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If you’re going to allow minors to “choose” their sex and mess with their biology because they “deserve” it, then they are certainly entitled to make other adult decisions.
From SF Chronicle: A Bay Area legislator was shocked when he learned from a young constituent that while Californians cannot legally consent to sex until they are 18, they can — with the permission of a parent and a judge’s order — get married at any age, even if their spouse is many years older.
“I thought, that can’t be true in California,” said state Sen. Jerry Hill, a Democrat from San Mateo. “We found that it is true in California and true in many states throughout the country.”
But Hill’s resulting proposal to bar juveniles from getting hitched has been watered down after it prompted strong objections from civil rights groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union.
As the emotional fight unfolds in Sacramento, there’s no agreement even about a basic piece of information — how many minors get married each year in California. People who want to limit such marriages say the total is in the thousands, while those who oppose the bill say that’s vastly inflated.
The state doesn’t keep such numbers, and even efforts to change that are running into resistance.
Within the past year, elected officials in several states have pushed to restrict juvenile marriage, with a law passed last month limiting matrimony by minors in New York to 16- and 17-year-olds who have become legal adults emancipated from their parents, and one in Texas holding the line at age 17 — with a judge’s permission.
Hill wanted California to set a strict line at age 18, but the effort encountered swift opposition from fellow legislators, as well as groups that include the ACLU and Planned Parenthood.
While SB273 is still alive and moving through legislative committees, amendments have removed any age restriction. The measure in its current form increases family court oversight to ensure that a minor’s marriage isn’t coerced, including a requirement that judges interview individuals privately.
It’s a compromise, Hill said, but still a positive step. “It’s our responsibility to protect those kids,” he said.
Among those disappointed by the result of the compromise is Sara Tasneem of El Sobrante, who said the amended bill won’t help children and will only make elected officials feel like they did something.
Tasneem was 15 when her father, who belonged to a cult in Southern California, introduced her to a man 13 years her senior. She was forced to marry the 28-year-old in a religious ceremony that evening. Six months later, at 16, she was pregnant and legally married in a civil ceremony in Reno.
“A person who marries a 15-year-old, there’s obviously something wrong,” said Tasneem, now 36. “Putting that label of husband and wife makes something disgusting and not OK seem normal and OK.”
As a teenager, Tasneem dreamed of becoming a lawyer. Instead, she became a mother, with two children by age 19. She would ultimately defy her husband and return to school, and later file for divorce.
“Once you leave your childhood, there’s no going back to it,” said Tasneem, now a business student at Golden Gate University in San Francisco. “All those opportunities and freedom of being a child are gone.”
Activists aiming to stop such marriages say they occur across demographic groups, spurred by religious reasons, cultural norms, pregnancy, financial incentives or, in some cases, to protect someone from statutory-rape accusations because marriage circumvents the age-of-consent requirement.
Nationally, about 5 of every 1,000 children ages 15 to 17 were married as of 2014, according to U.S. census data analyzed by the Pew Research Center — figures that don’t specify where the marriages occurred. Activists for age restrictions estimate that California sees about 3,000 marriages per year that include a minor.
The ACLU and other opponents say that estimate is inflated, noting that just 44 petitions for juvenile marriage were filed in Los Angeles County — which has a population just above 10 million — over the past five years.
The focus of efforts should be on abusive and coerced relationships, regardless of marital status, said Phyllida Burlingame of the ACLU’s Northern California chapter.
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Headline should read “arrest illegal aliens.” Other than that, this works for me.
From Sacramento Bee: If you’re an undocumented immigrant illegal alien in the city of Sacramento, the local police are under orders not to inquire about your citizenship. The same goes in the unincorporated areas of Sacramento County patrolled by the Sacramento Sheriff’s Department.
Venture outside the region’s main urban centers, however, and police may be operating under different guidelines.
At least six law enforcement agencies in the Sacramento area operate under written policies allowing their officers to detain people suspected of entering the United States illegally, according to policy manuals obtained by The Bee.
For people arrested for certain drug offenses who “may not be a citizen of the United States,” the policies read, officers “shall notify” federal immigration agents if the suspect is not booked into county jail. Officers in the six jurisdictions, which include Folsom and unincorporated Yuba and Yolo counties, can also inform federal immigration agents of the immigration and citizenship status of anyone they encounter.
Some local departments with tough immigration policies on their books are now revising their guidelines as the Trump administration ramps up enforcement of the nation’s immigration laws and immigrant communities grow increasingly wary of law enforcement. Others insist they do not engage in any level of immigration enforcement, despite what their written policies permit.
The policy manuals in all six jurisdictions were written by Lexipol, an Irvine-based private firm that comes up with policies for most of California’s small and mid-size law enforcement agencies. In addition to immigration, Lexipol policies cover a wide range of topics, including departments’ use of force guidelines and advice on how officers should conduct themselves when off-duty.
