Tuesday, February 24, 2015
Lauren Gambino for The Guardian reports that a top U.S. government health official earlier this week attempted to dispel claims of a link between the recent measles outbreak and undocumnted immigration to the United States.
Anne Schuchat, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said there was no evidence to support claims that measles is being imported into the country by undocumented immigrants. Most commonly, she said, measles reaches the US through unvaccinated Americans who travel to Europe or Asia. She said further that "the Americas was the first region to actually eliminate measles. . . . In fact, the year’s outbreak, associated with the Disney park, the US exported measles virus to Mexico. So we see the virus unfortunately going the other direction.”
There have been 154 confirmed cases of measles in the US this year, a majority of them linked to initial exposure at California’s Disneyland theme park. According to the CDC, 17 states and Washington DC have reported cases of the disease. Canada and Mexico have also reported cases stemming from the Disneyland outbreak.
Some anti-immigration reform advocates have tried to force a connection between measles and immigration. Last year, during the height of public concern over Ebola, health officials were forced to debunk claims that undocumented children fleeing poverty and violence in Central America were carrying the disease, which was affecting countries in west Africa.
Schuchat responded to such claims before a Senate health committee earlier this month, telling lawmakers the current measles outbreak could most likely be traced back to a strain that came from the Philippines, which saw its immunization structure destroyed by a typhoon in 2013.
Call for Papers: THE RUSSELL SAGE FOUNDATION JOURNAL OF THE SOCIAL SCIENCES -- UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRATION: EFFECTS OF POLICY ON THE EXPERIENCE OF ILLEGALITY
THE RUSSELL SAGE FOUNDATION JOURNAL OF THE SOCIAL SCIENCES: UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRATION: EFFECTS OF POLICY ON THE EXPERIENCE OF ILLEGALITY Edited by Roberto G. Gonzales, Graduate School of Education Harvard University, and Steven Raphael, Goldman School of Public Policy University of California, Berkeley
Roughly one-third of the foreign-born population residing in the United States is unauthorized, totaling nearly twelve million individuals. In the absence of sweeping changes in federal immigration law, various policies in the United States effectively relegate the unauthorized to a secondary status, with labor market opportunities limited to low-wage jobs and informal employment and binding restrictions to social mobility for both adults and children. However, while tighter border enforcement has made it more likely for undocumented immigrants to stay in the United States once here, the current period has been marked by record levels of deportations. High deportation levels, aggressive prosecution for immigration violations in federal courts, and increasing cooperation between local and federal authorities in enforcing immigration law have likely pushed undocumented immigrants further out on the margins of their communities and isolated them from many formal public institutions. And in the absence of federal immigration reform, states and municipalities have been left to craft their own proposed solutions. Taken together, current policies and practices have shaped the everyday experiences and a range of outcomes of a relatively large and settled population of undocumented immigrants. However, these individuals do not live in isolation, and these practices have also had ripple effects on their citizen spouses and children, legal resident relatives, native-born, co-ethnics, and their neighbors and co-workers.
In this special issue of RSF we will assemble an interdisciplinary team of researchers employing a wide range of methodologies to explore the effects of federal, state, and local policy on the experience of illegality in the United States in its multiple domains. In particular, the authors will investigate the effects of illegality on various pathways to social mobility and the barriers created by this status to full civic participation in the country's institutions.
Please click here for a full description of the topics covered in this call for papers.
Prospective contributors should submit a CV and an abstract (up to two pages in length, single or double spaced) of their study along with up to two pages of supporting material (e.g., tables, figures, pictures, etc.) no later than 5 PM EST on May 15, 2015 to: https://rsfjournal.onlineapplicationportal.com
All submissions must be original work that has not been previously published in part or in full. Only abstracts submitted to https://rsfjournal.onlineapplicationportal.com will be considered. Each paper will receive a $1,000 honorarium when the issue is published. The journal issue is being edited by Roberto G. Gonzales, Graduate School of Education, Harvard University, and Steven Raphael, Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley. All questions regarding this issue should be directed to Suzanne Nichols, Director of Publications, at firstname.lastname@example.org and not to the email addresses of the editors of the special issue.
