Friday, August 17, 2018
Jacey Fortin in the New York Times reports on how a tweet led to an avalanche of support for migrant families separated at the border. On the morning of August 6, law professor Beth Wilensky at the University of Michigan tweeted about a family that had been separated by immigration authorities after crossing into the United States. “I came back and checked my Twitter feed and said, ‘Oh my goodness,’” Ms. Wilensky recalled. Her post was blowing up, on its way to getting tens of thousands of retweets.
The tweet said: “My husband travels a lot. Downside: he’s gone a lot. Upside: frequent flier miles. We just used some to fly a 3-yr-old and his dad, who had been separated at the border, from Michigan (where the son had been taken) to their extended family. DM me if you have miles to donate.”
In her responses, Ms. Wilensky included a link to Miles4Migrants, a two-year-old group that uses donated frequent flier miles to transport refugees to new homes or to reunite families divided by conflict. On that Monday alone, Miles4Migrants received pledges of over one million miles. That number has now ballooned to more than 28 million.
Miles4Migrants grew out of a Reddit group dedicated to “credit churning,” a risky practice that involves systematically signing up for credit cards to win bonuses and points to cover airfare and hotel costs, and even to get cash back. It is a time-consuming and “dorky” hobby, said Seth Stanton, a founding member of Miles4Migrants, which coalesced after one member of the Reddit group, Nick Ruiz, shared a story about using his air miles to help reunite a Pakistani family.
Tuesday, April 10, 2018
The 2018 Immigration Law Scholars and Teachers Workshop will take place at Drexel Law School from May 24-26, 2018. This year's theme is: Immigration Law In, Through, and Beyond Moments of Distress.
Registration is now open at this link. Register by April 15 to secure the early-bird rate!
The conference has a slew of fabulous opportunities:
- Media training (separate registration, $30)
- Clinical Workshop -- including discussion of Law Clinics in a Time of Crisis, Clinic Expansion and Fundraising, Responding to Urgency and Emergency, The Clinic Seminar, Scholarship, Your Hardest Supervision Moments: A Reflection and Debrief Session, and Our Roles as Educators Beyond the Clinic.
- Additional plenary sessions on making research relevant; immigration history; local/regional perspectives; race, exclusion, and national security in the age of Trump; and teaching immigration law in a time of “crisis”
- More breakout sessions: Addressing and Supporting Students Facing Personal/Family Trauma; Teaching During Divisive Times; International and Comparative Perspectives
- Music Making
Monday, March 12, 2018
Northeastern Immigrant Justice Clinic is up and running. The clinic is now is bustling with activity, as students conduct research for their clients seeking asylum in the U.S., draft legal briefs, and meet with their faculty supervisors in small groups to discuss the intricacies of immigration law.
The students represent the clinic’s first cohort, which began its work in November at the start of the winter quarter. The Immigrant Justice Clinic is the newest of the law school’s clinics that, collectively, provide justice and resources to people in transformative ways.
A new report released in early March by the Immigrant Justice Clinic documents the harmful effects of arrests of immigrants by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at courthouses in Massachusetts.
Monday, January 8, 2018
Guest post by Vanessa Campbell, 2L at Golden Gate University School of Law
As a first generation United States citizen by birth, my initial knowledge of immigration law stemmed from my parent’s perspective as immigrants, and their struggles in obtaining legal status and becoming naturalized citizens. I entered law school wanting to practice immigration law, this past Fall I took Professor Rosenbaum’s Immigration Law class at Golden Gate University School of Law. Part of our coursework included the opportunity to work in teams of three to draft an asylum brief for a client of the non-profit organization Al Ortro Lado, with the supervision and training of our professor and the Border Rights Project program director, Nicole Ramos.
I was excited to work on the asylum project because it involved actual cases not just another law school hypothetical. As group leader, I felt fortunate to work alongside two classmates that share the same passion as I do. Our client was a young-man seeking asylum, who fled Central America with his family, after the Mara-Salvatrucha gang threatened to kill his family. For many of us living in the United States, a threat of this sort may not seem serious, but for an individual living in a country plagued by gangs this is a real threat.
The family became the gang’s target when the mother declined to be a lookout for a scheduled police raid against the gang. After experiencing several forms of harm by the gang, including targeted recruitment of our client, physical harm to other family members, and death threats, the family felt they had no other choice but to flee their country and seek asylum in the United States.
Upon reaching the border, the family made several attempts to speak with a border agent to request asylum but were told, contrary to U.S. and international law, that political asylum was no longer offered in the United States. Eventually they were permitted to request asylum, but were split up, and held in two separate detention facilities.
Knowing our client was locked up in a detention center like a criminal made me work twice as hard to ensure one day he would have a chance to speak with an immigration judge and hopefully obtain both freedom and protection in this country. This project was more than just a grade; it meant the life and freedom of our client depended on the quality of our written work.
