Saturday, June 24, 2017

In Clooney's Italian Hometown, Immigration Is Key

Clooney by Ed Van-West Garcia

When I think of Lake Como in Italy, I think of George Clooney. Don't judge. I'm pretty sure most of our readers would say the same. And, by the way, you're welcome for the editorial decision to include a photo of George instead of a photo of the picturesque Northern Italian city.

Today, the NYT has coverage of the local elections in Como, which are seen as a harbinger for upcoming national elections.

What's the big issue? Immigration, of course!

The debate centers on what ought to be done with African migrants who are currently living in Italy but who hope to head North to work in Switzerland or other parts of Northern Europe.


June 24, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Family Values? Only in America: The Impact of Removal on a Bay Area Family


Photo: Paul Chinn, San Francisco Chronicle                                    

At least nine million "mixed status families" have family members with persons wih unauthorized immigration status and others who are U.S. citizens or have lawful status. Removal of one member of the family impacts the entire family unit.

Hamed Aleaziz for the San Frencisco Chronicle tells a heartbreaking story of a family, including U.S. citizens, given a horrivle choice due to removal of the father. After spending months grappling with her family’s immigration dilemma, Sandra Salazar decided to move with her daughter Nubia from the San Francisco Bay Area to Guadalajara, Mexico — even though they were both native-born U.S. citizens who preferred to stay. Even though she would be leaving behind a grown daughter struggling with medical issues. Even though they had grown close with their community and their church.

The other option was to stay put and accept living apart from the family patriarch, who was forced to leave the country last August. Though Cuauhtemoc “Temo” Salazar, 46, had been brought to the U.S. at age 6 with a visa by his mother, and though he married an American at age 23, he never obtained citizenship — and a couple of drug-possession convictions he picked up as a young man led to his removal.


June 24, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

How Your Nationality Matters to Employers


Check out this report on a new study finds that employers are a startling 82 percent less likely to hire an applicant from a particular country if they previously had a negative experience with an applicant for a similar job from that same country.

UC Berkeley Professor Ming Leung analyzed 3.9 million applications from freelancers worldwide for more than 290 thousand jobs and found that employers react more strongly to negative hiring experiences than to positive ones.

Leung studies labor markets and hiring at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. His findings can be found in “Learning to hire? Hiring as a dynamic experiential learning process in an online market for contract labor.”


June 24, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigration Article of the Day: Zero Undocumented Population Growth Is Here to Stay and Immigration Reform Would Preserve and Extend These Gains by Robert Warren

Zero Undocumented Population Growth Is Here to Stay and Immigration Reform Would Preserve and Extend These Gains by Robert Warren


This paper makes the case that the era of large-scale undocumented population growth has ended, and that there is a need to reform the US legal immigration system to preserve and extend US gains in reducing undocumented entries and the US undocumented population overall.  The paper demonstrates that a broad and sustained reduction in undocumented immigration to the United States occurred in the 2008 to 2015 period.  It shows that the Great Recession had little, if any, role in the transformation to zero population growth of the undocumented population. Rather, the undocumented population stopped growing because of increased scrutiny of air travel after 9/11, a decade and a half of accelerating efforts to reduce illegal entries across the southern border, long-term increases in the numbers leaving the population each year, and improved economic and demographic conditions in Mexico. These conditions are likely to continue for the foreseeable future.


June 24, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 23, 2017

Immigration is One of the "Fastest Growing Skills Online"

The next time your dean asks you to justify offering immigration law or running an immigration clinic, you just might find some backup from this data from Bloomberg:

Experts on immigration law saw the demand for their labor soar eight-fold from a year earlier, according to data from the first quarter compiled by Upwork, which connects freelancers with employers. That made immigration law the fourth fastest-growing skill on the online job market[.]

For the record, the top three fastest growing skills online were: (1) Asana project management, (2) artificial intelligence, and (3) rapid prototyping. If you understand any of those words, kudos to you.


