eligibility for U.S. birthright citizenship.

“The U.S. Department of State interprets the INA to mean that a child born abroad must be biologically related to a U.S. citizen parent,” the State Department’s website says. “Even if local law recognizes a surrogacy agreement and finds that U.S. parents are the legal parents of a child conceived and born abroad… if the child does not have a biological connection to a U.S. citizen parent, the child will not be a U.S. citizen at birth.”

The Kivitis are each biologically related to their children. Under the policy, however, children born via gestational surrogacy and other forms of assisted reproductive technology (ART) are considered to be born “out of wedlock,” in the State Department’s words—even if their parents, like Roee and Adiel, are legally married.

“They basically take our marriage, and they say ‘It doesn’t mean anything. Your child was born out of wedlock,’” Adiel said. “We were there when she was born, she took her first breaths in our arms. Make no mistake: We are her parents—we are her only parents on her only birth certificate.”

Children born out of wedlock face higher legal and logistical hurdles to obtaining birthright citizenship: In addition to submission of DNA tests proving genetic links to U.S. citizen parents, their parents must be able to testify that they can support their children financially, and must prove that they have been present in the United States for at least five years prior to the child’s birth. Adiel, who was born in Israel, only recently became a naturalized U.S. citizen. He had lived in the United States since May 2015, and for one year in law school, but still fell short of five years.

“We are now in a very, very strange scenario,” Adiel said. “We are both American citizens; we live in the U.S.; I have a business here, Roee has his job here; we file our taxes as a married couple here... and the State Department is saying that our daughter isn’t entitled to U.S. citizenship because she was born ‘out of wedlock.’”

For parents of non-traditional families, the policy change has been a disaster, leaving them to navigate the labyrinthine immigration legal system with little guidance from the State Department and, at the moment, little recourse for appeal. Children of U.S. citizens are put at risk of deportation or even statelessness—despite no textual legal basis for the policy. The INA, signed into law when gestational surrogacy was science fiction and same-sex marriage was a fantasy, makes no reference to biological relationships in determining the citizenship of the child of a U.S. citizen born abroad to married U.S. citizens.

When the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013, lifting a ban on federal recognition of same-sex marriages, the Department of Homeland Security issued a guidance declaring that “just as [U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services] applies all relevant laws to determine the validity of an opposite-sex marriage, we will apply all relevant laws to determine the validity of a same-sex marriage.” On its face, immigration attorneys told The Daily Beast, that would include the INA.

That “assumption of parentage,” as the State Department calls it, now seems to LGBT parents to be reserved solely for heterosexual married couples. Only same-sex couples, whose non-traditional family structure sticks out like a sore thumb, end up facing scrutiny over how their children came into the world, parents told The Daily Beast—and as a result, whether they are eligible for birthright citizenship.

“State says children born through ART require extra paperwork for proof of citizenship, but there are no boxes on any citizenship forms which indicate ART is used,” one woman, a former U.S. military intelligence officer who is married to a senior U.S. military officer, told The Daily Beast. When their son was born on an American military base abroad last fall, it took months for their application for his U.S. passport to be processed—and only after they submitted reams of paperwork proving that one of the two women was the gestational mother, confirming whether or not the former officer had a “genetic relationship” with her son, and “physical evidence” that they had used an anonymous sperm donor.

“If we did [in-vitro fertilization] and were hetero, we could have a different egg and sperm that were not genetically related to us, but due to… the ‘assumption of parentage’ which exists for married couples, they would not question the birth,” said the former officer, who asked to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of her wife’s position in the military.

“It was so dumb, regardless—we were both American citizens, so it should have been a non-issue,” the former officer added, noting that many LGBT service members having children overseas are facing similar pushback from the State Department, but the random nature of the problems, and their resolution, makes her believe that “it all depends on the individual who is handling your case and their personal feelings.”