Our brief made a particular social group nexus argument citing M-E-V-G, and based on membership in his nuclear family, contending the cumulative direct and indirect harm he experienced rose to the level of past persecution. Even though our client was not physically harmed, the various attacks upon his family, and the gang recruitment constitute past persecution and fear of future persecution.
The hardest part of this project was not being able to meet, or communicate directly with our client detained at the border in San Diego. In the future, I hope that GGU students might get the opportunity to meet their clients in person. It would have meant a lot to our team to have been able to let our client know in person, that he had someone fighting for him on the outside.
This project taught me about teamwork, how to collaborate on a brief, how to work tirelessly to research the law, but especially how to advocate for our client. I am happy to report our brief was submitted to the court and our client was released from the detention center. It feels wonderful knowing I was part of making that happen. After taking my first immigration law course I know with 100% certainty that immigration law is my path.
[For an update on the case and related litigation alleging labor trafficking violations of immigrant detainees, including this asylum applicant, see: http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/immigration/sd-me-detention-lawsuit-20171229-story.html]
-KitJ on behalf of Vanessa Campbell
Tuesday, November 7, 2017
Mark F. Walsh for the ABA Journal reports that the legal and political furor set off by President Trump's travel ban and related executive orders has had a profound impact on U.S. law schools and students. Interest in immigration law is surging, and schools are ramping up programs and staffing to meet soaring demand from students and immigrants.
In the long term, the trend also could birth a new wave of immigration law specialists. “One of the silver linings of this administration’s policy for immigrants is it’s recruiting a generation of advocates,” says Maureen Sweeney, an immigration law instructor at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law.
Evidence that immigration law has gained a new cachet on campuses isn’t hard to find. At the Fordham University School of Law, for example, enrollment for the introductory immigration law course this fall more than tripled to 90 students from last year.
“We had to move to a larger room,” says Jennifer Gordon, a professor who teaches the class at Fordham. “Student demand jumped enormously.”
Similarly, Sweeney says her immigration law class has doubled in size to more than 50 students. Further, 9 percent of incoming students chose immigration as one of their top two law specialty preferences, an increase from 4 percent in 2014.
Wednesday, September 20, 2017
Wednesday, August 9, 2017
A team of distinguished attorneys with deep experience in trial and appellate advocacy, national security law and federal prosecution today launched the Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection at Georgetown Law.
Drawing on expert litigators, Georgetown Law’s constitutional scholarship and a strategic approach to high-impact cases, the new institute aims to teach students to use the power of the courts to defend U.S. constitutional rights and values.
The Institute’s faculty director will be Georgetown Law Professor Neal Katyal, who has previously served as faculty director of Georgetown Law’s Center on National Security and the Law, has argued 34 Supreme Court cases and has served as acting U.S. solicitor general. The executive director will be Joshua A. Geltzer, former senior director for counterterrorism at the National Security Council (NSC), who also served as senior national security legal counsel both at the NSC and in the Justice Department. Rounding out the leadership team as senior litigator will be Mary B. McCord, former acting assistant attorney general and former principal deputy assistant attorney general for national security at the Justice Department, who previously spent nearly 20 years as a career prosecutor, including as Criminal Division chief and Appellate Division deputy chief in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.
Employing the model successfully used by Katyal in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld to dramatically roll back unprecedented government policies, culminating with the landmark Supreme Court decision in 2006, the Institute will pursue strategic litigation to draw clear recognition of constitutional rights in areas such as immigration restrictions, religious discrimination, free expression and privacy protection, national security, and whistleblower protection, among other areas.
“The Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection is part of Georgetown Law’s commitment to teaching our students about constitutional design and structure, and will help reinforce the rule of law at a time when legislative oversight is often limited at all levels of our government,” said Katyal.
As with the Hamdan case, Georgetown Law scholarship and students will play a key role in helping develop, execute and support successful litigation strategies that can result in groundbreaking Supreme Court decisions. When Katyal developed and argued Hamdan all the way up to the Supreme Court, more than 70 Georgetown Law students over seven semesters participated in nearly every aspect of the case’s preparation, and the case was mooted in Georgetown Law’s esteemed Supreme Court Institute. The resulting Supreme Court decision ensured that the Geneva Conventions would apply across the globe in what the government was calling the “War on Terror,” ending ghost prisons around the world and forcing the Bush Administration to end its use of waterboarding.
“The Institute will give Georgetown Law students incomparable opportunities to participate in impact litigation from the ground up in ways that will shape a deep understanding of constitutional law and the role of the courts in our democracy. We are honored that legal leaders with the stature of Neal, Mary and Josh are building this enterprise here,” said Georgetown Law Dean William M. Treanor.
