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Legal News for July

JURIST – News – Legal News & Commentary
Appeals court rules refugees need not be denied asylum in Mexico before applying in US
Wed, 08 Jul 2020 18:24:44 +0000

The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled Monday that refugees do not have to apply for and be denied asylum in Mexico before they can apply for asylum in the US. This decision struck down a rule by the Trump administration that requires refugees to apply for asylum in countries they travel through on their way to the US.

In 2019, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) created a joint interim final rule, entitled “Asylum Eligibility and Procedural Modifications,” which generally required refugees to apply for and be denied asylum in countries through which they travel on their way to the US.

The lower court initially granted a preliminary injunction against enforcement of the rule in the four states along the United States-Mexico Border. This preliminary injunction was stayed by the Supreme Court, pending the disposition of the appeals court.

The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit found that the plaintiffs, who were nonprofit organizations representing asylum seekers, had standing because the rule diverted the plaintiffs’ resources from other sources and the plaintiffs would lose significant funding because of the rule.

The court held that the rule was unlawful under the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) because the rule was inconsistent with  8 U.S.C. § 1158, which allows a refugee who is physically present in the US to apply for asylum.

The court also concluded that the rule was arbitrary and capricious because evidence indicated that refugees may not have safe options in Mexico, and the agencies did almost nothing to ensure that these other countries would be a safe option for refugees. The agencies also did not justify their assumption that an alien who did not apply for and receive asylum in another country was not likely to have a “meritorious asylum claim.” The rule would also adversely impact any unaccompanied minors seeking asylum.

Because of this, the court affirmed the preliminary injunction. The US District Court for the District of Columbia also struck down this rule on June 30. 

 

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Category: US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
Manhattan DA: woman caught on video falsely accusing birdwatcher will be prosecuted
Wed, 08 Jul 2020 20:01:54 +0000

Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, Jr. announced Monday that the woman caught on video falsely accusing a Central Park birdwatcher of threatening her will be prosecuted.

On May 25, Amy Cooper called the police on a Black man who was birdwatching in Central Park. She had gone on a walk with her dog, which was not on a leash when she encountered Christian Cooper. After an argument began because the dog was not on a leash, which was against park rules, Amy Cooper called the police. She claimed that Christian Cooper was threatening her and her dog. Christian Cooper filmed the exchange.

On Monday, Vance announced that he had initiated prosecution against Amy Cooper for Falsely Reporting an Incident in the Third Degree. This is a misdemeanor that could be punished with up to a year of imprisonment. 

In the press release, Vance encouraged any individual who has been the target of false reporting to contact the office, stating, “We are strongly committed to holding perpetrators of this conduct accountable.”

Amy Cooper’s arraignment is scheduled for October 14.

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Category: manhattan district attorney
Supreme Court denies Congress access to Trump finance records but rules Manhattan DA can pursue them
Thu, 09 Jul 2020 20:12:35 +0000

In two decisions issued on Thursday, the US Supreme Court ruled that Congress cannot access US President Donald Trump’s financial records, but the Manhattan District Attorney (DA) can pursue the records.

In Trump v. Mazars USA, LLP, the Supreme Court stated that the subpoenas issued by Congress for Trump’s financial records posed separation of powers concerns. Congressional committees wanted access to the records to guide legislative reform in areas concerning money laundering, terrorism, and foreign interference in United States elections. The Supreme Court stated that, when Congress seeks information that it needs to legislative action, citizens have a duty to cooperate. However, when Congress issues subpoenas for information from the president, there are “special concerns regarding the separation of powers.” The courts below did not adequately take this into account.

In Trump v. Vance, the case between Trump and Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance, the Supreme Court stated that the court established two hundred years ago that “no citizen, not even the President, is categorically above the common duty to produce evidence when called upon in a criminal proceeding.” The court reaffirmed that principle, holding that the president is not absolutely immune from state criminal subpoenas seeking his private papers. The president is also not entitled to a heightened standard of need.

The court vacated the decision of the lower court in Trump v. Mazars USA LLP and remanded the case for further proceedings consistent with the opinion. In Trump v. Vance, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgement of the Court of Appeals, remanding the case for proceedings consistent with the court’s opinion. The case will be returned to the district court, where Trump can raise further arguments.

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Category: US Supreme Court
US and China impose mutual visa restrictions over Tibet
Wed, 08 Jul 2020 21:02:37 +0000

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian announced Wednesday that China would impose visa restrictions on US personnel “behaving badly” on Tibet-related issues. The announcement followed US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s Tuesday announcement that visa restrictions on certain Chinese officials would be imposed under the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act of 2018, for the lack of “fair, transparent and reciprocal treatment” from the People’s Republic of China.

The Reciprocal Access Act seeks to deny access to the US for Chinese officials known to be involved in restricting visits to Tibet. The visa restrictions are applicable to an unspecified number of Chinese government and Chinese Communist Party officials determined to be “substantially involved in the formulation or execution of policies related to access for foreigners to Tibetan areas”.

Pompeo’s announcement came a day after US Senate approval of a bill laying out economic sanctions against Chinese officials and Hong Kong police, as well as banks doing transactions with them.

Pompeo said that China continued systematically to obstruct travel to the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) and other Tibetan areas by US diplomats and other officials, journalists, and tourists, while Chinese officials and other citizens enjoy far greater access to the United States.

He concluded his statement by saying that the US will continue to work to advance the sustainable economic development, environmental conservation, and humanitarian conditions of Tibetan communities within China and abroad.

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Category: visa
US appeals court sends fossil fuel climate crisis lawsuit back to state court
Wed, 08 Jul 2020 20:19:55 +0000

The US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit affirmed a district court’s order refusing to remove a lawsuit against ExxonMobil and Suncor Energy from state to federal court on Tuesday. The lawsuit, originally filed in the District Court for the County of Boulder, Colorado in 2018, alleges that the two fossil-fuel companies are liable for the climate crisis, like “heatwaves, wildfires, droughts, and floods”, affecting the city and county of Boulder and the county of San Miguel.

In June of 2018, the defendant energy companies filed a notice of removal in an attempt to move the case to Federal court. In response, the plaintiffs filed a motion to remand the case to state court for lack of federal subject matter jurisdiction. After the district court granted the plaintiffs’ motion to remand, the defendants appealed to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.

After a lengthy discussion on appellate jurisdiction, the court determined it could only review one of the defendants’ six bases for removal: federal officer jurisdiction. ExxonMobil asserted federal officer removal jurisdiction, which allows removal with private persons who “lawfully assist” federal officers “in the performance of their official [duties]”, because of its mining of the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) under government contract. The appellate court concluded that ExxonMobil’s drilling of the OCS did not satisfy the “acting under” requirement for removal based on federal officer jurisdiction: “We agree with the district court’s determination that under the OCS leases “the government does not control the manner in which Defendants drill for oil and gas, or develop and produce the product.”

This is the second judicial loss for the fossil-fuel industry this week: a judge for the US District Court for the District of Columbia ordered the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) to shut down pending an environmental impact review on Monday.

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Category: oil