June 23, 2017 in Current Affairs, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (3)

Brutal Assault of Lao American Man by Minnesota Police

From Southeast Asian Resource Action Center:

SEARAC condemns the brutal assault of Anthony Promvongsa, a Lao American man from Worthington, MN, at the hands of area police. The incident occurred almost a year ago on July 28, 2016, but the ACLU of Minnesota only recently received video footage. 
The footage shows Agent Joe Joswiak of the Buffalo Ridge Drug Task Force screaming, kicking, and punching Promvongsa before he had the chance to step out of his car. Sgt. Tim Gaul then appears to deliberately disable the audio recording of the incident. Prior to being pulled over, an off-duty officer had called Agent Joswiak to pursue Promvongsa because he claimed Promvongsa was tailgating him.
To this date, Agent Joswiak has not been held accountable for his treatment of Promvongsa in any way, and Sgt. Tim Gaul has not been investigated for his role in potentially tampering with the evidence. The police have instead charged Promvongsa with multiple felonies.
The incident comes to light shortly after Jeronimo Yanez, a St. Anthony, MN, police officer, was acquitted of all charges for shooting Philando Castile seven times and killing him as he reached for his wallet during a traffic stop.
Police violence with impunity against Black people is a cancer on American society with historical roots as old as our country. Promvongsa's beating underscores how important it is for Southeast Asian Americans to stand together with African American communities and all communities of color for stronger oversight, training, and accountability in our law enforcement systems.
We echo the ACLU of Minnesota's call for a complete and immediate investigation of Agent Joswiak and Sgt. Gaul to ensure due process and justice for Anthony Promvongsa, and to set a precedent of accountability for too many other victims of racialized police brutality. 
The graphic video can be viewed here.

June 23, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Three-fourths of Foreign Students from Asia


High resolution infographics available for download at

WASHINGTON — There are 1.18 million international students with F (academic) or M (vocational) status studying at 8,774 schools in the United States according to the latest "SEVIS by the Numbers." The biannual report on international student data, which includes a new section on regional data trends, is prepared by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), part of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

The report, released Thursday by SEVP, highlights May 2017 data from the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), a web-based system that includes information about international students, exchange visitors and their dependents while they are in the United States.

Based on data extracted from SEVIS May 5, the international student population increased 2 percent compared to May 2016, with 76 percent of students enrolled in higher education programs of study.

Seventy-seven percent of international students hailed from Asia. Among continents, South America had the largest percentage increase (6.5 percent) in international students studying in the United States when compared to May 2016.  

China and India continue to send the largest number of students to study in the United States, at 362,368 students and 206,698 students, respectively. And even with a 19 percent decline – the steepest percentage decline among the top 10 Asian countries – Saudi Arabia still had 55,806 students studying in the United States in May 2017, ranking fourth among Asian countries. With an 18 percent increase, Nepal saw the largest proportional growth in students coming to the United States.

Nearly 514,000 international students pursued science, technology engineering or mathematics (STEM) degrees in May 2017, marking an 8 percent increase from May 2016. Thirty-nine percent of those students pursued engineering degrees. India not only had the largest number of STEM students, but also the largest proportional STEM student population; 84 percent of Indian students in the United States studied STEM.

In May 2017, 10 U.S. universities certified to enroll only F international students accounted for 10 percent of the entire international student population. New York University (15,386 students), the University of Southern California (13,365 students) and Northeastern University (12,372 students) – all certified to enroll F students – had the highest international student enrollment numbers among U.S. schools.

Nine percent of schools can enroll both F and M international students. The top three schools in this category included: Cornell University (5,716 students), the Houston Community College System (4,768 students) and Santa Monica College (3,554 students).

The international student population in the Northeast increased 4 percent when compared to May 2016, marking the highest proportional growth of the four U.S. regions. Rhode Island was the only state in the region to experience a dip in the number of international students compared to the previous year, while New York and Massachusetts added the largest number of international students during that same period, 4,490 students and 2,770 students, respectively. New Jersey saw an increase of 10 percent in international students pursuing bachelor’s degrees.

In the South, the international student population grew 3 percent since May 2016. Florida, Georgia and Texas all saw significant increases in the number of international students studying in those states.  While Louisiana, Tennessee and Oklahoma saw decreases in the number of international students studying there..

Arkansas, Kentucky and Maryland all saw major growth in international students taking part in their higher education system. Maryland saw a 10 percent increase in the number of students earning a bachelor’s degree. However, the southern region saw the largest growth at the graduate degree level. The number of international students pursuing master’s degrees increased 25 percent in Arkansas and 35 percent in Kentucky.