McCord and Geltzer, who will also serve as Georgetown Law visiting professors, will launch a practicum course there starting later this school year. The Institute has already started working to support critical constitutional challenges.
Today the Institute filed an amicus brief in ODonnell v. Harris County, a class action suit arguing that the Texas county’s practice of detaining misdemeanor defendants before trial based solely on their inability to pay money bail, while others who can are released, offends the Constitution, undermines confidence in the criminal justice system and fails to promote safer communities.
McCord led the drafting of the amicus brief on behalf of dozens of her fellow former and current prosecutors from around the country. It explains how reformed bail systems have been successful in ensuring appearance in court and protecting public safety by using individualized risk assessments and imposing non-financial conditions of release pending trial.
“As career prosecutors, we know that using bail to keep poor people locked up for days, weeks or even months for minor offenses is not only unconstitutional, but also counterproductive from a law enforcement perspective,” McCord said. “The legitimacy of the criminal justice system is dependent on it being a fair system that does not discriminate based on wealth.”
The Institute is also supporting key plaintiffs in another Texas case, City of El Cenizo v. Texas, which challenges a new state law that seeks to counter “sanctuary city” policies. The law, currently scheduled to take effect on September 1, purports to make it a crime for police and other public agencies to pursue an approach to enforcing federal immigration law contrary to that officially endorsed by the State of Texas, even if they believe it is in the best interest of public safety.
“Like Mary and Neal, I have dedicated much of my career to developing and defending responsible executive branch authorities,” said Geltzer who, among other things, previously worked at the Justice Department on reforming intelligence collection authorities after the Edward Snowden leaks and at the White House on developing the national strategy to fight ISIS.
“However,” Geltzer added, “we also recognize the critical importance of respecting the constitutional and moral limits to executive power, and we will fight to ensure the courts play a critical role in marking those limits and thus defending our country’s vital constitutional way of life.”
The Institute is also involved in pending legal matters related to civil servant protections and freedom of expression.
Monday, July 31, 2017
The Immigration Law Clinic, which is directed by Professors Cooper and Amagda Perez, was one of the first of its kind in the United States. Given its proximity to the Central Valley, California’s agricultural center, the Clinic is in a unique position to serve the state’s large community of both documented and undocumented immigrants. Over the years, the Clinic has represented people from all over the world, including Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Central America, Mexico, and Eastern Europe.
The Clinic is one of the only clinics in the nation devoted to representing detained immigrants before the immigration court — challenging conditions of confinement and contesting their confinement in federal court. Moreover, the Clinic emphasizes the critical intersection between immigration and criminal law, and the need to challenge unlawful and prolonged detention to ensure the rights of criminal immigrant defendants. The Clinic stands alone in its statewide role providing critical advice to public defenders about the potential immigration consequences facing immigrant defendants.
Students interview clients and witnesses, conduct factual investigations, draft pleadings and motions, prepare legal briefs, prepare witnesses for direct and cross examination, and represent immigrants at hearings at the immigration court. Under the guidance of supervising attorneys, students research and develop legal arguments, collect facts, write trial briefs, and prepare clients and witnesses. The students also prepare federal court challenges to conditions of confinement and custody and represent clients before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit with cutting-edge appellate representation.
The Clinic also engages the community in "know your rights" and naturalization workshops as well as other community-focused programs. The Clinic has close relationship with California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation. Rooted in the farm worker movement of the 1960s led by César Chavez, California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation is a privately funded rural justice center focused on serving farm workers and low-wage rural workers, regardless of their immigration status.
Immigration Law Clinic students consistently receive exceptional feedback from the immigration court regarding the high quality of their pre-hearing briefs and presentation of cases. As one immigration judge told students after granting political asylum to their client, a victim of domestic violence and torture, “Today you have saved a life.”
Tuesday, July 11, 2017
UNIVERSITY OF NEVADA, LAS VEGAS—WILLIAM S. BOYD SCHOOL OF LAW invites applications for tenure-track Associate Professors or tenured full Professors of Law. UNLV Law, one of the nation's leading public law schools, is a community of engaged scholars, teachers, and recognized community leaders. As the only law school in Nevada, UNLV Law enjoys strong state support and sustained engagement with communities across the state, including the judiciary, federal, state, and local government, and the non-profit and business sectors. Working in one of the most diverse cities in the country, members of the faculty have unique opportunities to impact their communities.
Applicants for law school faculty positions should submit a letter of interest along with a detailed resume, at least three professional references, and cites or links to published works. With respect to our clinics and legal writing program, please note that UNLV Law has a unified tenure track; accordingly, professors who teach clinics or legal writing have all of the privileges and scholarly expectations that are associated with tenure. We anticipate hiring as many as two new faculty colleagues, although of course the number of available positions is contingent on funding. We invite applications from rising and accomplished scholars in all areas. Applications are considered on a rolling basis, and appointments would likely begin with the 2018-2019 academic year.