Immigration enforcement is permitted by the Yolo and Yuba county sheriff’s departments, and the police departments in Galt, Citrus Heights, Folsom and Lincoln. Several local law enforcement agencies did not respond to Bee requests to see their policies. By contrast, Sacramento has repeatedly declared itself a so-called sanctuary city that does not cooperate with federal immigration authorities, a stance that has put the city at odds with the Trump administration.
Lexipol program director Kevin Piper said the policies are based on federal and state laws, as well as “best practices nationwide that have proven successful for law enforcement.” The final wording of an agency’s immigration policy is “completely a local jurisdiction decision,” he said. “We give them a policy that is adaptable whether they are a sanctuary city or completely the opposite,” he said. “We constantly tell our clients that one of the reasons they may want to customize is that their community may want something different.”
The American Civil Liberties Union has begun tracking which California law enforcement agencies use Lexipol immigration policies. Julia Harumi Mass, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU, said policies that allow even limited cooperation between local agencies and the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency “can still send the wrong message to the local community.”
“The Sacramento Police Department and other California police departments understand the harm that comes when local police and sheriffs engage in immigration enforcement,” she said.
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From Sacramento Bee: For a year and a half, Jose Garcia-Alcazar has been sitting in jails in Richmond and Elk Grove while his lawyers fight the government’s efforts to deport him to his native Mexico. For more than six months now, Garcia-Alcazar, who has three children who are U.S. citizens, has not had a hearing to determine whether he is eligible for bail while the immigration courts figure out what to do with him.
Lawyers for the former car-wash employee in Rohnert Park call his extended stay in jail a case of indefinite detention. They also call it unconstitutional, and they say it stands in direct defiance of a 2011 appellate court ruling that guarantees incarcerated aliens a bail hearing – even if they have criminal records and made their way back to the United States after having already been deported. Garcia-Alcazar, 30, has drug convictions and once associated in Mexico with “coyotes” who smuggled people into the United States, one of his lawyers said.
Earlier this month, Garcia-Alcazar’s attorneys filed a lawsuit in federal court in Sacramento seeking class-action status to try to reinstate bail hearings for him and an untold number of other undocumented immigrants illegal aliens. In the lawsuit, the lawyers are challenging a memorandum issued by an immigration judge in San Francisco that says people like Garcia-Alcazar who return to the U.S. after being deported are not entitled to “redetermination” hearings that would give them a chance to make their case for bail.
While an immigration judge’s decisions are usually confined to his or her own courtroom, lawyers for Garcia-Alcazar say the one made by Anthony S. Murry on Dec. 12 has been reduced to an eight-page memo that is now being widely distributed. The plaintiff’s attorneys noted that the memo came out and that bail hearings began to be curtailed just a month after President Donald Trump was elected on a campaign that promised to build a wall across the southern border of the United States and cut off illegal immigration from Mexico.
“It is kind of weird that it started happening toward the end of the year,” said Joseph LaCome, the attorney who wrote the briefs in the case filed in Sacramento and who has filed similar lawsuits in Phoenix and San Francisco.
According to LaCome, it had been common practice in immigration courts before the election for judges to hold the bail hearings. He said such proceedings have since tailed off to “nothing.”
On Tuesday, the Trump administration released two memos outlining its enforcement strategy on illegal immigration. Along with the construction of the border wall, the plan called for hiring 10,000 new immigration control officers and 5,000 additional border security officers as well as for having local police departments use their personnel as immigration officers.
The administration’s memos also proposed a surge in “the deployment of immigration judges and asylum officers to interview and adjudicate claims asserted by recent border entrants.” They call for “establishment of appropriate processing and detention facilities,” within a hundred miles of the Mexican border. And they aim to achieve a sharp reduction in what the administration calls the parole of aliens while their immigration cases are pending, which has enabled thousands of them, the administration contends, to abscond from the law.
In response to Trump’s action plan, the director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s immigrants rights project, Omar Jadwat, said, “Trump does not have the last word here.” Jadwat promised legal action “if they go back to discredited detainer policies that we’ve already beat in court numerous times,” an outcome that the Garcia-Alcazar lawsuit suggests is already taking place.
Kathryn Mattingly, the spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Justice’s Executive Office of Immigration Review, which oversees the nation’s immigration courts, said in an email Wednesday that Murry’s memo “was an independent decision by an immigration judge for one particular respondent.” She said such memorandums “are not distributed to EOIR staff as they apply only to the individual case for which they were written.”
Plaintiff’s attorney LaCome, however, said he has been told by an attorney for the Office of the Chief Counsel – the arm of the Department of Homeland Security that prosecutes cases in immigration court – that Murry’s memorandum is now being distributed around the country, making the case to deny bail hearings to immigrants from coast to coast.
