Monday, January 23, 2017

At the Movies: Wallah Je te jure


WALLAH - je te jure trailer from marcello merletto on Vimeo.

"Wallah Je te jure” is a documentary filmed in 2016 in Niger, directed by Marcello Merletto and produced by the International Organization for Migration.  It tells the stories of men and women travelling along West African migration routes to Italy. Senegal's rural villages, Niger's bus stations and "ghettos" full of traffickers, Italian squares and houses are the backdrops of these courageous trips, which often end in tragedy. No matter the cost, the goal to reach Europe will be achieved, "Wallah." But there are those who, tired from the journey, turn back home.


January 23, 2017 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Call for papers: Migration Law Interest Group of the American Society of International Law


Washington, DC, ASIL Annual Meeting - April 12-15, 2017

The Migration Law Interest Group of the American Society of International Law will host a works-in-progress session in Washington DC during ASIL’s Annual Meeting. The exact date and time will be determined several weeks in advance of the Annual Meeting.  Three or more members of the interest group will be given the opportunity to present works-in-progress and receive feedback.

The works-in-progress session is dedicated to original and on-going research on global migration law.  Members of the interest group, at any level of their careers, are invited to submit abstracts describing unpublished works on this topic.

At least three papers will be selected on the basis of the submitted abstracts. Abstracts must not exceed 500 words, and must be submitted to the following email address:  In addition to the abstract, each submission should contain the author’s name and affiliation and a brief cv.

The deadline for the submission of the abstracts is February 15, 2017. Authors of selected papers will be notified by March 1, 2017. Authors of selected papers are requested to submit drafts of their works-in-progress by March 15, 2017.

Please note that you must be a member of the American Society of International Law to participate, and you must pay the Annual Meeting conference fee.


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

Sign Up For Our Upcoming Webinar: Navigating the ITIN Renewal Process

Navigating the ITIN Renewal Process: Implications for Immigrant and VITA Communities Wednesday, January 25, 2-3:30 pm EST

Since the IRS announcement of mandatory ITIN renewals for a select group of ITIN holders several months ago, VITA programs have been in search of resources to help them prepare for to meet the needs of ITIN filers during the 2017 tax season. CFED’s Taxpayer Opportunity Network has brought together leading experts from the IRS and the field to share resources and perspectives to guide you through the ITIN renewal process. During this webinar, you will hear from Sharon Bradley with the IRS ITIN Program Office, Yuqi Wang from the National Council of La Raza, Jackie Vimo of the National Immigration Law Center and Francine Lipman, a law professor at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas specializing in tax law. 

Topics will include:

  • Understanding the ITIN Renewal Process
  • What happens if an ITIN isn’t renewed when the return is filed
  • Common Errors on Form W-7
  • Getting support from your local IRS TAC Office or LITC
  • Resources for VITA programs and ITIN holders
  • Frequently asked questions
  • …and more!

Don’t miss out on this discussion with experts who can help provide guidance for any ITIN holders who visit your sites.

This webinar is free, but advanced registration is required. Register today!


January 23, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) offers Spanish Language Option No Más

The White House website under President Obama offered an option for viewers to peruse "En Español". On January 20, that portal looked like this:

Screen Shot 2017-01-23 at 12.41.37 PM

It no longer exists. President Trump's website can be viewed only in English.


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

Women's March & Immigration

On Saturday, folks around the United States and globe marched in an effort to "send a bold message" to the new Trump administration "that women's rights are human rights." Some marchers also wanted to send a message on immigration. Here's a small compilation of excellent signs:

Screen Shot 2017-01-23 at 12.21.55 PM


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

Greece: Refugees with Disabilities Overlooked, Underserved


Refugees, asylum seekers, and other migrants with disabilities are not properly identified and do not enjoy equal access to services in reception centers in Greece, Human Rights Watch reports. Together with thousands of other migrants and asylum seekers, they remain unprotected from freezing temperatures.

“People with disabilities are being overlooked in getting basic services, even though they are among the refugees and migrants most at-risk,” said Shantha Rau Barriga, disability rights director at Human Rights Watch. “Greek authorities, the EU, the UN, and aid organizations should make sure that people with disabilities are no longer an afterthought.”

Click here to read more on this issue from Human Rights Watch.



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

John F. Kelly Sworn In As Fifth Secretary of Homeland Security


On Friday, retired Marine Corps General John F. Kelly was officially sworn in as the fifth Secretary of Homeland Security. Secretary Kelly took the oath this evening after the Senate voted to confirm him. As Secretary of Homeland Security, Kelly now leads the third largest federal department in the United States that includes the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Transportation Security Administration, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and the United States Secret Service.

