Saturday, June 16, 2012

Blogging from El Salvador #3

Met today with “Ella” (a pseudonym),  a graduate of a Jesuit university in the United States in 2010. Ella grew up in the Midwest and first came to El Salvador as a high school student, then later as a college student on a public service program.

Ellsa works in juvenile detention centers here in El Salvador, where she and a friend have started a poetry project with girls and an art therapy program for boys. These efforts provide a space for the detainees to share what’s in their hearts and minds. Ella types up the projects for the youth, helping them to maintain their own portfolios. The programs provide a terrific outlet for the detainees.

While gangs existed in the country after the peace agreement in 1992, their ranks have swelled because of the deportation of gang members from the United States. There are two principal gangs here: Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and the 18th Street Gang.

El Salvador is increasingly using repressive measures of enforcement, criminalizing youth. In prison, they are separated by gang affiliation, making prisons essentially into graduate schools for gangs so that the members can come out stronger and more violent.

The government appears to have given up on any hopes of rehabilitation; any reference to prevention programs is only lip service.

The system also is corrupt. Police beat kids, then throw them into holding cells randomly.  People with money can pay their way out of the system. SO the ones they work with are poor. Public defenders are overwhelmed.

One of Ella’s acquaintances had been released from prison eight years ago, go married, and a son, and was leading a straight and narrow life. But one day he was stopped on his bicycle and thrown in jail for six weeks for not having proper papers for the bicycle. During his incarceration, the only food he got was what was brought to him by his family. He lost weight and came out skinny. For 45 days slept standing up. Fungus was all over his feet, because he stood in water up to his ankles.

Unfortunately, gang prevention programs are supported by funders who do not allow counseling individuals who have been incarcerated.


June 16, 2012 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Immigration Law and the US–Mexico Border Honored With 14th Annual International Latino Book Award

The 14th Annual International Latino Book Awards were announced last week on June 5 at the Instituto Cervantes in New York City. I am proud that Kevin R. Johnson & Bernard Trujillo, Immigration Law and the US–Mexico Border earned 1st Place in the Best Reference Book in English category. 


June 16, 2012 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

State Department Lists 13 Nations with Worst Records on Human Trafficking

Easrlier this week. the U.S State Department released its annual report on human trafficking conditions across the globe.  The report concluded thatrthe United States adequately complies with international regulations but still has a "'serious problem with human trafficking, both for labor and commercial sexual exploitation." The report listed 13 countries with the worst records on human trafficking issues:

1.  Burma

2.  Democratic Republic of Congo

3.  Cuba

4.  Dominican Republic

5.  Eritrea

6.  Mauritania

7.  North Korea

8. Kuwait

9. Iran

10.  Papua New Guinea

11.  Saudi Arabia

12.  Sudan 

13.  Zimbabwe

For a Jurist story about the annual trafficking report, click here.






June 16, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, June 15, 2012

Blogging from El Salvador #2

A central figure of the civil war in El Salvador from 1980 to 1992 is Father Oscar Romero. As the Archbishop of San Salvador during El Salvador's brutal civil war, Romero became the "bishop of the poor" for his work defending the Salvadoran people. After calling for international intervention to protect those being killed by government forces, Romero was assassinated on March 24, 1980. During the civil war, the United States spent over $5 billion supporting the El Salvadoran government in its brutal battle with guerrillas, most notably the FMLN (Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front).

Today we had an amazing discussion with Sister “Zoila,” (a pseudonym) who began working with Romero several years before he was appointed Archbishop. She told of how they helped to educate peasants and the poverty that these campesinos suffered. Even after Romero was assassinated, his work and inspiration continued. Zoila is one of those steady souls, whose resilience and courage is a model for the struggle for social justice for all of us.


June 15, 2012 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

DREAMers Political Activism Pays Off: Obama Administration Will Offer Deferred Action to DREAMers

Bill Hing blogged this morning about the Obama administration's vindication of the DREAMers.  It is appropriate that these historic words from Janet Napolitano,Secretary of Homeland Security, on "Exercising Prosecutorial Discretion with Respect to Individuals Who Came to the United States as Children" come on the 30th anniversary of the Supreme Court's decision in Plyler v. Doe:

By this memorandum, I am setting forth how, in the exercise of our prosecutorial discretion, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) should enforce the Nation's immigration laws against certain young people who were brought to this country as children and know only this country as home. As a general matter, these individuals lacked the intent to violate the law and our ongoing review ofpending removal cases is already offering administrative closure to many of them. However, additional measures are necessary to ensure that our enforcement resources are not expended on these low priority cases but are instead appropriately focused on people who meet our enforcement priorities.

The following criteria should be satisfied before an individual is considered for an exercise of prosecutorial discretion pursuant to this memorandum:

• came to the United States under the age of sixteen;

• has continuously resided in the United States for a least five years preceding the date of this memorandum and is present in the United States on the date of this memorandum;

• is currently in school, has graduated from high school, has obtained a general education development certificate, or is an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces ofthe United States;

• has not been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, multiple misdemeanor offenses, or otherwise poses a threat to national security or public safety; and

• is not above the age of thirty.

For more on this breaking story, click here and here. Kudos to the DREAMers for their political activism and for the immigration law professors, led by Hiroshi Motomura (UCLA), who backed them up in a letter to President Obama a few weeks back.

The Obama administration’s policy decision could provide relief from deportation to as many as 1.4 million noncitizens under the age of 30, according to a Migration Policy Institute (MPI) analysis released today.


June 15, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Obama Grants Deferred Action to DREAMers!

In a courageous move, the Obama administration just announced that deferred action will be granted to all DREAM Act students and the offer includes employment authorization. This potentially affects 800,000 individuals. Read more.

Congratulations to DREAMers! Their activism is what made the difference.



June 15, 2012 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Immigration Article of the Day: Should Padilla Be Retroactive? by Danielle Acker Susanj

Should Padilla Be Retroactive? by Danielle Acker Susanj

Abstract: When the Supreme Court decided Padilla v. Kentucky in 2010, it declared that defense lawyers had a duty to inform criminal defendants what the removal consequences of pleading guilty could be, if those consequences were clear. The Padilla majority asserted that the decision would not open the “floodgates” to new claims of ineffective assistance of counsel. Yet if there has not been a flood of cases, there has certainly been a growth of confusion as courts have struggled to determine exactly how far and to whom the gates were opened — does Padilla only apply to criminal cases on direct review and to the behavior of defense lawyers going forward, or do offenders whose convictions were final before Padilla also receive its protection? The answer has split the federal circuit courts and state courts that have considered it, leading the Supreme Court recently to grant certiorari on this difficult issue. The Court’s jurisprudence, the purposes of post-conviction review, and the practical consequences point in various directions on the question of retroactively applying the Padilla rule. The divided arguments and the rule from a divided Court suggest that a divided approach might be the best way forward.


June 15, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Michelle Brané's 2012 Levy Award Acceptance Speech

As we previously announced, the 2012 honoree for the Daniel Levy Memorial Award for Outstanding Achievement in Immigration Law is Michelle Brané. Brané is one of the nation's foremost experts on U.S. immigration detention and reform.

Here, courtesy of LexisNexis Immigration Law Community and Dan Kowalski, is Brané's 2012 Levy Award Acceptance Speech at a reception at the American Immigration Lawyers Association annual conference in Nashville, Tennessee.


June 14, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Immigration Article of the Day: Birth Rates and Border Crossings: Latin American Migration to the US, Canada, Spain and the UK by Gordon Hanson and Craig McIntosh

Birth Rates and Border Crossings: Latin American Migration to the US, Canada, Spain and the UK by Gordon H. Hanson (UCSD) and Craig McIntosh University of California, San Diego (UCSD).  June 2012 The Economic Journal, Vol. 122, Issue 561, pp. 707-726, 2012

Abstract: We use census data for the US, Canada, Spain and UK to estimate bilateral migration rates to these countries from 25 Latin American and Caribbean nations over the period 1980 to 2005. Latin American migration to the US is responsive to labour supply and demand shocks as well as natural disasters. Latin American migration to Canada, Spain and the UK, in contrast, is largely insensitive to these shocks, responding only to civil and military conflict. The results are consistent with US immigration being mediated by market forces and immigration to the other countries being insulated from labour market shocks.


June 14, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

TIME Cover Story: We Are Americans — Just Not Legally

Blogging from El Salvador #1

I arrived in San Salvador last night as part of a contingent of University of San Francisco staff and faculty here to learn more about El Salvador's civil war and human rights story of the 1980s and 1990s. This trip is particularly meaningful to me; I represented many Salvadoran and Guatemalan asylum seekers in the U.S. during that period, and working with the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, we developed training materials and resources for immigrant rights advocates.

It's striking that much news is currently being made of an historic truce among gang members here who have transnational roots to the United States. Some of the most violent gang warfare and activity is the direct result of U.S. deportation policies that removed many such gang members from the U.S. to central america, filling their local ranks. That was a mistake, representing a failure of the U.S. institutions and its criminal justice system.


June 14, 2012 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Matter of C. VALDEZ
Decided June 13, 2012
25 I&N Dec. 824 (BIA 2012) Interim Decision #3755

Mr. Valdez, a native and citizen of the Philippines, is married to a United States citizen native of the Northern Mariana Islands. On March 21, 2002, Mr. Valdez was convicted of attempted rape in the Superior Court for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) and was sentenced to 5 years of imprisonment. In removal proceedings, he requested adjustment of status based on an approved visa petition filed by his wife and for a waiver of inadmissibility under section 212(h) of the Act. The Immigration Judge denied adjustment because Mr. Valdez had only been inspected and admitted to the CNMI not into the United States. The Immigration Judge also denied the application for a waiver of inadmissibility, finding that he was not eligible to apply for a “stand-alone” waiver under section 212(h).

Mr Valdez's most recent arrival to the CNMI was October 13, 2007. However, CNMI was not included in the definition of the United States under section 101(a)(38) of the Act until November 28, 2009. So at the time of his last arrival, Mr. Valdez was admitted by the CNMI Immigration Service not DHS. See CNRA § 702(j)(3), 122 Stat. at 866; see also United States v. Yong Jun Li, 643 F.3d at 1184 (“Prior to passage of the CNRA, the CNMI was considered to be outside the United States for immigration purposes.”). Mr. Valdez appealed to the BIA which affirmed the Immigration Judge's finding that the pre-November 28, 2009, admission to the CNMI by the CNMI Immigration Service did not amount to an admission or parole into the United States. EQ

June 13, 2012 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Watch 9500 Liberty: The Film


Watch this film on anti-immigrant sentiment in Prince William County, Virginia.


June 13, 2012 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Symposium Issue: Uncovering Asylum: A Conversation on Refugee Law, Sexual Orientation, and Moving Towards a Just Jurisprudence

The NYU Jouranl of International Law and Politics symposium issue on "Uncovering Asylum:  A Conversation on Refugee Law, Sexual Orientation, and Moving Towards a Just Jurisprudence," is now on-line.  Here is the table of contents:

Jeffrey D. Stein, A Brief Introduction to the Conversation

James C. Hathaway and Jason Pobjoy, Queer Cases Make Bad Law

Richard Buxton, A History from Across the Pond

Ryan Goodman, Asylum and the Concealment of Sexual Orientation: Where Not to Draw the Line

John Tobin, Assessing GLBTI Refugee Claims: Using Human Rights Law to Shift the Narrative of Persecution Within Refugee Law

David John Frank, Making Sense of LGBT Asylum Claim: Change and Variation in Institutional Contexts

Jenni Millbank, The Right of Lesbians and Gay Men to Live Freely, Openly, and on Equal Terms Is Not Bad Law: A Reply to Hathaway and Pobjoy

Deborah Anker and Sabi Ardalan, Escalating Persecution of Gays and Refugee Protection: Comment on Queer Cases Make Bad Law

Guglielmo Verdirame, A Friendly Act of Socio-Cultural Contestation: Asylum and the Big Cultural Divide


June 13, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Immigration Article of the Day: Tensions in Rhetoric and Reality at the Intersection of Work and Immigration by Jennifer Gordon

Tensions in Rhetoric and Reality at the Intersection of Work and Immigration by Jennifer Gordon (Fordham), UC Irvine Law Review (Symposium on Persistent Puzzles in Immigration Law), 2012

ABSTRACYT: Opposition to immigration in the United States is often phrased as a fear that newcomers will compete with citizens for jobs, drive down wages, and displace American workers. In response, immigrants’ rights advocates advance several arguments. To counteract the claim that ongoing immigration is harmful to US workers, we cite the large majority of economists whose studies have found immigrant workers have either no impact or a net positive impact on native wages and the employment of natives at a national level. In shorthand, immigrants come to the United States to fill “jobs Americans won’t do.” To encourage support for the rights of immigrants in the workplace, we contend that reinforcing immigrant workers' rights should be of concern for all workers, because everyone in the job market is harmed when a set of workers is unable to demand compliance with basic laws, much less to organize for better treatment than these minimum standards provide. This essay explores the contradictions between these arguments, in the process seeking out a more complex truth behind the simplified assertions on which each rests. The most obvious conflict lies right on the surface, although I have not seen it explicitly discussed: if immigrants do not have a negative impact on natives' wages and employment rates, and if they are indeed taking jobs “Americans won’t do,” then they are not competing with natives for jobs. But if immigrants don’t compete with natives, why (beyond human kindness) should native workers care about the enforcement of immigrant workers' rights? While I argue that this apparent conflict can be largely resolved through a closer examination of economists' findings, disaggregated on several levels, I go on to raise other concerns that I do not have such an easy time addressing. In search of a road out of these dilemmas, the essay concludes with thoughts about how we might advocate for immigrant workers rights and immigration reform in ways that are both more consistent with reality on the ground and more effective in fostering solidarity between immigrants and native workers.


June 13, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Evangelicals Urge Immigration Reform

Trip Gabriel for the N.Y. Times reports that "evangelical groups [have] urged a solution to illegal immigration .  . .  defies the harsh rhetoric of the Republican primary race, which continues to undermine Mitt Romney’s appeal to Hispanic voters.  The call by the groups represents a recognition that in one bedrock element of the conservative movement — evangelical Christians — the demography of their followers is changing, becoming more Hispanic . .  . ."


June 13, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Good News! KKK won't be allowed to 'adopt' highway

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

CNN reports that "Citing safety concerns and the organization's history, Georgia transportation officials said Tuesday they would not allow a local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan to "adopt" a one-mile stretch of highway in North Georgia."


June 12, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Farmworker Reality Tour

From Human Agenda USA:


What:              Strawberry Harvesting Demonstration & FW Life Story Followed by Dialogue, Testimonials, & Dinner with Farmworkers at Migrant Labor Camp in Watsonville
When:             Sunday, July 22, 2012:  3 - 9 PM
Group Size:     Limited to the first 25 who register.  Children with parents welcome.  The first 25 persons to register (pay) will be able to attend.  Must register by July 15.
Donation:        $30 per Person – Check Payable to “Human Agenda”.  Send to Human
Agenda Treasurer, 2175 The Alameda, Suite 103, San Jose, CA 95126.
Proceeds go primarily to farm worker families hosting the tour.   
Meet:              At 3:00 PM in the surface parking lot at SJCC at the corner of Moorpark
and Leigh Avenues.  We will carpool to Watsonville.
Wear:             Jeans, T-shirts, etc. (nothing flashy or ostentatious). 
Tour                Dr. Ann Lopez, Professor and Author, The Farmworkers’ Journey
Leaders:         Richard Hobbs, Immigration Attorney & Executive Director, Human Agenda
Further Info:   Contact Elizabeth Sarmiento at 650-704-3462 or
Description:    This tour will challenge participants to better understand the conditions of Mexican
farmworkers in Northern California.  We will drive to the Crystal Bay Farms Strawberry Field
where Ramiro Lazcano will talk about his life and jobs as strawberry picker and supervisor.  He will
demonstrate how to harvest strawberries after which participants will have the opportunity to pick and
purchase strawberries. Then we will drive to the Buena Vista Migrant Labor Camp near Watsonville
where farmworkers will show their living quarters and give testimonies on their wages, working
conditions, use of pesticides, and challenges their children have in receiving education.  A farmworker
meal is included in the cost.  The tour leaders will share recent information on farmworkers including
demographics, how globalization propels immigration, the prospects for passage of immigration reform
and AgJobs and, and the conditions of farmworkers on both sides of the border.  For those who wish, Ann Lopez will sign copies of her book, The Farmworkers’ Journey, at the discounted rate of $15.


June 12, 2012 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

USCIS Enlace Engagement for Spanish Speakers


On Wednesday, June 13, 2012, from 7:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. (Eastern), USCIS will conduct a national Spanish-language Enlace session as part of an ongoing series of quarterly public engagements.  This free session is an opportunity for you to engage with us in your language of choice.
During the Enlace, we will provide agency updates, discuss immigration-related topics, and answer your questions.  There is no specific topic for this Enlace.  USCIS representatives will be available for participants to discuss regulations, policies, operations, and forms, but will not offer legal or case-specific advice.  The event will be broadcast live from USCIS Headquarters and you can participate by:
• Calling us toll-free on 1-888-989-4980 (password “enlace”); on the day of the engagement you may want to dial in 10 minutes early;

• Viewing our live Web stream at  For those agencies wishing to hold a viewing party for their community members, the technological needs for viewing the Enlaced engagement are very simple:  a computer with internet access, speakers and a large monitor or projector;

• Emailing us at; or

• Following us on Twitter at @USCIS_es
Note: you can either watch the streaming on the Internet or call in to the teleconference but should not do both at the same time.


June 12, 2012 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

The Law and Economics of Peripheral Labor: A Poultry Industry Case Study by Charlotte Alexander

The Law and Economics of Peripheral Labor: A Poultry Industry Case Study by Charlotte Alexander Georgia State University College of Law; Georgia State University - Risk Management & Insurance Department 2012 Berkeley Journal of Employment and Labor Law, Forthcoming.

Abstract: Drawing on data and anecdotal accounts from a wide variety of sources, this Article investigates the law and economics of peripheral labor, so called because low wage, low skill workers on the periphery are excluded from the promotion ladders, job security, and steadily increasing pay available to supervisory and managerial workers in the core. Using the U.S. poultry industry as a case study, this Article describes the terms and conditions of peripheral poultry work: de-skilled jobs, low wages, lack of job security, and negligible prospects for promotion. Worker bargaining power is also highly constrained, as workers have little ability to demand concessions, and overt claiming behavior such as filing a lawsuit, complaining to a government agency, or forming a union often is not effective, rational, or safe. The Article hypothesizes that the reasons for these conditions may be found in poultry firms’ labor practices and modes of economic organization, in the transnational nature of the external labor market, and in the structure of labor, employment, and immigration laws that apply to peripheral poultry work. The Article concludes by considering that the transnational labor market for peripheral jobs may now be in a period of flux due to changing background legal and economic conditions: the economic crisis of the past half-decade and recent, highly punitive anti-immigration laws passed by Georgia and Alabama, the first- and third-largest poultry producing states. The Article addresses the effects of these changes on the terms and conditions of peripheral work and worker bargaining power. Finally, the Article suggests ways that the nature of peripheral work might be improved.


June 12, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)