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a major step towards restoring key legal protections for immigrants
facing deportation, Attorney General Eric Holder today withdrew a
last-minute Bush administration order that severely restricted the
right of immigrants to reopen immigration cases lost because of their
lawyers' mistakes. Holder also stated that he will review the problem
of "ineffective assistance" in immigration proceedings to determine
whether additional protections are necessary.
The American Civil Liberties Union
had urged Holder to reconsider former Attorney General Michael
Mukasey's ruling that overturned years of established legal precedent
just days before Mukasey left office.
"Attorney General Holder correctly
recognized that fairness and due process apply to everyone including
immigrants," said Lee Gelernt, Deputy Director of the ACLU Immigrants'
Rights Project. "By restoring the longstanding right of individuals to
challenge immigration proceedings lost because of lawyers' mistakes,
innocent immigrants at risk of being deported through no fault of their
own are once again protected by the rule of law. Holder's decision will
profoundly affect the lives of many immigrants and their families."
Deportation hearings, held in
special immigration courts, are overseen by the Justice Department.
Holder's decision makes clear that the rule of law guarantees
individuals fundamentally fair deportation proceedings and ruled that
immigration cases lost due to "ineffective assistance of counsel" is
grounds for a new hearing.
"The winners today are fairness and
due process. Attorney General Holder has taken a huge step in the right
direction, and we applaud his decision. The Obama administration
recognizes that immigrants facing deportation, including longtime
permanent residents with U.S. citizen children and family, should not
be denied fair hearings because of incompetent or unscrupulous lawyers
who fail in their duty to provide proper representation to vulnerable
immigrants, many of whom lack fluency in English and an understanding
of the complex procedures that govern their hearings. It is now
essential that the Justice Department take the same position in pending
court cases," said Lucas Guttentag, Director of the ACLU Immigrants'
Mukasey's ruling was issued in
January 2009, after a truncated decision-making process that did not
allow sufficient time for many lawyers and legal organizations to
prepare and submit legal briefs on the issue. Although the rushed
process drew protests from prominent legal and civil rights
organizations, Mukasey did not significantly expand the amount of time
for submission of briefs.
Attorneys who worked on the brief
include Gelernt, Guttentag, Caroline Cincotta, Michael Tan and Farrin
R. Anello of the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project.
Attorney General Holder's ruling regarding the Compean decision can be found online at: www.aclu.org/immigrants/gen/39750lgl20090603.html
The ACLU's friend-of-the-court brief and other information are available online at: www.aclu.org/immigrants/gen/37064res20081007.html
More information on the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project is available online at: www.aclu.org/immigrants/index.html
The American Civil Liberties Union was founded in 1920 and is our nation's guardian of liberty. The ACLU works in the courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to all people in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States.(212) 549-2666
The federal judge said that the "highly uncertain effects of this project, when considered in light of its massive scope and setting, raise substantial questions about whether this project will have a significant effect on the environment."
Two days before he left office, a political appointee for President Donald Trump removed protections from old-growth trees in Oregon and Washington. On Thursday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrew Hallman ruled that decision was illegal.
Hallman vacated the U.S. Forest Service's finding that the change would have no impact, and ordered the agency to carry out a full environmental impact statement of the proposal, as The Associated Press reported.
"It's a shame that we needed a court to tell the Forest Service that they must follow the bedrock environmental laws that have been in place for decades," Jamie Dawson of Greater Hells Canyon Council said in response to the ruling. "Completing a full public process and taking a hard look at the environmental impacts of their actions is the least they should be doing, especially when considering such an impactful decision."
"The Forest Service rushed through a politically motivated rule change to log the most ecologically important trees left on our landscape."
The last-minute Trump administration rollback targeted something called the Eastside Screens. These were put in place in the mid-1990s to protect the Pacific Northwest's old-growth forests after decades of logging had put them at risk, Oregon Wild explained. They prohibited loggers from targeting any trees east of the cascades larger than 21 inches in diameter. The screens protected trees in six national forests in eastern Oregon and Washington, comprising more than seven million acres of public land.
