Friday, February 5, 2016

Why we must protect Central American mothers and children fleeing violence

The Foreign Born Players in Super Bowl 50

This Caribbean Today story identifies tow "foreign born" players who will play in Super Bowl 50.


On the Carolina Panthers’ side is Star Lotulelei, who moved to the United States at the age of 9 from the Pacific Islands of Tonga.



Running back Juwan Thompson, 23, is on the Denver Broncos. Thompson was born in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, an insular U.S. territory.  U.S. Virgin Island residents are U.S. citizens so Thompson technically is not "foreign-born." 


February 5, 2016 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Super Bowl 50 and Human Trafficking


Photo courtesy of


Super Bowl 50 is this Sunday and the parties no doubt will be memorable.  Behind the scenes, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has been at work in ensuring safety and security for all at this big event.

Yesterday, DHS announced two new partnerships between the DHS Blue Campaign, the unified voice for the Department’s efforts to combat human trafficking, and the California Hotel & Lodging Association (CH&LA) and the San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission (SJRRC) Altamont Corridor Express (ACE). This announcement is especially important as the Department continues its efforts to help ensure the security of visitors and fans for Super Bowl 50. High-profile events, like the Super Bowl, draw large crowds and have become lucrative opportunities for criminals engaged in human trafficking. CH&LA and SJRRC ACE will display Blue Campaign materials at lodging and railway stops throughout California, providing residents and visitors to the area with information about the indicators of human trafficking and how to report it. Materials will also have resources and information on how to receive support for potential victims.


February 5, 2016 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

United States v. Texas: A Plain and Simple Explanation of the Issues Before the Supreme Court

Donald Trump’s Immigration Message May Resound in New Hampshire

Cruz Distorts Rubio’s Immigration Stance



Isn't watching the Republican presidential candidates duke it out just plain fun?  To add to the festivities, we have two Cuban Americans jabbing without restraint at each other on none other than -- immigration! concludes that, in an attack on Senator Marco Rubio’s stance on immigration, Senator Ted Cruz makes two overly broad accusations that distort Rubio’s position.

1.  Cruz claims Rubio “advocates amnesty for criminals who are here illegally.” Not true.  Rubio supports deporting felons, and he has supported legislation that would bar legal status for those with three or more misdemeanors and those with a single serious misdemeanor, such as a domestic violence or drunk driving offense.

2.  Cruz claims Rubio said “that he would not revoke President Obama’s illegal executive amnesty on the first day in office.” Not really true.  Rubio said he would not immediately revoke Obama’s 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program for young people brought to the U.S. without documentation by their parents. However, Rubio has said he would revoke Obama’s 2014 executive action that protects as many as 5 million adults from deportation.

Cruz’s comments about Rubio’s positions on immigration came during an interview on “Fox News Sunday” the day before the Iowa caucuses, in which Cruz ended up placing first and Rubio third.


February 5, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Actress Diane Guerrero Calls for Immigration Justice


Actress Diane Guerrero, best known for her roles in “Jane the Virgin” and “Orange is the New Black,” is taking a public stance today against politicians who are fueling intolerance with hate speech and rhetoric that target and criminalize the immigrant community. Guerrero, whose parents were both deported when she was 14, tells her personal story in a new video today on behalf of the Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) and United We Dream (UWD).

In the video, Guerrero says, “Whatever our personal reasons — whether we were born here or our parents came here for a shot at the American dream — we need to stand up to reactionary policies aimed at targeting and criminalizing the immigrant community. We can and must do better.” 

This is not the first time Guerrero has spoken out about her story and comes as politicians, from members of Congress to the 2016 presidential field, address immigration and the impact that mass incarceration and mass deportation has on immigrant communities. At the end of the video, Guerrero says, “Please join me by telling our members of Congress and our local and state leaders to stand with us by condemning policies that separate families and destroy our communities. We have to work together to ensure that no child ever comes home to an empty house.” Sign a petition here.

