The White House is apparently so anxious to cater to right wing politicians who are eager to exploit the humanitarian crisis involving thousands of Central American children at the US border that it is now engaging in predicting the outcome of asylum hearings which these children are entitled to by law. (See Section 235, Trafficking Victims Reauthorization Protection Act of 2008).

The Hill and Huffington Post both report that on July 7, White House Press secretary Josh Earnest stated:

"It's unlikely that most of these kids will qualify for humanitarian relief...It means they will not have a legal basis for remaining in this country and will be returned."

As the early 20th century humorist Dorothy Parker was reported to have said when President Calvin Coolidge, who was famous for being taciturn and saying as little as possible, died: "How can they tell?"

To be sure, there is an active debate now taking place about the extent of executive authority over immigration enforcement, but, so far as I am aware, no one has yet claimed that the president has the power to see into the future and predict the outcome of proceedings in Immigration Court or any other court.

This makes it somewhat curious, to say the least, that the White House is so confident that these children will be unsuccessful in their claims for asylum, withholding of deportation or other relief based on the threat of gang violence in counties such a Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

It is true that if the children's chances of success were based entirely on federal court decisions from a decade ago, The White House might have a good argument.

In an August 2007 report: Seeking Asylum from Gang-Based Violence in Central America: A Resource Manual, the Capital [sic] Area Immigrants' Rights Coalition (CAIR) lists a discouraging array of federal court decisions, mainly from the various circuit courts of appeal, holding that persecution by Central American gangs was not political persecution, that inaction by the police was not governmental inaction, and that the class of people facing threats of violence, i.e. youngsters refusing to join gangs or who had been victims of gang violence, was not a "social group" for asylum law purposes.

The "logic" behind some of these decisions would have no doubt embarrassed even the ancient Greek sophists. However, the CAIR report also cites a number of decisions from the same period when more enlightened immigration judges, who were arguably closer than the federal appeals court judges to the facts on the ground because the hearings were conducted in front of the IJ's, had no hesitation in granting asylum in a number of gang violence cases. Some of these decisions, as well as more recent ones, will be discussed in an upcoming post.

The link to the CAIR report is

http://www.ailf.org/lac/GangResourceManual.pdf www.ailf.org

Even though the CAIR report is now seven years old, I recommend it to everyone seriously interested in learning more about the legal rights of the tens of thousands of Central American children who are now showing up at our Southern border.