Sunday, June 25, 2017

South of the border, US expats have a different take on Mexico than many Americans

CNN reports on the growing number of American expatriates who are living happily in Mexico and enjoying the "three Cs," climate, culture, and (lower) cost of living.  According to the State Department, roughly 1 million US citizens live in Mexico



Cathy Peoples, 61, is a newbie to Mexico. She says she moved here from Laurel, Maryland, in January to get away from the political climate in the US. She was surprised by the ease of the process; it only took her six weeks to become a legal resident. PHOTO COURTESY OF CNN


June 25, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Congratulations to Three Newly Tenured Immigration Law Professors

Congratulations to three superstar immigration law professors whose tenure was finalized by their respective universities in the last few weeks.



Ming Hsu Chen is a professor at the University of Colorado in Boulder, where she holds a faculty appointment in the law school and faculty affiliations in Political Science and Ethnic Studies. Professor Chen brings an interdisciplinary perspective to the study of immigration, civil rights, and the administrative state.



César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández is a professor at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law. He runs the acclaimed blog about the convergence of criminal and immigration law. In 2014, In 2014, he was presented with the Derrick A. Bell, Jr. Award by the Association of American Law Schools Section on Minority Groups.  Professor Garcia has published much influential immigration and crimmigration scholarship.



Professor Mariela Olivares has been at Howard University School of Law since 2011. She has published extensively on immigration and its impact on immigrant families. Her most recent law review article is “Intersectionality at the Intersection of Profiteering and Immigration Detention.”


June 25, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

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 (1)

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)

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 important 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

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)

From the Bookshelves: We Never Asked for Wings by Vanessa Diffenbaugh


We Never Asked for Wings by Vanessa DiffenbaughVanessa Diffenbaugh 

From the beloved New York Times bestselling author of The Language of Flowers comes her much-anticipated new novel about young love, hard choices, and hope against all odds.
For fourteen years, Letty Espinosa has worked three jobs around San Francisco to make ends meet while her mother raised her children—Alex, fifteen, and Luna, just six—in their tiny apartment on a forgotten spit of wetlands near the bay. But now Letty’s parents are returning to Mexico, and Letty must step up and become a mother for the first time in her life.
Navigating this new terrain is challenging for Letty, especially as Luna desperately misses her grandparents and Alex, who is falling in love with a classmate, is unwilling to give his mother a chance. Letty comes up with a plan to help the family escape the dangerous neighborhood and heartbreaking injustice that have marked their lives, but one wrong move could jeopardize everything she’s worked for and her family’s fragile hopes for the future.
Vanessa Diffenbaugh blends gorgeous prose with compelling themes of motherhood, undocumented immigration, and the American Dream in a powerful and prescient story about family.

My friend and colleague Marisa S. Cianciarulo recommended this book on the Immprof listserve.


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

Life and death on the Mediterranean

Immigration Article of the Day: Elusive Justice: Legal Redress for Killings by U.S. Border Agents by Roxanna Altholz


Elusive Justice: Legal Redress for Killings by U.S. Border Agents byRoxanna Altholz, Uiversity of California, Berkeley, School of Law


Since the 1990s, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents have killed approximately fifty Mexican and U.S. nationals along the U.S.-Mexico border. Many of the victims, including several teenagers, were unarmed and shot in the back. The vast majority of CBP agents have faced no criminal, civil, or disciplinary action for their conduct. This Article identifies U.S. legal doctrines, defenses, and procedures that make justice elusive for the relatives of victims. The Article argues that there is mounting legal and political pressure to hold CBP agents accountable for violence at the border and suggests that reformists look to international standards to help guide efforts to address systemic barriers to redress.

To date, no civil plaintiff has prevailed at trial in a case involving a CBP killing. Courts have dismissed most federal civil claims for lack of jurisdiction or after finding the U.S. government or CBP agent has immunity. Federal legislation, specifically the Westfall Act, effectively bars state-law tort claims in this context. As for criminal charges, federal prosecutors have declined to bring charges in all cases but one and the few state prosecutions have rarely resulted in a guilty verdict.

There is, however, mounting legal and political pressure to hold CBP agents accountable for border killings. In 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to decide whether the U.S. Constitution protects foreign nationals killed in foreign territory by CBP agents. The U.S. Department of Justice recently brought criminal charges against a CBP agent for a border killing for the first time in the CBP’s nearly 100-year history. The Mexican government is also investigating multiple deaths and issued an arrest warrant for a CBP agent who killed an unarmed Mexican teenager. In addition, international human rights bodies have denounced the United States for use of excessive force and the failure to track or adequately investigate border deaths.

This Article discusses doctrines and defenses such as sovereign and qualified immunity, extraterritoriality, and the Westfall Act that have led to the dismissal of civil suits and the closing of criminal investigations without pursuing charges. But legal doctrines do not alone explain the lack of accountability—institutional policies and practices also play a critical role. This Article argues that international human rights standards reveal how far U.S. law enforcement has strayed from global standards in preventing the excessive use of force and serves as a guide to identify and address the systemic barriers to redress faced by victims’ families.



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