In a June 11 decision which Jeff Sessions made on his own after taking the case away from the Board of Immigration Appeals, Attorney General has engaged in a demonstration of hypocrisy and use of the double standard which can only be called appalling. See Matter of A-B- Interim Decision #3929. 27 I&N Dec. 316 (A.G. 2018).

In this decision, among other things, Sessions ruled that immigration judges must from now on deny asylum to Central American men, women and children who come to the US to escape intolerable gang violence which the governments of their countries arev unable to prevent or control.

He based his decision, as I read it, solely on the grounds that gang violence victims purportedly fail to qualify as a "particular social group" for asylum purposes. The fact that gangs are not connected with or controlled by the governments concerned was not the stated reason for his ruling, which appears to recognize and accept the fact that persecution by private criminal organizations which the government cannot control can be a legitimate basis for an asylum claim under our law.

In the words of Sessions' decision:

"Victims of gang violence often come from all segments of society, and they possess no distinguishing characteristic or concrete trait that would readily identify them as members of such a
[particular social] group."

This very casual and dismissive approach to the horrors of gang violence in Central America and its devastating effect on its victims or potential victims, including hundreds (so far) of women and young children who under Sessions' vindictive and barbaric policy of separating mothers from their young children are in effect being treated like "animals" - the same term that Donald Trump uses to characterize gang members when Americans are the victims - by the Trump administration when they arrive at the US border seeking refuge here, contrast with Sessions expression of concern for American (and therefore mainly white) victims of one of these same gangs, i.e. MS-13.

Here is Jeff Sessions talking about American gang victims at an April speech in Long Island, NY:

"The MS-13 mantra is to kill, rape and control, and so that should tell us about what kind of groups we confront...Our motto is justice for victims and consequences for criminals."

Nothing in those remarks indicated any difficulty in recognizing gang victims or potential victims in the US as a distinct group, whose protection is a top priority of the US government at the very highest level - the president himself.

Indeed, Trump is now frequently engaged in using American victims of MS-13 as a rallying point for his entire anti-immigrant agenda, denying that gang members even qualify as human beings (a charge that many of his supporters will take as being meant to refer to Latino and other non-white immigrants in general, whether gang members or not), and using gang violence and other immigrant criminal activity as a talking point for totally unrelated items in his agenda, such as cutting back on or eliminating family immigration and the diversity visa lottery.

Trump frequently mentions American MS-13 victims by name, brings their families with him at "Roundtable" meetings on this topic, and otherwise uses them as part of his attempts to demonize most or all Latino immigrants as violent criminals just as he did with Mexican immigrants at the beginning of his presidential campaign.

Victims of or people threatened gang violence are not a distinct social group?

Only not, it seems, when they are brown-skinned Central Americans desperately trying to flee the horrors of gang violence which their governments are obviously unable to control. But when the victims of these same gangs are white American citizens, protecting them from gang violence becomes a top priority of the Trump administration.

But don't all gang victims deserve such protection under our law and the principle of equal justice which our country stand for - even if they are brown-skinned immigrants whom Donald Trump doesn't want in America because they are not from Countries like Norway?

Sessions' decision denying gang violence, which is such an important issue for him when the victims are (mainly white) Americans, as a basis for giving protection to its victims when they are brown immigrants instead, reeks with the Stench of Hypocrisy.

So far, I have said nothing about the dangerous precedent for America's justice system and rule of law that Sessions has created by choosing this particular issue as a basis for using his statutory power to take cases away from the BIA and decide them himself.

It is true that the immigration law gives Sessions such authority. But using this authority to decide such an important case, with its huge adverse implications for racial justice and human rights in America, when Sessions, as head of the Justice Department is also the chief litigant on one side of this same case and is also one of the chief actors in carrying out Trump's political agenda of excluding and deporting as many Central American and other non-white immigrants as possible, is a total perversion of America's justice system and goes against every principle of equality before the law that America stands for.

The immediate victims of this kind of authoritarianism, in which one of the King's top agents decides a case in which that same top agent, acting on behalf of the King, is one of the parties, may be a few thousand Central American women whom Sessions is already treating like animals by inhumanly separating them from their children when their arrive in the United States under often horrendous detention conditions (as I have mentioned in a previous comment).

But the ultimate victims could well turn out to be the American people themselves, through the destruction of our democracy by eviscerating the core principle of equal justice before the law on which our liberty stands.

Roger Algase
Attorney at Law