Sunday, May 17, 2015

Child Migrants in Crisis

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev gets death penalty


The Boston Marathon bomber trial has come to an end.  As the Boston Globe reports, the federal jury that watched Dzhokhar Tsarnaev durung the three month trial sentenced him to death for detonating a bomb amid Boston Marathon spectators. Tsarnaev is the first terrorist condemned to death by a jury in the United States in the post-9/11 world.

The unanimous verdict brought to a close a legal drama that has unfolded on the South Boston waterfront since January, with searing testimony about the bombings that killed three, took the limbs of 17 others, and injured hundreds more.

The death sentence automatically sets in motion an appeals process that could last more than a decade.


May 16, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

From the Bookshelves: The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965: Legislating a New America, Gabriel J. Chin and Rose Cuison Villazor, editors



Watch out for this book by two of my my UC Davis colleagues!

The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965:  Legislating a New America Editors: Gabriel J. Chin and Rose Cuison Villazor (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming September 2015).

Along with the civil rights and voting rights acts, the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 is one of the most important bills of the civil rights era. The Act's political, legal, and demographic impact continues to be felt, yet its legacy is controversial. The 1965 Act was groundbreaking in eliminating the white America immigration policy in place since 1790, ending Asian exclusion, and limiting discrimination against Eastern European Catholics and Jews. At the same time, the Act discriminated against gay men and lesbians, tied refugee status to Cold War political interests, and shattered traditional patterns of Mexican migration, setting the stage for current immigration politics. Drawing from studies in law, political science, anthropology, and economics, this book will be an essential tool for any scholar or student interested in immigration law.

The first book devoted to the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act Amendments.  It includes contributions by scholars in law, political science, cultural studies, and economics reflect the modern interdisciplinary approach to immigration studies.  The volume places the current-day immigration debates in context and provides historically informed policy suggestions.

Here is the table of contents:

Foreword Cruz Reynoso

Introduction Gabriel J. Chin and Rose Cuison Villazor

Part I. The Immigration and Nationality Act Amendments of 1965: Ushering in an Era of Racial Equality or Furthering Racial Discrimination?

1. Were the Immigration and Nationality Act Amendments of 1965 anti-racist? Gabriel J. Chin

2. African migration to the United States: assigned to the back of the bus Bill Ong Hing

3. The beginning of the end: the Immigration Act of 1965 and the emergence of the modern US-Mexico border state Kevin R. Johnson

4. The last preference: refugees and the 1965 Immigration Act Brian Soucek

Part II. The 1965 Immigration Act and Policy of Family Unification

5. The 1965 Immigration Act: family unification and non-discrimination fifty years later Rose Cuison Villazor

6. Workers without families: the unintended consequences Rhacel Salazar Parreñas and Cerissa Salazar Parreñas

7. Sexual deviants need not apply: LGBTQ oppression in the 1965 Immigration Amendments Atticus Lee

Part III. The 1965 Immigration Act and Employment-Based Immigration

8. Coming to America: the business of trafficked workers Valerie Francisco and Robyn Rodriguez

9. The impact of 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act on the evolution of temporary guest worker programs, or how the 1965 Act punted on creating a rightful place for Mexican worker migration Leticia M. Saucedo

Part IV. Political and Economic Issues

10. The 1965 Immigration Act: the demographic and political transformation of Mexicans and Mexican Americans in US border communities Jeannette Money and Kristina Victor

11. Economic performance of immigrants, following the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 Giovanni Peri


May 16, 2015 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigration Court Backlog Keeps Rising

TRAC Immigration has released data secured from the U.S. government showing that the number of cases awaiting resolution before the Immigration Courts climbed to a new all-time high of 445,607 as of the end of April 2015. The case backlog has risen 9.2 percent since the beginning of this fiscal year when the backlog was 408,037. The backlog is 29.5 percent higher than it was at the beginning of fiscal year 2014, at which time only 344,230 cases were waiting in the Immigration Courts.



