Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Journey from Syria: No Choice



The New Yorker featured filmmaker Matthew Cassel's six-part documentary on a Syrian refugee’s 1,700-mile journey to Europe.

The International Organization for Migration reports an estimated 191,134 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea in 2016 through 21 May, arriving in Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Spain.  Deaths through 21 May this year stand at 1,370 on all Mediterranean routes, which is 24 percent lower than last year’s total of 1,792 through the same period.


May 24, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Call for Papers: 20th Anniversary of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA)

Call for Papers:  The Center for Migration Studies of New York (CMS) is publishing a special volume of its Journal on Migration and Human Security (JMHSthat examines the impact of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA) on the 20th anniversary of the Act’s passage. The special collection will consider the law’s effect on US immigration law, policy, and practice; on US families and communities; and transnationally in other nation-states. The special volume will also be the subject of a conference organized by CMS.

Topics of Interest:

Articles in this special volume ideally will reflect a range of perspectives, including: (1) factors that led to and influenced the enactment of IIRIRA; (2) intended as well as unintended consequences and the costs and benefits (both quantitative and qualitative) that derived from IIRIRA; and (3) ways that the law can be improved in the future. Authors ideally will come from a range of disciplines, including sociology, geography, law, psychology, among others. Co-authored pieces are encouraged. Topics might include the following:

  • Historical context/background of IIRIRA on the federal, state, and local levels viewed from various perspectives (i.e., political, legal, economic, and cultural). The analysis could also connect IIRIRA to the law’s antecedents and other significant laws passed in 1996.
  • Impacts of the law in terms of infrastructure, money spent, and enforcement on the federal, state, and local levels and how implementation has changed over time.
  • Impacts of the law on communities and families in both sending countries and the United States, viewed from various perspectives (e.g., psychological, cultural, economic).
  • Unintended consequences of the law from a variety of perspectives (e.g., national security, drug policy, use of technology, and impacts on the NGO/advocacy community).
  • Aspects of enforcement such as detention, deportation and process-less removals (expedited removal, reinstatement of removal), and 3/10 year bars.
  • Criminal aspects of immigration.
  • Involvement of state and local law entities in immigration enforcement, such as Secure Communities.
  • Transnational consequences of US immigration policies on other countries and a comparison of policies toward deportees.
  • Title V of IIRIRA and its impact on immigrant access to social services, its intersection with welfare reform, employment authorization changes, etc.
  • Deterrence as a goal of IIRIRA. Did the law actually deter immigration, and if so, for which groups?
  • Effects of IIRIRA beyond immigration from various perspectives, including human/civil rights, race, gender, etc.

Submission Guidelines:

The Journal on Migration and Human Security is a peer-reviewed, public policy journal. Its articles are in the range of 7,500-10,000 words. Each article includes an executive summary and policy recommendations. The articles are shared with policy makers, among others. The submission guidelines for JMHS are available at http://jmhs.cmsny.org/index.php/jmhs/about/submissions.

Call for Paper Proposals:

To be considered for this special volume, submit a proposal to jmhs@cmsny.org containing the following:

  • Name and affiliation of author(s)
  • Working title
  • Abstract (not longer than two pages)
  • Link to your CV and the CV of your co-authors, if applicable.

Proposal and Submission Deadlines:

Starting May 20, 2016, proposals will be considered on a rolling basis.
Final deadline for proposals is July 8, 2016.
Deadline for first drafts is November 18, 2016.
Starting January 2017, full papers will be published on a rolling basis.

Publication of the complete special edition and conference is scheduled for April 2017.

The editors will review the submitted proposals and select articles for inclusion.  Our decisions will be based on the priorities laid out in this invitation and the overall scholarly merit of the proposal.  In addition, we will consider the composition of the collection as a whole and the ways in which the papers will complement one another.


Direct questions to jmhs@cmsny.org.