A conference will take place at RSF in New York City on October 2, 2015. The selected contributors will gather for a one-day workshop to present draft papers (due on September 9, 2015, a month prior to the conference) and receive feedback from the other contributors and editors. Travel costs, food, and lodging will be covered by the foundation. Papers will be circulated before the conference. After the conference, the authors will submit their revised drafts. The papers will then be sent out to two additional scholars for formal peer review. Having received feedback from reviewers and the RSF board, authors will revise their papers. The full and final issue will be published in the late 2016. Papers will be published open access on the RSF website as well as in several digital repositories, including JSTOR.
Please click here for a full description of the topics covered in this call for papers.
Recap of Oral Arguments in Kerry v. Din: Review of consular visa decisions for the twenty-first century
Ed Kneedler arguing Kerry v. Din
Ed Kneedler of the Office of the Solicitor General took a "take-no-prisoners" approach to defending the doctrine of consular nonreviewability and repeatedly invoked the Cold Warrior cases of Knauff (1950) and Mezei (1953) (an approach that Chuck Roth thoughtfully commented upon here), which law professors love to hate. Mark Haddad for Fauzia Din took a more measured approach calling for the Court to apply its decision in Kleindienst v. Mandel (1972) and affirm the court of appeals decision allowing for narrow judicial review of visa denials by consular officers.
My bottom line: A 5-4 Court applies Mandel to the facts of this case. However, it is far from certain whether the Court will find that the visa denial in this case satisfied the facially legitimate and bona fide requirement of Mandel.
The stalemate over the funding of the Department of Homeland Security continues, with Republicans pushing for the nuclear option on the President's executive actions on immigration and Democrats defeating those attempts. Elise Foley on Huffington Post reports that the Senate has a plan to break the standstill on DHS funding.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced Monday that the chamber will vote on a stand-alone bill to block President Barack Obama's immigration executive actions. That bill will be separate from funding for DHS, at risk of shutting down after Feb. 27 because of the impasse over whether funding legislation should include measures to block Obama's immigration actions. If Republicans move next to vote on a DHS funding bill without those riders, a DHS shutdown could be averted. It remains unclear whether conservative lawmakers would be open to such a strategy.
McConnell announced the plan for a stand-alone bill after Senate Democrats for the fourth time blocked a House-passed bill that would fund DHS and stop an array of Obama's immigration policies.
For further analysis from The Hill, click here.
Immigration Article of the Day: Carrie L. Rosenbaum, The Role of Equality Principles in Preemption Analysis of Sub-Federal Immigration Laws: The California TRUST Act
Carrie L. Rosenbaum, The Role of Equality Principles in Preemption Analysis of Sub-Federal Immigration Laws: The California TRUST Act, Chapman Law Review (2015) Download The Role of Equality Principles in Preemption Analysis of Sub-federal Immigration Laws
Secure Communities, and now the Obama Administration’s Priority Enforcement Program, incentivize local law enforcement officers to potentially misuse their discretion in enforcement of criminal law to identify those they suspect of being unauthorized migrants. TRUST Acts evolved in part as an attempt to curtail the possibility of such abuses of discretion by limiting local law enforcement’s ability to detain individuals beyond their original criminal incarceration pursuant to Immigration and Customs Enforcement hold requests. The question of whether federal immigration law preempts state and local legislation related to immigration law has primarily focused on anti-immigrant measures. In this article however, I address preemption of immigrant integrative sub-federal immigration laws like California’s TRUST Act, which may decrease the harms caused by potentially racially imbued discretionary sub-federal policing. Specifically, I contend that federal immigration law does not preempt TRUST Acts, particularly when assessed in light of equality principles. With little likelihood of comprehensive federal immigration reform, sub-federal entities will likely continue to create measures relating to immigration law. It may be possible that integrative ones have a stronger basis in the law than those that are anti-immigrant.
Supporting Immigrant Integration in Europe: What Role for Origin Countries' Subnational Authorities?
