Monday, February 12, 2018

The Evolving Rights Of Deportable Immigrants As Seen In The Case Of Ravi Ragbir


Cyrus D. Mehta

The Insightful Immigration blog looks at the case of Ragbir v. Sessions before Judge Katherine B. Forrest in a petition for habeas corpus in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. Ravi Ragbir has lived in the US for over 25 years, but in the last ten years was subject to a final order of removal based on a deportable criminal conviction. Because of his special contributions to the community as the Executive Director of New Sanctuary Coalition of New York City, ICE until recently allowed him to remain in the US with his citizen wife and daughter, granting him an order of supervision and four administrative stays of removal. On January 11, 2018, however, while the administrative stay was still in place, ICE suddenly and inexplicably detained him during a routine check in.


February 12, 2018 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

McConnell’s immigration gamble: US Senate to Debate Immigration Reform


Seung Min Kim and Burgess Everett on Politico report that Senator Mitch McConnell is taking the reins of an immigration debate that may prompt a fix for “Dreamers” — or quickly spiral out of control.

Usually careful with his every move, the Senate majority leader is taking a gamble this week with his pledge for a free-for-all debate over the fate of hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants.

No one knows the GOP leader’s endgame, nor how he personally prefers the stalemate over Dreamers be resolved. It’s highly unusual for a Senate majority leader, particularly one as calculating as McConnell, to bring a divisive issue to the floor with no clearly intended result in sight.

Even his top lieutenants aren’t sure whether McConnell would ultimately support a final immigration deal that can clinch the 60 votes needed to clear the Senate.

As of now, many young immigrants and their families are in legal limbo.


February 12, 2018 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

From the Bookshelves: The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border by Francisco Cantú


The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border by Francisco Cantú (2018)

 For Francisco Cantú, the border is in the blood: his mother, a park ranger and daughter of a Mexican immigrant, raised him in the scrublands of the Southwest. Haunted by the landscape of his youth, Cantú joins the Border Patrol. He and his partners are posted to remote regions crisscrossed by drug routes and smuggling corridors, where they learn to track other humans under blistering sun and through frigid nights. They haul in the dead and deliver to detention those they find alive. Cantú tries not to think where the stories go from there.

Plagued by nightmares, he abandons the Patrol for civilian life. But when an immigrant friend travels to Mexico to visit his dying mother and does not return, Cantú discovers that the border has migrated with him, and now he must know the whole story. Searing and unforgettable, The Line Becomes a River goes behind the headlines, making urgent and personal the violence our border wreaks on both sides of the line'\


February 12, 2018 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Olympic Watch: Maame Biney

(Photo: biney.biney/Instagram)

Keep an eye out for U.S. short track speedskater Maame Biney (Mah-May Bye-Nee) in PyeongChang. You can't miss her infectious smile and her explosive power on the ice.

Maame was born in Ghana. At five, she visited her dad in the United States and decided to stay.

Maame's first introduction to ice skating was a beginner's figure skating class. But the instructor told Maame's dad that she was "moving too fast" for figure skating, and suggested speed skating instead.

Yesterday, Maame finished second in the opening-round heat of the 500-meter short-track speedskating race. She'll compete Tuesday in the quarterfinal rounds.

Here's a short video of Maame's speedskating trials back in December.

To learn more about Maame, check out this piece from WaPo, or Time's coverage.


February 11, 2018 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Last of Iconic Immigrant Crossing Signs Vanishes


The last of 10 immigrant crossing signs that once stood on either side of the 5 and 805 freeways near the U.S.-Mexico border disappeared in September from San Ysidro. (John Gastaldo)

The Los Angeles Times reports that an iconic road sign cautioning drivers near the San Diego border has quietly disappeared. The "immigrant crossing" signs have become obsolete, said Cathryne Bruce-Johnson, a spokeswoman for Caltrans. The transportation department stopped replacing the signs years ago because it constructed fences along medians to deter people from running across highways. The last sign, which stood on the side of the Interstate 5 Freeway near the San Ysidro border crossing, vanished in September and is assumed stolen.