Download the Call for Paper Proposals


May 24, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)


JOURNAL OF EDUCATIONAL CONTROVERSY (an interdisciplinary, peer reviewed journal)


Along with drawing attention to the police as occupying armies in Black American communities, the Black Lives Matter movement has highlighted the deep roots of institutionalized racism in the United States.  Starting with the fundamental question, Do Black Lives Matter in the U.S. Education Industrial Complex?,  this issue of the Journal of Educational Controversy seeks to explore the various questions raised by Black Lives Matter in relation to U.S.  educational institutions, policies, and practices as they impact men, women, and children of color intersectionally, with respect to gender, gender identity, and class.  These questions could include the status of schools as institutions of control and sites of reproduction of racist ideology; the possibility of schools as sites of liberationist  transformation; the institutional history of schools alongside the development of institutional racism; the institutional response of schools to incidents of racial violence; the history of black studies programs in relation to black liberation movements, and the political transformation and sanitizing of concepts like diversity and multiculturalism.

For any questions, contact: 


Teri McMurtry-Chubb
Associate Professor of Law
Mercer University School of Law


May 24, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

From the Bookshelves: Code Name Zeus by Gary Andersen


Government agencies and sinister organizations in the United States and around the world closely follow the activities in and around the small town of Kursk, Texas. The town and surrounding area, settled by German Russian immigrants in the early 20th century, suffered greatly from the dual impact of the Dust Bowl years and the Great Depression, only to be saved by two strange newcomers from Europe who are great believers in capitalism and the American way of life.

After making a vast fortune starting on the streets of New Orleans, Louisiana, and around Beaumont, Texas, Russian immigrant Robert Barzinsky and his junior partner, Jack Barnett, a native of Ireland, move to Kursk. They ranch, drill for oil, and create a secret project, Code Name: Zeus, where they prepare for a major worldwide disaster.

Barnett’s son, Jack Jr., is the Renaissance man who recruits a team of techies, led by Chip Faraday, to provide the technological evolution to successfully prepare for the eventual destruction of most life on earth. Chip Faraday, his lifelong friend Rick Christiansen, their former professor Dr. Dane Madsen, and a small group of outcasts provide the path to survival.

America is an amalgamation of a great variety of people; initially explorers from Europe and native people, then a wide variety of European settlers and African slaves.  In time, the colonials rebelled against England and built a great nation based on Judeo-Christian principles. Only eighty years after the Declaration of Independence, slavery was abolished. How many countries can make this claim? Today, although not perfect, it is a country of immigrants from virtually every part of the world. Contrary to what some believe, the American experiment has never been matched throughout history.

Code Name: Zeus is a story about immigrants from several countries coming together in a remote place in Texas to make their way as Americans.  They left their grim existences in faraway parts of the world with no assurance they would find success and happiness. The story is an allegory of the broad spectrum of our extended family, from our ancestors to its current makeup, as well as the broad circle of friends we have developed over the years.


May 24, 2016 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 23, 2016

Frontier Fiesta

Voices From Both Sides is a "border festival" that is in its fourth year. It's a party in the Rio Grande for residents of Lajitas, Texas and its Mexican neighbor, Paso Lajitas. And Border Patrol is cool with it. Fusion has the details.


May 23, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

The B-1 Visa: Trap for the Tailor, Bricklayer and Tesla Motors

The latest installment on by  Cyrus D. Mehta on the Insightful Immigration blog is entitled The B-1 Visa: Trap for the Tailor, Bricklayer and Tesla Motors.


May 23, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigration backlash at the heart of British push to leave the E.U.

Griff White of the Washington Post reports on the English vote next month on whether to drop out of the European Union.  If Britain does vote to leave the E.U., analysts say, a powerfully emotional backlash against decades of immigration will be the primary driver. In Peterborough, 45-minutes north of London, anti-E.U. sentiment runs strong. A large part of the discontent is the influx of Eastern European immigrants that residents say has transformed the ancient market town.  “Immigration is by far the best issue for the ‘Leave’ campaign,” Freddie Sayers, editor in chief of the polling firm YouGov, wrote in a recent analysis. “If the coming referendum were only a decision on immigration, the Leave campaign would win by a landslide.”

