Friday, August 22, 2014
Groups Sue U.S. Government over Life-Threatening Deportation Process
Against Mothers and Children Escaping Extreme Violence in Central America
Washington D.C. — The American Immigration Council, American Civil Liberties Union National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, and National Immigration Law Center today sued the federal government to challenge its policies denying a fair deportation process to mothers and children who have fled extreme violence, death threats, rape, and persecution in Central America and come to the United States seeking safety.
The groups filed the case on behalf of mothers and children locked up at an isolated detention center in Artesia, New Mexico — hours from the nearest major metropolitan area. The complaint charges the Obama administration with enacting a new strong-arm policy to ensure rapid deportations by holding these mothers and their children to a nearly insurmountable and erroneous standard to prove their asylum claims, and by placing countless hurdles in front of them.
"These mothers and their children have sought refuge in the United States after fleeing for their lives from threats of death and violence in their home countries," said Cecillia Wang, director of the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project. "U.S. law guarantees them a fair opportunity to seek asylum. Yet, the government's policy violates that basic law and core American values — we do not send people who are seeking asylum back into harm's way. We should not sacrifice fairness for speed in life-or-death situations."
According to the complaint, the Obama administration is violating long-established constitutional and statutory law by enacting policies that have:
Categorically prejudged asylum cases with a "detain-and-deport" policy, regardless of individual circumstances.
Drastically restricted communication with the outside world for the women and children held at the remote detention center, including communication with attorneys. If women got to make phone calls at all, they were cut off after three minutes when consulting with their attorneys. This makes it impossible to prepare for a hearing or get legal help.
Given virtually no notice to detainees of critically important interviews used to determine the outcome of asylum requests. Mothers have no time to prepare, are rushed through their interviews, are cut off by officials throughout the process, and are forced to answer traumatic questions, including detailing instances of rape, while their children are listening.
Led to the intimidation and coercion of the women and children by immigration officers, including being screamed at for wanting to see a lawyer.
"Fast-tracking the deportations of women and children from immigration detention is an assault on due process. There is no way that justice can be served when so many people are being rushed through the system without any real opportunity to assert claims for relief. What we are seeing in Artesia is nothing less than a sham process that values expediency over justice," said Melissa Crow, legal director of the American Immigration Council.
The plaintiffs include:
A Honduran mother who fled repeated death threats in her home country to seek asylum in the United States with her two young children. The children's father was killed by a violent gang that then sent the mother and her children continuous death threats.When she went to the police they told her that they could not do anything to help her. It is common knowledge where she lived that the police are afraid of the gang and will do nothing to stop it.
A mother who fled El Salvador with her two children because of threats by the gang that controls the area where they lived. The gang stalked her 12-year-old child every time he left the house and threatened kidnapping. She fears that if the family returns to El Salvador, the gang will kill her son. Some police officers are known to be corrupt and influenced by gangs. The mother says she knows of people who have been killed by gang members after reporting them to police.
A mother who fled El Salvador with her 10-month old son after rival gangs threatened to kill her and her baby. One gang tried to force the mother to become an informant on the activities of another gang, and when she refused, told her she had 48 hours to leave or be killed.
"The women and children detained in Artesia have endured brutal murders of loved ones, rapes, death threats, and similar atrocities that no mother or child ever should have to endure, and our government is herding them through the asylum process like cattle," said Trina Realmuto, an attorney at the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild. "The deportation-mill in Artesia lacks even the most basic protections, like notice and the opportunity to be heard, that form the cornerstone of due process in this country."
The lawsuit, M.S.P.C. v. Johnson, was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Co-counsel in this case includes the law firms of Jenner & Block, and Van Der Hout, Brigagliano & Nightingale, LLP; and the ACLU of New Mexico, ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties, and ACLU of the Nation's Capital.
"Any mother will do whatever it takes to make sure her children are safe from harm's way," said Karen Tumlin, managing attorney for the National Immigration Law Center. "Our plaintiffs are no different: they have fled their homes to protect their children, only to find that the U.S. deportation system is intent upon placing them back in the dangerous situations they left. We are filing this lawsuit today to ensure that each mother is able to have her fair day in court, and that we are not sending children and their mothers back to violence or their deaths."
The complaint, M.S.P.C. v. Johnson, and attorney delcarations are available on the Artesia Resource Page.
Madeleine Kunin served as the first female and first Jewish governor of Vermont, from 1985 to 1991. During her tenure, she erased the budget deficit, fostered economic growth, and created tough new environmental laws. In 1993, she was appointed Deputy Secretary of Education in the Clinton Administration, and afterward served as the U.S. ambassador to Switzerland, from 1996 to 2000. She is the author of several books and is currently the James Marsh Professor at Large at the University of Vermont.
