Friday, January 13, 2017

Doris Meissner: Taking Action to Reflect Current Reality: Obama Administration Ends “Wet Foot, Dry Foot” Policies on Cuban Migration

In an unanticipated, although logical, next step to the normalization of U.S.-Cuba relations that began two years ago, the Obama administration on Thursday announced the end of “wet foot, dry foot” policies that have governed the treatment of Cuban arrivals to the United States since the mid-1990s. A new commentary by Migration Policy Institute Senior Fellow Doris Meissner, who was deeply involved in the negotiation and implementation of wet foot, dry foot as Commissioner of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, examines how the announcement advances uniformity in U.S. immigration policy and starts to adjust the Cold War-era set of policies that have given Cubans uniquely preferential status for green cards and benefits compared to other immigrant-origin groups. She explores what the change may mean for Cubans who are now to be treated the same as other migrants arriving without authorization at U.S. borders and ports of entry.

Her commentary also traces the spike in Cuban migration by land and sea in recent years, and how Latin American governments pressed for this policy change as they have been affected by the growing numbers of Cubans transiting their countries en route to the United States.


January 13, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immprof Mike Kagan on the Challenges of Teaching Immigration Law Now


Check out immprof this piece by Mike Kagan (UNLV) for the Chronicle of Higher Education: Teaching Immigration Law in the Age of Trump. Here are just a few tantalizing clips:

while I do not pretend to be neutral, it is my job to encourage open debate in class. Students who disagree with me deserve to feel free expressing themselves. ... Yet, integral to this approach is a sense of boundaries distinguishing reasonable debate from base prejudices and disrespect. ... But what if a student were to say that Mexican immigrants have a propensity to be criminals, or that people of Mexican descent cannot be fair-minded judges? Such comments are pure bigotry; they are prejudice without empirical foundation. Moreover, such comments could create a hostile learning environment for other students, especially if the instructor fails to reprimand them and re-establish boundaries. The trouble, obviously, is that our incoming president has said exactly these things. Does that mean the boundaries have moved? ... I can see why a student might think, Shouldn’t I be able to say the same thing the president says without being reprimanded by my liberal professor?

Mike raises great questions that I myself spent time grappling with this week. It's going to be a tough semester.


January 13, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Syrian Refugees in the United States

Syrian refugees have become a focal point of debate on immigration and national security in the United States. Largely missing from the public discourse, however, is information about the basic characteristics, background, and geographic distribution of the Syrian refugee population.

A new
Spotlight article from the Migration Information Source, the Migration Policy Institute’s online journal, examines what is known about the population of Syrian refugees resettled in the United States since civil war broke out in Syria in 2011, displacing millions. Among the demographic characteristics examined: age, sex, religion, and languages spoken, as well as the top cities and states where they have been resettled.

Because the U.S. refugee resettlement program prioritizes families with young children, Syrian refugees are on average much younger than the rest of the U.S. population—nearly half were under the age of 14.



January 13, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

California Resists Trump's Likely Immigration Initiatives: The California Values Act


It seems fair to say that tension is likely during the next four years between various states and the federal  government on immigration enforcement.  California is one of those states and it has already retained former Attorney General Eric Holder and his law firm to resist various possible initiatives by the Trump administration.

California also has acted quickly to Trump's election with a legislative proposal.  In early December 2016, California Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) has introduced SB 54, the California Values Act, to prevent the use of state and local public resources to aid federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents in deportation actions.

“To the millions of undocumented residents pursuing and contributing to the California Dream, the State of California will be your wall of justice should the incoming Administration adopt an inhumane and over-reaching mass-deportation policy,” said Senator de León. “We will not stand by and let the federal government use our state and local agencies to separate mothers from their children.”

SB 54 will ban state and local law enforcement officials from performing the functions of a federal immigration officer. The California Values Act does not prevent state and local departments or agencies from complying with a judicial warrant to transfer violent offenders into federal custody for immigration enforcement purposes.