“I hope this creates a sense of urgency around our broken immigration system and the need for policies that keep families together,” said Guerrero in a statement about her partnership with the ILRC and UWD. “We have to stop tearing families apart and subjecting immigrants to the kind of fear and oppression that many fled from in their home countries. We have to end policies that encourage racial profiling and mass incarceration. We have to get local law enforcement out of the business of deportation.”

Among the enforcement-centric policies highlighted by Guerrero, the Obama Administration deported more than 300,000 individuals in 2014.  Additionally, current law requires 34,000 immigrants per day be detained while in deportation proceedings, including entire families.

The full script of the video is below:

With all the hate speech and the intolerance these days, it’s easy to forget that we are a nation of immigrants.

Whatever our personal reasons whether we were born here or our parents came here for a shot at the American dream we need to stand up to reactionary policies aimed at targeting and criminalizing the immigrant community. We can and must do better.

I was 14 when my family was torn apart by deportation. My family was taken because they were undocumented immigrants just like 11 million other people living and working in America today.

In recent years the Administration has taken steps to protect young immigrants but it’s not enough and now some lawmakers are proposing drastic and harsh new laws that would pave the way for more intolerance, more deportation and more family separation. We need your help.

Please join me by telling our members of congress and our local and state leaders to stand with us by condemning policies that separate families and destroy our communities. We have to work together to ensure that no child ever comes home to an empty house. For more information on how you can help visit:


February 4, 2016 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigration Article of the Day: Reverse Nullification and Executive Discretion by Michael T. Morley


 Reverse Nullification and Executive Discretion  by Michael T. Morley, Barry University School of Law, January 26, 2016 University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law, Vol. 17, 2015

Abstract: The President has broad discretion to refrain from enforcing many civil and criminal laws, either in general or under certain circumstances. The Supreme Court has not only affirmed the constitutionality of such under-enforcement, but extolled its virtues. Most recently, in Arizona v. United States, it deployed the judicially created doctrines of obstacle and field preemption to invalidate state restrictions on illegal immigrants that mirrored federal law, in large part to ensure that states do not undermine the effects of the President’s decision to refrain from fully enforcing federal immigration provisions.

Such a broad application of obstacle and field preemption is inconsistent with the text and original understanding of the Supremacy Clause and unnecessarily aggrandizes the practical extent of executive authority. The Supremacy Clause prohibits states from attempting to nullify or ignore federal laws that they believe are unconstitutional or unwise. It should not bar states from engaging in “reverse nullification” by enacting statutes that mirror federal law to ameliorate the effects of executive under- or non-enforcement. Far from undermining the “law of the land,” reverse nullification reinforces it by ensuring that the President cannot effectively amend or nullify federal law by declining to enforce it. The Court should craft an exception to its obstacle and field preemption doctrines to accommodate reverse nullification, and Congress should generally include an exception permitting reverse nullification in statutes’ express preemption provisions.


February 4, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Welcoming Cities: Lessons from Chicago, Dayton, and Nashville

Welcoming cities

Today, the American Immigration Council released Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Welcoming Cities: Lessons from Chicago, Dayton, and Nashville by Paul McDaniel, Ph.D. The report details the efforts of three cities to create a more welcoming environment for immigrants.

Since 2010, Chicago, Dayton, and Nashville—all Welcoming Cities—have each implemented initiatives that promote immigrant entrepreneurship and innovation in their communities. These cities provide key lessons about how localities, especially those struggling with an economic or population decline, can ensure that immigrant entrepreneurs can maximize their potential, to the benefit of all residents.

The report notes that, while “a city can’t do much about federal immigration laws and policies, or do anything about the official immigration status of members of its community, a city can help by cultivating a welcoming environment for all members of the community, including immigrants and refugees.” 

February 3, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Homeland Security estimates foreign visitors who overstay visas


Jeffrey S. Passel and D’Vera Cohn for the Pew Research Center report that the Department of Homeland Security has produced its first partial estimate of those who overstay their permits to be in the U.S. Out of 45 million U.S. arrivals by air and sea whose tourist or business visas expired in fiscal 2015, the agency estimates that about 416,500 people were still in the country this year.