May 16, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, May 15, 2015

Immigration Article of the Day: Prosecuting a Refugee for 'Smuggling' Himself by James C. Hathaway

Prosecuting a Refugee for 'Smuggling' Himself by James C. Hathaway, University of Michigan Law School; Melbourne Law School; University of Amsterdam December 1, 2014 U of Michigan Public Law Research Paper No. 429

Abstract: During the summer of 2010, a Thai-registered ship operated by human smugglers – the MV Sun Sea – arrived on Canada’s west coast. The nearly 500 persons aboard, most of whom were Sri Lankan Tamils, sought recognition of their refugee status. Those claims that proceeded to adjudication on the merits were overwhelmingly successful. Some of the refugee claimants, however, had sought to maximize their chances of surviving the perilous voyage on a grossly overcrowded and barely seaworthy vessel by accepting an offer of better food or living quarters in exchange for the provision of services onboard – for example, by assisting with food preparation or operation of the ship. One such refugee claimant testified that he found the food he was being given was inadequate, especially as he was recovering from being sick. He learned that he would only be given extra food if he performed tasks assigned to him by the captain of the ship. In testimony found by Canadian authorities to be credible and trustworthy, he stated that he performed the tasks assigned to him because he feared offending the captain and having his food rations reduced. In this and a number of similar cases, the Canadian government invoked s.37(1)(b) of that country’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, which denies access to protection to persons who have “engag[ed], in the context of transnational crime, in activities such as people smuggling...,” the latter notion defined at the relevant time in Canadian law as “...knowingly organiz[ing], induc[ing], aid[ing] or abet[ting] the coming into Canada of one or more persons who are not in possession of a visa, passport or other document required by [Canadian law].” A person found to be inadmissible under s.37(1)(b) is not allowed to make a refugee claim, meaning that his deportation becomes enforceable. While still eligible to apply for a “pre-removal risk assessment,” no reliance may be placed in that assessment on the risk of being persecuted, and the rights afforded fall short of those required by international refugee law. The question I address here is the international legality of the prosecution of and de facto exclusion from Convention refugee status of a refugee claimant deemed to have engaged in “people smuggling” by virtue of collaborating with smugglers as a survival strategy.


May 15, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Indian Immigrants in the United States

This Migration Information Source report on Indian immigration to the United States is chock full of interesting information.  Indian immigrants represent the second-largest origin group in the United States, accounting for 4.7 percent of the total foreign-born population. Generally high-skilled and highly educated, more than half of Indian immigrants have arrived since 2000 and largely attain green cards through employment-based pathways. Indians account for 70 percent of H-1B petitions and are the second-largest group of international students in the United States.

Indian Immigrant Population in the U.S.




Top Destination States for Indian Immigrants  

India 2


May 15, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

RIP B.B. King

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Report: Immigration Officials Discriminate Against LGBT Immigrants

Immigration lockup


An analysis conducted by the Center for American Progress has found that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, or LGBT, immigrants are consistently detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, even when ICE’s own system recommends release.

According to data obtained by CAP through a Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, request, ICE chose to detain LGBT individuals in two-thirds of instances in which its own Risk Classification Assessment, or RCA, tool explicitly recommended release. Seventy percent of all LGBT persons processed through ICE’s RCA system were given an option or recommendation of release, yet 68 percent of them were instead detained and more than half were detained without bond.

A study by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General found that ICE officials overrode explicit RCA recommendations only 7.6 percent of the time for the general population, but the rate for LGBT immigrants was nearly 20 percent. In only 16 percent of overall cases, the RCA tool gave discretion to ICE officials on whether to detain. That number is contrasted with the 64 percent in LGBT cases.

The Center for American Progress submitted a FOIA request to ICE on October 8, 2014, requesting the Risk Classification Assessments for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender immigrants for fiscal year 2014, which ran from October 2013 through October 2014, and the actual custody determinations made by ICE for members of this population. ICE provided the requested documents on March 13, 2015.

Click here to read the paper.

May 14, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Italian Knock-Offs Help African Migrants

Photo Beverley Goodwin

Italy has a booming counterfeit economy, despite the country's criminalization of not only the sale but purchase of knock-off goods.

FOX News reports that an Italian court recently authorized the distribution of confiscated counterfeit shoes to Mediterranean Sea migrants.

According to one Italian police officer: "we try to take off the brand labels first... We are supposed to try to protect the label, by removing it from the counterfeit items."

Caritas, a Catholic aid organization, has been distributing the shoes to those migrants lucky enough to make it to Italian shores.


May 13, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Los Angeles County Ends 287(g) Program


In immigration news from Los Angeles County, Los Angeles County supervisors in a 3-2 vote cancelled a 2005 agreement under Immigration & Nationality Act § 287(g) with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Under the agreement, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department deputies stationed at LA County jails were trained by ICE and had been able to take undocumented inmates into custody before their release to the general public.