February 11, 2018 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

From the Bookshelves: Stranger: The Challenge of a Latino Immigrant in the Trump Era by Jorge Ramos

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Stranger: The Challenge of a Latino Immigrant in the Trump Era by Jorge Ramos

Jorge Ramos, an Emmy award-winning journalist, Univision’s longtime anchorman and widely considered the “voice of the voiceless” within the Latino community, was forcefully removed from an Iowa press conference in 2015 by then-candidate Donald Trump after trying to ask about his plans on immigration.

In this personal manifesto, Ramos sets out to examine what it means to be a Latino immigrant, or just an immigrant, in present-day America. Using current research and statistics, with a journalist’s nose for a story, and interweaving his own personal experience, Ramos shows us the changing face of America while also trying to find an explanation for why he, and millions of others, still feel like strangers in this country.


February 11, 2018 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

President Obama and Latina/o Removals: The Quest for Immigration Reform


President Obama

Hoping to help persuade Congress to enact immigration reform, President Barack Obama initially took steps that unsettled some of his most ardent supporters.  From the beginning, the administration sought to demonstrate a commitment to enforcement by increasing the number of noncitizens removed from the United States; the hope was that such a demonstration would improve the likelihood that Republicans in Congress would support a compromise immigration reform package. 

To increase removals, the Obama administration refined a pre-existing program known as “Secure Communities,” which focused on state and local criminal justice systems to feed the federal removal pipeline.  As reconfigured, that program required state and local law enforcement agencies to share information with the U.S. government about noncitizens, including lawful permanent residents as well as undocumented immigrants, who were arrested by state and local law enforcement agencies.  See Christopher N. Lasch, Rendition Resistance, 92 N.C. L. Rev. 149, 207–08 (2013) (summarizing the operation of the Secure Communities program under President Obama).   Secure Communities further required law enforcement agencies to detain noncitizens eligible for release from state and local custody, so that federal immigration authorities could, at their discretion, directly take custody of noncitizens for possible removal from the United States. 

Besides claiming that the program infringed on state and local police powers, critics of the revamped Secure Communities program pointed to its devastating impacts on immigrants as well as their families and communities.   See, e.g., Aarti Kohli, Peter L. Markowitz & Lisa Chavez, Secure Communities by the Numbers:  An Analysis of Demographics and Due Process (Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Law and Soc. Pol’y, UC Berkeley, Oct. 2011), available at; Rachel R. Ray, Insecure Communities:  Examining Local Government Participation in US Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s “Secure Communities” Program, 10 Seattle J. Soc. Just. 327, 337–38 (2011).  Unrelenting execution of the program resulted in the removal of hundreds of thousands of immigrants annually, including lawful permanent residents, who had been arrested for – and not necessarily convicted of – relatively minor criminal offenses.  See, e.g., Editorial, Immigration Bait and Switch, N.Y. Times Aug. 17, 2010, available at; Kavitha Rajagopalan, Deportation Program Casts Too Wide a Net, Newsday (New York), June 24, 2011, at A34.

Through aggressive implementation of Secure Communities, the Obama administration achieved the desired increase in the number of removals.  In the neighborhood of 400,000 noncitizens a year were removed annually in the first six years of the Obama presidency.  See, e.g., Brian Bennett, U.S. Deported Record Number of Illegal Immigrants, L.A. Times, Oct. 6, 2010, available at  Total removals of noncitizens by the U.S. government reached an all-time high of nearly 440,000 in 2013, a dramatic jump of roughly ten-fold from the annual removal totals in the early 1990s.  See Dep’t of Homeland Security and Office of Immigration Statistics, Immigration Enforcement Actions:  2013, at 6 (2014), available at   Consistent with President Obama’s political strategy of pursuing removals as a means of prodding Congress to act on immigration reform, the administration proudly trumpeted the deportation records as a major immigration enforcement success.   See, e.g., Julia Preston, Deportations Up in 2013; Border Sites were Focus, N.Y. Times, Oct. 1, 2014, available at (discussing U.S. government’s annual statistical report on immigration enforcement). 

