Sunday, April 17, 2016

Slick Rick Becomes U.S. Citizen

 

 Rolling Stone reports that Slick Rick, the English-born rapper behind hip-hop classics like "Mona Lisa" and "Children's Story," has been granted his U.S. citizenship after a 23-year legal battle. The influential rapper was sworn in as an American citizen Friday at a ceremony in New York.  The U.S. government had previously sought to deport Slick Rick.

In 1991, Slick Rick pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted murder and eight weapons charges stemming from an incident where the rapper shot his cousin Mark Plummer and a bystander. Sentenced to three-and-a-half to 10 years for the shooting, he was released from prison after six years and completed his parole in 2000. During that time, a judge canceled deportation proceedings against the rapper, granting him a waiver of admissibility. In 2008, then-New York Governor David Paterson officially pardoned Slick Rick, citing how he had become "a symbol of rehabilitation for many young people." "Given these demonstrated rehabilitative efforts, I urge federal immigration officials to once again grant Mr. Walters relief from deportation, so that he is not separated from his many family members who are United States citizens, including his two teenage children," Paterson said in his statement.

Slick Rick will maintain a dual citizenship with the United Kingdom. The rapper's U.S. citizenship will now allow for him to travel to and from the country in order to perform overseas. 

KJ

April 17, 2016 in Current Affairs, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 7, 2016

A Love Letter to My Clients and Hamilton by Elizabeth Keyes

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.

April 7, 2016 in Books, Current Affairs, Immigration Law Clinics, Law Review Articles & Essays, Music | Permalink | Comments (2)

Friday, February 19, 2016

Your Playlist: Lady Gaga

It's been far too long since "your playlist" has offered a lyrical suggestion to accompany your immigration class. Since it's a Friday afternoon that's begging for a strong beat, I give you Americano by Lady Gaga.

 

The song is about falling in love with a "girl in east L.A." Gaga belts:

Don't you try to catch me, don't you try to catch me
No, no, no, no I'm living on the edge of
Living on the edge of the law, law, law, law

Gaga herself describes the song as "a big mariachi techno-house record, where I am singing about immigration law and gay marriage and all sorts of things that have to do with disenfranchised communities in America."

It might just be the perfect pairing to Adams v. Howerton, for those still teaching that case.

-KitJ

February 19, 2016 in Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The Grammys: Immigration Roundup

The Grammys were Monday night and, as promised, the cast of Hamilton performed their opening number. Didn't catch it live? No worries, we've got the clip.

 

Hamilton ended up taking home the Grammy for Best Musical Theater album. No surprise there.

Other highlights of the night included a solid performance by Canadian singer The Weekend, a technically-challenged performance by English singer Adele (a mic fell into the piano ruining the sound), and a cross-the-pond duet featuring Brit star Ellie Goulding and American Andra Day.

Let's give it up for the Os and Ps making it all happen.

-KitJ

February 17, 2016 in Current Affairs, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Do Not Throw Away Your Shot... To See Hamilton on TV

Tomorrow. Monday. 8 Eastern (and delayed Pacific), 7 Central. CBS. The Grammys.

This is your chance to see the cast of the hit Broadway show Hamilton perform live. Do not throw away your shot.

Hamilton is one of the most influential musicals of our day. And it's all about immigration, tracing the life of Alexander Hamilton, Caribbean immigrant and founding father. Can't wait til Monday? An enterprising youtuber has compiled all of the clips of Hamilton that have appeared on TV to date.

Be sure to check out the anthem Yorktown, when Layfayette and Hamilton meet up with this fabulous line:

Hamilton2

(T-shirts are available.)

-KitJ

February 14, 2016 in Current Affairs, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Are You In NY? Then Go See Allegiance!

I'm back in my hotel room after a night on the town with my mom seeing Allegiance. It's WONDERFUL. And there's still time to catch a show tomorrow or Saturday night.

Here's a clip to whet your appetite. It's called Paradise, and it's a satire about the benefits of living in the Heart Mountain internment camp and the gall of being asked to complete questionnaires designed to suss out the residents' true allegiances.