The Midwest saw minimal growth of 1 percent. Illinois added 1,331 students to its international student population, marking the largest increase in the region, while Nebraska experienced the largest proportional growth of 7 percent. Missouri experienced the largest decrease in international students, both in terms of student numbers and proportional decline, 763 students and 3 percent, respectively.

In the western part of the United States, international student enrollment stayed relatively static in California, other than an 8 percent increase in the number of students earning bachelor’s degrees. Idaho saw a 14 percent drop in the total number of international students studying in the state, with a 16 percent decrease in the number of students earning a bachelor’s degree. But, Nevada’s international student population grew by 5 percent, marking the largest proportional growth in the region.

The full “SEVIS by the Numbers” report can be viewed here. Report data was extracted from SEVIS May 5. The report captures a point-in-time snapshot of data related to international students studying in the United States. Data for the previous "SEVIS by the Numbers" report was extracted from SEVIS in November 2016.

Individuals can explore more international student data from current and previous "SEVIS by the Numbers" reports by visiting the Study in the States interactive mapping tool. This information is accessible at the continent, region and country level and includes information on gender and education levels, as well as international student populations by state, broken down by geographical areas across the globe.

SEVP monitors the more than one million international students pursuing academic or vocational studies (F and M visa holders) in the United States and their dependents. It also certifies the schools and programs that enroll these students. The U.S. Department of State monitors exchange visitors (J visa holders) and their dependents, and oversees exchange visitor programs.

Both SEVP and the Department of State use SEVIS to protect national security by ensuring that students, visitors and schools comply with U.S. laws. SEVP also collects and shares SEVIS information with government partners, including U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, so only legitimate international students and exchange visitors gain entry into the United States.

HSI reviews SEVIS records for potential violations and refers cases with possible national security risks or public safety concerns to its field offices for further investigation. Additionally, SEVP’s Analysis and Operations Center reviews student and school records for administrative compliance with federal regulations related to studying in the United States.


June 23, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

North Carolina deportation case symbolizes “everything wrong with the immigration system”

From Rewire:

Minerva Cisneros Garcia, an undocumented immigrant living in Winston-Salem, has checked in regularly with Immigration and Customs Enforcement over the last 8 years. Though Garcia faced many roadblocks to citizenship, she was told repeatedly by ICE agents that she was not a priority for deportation.

After President Trump took office and began to wield his executive power, suddenly everything changed. Garcia is now being forced by ICE to leave her home of 17 years by on a bus bound for Mexico on June 28. Rewire Immigration Reporter Tina Vasquez writes:

“Her oldest, Eduardo, is 21 years old and blind due to complications from cancer. Her second-oldest son died of cancer in 2007, seven years after they first migrated to the United States. Her two remaining children, who are 6 and 3 years old respectively, were born in North Carolina. Winston-Salem is the only home they’ve ever known.”

The community where Garcia and her family call home know Garcia as a mother who “just wants to work and take care of her kids.”  In part two of her series, Vasquez explores the community response to Garcia’s story and on how locals are mobilizing – both in Winston-Salem and across the nation – to try to stop the deportations of their friends and neighbors.

“Undocumented people and their attorneys are seeking support from their local communities as last-ditch efforts to avoid deportation under an administration that has taken a hardline stance on immigration. Garcia, who has received support from Winston-Salem organizers, activists, and members of various faith communities, is quickly running out of time. Her attorney has just seven days to get her a stay of deportation.”

For more details, please read:


June 23, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Breaking News: Supreme Court Decides Immigrant Ineffective Assistance of Counsel Case (Lee v. United States)


The Supreme Court has been busy with immigration cases in the 2016 Term.  (For a description of the six immigration cases, click here.).  The Court decided a denaturalization case (Maslenjak v. United States) yesterday and a criminal removal case (Esquivel-Quintana v. Sessions) in May. 

Today, the Supreme Court decided Lee v. United States, in an opinion by Chief Justice Roberts (and joined by Justices Kennedy, Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan.  Justice Thomas, joined by Justice Alito, dissented.  Justice Gorsuch did not participate in the consideration or decision in the case. 

