Saturday, August 29, 2015
The SuperDome housed local citizens who fled the flooding
On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast and literally destroyed large parts of the Southeast, including New Orleans. The ten year anniversary of this natural disaster has received considerable attention.
The government's response to Hurricane Katrina, including the response of President George W. Bush and the federal government, was harshly criticized. Criticism focused on mismanagement and lack of leadership in the relief efforts in response to the storm and its aftermath. More specifically, the criticism focused on the delayed response to the flooding of New Orleans, and the subsequent state of chaos in the city.
Hurricane Katrina also had immigration consequences, many of which were addressed in my lecture at the Houston University Law Center in 2007. The lecture was published in the Houston Law Review. (Raquel Aldana and Anna Shavers offered commentary on the lecture.). Here is an abstract of my lecture:
In August 2005, Hurricane Katrina crippled the Gulf Coast. National and international television networks televised the widespread destruction virtually non-stop for days. Many observers identified failures by all levels of government, beginning with the failure to take adequate steps to prevent the flooding to the painfully slow reconstruction of the gulf region.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, race soon emerged at the center of a heated and often over-heated controversy. African Americans comprised a substantial number of the flood victims seen on television screens around the world. As the federal government slowly responded and nothing less than anarchy reigned on the streets of New Orleans, critics forcefully contended that the race of many of the victims contributed to the slowness and ineptitude of the response. Rap star Kanye West put it most bluntly: George Bush doesn't care about black people, a position with which nearly three-quarters of African Americans polled in September 2005 agreed. Evidently feeling it necessary to squarely address the charge, President Bush vigorously denied that the race of the victims in any way influenced the federal government's emergency response to the devastation wrought by the hurricane.
Another group an often invisible group suffered in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Immigrants, including many from Latin America, were the silent victims of the deadly hurricane. Thousands of immigrants were displaced by Hurricane Katrina. However, most reports, while critical of the governmental response to the hurricane, failed to even mention, much less criticize, the widespread indifference to the plight of the many noncitizens displaced by the mass disaster.
The general public did not look sympathetically upon immigrants. Government's failure to provide relief failed to generate much of a public response, much less trigger any general expression of outrage. The denial of disaster relief to noncitizens, as well as aggressive enforcement of the immigration laws in the wake of the hurricane, was consistent with the times, which were filled with calls for increased immigration enforcement and the popular perception that immigrants especially undocumented ones constituted a serious social problem that must be addressed.
As the rebuilding of the Gulf Coast began, immigrant workers responded. Workers were in short supply; as efforts to return to some semblance of normalcy began, many businesses were hard-pressed to field a workforce. Rather than applaud the assistance of noncitizens in the resettlement and rebuilding efforts, politicians and the public expressed fear and apprehension about the possibility that new immigrants transform the racial identity of New Orleans as well as hurt the job prospects of U.S. especially African American citizens. Unlike others willing to help, immigrants were criticized and feared, not welcomed and lauded.
Indeed, local citizens and public officials demanded action to halt immigrants from taking American jobs and changing the racial identity of a major southern city. The African American mayor of New Orleans expressed fear about the city being overrun by Mexican workers. He later stated that it was nothing less than God's will for New Orleans to be a chocolate not a Mexican city, presumably expressing the hope that it would be reconstructed as the African American enclave that it had been. In the public discussion of the impact of Hurricane Katrina on New Orleans, race was considered central to the city's past and future identity.
Although a fascinating story in and of itself, the plight of immigrants in the Hurricane Katrina disaster teaches deeper lessons about society's views of immigration and immigrants in the modern United States. First, despite their many contributions to U.S. society, immigrants generally, as a historical matter, have been deemed unworthy of public benefits whatever their personal circumstances. Welfare assumes an even worse name for immigrants than it does for citizens. The failure of government to provide relief to immigrants after Hurricane Katrina thus fits comfortably into a deep and enduring American tradition.
Second, immigrants especially undocumented ones who seek gainful employment in the United States often are characterized as economic parasites who take jobs from U.S. citizens. Throughout its history, this nation at various times has narrowed the immigration laws, ratcheted up border enforcement, and engaged in mass deportation campaigns, based on the unproven claim that immigrants from displacing American workers, which is a special concern in poor economic times. Time and time again, commentators and activists have contended that immigrant labor adversely affects African Americans in the job market.
