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Lawyers Sue Heartless Trump on DACA

Wednesday, September 6th, 2017

AmericanflagThe law can be used for good or bad. And when it’s used for good, I have no greater feeling as a lawyer. Today was one of those good days.  The District of Columbia joined 15 states to sue the federal government, Donald Trump as President, Homeland Security and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Trump’s decision on ending DACA.

 

Litigation is my life and one that I’m proud of. And I am so proud today that lawyers in New York, Massachusetts, Washington, Delaware, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia took a stand for DACA in fighting for the lives of those young undocumented “Americans” who came here as children before the age of 16 and know no other country except the U.S.

 

The lawsuit filed in federal court in New York alleges that Donald Trump’s decision to end DACA is motivated by ill will; will cause a loss of revenue for these states, lower employment, split up families and serve no useful purpose under the rule of law. Major businesses, Amazon, Starbucks and Microsoft filed affidavits within the lawsuit stating the effect of ending DACA will have ill adverse impact on businesses.  Mr. Trump, also known to a few as the jobs creator, will be doing anything but increasing jobs.  In addition, Mr. Trump has made known that he does not favor Mexicans—from a Mexican American judge presiding over his lawsuit to calling Mexicans “bad hombres”. More than 78% of the DACA recipients are of Mexican descent.

California has an unusually large segment of Hispanic residents. And California Attorney General Xavier Becerra intends to file his state’s separate lawsuit to protect the almost 200,000 DACA recipients in the State of California.  Maryland’s Attorney General Brian Frosh is contemplating taking similar action.

A federal lawsuit must be based on an aspect or issue involving the U.S. Constitution or federal law. The basis appears that the revocation of DACA is illegal based, in part, on discrimination of Mexicans.  Each state spells out in the lawsuit how its individual state will suffer substantial harm in areas of business, education, health and tax revenue.  Many aspects of the lawsuit sound similar to travel ban legal arguments in lawsuits filed earlier this year citing previous derogatory statements by Trump against Mexicans and due process arguments.

The 15 states and the District of Columbia joined in the lawsuit are both blue states and a few red states that voted for Trump.  North Carolina, a red state, argues that immigration and DACA recipients are vital to its economy. North Carolina asserts in the lawsuit that it has one of the highest application rates to DACA in the country.  The lawsuit alleges that North Carolina will lose 7.8 billion dollars over the next ten years if DACA is rescinded.  I assume that before long other states will take action, in addition to those contemplated by Maryland and California.  The full Complaint can be read here.

The Department of Justice will defend against the lawsuit.  While the case will likely be an uphill climb to win, legal precedent is often won by advancing the right arguments and being on the right side of the law. And fighting Trump on ending DACA is being on the right side of the law.  The law can be sterile at times.  But this lawsuit is full of heart.

Washington, DC based Debbie Hines is a trial lawyer and former Baltimore prosecutor.  She often appears as a legal and political analyst on MSNBC, CBS, PBS, Al Jazeera and Fox 5 DC.  Her opinion articles have appeared in the Washington Post, Baltimore Sun and Huffington Post.

DACA and The Devil Living Inside the White House

Monday, September 4th, 2017
Donald Trump, Public Domain

Donald Trump, Public Domain

Donald Trump proclaimed Sunday, September 3, 2017 as National Day of Prayer.  And on that same day, he announced that he intends to end DACA with a 6-month delay period of time.  DACA stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.  It is the executive order that President Obama signed in June, 2012 which protected and allowed undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children to be granted work permits.  It does not cover all young undocumented immigrants brought here, as it has a cut-off age and other requirements.

800,000 undocumented young persons are believed to be covered under DACA.  Trump had earlier stated that he had a “great heart” in terms of DACA and those young persons covered under it.  On Sunday’s National Day of Prayer, he showed where his real great heart lay. He announced ending DACA on the same day he asked people to pray.

Over 91% of individuals under DACA are employed or attending school. They are mostly law-abiding individuals.  They are our neighbors, co-workers, friends, colleagues, students and family members. They traveled to the U.S. illegally through no fault of their own.  They are often referred to as Dreamers who have earned their place in our society and are contributing to it.