The  case involves the application of Padilla v. Kentucky (2010), a blockbuster decision that held that an ineffective assistance of counsel claim under the Sixth Amendment could be alleged by an immigrant who had not been advised of the removal consequences of a plea agreement.  Jae Lee, an immigrant from South Korea, had lived in the United States since 1982.  Lee was charged with possessing ecstasy with intent to distribute. His lawyer urged him to plead guilty because he would not be deported, and would receive a shorter sentence. As the Court bluntly stated, "Lee's attorney was wrong." "Dead wrong" is more like it.  Lee accepted the plea agreement.

The plea agreement in fact meant mandatory deportation for Lee; he had expressed concern about removal to his attorney and the court. When he learned that his plea would result in his removal from the United States, Lee moved to vacate his conviction on the ground that he received ineffective assistance of counsel. The U.S. government agreed that Lee had received ineffective assistance but argued that he also had to show that he was prejudiced by his attorney's bad advice.  The government further argued that Lee could not establish prejudice because he had no viable defense to the drug charges. Lee said that he would have gambled with a trial (and a possible lengthier sentence) if he had known about the removal consequences of a conviction.  Reversing the court of appeals' ruling, the Court held that Lee had adequately shown a reasonable probability that he would have rejected the plea if he had known he would be deported.  The majority applied generally applicable doctrine from its decisions on the elements of an ineffective assistance of counsel claim.
In his dissent, Justice Thomas at the outset emphasized that he believed that Padilla v. Kentucky was wrongly decided.  He proceeded to explain his disagreement with the majority's analysis of the prejudice prong of Lee's ineffective assistance claim.
Lee v. United States does not break new ground.   But it continues a trend in which the Court has shown a willingness to protect the rights of immigrants and to apply standard constitutional doctrines to protect the rights of immigrants, in this case the right to effective assistance of counsel.  We will see whether the trend continues in two immigration cases raising constitutional questions in which we are likely to see decisions on Monday, Jennings v. Rodriguez (immigrant detention) and Sessions v. Dimaya (constitutionality of criminal removal provision of the U.S. immigration laws). Three of the six remaining cases from the 2016 Term are immigration cases (the final one is Hernandez v. Mesa, a case involving a shooting by a border patrol office of a young Mexican man.
UPDATE (June 24):  Amy Howe's analysis of the Court's opinion in Lee v. United States  for SCOTUSBlog can be found here.

June 23, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Beat Goes on: Trump Calls for Law that Has Been on the Books Since 1996


USA Today reports that President Trump yesterday called for a "new" law barring immigrants from receiving public benefits for at least five years at a rally in Iowa. But neither Trump nor supporters seemed to realize that the law has already existed for more than 20 years.

As The Hill reported, President Bill Clinton signed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act in 1996. The law prevents immigrants from receiving federal benefits, such as food stamps, Medicaid, and Social Security for five years after entering the country.


June 23, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Ninth Circuit: Employer's Counsel May be Subject to FLSA Liability for Calling ICE on Plaintiff

Here is an update on an imporstant Ninth Circuit decision from Ninth Circuit watcher Cappy White:
Yesterday, the Ninth Circuit in Arias v. Raimundo, No 15-16120, in a case interpreting the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), held that an employer’s attorney could be liable under FLSA’s anti-retaliation provision when that attorney allegedly retaliated against an undocumented employee by arranging to have the employee apprehended by Immigration and Customs Enforcement at a scheduled deposition.  Judge Stephen Trott wrote the opinion for the court; Judges Kim McLane Wardlaw and Ronald Gould were also on the panel. 
The employee alleged in his complaint that he settled his case “due in substantial part to the threat of deportation created by Defendant’s communications with ICE,” and that the attorney had contacted ICE regarding other employees who have asserted their rights against employers he represented on at least five other occasions.
Relying in large part on Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Railway Co. v. White, 548 U.S. 53 (2006), a Title VII case, the court distinguished the substantive provisions of employment laws with their anti-retaliation provisions, noting that the “economic control” test for determining whether a defendant is an “employer” is not relevant in determining who can be liable for retaliation.
Plaintiff is represented by attorneys from the Legal Aid at Work (formerly the Legal Aid Society -Employment Law Center) in San Francisco and California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc.