For information about a webinar discussing Britain's possible departure from the EU, click here.


May 23, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

World Humanitarian Summit, Istanbul, May 23-24, 2016

United Nations Secretary-General Message on World Humanitarian Summit from WHSummit on Vimeo.

The world is witnessing the highest level of human suffering since the Second World War. This is why, for the first time in the 70-year history of the United Nations, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has convened the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul on 23 -24 May.  For more details, click here.  The New York Times reports on the Summit here.

Click here to watch the Summit proceedings.

Migration is set to play a central role at the first World Humanitarian Summit. At the two-day event, IOM Director General William Lacy Swing will discuss with leaders of the international community the state of humanitarian aid, notably its parlous financing and the global displacement crisis. He will help to lay out an agenda for further improvements in the manner in which aid is delivered to internally displaced people, refugees and other vulnerable populations in need of assistance.


May 23, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Proposing Marriage to Save Citizenship (with a twist)

Here's a wonderful little vignette from the NYT: Proposing Marriage to Save Citizenship. The twist? It's the story of a U.S. citizen looking to secure Dutch citizenship in order to stay in the same country as his two children. An immigration official told him he'd have to give up his U.S. citizenship if he wanted to become a Dutch national. Unless he married a Dutch national. And so the author proposed to his then-girlfriend in a cubicle of a government administrator.

That twist just might make this a fabulous reading assignment for students.


May 21, 2016 in Current Affairs, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Live from MSU: Immigration and... Specialty Courses

Caplow, Bauer, Lai, Vásquez

"Immigration and..." courses are the subject of one of the last plenary panels of the day. (Citizenship and the Immigration Curriculum is being discussed simultaneously in another room. Sadly I cannot be in both at the same time. #immprof2016dilemmas)

Stacy Caplow (Brooklyn) made everyone in the room jealous by identifying the variety of immigration offerings available at Brooklyn and the fun she's had with them. Jon Bauer (UConn), who runs an asylum clinic, spoke about his course on immigration and workplace rights. And Yolanda Vázquez (Cincy) spoke about her path to teaching crimmigration.

Annie Lai (Irvine) asked the panelists to share their experiences, including: the types of students their courses attract, how they teach immigration law within their "and" courses, prerequisites (often none), and things they would like to change about their courses (being less ambitious, increasing the credit hours). 

I have to give Annie a big shout out for introducing me to poll everywhere and using it effectively during this session. I am going to learn this program tonight and begin using it immediately. Tomorrow, in fact. (By the by, Annie credits Jayesh with introducing her to the technology. All good things start with Jayesh. That's just a fact.)

 A great end to #immprof2016. See you all again in 2 years.


May 21, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Live From MSU: Immigration Law in 2030

Su, Ashar, Sharpless, Kalhan, Chacón

What better way to start a Saturday morning than with thinking about immigration law in 2030!

Jennifer Chacón (Irvine), panel moderator, kicked things off by asking what a post-immigration-reform world would look like.

Sameer Ashar (Irvine) did not accept the premise of Jennifer's question. (I've watched every episode of The West Wing, this is always good move.) He notes that the sources of power that shape immigration law, to date, have generally been lawyer-and state-centric. But this ignores "movement based power" coming out of communities. Asahr (passionately) argues that it is critical to include non-lawyer activists in the development of immigration law.

Rick Su (Buffalo) notes that the "unintended consequences" of 1996 immigration reform (287g, among others) have largely driven immigration activism and scholarship for the last 20 years. So, what things are flying under the radar in the S.744? He notes interesting developments like the creation of border task forces that would involve local communities. He also finds potential pitfalls including even stronger anti-sanctuary provisions. Rick says things will "sneak there way in" because, as in 1996, they'll be seen as unimportant. And they will then be the drivers or activism in years to come.