 

If you watch the clip, you'll hear them mention Tule Lake (around 1:20). It's where they sent detainees who were determined to be national security threats. Do read the Maurice Roberts piece on his work as a post-war Tule Lake adjudicator. It will really frame the musical for you.

Happy theatering!

-KitJ

January 7, 2016 in Current Affairs, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, December 25, 2015

Your Playlist: Bowling for Soup

You may know Bowling for Soup from their fabulous hit 1985. But they also have a Christmas album. And so, today, for your playlist, Bowling for Soup (just jump to 0:30 for your top listening experience).

 

-KitJ

December 25, 2015 in Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Feliz Navidad

 

KJ

December 25, 2015 in Current Affairs, Film & Television, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, December 18, 2015

A Modern Love Story? Love in a Time of Deportation

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 David Noriega on Buzzfeed tells an unlikely love story that he calls "Love in a Time of Deportation."  Here is the teaser:  "He was an inmate, facing deportation over a minor arrest. She was a guard, fed up with her job at a for-profit prison. They fell in love, but living happily ever after was not going to happen."  Click the link above to read more.

 

 

KJ

December 18, 2015 in Current Affairs, Film & Television, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Your Playlist: Toby Keith



Living in Oklahoma, I get a lot of exposure to country superstar Toby Keith. Every time I drive into OKC, I pass a large water tower dedicated to the singer by his hometown of Moore. (Though, according to People magazine, he actually lives in my neck of the woods these days.)

If you're not familiar with his music, you may have seen a Toby Keith's I Love This Bar & Grill in Las Vegas or somewhere else around the nation. Perhaps you've enjoyed their signature meatloaf.

His music is also perfect for the generating classroom conversation. Take the opening stanza to "American Ride":

Winters getting colder, Summer gettin warmer 
Tidal wave comin cross the Mexican border

I mean, wow. That's bold. For you Torts profs out there, a later stanza in the same song includes:

Plasma gettin bigger, Jesus gettin smaller. 
Spill a cup of coffee, make a million dollars.

Now, Toby Keith does not shy away from controversial lyrics. His post-9/11 anthem "Courtesy of The Red, While, and Blue (The Angry American)" is an unabashedly pro-war with the memorable lyrics:

`Cause we`ll put a boot in your ass
It`s the American way

But it's Toby Keith's 2011 song "Made in America" that I think is really of interest to immprofs. It's an ode to a man, born and raised in the United States, who only buys American-made goods that he can fix himself.

The idea of being "made" in America is interesting, particularly in light of the dominant DREAMer narrative of children who've been raised in the United States and know nowhere else as home. Are they not "made" in America? And why should the randomness of birth geography as opposed to years of nurturing make a difference? Put differently, what about the difference between being randomly "made" American and choosing to be American?

All-in-all, a great musical accompaniment to your discussion of citizenship, naturalization, or issues surrounding undocumented migrants.

 

-KitJ

October 27, 2015 in Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 9, 2015

Los Lobos Nominated for Rock Hall of Fame

 

Los Lobos, the Mexican-American band from East Los Angeles, has been nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of FameOne observer refers to Los Lobos as "immigrant voices in America."

Here is a link to five videos that the Los Angeles Times claims demonstrates that Los Lobos deserves the Hall of Fame nomination.

Los Lobos ("The Wolves") have won multiple Grammy Awards. Their music is influenced by rock and roll, Tex-Mex, country, folk, R&B, blues, soul, and traditional music such as cumbia, boleros and norteños. They gained international stardom in 1987 when their cover version of Ritchie Valens' "La Bamba" topped the charts.

I am looking forward to seeing Los Lobos tonight at the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts in Davis.

KJ

October 9, 2015 in Current Affairs, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 21, 2015

Your Playlist: Emilio Estefan

Emilio Estefan has assembled quite the star-studded cast for his new video "We're all Mexican." Watch and look for Pitbull, Thalia, Carlos Santana, Rita Moreno, Luis Coronel, Carlos Vives, Banda El Recodo, Eva Longoria, and Perez Hilton, among others. 

