Thursday, August 16, 2018

Detaining Families: A Study of Asylum Adjudication in Family Detention

Detaining families

The United States currently detains more asylum-seeking families than any nation in the world, and the government is trying to further expand family detention. Sadly, this practice is not new. Since 2001, families have been held in detention as they pursue claims for protection. Until now, little was known about how detention impacts a family’s access to a fair process.  

Today, the American Immigration Council released Detaining Families: A Study of Asylum Adjudication in Family Detention, co-authored by Ingrid Eagly, Steven Shafer, and Jana Whalley. Drawing on thousands of government records over a 15-year period, the report highlights the multiple barriers to justice families seeking asylum face while in detention, as well as the important role the courts have played in protecting due process.

Here are some of the findings:

Families have been detained in remote locations, have faced barriers accessing the courts, and—despite valiant pro bono efforts to assist them—have routinely gone to court without legal representation. Detained parents and children rely on volunteers and nonprofit attorneys willing to travel to remote detention centers to provide pro bono representation, which is still insufficient to serve all detained family members. During the period studied, we found:

  • Families were detained in remote locations, far away from urban centers and service providers. Almost all hearings in family detention (93 percent) were conducted remotely over video, rather than in a traditional face-to-face courtroom setting.
  • Families released from detention were more likely to have legal representation. At the most recent merits hearings for families in our study, 76 percent of family members who had been released from detention were represented by counsel, compared to 53 percent of family members who remained detained.
  • Barriers to obtaining lawyers in detention were particularly profound at the initial stage of proceedings, where only 32 percent of detained family members found counsel.

The vast majority of families released from detention showed up for court.

Despite the challenges posed by detention, family members pursued viable claims for protection and showed up for proceedings after release from detention. During the 15 years of our study, we found:

  • Family members who were released from detention had high compliance rates: 86 percent of released family members (with completed and pending cases) had attended all of their court hearings that occurred during our study period. This rate was even higher among family members applying for asylum: 96 percent of asylum applicants had attended all their immigration court hearings.
  • Family members who were released from detention and obtained counsel had a relatively high rate of success in their completed cases. Half (49 percent) of family members who were released and sought legal relief from removal with the help of an attorney were allowed to stay at the completion of their case. By comparison, only 8 percent of detained family members without representation had the same success in their cases.
  • Case outcomes for families varied widely, however, depending on the jurisdiction in which their cases were adjudicated. In addition to the different asylum grant rates of judges in each jurisdiction, we find that disparities in case outcomes reflect broader jurisdictional inequities, such as the availability of local attorneys and the willingness of local prosecutors to grant a case closure based on prosecutorial discretion.

Families have been subjected to overdetention by immigration officials, and the courts have served as an important check and balance in this complex system.

Our study documents the often lengthy and wasteful process associated with detention. Our review of the government’s own data supplies ample evidence that families have been subjected to overdetention by immigration officials. The study further reveals the important role immigration courts can play in protecting due process—yet these checks and balances can vary considerably across different jurisdictions. This variability results in uneven access to justice for asylum-seeking families.


August 16, 2018 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

At the Movies: Crazy Rich Asians

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The film "Crazy Rich Asians" is getting tons of popular attention.  The plotline summarized on IMDB:  This contemporary romantic comedy, based on a global bestseller, follows native New Yorker Rachel Chu to Singapore to meet her boyfriend's family.



August 16, 2018 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Trump Administration Cracks Down on Volunteers Helping Migrants Survive the Arizona Desert


Nine humanitarian volunteers are facing federal charges after leaving water bottles for migrants in the Arizona desert. Colorlines talks to members of No More Deaths about their work and the consequences of their solidarity.