Record numbers of removals failed to significantly reduce the overall undocumented population in the United States.  In fact, despite greatly increased enforcement efforts, including the vast expansion of immigrant detention and removals beginning in the 1990s, the undocumented immigrant population has more than doubled over the last 25 years.  In the end, “[r]ather than deterring undocumented immigration and reducing the undocumented immigrant population, the aggressive border enforcement strategies adopted in the 1990s appear to have increased the permanent settlement of undocumented immigrants in the United States.”  Kevin R. Johnson, Open Borders?, 51 UCLA L. Rev. 193, 246 (2003) (footnote omitted); see Kari Hong, The Costs of Trumped-Up Immigration Enforcement Measures, 2017 Cardozo L. Rev. De Novo 119, 124-40, available at  That counterintuitive outcome suggests that the nation’s enforcement of its the immigration laws, as well as the laws themselves, needs to be reconsidered.

Although the Obama administration widely publicized the removal records, it did not highlight the disparate racial consequences of its mass deportation campaign.  Latina/os comprised virtually all of the noncitizens removed from the United States.    See Katarina Ramos, Criminalizing Race in the Name of Secure Communities, 48 Cal. W. L. Rev. 317, 328-29 (2012); Carrie L. Rosenbaum, The Role of Equality Principles in Preemption Analysis of Sub-Federal Immigration Laws:  The California TRUST Act, 18 Chapman L. Rev. 481, 492-98 (2015).   In 2013, “Mexican nationals accounted for 72 percent of all aliens removed . . . . The next leading countries were Guatemala (11 percent), Honduras (8.3 percent), and El Salvador (4.7 percent).  These four countries accounted for 96 percent of all removals . . . .”   Dep’t of Homeland Security and Office of Immigration Statistics, supra, at 6 (emphasis added).

In essence, removals fell on Latina/os to a much greater extent than their percentage of the nation’s overall immigrant – both legal and undocumented – population.  See Kevin R. Johnson, Doubling Down on Racial Discrimination:  The Racially Disparate Impacts of Crime-Based Removals, 66 Case W. Res. L. Rev. 993, 1016-17 (2016); Yolanda Vázquez, Constructing CrimmigrationLatino Subordination in a “Post-Racial” World, 76 Ohio St. L.J. 599, 646-47 (2015).   The racial impacts of the modern removal system are entirely consistent with the historical use of crime-based removals as a tool for removing noncitizens of disfavored races from the United States.  See generally Alina Das, Inclusive Immigrant Justice:  Racial Animus and the Origins of Crime-Based Deportation, 51 U.C. Davis L. Rev. (forthcoming 2018) (analyzing the history of the use of crime-based removal grounds under the U.S. immigration laws to target disfavored racial minorities for removal).

An explanation for one-sided removal statistics is ready apparent.  State and local criminal justice systems long have been criticized for targeting Latina/os and African American men in law enforcement efforts. See generally Kevin R. Johnson, How Racial Profiling in America Became the Law of the Land:  United States v. Brignoni-Ponce and Whren v. United States and the Need for Truly Rebellious Lawyering, 98 Geo. L.J. 1005 (2010) (analyzing a pair of Supreme Court decisions that contributed to the reliance on racial profiling in immigration and criminal law enforcement).  Consistent with the criticism, controversies over claims of racially discriminatory policing regularly make the national news.  Not surprisingly, the Executive Branch’s targeting of immigrants caught up in the racially-skewed criminal justice system generated a pattern of racially-skewed removals.[17]  Despite (or perhaps, at least in some quarters, because of) the racially discriminatory impacts, “the goal of criminal-alien removal enjoys almost universal support . . . .”   Peter H. Schuck & John Williams, Removing Criminal Aliens:  The Pitfalls and Promises of Federalism, 22 Harv. J.L. Pub. Pol’y 367, 421 (1999).  The public popularity of the removal of “criminal aliens” persists even though the empirical evidence demonstrates “that non-citizens commit fewer crimes and reoffend less than citizens. . . . Even those who support immigration reform often will be quick to point out that they want to help deserving immigrants but will deport the undeserving ones, those with criminal convictions, and especially those who committed violent crimes.”  Kari Hong, The Absurdity of Crime-Based Deportation, 50 U.C. Davis L. Rev. 2067, 2072 (2017) (emphasis added) (footnotes omitted); see Angélica Cházaro, Challenging the “Criminal Alien” Paradigm, 63 UCLA L. Rev. 594 (2016) (contending that “criminal aliens” should be a group protected against, not targeted for, removal from the United States).