“I went back and forth with State and finally ended up receiving a call from the chief of the office who handles the citizenship paperwork,” the former officer said. “She ended up landing on, ‘You can just send me an ultrasound with your wife’s name on it, that’s good enough.’ So, obviously, this is not real policy if they can pick and choose how to handle it.”

That slapdash approach to the department’s policy, and a remark made by personnel at the Army Passport Office noting that this was the first case they’d heard of the State Department pushing back, “makes me concerned for the Trumpitization of our government offices,” the former officer said.

In response to a detailed list of questions regarding the policy, its disproportionate effects on same-sex couples, and whether all parents seeking a CRBA are asked if their children were the result of surrogacy, a State Department spokesperson told The Daily Beast that “the Department of State does not comment on pending litigation or arbitration.”

For other parents, hoping to squeeze through the cracks in a broken system isn’t an option—which means taking the federal government to court to defend their family.

When Allison Blixt moved to London in April 2008 to be with her girlfriend, Stefania Zaccari, her feelings were all over the place.

“On the one hand, I was so excited, and so happy, and so lucky that we could be together, but I was also super-angry that in order for that to happen, I had to move,” Allison said. “I had to leave everyone that I knew and loved, and I had to leave a life that I wanted in New York.”

Allison, a lawyer from North Carolina, and Stefania, a tourist visiting from Italy, had met at a bar in New York City two years earlier, a moment that formed a relationship that has largely been defined by their distance. For two years, they traveled back and forth, trying and failing to find a way that Stefania could come to the United States for longer than a 90-day stretch. They even broke up briefly, the Defense of Marriage Act standing as a seemingly insurmountable obstacle to a bi-national lesbian relationship.

“Moving away was the only way for us to be together,” Allison told The Daily Beast. “And we built a life here.”

The pair knew that they wanted children, but, like so much in their relationship, much of it came down to timing. They decided that Stefania, the older of the two, would go first, and their first son, Lucas Alexander Zaccari-Blixt, was born in January 2015, slightly more than three weeks after Allison and Stefania converted their civil partnership to a valid marriage.

“I thought he would get citizenship, because we were married,” Allison said. “He would be viewed as my child, no question.”

But when she went to the U.S. embassy in London to obtain Lucas’ CRBA, there were a lot of questions—many of them deeply intrusive.

“I was thinking, ‘This is not going to end well,’” Allison said.

After hours in the embassy, Lucas’ application for a U.S. passport was denied on the grounds that he was not genetically related to Allison, despite her name on his birth certificate and her marriage to his birth mother.

“I remember standing in the embassy in shock. All that emotion that I had when we first moved here, being rejected, was now being re-lived, but at the time, it wasn’t about me—it was about my son,” Allison said. “I’m not a cry-in-public kind of person, so I tried to hold it in, but I was really, really upset.”

When Allison gave birth to their second son, Massimiliano, in February 2017, the family went to the embassy to apply for his passport—and to reapply for Lucas’, hoping that the intervening years would mean a different result. Massimiliano obtained his passport, but Lucas’ was denied again, this time on the same “out of wedlock” grounds that the State Department used to deny Kessem’s passport.

“They’re basically saying, ‘Yes, Massi is your son, but Lucas isn’t.’ How do we explain that to our kids, that they’re not the same? That’s appalling,” Allison said. “He’s being treated like someone who has no connection to the U.S., much as a stepchild would. It’s offensive.”

For parents caught in the middle of the State Department’s policy, navigating travel and legal residency has become a comedy of errors. According to Allison, it’s “almost entertaining” when she returns to the United States with her family, slapping down a stack of American, Italian and British passports.

Even U.S. border agents—a cohort not known for their friendliness—have been “quite surprised that Lucas isn’t American,” Allison said.

But for LGBT families, who have only enjoyed the nationwide right to marriage for less than five years, even a curious look from a border agent is a humiliating reminder of the patchwork nature of legal protections for non-traditional families.