Supervisors Hilda L. Solis (former Secretary of the Department of Labor) and Mark Ridley-Thomas co-authored the motion to end the County's 287(g) agreement, which has been criticized for resulting in racial profiling, the separation of hundreds of thousands of families, and for damaging the trust between law enforcement and communities.

There had been problems with Section 287(g) programs in many jursidictions, with a number of law enforcement agencies such as Maricopa County, Arizona (and the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office (MSCO) led by Sheriff Joe Arpaio) violating the rights of Latino U.S. citizens and lawful immigrants as well as undocumented immigrants in the enforcement of the immigration laws.  That in no small part was the reason that the MSCO lost its 287(g) agreement. The programs gave much discretion to local law enforcement authorities in immigration enforcement with detrimental civil rights consequences.

The Obama administration had discontinued the 287(g) program, believing that the Secure Communities program, which (until discontinued in November 2014) required state and local police agencies to provide information about persons arrested to ICE, to be a more effective and efficient way to enforce removals of noncitizens. By limiting the discretion afforded state and local authorities, Secure Communities did not have as negative of civil rights consequences of the 287(g) programs did.

The civil rights consequences of state and local enforcement of the U.S. immigration laws are what led the U.S. government to challenge Section 2(B) of Arizona's SB 1070; while the attempt to strike down Section 2(B) failed in the Supreme Court in Arizona v. United States, the U.S. Department of Justice no doubt understood the potential civil rights consequences of state and local enforcement of the U.S. immigration laws.

The Board of Supervisors has not completely abandoned immigration enforcement in the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.  The board approved 4-to-1 to adopt the federal Priority Enforcement Program (PEP), which will allow for the jails to alert ICE if an inmate is eligible for deportation based on the inmate’s fingerprint matches.  This program has replaced the discontinued Secure Communities program.

In response to the actions of the Board of Supervisors, Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell released the following statement:

"The Sheriff’s Department is responsible for helping people in their time of need and investigating crimes that have occurred, regardless of the individual’s immigration status. In achieving those objectives, our Department must work closely and cooperatively with federal authorities to identify and assist with the lawful investigation and prosecution of undocumented persons who pose a danger to our community; we must also bear in mind at all times the importance of preserving community relationships as well as the due process rights of those in our custody.

I welcome the opportunity to work with local, state and federal leaders as we develop policies and procedures that appropriately balance both promoting public safety and fortifying trust within the multiethnic communities that make up Los Angeles County. To that end, we are aiming to work with the Board offices, DHS and others to develop procedures and policies to identify the offenses that best reflect individuals in LASD custody who are a serious danger to our community and impact public safety. As to those individuals, we will work with federal authorities to notify them in advance and help facilitate a timely and seamless transfer to ICE custody prior to the individual’s release into the community.

The Sheriff’s Department must partner with some of the most diverse and immigrant-rich communities in the world. Serving the community, reducing crime and solving problems is immeasurably harder if law enforcement fails to maintain relationships with -- and the trust of -- our community. This is a basic principle of community policing."


May 13, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigrant of the Day: Joey Alexander, Jazz Pianist


Our Immigrant of the Day comes from the pages of the New York Times.  Discovered in Jakarta, Indonesia, about three years ago, Joey Alexander moved with his parents to New York last year, with the help of jazz luminaries like the trumpeter Wynton Marsalis.

"Joey may be the most talked-about one that jazz has seen in a while, though he is hardly alone. There’s José André Montaño, a 10-year-old blind pianist from Bolivia; Kojo Roney, a 10-year-old drummer who had a concert residency last month in Brooklyn; and Grace Kelly, 22, an alto saxophonist who made her first album at 12. The list goes on, with some prodigies developing major careers and others falling short of their early promise."

Grossman Law LLP represents Joey.

Hat tip to Dan Kowalski.


May 13, 2015 in Current Affairs, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Human Rights in Jamaica


The International Human Rights Clinic (IHRC) at Loyola Law School is among a number of organizations involved in advocating for Jamaica’s human rights record to be examined for the second time in Geneva by the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). The review is a result of advocacy on behalf of the IHRC and its partners, Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ), J-FLAG, the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC).