Political leaders and policy-makers have paid precious little attention to the racially disparate impacts of tying removals to criminal law enforcement.  At the same time, Latina/o advocacy groups have been sensitive to the racial consequences of the contemporary removal system and aggressively protest the modern removal campaign.  See Molly Ball, Obama’s Long Immigration Betrayal, Atlantic, Sept. 9, 2014, available at

With Secure Communities operating at full tilt during President Obama’s first term, the U.S. government aggressively sought to remove any and all criminal noncitizen offenders from the United States.  During the same time period, the Supreme Court regularly rejected removal orders aggressively defended by the Obama administration as running afoul of the immigration statute.  See, e.g., Esquivel-Quintana v. Sessions, 137 S. Ct. 1562 (2017) (rejecting Obama administration’s arguments that criminal conviction for statutory rape was an “aggravated felony” requiring mandatory removal); Mellouli v. Lynch, 135 S. Ct. 1980 (2015) (vacating an order for the removal of a lawful permanent resident based on a single criminal conviction for possession of drug paraphernalia – a sock used to conceal a prescription drug); Moncrieffe v. Holder, 569 U.S. 184 (2013) (same for the order of removal of a long-term lawful permanent resident with U.S. citizen children founded on a single conviction for simple marijuana possession).  A series of rejections of deportation orders by a moderate-to-conservative Court led by Chief Justice John Roberts compels the conclusion that the administration’s efforts at times went too far.

 The mass deportations by the Obama administration, perceived as overbroad and unfair in many quarters, contributed to state and local government resistance.  Resistance manifested itself in laws and policies declaring that these jurisdictions provided “sanctuary” to undocumented immigrants.   See, e.g., Pratheepan Gulasekaram & Rose Cuison Villazor, Sanctuary Everywhere, 51 U.C.  Davis L. Rev. (forthcoming 2018); Rose Cuison Villazor, What is Sanctuary?, 61 SMU L. Rev. 133 (2008).   The increasing emergence of “sanctuary cities” contributed significantly to the Obama administration’s decision in 2014 to eliminate and replace Secure Communities.  Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson candidly explained that the abolition of the “controversial” program responded to “[a] rapidly expanding list of city, county and state governments” enacting laws that restricted state and local cooperation with federal immigration enforcement authorities.  Statement by Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Charles Johnson, U.S. House of Rep., Comm. on the Judiciary (July 14, 2015), available at  While dismantling Secure Communities, the administration simultaneously announced that the program would be replaced with the “Priority Enforcement Program” (PEP); PEP narrowed the instances in which the U.S. government demanded state and local law enforcement agencies to hold immigrants and focused removal efforts on noncitizens convicted of serious crimes, not merely arrested for virtually all crimes.    See Memorandum dated November 20, 2014 from Jeh Charles Johnson, Secretary, U.S. Dep’t of Homeland Security, to Thomas S. Winkowski, Acting Director, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Megan Mack, Officer, Office of Civil Rights & Civil Liberties, Philip A. McNamara, Assistant Secretary for Intergovernmental Affairs 2–3, Nov. 2, 2014, available at; see also Carrie Rosenbaum, The Natural Persistence of Racial Disparities in Crime-Based Removals, 13 U. St. Thomas L.J. 532, 540-48 (2017) (analyzing the likely continued disparate racial impacts of PEP program).  The end of Secure Communities received relatively little public attention.  Commentators and political pundits instead generally focused on the simultaneous announcement of the controversial Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) program. 