“Where is my child supposed to live? Is she supposed to go back to Canada?” asked Adiel rhetorically. “Can I live there? The scenario is just ridiculous. I cannot believe that these are the values of the American government.”

Immigration Equality, a nonprofit that advocates for LGBT people in the immigration system, has taken Allison and Stefania’s case to federal court, where they have argued that the policy “hurts families and undermines the familial relationships of same-sex parents.” The group has had early success arguing that children of married same-sex couples born abroad are entitled to birthright citizenship—in a concurrent case involving Ethan Dvash-Banks, the 2-year-old son of a gay couple, a federal judge ruled in February that “the basis for the State Department’s imposition of a biological requirement is its strained interpretation” of existing immigration law.

That success was repeated on Wednesday, when a federal judge denied the State Department’s motion to dismiss Allison and Stefania’s lawsuit, and called the situation “outrageous.”

“The judge’s decision to hear this case is an important step forward for the Zaccari-Blixt family and all families who are currently being denied equal treatment under the law,” said Aaron C. Morris, executive director of Immigration Equality and the couple’s attorney. “The government should change its policy, and we will keep fighting until they do.”

But the State Department’s decision to appeal that ruling, Allison said, could mean that the question of her son’s citizenship could drag on for years.

“When the government appealed last week, I mean... I thought, I can’t believe it,” Allison said. “If we want to actually move to the U.S., we can’t just wait until the case is resolved. We have to find other solutions.”

For some parents, such solutions are within reach. When Adiel, born an Israeli citizen, became naturalized, he was told that any future children who obtained a green card were immediately entitled to naturalization as well—meaning that if Kessem obtains a green card, she will functionally be recognized as a naturalized American citizen.

But to Kessem’s fathers, that backdoor to U.S. citizenship represents a capitulation—an admission that the State Department was right to withhold her birthright citizenship in the first place.

“On the one hand, we want to do what’s best for our child, and as parents, we’ll do just that.” Adiel said. “I’m not going to sit by and watch her get deported.”

But, Adiel added, “there is a moral reason to have this fight, and not to cave.”

“You see a gay man running for president on the cover of Time magazine with his husband, and then you get a call from the State Department essentially saying that your ‘out-of-wedlock’ daughter is not entitled to a passport,” Roee said. “You’re thinking, what is this parallel universe that we’re living in?”

The ability to fight the government’s policy is, itself, evidence that American citizenship has a special meaning, Allison said—and that the privileges afforded by citizenship need to be exercised on behalf of those who aren’t so lucky.

“We are very lucky—we were able to live abroad to be together, we were able to have two amazing children, we have a great life here... and there are a lot of people in a lot worse situations than ours,” Allison said. “And because of that, it also means that we are lucky enough to be in a position where we can fight it.”

State Department to LGBT Married Couples: Your ‘Out of Wedlock’ Kids Aren’t Citizens

Of Parks, Gangsters And Priviledged Democrats

Monday, May 13, 2019

How Does Donald Trump Keep Getting Away With It? | The Nation

Trump Baseball Bat

"Hint: From Congress to the courts, people keep treating Trump like a “normal” president. It’s time to stop.

By Elie Mystal Today 8:35 am

Every day, President Donald Trump or his minions say something stupid, wrong, or demonstrably false. Most days, these people threaten to take illegal actions. Some days, they make good on their lawless threats.

And yet, they are still in power. Trump, his family, and his sycophants get help from the Russians (whether willfully or not) to influence our elections; obstruct justice; engage in corrupt practices; violate constitutional principles; intimidate witnesses; ignore Congress; and lie as if “Falsehood” was their native tongue. And yet they seem to get away with all of it.

Nobody stops them. Yes, the Republican Party has shown itself to be a collection of craven hypocrites, so utterly debased from wallowing around in Trump’s filth that they can’t even remember what decency smells like. But if you’ve been paying attention, Republicans have always been like this. Just ask Merrick Garland. Our system shouldn’t be so weak that the perverse noise makings of Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham can scuttle the very concept of the rule of law.