Immigration Article of the Day: Invisible Spaces and Invisible Lives in Immigration Detention by César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández
Invisible Spaces and Invisible Lives in Immigration Detention by César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández, Capital University Law School; University of Denver Sturm College of Law June 24, 2014 Howard Law Journal, Forthcoming U Denver Legal Studies Research Paper No. 14-29
Abstract: The United States’ civil immigration detention system is characterized by an executive body, the Department of Homeland Security, which possesses substantial authority over the lives of migrants with limited oversight by Congress or the courts. Beginning with the “entry fiction” doctrine that concludes that some migrants who are physically present in the United States are not present for purposes of key constitutional protections, Congress and the courts have granted executive officials substantial flexibility in operating immigration detention sites. They have broad powers and impressive resources to detain migrants they suspect of having violated immigration laws. Migrants who seek release in the United States have a steep path to hew. Moreover, immigration detention centers are shielded from public scrutiny by a host of legislative and judicial decisions ranging from limitations on tort recovery to the inapplicability of transparency statutes. Immense resources and legal authority paired with a lack of penetrating legislative or judicial scrutiny has led to an immigration detention regime that is enormous and filled with abuse. Detainees frequently receive inadequate medical care, complaints about sexual abuse go unreported, and deaths are not uncommon. This Essay posits that the troubling state of immigration detention is a foreseeable — but not irreversible — consequence of these trends.
From the Bookshelves: Hidden Lives and Human Rights in the United States Understanding the Controversies and Tragedies of Undocumented Immigration by Lois Ann Lorentzen, Editor
The most comprehensive collection of essays on undocumented immigration to date, covering issues not generally found anywhere else on the subject. Three fascinating volumes feature the latest research from the country's top immigration scholars. In the United States, the crisis of undocumented immigrants draws strong opinions from both sides of the debate. For those who immigrate, concerns over safety, incorporation, and fair treatment arise upon arrival. For others, the perceived economic, political, and cultural impact of newcomers can feel threatening. In this informative three-volume set, top immigration scholars explain perspectives from every angle, examining facts and seeking solutions to counter the controversies often brought on by the current state of undocumented immigrant affairs. Immigration expert and set editor Lois Lorentzen leads a stellar team of contributors, laying out history, theories, and legislation in the first book; human rights, sexuality, and health in the second; and economics, politics, and morality in the final volume. From family separation, to human trafficking, to notions of citizenship, this provocative study captures the human costs associated with this type of immigration in the United States, questions policies intended to protect the "American way of life," and offers strategies for easing tensions between immigrants and natural-born citizens in everyday life.
Discusses topics rarely covered, including sexual migration, religion, values, and mental health
Features essays across disciplines in the fields of psychology, law, politics, social work, public policy, history, education, and health
Includes tables, maps, photos, and a bibliography for each volume to provide visual interest and additional learning opportunities
Probes the latest controversies centered on recent immigration legislation in Arizona, Georgia, and Alabama
Familiarizes readers with history, theories, and legislation related to undocumented migration in the United States.
Lois Ann Lorentzen, PhD, is professor in the theology and religious studies department and codirector of the Center for Latino/a Studies at the University of San Francisco. Her published works include Etica Ambiental; Raising the Bar: Integrity and Passion in Life and Business: The Story of Clif Bar Inc.; and Religion at the Corner of Bliss and Nirvana: Politics, Identity, and Faith in New Migrant Communities. She received her doctorate in social ethics at the University of Southern California.
Thursday, August 21, 2014
The Boston University School of Law Immigrants' Rights Clinic and the Penn State Dickinson School of Law Center for Immigrants' Rights are pleased to release a practitioner toolkit on refugee and asylee adjustment. This toolkit was prepared for the Pennsylvania Immigration Resource Center (PIRC). Below is a link to the press release and toolkit.
From California Governor Brown:
Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr., Attorney General Kamala D. Harris, Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins and members of the Latino Legislative Caucus today announced legislation to provide legal services to the unaccompanied minors arriving in California from Central America.
“Helping these young people navigate our legal system is the decent thing to do and it’s consistent with the progressive spirit of California,” said Governor Brown.
The legislation provides $3 million to qualified non-profits to provide legal services for unaccompanied minors. In addition, the legislation eliminates any ambiguity regarding the jurisdiction of the state court to make findings necessary to enable the federal government to grant these minors special immigrant juvenile status. This federal status provides for an expedited naturalization process. The legislation also reinforces the court’s authority to provide interpreters to unaccompanied, undocumented minors.