By restricting the scope of the U.S. government’s criminal removal efforts, PEP responded to fervent state and local objections to Secure Communities.  However, with President Trump taking office in 2017, the Executive Branch again changed direction.  Embracing a no-tolerance policy for noncitizens caught up in the criminal justice system, as well as those subject to removal generally, President Trump rescinded the short-lived Priority Enforcement Program and reinstated Secure Communities.   See Executive Order:  Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States § 5 (Jan. 25, 2017) [hereinafter Interior Enforcement Order], available at


February 11, 2018 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Building the Border Wall

Saturday, February 10, 2018

What Trump Can Teach Us About Con Law: The Tenth Amendment and "Sanctuary Cities"


The latest episode of What Trump Can Teach Us About Con Law focuses on the Tenth Amendment"The Tenth Amendment limits the federal government’s control over the states, but the interpretation of that limit is always shifting."  Of course, the controversy over "sanctuary cities," state and local enforcement of the immigration laws (or not), and related issues implicate Tenth Amendment issues.


February 10, 2018 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

President Trump's Attacks on "Criminal Aliens"


A story by Philip Bump of the Washington Post on the misleading data released by the Trump administration on immigrant crime makes a series of points worth highlighting:

It has been apparent for more than a year that the Trump administration sought to use the power of the White House to push out negative stories linking immigrants to crime. Shortly after Trump took office, he announced the creation of an office within the Department of Homeland Security called VOICE — Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement office. The ostensible goal, first articulated in a memo from then-Homeland Security head John F. Kelly, was to give a voice to those who suffered at the hands of “criminal aliens” who “routinely victimize Americans and other legal residents.” On a quarterly basis, the president promised, VOICE would release assessments of that victimization.

Immediately, people noted the similarity between that effort and another notorious system of publicizing wrongdoing by a targeted group: The Nazi tactic of including stories about Jewish criminals in material the party published. The Washington Post’s Amanda Erickson has noted that “a regular government report is a far cry from the Nazis’ aggressive, constant drumbeat against the Jews.”


February 10, 2018 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Federal Court: Constitution Bars Warrantless Detention for Immigration Violations by Local Government


The Los Angeles Times reports that a federal judge has ruled that police departments violate the Constitution if they detain inmates at the request of immigration agents, marking the latest legal setback for the Trump administration's plans to identify and deport immigrants in the country illegally.

In his order issued Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Andre Birotte Jr. found that a now-defunct policy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department violated the constitutional rights of inmates who were kept in custody at the behest of Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers.

Birotte's strongly worded order bolstered similar previous court rulings, which found police cannot legally honor such detainer requests from ICE.

"The LASD officers have no authority to arrest individuals for civil immigration offenses, and thus, detaining individuals beyond their date for release violated the individuals' Fourth Amendment rights," Birotte wrote.


February 10, 2018 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigration Article of the Day: Immigration Governance for the Twenty-First Century by Ruth Ellen Wasem


Immigration Governance for the Twenty-First Century Ruth by Ellen Wasem

The system of US immigration governance is administered by several agencies and departments across the federal government, with no clear chain of command or single department that captures the reach of the Immigration and Nationality Act. This paper studies the administration of immigration law and policy while looking towards immigration governance for the future. It opens with a historical overview that provides the backdrop for the current fragmented system of immigration governance. It then breaks down the missions and functions of the Immigration and Nationality Act by the lead agencies tasked with these responsibilities. The paper concludes with an analysis of options for improving the current system, such as: reorganizing and expanding governance by creating an Interagency Council on Immigration interagency; consolidating governance by creating an independent immigration agency; or tweaking the current system through critical reforms.