Contact: Please send application materials to the Appointments Committee Coordinator, Teri Greenman, Faculty Appointments Committee, UNLV—Boyd School of Law, 4505 South Maryland Parkway – Campus Box 451003, Las Vegas, NV 89154-1003 or by email to 2018Appointments@law.unlv.edu. The Appointments Committee members are Francine Lipman (chair), Rachel Anderson, Ian Bartrum, Mary Beth Beazley, Lydia Nussbaum, and Jeff Stempel.
UNLV is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity educator and employer committed to excellence through diversity.
Friday, March 24, 2017
UNIVERSITY OF BALTIMORE SCHOOL OF LAW: CLINICAL FELLOW FOR CIVIL ADVOCACY CLINIC
The University of Baltimore School of Law invites applications for a Fellowship in its Civil Advocacy Clinic to start on or about July 1, 2017. This public interest fellowship program offers practicing attorneys exposure to law school clinical teaching.
The Civil Advocacy Clinic represents low-income individuals and organizations in poverty law litigation, legislative advocacy, and legal reform. The Clinic handles a wide variety of cases, which include housing, public benefits, consumer, and employment law. The Civil Advocacy Clinic Fellow's duties include direct supervision of case work by clinic students and clinic classroom teaching in coordination with clinic faculty. Fellows also pursue professional goals in conjunction with his/her clinic director, including opportunities for scholarship. Fellows are responsible for case coverage during school vacations. This position is a contractual appointment for up to two years and can be extended for a third year under certain circumstances.
Qualifications: excellent oral and written communication skills; at least two years of experience as a practicing lawyer primarily in litigation; a strong academic record and/or other indicia of high performance ability; commitment to work for low income clients and a strong interest in teaching. Fellows must be members of the Maryland Bar (currently licensed in Maryland or willing to take the next Maryland Bar exam) in order to supervise law practice by students.
Salary: The current salary is $55,000. The position includes full benefits, including retirement annuities, research support, and travel allowance.
UNIVERSITY OF BALTIMORE SCHOOL OF LAW CLINICAL FELLOW FOR IMMIGRANT RIGHTS CLINIC
The University of Baltimore School of Law invites applications for a Fellowship in its Immigrant Rights Clinic to start on or about July 1, 2017. This public interest fellowship program offers practicing attorneys exposure to law school clinical teaching, and is aimed at attorneys who wish to shift from law practice into clinical teaching.
The Immigrant Rights Clinic represents low-income immigrants in a range of direct client representation and immigrant rights policy work. Individual client work includes litigation of asylum and cancellation cases in Baltimore’s immigration court, and preparation of a broad range of applications before USCIS. The policy work has included such projects as state-level legislative amendments that would benefit immigrants in Maryland, building a brief bank for a coalition of clinics, and developing community education materials requested by a community partner. Fellows also have the opportunity to pursue other professional goals, including scholarship, during the Fellowship. Fellows are responsible for case coverage during school vacations. This position is a contractual appointment for up to two years and can be extended for a third year under certain circumstances.
Qualifications: Excellent oral and written communication skills; at least two years of experience as a practicing lawyer primarily in immigration, including both defensive and affirmative work; a strong academic record and/or other indicia of high performance ability; commitment to work for low income and immigrant clients; and a strong interest in teaching. Fellows must be members of the Maryland Bar (currently licensed in Maryland or willing to take the next Maryland Bar exam) in order to supervise law practice by students.
Salary: The current salary is $55,000. The position includes full benefits, including retirement annuities, research support, and travel allowance.
APPLICATION INFORMATION FOR BOTH POSITIONS:
Position is open until filled, and applications submitted by April 20, 2017 will receive priority consideration. For more details about the Fellows’ Program, please view our website.
We need to receive your electronic application in our system by the vacancy closing date in order to consider you for the vacancy. If you have any questions about the CAC position, please email Prof. Michele Gilman at email@example.com. If you have questions about the IRC position, please email Prof. Elizabeth Keyes at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Friday, July 22, 2016
Immigration Article of the Day: Deportation Without Representation: The Access-to-Justice Crisis Facing New Jersey's Immigrant Families by Lori A. Nessel and Farrin R. Anello
Deportation Without Representation: The Access-to-Justice Crisis Facing New Jersey's Immigrant Families by Lori A. Nessel, Seton Hall University - School of Law, and Farrin R. Anello, Seton Hall University School of Law June 1, 2016 Seton Hall Law Center for Social Justice, 2016
Abstract: New Jersey presents unique immigration circumstances. The American Immigration Council reports that 21% of New Jersey’s residents are immigrants, whereas immigrants comprise only 12.9% of the entire U.S. population. Approximately half of New Jersey’s immigrant population is comprised of naturalized U.S. citizens, and this group accounts for 18.8% of the state’s voters. In 2011, 29% of New Jersey’s business owners were foreign-born. In 2006, New Jersey’s immigrants contributed approximately $47 billion to the gross state product.