"The right to due process is the bedrock of the U.S. criminal justice system," said San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón. "A warrant requirement will enable California to preserve our civil liberties and enhance public safety by maintaining the trust and effectiveness of law enforcement. A warrant requirement will ensure the government confirms a person's identity and whether they are subject to deportation before they can be detained, thereby preventing citizens, authorized immigrants and victims of crime from being jailed."

District Attorney Gascón, formerly San Francisco’s Police Chief and Deputy Police Chief in Los Angeles, added that public safety suffers when local police enforce immigration laws.  “When victims of crime don't come forward for fear of immigration consequences, the impact on public safety reaches far beyond immigrant communities,” he said. 

The California Values Act will also create “safe zones” throughout the state by prohibiting immigration enforcement on public school, hospital, and courthouse premises. To ensure eligible immigrants are not deterred from seeking services and engaging with state agencies, the bill also requires state agencies to review and update confidentiality policies.

“In California we have policies that provide health, safety, education, and an environment where all people can thrive,” said Assemblymember Marc Levine (D-Marin County) principal co-author of SB 54.  “California is a state where everyone is welcome.  SB 54 will make it clear California public schools, hospitals, and courthouses will not be used by the Trump regime to deport our families, friends, neighbors, classmates, and co-workers.”

President-elect Trump’s reckless comments about immigrants and deportation has honest, hardworking families living in fear and their children being taunted at school, Senator de León said earlier this week during the unveiling of a separate “Immigrants Shape California” package.

 “I cannot stand by and allow federal ICE agents to use state and local dollars, data, personnel, and facilities to help deport the very families who contribute so much to our economy and community,” he said.

Cynthia Buiza, Executive Director of the California Immigrant Policy Center, added: "The California Values Act answers the ugly slurs of xenophobia with a simple but profound truth: all people are created equal. Against Trump and other forces who seek to demonize and persecute immigrants, the Golden State must embrace and defend our common humanity and deepest values.  Getting law enforcement out of painful deportations, protecting the integrity of public spaces, and rejecting any registry which target Muslims will send a potent message to the nation - and the world." 

Marcus McKinney, Policy Director, People Improving Communities through Organizing (PICO) California, said: "As a faith-based organization we wholeheartedly oppose draconian deportation policies out of the new administration in Washington that will further exacerbate racial profiling. California must take an aggressive stance against these policies to ensure families are not torn apart by reactionary and divisive immigration policies."

Angie Junck, Supervising Attorney, Immigrant Legal Resource Center, said: "In continuation of California's long-standing history of welcoming, the CA Values Act presents a prime opportunity to ensure that our law enforcement and local governments are no longer a front door to deportation for our residents.”

“The incoming Presidential Administration has promised to unleash a new regime of government sanctioned discrimination that runs counter to our values as Californians, would unfairly target millions of hard working families, devastate our economy and impose unfair burdens on taxpayers,” said AFSCME Local 3299 President Kathryn Lybarger.  “The California Values Act reflects our common ideals and reaffirms our shared responsibilities.”


January 13, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Paul Ryan Sympathetic Toward DACA Recipients?



CNN reports that House Speaker Paul Ryan was asked point-blank yesterday at a town hall by a woman whose parents brought her to the U.S. as an undocumented immigrant at age 11, and who has remained in the country for 21 years since: "Do you think that I should be deported?"

"I can see that you love your daughter and you're a nice person who has a great future ahead of you, and I hope your future's here," Ryan responded during a CNN town hall in Washington moderated by Jake Tapper.
President-elect Donald Trump has pledged to repeal President Barack Obama's executive actions that allowed undocumented immigrants brought into the country as children and their families to remain in the country without fear of deportation.
Ryan said lawmakers are talking with Trump's transition team about those immigrants -- and said Trump's focus is on violent criminals and building a US-Mexico border wall.
In his comments, Speaker Ryan focused on the unconstitutional lawmaking by President Obama in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and said that Congress had to come up with the solution for DACA recipients.  He said that a "deportation force" is not happening but emphasized, as I have, that the Trump administration is likely to focus removal efforts on "criminals."