February 10, 2018 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, February 9, 2018

Regulating Employment: A Barrier to Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Some thoughts about long term comprehensive immigration reform:         

Few knowledgeable observers would disagree that the revamping of the nation’s immigration laws is a complex matter, both politically and policy-wise.  The near-misses with comprehensive immigration reform efforts illustrate the formidable political challenges.  In 2013, for example, a bipartisan group of the Senate passed carefully-crafted legislation aimed at reforming the legal immigration system, bolstering border enforcement, and providing a path to legalization for undocumented immigrants in the United States.  That legislation, as one might expect, had components that were not altogether satisfying to supporters and opponents of reform.  Ultimately, the leadership of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives prevented a vote on that compromise piece of legislation.  

The policy challenges of immigration reform, including reducing the pressures for undocumented immigration, also are formidable.  It goes without saying that, as the United States has experienced, immigration reform that would remedy the system’s current shortcomings is hard to come by.  The Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), Pub. L. No. 99-603, 100 Stat. 3359 (1986). passed by Congress in 1986, was the last piece of legislation that attempted to address the nation’s immigration system in a holistic fashion.  Amnesty programs in IRCA regularized the status of hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants present in the United States at that time.   The Act’s increased enforcement measures, including sanctions imposed on employers of undocumented immigrants designed to prevent the emergence of a new undocumented population however, were unsuccessful in preventing the emergence of a new undocumented population.  See Michael J. Wishnie, Prohibiting the Employment of Unauthorized Immigrants:  The Experiment Fails, 2007 U. Chi. Legal. F. 193, 200-04 (describing IRCA’s employer sanctions provisions (IRCA § 101, 100 Stat. 3359, 3360-72 (codified at 8 U.S.C. § 1324a (2012)) as part of a “grand bargain” among interest groups necessary for Congress to enact immigration reform legislation).    For a variety of reasons, employer sanctions proved difficult to enforce and failed to end the employment of undocumented workers, resulting in the growth of a new undocumented immigrant population.  See, e.g., Nicholas Laham, Ronald Reagan and the Politics of Immigration Reform 195 (2000) (contending that IRCA’s employer sanctions regime has been “an unmitigated failure” and noting that the Act “failed to solve the problem of illegal immigration”).  For critical analysis of the failure of employer sanctions to deter the employment of undocumented immigrants, see Cecelia M. Espenoza, The Illusory Provisions of Sanctions:  The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, 8 Geo. Immigr. L.J. 343 (1994); Michael J. Wishnie, Prohibiting the Employment of Unauthorized Immigrants:  The Experiment Fails, 2007 U. Chi. Legal F. 193; see also Leticia M. Saucedo, The Legacy of the Immigrant Workplace:  Lessons for the 21st Century, 40 T. Jefferson L. Rev. 1 (2017) (analyzing the vulnerability of immigrant workers historically and in contemporary United States). 

To provide a long-term solution to large-scale undocumented immigration, immigration reform would need to do at least two things:  (1) address the status of the existing undocumented immigrant population; and (2) prevent the growth of a new one.  Experience teaches that the nation can implement a path to legalization for undocumented immigrants.  However, as seen with IRCA, policy measures that avoid the growth of a new undocumented immigrant population pose formidable policy challenges. 

 There currently is no ready means to ensure effective and efficient enforcement of the bar on the employment of undocumented immigrants.  Importantly, federal law does not make E-Verify, the national computer database created to allow employers to verify employment authorization, mandatory for all employers.    “Although only 7 percent of employers have enrolled in E-Verify, Congress has considered several proposals to make the system mandatory.”  Jessica Clarke, Identity and Form, 103 Calif. L. Rev. 747, 781 (2015) (footnote omitted).  Some states, however, have required use of the system by employers.  See, e.g., Chamber of Commerce v. Whiting, 563 U.S. 582 (2011) (rejecting challenge to Arizona law requiring employers in the state to use E-Verify); Leann Gerlach, The Adverse Consequences of the System in the Absence of Comprehensive Reform, 91 N.C. L. Rev. 361 (2017) (analyzing critically the mandatory use of E-Verify in North Carolina). 