This report affirms that case outcomes for immigrants seeking permission to remain on U.S. soil are closely tied to the availability of legal representation, and highlights the paucity of legal resources available to meet immigrants’ needs in New Jersey.
During the time period covered in the study, approximately 66% of those detained throughout their immigration court proceedings never secured legal representation, in contrast with about 20% of those who were not detained at any point during proceedings. Immigrants with representation, detained or otherwise, were at least 3 times as likely to obtain a successful outcome as those who were not represented. For example, among those who were detained throughout and unrepresented, only 14% avoided removal, whereas detained individuals who secured representation prevailed in 49% of the cases. The report also assesses the level of resources available to New Jersey’s immigrant population, surveying approximately one dozen nonprofit organizations that provided low- or no-cost representation to individuals in removal proceedings before the New Jersey immigration courts in 2013 and 2014.
The survey responses indicate that most of the nonprofit organizations staff between two and four attorneys, and levels of funding varied among public and private grants and donations, and indicate that New Jersey lacks sufficient salaried attorney positions to address even a small percentage of the total cases entering the courts.
The report, prepared by Seton Hall Law School’s Center for Social Justice, was published on behalf of the Working Group on Immigrant Representation in New Jersey. The Group was assembled and chaired by Judge Michael. A. Chagares of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, and comprises a consortium of organizations seeking to increase access to quality free and low-cost immigration legal services in the state of New Jersey. Entities represented in the Working Group include the U.S. Department of Justice Executive Office for Immigration Review, American Friends Service Committee, Casa Esperanza, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New Jersey, Kids in Need of Defense, Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program, Human Rights First, Legal Services of New Jersey, Lowenstein Sandler, Make the Road New Jersey, Rutgers University School of Law, and the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights.
Seton Hall Law students Branca Banic ’16, Justin Condit ’15, Holly Coppens ’16, Amy Cuzzolino ’16, Jaime DeBartolo ’15, Anthony D’Elia ’16, Danielle King ’16, Victoria Leblein ’16, and Vani Parti ’15 prepared the report under the supervision of Professors Nessel and Anello.
Friday, May 20, 2016
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!
Thursday, April 7, 2016
UB Law immprof Elizabeth Keyes has penned the following:
Barack, Lin-Manuel, Juan. Seeds in the garden planted so long ago by another man who was young, scrappy and hungry and who then accomplished extraordinary things. The first two you know, and there they were free-styling at the White House last month. One, the child of a Kenyan immigrant and an American who became President. The other, the child of Puerto Rican parents who is, so far, a Tony, Grammy and Macarthur genius award winner. But who is Juan, and can’t we get back to Hamilton? (Please?)
Juan is my client. An undocumented immigrant. And Hamilton is his story. Yes, the musical tells a specific story, about a specific man in a different era. But it is a quintessential story of immigration, hunger, and accomplishment, and that story is Juan’s, too. Almost precisely, but for one important difference. I’ll get to that in a moment. (Wait for it.)
With Hamilton, we all fall in love with the characters and the performers and the music in equal measure. But as an immigration lawyer, I also very powerfully felt my heart soar with gratitude and recognition about something much more specific: Here was the story of an immigrant disdained as a “Creole bastard,” being told with unabashed glory and pride. The love and respect that the Hamilton cast show in their narrative is akin to the love and respect that I feel for Juan and so many of my clients who so seldom feel the love and respect from anyone.
From the first song, asking us to spot Hamilton, “another immigrant comin’ up from the bottom” to the show-stopping moment at the Battle of Yorktown where he and Lafayette reconnect and—with deserved pride—nod their heads and say “immigrants…we get the job done,” Hamilton is an immigrant story, featuring the ambitious young person with little more than a “top-notch brain,” who makes his way here and thrives in a land full of opportunity for anyone bold enough to seize it.
Hamilton’s story is helped by the laws of his day. When he arrived in the United States in 1772 or 1773, there was no immigration law that prevented him from coming. He was a British subject, who could travel freely among all parts of the world that Britain controlled—and much beyond it as well, if he wished. When he and Lafayette came, there was no such thing as being “undocumented” or immigrating illegally because there were no such laws to break and no visas to acquire. States had some rules about who could arrive, and sometimes charged fees on arriving passengers, but that was about it until the late 19th century, when we started excluding Asians, then poor people, then LGBT people, and so on and so on.