While these trees only make up around 3% of trees in the region, they provide vital habitat for wildlife, and recent research indicates that they store 42% of the forests' carbon, playing an important role in combating the climate crisis.
"The Forest Service rushed through a politically motivated rule change to log the most ecologically important trees left on our landscape," Chris Krupp of WildEarth Guardians said in a statement. "Sadly, this is in line with their well-earned reputation for putting logging before the need to address the climate and biodiversity crises."
WildEarth Guardians and Greater Hells Canyon Council were two of the groups that sued to reverse the rollback on June 14, 2022, along with Oregon Wild, Central Oregon LandWatch, Great Old Broads for Wilderness, and the Sierra Club. The groups also had the support of the Nez Pierce Tribe.
In changing the rule, the Trump administration argued that it was protecting the forests from wildfires.
"We're looking to create landscapes that withstand and recover more quickly from wildfire, drought, and other disturbances," Ochoco National Forest supervisor Shane Jeffries told Oregon Public Broadcasting at the time, according to AP. "We're not looking to take every grand fir and white fir out of the forests."
However, in the years since the rule change, the Forest Service has proposed logging larger trees on thousands of acres of Oregon forest, including previously untouched forests in Hells Canyon National Recreation Area.
"Individually and collectively, these projects will damage wildlife habitat, contribute to climate change, deplete important carbon stores, and harm other environmental, social, and cultural values at a time when we simply can't afford to move in the wrong direction," Oregon Wild wrote.
In their lawsuit, the groups said that the last-minute rule change violated the National Environmental Protection Act, National Forest Management Act, and the Endangered Species Act by failing to take into account its impacts and not allowing the public enough time to comment.
The judge agreed.
"The highly uncertain effects of this project, when considered in light of its massive scope and setting, raise substantial questions about whether this project will have a significant effect on the environment," Hallman wrote, as AP reported.
The green groups behind the suit are pleased with the ruling, but also think the Biden administration could do more to protect forests, in line with an Earth Day Executive Order to take stock of the nation's remaining old-growth forests and develop a plan to protect them from wildfires and other threats.
"We call on the Biden administration to stop defending this illegal Trump rule change," Rob Klavins of Oregon Wild said in a statement.
Rep. Lou Correa "betrayed consumers and left small businesses at the mercy of Big Tech and other monopolies," reads a mailer sent by an arm of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee.
The lobbying arm of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee targeted Democratic Rep. Lou Correa on Friday for opposing a trio of bipartisan antitrust measures that passed the House last year but later died in the Senate thanks in large part to the upper chamber's majority leader, Chuck Schumer.
P Street, which bills itself as the "progressive alternative to K Street," sent mailers that describe Correa as "Big Tech's best friend in Congress" to more than 36,000 of the California Democrat's constituents on Friday, The Hillreported.
The mailers, a copy of which was shared with The Hill, say that Correa has "betrayed consumers and left small businesses at the mercy of Big Tech and other monopolies."
Correa, who took office in 2017, is currently the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on the Administrative State, Regulatory Reform, and Antitrust. Correa was named to the post after Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.)—who previously chaired the subcommittee and led major investigations into Big Tech—stepped down earlier this year.
A day after news broke that Correa would be the ranking member of the antitrust panel, CNBCreported that the California Democrat's chief of staff "lobbied on behalf of Amazon and Apple as recently as 2022, including on the very issues the ranking member will oversee in his new role."
"Correa's a former banker and real estate broker, a Chamber of Commerce Democrat (they endorsed him in 2022), and his position on corporate power follows from that."
In addition to opposing the three bipartisan antitrust bills that cleared the House last year but have yet to be revived since Republicans took control of the chamber, Correa voted against a funding boost for federal antitrust agencies.