The UPR is a UN peer-led review process aimed at improving the human rights situation of all 193 U.N. Member States. It is a critical mechanism for States to demonstrate their commitment to human rights and develop concrete steps for improving the human rights situation on the ground. In addition to governments, the UPR relies on civil society to provide a comprehensive account of the human rights situation in any given country. In April, Jamaican civil society organizations presented to 26 States in Geneva and met with 11 States individually to share concerns, as well as highlight accomplishments.

The IHRC discussed police extrajudicial killings jointly with JFJ and human rights in the context of mixed migratory flows. JFJ addressed unlawful detention of persons, detention conditions, and the rights of children. CVC considered the right to health and failures in Jamaica’s HIV response to address discrimination and violence towards vulnerable groups. J-FLAG addressed violence and forced displacement of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) people, including LGBT youth.

Several important recommendations from the first UPR cycle have not been acted upon. These include measures for protections against degrading treatment in detention and excessive use of force; eliminating gross delays at the Coroner’s Court and Supreme Court; and enacting policy and legal reform to prevent discrimination.

Today, Wednesday, May 13,  as the Jamaican government reports to the UPR, the IHRC and its partners urge that human rights organizations call the government to make five key commitments:

  1. Commit to enshrining in lawenhanced protections against police abuse and degrading treatment in detention settings. Policy statements, while useful cannot replace legal protections
  2. Agree to complete the review of key child-protection legislation and policies such as the Child Care and Protection Act, Adoption Act and the Child Diversion Policy by the end of 2015
  3. Adopt comprehensive legislation that prevents discrimination on the grounds of all protected categories as recognized in international human rights law
  4. Outline concrete steps to address homelessness such as increasing the number of shelters available including for LGBT youth
  5. Expedite the justice reform program and increase resources to the Courts to address delays in access to justice and impunity

The webcast will be streamed live at 9 a.m. Geneva time (GMT+1) on Wednesday, May 13. A collection of all UPR documents, including the GoJ’s National Report, may be found here.


May 13, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigration Article of the Day: Immigration Law by Proxy: The Case of Colorado’s Human Smuggling Crime by César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández


Immigration Law by Proxy: The Case of Colorado’s Human Smuggling Crime by César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández, Capital University Law School; University of Denver Sturm College of Law May 5, 2015 Denver University Law Review, Vol. 92, p. 41, 2015 U Denver Legal Studies Research Paper No. 15-21

Abstract: Despite the federal government’s well known expansive reach in creating and enforcing immigration law, the states retain substantial authority to play an important role in migrants’ lives. Through their traditional powers to adopt criminal statutes and police their communities, states can indirectly — but intentionally — inject themselves into the incidents of ordinary life as a migrant. Colorado’s human smuggling statute, currently being challenged before the state supreme court, illustrates this type of state regulation of migration. This essay addresses the statute’s reach, its shaky constitutional footing, and places it in a broader context in which states criminalize immigration-related activity.


May 13, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Jeb Bush on Immigration

Photo by Gage Skidmore

Jeb Bush still hasn't officially announced a run for the presidency in 2016. He's apparently still "actively explor[ing] the possibility."

That hasn't stopped him from acting like a candidate.

Tomorrow he'll be holding a town hall meeting in Reno, Nevada. (Departing from the Democratic party's love of Vegas.) Saturday, he'll be holding another in Dubuque, Iowa.

And Monday, he appeared on Fox's The Kelly File to talk about, among other things, immigration.

Click here to watch one clip (starting at 5:38). Highlights include: 

  • "Illegal immigration ought to be punished by... earning legal status over an extended period of time" (by paying fines, learning English, waiting).
  • "Self deportation" is "not practical" nor is "rounding people up door to door."
  • He supports a "path to legalized status" though not necessarily citizenship.
  • He supports expanding "economic immigrants" and narrowing family migration.
  • He supports driver's licenses and in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants, saying "What what are we supposed to do? Marginalize these people forever?"
  • He wants to "fix" the immigration system so that "legal immigration is easier than illegal immigration"
  • He would "absolutely, of course" overturn President Obama's "unconstitutional" executive action on immigration.
  • He believes "a lot of people can be persuaded" on the issue of immigration.