In his more open era, Hamilton could and did lay immediate claim to his country, shifting from loyal, royal subject to American as easily as he breathed. Ron Chernow, in the biography that inspired Lin-Manuel Miranda to ultimately create Hamilton, writes:
Few immigrants have renounced their past more unequivocally or adopted their new country more wholeheartedly. ‘I am neither merchant nor farmer,’ he now wrote, just a year and a half after leaving St. Croix. ‘I address you because I wish well to my country.’
“My” country. Hamilton claimed America as his, in 1774. As he could. As he was legally able to do.
By 1777, Hamilton became General George Washington’s chief aide-de-camp, and Chernow evokes the power of his transformation of identity:
Once again, the young immigrant had been transported to another sphere…The high-level service completed Hamilton’s rapid metamorphosis into a full-blooded American. The Continental Army was a national institution and helped make Hamilton the optimal person to articulate a vision of American nationalism, his vision sharpened by the immigrant’s special love for his new country.
How does someone metamorphose into a full-blooded American today? Not through valiant service, although for some, that remains a possibility—Margaret Stock, another Macarthur genius award recipient and a senatorial candidate from Alaska, made that connection to the Pentagon when she rapidly pushed through the idea that some immigrants with legal status could acquire citizenship rapidly in exchange for providing valuable military service to the nation. Hamilton’s heirs, certainly.
But for most, there is no metamorphosis available, and that is where Juan’s story differs from Hamilton’s. But what a story his is. Juan came to the U.S. from a place where he just could not get the education he wanted. He had finished high school, and came here in his late teens, intent on getting further. Literally the day after he arrived, he started loading and unloading trucks at a nearby hardware store, earning the precious dollars he needed to go to school. He hasn’t stopped working since, but he also managed to go to community college, and then transfer to a four-year university. No big deal, but he graduated from that university summa cum laude. While studying in a second language. While working full-time. Young, scrappy, hungry…you see it, right? (I’ve written about him before, so see here if you want to read more.)
Being a non-stop person himself, Juan applied to graduate school, and he now goes to a prestigious one on the scholarship he earned from being so danged studious. Like Hamilton, there are a million things he hasn’t done, but just you wait. I expect him to reinvent the world one day, and when he does, I will be so proud to have known him.
But unlike A.Ham claiming citizenship in his new country, Juan cannot. Paths to legal status in the United States are achingly narrow for all, and treacherously easy to fall off. Nowhere is this more true than for people of color living in communities that are over-policed, for immigrants with limited English skills who accept guilty pleas for crimes they may not have committed, without fully understanding the consequences of those pleas. I could go on. But let it suffice to say that there is a deep, sometimes painful, beauty in the immigrant story being told as passionately and evocatively as it is by the richly diverse case of Hamilton, when our enforcement policies today target so many people who look like that cast.
Juan, like many thousands of young people, is too busy studying to get into trouble—until the day he forgets to replace a headlight on their car, gets pulled over by the police in an immigrant-unfriendly town or county, run through an immigration database that may reveal his lack of status, and placed in removal proceedings. If that happens to Juan, I will be there with him, fighting for him. Most immigrants in removal proceedings are not fortunate enough to have a lawyer. They leave, and with their departures we lose people who could have contributed vibrantly to our nation.
Imagine America if Hamilton had been deported for lacking papers. We make all manner of things deportable offenses these days, and it doesn’t matter if everything is “legal in Jersey” if the federal government says, say, dueling is a deportable offense. We would have lost a man who, by the time of his engagement to Eliza Schuyler in 1780, even his future father-in-law recognized as American. Philip Schuyler told Eliza that Hamilton was “the ornament of his country.”
His country. America. A place where even an orphaned immigrant can make a difference. How do we treat these immigrants today? With contempt (sometimes literally). With jail. With life in the shadows. With hope after hope of political accommodation dashed by a Congress which responds to the worst voices of fear, and not the call of Hamilton’s own legacy.
Juan, too, is an ornament of his country, as are the DREAMers who are reinventing our idea of citizenship by claiming their American-ness so forcefully. In this, and in their project of redefining who America is, and who Americans are, they are Hamilton’s heirs. They are the seeds he planted in a garden 250 years ago when he walked off that boat in New York.
As depicted by the brilliant Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton kept searching for ways to do more for the country he loved, and to take advantage of every opportunity this country gave him. Thankfully, people like George Washington judged him for his talent, and not for his place of birth. Might we do the same for young, scrappy, and hungry Juan, and so many like him. If we could see them as Hamilton’s heirs, that would be enough. And if we could reform our laws to let them be the Americans in law that they already are in their hearts, that would be enough. It’s only a matter of time.