“I am honored and humbled to take on this responsibility to serve alongside the magnificent men and women of the Department of Homeland Security,” said Secretary Kelly, “and, I look forward to protecting our nation, its citizens, and preserving our liberty and upholding the rule of law as I continue my service to this great country. I ask for your patience and prayers as I take on this tremendous task together with you, and my only plea is that together we focus our loyalty on the Constitution that we all have sworn to preserve and protect and the nation we love.”

Prior to joining DHS, Secretary Kelly served in the United States Marine Corps for 45 years closing his career as the commander of the United States Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) in 2016. Secretary Kelly has held senior command positions in Iraq and as the Senior Military Assistant to two Secretaries of Defense.

The Senate confirmed the appointment of Kelly as DHS head. 


Senator Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), a member of the Senate committee, announced this week she would vote against him.  She issued a statement on the nomination on Thursday:

“I strongly support a robust Department of Homeland Security and its mission of keeping the nation safe. I also strongly support the use of prosecutorial discretion to prevent the deportation of young people who were brought to this country as children. 

“The United States was founded by immigrants, and no state has benefited more from the ingenuity and love of our country that immigrants bring than California. However, after careful analysis and review of his testimony following our meetings both in public and in private, an examination of his record, and based on my experience in law enforcement, I have determined that I cannot support the nomination of General John Kelly as the next Secretary of Homeland Security.

“While I applaud General Kelly’s acknowledgement of Russia’s interference in our last election and his commitment to not pursue President-elect Trump’s Muslim registry, General Kelly’s failure to provide assurances to DREAMers and their families who are living in fear, means I cannot support his nomination. These young people who only know America as their home are now making contributions serving in our military, at colleges and universities across our country, working in Fortune 100 companies, major institutions, and businesses both large and small. We made a promise and have an ethical and moral obligation to protect them.

“I thank General Kelly for his service to our country, and if he is confirmed, I will keep an open mind and hope we can work together moving forward on behalf of Californians and the country.”




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

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Mexico's president will be among the first foreign leaders to meet with Trump this month

Mexico, immigrants from Mexico, and "the wall" featured prominently in Donald Trump's campaign for President.  Not surprisingly, Trump and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto plan to meet in Washington on Jan. 31 to discuss trade, immigration and security, according to a Los Angeles Times report.  The Mexican president’s early visit to the Trump White House underscores the importance that Mexico places on relations with the new  U.S. administration.

La-azavis-1485052511-snap-photoPresident Trump traveled to Mexico City as a candidate in August to meet with President Enrique Peña Nieto. The two leaders will meet again in Washington on Jan. 31. (Yuri Cortez / AFP/Getty Images)


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

Sophie Cruz at the Women's March on Washington


Yesterday was a the day of the Women's March -- actually marches -- in cities across the United States.  Sophie Cruz, a 6-year-old immigration activist and daughter of two undocumented immigrants, spoke at the Women’s March on Washington on Saturday and won over the crowd with her inspiring message. After delivering her speech in English, she repeated it in Spanish and led the crowd in a chant of “Si, se puede,” or “Yes, we can.”  Social media exploded with support for Cruz, who initially attracted attention when she slipped through security barricades to reach Pope Francis during a procession when he visited the U.S. in 2015. She handed the pope a letter about immigration reform, in which she expressed her fear that her parents would be deported.


“We are here together making a chain of love to protect our families,” Cruz said during her Saturday remarks. “Let us fight with love, faith and courage so that our families will not be destroyed.

“I also want to tell the children not to be afraid, because we are not alone,” Cruz continued. “There are still many people that have their hearts filled with love.”


January 22, 2017 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Is California’s Ag Industry Worried About a Labor Shortage Under Trump?


KQED reports on worries about the availability of farm labor in California during the Trump administration.  In the Central Valley there is a popular bumper sticker shaped like California that reads “My job depends on Ag.” In California, that agriculture depends on immigrant labor.

Many farmers here supported Donald Trump despite his hard-line stance on immigration. So as the new Trump administration prepares to take office, what’s the thinking of those involved in the region’s biggest industry?