The nation with the most visitors who failed to leave at the end of their authorized stay was Canada, followed by Mexico and Brazil, according to the report. Among total foreign arrivals counted in the report, those three nations accounted for more than a third of those who overstayed.

February 3, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

President Obama to Visit Mosque



Today, President Obama will make his first visit to a mosque in America.

For me, this is personal.

I was born and raised in Maryland, not too far from D.C. Growing up, I liked basketball and art and hanging with my family and friends, just like any other kid.

But after the heinous attacks on 9/11, being a head-covering 8th grader would no longer be the same. There were days when my identity as a Muslim American became a struggle –- I was glared at, cursed and spit at in public and in school. No child should have to endure that, but today, too many Muslim Americans are living a similar tale.

It was the tenets of my faith, the ideals of this country, the encouragement of those around me, and the determination to have my voice heard that carried me through and gave me the courage to pursue public service.

Every day, I walk through the doors of the West Wing and have the privilege of working to protect the country I call home.

Today, I will be in the audience when President Obama addresses our Muslim community at the Islamic Society of Baltimore to talk about our core values as a nation -- about the people we embrace and the bigotry we reject.

I hope you'll tune in today at 12:00 pm ET.

This is an important moment. Unfortunately, the recent political discourse is antithetical to the basic tenants of what America represents. Politicians and pundits are negatively associating millions of Americans with a small fraction of terrorists.

The Muslim Americans who teach our future generations in the classroom, who take care of us in the doctor's offices, who inspire us on and off the field, who protect us on the frontlines of war -- these are the people who have always reminded me proudly, that yes, I am Muslim and American. In this country, I don't have to choose.

Please join me in listening to a president who understands one simple truth:

If you work hard and if you play by the rules, you can make it if you try in America -- no matter who you are or how you pray.

It's how a young girl -- once mocked and called names -- can pursue her dream and proudly serve her country as a head-covering Muslim American woman in the White House.

Thanks for listening,


Rumana Ahmed Advisor at the White House


February 3, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Mexico Deports Affluenza Teen to US Where He Awaits Further Proceedings



Photo courtesy of Reuters

Reuters reports that a Texas judge ruled last week that America's "affluenza" teenager should remain in custody for now at a juvenile detention center in Fort Worth, Texas where he has been held since he was deported from Mexico earlier in the week.

Ethan Couch, 18, fled to Mexico last month with his mother after he apparently violated probation  for killing four people while driving drunk in 2013.  The court said that it was considering a move to an adult prison for Couch. If that happens, Couch could be eligible for release on bail; the bail option is not available to him in the juvenile system.

Couch has a hearing on February 19 to determine if his case will move to the adult system.  Prosecutors want his case moved to the adult system.


February 3, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

DACA Recipient to Be Sworn Into NY Bar

Last summer, ImmigrationProf reported that Cesar Adrian Vargas, a DACA recipient found by a New York court to be eligible for a bar license, hit a snag in his admission. His arrest at a Des Moines political event put his licensing on hold.  I heard from Latino Justice that Cesar will be sworn as an attorney this afternoon.  Download CVBarAdmissionMediaAdvisory (1)


February 3, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Geoffrey Hoffman on a Victory for Cornell Law School Clinicals


The three interlocutory appeals of denials of law student appearances filed on behalf of Cornell Law School’s clinical programs were successfully granted by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA). I would like to take a moment to pause and reflect on this important development.

These outcomes should be considered in the light of several backdrops --- framed by several different and interrelated contexts and issues. I address just three here (there are many more which could be discussed and evaluated):  (1) the strange animal that is an “interlocutory appeal,” (2) the interesting world of law student practice and legal education, and (3) the extreme pressures, idiosyncratic views, and difficulties faced daily by Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) and its judges, in light of the current backlog and our broken immigration court and political system.