“The OCC attorney told me they took it and ran with it all over the 9th Circuit,” LaCome said. “The attorney told me it also was going all over the country.”
A spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which oversees the government’s lawyers in immigration courts, declined to comment on any pending case.
LaCome maintains in the suit, filed Feb. 9, that the Murry memorandum violates the 2011 Diouf decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that entitles aliens to bail hearings every six months, even if they have been rearrested after deportation.
The Garcia-Alcazar petition seeks “an immediate custody hearing before a federal district judge or magistrate, or an IJ (immigration judge) other than IJ Murry,” to determine whether the memorandum is lawful. It also wants to stop the U.S. Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, the Executive Office of Immigration Review and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement “from continuing their policy of influencing Immigration judges within this Circuit to deny Diouf bond hearings.”
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I’ll agree that some drug sentences are way too harsh. Yet apparently it’s OK for Obama to ignore violations of gun laws (50+ offenders had firearm violations) – those laws which he incessantly reminds us are too lax.
From the Seattle Times: President Obama on Wednesday cut short the sentences of 214 federal inmates, including 67 life sentences, in what the White House called the largest batch of commutations on a single day in more than a century.
Almost all the prisoners were serving time for nonviolent crimes related to cocaine, methamphetamine or other drugs, although a few were charged with firearms violations related to their drug activities. Almost all are men, though they represent a diverse cross-section of America geographically.
Obama’s push to lessen the burden on nonviolent drug offenders reflects his long-stated view that the U.S. needs to remedy the consequences of decades of onerous sentencing requirements that put tens of thousands behind bars for far too long. Obama has used the aggressive pace of his commutations to increase pressure on Congress to pass a broader fix and to call more attention to the issue.
One of the inmates, Dicky Joe Jackson of Texas, was given a life sentence in 1996 for methamphetamine violations and for being a felon with an unlicensed gun. He told the ACLU in a 2013 report that a death sentence would have been preferable, adding, “I wish it were over, even if it meant I were dead.”
Another recipient, Debra Brown of Tennessee, was convicted of selling cocaine in 2002 and sentenced to 20 years. Both Brown’s and Jackson’s sentences will now end Dec. 1, along with most of the rest of those receiving commutations Wednesday.
All told, Obama has commuted 562 sentences during his presidency — more than the past nine presidents combined, the White House said. Almost 200 of those who have benefited were serving life sentences.
“All of the individuals receiving commutation today — incarcerated under outdated and unduly harsh sentencing laws — embody the president’s belief that ‘America is a nation of second chances,’” White House counsel Neil Eggleston wrote in a blog post.
Eggleston said Obama examines each clemency application on its specific merits to identify the appropriate relief, including whether the prisoner would be helped by additional drug treatment, educational programming or counseling. He called on Congress to finally pass a criminal justice overhaul to bring about “lasting change to the federal system.”
Presidents tend to use their powers to commute sentences or issue pardons more frequently at the end of their presidencies, and Obama administration officials said the rapid pace would continue during Obama’s final months.
“We are not done yet,” Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates said. “We expect that many more men and women will be given a second chance through the clemency initiative.”
Read the whole story here.
Gee, I wonder which “poor” people they are trying to assist…
From Sacramento Bee: Advocates for the poor are demanding that the California Department of Motor Vehicles stop suspending the driver licenses of people who fail to pay traffic fines or appear in court.
Monday’s letter from Bay Area Legal Aid, the ACLU of Northern California, Western Center on Law and Poverty and others alleges that the DMV lacks the authority to suspend licenses at the request of court officials. That’s because many courts, the letter said, improperly conclude that someone falls under the suspension law that applies to people “willfully failing” to pay fines or appear in court.
The letter to Transportation Secretary Brian Kelly and DMV Director Jean Shiomoto comes as state lawmakers consider legislation that would prohibit the practice.
“We ask that the DMV immediately cease suspending driver’s licenses for failure to pay and failure to appear…until there is a system in place to ensure that all courts provide legally-required procedural protections,” the letter reads.
Mike Herald of the Western Center on Law and Poverty said many poor people cannot afford the high fines and surcharges from traffic tickets. Losing their license makes it that much harder to earn a living and pay off the tickets, he said. “It’s become so damaging to people. They’re pretty much stuck in a hole forever,” Herald said. Monday’s letter follows lawsuits against some counties over the suspensions. A lawsuit against the state over the suspensions is possible, he said.
Lawmakers last year unanimously approved legislation that allowed people to go to court to contest traffic fines without first paying the money.
Another measure, Senate Bill 881 by state Sen. Robert Hertzberg, D-Los Angeles, would prohibit a county or court from seeking to suspend a driver’s license to collect on unpaid fines. The bill also would repeal the rule requiring the DMV to suspend a driver’s license at a county’s request. It is pending in the Assembly.
The DMV was not immediately available for comment.