January 13, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Obama: Wet Foot / Dry Foot Ended "Effectively Immiediately"

Here is the full statement:

Today, the United States is taking important steps forward to normalize relations with Cuba and to bring greater consistency to our immigration policy. The Department of Homeland Security is ending the so-called "wet-foot/dry foot" policy, which was put in place more than twenty years ago and was designed for a different era.  Effective immediately, Cuban nationals who attempt to enter the United States illegally and do not qualify for humanitarian relief will be subject to removal, consistent with U.S. law and enforcement priorities.  By taking this step, we are treating Cuban migrants the same way we treat migrants from other countries. The Cuban government has agreed to accept the return of Cuban nationals who have been ordered removed, just as it has been accepting the return of migrants interdicted at sea.

Today, the Department of Homeland Security is also ending the Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program.  The United States and Cuba are working together to combat diseases that endanger the health and lives of our people. By providing preferential treatment to Cuban medical personnel, the medical parole program contradicts those efforts, and risks harming the Cuban people.  Cuban medical personnel will now be eligible to apply for asylum at U.S. embassies and consulates around the world, consistent with the procedures for all foreign nationals.

The United States, a land of immigrants, has been enriched by the contributions of Cuban-Americans for more than a century.  Since I took office, we have put the Cuban-American community at the center of our policies. With this change we will continue to welcome Cubans as we welcome immigrants from other nations, consistent with our laws.   During my Administration, we worked to improve the lives of the Cuban people - inside of Cuba - by providing them with greater access to resources, information and connectivity to the wider world. Sustaining that approach is the best way to ensure that Cubans can enjoy prosperity, pursue reforms, and determine their own destiny. As I said in Havana, the future of Cuba should be in the hands of the Cuban people.


January 12, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1)

"Loud" Vegan Denied Swiss Citizenship

Did you know that cowbells, livestock farming, hunting, pig racing, eating meat, circus animals, mouse-catching, and giving out milk at school are "Swiss values"? Could you have imagined that speaking out against such practices in the media could lead to a denial of Swiss citizenship? Me neither. But CNN is all over this story.

If anyone out there is teaching a citizenship class this semester, this article should definitely be turned into an in-class real-o-thetical. (As in, not a hypothetical but a real-o-thetical.)


January 12, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

The End of "Wet Foot, Dry Foot"

CNBC among other media outlets is reporting that we're about to see the end of the "wet foot, dry foot" policy for Cubans arriving in the United States without visas. This is according to a "senior administration official" in the  Obama administration.


January 12, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Oscar Vasquez's Testimony at Sessions Hearing

 Here is US military veteran and DREAMer Oscar Vasquez's testimony at the Senate's confirmation hearing of Jeff Sessions for Attorney General.  Vasquez's story, in which his high school robotics team won a national robotics competition, was written about in this Wired article and served as the inspiration for the 2015 movie Spare Parts.



January 12, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Teaching Chae Chan Ping

I taught Chae Chan Ping this morning. I continue to find the case compelling reading. The arguments regarding "vast hordes of ... people crowding in upon us" who "will not assimilate" resonate as strongly with today's political rhetoric as they did in the 1880s.

But this post is about teaching The Chinese Exclusion Case.

Specifically, I want to point our dear readers to images, freely available on the interwebs, that you might share with students while teaching this case.

If you have other images that you use, please share!


January 12, 2017 in Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Samantha Bee Takes On The Deporter In Chief

On her show, Full Frontal, Samantha Bee recently took aim at the current Deporter-In-Chief, President Obama.


January 12, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

From the Bookshelves: Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran


Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran (2017).  A novel.

January 12, 2017 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Immigration Article of the Day: Race and ethnicity in context: international migration, political mobilization, and the welfare state by Anna Zamora-Kapoor, Francisco Javier Moreno Fuentes & Martin Schain


Anna Zamora-Kapoor

Race and ethnicity in context: international migration, political mobilization, and the welfare state by Anna Zamora-Kapoor, Francisco Javier Moreno Fuentes & Martin Schain (2017) Ethnic and Racial Studies, Vol. 40, No. 3 at 353-368.