During Hurricane Harvey, one Dreamer, Alonso Guillen, a recipient under DACA,  lost his life as he was trying to save the lives of others during the flooding.   Rescue volunteer Guillen, a 31 year old disc jockey, insisted on helping those in the floods in his neighborhood of Cyprus Creek. After helping others, he was swept away and his body was discovered by his family on Sunday.

 

I don’t know what Trump prayed for or who he prayed to on his self-proclaimed National Day of Prayer. I prayed for humanity, empathy, compassion and fairness in our leaders and for our country.  Donald Trump has been on the wrong side of humanity, empathy, compassion and fairness ever since taking office and even before.

 

Trump supports white supremacists in the White House and Neo-Nazis shown killing Heather Heyer on the streets of Charlottesville.  He supports and pardons Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Arpaio, an Arizona sheriff for 24 years, abused the criminal justice system in treating Hispanics as sub-human in his jail. Arpaio is known for being one of the most corrupt and abusive sheriffs in America. He sparked fear in Hispanics by unlawfully targeting and detaining them, holding them in cruel and sub-humane conditions.  Trump started his term with an illegal Muslim travel ban to the U.S.  At every turn these last 8 months, Trump has been on the wrong side of justice and fairness.

 

We must stand as a nation with Dreamers.  We are all dreamers of the American dream. While many of us were born in this country, most of us were not born with a multi- million-dollar inheritance like Mr. Trump.  And most immigrants are not able to marry a millionaire like Melania Trump  and remain here.

 

We must diligently work and pray for the Dreamers to remain.  I pray that all Dreamers will be allowed to remain in this country. Mostly, I pray for Donald Trump under Psalms 109:8 which reads:  “May his days be few; may another take his place of leadership.”

 

 

Trump Travel Ban 2.0 is Dead on Arrival

Thursday, March 16th, 2017

UnionRallyGroupOn Monday, March 6, Donald Trump signed another executive travel ban.  Instead of pursuing a likely dead end in lengthy litigation on the first ban which affected seven primarily Muslim countries— and also banned those person holding visas and green cards, the Trump Administration decided to start anew.  The second round ban exempted Iraq—still including the same six other Muslim countries. It further made provisions for those with Green cards and visas to be exempted.   However, not much else changed in the real sense of showing a need for a travel ban to Muslim countries.

 

And before the ban took effect, it was shut down by federal courts in Hawaii and Maryland.  Nothing had really changed from the first ban. The first one was shut down in federal court in the State of Washington placing a hold on the ban.  One day after announcing the new travel ban, Hawaii wasted no time at all in filing a lawsuit in federal court in Hawaii—much like the earlier one filed in the State of Washington last month.

 

 

I give the Trump Administration an “A” on persistence and a “F” on execution.  The most recent travel ban met the similar fate as the first one for the very same reasons.  The earlier ban met its fate as the Trump administration and Justice Department failed to articulate any real security concerns for a travel ban to seven Muslim countries.

 

Removing Iraq from the list was done at the request of apparently the State Department due to its Iraqi translators.   And the travel ban’s exemption of Green cards and visas still does not address if there is any real security reason or threat for a Muslim country travel ban.  The Administration failed to be able to effectively address those security concerns last month.  And courts work on evidence and not campaign promises.

 

These federal courts wasted no time in showing the Trump administration how the three branches of government work.  Both courts recognized the ban was solely against Muslims and therefore violated our constitution.  The judiciary branch shut down the ban as unconstitutional.  And the executive branch of government, a la Mr. Trump, has no alternative but to either further appeal its case in court or attempt yet another travel ban.

 

Mr. Trump is learning a lesson that many litigants learn once in court.  One’s prior words can be used against you in both civil and criminal court. And Mr. Trump’s prior tweets, speeches and words on needing a ban to expel Muslims from our country and prevent Muslims from entering was the reason for the ban.  In one press release issued during the campaign, Trump called for a complete and total shutdown of Muslims.  His own words caused his defeat. There is no national need for security concerns.

 

An unlawful travel ban by any other words is still unlawful.   Mr. Trump’s actions are unconstitutional, against the first amendment on freedom of religion and quite frankly, un- American.  If he wants to make America great again, which many persons seriously doubt, he can start by upholding the US Constitutional in his executive orders.

Freedom of religion is what democracy  and America looks like.  Mr. Trump has yet to learn this civics lesson.

 

DebbieFox5DC2017Washington, DC based Debbie Hines is a trial lawyer, member of the Supreme Court bar, legal analyst and former Baltimore prosecutor.  She is often seen in the media addressing legal  and political issues.