Click the link above to hear the report.  Vanessa Rancano concludes as follows:  "For now, the only thing certain is that the Central Valley’s $35 billion agricultural economy depends on policies that balance the needs of both growers and workers. "


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

BU School of Law: Call for Applications for Clinical Instructor in the Immigrant Rights and Human Trafficking Program


Boston University School of Law is now accepting applications for a Clinical Instructor in the Immigrant Rights and Human Trafficking Program. The Clinical Instructor will be responsible for supervision of students engaged in direct representation of noncitizens applying for asylum, special immigrant juvenile status, and/or other humanitarian relief. The Instructor will assist with supervision, classroom teaching, and work closely with the Program Director. 

The Instructor will assist the Program Director with teaching in the fall semester and will assume primary responsibility for teaching the Advanced Immigrant Rights Clinic course in the spring semester. The Instructor will be based at Boston University School of Law with an additional office downtown at the Boston University office within Greater Boston Legal Services.

Click here for more information about the posting, 


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

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Trump Inaugurated, White House Website Sees Law Enforcement Reorientation


President Trump's inauguration speech alluded to enforcing the border but not as much as some might have predicted.  Changes to the White House website are attracting attention (here and here) and suggest a reorientation of the incoming administration approach to immigration and civil rights issues.

Changes made in the first day of the Trump administration are already alarming some people.  Changes made to the official White House website,, outlining Trump's policies on criminal justice and immigration are attracting attention.

The White House website includes new section on Standing Up For Our Law Enforcement Community, which suggests the path to safer communities lies in "more law enforcement, more community engagement and more effective policing."  It continues:

"President Trump is committed to building a border wall to stop illegal immigration, to stop the gangs and the violence, and to stop the drugs from pouring into our communities. He is dedicated to enforcing our border laws, ending sanctuary cities, and stemming the tide of lawlessness associated with illegal immigration.

Supporting law enforcement also means deporting illegal aliens with violent criminal records who have remained within our borders."


January 21, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 20, 2017

'We didn't have anything to hide': Canadian heading to Women's March refused entry to U.S.

North Dakota Legislators Introduce Anti-Refugee Bill

On Monday, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, nine Republican members of the North Dakota state legislature introduced H.R. 1427: "A BILL for an Act to provide for the determination of refugee absorptive capacity."

I believe it is, as a whole, preempted by federal law. I'll get to that in a bit. But to help provide some context for the substance, it's worth pointing out that North Dakota is blessed with an unemployment rate of 2.5% – that's compared to the national average of 4.7%. In short, we have so much. That makes it hard to understand why some in this state are reluctant to share a very small percentage of our good fortune with individuals who have been chased away from their homes because of persecution on the basis of race, nationality, religion, politics, or membership in a particular social group.

Here is how the bill defines "absorptive capacity." In part, it is:

The capacity of the social service agencies, child welfare agencies, child care facilities, educational facilities, health care facilities, translation and interpreter services, and law enforcement agencies of the state or in the jurisdiction of the local government to meet the existing needs of the community's current residents considering budgetary and other restraints

Absorptive capacity also includes the capacity to provide medical care, affordable housing, education, job opportunities, and law and order. The bill says that absorptive capacity also embraces:

The capacity of the state and local government to provide services considering whether the jurisdiction of the local government has been highly affected by the presence of refugees or comparable populations, including the proportion of refugees and comparable entrants in the population in the state or in the jurisdiction of the local government, the amount of secondary migration of refugees to the state or to the jurisdiction of the local government, and the proportion of refugees in the state or in the jurisdiction of the local government receiving cash or medical assistance through public assistance.

Other provisions of the bill go on to require regular meetings between local governments and "the state office for refugees and any refugee resettlement organization" to assess absorptive capacity. It requires "memoranda of understanding" regarding refugee placement. And it requires disclosure of data regarding refugees' ages, gender, education, location, criminal history, and use of cash assistance (among other things).

Local governments are given a process by which they could petition for a moratorium on new refugee resettlement. And the governor is empowered to place a moratorium on refugee resettlement by executive order.

I don't believe that these measures are legally permissible. As immprof Stella Birch Elias  explained in The Perils and Possibilities of Refugee Federalism, 66 American U. Law Rev. 353 (2016), state governments do not have the authority to exclude refugees from their territories. But whether it could withstand a legal challenge or not, the very proposal of it has left me heartbroken.

For any North Dakotans reading this post, the legislators backing H.R. 1427 are State Representatives Olson, R.S. Becker, B. Koppelman, K. Koppelman, Owens, and Vetter, along with State Senators Holmberg, J. Lee, and Luick.

I can't help but remark on the timing of this being introduced on MLK Day. In the words of Coretta Scott King, the holiday is intended to commemorate Martin Luther King, Jr.'s words, which "answered our collective longing to become a country that truly lived by its noblest principles." The day also commemorates Dr. King's actions as "America’s greatest champion of racial justice and equality" and his "great dream of a vibrant, multiracial nation united in justice, peace and reconciliation; a nation that has a place at the table for children of every race and room at the inn for every needy child."