Public opinion in the United States poses a most unfair Catch 22 to undocumented immigrants, who are characterized as both abusers of public benefit programs and as job takers who hurt U.S. citizens. Put simply, they either do not work and consume welfare or work and steal jobs. Much of this, of course, is old news to the most casual student of this nation's immigration history. However, even though a plethora of scholarship exists on the problems that riddle the immigration bureaucracy, there has been precious little analysis of the theoretical underpinnings of the regulation of immigration by administrative agencies. This is surprising given the great power, including the authority to remove noncitizens from the country, which such agencies possess over the lives and destinies of immigrants. Rather, immigration law, although administered and enforced through a complex and powerful administrative bureaucracy, is considered to be a specialty area outside the mainstream of administrative law.
A problem that has arisen in the U.S. government's response to immigrants in the Hurricane Katrina disaster is symptomatic of a more general failure of American democracy the lack of political accountability of the immigration bureaucracy to all persons affected by its actions. This Article critically considers the reasons for the lack of responsiveness of that bureaucracy to the needs of immigrant communities and analyzes a glaring political process defect. By so doing, I hope to encourage a sustained examination of the issue, which deeply afflicts the administration and enforcement of the U.S. immigration laws, a complex regulatory body of law filled with vast delegations of discretion to the bureaucracy.
Most generally, the frequent failure of the agencies that administer the immigration laws to fully consider the impacts of laws and regulations on noncitizens suggests a fundamental flaw in the conventional rationale for deference to administrative agencies. The Supreme Court, in perhaps the leading administrative law decision of the post-World War II period, Chevron USA v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., has emphasized that reviewing courts ordinarily should defer to the interpretations of statutes by administrative agencies because the Executive Branch, through election of the President, is politically accountable to the voters and that decisions properly delegated to agencies are necessarily political ones. The administration of the immigration laws thus poses a fundamental problem for the democratic rationale for deference: if we entrust agencies with making and enforcing the laws because of their political accountability, what should we do if a specific agency is only accountable to part of the people affected, directly or indirectly, by its decisions?
Both lawful and undocumented immigrants, barred from having any formal political input namely, the vote into the administrative state, are frequently injured by decisions of the bureaucracy. Citizens, whose interests often diverge from those of noncitizens, are indirectly affected by the decisions of the immigration bureaucracy but, whatever its limitations, have a full voice in the national political system through election of the President. Some citizens, of course, have family members and friends affected by immigration law and its enforcement and may advocate politically for pro-immigrant laws and policies. Still, immigrants lack the political capital of the ordinary citizen constituency of an administrative agency.
The lack of balance in political input between the affected communities can be expected to result in agency rulings and decisions on immigration matters that fail to fully consider the interests of immigrants. This fact helps explain why, especially in times of social stress, the rights of immigrants have been marginalized by the immigration agencies, as well as by Congress, throughout U.S. history. The politically powerful dominate, while the weak noncitizens have their interests under-valued and often suffer punishment.
Part I of this Article summarizes the context surrounding the Hurricane Katrina disaster and how the stage was set for a racially-charged debate over the government's actions in response to the disaster as well as the mistreatment of immigrants. Part II critically analyzes how government harshly treated immigrants in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and how political failure within administrative agencies contributed to this treatment, just as it has throughout U.S. history. This structural flaw further helps explain why we know so little about the silent suffering of immigrants in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and, more generally, in American social life. It also suggests deep problems with the lack of political accountability of the immigration bureaucracy to noncitizens.
As it turns out, Hurricane Katrina is symptomatic of a more general problem in the governance of the United States. A shadow population of millions of undocumented immigrants who are abused and exploited, live in the United States and lack any formal input into the political process. They, along with many lawful immigrants, hold second class status in U.S. social life and, more specifically, are part of a low wage caste of color. Although more diluted than the old racial caste in place in the days of Jim Crow, it is a racial caste no less, marked by a subordinated status and subject to exploitation. To make matters worse, the democratic problem identified in this article is not limited to the immigration bureaucracy, but is a more general problem of U.S. government.
As this news story reports, Latino immigrants who came to the New Orleans and the Southeast to assist in rebuilding efforts are establishing more permanent roots in the region. Many of those workers claim that they still have not been paid for their rebuilding work.
Tuesday, July 14, 2015
For those who discuss translation issues in immigration court, have I got the song for you. Malina Kathleen Reese sings the anthem "Let it Go" from the movie Frozen, after running the lyrics through Google Translate (several times). The result is incredibly charming with lyrics like "Give up! Give up! Tune in and slam the door!"
The song is an excellent jumping off point for discussing:
- Quality problems for esoteric languages Quality problems for fluent speakers with agendas (e.g. a Tutsi translating for a Hutu)What it might be like for clients to not have other witnesses testimony translated for them, nor exchanges between the IJ and counsel
I learned of this great song from television personality John Oliver. In October 2014, John Oliver ran a scathing report on the U.S. treatment of military translators from Afghanistan and Iraq. It's really a must watch, if you missed it.