Appeals Court Trumps Mr. Trump on his Travel Ban

Friday, February 10th, 2017

supcourt_buildingOn Thursday, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against Mr. Trump and the Government’s request to lift the travel ban stay, pending an appeal. In upholding the lower court’s decision, which ended the ban, the federal appeals court gave an elementary school civics lesson to the President and the Department of Justice lawyers arguing the case.

 

The Department of Justice lawyers argued that the judiciary branch of the government had no authority to end the executive order.   It argued as if the President has full authority over the courts, our judicial branch of government.  The appellate court made it clear that there was no precedent for that part of the Government’s argument–ever, even if based on national security.  The appeals court gave Mr.  Trump a nice civics lesson. There are three branches of government under the U. S. Constitution—executive, judiciary and legislative. No one branch of government is superior to the other.  For Mr. Trump to misunderstand the checks and balances of democracy is appalling.

 

 

 

The court further found there was no evidence or facts that even supported the Government’s claim of a security need based on terrorism—or bad things happening as Mr. Trump asserts.   The Trump lawyers failed to provide any evidence or facts that would support the alleged need for the travel ban to the seven countries of primarily Muslim background.  The Government failed to show any of the seven countries were involved in any terrorist attacks on the U. S.  There was no irreparable harm shown to exist if the travel ban were lifted. The law, as Mr. Trump found today, is based on evidence and facts. It’s not what you say or tweet out to the public. It’s what you can prove in a court of law.  The Government was all talk but no substance.

 

The State of Washington, on the other hand,  through hard evidence and facts showed the harm committed by the travel ban as it affected its  public universities, including faculty and students, research abroad,  reducing its tax base and restricting travel to and from the U.S., leaving persons stranded without any recourse.

 

And the other civics or constitutional law lesson given to Mr. Trump is that any taking of life, liberty and property must be afforded due process under the U.S. Constitution. This means the government cannot take away rights unilaterally without due process, a hearing, means for redress and an appeal process.  The travel ban went into effect immediately—depriving persons of the right to travel from those seven countries to the U.S. without affording them any rights of due process to redress it.  The right to due process applies regardless of whether the persons affected are citizens or non-citizens.  While some of Mr. Trump’s supporters may complain, they too should read the U.S. Constitution.

 

The 9th Circuit decided the sole issue of whether to lift the stay and place the travel ban back in effect pending the appeal. In making its decision, it stated the Trump administration was not likely to win the issue on appeal.  The three judges on the panel that decided the case were appointed by Presidents Carter, Bush and Obama.

 

 

For now, the travel restrictions against the seven countries remain lifted.  According to the President’s early evening tweet following the latest court action, Mr. Trump spoke to his base with bald allegations and no substance to back up his national security needs as the reason for the ban.  It would do the President good if he were to pick up a copy and read the entire U.S. constitution—thereby saving taxpayers’ money on frivolous appeals and other legal actions.  In the words of singer James Brown, he needs to stop “talking loud and saying nothing.”

To read the entire court opinion, click here

Washington, DC based Debbie Hines is a lawyer, legal analyst and member of the Supreme Court.

I Marched the DC Women’s March in Honor of My Mother

Monday, January 23rd, 2017

 

Naomi HinesI was one of the more than 500,000 persons attending the DC Women’s March.  For me, the March was personal in honor of my mother, Naomi.

 

My mom was born in Mt.  Gilead, NC, a small town of less than 1500 persons in rural North Carolina.  Growing up in the Jim Crow South, she longed for a better life as discrimination was rampant and the way of life there. Like so many Blacks living in the south during that era, she, as a young woman, migrated north, first to Buffalo, NY and later to Baltimore.  During her lifetime, she experienced various forms of discrimination such as not being able to shop in stores due to the color of her skin, sit and eat in at many restaurants, live in many areas of Baltimore City, purchase homes in certain areas due to restrictive covenants preventing Blacks from living and buying homes in some areas.  And this was after she moved to Baltimore.

 

My mother fought for many health care reforms as an employee and later as a retiree of the Baltimore City Health Department.  Although, she on religious grounds did not support abortion for herself; she supported every women’s right to choose.  And she was instrumental in getting a health care clinic built in our community. She was a staunch supporter of her union, knowing that unions make life better for working Americans.