August 16, 2018 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Photo exhibit explores the inner lives of migrant domestic workers


Anne Quito on Quartz discusses We Are Like Air, Xyza Cruz Bacani’s exhibition at the Open Source Gallery in Brooklyn.  As the article explains,

"The exhibit’s title, “We Are Like Air,” alludes to these invisible, but essential agents—waiters, housekeepers, drivers, fast food agents, street sweepers, security guards—who ensure the smooth operation of our convenient lives without being seen. Their personal stories, like their presence, are engineered to recede, and it takes someone like Bacani to shock us into seeing them with open eyes and hearts. Frame by frame, Bacani explores not just longing or strife but also love, folly, and levity."

View more on Instagram.



August 16, 2018 in Current Affairs, Photos | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Affair: Catalina Sandino Moreno Breaks Down Season 4’s Timely Immigration Plot



Garin Pirnin in Vanity Fair talks with actress Catalina Sandino Moreno who stars in the cable series The Affair, which in its fourth season introduced the fact that character played by Moreno is undocumented.  In the second episode of the fourth season, Luisa (played by Oscar nominee Moreno) gets pulled over for a busted taillight while driving her husband Cole’s (Joshua Jackson) Jeep. As Pirnin writes, "Lucky for her, the cop gets called away, and Luisa’s off the hook—for now. You see, she’s an undocumented immigrant from Ecuador—and even though she’s married to Cole, she’s unable to obtain a green card because she came into the country illegally."

Moreno immigrated from Colombia to the United States in 2005.  She came to the U.S. after starring in 2004’s Maria Full of Grace as a pregnant drug mule; her performance earned her a best-actress Oscar nomination in 2005.


August 16, 2018 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

European Immigrants in the United States


Young women celebrate the Polish-American holiday of Dyngus Day in Buffalo, NY. (Photo: rocketfuel/Flickr)

This Migration Information Source spotlight looks at European immigrants to the United States.  After long constituting the bulk of migration to the United States, European immigration has largely declined since 1960. Following the end of communism in the 1990s, European arrivals slightly increased, but the population has more recently begun to shrink again. In 2016, about 4.8 million Europeans lived in the United States, accounting for 11 percent of the roughly 44 million U.S. immigrants—down from 75 percent in 1960.

Top States of Residence for Europeans in the United States, 2012–16



August 15, 2018 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Amid Legal and Political Uncertainty, DACA Remains More Important Than Ever


Getty/Joe Raedle.  Lorena Jofre, a DACA recipient, walks her daughter to school before driving to work in Miami, Florida, February 2018.

The most up-to-date survey of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) beneficiaries clearly shows that recipients continue to make positive and significant contributions to the economy. DACA recipients are working in better jobs; earning higher wages; starting businesses; increasing their purchasing power; and pursuing educational opportunities. The survey published today by Tom K. Wong, the Center for American Progress, the National Immigration Law Center, and United We Dream is also one of the first studies to show how heavily the uncertainty surrounding DACA is weighing on the minds of DACA recipients, as well as how DACA recipients are showing tremendous resolve amid this uncertainty.
Top-line results from the survey’s findings include:

96 percent of DACA recipients are currently in school or are working.

The average hourly wage of respondents increased by 78 percent since receiving DACA, from $10.32 per hour to $18.42 per hour. Among respondents 25 years and old, wages increased by 97 percent.

89 percent of respondents, and 92 percent of those 25 years and older, are currently employed. After receiving DACA, 54 percent reported moving to a job with better pay; 46 percent moved to a job with better working conditions; 45 percent moved to a job that better fit their education and training; and 45 percent moved to a job that better fit their long-term career goals.

6 percent of respondents, and 8 percent of those 25 years and older, started their own business after receiving DACA, outpacing the general population in terms of business creation.

The purchasing power of DACA recipients continues to increase: 62 percent of respondents reported purchasing their first car, which is important not only in terms of state revenue but also regarding the safety benefits of having more licensed and insured drivers on the roads. Additionally, the survey found that 14 percent of respondents purchased their first home after receiving DACA (20 percent among respondents 25 years and older), which produces broader economic effects, including the creation of jobs and new spending in local economies.