June 23, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (2)

Immigration Article of the Day: Immigrant Workers and Workplace Discrimination: Overturning the Missed Opportunity of Title VII Under Espinoza v. Farah by Maria Linda Ontiveros


Immigrant Workers and Workplace Discrimination: Overturning the Missed Opportunity of Title VII Under Espinoza v. Farah by Maria Linda Ontiveros

Berkeley Journal of Labor and Employment Law, forthcoming


This essay argues the Supreme Court decision Espinoza v. Farah Mfg. Co. should be overturned because of its incorrect definition of national origin discrimination under Title VII. The essay argues that Espinoza v. Farah's holding that discrimination based on citizenship status, immigration status or migrant status is not national origin discrimination under Title VII's disparate impact or disparate treatment theories is incorrect from both theoretical and doctrinal standpoints. To bolster its analysis, the essay presents a social and political history of discrimination against Latinos at the time of the decision, as well as the litigation strategy behind Espinoza to illustrate how discrimination based on citizenship status, migrant status and immigration status is discrimination based on national origin. It then shows how two lines of cases — Title VII discrimination cases brought by H1B guest workers on the basis of national origin discrimination and EEOC trafficking cases alleging discrimination based on national origin and/or sex — have begun to erode the analysis underlying Espinoza. It concludes with an argument, based on current Supreme Court standards, that Espinoza should be overturned.



June 23, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

From the Bookshelves: The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir by Thi Bui

The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir by Thi Bui                                               
Hardcover – Illustrated, March 7, 2017                              
National bestseller
ABA Indies Introduce Winter / Spring 2017 Selection
Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Spring 2017 Selection

An intimate and poignant graphic novel portraying one family’s journey from war-torn Vietnam, from debut author Thi Bui
This beautifully illustrated and emotional story is an evocative memoir about the search for a better future and a longing for the past. Exploring the anguish of immigration and the lasting effects that displacement has on a child and her family, Bui documents the story of her family’s daring escape after the fall of South Vietnam in the 1970s, and the difficulties they faced building new lives for themselves.
At the heart of Bui’s story is a universal struggle: While adjusting to life as a first-time mother, she ultimately discovers what it means to be a parent—the endless sacrifices, the unnoticed gestures, and the depths of unspoken love. Despite how impossible it seems to take on the simultaneous roles of both parent and child, Bui pushes through. With haunting, poetic writing and breathtaking art, she examines the strength of family, the importance of identity, and the meaning of home.
In what Pulitzer Prize–winning novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen calls “a book to break your heart and heal it,” The Best We Could Do brings to life Thi Bui’s journey of understanding, and provides inspiration to all of those who search for a better future while longing for a simpler past.

June 23, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Throwback Thursday: Bernadette Ludwig

Staten Island women participate in cooking demonstration and conversation about Liberian culture and cuisine
Photo via Staten Island Arts: Folklife

Throwback Thursday is back! Be excited.

First, some background. On Tuesday, during discussion that followed the screening of Warehoused, several individuals got into a discussion about whether the term "refugee" has negative connotations. I don't typically think of it that way, but as I've mentioned before, some do. One member of the discussion tried to articulate why he prefers the term "New American." For him, it was an issue of time. How many years after resettlement should he still be considered a refugee? Will he always and forever be one? Is he instead a "former refugee"?

These are fascinating questions that had me thinking about the work of Dr. Bernadette Ludwig, who teaches in the sociology department at Wagner College. For those who haven't read it before, I want to highlight her 2013 article: “Wiping the Refugee Dust from My Feet”: Advantages and Burdens of Refugee Status and the Refugee Label. It's about the experience of Liberian refugees living in Staten Island, New York and, in particular, their struggles with being identified as refugees.

Ludwig notes that there is real stigma to the term refugee in this particular Liberian community because, among other things, it's a label placed on people rather than one they've actively chosen for themselves. It's also a term that's associated with poverty, homelessness, and lack of education. It is, in short, "insulting" and "degrading." The word carries such weight that "many refugees anticipate the end of their 'refugeeness.'"

And yet, of course, the term has significant advantages. "Refugees" are entitled to special protections and services - ones not available to all immigrants.

Ludwig concludes that there's a difference between the "legal refugee status and the informal refugee label" that ought to be understood. And individuals' perspective on the term "change in the course of time." Being a "refugee" is not "a fixed identity."