“These young people have legal rights and responsibilities, but they cannot fully participate in complex immigration proceedings without an attorney,” said Attorney General Harris. “It is critical that these children, many of whom are fleeing extreme violence in Central America, have access to due process and adequate legal representation. Read more...
A few years ago, I had the pleasure of hearing immprof Jayesh Rathod of American University Washington College of Law speak about using music in the classroom. He noted that music can be a terrific pedagogical tool, helping to illustrate the cirriculum in a different way. He also spoke about how the simple act of sharing music can humanize professors. I even managed to walk away from that talk with two very excellent mix CDs.
Inspired by Jayesh, I routinely play a song during the "getting settled" time before my classes formally begin.
Today, I taught my first immigration law class of the semester. I've traditionally begun with Immigration Blues by Duke Ellington (a Jayesh recommendation and a great tune). But today, I used something new: Spin the Globe by Lucas. It pairs nicely with the Thronson prioritization exercise.
In another reminder of racial disparities in the United States, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the overall unemployment rate for the United States in 2013 was 7.4 percent; however, the rate varied across race and ethnicity groups. The rates were highest for Blacks (13.1 percent) and for American Indians and Alaska Natives (12.8 percent) and lowest for Asians (5.2 percent) and for Whites (6.5 percent). The jobless rate was 9.1 percent for Hispanics, 10.2 percent for Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders, and 11.0 percent for people of Two or More Races.
The recent events in Ferguson, Missouri reminds us that the nation has some serious issues of race and racism that need to be addressed. In that vein, AP reports that a Mississippi sheriff says a man was beaten and shot two weeks after calling authorities to report a cross burning in his yard, and investigators are trying to determine whether the attack was prompted by people being upset that the man was visited by his mixed-race grandchildren.
Bloomberg reportstht the Sweden Democrats, a nationalist party that targets deep cuts to immigration, is poised to double its support in elections next month. Polls show the party garnering more than 10 percent of votes, enough to ensure that neither the government of the Prime Minister nor the Social Democrat-led opposition can win a majority on Sept. 14. Both blocs have refused to collaborate with the Sweden Democrats. Support for the party, which came into being in the 1980s following a merger of political movements including a group called Keep Sweden Swedish, has swelled as the country absorbs a growing number of immigrants and asylum seekers from the Middle East. The development casts a shadow over Sweden’s reputation as an open society that has regularly topped United Nations rankings in accepting asylum seekers.
One of the leading constitutional authorities in the U.S., Laurence H. Tribe was born in Shanghai, China, in 1941 to Russian-Jewish parents and immigrated to the U.S. following the Second World War. After earning mathematics and law degrees from Harvard University, he joined the faculty at the law school in 1968. For his lifetime of work in academia, he has received many honorary doctorate degrees from universities such as Colgate University, Hebrew University, and New York University. He also serves as a mentor to President Obama, appointed as Senior Counselor for Access to Justice in the U.S. Justice Department in a position that, in part, seeks to improve legal services for the poor. Among his many writings, his 1978 treatise, American Constitutional Law, is a standard reference work in legal circles, and he is known as a defender of progressive causes and civil rights.
Immigrant Faith examines trends and patterns relating to religion in the lives of immigrants. The volume moves beyond specific studies of particular faiths in particular immigrant destinations to present the religious lives of immigrants in the United States, Canada, and Europe on a broad scale.
As faith communities in the United States grow increasingly more diverse, many churches are turning to the shared parish, a single church facility shared by distinct cultural groups who retain their own worship and ministries. The fastest growing and most common of these are Catholic parishes shared by Latinos and white Catholics. Shared parishes remain one of the few institutions in American society that allows cultural groups to maintain their own language and customs while still engaging in regular intercultural negotiations over the shared space. This book explores the shared parish through an in-depth ethnographic study of a Roman Catholic parish in a small Midwestern city demographically transformed by Mexican immigration in recent decades. Through its depiction of shared parish life, the book argues for new ways of imagining the U.S. Catholic parish as an organization. The parish, argues Brett C. Hoover, must be conceived as both a congregation and part of a centralized system, and as one piece in a complex social ecology. The Shared Parish also posits that the search for identity and adequate intercultural practice in such parishes might call for new approaches to cultural diversity in U.S. society, beyond assimilation or multiculturalism. We must imagine a religious organization that accommodates both the need for safe space within distinct groups and for social networks that connect these groups as they struggle to respectfully co-exist.
More than anywhere else in the Western world, religious attachments in America are quite flexible, with over 40 percent of U.S. citizens shifting their religious identification at least once in their lives. In Changing Faith, Darren E. Sherkat draws on empirical data from large-scale national studies to provide a comprehensive portrait of religious change and its consequences in the United States.