The uncertainty created by the Trump administration’s decision to rescind DACA is taking a toll on the well-being of DACA recipients. Forty-five percent of respondents reported that they think about being detained in an immigration detention facility at least once a day; 55 percent reported that they think about being deported at least once a day; and 64 percent reported that they think about a family member being deported at least once a day. Among parents, 76 percent reported that they think about being separated from their children because of deportation at least once a day, and 74 percent think about not being able to see their children grow up because of deportation at least once a day.

Despite the uncertainty, DACA recipients are civically engaged: Since receiving DACA, 49 percent of respondents reported that they have become more politically active; 52 percent reported that they have become more involved in their communities. After their DACA applications were approved, 64 percent reported no longer afraid being of their immigration status, and 64 percent reported feeling more like they belong in the United States.

“Five years of surveying DACA recipients has provided consistent results showing that DACA has not only improved the lives of the recipients, but it has also positively affected their families, the communities in which they live, and our economy more generally,” said Tom K. Wong, senior fellow for Immigration Policy at the Center for American Progress and associate professor of political science at the University of California, San Diego. “This research, as with previous surveys, continues to show that without DACA, the gains that DACA recipients have made—from employment to earning higher wages and starting their own businesses to pursuing educational opportunities that were previously closed to them—would be impossible. Ending DACA would be cruel and counterproductive and would diminish the gains that DACA recipients have made just as many are beginning to hit their stride in their lives and careers.”

Another new column lays out the uncertainty facing DACA in the courts and what’s at stake if it were to end. If Judge Andrew Hanen, currently hearing a challenge to DACA led by the State of Texas, issues an injunction, and renewals are halted, DACA recipients will begin to lose their protections immediately.

While a substantial number of DACA recipients with expiration dates from March to July have applied for renewal, as of July 31, more than 64,000 DACA recipients with expirations through the rest of the year have yet to submit their renewal applications and are at risk. That number skyrockets in 2019 and 2020. CAP estimates that only 3 percent of Dreamers with DACA expirations in 2019 have submitted renewal applications, leaving an estimated 452,700 at risk. Through July 2020, an additional 156,250 DACA recipients will see their protections disappear.

This means that, putting aside those with pending renewal applications, 1,240 DACA recipients will lose protection every day in 2019, and 732 will lose protection each day through July 2020.

“First and foremost, losing DACA exposes recipients to detention and deportation in an unparalleled era of immigration enforcement,” said Nicole Prchal Svajlenka, senior policy analyst for Immigration Policy at the Center for American Progress. “It would also force hundreds of thousands of Dreamers from the workplace and, on a state-by-state basis, could end their opportunity to apply for drivers’ licenses and limit access to higher education.”

“Trump’s decision to kill DACA last year was wrong. We have always known the immense impact DACA has made in the life of immigrant youth and our communities. As this administration continues to attack us and feed more immigrants to the deportation force, Congress must vote to defund the deportation agencies and pass legislation to protect immigrants in a way that is permanent and clean,” said Sanaa Abrar, advocacy director at United We Dream. “This year’s survey showed that a large number of DACA recipients are civically engaged, and we are certain we’ll see immigrant youth continue to defend their communities because we are determined to #LiveUnafraid.”

“This study shows, yet again, the enormous impact DACA has had not only on the lives of immigrant youth and their families but also in their communities,” said Ignacia Rodriguez Kmec, immigration policy advocate at the National Immigration Law Center and co-author of the column. “Courageous DACA recipients have thus far obtained various legal victories allowing the DACA program to remain. We will continue to fight alongside immigrant youth, including DACA recipients, to ensure they have a secure future in this country, which is their home.”

Click here to read the results and the methodology: “Amid Legal and Political Uncertainty, DACA Remains More Important Than Ever” by Tom K. Wong, Sanaa Abrar, Tom Jawetz, Ignacia Rodriguez Kmec, Patrick O’Shea, Greisa Martinez Rosas, and Philip E. Wolgin.