Thursday, March 31, 2016
The 151-page report, “Closed Doors: Mexico’s Failure to Protect Central American Refugee and Migrant Children,” documents wide discrepancies between Mexican law and practice. By law, Mexico offers protection to those who face risks to their lives or safety if returned to their countries of origin. But less than 1 percent of children who are apprehended by Mexican immigration authorities are recognized as refugees, according to Mexican government data.
“On paper, Mexican law appears to provide every protection for children who have fled their home countries in fear of their lives,” said Michael Bochenek, senior children’s rights counsel at Human Rights Watch. “But only a handful actually receive asylum, reflecting that even though Central American children and adults face serious threats, the government is not giving adequate consideration to their claims.”
Human Rights Watch interviewed 61 children and more than 100 adults who had traveled to Mexico from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. Human Rights Watch also interviewed Mexican government officials; representatives of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the UN refugee agency; and representatives of nongovernmental organizations; and reviewed case files and data collected by Mexico’s immigration and refugee protection agencies.
These findings come at a time when the number of undocumented children apprehended by Mexican authorities has been sharply increasing. Mexican immigration authorities apprehended more than 35,000 children in 2015, nearly 55 percent more than in 2014, and 270 percent more than in 2013.
These increases are in part a reflection of surging United States government financial support for immigration enforcement by Mexico starting in mid-2014, when record numbers of Central Americans, including unaccompanied children and families with children, began to arrive in the US.
Gang violence has plagued Central America’s “Northern Triangle” countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras for more than a decade, and gangs in these three countries often target children.
Many of the children Human Rights Watch interviewed said that they were pressured to join gangs, often under threat of harm or death to themselves or to family members. Girls face particular risk of sexual violence and assault by gang members. Other children gave accounts of being held for ransom or targeted for extortion.
Gabriel R., a 15-year-old from the Honduran department of Cortés, told Human Rights Watch: “I was in school, in the ninth grade. One day the gang came up to me near the school where I was studying. They told me that I needed to join the gang. They gave me three days. If I didn’t join them, they’d kill me.” He left for Mexico on his own in May 2015, before the three days were up.
But when the children flee to Mexico, immigration agents frequently do not inform them of their right to seek asylum or screen them to determine whether they may have viable refugee claims, Human Rights Watch found.
Children who apply for asylum are not guaranteed legal or other assistance unless they are fortunate enough to be represented by one of the handful of nongovernmental organizations that provide legal assistance to asylum seekers. Asylum processes are not designed with children in mind and are frequently confusing to them.
Children who wish to apply for asylum also face the threat of prolonged detention. Several children told Human Rights Watch that immigration agents warned them that merely applying for asylum would result in protracted detention. Human Rights Watch also spoke with several children and parents who decided not to apply or who withdrew applications, accepting returns to their home countries despite the risks because they did not want to remain locked up.
Mexican law provides that unaccompanied children should be transferred to the custody of Mexico’s child protection system and should be detained only in exceptional circumstances. Nevertheless, detention of migrant children is the rule.
Even children lucky enough to land in shelters run by the country’s child protection agency experience a form of detention. They do not attend local schools and have few contacts with the community. Unless they need specialized medical care, they remain within the four walls of the shelter for the duration of their stay.
Under international standards, children should not be detained as a means of immigration control; instead, countries should “expeditiously and completely cease the detention of children on the basis of their immigration status,” as the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has stated. Mexico has an obligation to provide these children with appropriate care and protection in suitable settings.
Mexico has a right to control its borders, but migrant children should not be held in detention. Mexico can provide appropriate care and protection to unaccompanied and separated children in a variety of ways, whether by housing children with families or in state or privately run facilities. While some may need to be housed in closed facilities, locking children up in prison-like settings does not meet international standards, Human Rights Watch said.
Mexico should ensure that children have effective access to refugee recognition procedures, including appropriate legal and other assistance. The government should also expand the capacity of its refugee agency, including by establishing a presence across Mexico’s southern border.
The US government, which has pressured Mexico to interdict Central Americans, should provide additional funding and support to improve and expand Mexico’s capacity to process asylum claims and to provide social support for asylum seekers and refugees. The US government should link funding of Mexican entities engaged in immigration and border control to their demonstrated compliance with national and international human rights standards.
The US government should also expand its Central American Minors Program to allow children to apply from Mexico and other countries where they have sought safety, and to allow applications based on a relationship to extended family members, not only parents, in the US.
“Putting children in a position in which they think they have to choose between months in detention or being returned to danger violates common decency as well as Mexican and international law,” Bochenek said. “Both Mexico and the US should work to provide appropriate care and a reasonable opportunity to apply for protection for children fleeing danger in Central America.”
Wednesday, January 6, 2016
The Tennessean has a must-read story about Sawng Hing, a Burmese refugee accused of child abuse.