May 12, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

113 Republican Members of Congress Back States' Legal Challenge to Obama's Immigration Actions



The latest news in Texas v. United States is that top Republicans in Congress yesterday filed an amici curiae brief on the side of the states challenging President Obama's executive actions on immigration.  Texas and 25 other states have challenged the actions, arguing that the president overstepped his executive power.  The Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (Va.), are siding squarely with the states, arguing Obama's executive action "changes the law and sets a new policy, exceeding the executive’s constitutional authority and disrupting the delicate balance of powers." "Congress has created a comprehensive immigration scheme — which expresses its desired policy as to classes of immigrants — but the class identified by the [Homeland Security Department] directive for categorical relief is unsupported by this scheme," the lawmakers wrote in an amicus brief filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. "Instead of setting enforcement priorities," they added, "it created a class-based program that establishes eligibility requirements that, if met, grant unlawful immigrants a renewable lawful presence in the United States and substantive benefits."

The brief was endorsed by 113 Republicans, including Sens. John Cornyn (Texas), the majority whip, Marco Rubio (Florida), Orrin Hatch (Utah) and Ted Cruz (Texas), a 2016 presidential hopeful. In the House, the supporters include Reps. Trey Gowdy (S.C.); Tom Price (Ga.); Michael McCaul (Texas), head of the Homeland Security Committee; and Lamar Smith (R-Texas), the former head of the Judiciary panel.

Here is a full list of the Republican members of Congress who signed on to the amici brief:

United States Senators

John Cornyn

Ted Cruz

John Barrasso

Roy Blunt

John Boozman

Dan Coats

Thad Cochran

Tom Cotton

Mike Crapo

Michael Enzi

Orrin Hatch

James Inhofe

Johnny Isakson

James Lankford

Mike Lee

Jerry Moran

Mitch McConnell

David Perdue

James Risch

Pat Roberts

Marco Rubio

Dan Sullivan

John Thune

David Vitter

Roger Wicker



Bob Goodlatte

Lamar Smith

Robert Aderholt

Brian Babin

Lou Barletta (former Mayor, Hazleton, PA, and supported a tough immigration enforcement law that was struck down as unconstitutional)

Joe Barton

Gus M. Bilirakis

Mike Bishop

Diane Black

Marsha Blackburn

Charles Boustany

Mo Brooks

Michael Burgess

Bradley Byrne

Earl L. 'Buddy' Carter

John Carter

Steve Chabot

Curt Clawson

Tom Cole

K. Michael Conaway

Kevin Cramer

John Culberson

Ron DeSantis

Scott DesJarlais

Jeff Duncan

John Duncan

Blake Farenthold

John Fleming

Bill Flores

Randy Forbes

Virginia Foxx

Trent Franks

Bob Gibbs

Louie Gohmert

Paul Gosar

Trey Gowdy

Tom Graves

H. Morgan Griffith

Vicky Hartzler

Jeb Hensarling

Richard Hudson

Tim Huelskamp

Will Hurd

Lynn Jenkins

Sam Johnson

Walter Jones

Mike Kelly

Steve King

Raul Labrador

Doug Lamborn

Leonard Lance

Barry Loudermilk

Mia Love

Kenny Marchant

Tom Marino

Michael McCaul

Tom McClintock

Patrick McHenry

Mark Meadows

Jeff Miller

Markwayne Mullin

Randy Neugebauer

Pete Olson

Steven Palazzo

Robert Pittenger

Ted Poe

Mike Pompeo

Bill Posey

Tom Price

John Ratcliffe

Phil Roe

Mike D. Rogers

Dana Rohrabacher

Tom Rooney

Keith Rothfus

David Schweikert

Pete Sessions

Mike Simpson

Adrian Smith

Jason Smith

Ann Wagner

Mark Walker

Randy Weber

Bruce Westerman

Roger Williams

Robert Wittman

Steve Womack

Ted Yoho


May 12, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

The 10 Best States to be Undocumented

This list was prepared by PM Guardian based on access to various benefits, services, etc.:

1.  California

2.  Texas

3.  Arizona

4.  Maryland (Montgomery County)

5.  New Mexico

6.  Oregon

7. Connecticut

8.  Colorado

9.  Utah

10.  New York

I am not sure how Arizona comes in as number 3, with (1) police in that state allowed under Section 2(B) of SB 1070, which was not invalidated by the Supreme Court in Arizona v. United States, to stop and questions persons who they reasonably suspect of being in the state in violation of the immigration laws; and (2) Sheriff Joe Arpaio in charge of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office.