Becky Sharpless (Miami) sees that our efforts post immigration reform will focus on those who are left out - what she calls the "super undocumented." And she wants to use all of the tools available to make the group as small as possible. She's particularly concerned about the focus on "good immigrants" and what that means for those with criminal records, including violent crimes. If we focus only on "respectable" immigrants, we close off paths for the next wave. A message about process and fairness - universal values that resonate - would be better.

Anil Kalhan (Drexel) pointed out that, even if immigration reform happens, control of line officers and effective adjudication will remain problems to be solved. It's a question of the lack of legitimacy, a U.S. v. Texas driver, that will continue to be a problem.

Anil then asked the panel about the vulnerability of lawful status and how it could be made more durable.

Jennifer noted that current immigration reform proposals offer either a very lengthy legalization process or no path to citizenship at all. And this will leave folks vulnerable to arbitrary actions. Race, class, disability, and immigration status are important factors in the levels of vulnerability individuals experience. Beyond citizenship, what makes people powerful? That's an important question we need to tackle.

Rick is worried about creating another legalization status and the potential spill-over effect it might have. That is, if we require some to go through a very lengthy path to citizenship, might that lead to asking why everyone shouldn't go down that path.

Jennifer next asked how immigration reform might reshape governance?

Anil thinks to some extent reconfiguration has already taken place. He talked about the government's role in gathering, aggregating, and sharing data regarding noncitizens and citizens alike.

Sameer noted that "electronic whips" already control workers (e.g. electronic monitoring to limit breaks). Migrants are willing to submit to control in order to get better outcomes (e.g. DACA registration so they can work lawfully). But the government's "population control" methods may have consequences, and they may particularly effect those who engage in collective action.

Rick wants a bottom-up approach on governance that empowers immigrant communities. He notes that immigrants today are frequently concentrated in the suburbs, and that's a problem because political mobilization is harder in that context. This will require new ways of thinking about mobilization.

Jennifer offered one final question: what role can or should international law have in molding or shaping domestic immigration policies? 

Becky sees promise for movement lawyering in how much human rights discourse resonates with young people today. She pointed us to several amazingly expansive definitions of refugees, including those fleeing "events seriously disturbing pubic order" and "generalized violence." She also highlighted international cases about the deportation of violent criminals. These examples give us "a sense of what is possible."

Rick spoke about the importance of cities - and theorized whether cities might become the model of immigrant friendly communities where we'll look for future migration norms.

I'm officially moderately hopeful.


May 21, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Border Patrol Agent's Lethal Force Objectively Reasonable, Fifth Circuit Finds


Law 360 reports that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit earlier this week upheld a district court’s finding that a Border Patrol agent who fatally shot an unarmed 18-year-old U.S. citizen in the back while he was running away was entitled to qualified immunity, saying the officer’s use of deadly force was objectively reasonable under the circumstances.

The three-judge panel rejected arguments made by Juan Mendez Jr.’s family members that the Texas district court erred by granting Border Patrol agent Taylor Poitevent qualified immunity on the Fourth Amendment claim they brought against him for use of excessive force over the shooting of Mendez near the Mexican border, saying a reasonable officer in Poitevent’s situation could have believed that Mendez posed a serious threat of harm.

The panel said that Mendez had struggled violently and aggressively against the officer in the moments leading up to the shooting and that he had proved to be a dangerous opponent during the struggle.

“In sum, we hold that Poitevent did not use excessive force because a reasonable officer in his situation could have believed that Mendez posed a threat of serious harm, justifying the use of deadly force,” the panel said. “Thus, we affirm the district court’s grant of qualified immunity.”

Here is the opinion in the case.  Judge Edith Brown Clement wrote the opinion.


May 21, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, May 20, 2016

Live from the MSU Drum Circle

#immprof2016 wouldn't have been complete without singing. Hiroshi offered fabulous guitar accompaniment - as did Dan Kanstroom who subbed in for This Land Is Your Land. Shoba joined in on the piano and the rest of us lent what voices we had.