No, Trump gets away with it not just because the Republican Party and its white-supremacist base wills it so. Trump gets away with it because the legal system insists on treating him as a “normal” president of the United States.

Presidents aren’t “normal,” of course. Their office is imbued with awesome powers. This president uses those powers in illegal, corrupt ways. We’ve had presidents who’ve tested the limits of executive authority before, but this guy acts like the limits are “fake news.” Addressing the abnormal use of incredible powers with normal processes is like trying to sop up a flood with a mop.

The clearest casualty of this oxymoronic thinking was Robert Mueller. When confronted with clear evidence that President Trump used every tool in his arsenal to try to obstruct justice, Mueller decided that the normal thing to do was: to not charge or recommend charges against the president, and instead submit his report to Trump’s handpicked guard dog masquerading as an attorney general. What did Mueller think was going to happen? Justice? These people are criminals—how many times do we have to be shocked by their willingness to take lawless action?

It’s not just Mueller, or former deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, or current FBI director Christopher Wray who hide behind “the book” instead of using the book to inflict some blunt-force justice upon this administration. Judges and justices have also insisted that Trump be treated as a normal (yet still presidential) litigant and apply normal standards to his outrageous behavior.

Don’t get me wrong: Most courts have ultimately been resistant to the idiotic legal claims Trump throws at them. His administration has been unsuccessful in court on a historic scale. His attempt to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was stopped cold. Judges have desperately tried to end his child-separation policy. Despite Trump and McConnell’s relentless efforts to stack the courts with Trump-friendly judges, the courts have held up pretty well so far.

But, man, are they slow. Trump attacks the rule of law at Twitter speed; courts rebuff him on a preindustrial timescale. It’s like trying to swat a maniacal wasp with a musket ball.

The nature of the legal process itself helps Trump delay reckonings even when he has no case. The law is the ultimate example of “both sides–ism”; it prides itself in putting even dumb and ridiculous arguments on equal footing with factual and rational analysis. It’s not enough to know something to be true; the law makes you prove it. It gives the other side every opportunity to argue their fanciful points. It’s the proverbial worst system, except for all the others.

In the same way a cancer takes advantage of the cell’s own reproductive machinery to infect the system, Trump is using the courts’ respect for the rule of law to destroy the rule of law.

Can Trump assert executive privilege after he’s already waived the privilege? No. Can Trump declare a national emergency to steal money not appropriated to him by Congress? No. Can he order his cabinet to ignore congressional investigations? No. Trump should lose all of these legal battles, but our court system will let him take all the time he needs to make his facially stupid arguments. And then let him appeal in search of other judges who owe their position to his benevolence.

When the Supreme Court eventually gets around to ruling “Congress is still a thing” (assuming that Chief Justice John Roberts isn’t fully comfortable with American monarchy), some institutionalist will crow, “The system worked!” Trump, meanwhile, will have committed more crimes by then. He’s running a chop shop where he reaps the profits from your car before you even realize it was stolen.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Justice doesn’t move swiftly, but it can when it perceives a unique threat to justice itself. For instance, the Richard Nixon administration sued to halt the publication of the Pentagon Papers on June 14, 1971. The Supreme Court lifted the injunction on June 30. That’s justice moving at tachyon speed. Or how about the time Nixon tried to ignore a subpoena for his tapes? The subpoena came down in April. The Supreme Court unanimously ordered Nixon to hand them over by the end of July. Nixon resigned and continued to fight for his tapes as a private citizen, where he was afforded all of the delay a normal citizen is entitled to. See, if we treat Trump like a normal criminal president, we can hold him accountable.

There are signs that some judges get that Trump is a unique threat. The Trump Organization has sued to prevent its accounting firm, Mazars USA, from complying with a congressional subpoena for some of Trump’s financial information. In an aggressive order, Judge Amit Mehta has decided to hear the case in an expedited fashion and make a ruling on the substance of the Trump Organization’s claim instead of first allowing it to engage in a lot of procedural delay.