The interview with Mohammad toward the end of the program is a particularly excellent teaching tool as it provides a venue for class discussion on how we expect people to relay stories of intense horror (his father was murdered and his baby brother was kidnapped for ransom - facts he relays with little visible emotion) and the problems with judging veracity by way of demeanor in court.
Tuesday, June 30, 2015
I can't help it. Presidential elections are just a lot of fun. As they say, truth is stranger than fiction. Who would have guessed that Donald Trump, Bobby Jindal, Ted Cruz, and a fully array of characters would declare that they were candidates for the GOP nomination? Now, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, with a personality that is larger than life, has made it official. He is running for the Republican nomination for President of the United States.
An avowed fan of New Jersey native son Bruce Springsteen, Christie once supported a path to legalization for undocumented immigrants but publicly changed his view a few weeks ago as he readied his presidential run. A International Business Times article observes that
"Christie has spent much of his time in office avoiding the issue of immigration. . . . Initially, Christie backed a pathway to citizenship. But that view has become untenable among many Republicans, who call it amnesty as they make an effort to stamp out any of its supporters in the party. In May, Christie shifted his position, saying he no longer backs that pathway. . . . There are still a lot of blanks for Christie to fill in on the issue of immigration. And, since it will be such a hotly contested issue during primary season, there will be many waiting to hear a more lengthy explanation of his views."'
Tuesday, June 23, 2015
It's Tuesday afternoon. Maybe you're sitting around the office trying to muster up the energy to proofread the current draft of your school's ABA site visit questionnaire. You know you could do it, if only you had a great background beat.
Ladies and gentlemen, enter Timbalive with their exceptionally catchy tune Llego mi pasaporte. And, bonus, it's a great classroom song for covering citizenship or defenses to deportation. After all, the opening lyrics are: "Ya llego, ya llego mi pasaporte, soy Americano y no hay quien me deporte...!!!"
Do watch the video. President Obama shows up. Sort of.
Wednesday, May 20, 2015
CNN reports that likely Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie said that he has changed his position on a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, becoming the latest Republican to recast their stance on the issue. Christie said Monday that he does not support possible citizenship for the immigrants, calling it an "extreme way to go." In 2010, the newly-elected Republican encouraged leaders in Washington to secure the border but also to "put forward a common sense path to citizenship for people."
Thursday, May 14, 2015
REO Speedwagon's Take It On The Run offers the perfect musical introduction to a discussion on the use of hearsay in removal proceedings. Listen to Kevin Cronin croon:
Heard it from a friend who
Heard it from a friend who
Heard it from another you been messin' around
The song is also an acoustic companion to Mary Halper's Confronting Cops in Immigration Court. Enjoy.
Wednesday, May 13, 2015
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.
Wednesday, April 29, 2015
This week's podcast features crImmigration prof César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández, who spoke about European immigration. César pops up around minute 12:04 and he signs off around 33:00.
The show manages to maintain a slightly irreverent and jovial tone while tackling serious and topical immigration issues. Here's a sample question from Stephen: "Now, if you listen to our politicians here in the United States, you'll know that the solution to our immigration problem is more fencing. Probably a taller one. Probably one that is longer and maybe even electrified ... so ... has Europe considered putting a fence in the Mediterranean sea. If so, how tall?"
I also can't resist noting Stephen's musing on whether Europeans, in arguing that their immigration policies aren't racist, might say: "We're also concerned with protecting the Baltic Sea." Touché.
Friday, April 24, 2015
Your playlist today needs to include Kristina Karo's Give Me Green Card.
You may be wondering, who on earth is Kirstina Karo? I wondered that myself. She claims to be a childhood friend of Mila Kunis - the actress, former immigrant of the day, and a far more famous Ukrainian. Karo recently sued Kunis for stealing a chicken some 25 years ago.
A specious lawsuit and a hot new youtube video? Seems like Karo is living the American dream now.
Monday, April 13, 2015
Tuesday, March 31, 2015
Selena Quintanilla-Pérez, known by as Selena, was an American singer. Called the Queen of Tejano music, her contributions to music and fashion made her one of the most celebrated Mexican American entertainers of the end of the 20th century. She was named the "top Latin artist of the '90s" and "Best selling Latin artist of the decade" by Billboard magazine.
Thursday, March 26, 2015
We've covered Los Jornaleros del Norte before, noting their participation in a new form of protest: singing in front of immigration detention facilities.
Check out their music video for Serenta a un indocumentado. It's an excellent song to accompany your class on detention, deportation, or unauthorized migration.
