We're at DefCon1 levels of *gross mismanagement* @DHSgov at this point, where each day brings another massive scandal. So many of these scandals are unfolding at once, in real time, that it's worth highlighting the basic chronology of a few of them from past couple of weeks. 1/
(i) "Dept has been using major hotel chains to detain [hundreds of] children & families taken into custody at border, creating a largely unregulated shadow system of detention and swift expulsions." 2/ nytimes.com/2020/08/16/us/…
Some context: This comes at a time when the Administration is using the pretext of the public health crisis (Covid) to openly flout immigration law--ignoring asylum, deporting unaccompanied kids, and dreaming up further cuts to legal immigration. 3/ propublica.org/article/leaked…
(ii) After a @USGAO report questions the legitimacy of the Dept's acting secretary & number 2, DHS & its general counsel (Chad Mizelle) issue a blistering, ad hominem attack on the author of the report, accusing him of being a pro-Democrat deep-stater. 4/ washingtonpost.com/business/2020/…
Some context: acting secretary, Chad Wolf, spent the summer turning DHS agents loose on peaceful protestors in Portland, leading the founding head of DHS, Tom Ridge, (among others) to say that the current Admin had "perverted" the mission of dept. 5/ washingtonpost.com/national/dhs-m…
(iii) A whistle-blower complaint made public earlier this month stated that the top brass at the Dept had suppressed intelligence reports on Russian meddling & attempted to rewrite analyses of country conditions in Central America to bolster Trump. 6/ justsecurity.org/72451/whistleb…
(iv) Arguably the most scandalous of all and woefully under-covered: This summer "ICE flew detainees to Virginia so the planes could transport agents to D.C. protests. A huge coronavirus outbreak followed inside the VA detention center." 7/ washingtonpost.com/coronavirus/ic…
(v) A whistle-blower complaint from a privately run immigration detention center in GA emerges, alleging systematic abuse, medical malpractice, and forced hysterectomies of immigrant women in custody. 8/ scribd.com/document/47601…
This is just a **partial list** from the past few weeks. I know I've left things out, and would be grateful for others' input, additions, emendations. end/

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More from @JonathanBlitzer

10 Sep
All through the 80s, the US gov denied asylum applications from Salvadorans & Guatemalans at exorbitantly high rates for political reasons: the US was supporting the regimes that were brutalizing their own people & forcing them to flee. 1/
The political logic was simple & brutal: if the US granted asylum claims, then it would have to acknowledge that the Salvadoran and Guatemalan governments it was propping up (with aid $$, military advisors, etc) were murderous and incorrigible abusers of human rights. 2/
Eventually, after major legal challenge, US gov't conceded that it had politicized the asylum process & violated national (& int'l law). The settlement that followed (ABC v. Thornburgh) gave hundreds of thousands of Central Americans another chance at asylum/legal status in US 3/
Read 5 tweets
10 Sep
The DHS whistle-blower complaint provides even more evidence of how the dept has simply become a cesspool of Trumpism. There's one set of details concerning Central America that seems worth calling attention to, since it may get overshadowed by all the other scandalous stuff. 1/
"In Dec 2019, Murphy attended a meeting w Cuccinelli & Glawe to discuss intelligence reports regarding conditions in Guatemala, Honduras, & El Salvador. The intelligence reports were designed to help asylum officers render better determinations regarding their legal standards.2/
Murphy presented the reports to Cuccinelli in the meeting. "Murphy defended the work in the reports, but Cuccinelli stated he wanted changes to the information outlining high levels of corruption, violence, & poor economic conditions in the three respective countries." 3/
Read 6 tweets
5 Sep
A question in the form of a thread: I genuinely wonder how Chad Wolf is trying to position himself at this point. He’s become Trump’s first DHS head (acting) to fully embrace (& amplify) every politicized whim & crackpot demand from WH. And to try to identify himself w Trump. 1/
All of his predecessors (Kelly, Duke, Nielsen, McAleenan) did truly shocking things in support of the President’s agenda. But each of them tried to style him/herself as an independent actor, struggling to balance a department against an erratic President. 2/
That struggle was a cynical act, to be sure. But it reflected some recognition and awareness of a life beyond Trump; that they’d have to answer for themselves in some fashion, however superficially, down the line, whether in the private sector or in future public service. 3/
Read 7 tweets
21 Jul
A recurring theme in the convos I’ve been having w former DHS officials is a sense of alarm—not just abt all the lines being crossed in Portland, but also abt how the Admin is sabotaging the dept’s standing by reducing agents to “foot soldiers” for an overly political WH campaign
One particular sore spot: While DHS leadership is mugging for the cameras, talking tough on social media, and picking fights with city and state officials, there are about to be massive staff furloughs at the Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) because of budget shortfalls.
It’s no wonder why: USCIS is in charge of administering the country’s legal immigration system. Former DHS official told me: “The Administration is effectively shutting down our country’s congressional mandated legal immigration system by furloughing nearly 3/4 of USCIS...
Read 4 tweets
19 Jun
I hope lawmakers are taking note of the statements being made right now by Chad Wolf, Ken Cuccinelli, & Joseph Edlow abt today's SCOTUS decision on #DACA. All of them serve in "acting" roles at the top of DHS. (cc @SpeakerPelosi @SenSchumer @RepJayapal @RepEscobar @AOC et al) 1/
All of them are in charge of complying with today's decision, and Edlow, who's effectively running USCIS, is directly in charge of handling #DACA applications. And yet all of them have publicly & dramatically attacked the Court's ruling, suggesting that it may be illegitimate. 2/
Even as pure rhetoric this is dangerous. But there's reason to be concerned that this isn't idle, Trumpist chatte. There are all sorts of ways DHS leadership can undercut DACA in the final months of Trump's term. Some are administrative (slow-walking applications, etc). 3/
Read 11 tweets
11 Jun
One other thing to keep in mind as asylum seekers, immigration lawyers & advocates reel from yesterday's news abt the Trump Admin's new rules to turn asylum law (as enshrined in US statute & international compacts) on its head: Chad Mizelle, acting general counsel for DHS. 1/
He's often described as being "close" to Stephen Miller. It's more than that, really. He was handpicked by Miller as the Department's *top* lawyer precisely because Mizelle, who is all of 7 years out of law school, will do the White House's bidding. 2/
As bad as things were at DHS & the WH before Mizelle took over, in February 2020, the general counsel's office still needed to square the Admin's fantastical notions with some semblance of legality. Often, it failed because the task was impossible. But there was tension. 3/
Read 6 tweets

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