Every judge should be acting like this. Every Trump case should be on a fast track. He’ll win some and he’ll lose some, but the sheer volume of unprecedented actions from this administration demands a unique response from the courts.

But we know that law enforcement and the courts generally won’t treat Trump as unique, and I fear that we, the people of the United States, are the ultimate problem.

What do we do that suggests we are facing a unique threat to democracy and the rule of law? Bitch and moan on Twitter? Write columns? Donate money? Vote? That’s what I do, and it’s all kind of normal, isn’t it? As I said to my wife on election night 2016: “If I make it through four years of this mother[jumper] without getting arrested, I didn’t try hard enough.” Well, it’s been three, and here I still sit behind this useless keyboard, without being so much as fingerprinted.

Everybody wants to see the “un-redacted” Mueller report, but nobody is outside of Bill Barr’s house right now demanding that he release it. Chief Justice John Roberts could be sitting right next to you as you read this, and most of you wouldn’t notice him, and those that do wouldn’t scream, “I can’t believe you voted for the Muslim ban, you accomplice to bigotry!” right in his face. The “resistance” should be near revolt, but instead we’re dithering about whether the normal process of impeachment is “worth it.”

The courts will regard Trump as a unique threat to the normal operation of government just as soon as we make the normal operation of government impossible while he reigns.

People know the start of the Frederick Douglass quote “Power concedes nothing without a demand.” But most forget how the passage ends: “The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.”

How does Trump keep getting away with it? Because we let him."

How Does Donald Trump Keep Getting Away With It? | The Nation

Green New Deal: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

Friday, May 03, 2019

Hands Off Ilhan Omar: Angela Davis & Black Women Leaders Defend Congress...

The Coming Subpoena Fights Between Trump and Congress, Explained - The New York Times

"WASHINGTON — Attorney General William P. Barr defied on Thursday a deadline imposed by a congressional subpoena to provide lawmakers with the full-text Mueller report.

President Trump, meanwhile, has vowed to resist “all” subpoenas issued by House Democrats in their oversight investigations. And Mr. Trump has sued his banks and the House Oversight Committee to block subpoenas for his financial records held by his accountants and financial firms.

The strategy of unabashedly stonewalling Democrats’ oversight investigations raises the question of what lawmakers can do about it — and whether, even if they ultimately prevail, the court fight will take so long that the Trump team will run out the clock before the next election.

What is Congress’s subpoena power?

The Supreme Court has ruled that the Constitution gives Congress broad authority to investigate matters of national interest as it considers what laws to pass.

That power “includes surveys of defects in our social, economic or political system for the purpose of enabling the Congress to remedy them,” justices have written. “It comprehends probes into departments of the federal government to expose corruption, inefficiency or waste.”

This oversight role, courts have said, includes the power to issue subpoenas compelling people and organizations to turn over documents or testify, even if they do not want to comply.

What can lawmakers do if someone defies a subpoena?

They can vote to hold someone who defies a subpoena in contempt of Congress. First, the committee that issued the subpoena would vote to recommend that step, and then the full House of Representatives would vote on whether to do so. Just one chamber can do this, so it does not matter that Republicans control the Senate.

What is the punishment for contempt of Congress?

On paper, defying a congressional subpoena for testimony or documents is a misdemeanor crime, punishable by one to 12 months in jail. But in practice, this law is generally toothless in disputes between Congress and the executive branch. Invoking prosecutorial discretion, the Justice Department can decline to charge an official who defies a subpoena at the president’s direction.

Can Congress enforce a contempt citation on its own?

In theory, yes, but this is outdated. Historically, Congress has exercised “inherent contempt” authority to detain recalcitrant witnesses until the end of its session. But Congress has not tried to use that authority since 1935.