August 15, 2018 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

From Migrant Farming to Mars


Inside InSight: From Migrant Farming to Mars

NASA-JPL InSight engineer Marleen Martinez Sundgaard works in a simulated Martian sandbox. She tests science instruments meant for Mars right here on Earth. Growing up in a migrant farming family, Marleen was always dreaming of the stars - now her dream has become a reality.
Landing in November 2018, NASA's InSight will probe beneath the surface of Mars, study the planet's interior and shed light on how rocky planets - inside and outside our solar system - form.
Keep up with InSight here.


August 15, 2018 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Law Professors to AG Sessions: Case Quotas Undermine Independence of Immigration Judges

Jeff sessions

More than 120 immigration law professors today  sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions  claiming that the Trump administration’s use of case quotas as a measure of immigration judges’ performance undermines their independence and threatens due process.  Nicole Narea on Law 360 offers details.


August 14, 2018 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 13, 2018

Texas A&M School of Law Faculty Hiring Announcement (Includes Immigration Law)

TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW seeks to advance its academic programs and robust commitment to scholarly inquiry by recruiting multiple faculty candidates for tenure-track or tenured positions.

Since integrating with Texas A&M five years ago, the law school has sustained a remarkable upward trajectory by dramatically increasing entering class credentials; adding nine new clinics and six global field study destinations; increasing the depth and breadth of our career services, student services, academic support, and admissions functions; and hiring twenty-six new faculty members. To maintain and accelerate that trajectory, the School of Law aims to augment and build distinctive pillars of excellence in a number of fields in the coming years. Beyond nationally prominent programs in Dispute Resolution, Intellectual Property, and Natural Resources Law, relevant areas of emerging strength include Immigration Law, National Security Law, International Law, and Real Property Law. As part of a multi-year appointments strategy, the School of Law aims to enhance its strength in discrete areas within these fields, including online dispute resolution, privacy, cybersecurity, climate change, and refugee/asylum law. Our Faculty Appointments Committee will be especially interested in candidates whose profiles offer synergies with core curricular areas of interest, including administrative law, criminal law, family law, and tort law.

While the School of Law welcomes expressions of interest in any of these areas, it is particularly interested in recruiting visionary leaders and outstanding scholars – of any research methodology – who can help to contribute to creating a new, path-breaking sphere of excellence in Health Law, Regulation, and Policy. In conjunction with Texas A&M University’s efforts to develop cutting-edge programs at the intersection of health care, technology, and business, relevant law school faculty will have the opportunity to engage in interdisciplinary scholarship, teaching, and policy work at the highest level.

Texas A&M University is a tier-one research institution and American Association of Universities member. The second largest university in the United States, Texas A&M is a public land-grant, sea‐grant, and space-grant institution dedicated to global impact through scholarship, teaching, and service. Its 19 colleges and schools collectively rank among the top twenty higher education institutions nationwide in terms of research and development expenditures. Texas A&M’s central campus is located in the city of College Station, though the University has a substantial presence in many other cities throughout the state. The School of Law is located in the heart of downtown Fort Worth, a vibrant and rapidly expanding city with a population of one million people, which is renowned for its arts community and culture. The Fort Worth/Dallas area, with a total population in excess of seven million people and one that ranks it among the most diverse metropolitan areas in the United States, offers a low cost of living, a strong and diverse economy, and access to myriad world-class restaurants, entertainment options, and outdoor activities.

The Texas A&M System is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action/Veterans/Disability Employer committed to diversity. The School of Law welcomes applications from a broad spectrum of qualified individuals who will enhance the rich diversity of its academic community and is committed to providing equal opportunity to all employees, students, applicants for employment or admission, and the public, regardless of race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, disability, genetic information, veteran status, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Candidates must have a J.D. degree or its equivalent. Preference will be given to those with demonstrated outstanding scholarly achievement and strong classroom teaching skills. Successful candidates will be expected to engage in scholarship, teaching, and service.

Rank as an Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, or Professor will be determined based on qualifications and experience.