This manuscript reviews the literature on race and ethnicity in the political context. It discusses the most important scholarship on international migration, political mobilization, and the welfare state to date, to identify current gaps and emerging lines of inquiry. Future studies are needed to better understand the mobilization of immigrants by political parties, the role of local politics for a national electoral mobilization, and the relationship between local and national political areas for policy development.


January 11, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1)

The Undocumented Migrant Behind The Brazilian

Artwork by Sandrine Boulet

The BBC has a truly hair-raising migration story: Jocely Padilha came to the United States from Brazil in 1982. She overstayed a tourist visa (it appears, the journalism is fuzzy on the interesting stuff), and ended up doing nails to make ends meet.

Jocely has six sisters. And they all ended up making their way to NYC too. (How? Did they end up regularizing their status? I wish the BBC had explained the immigration law angle! Sigh.) Eventually the sisters opened the J Sisters salon in Manhattan.

Do you know what the J Sisters salon is famous for? The Brazilian. As in the extreme wax treatment. It was the Padilha sister named Janea who invented the treatment in the 70s then introduced it to the US in the 90s.

I have been sitting on this story for a few days trying to come up with a good ending to this post. I think I'm going to go choose-your-own-adventure style. Pick one of the following:

  • Um, thanks?
  • Seems like a missed opportunity for anti-immigrant rhetoric. Why focus on criminal aliens when you could talk about aliens bringing their painful foreign salon services? They'd capture more female votes.
  • What an immigrant success story! I look forward to Laura Malin's forthcoming book about the Padilha sisters - Wax and the City. Maybe it'll have more of the immigration details.


January 11, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Jeff Sessions's Unqualified Praise for a 1924 Immigration Law


The U.S Senate continues confirmation hearings today for Senator Jeff Sessions, who Donald Trump has nominated for Attorney General.  Sessions, among other things, is a champion of immigration restrictions and immigration enforcement.  The Attorney General, among other things, has authority over the nation's immigration courts and has a variety of other functions that touch on immigration.  Yesterday, Sessions took on claims that he was a racist and emphasized that he did not support excluding all Muslims from the United States (but would support "strong vetting" of persons from "countries known to harbor terrorists").

Adam Serwer in The Atlantic writes of "Jeff Sessions's Unqualified Praise for a 1924 Immigration Law," which included the discriminatory national origins quotas system: 

"During an October 2015 radio interview with Stephen Bannon of Breitbart, now a top adviser to the president-elect, Sessions praised the 1924 law saying that:

In seven years we'll have the highest percentage of Americans, non-native born, since the founding of the Republic. Some people think we've always had these numbers, and it's not so, it's very unusual, it's a radical change. When the numbers reached about this high in 1924, the president and congress changed the policy, and it slowed down immigration significantly, we then assimilated through the 1965 and created really the solid middle class of America, with assimilated immigrants, and it was good for America. We passed a law that went far beyond what anybody realized in 1965, and we're on a path to surge far past what the situation was in 1924."


January 11, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Humanitarian of the Day: The Canadian businessman who sponsored 200 refugees


Jim Estill put up $1.5m of his own money to bring 58 Syrian families to Canada.  Photo courtesy of Canadian Press 

The BBC reports on this "feel good" refugee story.   One Canadian businessman decided he could do more for desperate Syrians fleeing their war-torn country. So he bankrolled an Ontario town's resettlement of over 200 refugees.  Over the summer of 2015, business executive Jim Estill from the southwestern Ontario town of Guelph watched the Syrian refugee crisis unfold night after night on the evening news.

"I didn't think people were doing enough things fast enough," he says.

So Estill, chief executive of home appliance company Danby, put up CA$1.5m (US$1.1m/£910,000) of his own money to bring over 50 refugee families to Canada, and co-ordinate a community-wide effort to help settle them into their new life.  It would be a volunteer-driven project, but organized like a business. Volunteer directors led multiple teams, each in charge of a different aspect of settling newcomers.

