Alison Peck, Alison, Frances Perkins discussed on The Takeaway


In for 10, Xena Vega. Good to have you with us. We just heard about how immigration courts are structured and their functions or lack thereof under the Department of Justice. But this is a long and interesting history. One that our next guest has written a lot about with us is Alison Peck, professor of law and co director of the Immigration Law Clinic at West Virginia University. And the author of the Accidental History of the U. S. Immigration, Courts, War, Fear and Roots of Dysfunction. Hi there, Alison. My man. How are you doing? Well, thank you. Hope you're well as well. I'm curious. We just heard from Reporter talk open about the structure of the courts. Can you tell us about your experience as an attorney representing immigrants in immigration court? And some of the confusion that could take place. Sure, Yeah, our clients were experiencing some really disturbing effects because of the structure of the immigration courts, which is what got me interested in writing this book about the history of how God this way. So, for example, because ized the reporter mentioned, the attorney general can refer a case to him himself at any time him or herself. That happened with more frequency during the Trump administration than at any time in in the past, or approximately four times more frequently than even the most active previous administration. So what we were experiencing was one of our clients. Many of our clients being in the immigration court for their removal case. Having a defense that we had identified, was available to them, and then sort of halfway through their court proceeding. Theater knee general coming down with the rule that foreclose or at least purported to read the law in a way that foreclosed the relief a bill to that person Um, sort of moving the goalposts back halfway through the game, essentially with no public input. And this involved like attorney general intervening in a case that resulted in one of your clients getting deported. We have not yet been in a situation where we've exhausted. All appeals in the client has been deported. Part of the reason for that is the delays that the reporter they get the best performing was talking about so most of these things have been continued, or they're still pending on appeal on day do take many years to resolve, but we do have how clients who have had adverse rulings because of decisions that were handed down by the attorney general during the last administration. Okay, So you were dealing with this issue, and then you wanted to get to the root of why we have this strange system. So let's break down some of the history you write about in your book first before Immigration courts were part of the Department of Justice. What which part of the government handled immigration? For that They were in the Department of Labor on by the reason they were there was really because nobody else wanted. Essentially, it was you know it until the late 19th century. We don't really have restrictive immigration laws. Impression was encouraged, so you didn't need to have a government department that was handling immigration cases. That really started in the late 19th century, And at first, it was mostly just a matter of inspecting the ships and, you know, making sure that everybody there was fit to come in and collecting attacks on people coming in so originates in the department Treasury. Um, just come to collect that tax. But that wasn't working very well. Treasury was really overburdened. And so it was briefly moved into the Department of Commerce and Labor, which existed for a while, But then you know, we're in the air in the industrial revolution where the progressive era and labor is not happy about the fact that you know, management of labor in the same department of Labor's been in short trip, so the Department of Labor gets created and, um But you know, this is during a time of what lawyers call the Lochner era, a time when there wasn't much economic, regular federal economic regulation because it was perceived by the Supreme Court as being a violation of due process, so those kinds of laws are being struck down. So that this Department of Labor that was created in order to appease labor to make them feel that they had a seat in the president's Cabinet, really, in every much to do. There wasn't really very much legislation for them to implement. So somebody got the idea. Hey, well, you know, a lot of immigrants become laborers. So let's put immigration in the Department of Labor because we can't figure out where else to put it. So that's where it Woz when the new deal hit, and suddenly federal labor law becomes a real thing. And then President Roosevelt is reluctant to move the court's out of labor. But then that changed and ultimately during world would guess that the onset of World War two it moved from labor. DOJ. Why did that happen? Right. That's something that really intrigued me. As I was writing this book s O. I really think that there's two things that he was dealing with. So on the one hand, he had the immigration services in the Department of Labor at a time when he's trying to restructure federal labor law, essentially in the federal role in labor theme, the secretary of Labor under Roosevelt was Frances Perkins, who also I think not, incidentally, was the first you female U. S Cabinet member. In female Cabinet member in U. S history. And the reason I say that wasn't incidental is because I think the fact that she was a woman made her a a target for a lot of opposition. It was it was easy to T O to single her out and to say that she was soft on communism and soft on labor ourselves on immigrants because she was soft on communism. And so at a time when there was a real Communist scare, there was a lot of suspicion of the Department of Labor. She herself Perceived a conflict because the Department of Labor had to deal with immigrants to the extent that they were representing labor in labor unions, But then they also had to enforce the immigration laws. So so there was there was an attempt to impeach Secretary Perkins that failed, but it's certainly impaired her political credibility. So on the one hand, Roosevelt is dealing with this situation, which, with you know, still fragile New deal. Legislation and on the other hand, is also facing this growing Nazi threat and an isolationist Congress that that was suspicious of him suspicious of his concerns. And at that time, you know this is before the creation of CIA. United States effectively has no intelligence service they had you had different departments of the government sort of jealously guarding different aspects of it. But, you know, the United States have been kind of, you know, perceived itself is being immune from Ah lot of these global political pressures prior to that because of geography but are starting in 1940. Aziz, the Nazis invaded Europe that that comfort level went away. Alison, We have to take a quick break, but.

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