First, it should be emphasized that interlocutory appeals are rarely filed and even more rarely granted. I counseled the filing of these interlocutory appeals because in my experience practicing immigration law it is a viable (if rarely used) option. Under these circumstances, it seemed directly relevant and appropriate to righting this particular wrong. This strange animal of appellate practice, “interlocutory appeals,” is even stranger in the world of immigration litigation because of the lack of articulated rules (think, no federal rules of evidence, no federal rules of appellate procedure) but instead a practice manual and other rules which sometimes seem to encourage ad hoc application of rules and standards. The standard as you may know if you have ever considered filing one of these strange appeals is very burdensome.  According to the BIA Practice Manual, they must involve “important jurisdictional questions regarding the administration of the immigration laws or recurring questions in the handling of cases by Immigration Judges.” BIA Prac. Man. § 4.14(c).  In the past, the Board has entertained interlocutory appeals where an IJ has severely mishandled a case below, in some way, which may involve for example improperly allowing an attorney to withdraw without following the proper requirements, or improperly administratively closing a case. In my own practice, I have filed an interlocutory appeal in a case involving in my view an improper denial by an IJ of a motion to suppress under the Fourth Amendment, but the appeal was not successful. The important point is that one is asking the BIA to intervene before an order of removal is even issued, and this intervention obviously is disfavored and necessarily will procedurally complicate the administration of the case before EOIR. That said, in appropriate cases it is surely an important safety valve which provides some assurance that the decisions of IJs in the day-to-day operations of the court are not running roughshod over the rights of respondents, and in the cases of law school clinical programs who are trying their best to do many things well: represent their clients with zeal and advocacy, teach their students, and fulfill their obligations to the court.

The second backdrop that these decisions should be viewed against is the world of law school clinics and law student appearances. It is sometimes not appreciated or perhaps underappreciated the level of commitment these clinics have (and I would say, necessarily have) toward their many clients and students. In order to be a clinical educator working in this specialized field of immigration practice, you have to model professional and personal competence on a daily basis. Students will look to you as an exemplar of legal practice and procedure. Because the students are working under a faculty member who is a practicing attorney, we cannot let them fail. Over and above the fact that there is a fiduciary duty to teach and mentor students, in addition we cannot and should not let them make any mistake which would reflect on our bar card, and otherwise impact the ethical rules.  The level of attention to detail this necessitates cannot be understated and moreover should be viewed in the context of a high (almost 100%) turnover rate of students year to year or semester to semester, as new students come into the clinical program. A friend and former colleague once commented to me as a clinical professor that there is no way he could run a practice where every several months you have a new crop of new associates who have to learn the ropes again and again, without the assurances of continuity that a firm usually provides. This continuity of course we provide and comes from the rigors of our program and the values of our professors. In these cases, one of the ironies of the IJ’s denial of law student appearances in at least one of the cases arose from the fact that students had already represented the clients in multiple proceedings, and had merely wanted the ability to continue on as counsel, considering the vast time, effort and important rapport they had built and achieved with these vulnerable clients.

A final backdrop to be considered is our broken immigration court system as an institution and the dire political context in which we find ourselves. We should not be afraid to confront and address these blatant violations such as the ones found  in these cases.  In a respectful and considerate way, there must be more scholarship, discussion and public airing of these cases where access to courts have been cut-off, diminished and constitutional rights tarnished or ignored. Although there is lip service paid to the “rights” of immigrants in the media, the fact remains that of the women and children currently with final orders of removal who have been prioritized by the current administration, the vast majority (86%) had no legal representation whatsoever. See TRAC Report. Moreover, we know that just having an attorney representing one of these women and children (although never a guarantee to any particular outcome) means a 14-fold increase in the person’s chances. Id. And that is why the decisions below were so troubling. Why, in the end, it was a moment for solidarity and effort. I was humbled by the outpouring of support from many different corners of the world of legal education as soon as I put out the call for signers on to the amicus briefs. To my surprise I was quickly contacted by another law school, Sheila Velez at Pittsburgh and her students, and a variety of excellent professors who offered their time and expertise to write detailed and persuasive affidavits, which were attached to the briefs and discussed, and once a draft had been created, there was a further outpouring of helpful edits from many people from all over the country. This assistance was needed and appreciated because the outcome of an interlocutory appeal cannot be predicted or predetermined. The IJ in one case issued a form or “checklist” order that was offered as the only justification for the denial of law student appearance and which showed that this judge thought this was a trifling matter of perhaps of little importance. Later, in two subsequent cases, he did a bit more to provide purported reasons for the denials which were in no way related to the issue at hand. The cited reasons, the backlog and translators, while I am sure a source of concern and pressure for the judge did not in any way justify violating the right to counsel. I am heartened that the BIA saw through the smokescreen. These decisions by the Board can be seen as a sound rejection of the IJ’s implicit, erroneous and misguided message that instead of being part of the problem, law school clinics and law students must be viewed as part of an integrated solution as we move to address the terrible plight of women and children (and in fact of all respondents) stuck in the immigration court system today.