In two years, someone needs to be in charge of bringing egg shakers. You know that would take it up a level.


May 20, 2016 in Current Affairs, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Live From MSU: International Norms in Immigration Law

Fullerton, Gilman, Ramji-Nogales, Kanstroom, Family

Our last plenary panel of the today centered on international norms in immigration law.

We started with rapid-fire background material from the panelists.

Jaya Ramji-Nogales (Temple) spoke about international norms and immigration law. She informed us about the four sources of international law: (i) treaties, (ii) customary international law, (iii) general principles of law that recognized by "civilized nations", and (iv) the teachings of the most highly qualified folks on the law (us!). She also talked about the fields of international law that are relevant to migration - principally human rights law, labor law, criminal law. 

Maryellen Fullerton (Brooklyn) talked about the institutions entities involved making international law relating to migration: The UN (which includes the following bodies working on migration: UNHCR, Global Form on Migration and Development, Global Migration Group, ILO, ILC), UN treaty bodies, international courts, regional human rights institutions, and NGOs.

Dan Kanstroom (BC) noted that the United States had a role in the architecture of the international legal system, yet it doesn't really play a positive role in creating international law itself, particular in the human rights aspects of immigration norms.

Denise Gilman (UT) spoke about enforcing international norms. In particular, she talked about using fora like the Inter-American Court of Human Rights to engage the U.S. government and to challenge its immigration practices, for example in regard to family detention, under international law. She also spoke about using international laws as pressure points in litigation.

Dan then returned to stage to talk about international law regarding the expulsion or deportation of noncitizens. There is little explicit international law in this area. The void has allowed the established U.S. system of deportation to be "exported around the world," which Kanstroom sees as a bad thing. He wants progressive international norms put into place. Enter the UN's draft articles on the expulsion of aliens and his own declaration of expelled and deported persons, which he walked us through identifying highlights.

Jaya offered thoughts on the "refugee crisis" and international law. The quotes are hers. She questions whether there is, in fact, a crisis. And whether it's about refugees at all. What she does see is a systemic failure of international migration law to address three critical issues: safe transit, entry, and the right to remain. She wants to see a comprehensive approach to tackle these issues.

Denise emphasized the value of discussing international law in the immigration context, even after acknowledging the enforcability issues and problems with substantive international norms themselves already identified by Dan and Jaya. She sees international law as having the potential to pull us out of the "quagmire" of domestic immigration law by offering new perspectives. 

Maryellen grabbed the baton to bring this panel to a close. She focused on her book The Global Reach of European Refugee Law (Cambridge Univ. Press 2013), which addresses the extent to which EU asylum norms have influenced the law and practice of states around the world ("norm diffusion").

A shout out to Jill Family (Widener) for excellent moderating.


May 20, 2016 in Books, Current Affairs, Law Review Articles & Essays | Permalink | Comments (0)

Live from MSU: David Baluarte & Kit Johnson

Johnson & Baluarte

The biennial immprof conference offers a wonderful opportunity to present works-in-progress to our scholarly cohort and to get valuable feedback. This afternoon at #immprof2016 was no exception.

David Baluarte (Washington & Lee) presented on his current piece The Risk of Statelessness in Hispaniola: Defining New Frontiers in the Protection of the Right to Nationality. It's a work that offers a welcome history of the efforts of the Dominican Republic to denationalize those born to migrant Haitian workers within the DR. And, importantly, to do so retroactively so as to denationalize individuals whose nationality was not previously questioned. The country's moves have been debated in the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and the Dominican justice system, with differing conclusions. David weaves a coherent story of this history and offers unique insights on how Haiti's status as a "failed state" might affect the courts' analysis of statelessness.

Like David, my current scholarship is enmeshed in the world of citizenship. In A Citizenship Market, I consider whether individuals should be permitted to swap citizenships at will, without government oversight, for money or not.