It's a great read. I highly recommend it.


June 22, 2017 in Law Review Articles & Essays | Permalink | Comments (2)

5-Year Study of DACA Beneficiaries Looks at Positive Effects on Recipients and Communities

From the Center for American Progress

Washington, D.C. — Coming out of arguably one of the most comprehensive studies on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) since its implementation in 2012, the National UnDACAmented Research Project (NURP) and the Center for American Progress released today a new analysis that looks specifically at DACA beneficiaries without high school or college degrees whose life trajectories have been improved by access to education and training programs thanks to DACA. This analysis draws on interviews with 319 respondents who, prior to receiving DACA, dropped out of high school; finished their education with a high school degree; or did not complete college due to financial, legal, or motivational barriers. Like the majority of DACA recipients, these particular beneficiaries have been able to increase their job mobility, and increased incomes and financial stability lead to greater spending. According to the analysis, this spending “percolates directly into household spending, lifting hopes for longer-term goals such as purchasing a home,” and ultimately boosts the country’s economy through paying taxes.

“Over the past five years, more Americans have come to know the plight of DACA recipients,” said Roberto G. Gonzales, an assistant professor at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education and the principal investigator of the National UnDACAmented Research Project. “Much of what we know from research and the media is from the experiences of politically and socially active young people with advanced levels of education. But our research shows that DACA’s impact has been arguably most felt by those who, because of their immigration status, discontinued their schooling too early. Of the hundreds we have interviewed, many are returning to GED programs, workforce development, certificate programs, and college campuses. And they’re using these opportunities as building blocks to launch careers.”

Work authorization, the study found, provides the assurance that beneficiaries will be competitive for employment in their chosen industries after completing job training programs, which they view as stepping stones to four-year degrees and opportunities to gain relevant job experience. And not only does DACA lead to greater job mobility, skills-matching, and better jobs that allow recipients to save money for additional education and to support family, it also improves access to opportunities through the ability to obtain driver’s licenses.

“DACA has opened doors of opportunity for hundreds of thousands of young immigrants and changed their lives for the better, benefiting not only them and their families and communities but the country as a whole,” said Tom Jawetz, vice president of immigration policy at CAP. “But it is still a temporary solution, and the success of DACA underscores the need for a permanent solution that provides a path to citizenship, something that poll after poll shows the American people support. The administration should genuinely commit to strengthening DACA while working to enact a meaningful legislative solution to allow these aspiring Americans and others to continue to prosper and contribute.”

Of the study’s 2,381 DACA recipients, approximately:

  • 61 percent took on new jobs.
  • 45 percent increased their earnings, with hourly salaries increasing from $5 to $8 per hour to more than $14 per hour, and most at least doubled their previous salaries, earning between $25,000 and $30,000 per year.
  • 57 percent obtained a driver’s license within the first 16 months of DACA.

Read the full brief here.


June 22, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Teenage Syrian Refugee Navigates Islamophobia, Multiculturalism in New Documentary


Colorlines reports on a new documentary.  Dalya Zano and her mother Rudayna Aksh are but two of the millions of Syrians forced into exile by the country's ongoing civil war. Their flight from Aleppo and adjustment to life in multicultural Los Angeles is the focus of a new feature-length documentary, "Dalya's Other Country." Director Julia Meltzer ("The Light in Her Eyes") preceded the film's public premiere on PBS' "POV" Monday (June 26)* with a 13-minute short documentary and accompanying op-ed published by The New York Times yesterday (June 20). 


June 22, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Supreme Court Decides Criminal Naturalization Case in Favor of Naturalized U.S. Citizen


The Supreme Court today decided Maslenjak v. United States .  Justice Kagan wrote for the Court.  The Chief Justice and Justices Kennedy, Breyer, Ginsburg, and Sotomayor joined. The Court held that only material misstatements can result in a  criminal conviction (and stripped of citizenship) under a federal statute prohibiting knowingly committing an illegal act to secure naturalization

Justice Gorsuch concurred in part and concurred in the judgment.  Justice Thomas joined his opinion.  Justice Alito concurred in the judgment.