Applicants may email a résumé and cover letter indicating research and teaching interests to Professor Timothy Mulvaney, Chair of the Faculty Appointments Committee, at, or send their materials to Professor Mulvaney at Texas A&M University School of Law, 1515 Commerce Street, Fort Worth, Texas 76102-6509. Alternatively, applicants who are not current employees of Texas A&M may submit their materials at, while applicants who are current employees of Texas A&M may submit their materials at


August 13, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Stephen Miller's Uncle Talks Family Migration

Stephen Miller by Gage Skidmore

Senior White House policy advisor Stephen Miller is the architect behind Trump's anti-immigrant policies. Today, Miller's uncle calls him out as a hypocrite on Politico.


Because Miller's family history is much like many of ours. His forbears came to the United States fleeing violence and seeking a better life. And once established in the United States, family was brought over from Belarus to join in the new life.

Miller's uncle writes: "I have watched with dismay and increasing horror as my nephew, who is an educated man and well aware of his heritage, has become the architect of immigration policies that repudiate the very foundation of our family’s life in this country."

And more: "Trump and my nephew both know their immigrant and refugee roots. Yet, they repeat the insults and false accusations of earlier generations against these refugees to make them seem less than human."


August 13, 2018 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigration a Key Issue in Season 6 of Orange is the New Black



Season 6 of the Netflix show Orange is the New Black was released a few weeks ago..  Its finale has an immigration-influenced theme that may be revived in season 7.  In the season finale, one of the main characters, Blanca (played by Laura Gomez) receives early release, but she is turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.  And the private detention company PolyCon

Gabriela Garcia on Remelzca explores the immigration theme in the OITNB finale.  Will we see an exploration of immigration themes in Season 7?



August 13, 2018 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Immigration Article of the Day: Citizenship for Sale? in The Oxford Handbook of Citizenship (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017) by Ayelet Shachar


Citizenship for Sale? in The Oxford Handbook of Citizenship (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017) by Ayelet Shachar 


“There are some things that money can’t buy.” Is citizenship among them? In her contribution to the Oxford Handbook of Citizenship, Professor Shachar explores this question by highlighting the core legal and ethical puzzles associated with the surge in cash-for-passport programs. The spread of these new programs is one of the most significant developments in citizenship practice in the past few decades. It tests our deepest intuitions about the meaning and attributes of the relationship between the individual and the political community to which she belongs. This chapter identifies the main strategies employed by a growing number of states putting their visas and passports “for sale,” selectively opening their otherwise bolted gates of admission to the high-net-worth individuals of the world. Moving from the positive to the normative, the discussion then elaborates the main arguments in favor of, as well as against, citizenship-for-sale. Shachar draws attention to the distributive and political implications of these developments, both locally and globally, and identifies the deeper forces at work that contribute to the perpetual testing, blurring, and erosion of the state-market boundary regulating access to membership.


August 12, 2018 in Books, Current Affairs, Law Review Articles & Essays | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, August 11, 2018

India's Citizenship List

Photo by Diganta Talukdar

Assam is a state in Northeast India. Since 1951, the state has had a National Register of Citizens or NRC. As the BBC reports, the NRC developed in response to nationalists' concerns that the Hindu-majority state would be overtaken by Muslim immigrants.

In 1985, after years of additional anti-migrant strife, the federal government of India reached an agreement requiring those living in Assam to prove their residency as of March 24, 1971, else be "expelled from electoral rolls and considered illegal immigrants."

Not much happened thereafter until a few years ago. The NRC was updated in 2016 and 2017, with a final version published this past December.

The BBC reports that some four million residents of Assam have not been included on this updated NRC. They are no longer considered citizens of India. Indeed, these individuals became "stateless overnight."

What are these individuals to do? First off, they can appeal. They can file additional documents to prove their eligibility for citizenship.

Might they be deported? That's unclear. Those on the list might be considered ethnically Bangladeshi but that nation will not accept them. Perhaps they will end up in detention centers, which Assam is expanding.

This developing story has striking parallels to the fate of Haitians in the Dominican Republic, and it is certainly one to watch for those interested in citizenship.