Friday, March 20, 2015
CNN reports the latest in a pop icon's legal troubles, which could ultimately lead to his removal from the United States:
"Two former neighbors of Justin Bieber have filed a lawsuit against the pop star, claiming he and his bodyguards repeatedly harassed them and their family, vandalized their house with eggs and threatened them with anti-Semitic remarks. . . . In the lawsuit Jeffrey and Suzanne Schwartz say Bieber hosted frequent loud parties and spat in Jeffrey Schwartz' face after he complained about the pop star driving his Ferrari at dangerous speeds down the street of their gated community in Calabasas, California. . . . The suit, filed Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court, also alleges Bieber's bodyguards dismissed Jeffrey Schwartz's complaints by taunting him repeatedly with `what are you going to do about it, Jew boy?' The suit seeks unspecified damages and a jury trial."
Bieber was a previous Immigrant of the Day.
Sunday, March 15, 2015
If you teach Ozawa v. United States - the 1922 case where a Japanese man sought classification as being white - I've got two songs for your playlist. Both are classics.
First, I give you Michael Jackson's Black or White. And yes, your eyes do not deceive you. That's McCaulay Culkin in the video.
And, second, you cannot forget Kermit the Frog's soulful ballad It's Not Easy Being Green.
Sunday, March 8, 2015
An advocate of immigration reform in the United States, Grammy-winning Latina pop singer Shakira was born in Barranquilla, Colombia, on February 2, 1977. Her father is a Lebanese American immigrant and her mother a native of Colombia of Italian and Spanish descent. Shakira began her musical career at age 12 and quickly captured fans throughout Latin America.
Tuesday, February 10, 2015
One musician award winner should not get lost in the shuffle. The Recording Academy also honored recipients of the 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award, including Flaco Jiménez. Jiménez is a Conjunto, Norteño and Tejano music accordionist from San Antonio, Texas.
Jiménez began performing, at the age of seven, with his father, Santiago Jiménez Sr, who was a pioneer of conjunto music and began recording at age fifteen as a member of Los Caporales. He played in the San Antonio area for several years, and then began working with Douglas Sahm in the 1960s. Sahm, better known as the founding member of the Sir Douglas Quintet, played with Jiménez for some time.
Flaco then went on to New York City and worked with Dr. John, David Lindley, Peter Rowan, Ry Cooder and Bob Dylan. He appeared on Cooder's world music album Chicken Skin Music and on the Rolling Stones' Voodoo Lounge. This led to greater awareness of his music outside America and, after touring Europe with Ry Cooder, he returned to tour in America with his own band, and on a joint bill with Peter Rowan.Jiménez, Peter Rowan and Wally Drogos were the original members of a band called The Free Mexican Airforce.
Jiménez won a Grammy Award in 1986 for Ay Te Dejo en San Antonio, one of his father's songs. He was also a member of the Tejano fusion group Texas Tornados, with Augie Meyers, Doug Sahm and Freddy Fender. The Texas Tornados won a Grammy Award in 1990, and Jiménez earned one on his own in 1996, when his self-titled album Flaco Jiménez won the Grammy Award for Best Mexican-American Performance. In 1999, Flaco earned another Grammy Award for Best Tejano Performance for Said and Done and one for Best Mexican-American Performance as a part of supergroup Los Super Seven.
Jiménez has also won a Best Video award at the Tejano Music Awards and earned a Lifetime Achievement Award from Billboard Latin Magazine for "Streets of Bakersfield" with Dwight Yoakam and Buck Owens.
Thursday, January 15, 2015
for any of a dozen specific reasons without first obtaining a special license from the government. Airlines and travel agents will be allowed to provide service to Cuba without a specific license. And travelers will be permitted to use credit cards and spend money while in the country and bring back up to $400 in souvenirs, including up to $100 in alcohol or tobacco.
You, too, can vacation like Bey and Jay Z.
Friday, January 9, 2015
Those of your preparing for the Spring semester may be looking to update your in-class playlist. Or maybe you're just looking for tunes to listen to while revamping your syllabus. Let me recommend the 1962 hit "Let Me In" by The Sensations. It pairs perfectly with admission procedure. Enjoy!
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.
Saturday, January 3, 2015
Photo via NPR
But as it's the new year and some readers might not be at the AALS conference in DC (maybe you're home in the company of a virus in Norman, OK for example) - you might just be looking for a good book to read. And one of the best books I read all year was The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao. Sure, it's from 2008. But you may have missed it. And it truly is a wonder.
But maybe you don't have time for a novel. A novel is a commitment after all. And once you pick of The Brief Wonderous Life, you won't be able to stop until you've devoured it whole.
So for a taste of the power of Díaz' writing, I offer you something shorter: his essay for Conde Naste Traveller on Fukuoka, Japan's Next Great Food City. Seriously. It's amazing.
And here's the musical accompanyment to that article: