Thursday, October 22, 2015
Book Review: Crimmigration Law by César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández, the American Bar Association 2015, 281 pages by Ingrid V. Eagly
Crimmigration Law, published by the American Bar Association earlier this year, is the first text book dedicated to exploring the connection between immigration law and criminal law in the United States. The book’s author, César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández, is one of the leading scholars in a growing field that studies the increasing merger of criminal justice and migration control. This new field, sometimes referred to as “crimmigration law,” reflects the on-the-ground reality of changes in law and practice that have blurred the lines between criminal and immigration enforcement. The immigration system is increasingly relying on criminal mechanisms, such as detention in prisons and jails, to enforce the immigration law. At the same time, the criminal system now plays a central role in adjudicating immigration status, including detecting noncitizens subject to deportation and advising defendants on the immigration consequences of criminal convictions.
Crimmigration Law makes a grand entry as a foundational text. The book not only familiarizes readers with some of the key debates about immigration enforcement and the criminalization of migration, but it also provides an on-the-ground primer to the thorny doctrinal law that practitioners of immigration and criminal law must master. On the immigration law side, García Hernández shows his readers how deportation can result from criminal conduct or criminal convictions, and how detention is a tool that is increasingly being used to expand the deportation system. On the criminal law side, García Hernández reveals how immigrants face punitive sanctions in both the state and federal criminal justice systems for conduct such as unlawful entry into the country or possession of false documents. He also has an excellent chapter on the Sixth Amendment obligation of criminal defense counsel to advise noncitizens as to the potential immigration consequences of a guilty plea. Each chapter is supplemented by an informative bibliography of additional reading on the topic.
Readers of Crimmigration Lawwill benefit from the book’s thoughtful inclusion of practice-based problems that require application of the law to a realistic set of facts. For example, after discussing the important topic of how to defend against deportation (known as relief from removal), García Hernández presents readers with a detailed problem asking whether an immigrant convicted of burglary and married to a United States citizen could potentially qualify for adjustment of status (and thereby avoid deportation). Through immediate application, readers have the opportunity to practice what they just learned—and thereby deepen their understanding. These practical problems are further supplemented by helpful “practice pointers” that highlight the ways in which a practitioner should think about applying the book’s lessons in advising clients and litigating cases.
In sum, Crimmigration Law is a must-read for law students and practitioners seeking an introduction to the complex legal doctrine and practice challenges at the merger of immigration and criminal law. The text offers in one concise volume an overview of the most critical topics in both civil and criminal enforcement of immigration law. Thank you to García Hernández for this important contribution, which provides a valuable training tool for defenders of immigrant rights.