August 11, 2018 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Family Separation, Harsh Enforcement Tactics Do Not Deter Migration


Christian Jorgenson on Immigration Impact reports on the effectiveness of the Trump administration's efforts to deter migration from Central America.  When the Trump administration began prosecuting migrant families and separating thousands of children from their parents, many in the administration predicted this would significantly deter migrants looking to cross the U.S.-Mexico border. That has not been the case.

A recent study based on new data from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) shows this policy and older enforcement policies aimed at deterrence have not successfully curbed migration. Instead, seasonal migration patterns appear to dictate the flow of new arrivals at the border.

The study, published by the Center for American Progress (CAP), examined the impact of the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy and the Obama administration’s massive expansion of family detention in the second half of 2014. In both instances, the policies did not deter families from entering the United States.

New data from Border Patrol shows the same occurred this year. In April, May, June, and July 2018, between 9,250 and 9,650 family units crossed each month, showing no significant increase or decrease.

All of this new data makes clear: families fleeing epidemic levels of violence in Central America are not going to be deterred by needlessly harsh enforcement policies here in the United States.



August 11, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

This American Life: ICE Capades



Last month, This American Life took a look at the controversy over the proposed abolition of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).  "Dispatches from a government agency in its tumultuous teenage years."   The proposal to abolish ICE has provided Republicans with an issue to attack Democrats.


August 11, 2018 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigration Article of the Day: Exporting Murder: US Deportations & the Spread of Violence by Christian Ambrosius and David A. Leblang

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Exporting Murder: US Deportations & the Spread of Violence by Christian Ambrosius and David A. Leblang


Existing literature on cross-national variation in violence has paid little attention to the transnational transmission of crime. One such channel are the forced returns of migrants with a criminal record in their countries of temporary residence. Responding to this research gap, we study the effect of US deportations of convicts on levels of violent crime in deportees’ countries of origin for a cross-country panel of up to 123 countries covering the years 2003 to 2015. We find a strong and robust effect of criminal deportations on homicide rates in countries of origin, that is to a large degree driven by deportations towards Latin America and the Caribbean. An additional inflow of ten deportees with a criminal history per 100,000 increases expected homicide rates by more than two. In addition to controlling for country specific fixed effects, we provide evidence on a causal effect using an instrumental variable approach, that exploits spatial and time variation in migrant populations’ exposure to state level immigration policies in the US.


August 11, 2018 in Current Affairs, Law Review Articles & Essays | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 10, 2018

ICE Crashed a Van Full of Separated Mothers, Then Denied It Ever Happened


Illustration/Sunny Sone

Can ICE ever stop surprising us?  Guess not.  The headline captures the gist of the Texas Observer story.

Hat tip to Professor Cappy White!


August 10, 2018 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Laura Ingraham's Inflamatory Immigration Comments

The interwebs are atwitter with commentary about these remarks from Laura Ingraham:

Yes. She actually said that in "some parts of the country, it does seem like the America that we know and love doesn't exist anymore. Massive demographic changes have been foisted upon the American people. And they're changes that none of us ever voted for, and most of us don't like.... Much of this is related to both illegal and, in some cases, legal immigration that, of course, progressives love."

CNN called the segment out with this headline: "White anxiety finds a home at Fox."

It's an excellent clip for a class on race and migration. It might even pair well with discussion of Chae Chan Ping and the "vast hordes... crowding in upon us."


August 10, 2018 in Current Affairs, Film & Television, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

First Lady's Parents Become U.S. Citizens


Amalija and Viktor Knavs, parents of first lady Melania Trump, walk on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, in June 2017.  

Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

NPR reports that First lady Melania Trump's Slovenian-born parents were sworn-in as U.S. citizens yesterday.  They immigrated based to the United States on family-based visas.  President Trump has derided family-based immigration as "chain migration."  Viktor and Amalija Knavs, both in their 70s, attending a private swearing-in ceremony in Manhattan, according to their lawyer, Michael Wildes.


August 10, 2018 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)