A new Migration Policy Institute Europe report, Supporting Immigrant Integration in Europe: What Role for Origin Countries’ Subnational Authorities?, examines the efforts that a number of major migrant-sending countries—including Morocco, Turkey, and Mexico—have undertaken to promote the successful integration of their immigrants abroad. The report is part of the INTERACT research initiative co-financed by the European Commission, which is examining to what extent policies in EU Member States and origin countries complement or contradict each other with regards to immigrant integration.
The substantial role that subnational authorities in EU Member States play in the governance of migrant integration is widely recognized. Regional and local authorities in Member States have control over the implementation and delivery of a wide array of integration-related services. However, while much is known about integration at the subnational level in receiving countries, little is known about the role of corresponding authorities in migrant-sending countries.
A number of major migrant-sending countries (including Morocco, Turkey, and Mexico) have started to promote the successful integration of their immigrants abroad, with the expectation that successfully integrated immigrants have more to offer their countries of origin. Until now, the substantial diaspora engagement measures seen most often at the national level have overshadowed activities at the regional and local level. But as a significant number of these countries undergo decentralization reforms and make efforts to strengthen local governance, the role of subnational authorities in supporting migrants begins to take on a new meaning.
This MPI Europe report represents the first attempt to investigate how the activities of origin countries' regional and local institutions may improve the lives of emigrants to Member States of the European Union. It discusses relevant obstacles as well as opportunities for sending-country cities, regional political entities, and federated states in the design and implementation of policy measures to improve the trajectories of migrants. The report also underscores the importance of international cooperation at the subnational level—specifically city-to-city partnerships—focusing on well-established migration corridors in Europe with the assumption that historical links or geographic proximity can make cooperation easier.
Monday, February 23, 2015
Asian Americans Advancing Justice Asian Law Caucus is seeking to support Nan-Hui Jo, a survivor of domestic violence, who may be just days away from permanent separation from her six-year-old daughter.
For the past seven months, Nan-Hui has been separated from her child and continues to be detained at Yolo County Jail in Woodland, CA. In 2009, Nan-Hui fled with her child to South Korea, her home country, after physical and emotional abuse at the hands of her then-partner and child's father.
On two occasions in August 2009 and October 2009, Nan-Hui called the police in Sacramento after her child's father physically abused her. After Nan-Hui left her child's father, he reported her for kidnapping. In July 2014, when she returned to the United States, she immediately was arrested for alleged child abduction.
Nan-Hui is also a victim of ICE's systematic deportation apparatus that has deported over 2 million individuals during President Obama's administration. Nan-Hui's case highlights the dysfunction within ICE, which forcibly separates 1,100 families a day.
Refugees, asylees and caregivers share their stories to help professionals and volunteers understand the needs of the more than a million survivors of torture rebuilding lives in the US.
It's estimated that more than a million refugees, asylum-seekers and other immigrants to the United States have been victims of politically motivated torture. They come here from all parts of the world -- some legally, some undocumented, some with families and some very much alone. They live in major American cities and in small towns. Some survivors bear visible scars, but many more have been wounded in ways that remain hidden.
Advocates for torture survivors, dedicated healthcare and social service professionals, and hundreds of citizen volunteers have united to create programs throughout the country that provide care and support to survivors who have come here to make new lives.
This documentary highlights five treatment and support programs in Minneapolis, Atlanta, the Boston Area, and Washington, DC. Based on interviews with dozens of survivors and with the professionals and volunteers who are helping them to heal, this film is a tribute to their courage and dedication, and a call to action.
We've already covered Sean Penn's attempt at immigration humor, but there was much more to the Oscars this year.
Mexican-born director Alejandro González Iñárritu won three Oscars for his film Birdman: Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Picture for Birdman.
In accepting his award for Best Picture, Iñárritu said: "I want to dedicate this award for my fellow Mexicans, the ones who live in Mexico. I pray that we can build the government that we deserve. And the ones living in this country who are part of the latest generation of immigrants in this country, I just pray that they can be treated with the same dignity and respect of the ones who came before and built this incredible nation."
Interestingly, last year's winner for Best Director was also Mexican: Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity).
One of the highlights of the show was the performance of Glory, an original song composed for the movie Selma, by John Legend and Common, backed by a huge chorus. English-born David Oyelowo who played Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the movie was moved to tears by the performance. You will be, too.
Legomsky on Obama's Executive Actions on Immigration: "The President’s actions are well within his legal authority"
On February 25, Professor Stephen H. Legomsky, John S. Lehmann University Professor at Washington University School of Law, will testify before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary on the legality of President Obama's executive actions on immigration. The written testimony can be downloaded at Download Legomsky testimony Here is Professor Legomsky's conclusion:
"Reasonable people of good faith can certainly differ over the precise priorities the President should adopt when enforcing the nation’s immigration laws with finite resources. Like the overwhelming majority of other immigration law professors and scholars, however, I believe that the legal authority for both the Prosecutorial Discretion Memo and the DACA/DAPA Memo is clear. There are Congress’s express assignment of responsibility to the Secretary of Homeland Security for `establishing national immigration enforcement policies and priorities,' in 6 U.S.C. § 202(5); the additional broad authority conferred by 8 U.S.C. § 1103(a); the long-settled recognition, by all three branches of our government, of broad prosecutorial discretion; the multiple provisions in which Congress has specifically recognized deferred action by name; the formal regulations that similarly recognize deferred action by name; the court decisions that do the same; the express grant by Congress of the power to decide who may be eligible for work permits; the formal regulations that have long made deferred action recipients specifically eligible for work permits; the absence of numerical limitations in any of these legal sources of authority; and the fact that the recent policy announcements will not prevent the President from continuing to spend all the immigration enforcement resources Congress gives him. All these sources lead to the same conclusion: The President’s actions are well within his legal authority."
What Would It Cost to Deport All of the Potentially 5 Million Beneficiaries of Executive Action on Immigration? $50.3 BILLION!!!!!!!
The short answer to the question posed in the headline is simple: LOTS! But this American Progress analysis by Philip E. Wolgin is much more specific than that.
One month ago, the House of Representatives passed a funding bill for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, or DHS, that if enacted, would end the immigration directives announced by President Barack Obama on November 20, 2014. Ending executive action would place 5 million people—the majority of whom are young DREAMers or parents of citizens or permanent residents—back in the crosshairs for deportation. But what would it actually take to deport these 5 million people? Put simply, it would cost more than $50.3 billion dollars to deport this entire population—an average cost of $10,070 per person.
Instead of pretending that the United States will deport all 5 million individuals shielded by the president’s executive action, Congress should pass an immigration reform bill that puts them on a path to legal status, toward becoming full and equal members of society.
Today, the Supreme Court denied certiorari in Rivas v. Holder, an Eleventh Circuit immigration case. In that case, the court of appeals addressed the question whether a removable alien who has left and reentered the United States may obtain nunc pro tunc a waiver of inadmissibility. See Immigration and Nationality Act § 212(h), 8 U.S.C. § 1182(h). The State of Florida twice convicted Giovanny Rivas of petit larceny, which rendered him removable. But before the Department of Homeland Security initiated removal proceedings, Rivas left the United States and then reentered on three separate occasions without notifying border officials of his ineligibility to reenter. After the Department initiated removal proceedings, an immigration judge granted Rivas a waiver of inadmissibility based on Matter of Sanchez, 17 I. & N. Dec 218 (BIA 1980) (holding that a waiver is retroactively available if an alien could have received one when seeking reentry at the border but who now seeks one from within the United States). When the Department appealed, the Board of Immigration Appeals interpreted the waiver provision, 8 U.S.C. § 1182(h), which Congress amended after the Board decided Matter of Sanchez, to require that an alien seek a waiver of inadmissibility when he applies for a visa, admission to the United States, or an adjustment of status. The Board ordered Rivas removed on the ground that he failed to file an application for an adjustment of status concurrently with his application for a waiver. The Eleventh Circuit found the BIA's interpretation of the waiver provision to be reasonable and denied Rivas’s petition for review.
NPR reports that, as Congress debates the Obama administration's immigration policies, the immigration court system is bogged down in delays caused by the increase of unaccompanied minors from Central America last summer. The administration made it a priority for those cases to be heard immediately. As a result, hundreds of thousands of other cases have been delayed until as late as 2019.
The National Immigration Forum ran an ad at the Daytona 500 supporting increased immigration. The ad was slated to run on the Daytona 500 Jumbotron twice an hour, 12 hours a day, including during the race. The ad also will run at the Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway later in the year.
For many Americans, watching the Academy Awards with family and friends is a pleasant way to spend a Sunday night. This year, a joke by Hollywood bad boy Sean Penn in giving the "Best Picture" Award for Birdman ended the show on a controversial note.
As described by the Associated Press, "Sean Penn's remark about Mexican-born Oscar-winner Alejandro Inarritu's immigration status at the end of Sunday's Academy Awards telecast struck many as an insult, but the director says it was nothing more than a brutal joke between old friends. In announcing the win for `Birdman,' Penn asked, `Who gave this son of a bitch his green card? Birdman.' The term `green card' refers to a document that confers permanent residency to immigrants in the United States."
Inarritu directed Penn in his 2003 film "21 Grams," and the pair are friends. The director won three Oscars.
Was Penn's jibe a joke between friends or a racist insult? Check out the judgments on Twitter here.
DHS Secretary Confirms that Administration Will Seek Stay in Texas v. United States, Criticizes Congressional Failure to Appropriate Funds to Keep DHS in Operation
Yesterday, it was confirmed that, as announced late last week, the Obama administration plans to seek an emergency stay of the preliminary injunction barring implementation of the expanded deferred action program entered by the district court in Texas v. United States pending the appeal. Homeland Security. Secretary Jeh Johnson's comments on the Sunday morning news show circuit confirm White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest's remarks Friday that an appeal is coming Monday.
Johnson also criticized the failure of Congress to pass appropriations legislation for DHS, with the agency facing a shutdown due to lack of funding at the end of the week.
UPDATE (2/23 10:30 PST): The CrImmigration blog has posted the notice of appeal and motion for a stay filed by the U.S. government today.
Sunday, February 22, 2015
The Supreme Court will hear arguments Monday in Kerry v. Din, in which the wife of a man denied a visa seeks to challenge that visa denial. The government says that it is excluding Ms. Din’s husband (Mr. Berashk) under the terrorism-related inadmissibility grounds, for something he did, or said, or supported, at some point during his life. The government refuses any further explanation (though many speculate that it may be related to his low-level work in the Afghan Ministry of Education, employment he did not renounce during the years in which the Taliban held sway in Kabul).
In the face of a legal regime which has refused to hear appeals from excluded noncitizens, some courts have adopted the commonsensical position that U.S. citizens like Ms. Din have an interest in the issuance of a visa to their spouses, and on that basis have reviewed consular decisions. The spousal standing issue is the issue most prominently presented by Din. The government argues that Ms. Din has no particular rights with regard to her husband’s visa, and thus no standing to claim anything. It says that it isn’t interfering in her marriage, that she is free to live in marital union with her husband anywhere in the world – except this, her country. The Court could decline to opine on broad consular reviewability issues entirely if it finds that Ms. Din lacks standing in the case.
But it seems likely that the Court will address consular nonreviewability, and the government is seeking a sweeping vindication of its authority to exclude whoever it wants without owing an explanation to anyone. Two prominent authorities it cites are the Supreme Court decisions in United States ex rel. Knauff v. Shaughnessy, 338 U.S. 537 (1950) and Shaughnessy v. United States ex rel. Mezei, 345 U.S. 206, 212 (1953). Those two decisions, issued at the height of the Cold War, limited the power of federal courts over noncitizens seeking entry into the United States, invoking the plenary power doctrine. In each case, the government declined to give any reasons for the exclusion of noncitizens, and in each case the Supreme Court narrowly affirmed that authority. The Solicitor General’s briefs in Din naturally rely heavily on those two cases, citing them more than a dozen times.
In light of that reliance, it’s interesting to note that the factual gaps left open by the government legal case in Mezei and Knauff were filled in by history, thanks to unusual post-decision developments. Sustained media and public attention to Mrs. Knauff and Mr. Mezei resulted in Congressional proposals and hearings, and in both cases, the Attorney General ultimately authorized actual hearings to decide whether these individuals were excludable. That act of executive grace in turn allowed a glimpse into the world of secret governmental fiat. It is a history well-told in Professor Weisselberg’s provocative piece, The Exclusion and Detention of Aliens: Lessons from the Lives of Ellen Knauff and Ignatz Mezei.
I hate to boil down such a fascinating piece into bullets (read for yourself and see if I’m wrong), but I took three lessons from that history, all of which have direct relevance in Din.
1. The truth is usually prosaic. The majority in Mezei alluded darkly to Mezei’s time abroad trying to get to Romania to visit his dying mother, describing his odyssey as “remain[ing] behind the Iron Curtain for 19 months.” When the government actually made its case against him, it relied chiefly on a conviction for receiving a stolen bag of flour and his implausible denial of knowledge about the “still” his wife was convicted of possessing during Prohibition. The closest the government came to communism was Mezei’s involvement with the Hungarian lodge of the International Workers Order. The IWO was regarded by some as a communist-front organization, and Mezei had been Secretary and President of the Buffalo Hungarian lodge. The Board ultimately found credible evidence that Mezei had been a communist, but made a subsidiary finding that he played only a minor role by attending meetings and distributing literature. The Attorney General paroled Mezei from immigration detention, and he resided without incident in Buffalo through his old age.
The terrorism bars sound at least as ominous as Mezei’s 19 months behind the Iron Curtain, but they usually involve prosaic (if not praiseworthy) conduct. Those bars are primarily invoked against people found to have “supported” groups that are labeled as “terrorist groups” because our laws define any use of arms against any governmental authority (no matter how awful) as terrorism. Even allies against Saddam Hussein are considered terrorist groups; the Founding Fathers would have qualified under our definition. Human Rights First wrote a powerful report explaining the terrorism bars and their (mis)application.
Whatever Mr. Berashk did in Afghanistan is unlikely to have been serious, much less a threat to this country. When the substance is eventually revealed (as it will be, some day) it may be too late for immigration law, but it will be embarrassing to our government all the same.
2. Misunderstandings persist when decisions are made in secret. Ellen Knauff was alleged to have passed secret information, including information about a decoding machine, to Czechoslovak agents when she had been working for the U.S. Army in Europe in 1948. Once she understood the charges against her, she was able to rebut them, providing evidence that her unit didn’t have access to confidential information, and that their decoding machines were not classified or secret (and had been given away for free to the Germans). Indeed, Ellen Knauff prevailed in her case: the BIA found the allegations against her unsupported and ordered her admitted to the United States for permanent residence—a finding approved by the Attorney General.
The government gets nervous discussing terrorism-bar allegations, like spying. But even the most basic explanation of the allegation is often enough to allow the noncitizen to give a convincing explanation. The amicus brief filed by NIJC and AILA in Din compared noncitizens facing terrorism allegations while within the U.S. – where our hearing process gives noncitizens some explanation of the allegations and a chance to respond – and those people at consulates abroad. It’s not that the government shared classified information with noncitizens inside the U.S.; it’s that the government said enough to allow the person a chance to respond. The “terrorism bar” problem can be as simple as a mistranslated document, or a misunderstanding about the political history of a far-off land. It seems obvious to say it, but Knauff’s case is a reminder that one of the glories of our legal process is its ability to ferret out truth and to give two sides the opportunity to engage with each other. Of course, this can’t happen when even the most basic explanations of the issue are kept secret.
3. Secret processes invite unfairness and abuse. Mezei’s affiliation with the IWO triggered his problems, but it turned out that there were also secret allegations made against him by a former-communist-turned-government-witness. A man named Manning Johnson (who testified against him) was one of his accusers. It eventually came out that he had accused numerous people of being communists based on lies. Perjury investigations were eventually initiated against Manning because his testimony in other cases was provably false; by then Mezei had been detained for over four years.
It’s not likely that many consular cases involve outright perjury; but Manning Johnson is unique primarily in that his means were outright criminal and he got caught. His underlying motivations – wishing to perpetuate the government’s need for his services, and perhaps a desire to achieve prominence and distinction – are not particularly rare. Secret processes invite this sort of behavior precisely because there is no check upon it. In any bureaucratic system, it may sometimes be easier not to correct a mistake than to let it persist. A decision to countenance secret process is a decision to countenance occasional (or more-than-occasional) cases of abuse or unfairness and to leave noncitizens and their families without remedy.
Some supporters of plenary power view the post-decisional history of Knauff and Mezei as vindicating the courts’ decision to permit exclusion without judicial review. It seems closer to the truth to say that Congress and the Executive salvaged justice for these individuals when the Supreme Court’s unfortunate decisions failed to do so. It remains to be seen whether the Court in Din will do justice to Ms. Din and her family. If it again fails to do so, I wish I had more optimism that the American public and our legal profession will again rally to achieve justice without the Court’s help. One would hope that the passage of 50 years would leave us a better and more just country, one which is too good to leave a couple separated forever on the anonymous say-so of a government official.
Federal jury in SPLC case awards $14 million to Indian guest workers victimized in labor trafficking scheme
District Court Judge Susie Morgan
It has been a busy week in immigration developments but this labor trafficking case handled by the Southern Poverty Law Center deserves attention.
A federal jury late last week awarded $14 million in compensatory and punitive damages to five Indian guest workers who were defrauded and exploited in a labor trafficking scheme engineered by a Gulf Coast marine services company, an immigration lawyer and an Indian labor recruiter who lured hundreds of workers to a Mississippi shipyard with false promises of permanent U.S. residency.
After a four-week trial before U.S. District Judge Susie Morgan, the jury ruled that Signal International and others engaged in labor trafficking, fraud, racketeering and discrimination. The jury also found that one of the five plaintiffs was a victim of false imprisonment and retaliation.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Signal used the U.S. government’s H-2B guest worker program to import nearly 500 men from India to work as welders, pipefitters and in other positions to repair damaged oil rigs and related facilities. The workers each paid the labor recruiters and a lawyer between $10,000 and $20,000 or more in recruitment fees and other costs after recruiters promised good jobs, green cards and permanent U.S. residency for them and their families. Most sold property or plunged their families deeply into debt to pay the fees. When the men arrived at Signal shipyards in Pascagoula, Mississippi, beginning in 2006, they discovered that they wouldn’t receive the green cards or permanent residency that had been promised. Signal also forced them each to pay $1,050 a month to live in isolated, guarded labor camps where as many as 24 men shared a space the size of a double-wide trailer. None of Signal’s non-Indian workers were required to live in the company housing.
The Southern Poverty Law Center's co-counsel in this case are Crowell & Moring, LLP, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, Sahn Ward Coschignano & Baker, and the Louisiana Justice Institute.
Taking on, among others Michael McConnell, Anil Kalhan in a post on Dorf on Law carefully analyzes Judge Andrew S. Hanen's preliminary injunction ruling in Texas v. United States, which put on hold for now President Obama's expanded deferred action programs for undocumented immigrants. Despite the claims of defenders that Judge Hanan's opinion is "narrowly crafted," Kalhan conclusion is summarized as follows:
"Judge Hanen’s opinion is remarkably sweeping in its tenor and its potential significance—and ultimately does not turn on any sort of distinction between the exercise of prosecutorial discretion, on the one hand, and the extension of `affirmative benefits,' on the other. The ruling should be understood as `narrowly crafted' in the same sense that someone wielding a velvet-lined sledge hammer as a weapon should be understood as `subtle.'”