Congress lacks any prison for holding someone in long-term detention, and trying to use its limited security forces to arrest an executive branch official could provoke a dangerous standoff. While some lawmakers have talked about instead imposing a fine, there is no precedent for that, according to the Congressional Research Service, and it is not clear how the House could enforce that penalty.

What about going to court?

Congress could ask a federal judge to enforce its subpoena — and declare witnesses who defy any judicial order to provide the information to Congress in contempt of court. If the Justice Department declines to prosecute someone for contempt of court, judges can appoint special prosecutors to bring the case instead. Still, Mr. Trump could pre-emptively pardon such defendants.

Is Congress’s subpoena power unlimited?

No. For one thing, the Supreme Court has said there must be a link between the information and a legitimate task of Congress, like weighing whether a new law is needed. Lawmakers cannot use their subpoena power and expose private affairs simply to aggrandize investigators or punish a target.

In seeking Mr. Trump’s financial records, Congress has said it is studying whether legal reforms are needed to curb the potential problem of clandestine foreign influence on the American political process. Mr. Trump’s lawyers maintain that Democrats are just looking for dirt.

What are other limits on Congress’s power?

Even if lawmakers are conducting a legitimate investigation, it is not a crime to defy a subpoena if there is a legal basis to do so. For example, it is not a crime to refuse to answer questions under one’s Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

Is there a legal basis to withhold the full Mueller report?

Mr. Barr has argued that the law prohibits him from showing secret grand-jury information gathered by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, to lawmakers, citing federal rules of criminal procedure that generally restrict sharing such data with outsiders absent a court order. Mr. Barr has also declined to ask the federal judge supervising that grand jury, Judge Beryl A. Howell, for an order permitting him to share that information with Congress.

Could the House seek a court order on its own?

Yes, and the House may soon ask Judge Howell to issue an order permitting its members access to grand-jury information from the special counsel investigation. It is not clear whether Mr. Barr would then direct the Justice Department to remain neutral, or instead to oppose the request — and, if Judge Howell agrees to issue such an order, file an appeal of that ruling.

Whether anyone is in a position to appeal such an order is important because the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia recently issued a ruling that put forward a narrow view of when courts may let outsiders to see grand jury information. Judge Howell, a former Senate Judiciary Committee staff lawyer, may be more inclined to find that Congress has a right to access such material.

What about executive privilege?

A valid assertion of executive privilege by the president can also provide a basis to lawfully defy a subpoena. The Supreme Court has ruled that presidents have the authority keep secret certain internal communications, including discussions with aides about how to carry out their constitutional duties. The lines are murky between where Congress’s power stops and the president’s begins.

Notably, judges have said they want to see the two branches engage in good-faith negotiations to find a compromise that accommodates the constitutional needs of each, so Mr. Trump’s overt stonewalling may undermine the executive branch’s position when these disputes get into court.

Has the privilege been waived?

Even when executive privilege might provide a legal basis to defy a subpoena, courts have ruled that presidents can lose that shield in circumstances where the privilege was waived by sharing that previously confidential information with outsiders.

For example, in 1997, an appeals court ruled that the Clinton administration waived the privilege over documents that it permitted a personal lawyer for an executive branch official to see. And in 2016, a Federal District Court judge ruled that the Obama administration had waived the privilege over documents that were described and quoted in a public inspector general report.

Those precedents could pose a challenge for the Trump administration to keep Congress from receiving documents related to the special counsel investigation, or to keep it from subpoenaing testimony from Mr. Trump’s former White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, a witness in several potential obstruction-of-justice episodes detailed in the portions of Mr. Mueller’s report that Mr. Barr made public.

How long will it take for these legal fights to play out?

It could take months or years if Mr. Trump is determined to put up a fight over such issues for every subpoena, appealing any losses all the way to the Supreme Court."

The Coming Subpoena Fights Between Trump and Congress, Explained - The New York Times