Making the use of E-Verify mandatory by employers would not instantly end the employment of undocumented workers and would have problematic side-effects.  The database in its current form has a large error rate, which undermines its current effectiveness.   See Westat, Findings of the E-Verify Program Evaluation 114 (2009), available at; Emily Patten, Note, E-Verify During a Period of Economic Recovery and High Unemployment, 2012 Utah L. Rev. 475, 482-83; see also David A. Martin, Resolute Enforcement is Not Just for Restrictionists:  Building a Stable and Efficient Immigration Enforcement System, 30 J. L. & Politics 411, 429-30 (2015) (discussing “E-Verify's vulnerability to identity fraud”); Juliet P. Stumpf, Getting to Work:  Why Nobody Cares About E-Verify (and Why They Should), 2 U.C. Irvine L. Rev. 381, 398-404 (2012) (analyzing the significant flaws in the current E-Verify system).  The United States appears to be years away from creating a computerized system that can reliably and efficiently identify undocumented workers.  As one leading immigration scholar opined, “[t]here is no clear way to fix employer sanctions anytime soon.  The widely discussed ‘smart cards’ or ‘swipe cards’ will be years in the making.  Meanwhile, massive work will need to be done on government databases to clean up misspelled, duplicate, and false names.”   T. Alexander Aleinikoff, Administrative Law:  Immigration, Amnesty, and the Rule of Law, 36 Hofstra L. Rev. 1313, 1314 (2008) (footnote omitted).   Deficiencies in the system would have to be remedied before it could be expected to effectively facilitate enforcement of the prohibition on the employment of undocumented immigrants.

 The deficiencies in the current employment verification system militate in favor of consideration of alternatives that allow for better enforcement of the bar to the employment of undocumented immigrants.  Creating an alternative through a national identification card, improved employment verification database, or some other mechanism, would increase the likelihood of convincing a majority of Congress to enact a new piece of comprehensive immigration reform legislation that includes a path to legalization for undocumented immigrants.  Creating such an enforcement mechanism unfortunately is far from an easy task.  Some possible alternatives have been the subject of intense debate: 

    While there are administrative and national security arguments for universal registration, Americans have historically rebuffed the idea of a national ID card.  In recent years, national identification cards have been proposed to deal with an array of national security and immigration-related issues, all of which . . . were rejected as threats to traditional values of liberty and freedom from undue government interference.  The specter of a national identification card has come up most recently in debates over comprehensive immigration reform.  The reform bill that passed the Senate in the summer of 2013 includes a provision making use of the E-Verify [a federal computer database voluntarily used by employers to verify the authorization to work] program mandatory for employers, a proposition which requires the federal government to maintain an inventory of all those eligible to work in the United States, including citizens . . . . [C]ritics from both sides of the aisle have come out against E-Verify because they perceive it as leading to universal registration.

Nancy Morawetz & Natasha Fernandez-Silber, Immigration Law and the Myth of Comprehensive Registration, 48 U.C. Davis L. Rev. 141, 198-99 (2014) (emphasis added) (footnotes omitted); see Jonathan Weinberg, Providing Identity, 44 Pepp. L. Rev. 73 (2017) (analyzing the history of national identification proposals in the United States); Margaret Hu, ID Cybersurveillance, 88 Ind. L.J. 1475, 1480-83 (2013) (analyzing how a biometric identification system raises the potential of governmental cybersurveillance).

Put simply, the policy challenge of creating a system that would effectively reduce the employment of undocumented immigrants is daunting, to say the least.  Nonetheless, addressing the issue seems critical to congressional passage of immigration reform.





February 9, 2018 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Trump immigration plan could keep whites in U.S. majority for up to five more years


The White House immigration proposal would have consequences for the racial demographics of the nation.  Specifically, President Trump's proposal to reduce legal immigration rates would delay the date that white Americans become a minority of the population by as few as one or as many as five additional years, according to an analysis by The Washington Post. The plan, released by the White House last month, would scale visas allowing people lawfully residing in the United States to sponsor family members living abroad for green cards, and would eliminate the “diversity visa program” that benefits immigrants in countries with historically low levels of migration to the United States. The reforms together would disproportionately affect immigrants from Latin America and Africa.