Immigration Article of the Day: Reconceiving Citizenship: Noncitizen Voting in New York City Municipal Elections as a Case Study in Immigrant Integration and Local Governance by Lauren Gilbert
Reconceiving Citizenship: Noncitizen Voting in New York City Municipal Elections as a Case Study in Immigrant Integration and Local Governance by Lauren Gilbert, St. Thomas University School of Law July 22, 2014
Abstract: In this paper, I use New York City’s consideration of an amendment to its Charter that would extend voting rights to noncitizens in municipal elections as a case study in immigrant integration and local governance. I argue that such a policy would be consistent with the different meanings of citizenship, national, state, and local, while addressing potential obstacles under federal and state law. I conclude that while neither federal criminal nor immigration law prevents state or local governments from extending the franchise to noncitizens in state or local matters, federal law imposes certain impediments that may deter some noncitizens from registering or that could carry serious immigration consequences for those who vote in violation of federal law.
I argue that New York City’s biggest challenge in moving this issue forward is dealing successfully with two related questions: 1.) why the City Council should be able to decide who "the People" are without approval from Albany and 2.) whether it should attempt to enact Intro 410 without a referendum. Part II examines the role of local government in regulating the lives of immigrants, contrasting enforcement-oriented strategies with those that are more integration-oriented, building on the work of Heather Gerken, Hiroshi Motomura, Cristina Rodríguez, and others. Part III spotlights federal law obstacles to noncitizen suffrage, looking at both federal criminal law and the immigration grounds of inadmissibility and deportability. Part IV focuses on state law obstacles, including New York’s Constitution, its state election law and its home rule provisions. Part V discusses other recent experiences with noncitizen suffrage, both in municipal and school board elections. Part VI provides some thoughts on best practices in moving the issue of noncitizen suffrage in New York City and other locales forward. I conclude that while New York law does not prevent the City Council from enacting Intro 410 without approval from Albany, that a city-wide referendum may be necessary, advisable, or, at the very least, that the City Council needs to engage the people of New York City directly such as through mini-town hall meetings in the 51 districts. New York law is ambiguous enough that good arguments can be made for why neither Albany’s approval nor a city-wide referendum is required. Nonetheless, given New York City’s historic relationship with Albany and the power the State legislature has to preempt local law on election matters, if the City Council attempts to expand the franchise to noncitizen voters without a referendum or comparable measure, it could trigger preemptive action in Albany or lengthy, divisive, and costly battles in the courts.
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
The fall semester is (nearly) upon us already. For those who are teaching immigration law (or a related course) for the first time, welcome! For those who have been teaching for X year(s), welcome back!
Many of you know that we have an Immigration Law Syllabus Bank, which includes several syllabi for the survey course, immigration clinic and advanced courses. The bank also includes exams and other teaching resources. We'd like to update it with new materials. So, if you're willing to share your teaching materials, please send them to Rose Cuison Villazor at firstname.lastname@example.org or David Thronson at email@example.com.
Please note that the syllabus bank is password protected. Also, before we send you the link to the bank and the password, we ask that you agree to the following:
In order to further protect these resources, particularly the exams, we require that those who want to access these resources agree that they will only use the resources for their own benefit (to prepare their exams, to prepare their syllabus for their own classes) and, importantly, to not disseminate them to their students or otherwise make them publicly available.
Thanks and here's wishing everyone a great start to the new semester and academic year!
Rose Cuison Villazor and David Thronson
The UC Hastings Center for Gender & Refugee Studies and the Legal Aid of Association of California will be sponsoring a webinar for people who are interested in filing asylum claims on behalf of women and children fleeing violence and other forms of persecution in Mexico and Central America.
Topics to be covered will include:
- Overview of the root causes leading to the recent migration surge and how this influences the type of asylum claims being brought
- Overview of the elements of asylum, with special emphasis on the particular social group, which is the most common ground argued in cases of women and children
- How to effectively use experts and country conditions evidence to persuasively present a claim for asylum protection
- Procedural issues arising in cases involving women and children who have recently arrived to the United States border and are seeking asylum protection
- Practical tips on working with vulnerable clients
For registration and other information, click here.
Jose Antonio Vargas and ten other people who are in the United States without authorized immigration status are planning on applying for deportation deferrals, as reported by Julia Preston of the NYT today.
In particular, Mr. Vargas said that he and the other advocates will be asking, "the White House to halt deportations for most of the estimated 11 million immigrants here illegally by vastly expanding a 2012 program of deferrals for young people who came when they were children."
The full link to the NYT article is here.