I hope the spirit of those words might find their way into the State Capitol when this bill comes up for discussion.


January 20, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

From the Bookshelves: Al-Tounsi: A Novel by Anton Piatigorsky


Al-Tounsi: A Novel by Anton Piatigorsky (2017)

Al-Tounsi is the debut novel by the award-winning playwright, Anton Piatigorsky, and tells the story of the US Supreme Court’s handling of a landmark case involving the rights of detainees held in a US military base. Although the novel follows the case as it maneuvers through the minds and hands of the Justices—the larger-than-life Killian Quinn in the throes of a dangerous affair, the ambitious but insecure Gideon Rosen desperate to make his mark on history, the famed feminist Sarah Kolmann staring down the prospect of losing her husband to cancer--it is ultimately shepherded by one Justice in particular, Rodney Sykes, who begins the novel in emotional crisis. After his wife’s sudden death a year earlier, his relationship with Cassandra, his grown daughter, is in tatters, and he feels unable to repair it. As news of Cassandra’s affair with her boss, a prominent circuit court Judge, comes to light, Rodney confronts his own repression and demons, and gradually allows his private life to influence his legal reasoning.

Al-Tounsi explores in detail how the personal stories and life dramas, career rivalries and political sympathies of these titans blend with their philosophies to create the most important legal decisions of our time.


January 20, 2017 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1)

Human trafficking victim shares story: National Human Trafficking and Slavery Prevention Month

ICE has posted videos of a human trafficking victim.  Tonya spent night after night in different hotel rooms, with different men, all at the command of someone she once trusted. She was held against her will, beaten and made to feel like she had no other option at the time, all by the man she thought she loved.

She felt she deserved it. Tonya felt she couldn’t escape. Afraid and confused, she thought the emotional and physical abuse she endured was her own doing. 

Tonya (a pseudonym) was a victim of human trafficking. “He made me feel like I was doing it because I loved him, and in the end, we’d have a really good [financial] reward,” Tonya said.


National Human Trafficking and Slavery Prevention Month

The month of January has been designated by the White House as National Human Trafficking and Slavery Prevention Month. Millions of women, men and children around the world are subjected to forced labor, domestic servitude, or the sex trade at the hands of human traffickers. A form of modern-day slavery, the inhumane practice of human trafficking takes place here in the United States as well.  



January 20, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Audio to Oral Argument in Lynch v. Dimaya

Speaking Truth to Trump on Immigration by Nicholas Kristof


Nicholas Kristof introduces the video as follows: 

"One aspect of Donald Trump that has particularly bothered me has been his denunciations of immigrants. Maybe that’s partly because I’m a son of a refugee, or maybe it just seems unfair to scapegoat people who are powerless and struggling, or maybe it just seems hypocritical. In any case, I prepared this video that tells a special story about Trump and immigration. The best recommendation for it? He’ll hate it!

This is the first of several videos I made with Show of Force as part of their project called Humanity on the Move, addressing forced migration and the global refugee crisis."



January 20, 2017 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Trump to Allow DACA to Die a Natural Death?

Amanda Becker for Reuters reports that :

"Trump will likely seek to undo an Obama executive order known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) that allowed people brought into the United States illegally as children to stay in the country on a two-year authorization to work and attend college. Trump would likely let the authorizations given to more than 700,000 people under DACA expire rather than immediately retract them or target such individuals for deportation, the sources said."

Trump promised the end of DACA.  No surprises there.  But allow DACA benefits to expire rather than revoking them immediately would be less immediately damaging.  Stay tuned!



January 19, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Storm Clouds on the Horizon? As soon as he is inaugurated, Trump will move to clamp down on immigration

Brian Bennett of the Los Angeles Times reports that aides are clearing the way for President-elect Donald Trump to take the first steps toward transforming the immigration system as soon as he takes office today. Gone will be the temporary protections of the final Obama years for people in the country without legal authorization.

"In their place, expect to see images on the evening news of workplace raids as Trump sends a message that he is wasting no time on his promised crackdown. In addition to the high-profile raids, Trump will also widen the range of people singled out for deportation, focusing on those with criminal convictions, and he could move immediately to reduce the number of refugees allowed into the U.S., according to interviews with immigration advocates and with people familiar with his plans. He may also limit who can come into the country as a security measure . . . ."


January 19, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)