 

Estefan, who is Cuban, produced the song to celebrate Latino accomplishments and respond to  anti-Hispanic sentiment. He told Billboard: "There’s a message being sent out to the world where people are giving opinions that are plain wrong ... We need to lift up our pride and show the world what we’re doing."

-KitJ

September 21, 2015 in Current Affairs, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Lessons from 1994

This morning, NPR's Ina Jaffee takes us back to 1994 and Governor Pete Wilson's anti-immigration attack ad.

 

Jaffee connects the Wilson campaign, and the anti-immigrant Prop 187 of the same year, to the steady decline in Republican registrations within the state of California. Political scientist David Damore, of Latino Decisions, makes the connection explicit:

"The moment when the Latino population is about ready to explode in California and have an impact on politics, the Republicans were pushing a very, very hostile agenda," said Damore. "The end result is, it's no longer a competitive state."

The question is, what does the "California example" mean for the national Republican party?

Following the lead of presidential hopeful Donald Trump, immigration, and, specifically, unauthorized migration, is taking center stage. And it's meeting a hard line set by Republican hopefuls. In response, Latino attitudes toward Republican nominees are "shifting," and not in the party's favor.

All this talk of 1994 calls for a little Jason Aldean to round out your afternoon.

 

-KitJ

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

HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH 2015

Hispanic-heritage-home

Photo courtesy of Hispanic Heritage Month.gov

During National Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 to October 15), we recognize the contributions made and the important presence of Hispanic and Latino Americans to the United States and celebrate their heritage and culture.

Hispanics have had a profound and positive influence on our country through their strong commitment to family, faith, hard work, and service. They have enhanced and shaped our national character with centuries-old traditions that reflect the multiethnic and multicultural customs of their community.


Hispanic Heritage Month, whose roots go back to 1968, begins each year on September 15, the anniversary of independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Mexico, Chile and Belize also celebrate their independence days during this period and Columbus Day (Día de la Raza) is October 12.

President Obama issued this proclamation yesterday on Hispanic Heritage Month.

 

KJ

September 15, 2015 in Books, Current Affairs, Film & Television, Music, Religion, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 14, 2015

Azealia Banks Agrees With Donald Trump On Immigration?

  

It seems that everyone, including Inqusitr, watch the social media posts of celebrities.  Rapper Azealia Banks took to Instagram to express apparent support for the hard-line anti-illegal immigration policy advanced by Donald Trump, the current GOP front-runner for the 2016 presidential nomination.

Banks posted the following Instagram message.

“Do you think it’s bad that I sort of agree with Trump’s stance on immigration? Not for any reason other than black Americans still not having been paid reparations for slavery and the influx [of] INTERNATIONAL immigrants (not just Mexicans), are sucking up state aid, and government money, space in schools, quality of life etc.?? It’s selfish, but America has been really good at convincing me that everyone else’s problems are more important than my own. I want my f*****g money!!…Me first!!!…Thoughts?"

KJ

September 14, 2015 in Current Affairs, Film & Television, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 11, 2015

Your Playlist: Manu Chao

Clandestino by Manu Chao would be a great entree into discussion of undocumented migrants.

 

He sings:

Correr es mi destino
Por no llevar papel

-KitJ

September 11, 2015 in Music, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Hurricane Katrina Ten Years After: Latino Immigrant Workers Helped Rebuild New Orleans

Hurricane_Katrina_August_28_2005_NASA

Satellite image of Hurricane Katrina on August 28, 2005

 

 

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.

 

 

KJ

August 29, 2015 in Current Affairs, Food and Drinks, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Your Playlist: Malinda Kathleen Reese

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.

-KitJ

July 14, 2015 in Music, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Born to Run: Chris Christie for President?!?!?

 

Chris_Christie_April_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."'

KJ

June 30, 2015 in Current Affairs, Film & Television, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Your Playlist: Timbalive

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.

 

-KitJ

June 23, 2015 in Music, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)