Hing speaks Matu-Chin, a language spoken by just 40,000 people in the entire world. When Hing was prosecuted criminally, the court relied on translations by her pastor, who himself did not speak Matu-Chin. The article provides multiple examples of the mis-translations that ensued.
Hing was ultimately convicted. And the government sought to deport her on that basis.
Now Hing is appealing both the criminal conviction and the resulting deportation on the basis of the faulty translation.
Friday, August 28, 2015
Excellent work, all!
Thursday, July 23, 2015
Friday, May 22, 2015
Albany Law School’s Law Clinic & Justice Center seeks a Fellow to provide legal advocacy services and direct representation to clients in its new Immigration Law Clinic and to perform other related duties pursuant to grants and contracts. The Immigration Law Clinic teaches law students practical lawyering skills in the context of Family Court and immigration proceedings at which students represent individuals who are seeking to regularize their immigration status. Additionally, the Fellow will assist the Director with research and analysis on long-term projects. At the Director’s discretion, the Fellow may have limited opportunities for participating in trainings, supervising in-class activities, assisting in program design and leading case rounds. This position begins July 1, 2015 and lasts for one year.
Qualified candidates will possess a JD degree and admission to the New York State bar. Practical legal experience in immigration and family law is preferred. Spanish language skills are desirable, but not required.
Interested applicants should submit a resume and cover letter, by June 12, 2015, to:
Albany Law School Director of Human Resources 80 New Scotland Avenue Albany, NY 12208-3494 Fax: (518) 445-3262 E-mail: email@example.com
Thursday, April 30, 2015
Congratulations to immprof Betsy McCormick and her students in the University of Tulsa College of Law's Immigrant Rights Project!
Anna Carpenter at TU has tipped us off about some wonderful successes. She writes:
During spring break of this year, Betsy, nine of her students, one undergraduate psychology major, two law school staff, and two dedicated volunteers traveled to Texas to participate in a pro bono project providing representation to immigrant women and children held at Karnes County Residential Center, a privately run immigrant detention facility located 60 miles southeast of San Antonio.
Originally intended to house men only, the 532-bed (and expanding) facility opened its door to women, children, and families in August 2014, partly in response to last summer's dramatic influx of South American refugees at the Texas border. In the weeks leading up to the trip and during their week in Texas, Betsy, her students, the staff, and the volunteers worked with more than 60 detained families conducting intake interviews, preparing detained asylum seekers for credible fear interviews and asylum hearings, and preparing bond reduction motions. Students Tyler Vermillion, Carlie Ruhlman, Zack Brandwein and Marlina Rogers also successfully represented clients in three bond hearings in San Antonio Immigration Court.
Students Zack and Marlina, in what appears to have been an unprecedented result for Karnes families, obtained release for their client and her son without paying any bond. Since returning from Karnes, students have continued their work with their detained clients with the result that every client that clinic students represented at Karnes – including 5 mothers and 9 young children – has now been released from custody.
TU currently has the only law school clinic in the state of Oklahoma focused on immigration, and they are doing amazing and much-needed work.
Tuesday, January 6, 2015
Photo by Jim Block
Michel Thomas was an extraordinary man. Born in Poland in 1914, Thomas left the country as a young man, studying in Germany and France in an effort to escape antisemitism. During WW2, he served in the French Resistance and ended up spending two years in French concentration camps. After the war, Thomas moved to the United States where he spent a lifetime teaching Hollywood stars to master foreign languages.
While Thomas passed away in 2005, his method for language learning lives on in audiotapes.
I was introduced to the Michel Thomas method by my colleague Lindsay Robertson. Lindsay knew that I was trying to brush up on my Spanish before heading to the immigration detention facility in Artesia, NM. In a past life, my Spanish was excellent. I studied through college - taking advanced literature courses and studying abroad. But it had been over a decade since I tried to use my skills.
I did many things to bring my Spanish back up to speed - and will post about them all, eventually. But without a doubt the most surprisingly effective tool was the Total Spanish series by Michel Thomas.
The Thomas CDs are different from anything I've ever listened to before. You listen as he teaches two students how to speak Spanish. In effect, you are the third student in the room. It's extra fun because one of the students isn't very good and so you won't feel like the dunce in the room as you practice.
Thomas emphasizes practical communication skills - pointing out the thousands of words that are largely the same in English and Spanish. As a result, you end up with a much more sophisticated vocabulary that you would if you tried to learn words one at a time.
These langauge CDs are a truly effective tool, whether you are looking to learn Spanish for the first time or looking to brush up on skills you already have. I'd actually recommend that clinics around the country invest in a copy for their students to borrow. (OU has a set available for students in our International Human Rights Clinic.)
Finally, I should also note that Michel Thomas was a polyglot. His language CDs are not just available in Spanish but a multitude of other languages.