"At a time when President [Joe] Biden and congressional Democrats are trying to lower costs for families by fighting monopolies and price gouging, it makes no sense for the top Democrat on the antitrust subcommittee to put corporate tech monopolies over consumers and small businesses that would benefit from a competitive marketplace," Emma Lydon, P Street's managing director, said in a statement to The Hill.
Correa, who represents California's 46th Congressional District, does not currently have a primary challenger.
"While Correa's home state of California has lots of tech interests in it, his actual district, which encompasses Anaheim and the heavily Latino city of Santa Ana, isn't exactly a tech hotbed," The American Prospect's David Dayen noted in June. "It's the home of Disneyland, and big business certainly plays a role, but Correa's affinity for Big Tech is serving a donor base, not a base of constituents who he directly represents."
"Correa's a former banker and real estate broker, a Chamber of Commerce Democrat (they endorsed him in 2022), and his position on corporate power follows from that," Dayen added.
"Our goal is not to strike. Our goal is to bargain a fair contract," said UAW president Shawn Fain. "But if we have to strike to win economic and social justice, then we will."
The United Auto Workers filed unfair labor practice charges against General Motors and Stellantis on Thursday, accusing the major carmakers of illegally refusing to bargain in good faith as the union seeks substantial wage increases and benefit improvements.
UAW president Shawn Fain announced the charges during a livestream late Thursday, just two weeks before the union's contracts with GM, Stellantis, and Ford—the so-called "Big Three" automakers—are set to expire.
"I'm sad to report that the Big Three are either not listening, or they are not taking us seriously," said Fain, who noted that he directly warned the automakers' CEOs not to drag out contract talks with the goal of forcing the union to swallow a milquetoast contract at the last minute.
"Both General Motors and Stellantis have failed to give us any economic counters," Fain said Thursday. "GM and Stellantis' willful refusal to bargain in good faith is not only insulting and counterproductive, it's also illegal. That's why today our union filed unfair labor practice charges, or ULPs, against both GM and Stellantis with the National Labor Relations Board."
But Fain stressed that the union's "strongest line of defense" against the automakers' obstruction and union-busting is "our ability to take collective action."
"Our goal is not to strike. Our goal is to bargain a fair contract," said Fain, who was elected as UAW's president earlier this year. "But if we have to strike to win economic and social justice, then we will."
GM and Stellantis dismissed Fain's allegations of law-breaking as "frivolous" and without merit.
"You can't make $21 billion in profits in half a year and expect members to take a mediocre contract."
Fain's announcement of ULP charges against the two of the Big Three automakers came as Ford countered UAW's offer with a proposed 9% wage increase over four years as well as "a reduction of the time it takes workers to reach the top of the wage scale from eight to six years, elimination of wage tiers, a 20% starting wage increase for temporary workers to $20 per hour, $5,500 ratification bonuses, and $12,000 over four years in what the company calls a "cost-of-living adjustment bonus," The Detroit Newsreported.
One worker at Ford's Cleveland Engine Plant told the newspaper that the company's counter is "nothing short of a slap in the face."
"We have plenty of temps here making $16.70 an hour, and they're barely getting by—$20, that isn't much better," the worker said. "Ford has a long way to go if they want to get our members' support on a contract."
Fain said Thursday that "Ford's wage proposals not only fail to meet our needs, it insults our very worth."
Last week, the UAW announced that 97% of participating members at General Motors, Ford, and Stellantis voted to authorize a strike if an adequate contract deal with management isn't reached by September 14. According to a Gallup poll released earlier this week, 75% of the U.S. public sides with UAW members over Big Three management in the contract negotiations.
"I know our demands are ambitious, but I've told the companies repeatedly, I'm not the reason that members' expectations are so high," Fain said Thursday. "What's driving members' expectations are the Big Three's profits. You can't make $21 billion in profits in half a year and expect members to take a mediocre contract."