 

And she knew that education was key and crucial for her children who attended public schools and later obtained college degrees.   She and my father never failed to attend and become active in PTA meetings and our school events. Although my mother never mentioned the word “disability” in relationship to herself, she was born with an obvious physical disability.

 

When I saw many of the signs during the Women’s March supporting Planned Parenthood, the right to choose, unions,  women in wheel chairs  moving along the course during  march,  I felt like my mother was there with me in spirit.  One sign in particular reminded me of my mother. Growing up, at times when we misbehaved, she would say, “I brought you in this world and I’ll take you out.”  And one sign I saw online was a twist on her words, “Vaginas brought you in this world and vaginas will vote you out.”

 

All that my mother fought for during her lifetime is now in jeopardy with the Trump Administration.  We are facing possible setbacks in all areas of women’s rights including in areas of health, education, housing, civil rights, workers’ rights, disability rights and voting rights, to name a few.  And for those who say, we should take a wait and see approach to Donald Trump’s administration, I say that we cannot wait to take action.  And that’s why the more than 500,000 women marched in DC and many millions more marched in solidarity across the country and around the world.

 

The lyrics of the old gospel song state, Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around applies to the new Trump era.  My mother lived to see many changes in her life that afforded me the many opportunities I now possess.  And on my watch, I will do all that I can to resist any efforts to turn around our rights.   I owe it to my mother who showed me the way.

 

 

DebbieFox5DC2017

Washington, DC based Debbie Hines is a trial lawyer, legal and political commentator and former Baltimore City prosecutor.  She often appears on MSNBC, PBS, CBS, Al Jazeera and Fox 5 DC among others. Her op-ed writings appear in the Huffington Post, Washington Post, Baltimore Sun and Baltimore Afro American.

Remembering Barack Obama’s First Inauguration

Saturday, January 21st, 2017

ObamaElectionOn this Inauguration day, I choose to reflect on President Obama’s first inauguration on January 20, 2009 and what it meant to me. It was a blistering cold day with temperature in the 20’s.  I attended with a college friend and sorority sister. We were so excited that we could hardly sleep the night before. My friend wanted to get there very early to make sure we had a good spot. We were not fortunate to have tickets with seats.  We settled on arriving at 7:25 am.—a little later than the original 5:00 am time my friend suggested.  The actual swearing in was not until 12 noon.

 

The time passed by effortlessly. We talked to those in the crowd as though they were old friends. As I looked around the crowd, I saw faces of all races, ethnicities and ages. I recall an older black woman who came from Florida. Her son brought her a ticket and paid for hotel room in November.  When she had to have back surgery, her son assumed she would not be able to attend. She was determined to make it—-walker and all.  She knew it was likely a once in a lifetime experience.

I will never forget Aretha Franklin singing My Country ‘Tis of Thee while clad in her green church going hat.   Her rendition was part gospel, part jazzy and all soul.  It made the words of the song ring clear to me for the first time.

“My country ‘tis of thee, Sweet land of liberty—of thee I sang. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrims pride, From every mountainside, let freedom ring.”

 

It was the first time I saw my country with new eyes. And as President Obama took the oath of office, tears swelled in my eyes—as they did in those around me. All my emotions of that day and my life as a Black woman in America were wrapped up in that moment. I felt like I was a part of America for the first time.

 

At the end of the swearing in ceremony, flags were given out. People were hoarding flags—taking two, three and four flags as souvenirs.  Unfortunately, I did not get one.  I asked every Black person I saw if could have one of their extra flags. No one wanted to give up one flag.  One small white boy gave me one of his extra flags. I still have that small flag today.  That flag is a reminder to me of what I felt like as a proud Black woman in America on January 20, 2009.  That was a long time  ago from where I stand today.

 

Today I feel sadness for my country.  And I mourn the fact that President Obama’s term is finished.  That frigid cold day on January 20, 2009 gave me the spirit to fight for what I want this country to become.  This is my country –and I will fight  to feel what I felt on January 20, 2009 once again.  And just like the words to the gospel song—“ I ain’t gonna let nobody turn me around.

 

Washington, DC based Debbie Hines is a trial lawyer, legal  and political analyst and former prosecutor.  She frequently appears on MSNBC, PBS, CBS, Al Jazeera, Fox 5 DC, among others.