The nation’s first anti-law enforcement attorney general, Keith Ellison, has named the man who will be his chief deputy when he takes office next month. The Star Tribune gives the story its usual lazy treatment, mostly quoting Ellison’s press release:
Minnesota Attorney General-elect Keith Ellison picked a veteran immigration lawyer to be his chief deputy attorney general on Friday, reviving a position that will give Ellison a second-in-command when he takes office next month.
John Keller’s tenure leading the nonprofit Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota (ILCM) since 2005 will add to the office a “unique combination of deep grassroots understanding of the struggles that all Minnesotans face,” Ellison said in a statement announcing the hire.
Keller’s ILCM provides legal assistance to low-income immigrants and refugees and has played a prominent role in the state in opposing President Donald Trump’s immigration policies. Keller joined the office as a staff attorney in 1998 and, as director, grew the office from five staffers to a 32-employee operation that counts five offices statewide and a network of 250 pro bono attorneys.
The Star Tribune adds:
Keller will help manage the office’s lawyers and legal assistants and figures to be key in helping Ellison follow through on a campaign promise to assist county attorneys in handling complex criminal prosecutions and appeals.
Really? Why? Keller apparently has never handled a criminal prosecution, let alone a complex one. And his only reported involvement with law enforcement is helping law-breakers to evade it.
It falls to the upstart Minnesota Sun to give us a deeper understanding of Keller’s background and what it says about the direction of law enforcement in Minnesota under Keith Ellison:
Keller and the ILCM have become outspoken critics of the Trump administration and its immigration polices, and have repeatedly taken actions to thwart Trump’s agenda in Minnesota.
Last December, for instance, Keller helped secure $250,000 in taxpayer funds from Hennepin County to launch a legal defense fund for county residents facing deportation. The fund was criticized by Republican gubernatorial candidate Jeff Johnson for using taxpayer money to help people who have violated the country’s immigration laws, The Star Tribune reported.
ILCM currently operates 10 different legal projects, including a “Detainee Assistance Project” that provides “full representation for detained clients who qualify for asylum or other relief,” and a “DREAMers Immigration Project,” which offers “legal representation and outreach for youth who were brought to the U.S. as children.”
In various press releases, Keller has condemned the actions of the Trump administration, most recently its use of tear gas at the southern border.
“The current administration has intentionally escalated and manipulated this refugee crisis. It has shown its cynical bad faith by acting unlawfully and without regards for international human rights, settled U.S. law, and human dignity,” Keller said in November. “This administration’s actions towards immigrants and refugees continue to corrupt the very soul of who we strive to be as expressed by our national motto, E Pluribus Unum.”
Did Keller ever criticize the repeated use of tear gas at the border by the Obama administration?
After the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Trump administration’s travel ban in June, Keller flatly stated that the “decision is wrong.”
“Just as it was wrong in Korematsu, upholding the internment of Japanese-Americans, and wrong in Dred Scott, upholding slavery,” Keller continued. “More than 70 years later, the Court today overturned Korematsu, acknowledging that was the wrong decision. We hope it does not take as long for the Court to recognize that today’s decision is equally wrong.”
This is idiotic. Keeping out would-be illegal invaders equals slavery? Good grief.
In response to the administration’s attempt to limit asylum claims to official ports of entry in November, Keller called the moved an “illegal, anti-immigrant action.”
“The United States is a nation governed by laws, not by presidential prejudice or whim,” he added. “We will not give up the values of the United States, the commitment to this nation of laws and checks and balances, and our obligation to respect human rights and human dignity.”
So Keller is a fringe figure who has largely devoted his career to undermining the enforcement of our immigration laws. He will fit right in with the first anti-law enforcement AG regime in Minnesota’s, if not America’s, history.
Ellison appears to be on a collision course with the voters who elected him. A recent national poll found that 84% say illegal immigration is a “problem” for the U.S., with 58% calling it “serious” or “very serious.” Opinion in Minnesota doesn’t appear to be much different. In August, the Thinking Minnesota poll found that by 60% to 36%, residents oppose making Minnesota a sanctuary state, the apparent goal of Ellison and Keller. And abolishing ICE is also unpopular, supported by 29% and opposed by 62%.