Divna Maslenjak, a Bosnian Serb ,had been granted refugee status and later naturalized to become a U.S. citizen.  She made a misstatement in her naturalization petition about her husband's service in the Bosnian Serb Army.  The issue before the Supreme Court was whether the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit erred by holding, in direct conflict with the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the 1st, 4th, 7th and 9th Circuits, that a naturalized U.S. citizen can be stripped of her citizenship in a criminal proceeding based on an immaterial false statement.

There were no other immigration decisions today.  Perhaps tomorrow?

Here is the Supreme Court's opinion.

UPDATE (June 23):  Amy Howe's recap of the Maslenjak decision for SCOTUSBlog is here. This post on the Faegre Benson Daniels website summarizes the case, the various opinions, and the holding.  For additional analysis of the opinions, see Edith Roberts' "Friday Round Up" on SCOTUSBlog. 


June 22, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Briefing Complete in High Court in Travel Ban Case

Sct equal

The briefing is completed on the U.S. government's request for review of the travel ban cases.  Here is a link to all of the briefs.  Edith Roberts on her update for SCOTUSBlog includes links to some of the commentary on the positions taken by the litigants.  The U.S. government does not go without criticism.

The Supreme Court may be releasing some decisions later this morning.  Maybe we will see an immigration decision?  Stay Tuned!



June 22, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

The New Yorker: What Will Trump Do with Half a Million Backlogged Immigration Cases?


Jonathan Blitzer in the New Yorker looks at the incredible backlog in the immigration courts:

"U.S. immigration courts are facing a backlog of over half a million cases—and each one, on average, takes almost two years to close. These delays mean that everyone from asylum seekers to green-card holders faces extended stays in detention while awaiting rulings. Speaking about the problem, one immigration judge recently told the Times, “The courts as a whole lose credibility.”

Much of the backlog can be traced back to the Obama Administration, when spending on immigration enforcement went up, while Congress dramatically limited funds for hiring more judges. The number of pending cases grew from a hundred and sixty-seven thousand, in 2008, to five hundred and sixty thousand, in 2017, according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse. The broader trend, though, goes back farther. Since the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, in 2002, the increase in resources allocated for border security and immigration policing has always significantly outpaced funding for the courts. (Immigration courts are part of the Department of Justice.) As more and more people have been arrested, detained, and ordered deported, the courts have remained understaffed and underfunded. . . .

Roughly three hundred judges nationwide are responsible for the entire immigration caseload, and hiring is slow—filling a vacancy typically takes about two years, according to the Government Accountability Office. In Nogales, Sessions said that he would try to streamline the hiring process. But until that happens the Administration has been relocating judges to areas where they’re deemed most necessary."

Will the Trump administration increase funding for the beleaguered immigration court system?  One can hope so but we can't be optimistic given the budget cuts now seen in D.C. 

Hat tip to Cappy White!


June 22, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1)

At the Movies: Indivisible: Love Knows No Borders


Indivisible is a high-definition, feature-length documentary film about the real people at the heart of our nation’s immigration debate.  Renata, Evelyn, and Antonio were young children when their parents brought them to the U.S. in search of a better life; they were teenagers when their mothers, fathers, and siblings were deported.  Today, they are known as Dreamers.  Indivisible takes place at a pivotal moment in their lives, as they fight for a pathway to citizenship and a chance to be reunited with their loved ones.  Frustrated with the stalled legislative process, the trio take matters into their own hands and petition for a special waiver that would allow them to leave the U.S to visit their families—and legally return.  With the future of immigration reform uncertain, the three do not know if their trips are a once in a lifetime experience, or the beginning of true family reunification.

Here is a synopsis of Antonio's story:

Antonio Alarcon was raised by his grandparents while his parents traveled throughout Mexico and finally to the U.S. in search of work.  Antonio joined his parents in the U.S. when he was 11, but his younger brother stayed in Mexico because the border crossing was too dangerous.  When Antonio’s grandparents passed away, his parents faced an impossible dilemma: leave one child alone in the U.S. or leave the other alone in Mexico.  They ultimately decided to "self-deport" and return to Mexico.  Now 20, Antonio lives in New York City and is still undocumented.  When filming began, he had not seen his parents in two years. 


Indivisible premiers on Fuse on July 29 at 10 p.m. KJ

June 22, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)