The Census Bureau projects that minority groups will outnumber non-Hispanic whites in the United States in 2044. The Post's analysis projects that, were Trump's plan to be carried out, the date would be between 2045 and 2049, depending on how parts of it are implemented.


February 9, 2018 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

New Mexico lawmakers blast newspaper cartoon depicting Dreamers as gang members



Sean Delonas

The Hill reports that a bipartisan contingent of lawmakers from New Mexico tore into a newspaper from their home state for a cartoon depicting so-called “Dreamers” as machete-wielding gang members who mug white people.

The Albuquerque Journal ran the carton by syndicated cartoonist Sean Delonas in the paper, sparking outrage among immigration advocates and many of its readers.


February 9, 2018 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Congress leaves out DACA fix from budget deal, government reopened


It was a long night for Congress.  Congress reopened the federal government after a few hour shutdown:

"House Democrats, after threatening to bring the bill down because it did not protect young undocumented immigrants, gave Speaker Paul D. Ryan the votes he didn’t have in his own party and ensured passage. In the end, 73 House Democrats voted yes to more than offset the 67 Republicans who voted no.

Mr. Ryan, in turn, said he would give Democrats the immigration debate they demanded — though he did not make that promise formal, as their leaders had wanted."


February 9, 2018 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigration Article of the Day: The Promise and Failure of Silence As a Shield Against Immigration Enforcement by Linus Chan


The Promise and Failure of Silence As a Shield Against Immigration Enforcement by Linus ChanValparaiso University Law Review, Forthcoming


When confronted by law enforcement, criminal suspects' most powerful, and constitutionally protected tool has been silence. The right to remain silent has become ingrained into our shared understanding of criminal law, but its potential use in immigration enforcement remained largely untested, even as legal advocates regularly tell the public to remain silent when encountering immigration enforcement officials. This paper examines the potential force of silence in protecting people from immigration enforcement and concludes that it is unlikely to have a significant impact on immigration detention without a corresponding change in how people view their immigration status. As long as immigration status continues to be viewed by citizens and non-citizens alike as potentially relevant identifiers, the power of silence to protect against deportation will remain weak.


February 9, 2018 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Immigrant of the Day: Vladimir Guerrero

Vladimir Guerrero, photo by Keith Allison

Baseball great Vladimir Guerrero first premiered as Immigrant of the Day in 2007. We're bringing him back today in honor of his election into the Baseball Hall of Fame last month.

Guerrero, who has been called "one of the most electrifying and unconventional hitters of his generation," hails from the Dominican Republic. Despite the prevalence of MLB players from the DR, Guerrero is just the third Dominican to enter the Hall of Fame. Prior inductees include Juan Marichal and Pedro Martinez.

This in-depth profile on Guerrero talks about the extreme poverty that dominated his childhood (he drank water from puddles, had no electricity, and worked the fields), his path to U.S. baseball, and his successes in this country.


February 8, 2018 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1)

Immigration Article of the Day: Municipal Suffrage, Sanctuary Cities, and the Contested Meaning of Citizenship by Jenneth Stahl


Municipal Suffrage, Sanctuary Cities, and the Contested Meaning of Citizenship by Kenneth Stahl 

In November 2016, the city of San Francisco enacted a ballot initiative that was somewhat overshadowed by other election results. It permitted noncitizens with children in the public school system to vote in school board elections. Though it is unclear whether the measure will have much practical impact on the city schools, the measure has enormous symbolic significance because it helps clarify why local policies regarding immigrants, including noncitizen suffrage but especially the decision of cities like San Francisco to declare themselves “sanctuary cities” and limit law enforcement cooperation with federal immigration authorities, have become perhaps the most contentious set of issues on the national political stage. In short, local policies regarding immigrants have steadily eroded the distinction between citizens and noncitizens and raised the fraught question of who is a citizen.


February 8, 2018 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Record marathon speech on DACA