May 20, 2016 in Current Affairs, Law Review Articles & Essays | Permalink | Comments (0)

Judge Rebukes Justice Department for "Bad Faith" in U.S. v. Texas


As covered by LEXISNEXIS Immigration Law Legal Newsroom, U.S. district court judge Andrew Hanen  ripped U.S. Department of Justice attorneys Thursday for being "intentionally deceptive" about deportation deferrals in a lawsuit challenging the November 2014 expanded deferred action programs.  House executive actions on immigration and ordered dozens of government.  In a 26-page opinion and order, Judge Hanen, who issued the initial injunction against the implementation of the  programs, stated that the Justice Department had engaged in "unethical conduct" and had made misrepresentations to the court.  Read th eorder for yourself at  Download TexasOrder (4)

Lyle Denniston on SCOTUSBlog summarizes Judge Hanen's order here.  Among other aspects of the order, Denniston highlights that "[t]he judge conceded that he did not have the authority to disbar the lawyers involved, but he asserted that he did have the authority to revoke the temporary permission he had given them to appear in his court.  He said he had done the latter in a separate order, which is still under seal." 

Orin Kerr comments on Judge Hanen's order on the Volokh Conspiracy ("A puzzling order by Judge Hanen in the DAPA immigration case").



May 20, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

"Hamilton" creator and star Lin-Manuel Miranda speaks out against anti-immigrant rhetoric


Commencement speaker Lin Manuel Miranda marches into the University of Pennsylvania's 260th Commencement at Franklin Field on May 16, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Photo: William Thomas Cain/Getty Images

Sameer Rao on ColorLines reports that Broadway sensation "Hamilton" creator and star Lin-Manuel Miranda spoke out against anti-immigrant electoral rhetoric during his commencement remarks at the University of Pennsylvania on May 16.

Miranda didn't name any specific political candidates during his keynote address, but he did criticize a vitriol that many trace to Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump.

Read Miranda's full remarks via Heatstreet, or watch the speech here.



May 20, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Maintaining Public Trust in the Governance of Migration

Maintaining public trust

Governments around the world face increasingly complex migration management challenges at a time of plummeting public support. These two trends are inextricably linked. As Europe’s current refugee crisis illustrates, the difference between success and failure can often hinge on the ability of policymakers to win public trust.

When there is little or no trust in a government’s ability to manage immigration, the capacity to test creative immigration and integration ideas—and build a system that learns from its own experiences, and particularly its mistakes—is severely curtailed, and the penalties for missteps become disproportionately higher. Conversely, winning and maintaining public confidence allow policymakers the political and management space to experiment and maneuver, while mitigating the penalty for the occasional “failure”—inevitable in any complex system.

Public confidence hinges on not just concrete policies and their results, but also on how government activities and outcomes are interpreted and presented to the public, as a new Transatlantic Council on Migration report by MPI Distinguished Senior Fellow and President Emeritus Demetrios G. Papademetriou makes clear.

In Maintaining Public Trust in the Governance of Migration, Papademetriou outlines the principal challenges to public trust that policymakers face—including both external forces as well as the structure of government itself—and reflects on why it is so crucial for immigration policymakers to win back public confidence.

While politicians and public servants responsible for migration cannot control external factors—such as global conflict, instability, and vast opportunity differentials that may give rise to large-scale migration—they can address a host of interlinked governance challenges that affect how an immigration system is perceived by the public.

Creating an honest but nuanced narrative about immigration and how it benefits society at large—coupled with straightforward explanations of the tradeoffs that certain decisions require, and thoughtful policies to address the inevitable losers from immigration—is essential to gaining and maintaining trust in the immigration system.

The report is the third in a Transatlantic Council series that examines the drivers of anxiety that often surround immigration and explores the conditions under which these can be addressed. The first publication in this series examines how religious difference is managed across the Atlantic in fundamentally different ways, and the second describes public opinion on immigration in the United Kingdom. 


