San Francisco National Lawyers Guild Marc L. Van Der Hout Keynote – Speech Notes – PDF

2003 Keynote Speaker Notes SF NLG Mark VdH

Deportation/removal etc—lost; big statute book

Nlg role

Mark v d h

Jody and jackie

college—student demonstration; occupy; represented himself—others high priced and he was acquitted

one of the few independent immigration lawyers who represents hundreds of individuals

but also takes cases all the way-9th circuit; few outside of organizations do that

realm of immigration lawyers 2-3 not aclu who do this amount of litigation that mark does

9th circuit; cases of everyday folks to the 9th and establish crucial principles

besides ira no one goes to court like Michael; enormous amount of good law

cole; ira

trained generations of lawyers

taught you could make a living off the govt

marc and lucas settlement in abc let to legislation that led to legalization of 100,000’s of central americans and guat; they ought to put a statute of marc in el salv/guat for the remittances that those legalized have brought home—ncara—relief from deportation main thrust—guat/salv being denied asylum on political grounds and not the merits after years they proved it and laying the groundwork for massive civil liberties violations

American-arab anti-discrimination comm. v reno—the canary case—the wedge

1987-8 foreign nationals-7 Jordanians and a Kenyan—la 8—

Struggle on many fronts

Khader hamide

–secret evidence-9th cir—permanent injunction that prevented use of classified information against permanent resident aliens in legalization as violated due process rights

what happened to this?


Case on selective prosecution because of affiliation with unpopular groups-1st and 5th

amend—won thru 9th—scalia 525 vs 471—illegal immigration reform 1996—restricts

judicial review (cut off of review)—characteristic—habeas

An alien unlawfully in this country no const right to assert selective enforcement

as a defense to his deportation (characteristic—const rights)

Pflp—cong exemption despite patriot act and airports vdh—expertise to kennedy and

conyers staff to draft exception??

Const rights of immigrants and jurisdiction to review

Pilgrim’s progress—odyssey

Ruling in favor of govt efforts to streamline the immigration process

Advocating communism-1952 mccarran walter act—repealed

Then routine status and then aiding terrorist organizations

Claim ties to politically unpopular group

4 ct battles

dist judge threw out mccarran walter—john birch 1989 vdh past president

1996 illegal immig reform act—ct stripping

sct review only consider court stripping

no right to challenge—make it easier and quicker; streamline the process-1996—since then

“executive should not have to disclose its real reason foe deeming national of a particular country a special threat” scalia; ginsberg—not base on race or protected stat and const rights

aliens no meaningful first amend rights as govt can target them based on activities vdh—”justice scalia’s opinion is nothing short of outrageous. It relegates immigrants to second class citizens and is reminiscent of the political witch hunts of the McCarthy era

What marc—what it says about him: “working since the early years of the 20th century to undermine all us internal security prosecutions. Mr vdh a former president of the nlg has been one of the most tireless supporters of radical and subversive causes. That Kennedy and conyers would work in league with him and the nlg to undermine the rights of all American citizens on behalf of foreign members of a group pflp that is a self-declared enemy of America is worse than outrageous; it is treasonous” from the new American”

Escobar—draft age working class men in el Salvador are not a social group entitled to asylum–

ABC v. Thornburgh—mvh—nlg

Abc—originally a ccr case to protect sanctuary workers

Amazing; remarkable; lead counsel

Claim—claim denying asylum for to guat and salv in the 80’s (when suit begun?)

Recall what is going on—reagan/death squads—US funding and denies—govt it supports/ideology it not like etc; consequences—refugees–claim persecution

Years of litigation—hopeless—prove political denials—statistical; discovery—hundreds of thousands—back —400k

Won: 1991—filed

Can’t believe it when you read it—who it applies to “all salv and guat in us before late


  1. foreign policy not consideration
  2. fact person is from a country the govt of which US supports is not relevant
  3. whether or not US govt agrees with political beliefs is not relevant
  4. same std for all

200k for notice

800k for atty fees

training—materials, asylum officers and judges


Led to legislation

D’arigo bros v. UFW—ufw staff member entered election area and campaigned among workers—claim legal worker involved in disagreement with board agent; too difficult to determine it was dark

Freedom to travel case—speaking before fidel castro mural in sf vdh announces lawsuit: travel ban: It’s wrong; it’s immoral; it’s outdated—and it’s unconstitutional”

Dellums v. smith case—”imperative to see if president has violated the law and if so prosecute him”

ADL case to stop law enforcement agencies from conducting future spy operations—

because people spied upon, nail looked through police records given to adl and lives

disrupted—after crim case.”adl’s violated the law, they’ve committed criminal acts and they should be prosecuted for it”

Deportation of nasir mubarak in 2002 pakistan and disappearance —torture

–one of the 9/11 people and what happens to them

post 9/11—”we have all the laws on the books right now to deal with any threat of terrorist activity”

Impact fund board of advisers

Abby comments

Big picture perspective

Willing to do cases no matter how long they take—no summer soldier

Optimistic and patient

Number of times thought he could win—congress/Clinton

Always ready and willing and ready to throw a lot in

Abc—one never knows—abc a dead loser

Joined at hip with nlg

Unique contribution

Always litigated in name of nlg

Sanctuary 300 articles—not a newspaper where not front page

Lucas—abc—inspired a team of lawyers; law students and legal workers

Stubborn, persistent and chutzpah

Never gives up, never tires never takes a disagreement personally

No stone unturned

Consult with community organizations

Agreement a monument to mark

Abc and lab dwarf the rest

Brings same skills to the smallest individual case


Tireless lawyer.

What it means to be in private practice—financial demands

Marc best—aware of financial demands
Ability to represent vigorously as possible
Huge cases in private practice

24 hour a day lawyer

believes every client best representation harder and harder to do but not give up more need to address those cases today need scores of lawyers like marc


LA 8; 16 years; pflp fortune 500—marc alone —only workers and peasants stay till the end (with lenny)

Staying power; stick-to-it-iveness, indefatigable stubbornness; ever ready—just keeps going-2 expert witness —5 weeks over a year; 4 recusal motions

Positive attitude (optimism) genuine warmth and commitment of cause of justice for those without any voice in our democratic process

Setbacks-1999 ruling—no jurisdiction to hear selective prosecution claim and went on to say: forg nationals virtually no right to object to being singled out for their const.

Protected activities.

No closer to deportation than they were then

David stick with because marc will keep going


Recusal based on adl—brace einhorn chair of civil rights committee of adl in la—mvh

noted he had a “vested interest in having our clients deported”


Supporting the rights of terrorists—see above