Download BIA DECISION REDACTED february 2

Geoffrey A. Hoffman, Director-University of Houston Law Center Immigration Clinic, Clinical Associate Professor

February 2, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, February 1, 2016

Ensuring Due Process Protections for Central American Refugees

Philip E. Wolgin fo rthe Center for American Progress has a new column that considers major due process failings in the process surrounding the removal process of asylum-seekers arrested in recent the raids of Central American mothers and children and offeres a look at what adequate due process would look like:

First and foremost, everyone seeking protection should be given information about their rights as asylum seekers as soon as possible after being put in removal proceedings. The Vera Institute of Justice’s Legal Orientation Program, which provides people with information about their rights and the deportation process and refers immigrants particularly in need of counsel to pro bono attorneys, is one good model. The government should make very effort to ensure that each asylum seeker is matched with a pro bono attorney or is represented by a competent nongovernmental organization, and no child should face court proceedings without a lawyer.

Second, no person who seeks asylum in the United States should be rushed to deportation. All those picked up in a raid, for example, should have their cases reviewed by a competent attorney to ensure that they have truly exhausted all of their legal options for protection.

Finally, Congress must provide adequate resources to allow immigration courts the time to fully consider each and every asylum case. On average, it takes 660 days for a case to be heard in the immigration courts. The average immigration judge handles more than 1,500 cases per year—nearly four times more than a federal District Court judge. Given the crushing caseload and potentially fatal consequences of deportation, National Association of Immigration Judges President Dana Leigh Marks likened immigration hearings to “death penalty cases heard in traffic court settings.”

Read the full column here.


February 1, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Federal Government’s Immigration Showdown: SCOTUS Will Decide

Finns form vigilante groups that ‘protect women’ from asylum seekers

Anthony Falola in the Washington Post reports on a troubling trend in Europe.   

On a cold night in an industrial city in Finland, three men pulled up to a curb in a beat-up van sporting the stars and bars of the American Confederacy (because, they said, they just liked the look of it). They joined a dozen other beefy vigilantes gathering on a sidewalk for their first patrol to keep “our women” safe.  These are the Soldiers of Odin (here is the Facebook page for the group), a new far-right group in Finland. Its members are multiplying as the nation is gripped by fear and suspicion after multiple sexual assaults allegedly committed by asylum seekers and others on New Year’s Eve.

Those incidents, in cities across central and northern Europe, included hundreds of complaints of sexual harassment in Cologne, Germany, as well as 15 alleged sex-related crimes in the Finnish capital of Helsinki. They have quickly altered the debate over the treatment of asylum seekers in Europe. Fresh barriers to new migrants are going up from Sweden to Greece.


February 1, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Refugee will be a torch bearer in 2016, Refugee athletes will participate in 2016 Olympics



The 2016 Olympics are already making the news.  The torch for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro will pass through a refugee camp in Athens and one refugee will be among the torch bearers, the head of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said last week. The torch will be lit in Greece's ancient Olympia on April 21 before leaving for Brazil. It will arrive in Brazil on May 3 to start its 100-day relay across the country.