Illegal Immigration Rights by State
The 10 Best States for Illegal Immigrants[INFOGRAPHIC]


May 12, 2015 in Current Affairs, Law Review Articles & Essays | Permalink | Comments (0)

Ever the Protectors, Moms Seeking Asylum Need Protection, Too


In one of a series of commentaries in American Prospect on Mother's Day 2015, Nina Rabin writes of the harsh impacts of the Obama administration's family detention policies on mothers from Central America.  In last year’s Mother’s Day Proclamation, President Obama recommended we put our moms first “because they so often put everything above themselves.” He said we should “extend our gratitude for our mothers' unconditional love and support” because “when women succeed, America succeeds.” Obama should have specified that his enthusiasm for moms is strictly limited to American moms. Last summer, his administration systematically locked up over a thousand mothers and children, fleeing for their lives from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. The United States is in the midst of the largest buildup of family detention facilities since the Japanese internment camps during World War II. This will represent is nearly a 40-fold increase from the number of family detention beds that existed just over a year ago, when Obama spoke of “putting moms first.”


May 12, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigration Article of the Day: Unlocking Human Dignity: A Plan to Transform the US Immigrant Detention System by Migration and Refugee Services/ United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Center for Migration Studies

Executive Summary

Unlocking Human Dignity: A Plan to Transform the US Immigrant Detention System addresses one of the most troubled features of the US immigration system and highlights the need for fundamental changes to it. The report comes six years since the inception of the Obama administration’s detention reform initiative. In the interim, the number of immigrant detainees per year has risen to more than 400,000, the administration has opened immense new family detention centers, and the overwhelming majority of persons in the custody of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have remained in prisons, jails and other secure facilities where they are subject to standards designed for criminal defendants and, in many ways, treated more harshly than criminals.

The report’s overarching recommendation is that the US immigrant detention system be dismantled and replaced with a network of supervised release, case management, and community support programs, designed to ensure court appearances. It recognizes that detention may be necessary for short periods and in certain cases, but it rejects detention as a central immigrant “management” tool, and argues that detention should only be used as a last resort if less harmful strategies and programs—viewed on a continuum beginning with the least restrictive and moving to release programs with different levels of supervision, monitoring, and support—cannot reasonably ensure court appearances or (in rare cases) protect the public. It opposes the detention of pregnant and nursing women, bona fide asylum seekers, the very ill, the disabled, the elderly, and other vulnerable persons. It calls for the substantial contraction of detention facilities and “bed space.”

As the first step in this process, the report urges Congress to commission a comprehensive study on the benefits, challenges, cost, and time frame for creating a civil immigration detention system. It also proposes that the administration create a full menu of court compliance programs, with varying degrees of supervision, reporting, oversight and monitoring. In order to realize this vision, it offers several additional recommendations.