May 20, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Live from MSU: Middle Eastern Communities in Michigan

Settlage, Elmir, Stiffler

While enjoying lunch, we had the opportunity to learn about Middle Eastern communities in Michigan.

Matthew Stiffler of the Arab American National Museum set the stage by describing who Arab Americans are: folks who can trace their heritage to any of the 22 Arab countries. Go ahead. Try to name them. (Click here for the answer).

He presented on the history of Arab migration to the U.S. and, in particular, the more than 100 years of Arab migration to Michigan. That bland statement hardly does justice to the charisma and humor with which he delivered a veritable fount of information.

Rana Elmir, of the Michigan ACLU, noted that the current anti-Arab and anti-Muslim (two concepts conflated by the government and media) movement is something that well predates 9-11 (citing Aladdin "I come from a land / From a faraway place / Where the caravan camels roam./ Where they cut off your ear / If they don't like your face / It's barbaric, but hey, it's home.")

She spoke about the particular challenge of recruiting efforts by the U.S. government, looking to secure informants in Michigan's Middle Eastern communities. And the use of immigration status as leverage to secure assistance.

She also identified the problem of watchlisting - noting that Dearborn has the second largest number of individuals on the terrorist watch list of any city in the United States. That is not because Dearborn is a hotbed of terror but because the watchlist itself is fundamentally flawed.

In addition to those topics, Rama also discussed Syrian refugees as well as how Arab Americans should be counted on the U.S. census (they are currently pigeonholed as white).

Thank you, Rachel Settlage (Wayne State), for moderating this high-energy and wholly engaging panel.


May 20, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Live From MSU: Activist, Scholar, or Both?

Motomura, Wishnie, Anker, Benson, Landau

Panel two of #immprof2016 is "Activist, Scholar, or Both?"

Lenni Benson (NYLS) shared her journey towards creating Safe Passage. It had an unpredictable start. She came upon a juvenile docket by happenstance during a government data collection project. Observing from the back of the room, Lenni saw an unrepresented 8 year old boy, "Miguel" (not his real name), called to the stand. Lenni, being Lenni, jumped up and asked to serve as a "friend of the court" to help speak for the child. The rest you know.

Deborah Anker (HLS) spoke about her incredible work with the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic to push the boundaries of gender asylum law. Interestingly, a lot of change benefited from cases and laws from overseas (Canada, New Zealand, UK).

Michael Wishnie (Yale) considered the issue of "what kind of scholarship, if any, might be useful to activism." I love the ",if any," which he colored by explaining that he came to scholarship only after being told that he had to do it for his job. He called this "disclosing his priors." Wishnie acknowledged that some articles do, in fact, change the world. (Charlie Reich's The New Property). But, more often, it's to say something novel that can start to legitimize an idea or perspective. Treatises, too, he noted, are enormously helpful. Social science scholarship can illuminate patterns through empirical work, while legal history revealing past practices can contribute to activism as well. At the end of the day, though, Wishnie is skeptical of how we can judge whether and how legal scholarship itself has or does impact the world.

Hiroshi Motomura (UCLA) has "agonized" over the idea of the activism-scholarship divide for some time. He spoke about the "lifecycle" of a project. His started with the example of his 1990 article on statutory interpretation. He talked about taking the ideas in that article to litigators (by presenting at AILA) and marketing them as something to try that might help with cases. Those panels led to him being included on litigation teams. This was a true lifecyle from his 1990 article on phantom norms to Zadvydas v. Davis (2001). Hiroshi then spoke about a similar cycle on his work with discretion in immigration enforcement. And it was about taking the effort to reframe his ideas to bring them to different audiences, and being patient.

Joseph Landau (Fordham) did a fabulous job moderating the panel. I have to hand it to him for having the ability to keep these heavyweights on task!


May 20, 2016 in Current Affairs, Immigration Law Clinics, Law Review Articles & Essays | Permalink | Comments (0)