Greece became the main gateway for refugees fleeing war and persecution in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. "The Olympic flame will pass through this camp here and will be shown to the refugees," IOC head Thomas Bach said during a visit to a refugee camp in Athens.. "One of the refugees will be invited to carry the torch." 

The IOC has said that top athletes who are refugees with no home country to represent will be allowed to compete at the Rio Games under the Olympic flag.


February 1, 2016 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, January 31, 2016

University of California sponsors DREAM Loan Program to help undocumented students


University of California President Janet Napolitano

More than 3,000 undocumented undergraduate students will have access to a systemwide student loan program for the first time as the University of California implements the California DREAM Loan Program it sponsored, UC President Janet Napolitano announced last week.

The financial aid offices of UC’s nine undergraduate campuses will be reaching out to undocumented AB 540 undergraduates with offers of loan assistance through the program, now available for the 2015-2016 academic year. Under Assembly Bill 540, qualifying undocumented students are charged resident fees and exempted from out-of-state supplemental tuition.

“By reducing barriers and expanding access to higher education for undocumented students, the University of California is investing not only in the future of these students, but also in the future of our state and nation,” said Napolitano.

The DREAM loan program, proposed by Napolitano in 2014, was authorized that same year when the Legislature passed SB 1210, authored by state Sen. Ricardo Lara. Funding was not made available until this academic year.

The initial $5 million for the California DREAM Program, equally funded by the University of California and state general funds appropriated to UC, will be distributed according to need across campuses.

"The DREAM loan program will grow our college-educated workforce and make good on the promise that a college degree is possible for all hard-working, qualified California students regardless of their immigration status,” Lara said.

Under current law, undocumented students who graduate from a California high school and meet the California DREAM Act requirements are eligible for state and university aid.

Their undocumented status, however, disqualifies them from receiving federal aid, which severely limits their access to student loans.  In addition, they have difficulty accessing private loans.

“This new program will reduce that gap,” said Napolitano. “It will help even the playing field for undocumented students struggling to make ends meet.”

Some campuses have eased the financial burden on undocumented students with case-by-case loans from the institution, but the DREAM program provides assistance across the UC system.

Information for students seeking DREAM loans is available here.

January 31, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Welcome to America — Now Spy on Your Friends


Image courtesy of BuzzFeed

BuzzFeed has a troubling story about Muslim immigrants who seek to naturalize and become U.S. citizens.  When Muslim immigrants apply to become citizens, they often find the process delayed for years without explanation. Many ultimately are visited by the FBI and asked to spy on fellow Muslims.  It describes one case:

"An immigrant from Pakistan, he had spent the last seven years trying to get a green card, a process that had so far included a series of interviews, three encounters with the FBI, and unexplained bureaucratic delays. Maybe this meeting would bring some resolution?

But when the 37-year-old software programmer arrived at the Homeland Security offices in Dallas that day in August 2014, the conversation quickly swerved. One of the two agents placed a piece of paper on the table and told him to write down the names of all the people he knew who he thought were terrorists."

For immigrants pressured to become government informants, the process might begin with the Controlled Application Review and Resolution Program (CARRP). The program, overseen by immigration authorities, is designed to identify security risks among those who apply for visas, asylum, green cards, and naturalization. In November, BuzzFeed News revealed that the program is being used to vet refugees seeking asylum from Syria.

CARRP subjects not just “Known or Suspected Terrorists” but even “Non-Known or Suspected Terrorists” to intense scrutiny and potentially endless delays. Mere geography — hailing from “areas of known terrorist activity” — can qualify a person for this treatment. So can knowing someone, however tangentially, who is under surveillance; transferring money abroad; having ever worked for a foreign government; or even just having foreign language expertise. According to scholars and immigration lawyers, the population caught in CARRP’s crosshairs is overwhelmingly Muslim.  Between 2008 and 2012, the case files of over 19,000 people from 18 Muslim-majority countries were rerouted through that program.


January 31, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)