Mainstreaming Immigrant Integration Policy in France: Education, Employment, and Social Cohesion Initiatives
France is in the midst of reforming its immigrant integration policies, which are directed at new arrivals of immigrants to the country. In addition, the government is making new investments into targeted neighbourhood and workforce programmes that could have a significant, though indirect, benefit for the French population of immigrant background. This is a more significant development than it first appears.
A new Migration Policy Institute Europe report, authored by political scientist Angéline Escafré-Dublet, highlights that the task of reaching immigrants and their descendants with integration and other programming is complicated by French policy and history. The French population is recorded in the census solely by nationality, and public collection of data according to ethnicity is prohibited; with most children of immigrants born in France holding French citizenship, 'immigrant youth' are thus concealed from analysis, and it is often difficult to identify both positive and negative socioeconomic outcomes. Moreover, there is a general distrust of policies that target a particular group over others—a distrust that originates from the republican principle of equal treatment regardless of origin, religion, or race.
The report, Mainstreaming Immigrant Integration Policy in France: Education, Employment, and Social Cohesion Initiatives, examines education, employment, and social inclusion programmes that support the integration of immigrants and their descendants. Based on interviews with officials and experts across France and a review of the current literature, this report finds that, aside from targeted integration policies aimed at newcomers, policies to support integration have essentially been 'mainstreamed' by the government, and embedded into needs-based social programming and policies that address the overall population. This approach has been further bolstered under the Hollande administration, with a series of interventions, including a 5 billion euro investment into neighbourhoods where social disadvantage is significant.
This report, supported by a research grant from the Dutch Ministry for Social Affairs and Employment, is part of a comparative research project conducted in collaboration with the Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS) at the University of Oxford and Erasmus University in Rotterdam. It follows the publication of recent case studies of the United Kingdom and Germany, as well as an overview report offering principles of good practice in the design of mainstreaming strategies and initiatives. The project's final case study, focused on Denmark, will be released in the coming days. We invite you to read these papers and other MPI Europe research.
Ham Tran immigrated to the U.S. through the Orderly Departure Program when he was eight years old. His films explore and humanize the struggles of the victims and refugees of the Vietnam War. Receiving his MFA degree in film and television from UCLA, Tran’s short films have received numerous honors, with his thesis film, The Anniversary, becoming a semi-finalist for the Academy Award for Best Live Action Short. His first feature film, Journey from the Fall, which was financed entirely by the Vietnamese-American community, premiered at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival and won numerous awards. In 2009, he was the recipient of the Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise. His romantic comedy How to Fight in Six Inch Heels, which depicts the lives of modern, young Vietnamese-Americans, was released in 2013.
"This case concerns whether political ac tivity first undertaken in the United States amounts to `changed circumstances' for purposes of the asylum provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”), 8 U.S.C. § 1158. Weinong Lin, a native and citizen of China who entered the United States as a non-immigrant in 1999, avows that he fled China because of his experience with “autocracy and corruption” there, Appellant’s Br. at 5, that he harbored private anti-communist political beliefs when he left China, but th at he did not publicly express those views until December 2007, when he joined the China Democratic Party World Union (“CDPWU”), wrote essays for the CD PWU website criticizing the Chinese Communist Party, and began attending group protests at the Chinese Consulate General’s Office in New York City and at the Chinese Embassy in Washington."
The court sought guidance from the Board of Immigration Appeals on the standards at play when a foreigner living in the United States seeks asylum based on political activities that occurred in this country. The Second Circuit sent the matter of Weinong Lin back to the Board of Immigration Appeals because of a legal error, but pleaded with the tribunal for a "careful precedential opinion" setting "some guidelines on how to judge similar cases in the future." For further anaylsis, click here.
Immigration Article of the Day: The Human Rights of Migrants in General International Law: From Minimum Standards to Fundamental Rights by Vincent Chetail
The Human Rights of Migrants in General International Law: From Minimum Standards to Fundamental Rights by Vincent Chetail Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (HEI) July 22, 2014 Georgetown Immigration Law Journal, Vol. 28, No. 1, 2013, pp. 225-255
Abstract: This article traces back the historical origins of migrants' rights and analyses their contemporary features under general international law. The systemic perspective proposed in the present article recalls that migrants’ rights are anchored in public international law and reflect its broader evolution. The first part of this article accordingly provides an historical account about the law of state responsibility for injuries committed to aliens. This was a typical question of classical international law which had been crystallised through the notion of international minimum standards at the end of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century. The second part demonstrates how this notion has been progressively encapsulated within international human rights law before constituting nowadays the primary source of protection. The last part then focuses on the principle of non-discrimination as the ultimate benchmark of migrants’ rights.