In case you wondered how much more in line with unsettling at best historical precedents that the Trump administration’s behavior could really get — here’s another disturbing story for you. In reporting that’s been circulating recently, it’s emerged that an immigration judge named V. Stuart Couch threatened a two-year-old Guatemalan boy with an allegedly available attack dog when they made noise during a court hearing. In the time since that incident — which unfolded in March 2016 and included a comment from the judge suggesting he’d made similar threats at other times — the Trump team has promoted Couch.
As the incident originally unfolded, Couch got the courtroom recording device turned off and then ranted and raved, leaving a Spanish interpreter obliged to translate his threats
‘I have a very big dog in my office, and if you don’t be quiet, he will come out and bite you! Want me to go get the dog? If you don’t stop talking, I will bring the dog out. Do you want him to bite you?’
Legal advocate Kathryn Coiner-Collier was in the courtroom that day, and she told Mother Jones that “her mouth was on the floor as Couch made his threats.” She has shared:
‘The women and children that day—I will never forget—left court hysterically crying, almost all of them.’
The boy’s mother said she’s still afraid of Couch, according to the new Mother Jones story about the incident. With the cooperation of the Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy’s Executive Director Kenneth Schorr, she submitted a complaint to the Justice Department the following month outlining what had happened.
Couch’s supervisor Assistant Chief Immigration Judge Deepali Nadkarni apparently told Coiner-Collier that “everything in the affidavit was corroborated” by an internal investigation they launched after the complaint. Nadkarni “acknowledged he did not handle the situation properly and assured me it will not occur again.”
‘I was outraged. I’ve been practicing law for over 40 years and I have never experienced judicial conduct this bad.’
Despite these issues — the Trump administration promoted Couch to the Justice Department’s Board of Immigration Appeals in August. That panel is often responsible for — as its name suggests — the final decisions over whether or not asylum seekers are allowed to remain in the United States. Therefore, there’s someone among that group of just half a dozen individuals who is apparently willing to go to the extreme of threatening an immigrant child with an attack dog — and we’re supposed to trust any aspect of this system why exactly? At present, the case that originally sparked this whole meltdown of the mother and her child seeking asylum is now pending review by the board on which Couch now sits.
It’s one of many examples of the Trump team’s ghastly treatment of immigrants. They’ve gone to extremes to attempt to deny them access to the United States through means ranging from the infamous attempted border wall blocking off Mexico to numerous attempts at dialing back asylum protections for those trying to get here to flee violence in the first place.
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