  • The Obama administration should desist from using detention as a “deterrent” to illegal migration and de facto refugee flows. DHS should close its family detention centers in favor of community-based supervision and support programs for immigrant families. The vast majority of families would appear for removal proceedings with appropriate orientation, supervision and community support. The growth of an immense family detention infrastructure will not (as intended) deter imperiled persons from seeking refuge in the United States, but will invariably lead to the return of de facto refugees to their persecutors in violation of international law.
  • Congress should pass legislation to repeal mandatory detention in all but the most egregious criminal and national security cases. US mandatory detention laws cover lawful permanent residents, asylum seekers, petty offenders, and persons with US families and other enduring ties to the United States. By definition, they prevent individualized release determinations based on family ties, employment, housing, criminal history, and other factors. In the overwhelming majority of cases, immigration judges or judicial officers should be permitted to consider the full range of equities and release options for persons in removal proceedings, whether formal court proceedings or non-court, administrative and summary processes.
  • Private corporations should have a more limited, regulated and modest role in a shrinking detention system. The federal government has increasingly ceded responsibility for detention to entities whose loyalties run to their shareholders, not the common good. By some estimates, for-profit prison corporations administer more than 60 percent of the “beds” in the US immigrant detention system. Rather than expanding its reliance on for-profit prison companies, the federal government ought to decrease the use of detention, develop greater government expertise, and strengthen oversight of private contractors.
  • Detention reform should include a significant expansion of Alternative to Detention programs (ATD). Detention should only be used sparingly, for brief periods (when necessary), and as a last resort when less restrictive strategies cannot reasonably ensure appearances during the adjudication and removal process and cannot protect the public. ATD programs can offer effective, humane alternatives to detention. However, they should not be used to expand detention capacity. Like detention, intensive reporting and monitoring programs can stigmatize and incapacitate persons. If necessary, ATD programs should be treated as a form of custody, which would open them to mandatory detainees.
  • Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) should undertake a comprehensive analysis of its information systems. The proposed review should identify the information ICE tracks on those who are subject to its custody; how, when, and which officials collect, enter, and can access this information; its quality control procedures; and the accessibility of information to congressional oversight committees, government watchdog agencies, relevant ICE officials, and the public.
  • Detained immigrants—those who do not qualify for release or ATD programs—should be held in non-penal settings which reflect the conditions of normal life to the extent feasible. DHS should provide generous access to international organizations, faith-based groups, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and the press, to all of its facilities.
  • Immigration judges should adjudicate removal cases now handled through administrative, informal and non-court processes, and should make release and custody determinations soon after their detention for all persons in DHS custody. They should also regularly revisit custody decisions for detainees. However, these responsibilities—added to an immense yearly workload and a daunting backlog of more than 440,000 cases—will require increases in funding and staffing by an order of magnitude. As it stands, the immigration court system receives less than two percent of the combined funding of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and ICE. The cost of “right-sizing” the immigration court system may well be offset by reductions in DHS detention funding and diminished federal court expenses from habeas corpus petitions.
  • Unrepresented, indigent persons in removal proceedings should be provided with legal representation at the government’s expense. As numerous studies have revealed, legal counsel is one of the most important factors, even more important than the strength of the underlying legal claim, in influencing asylum and other case outcomes. Representation also increases court appearance rates and leads to decreased overall costs to the government due to reduced use of detention, more efficient court proceedings, and less frequent placement of the children of detainees in foster care. More importantly, it contributes to the right decisions being made under the law.

Migration and Refugee Services of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (MRS/USCCB) and the Center for Migration Studies (CMS) approach the detention of immigrants from a pastoral perspective. Each day US Catholic institutions minister to detained immigrants, represent them in removal proceedings, tend to the material and spiritual needs of their families, and witness the pain of traumatized children and the anguish of divided families. Because of the detention system’s devastating effect on the lives of millions of persons each year, MRS/USCCB and CMS strongly support the transformation of this system and urge the Obama administration and Congress to proceed with the proposed reforms with all deliberate haste.


May 12, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 11, 2015

Death Penalty Phase of Boston Marathon Bomber Trial Nearing Completion


The death penalty phase of the Boston Marathon bomber trial is coming to a close.  As the Boston Globe reports, jurors in the death penalty phase of the trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who previously was found guilty for his role in the 2013 bombing, "have learned plenty over the past two weeks about jihad and Chechen history. They have seen photos of the conservative Muslim attire of Tsarnaev’s once-stylish mother and ex-boxing brother. They’ve seen images of young Tsarnaev holding a newborn and playing with a friend’s dog. But still, the main character in the drama that has been unfolding at the federal courthouse since early March remains inscrutable.  More than 40 defense witnesses have painted a portrait of his emotionally volatile immigrant family grasping for livelihoods and identities. However, it remains unclear just how this family caused Tsarnaev — portrayed as smart, kind, and studious in high school — to throw away his college ambitions and take the radical measure of joining his older brother in a deadly bombing mission at the 2013 Boston Marathon."

Most important, trial observers say that it remains unclear whether Tsarnaev is remorseful.

Tsarnaev was born in Kyrgyzstan. As a child, his family moved to Russia and then, when he was eight years old, to the United States.  He is a naturalized U.S. citizen.


May 11, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigration debate roils GOP

 Martin Matishak and Cristina Marcos in The Hill report on a battle brewing among House Republicans on immigration.  "A group of dissident Republicans in the House are clashing with their colleagues on President Obama's deferred deportation program for illegal immigrants. Led by Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.), the band of lawmakers hailing from Hispanic-heavy districts are becoming increasingly vocal about their dissatisfaction with the party's refusal to accept some type of legal status for people who were brought to the country as children. The dissidents say the so-called "Dreamers" should be eligible for military service, and succeeded in adding language to the defense bill slated for the floor this week calling for the Pentagon to review the possibility. Conservatives are vowing to ensure those provisions are stripped out, setting up a fight that could create a war of words between the two sides."


May 11, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)