Canada allows private citizens, along with authorized groups, to directly sponsor refugees by providing newcomers with basic material needs like food, clothing, housing, and support integrating into Canadian society.

Estill made his fortune as an entrepreneur, and previously worked as a director at Research in Motion, best known for producing the BlackBerry mobile phone.


Courtesy Jan Young Baker.  Image caption Jelil Alou, a Syrian refugee sponsored by the Canadian government, stands with Muhamad Abdo and Ibrahim Halil Dudu, who were sponsored by Jim Estill and the Muslim Society of Guelph


January 11, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Supreme Court Argument Preview: The void-for-vagueness doctrine applied to the U.S. immigration laws -- Lynch v. Dimaya


Here is my preview of the oral argument in the Supreme Court in Lynch v. Dimaya.  The oral argument is on January 17.  In that case, the Ninth Circuit, in an opinion by Judge Stephen Reinhardt, held that 18 U.S.C. 16(b), as incorporated into the Immigration and Nationality Act's provisions governing removal, is unconstitutionally vague.  My conclusion:

"In recent years, the Roberts Court has moved immigration law into the legal mainstream, employing generally applicable principles of statutory construction and administrative law when adjudicating immigration-law cases. However, the court has been slow to apply the Constitution to judicial review of the substantive admission, removal and citizenship provisions of the immigration laws. Several cases before the court this term raise constitutional challenges to the immigration and nationality laws. Lynch v. Morales-Santana involves the constitutionality of the immigration law’s distinctions between mothers and fathers in bestowing citizenship on children born out of wedlock. In Jennings v. Rodriguez, the challenge to immigrant detention, the court in December asked for supplemental briefing on the constitutional issues raised by the case. This term’s decisions in this trio of cases may help clarify the place of the Constitution in judicial review of cases arising under the immigration laws."


January 10, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Mexico: Faces of Migration


Ciudad Serdán, Puebla, Mexico

Magdaleno has been travelling by train and bus for two weeks. He has a wife and three children at home. He’s making for the United States, where his brother lives, but he hasn’t told his brother that he’s coming. He was sad to leave but says that poverty drove him to leave his family behind. Photo Courtesy of the International Committee of the Red Cross


January 10, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1)

Immigration Article of the Day: Refugee Education: The Crossroads of Globalization by Sarah Dryden-Peterson


Refugee Education: The crossroads of Globalization by Sarah Dryden-Peterson, Educational Researcher, Vol. 45, Issue 9, December 2016,  473–482

Abstract:  This article probes a question at the core of comparative education—how to realize the right to education for all and ensure opportunities to use that education for future participation in society. I do so through examination of refugee education from World War II to the present, including analysis of an original data set of documents (n = 214) and semistructured interviews (n = 208). The data illuminate how refugee children are caught between the global promise of universal human rights, the definition of citizenship rights within nation-states, and the realization of these sets of rights in everyday practices. conceptually, I demonstrate the misalignment between normative aspirations, codes and doctrines, and mechanisms of enforcement within nation-states, which curtails refugees’ abilities to activate their rights to education, to work, and to participate in society.


January 10, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 9, 2017

Immigration @ AALS - A Partial Recap

There were many wonderful immigration panels at the AALS conference this year in addition to the field trip to Angel Island.

Thursday morning kicked off with a Hot Topic session - Federal Power Over Immigration.

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This was a fairly charged session with peppery debate about not only who can and should regulate immigration but also the value of having consistent responses to those questions. Josh Blackman (South Texas) spoke (lovingly) about United States v. Texas. Jennifer Chacón (Irvine) spoke about the "large and stable unauthorized population" that isn't "going anywhere anytime soon," while theorizing about just how incoming President Trump might try to speed up their removal. Jill Family (Widener) spoke about interplay between national sovereignty and immigration. Anil Kalhan (Drexel) talked about immigration surveillance, including the technology-driven collection of personal information about migrants. Finally, Ilya Somin (George Mason) offered the very unique perspective that the federal government doesn't have general power to regulate immigration. 

Thursday afternoon included a panel titled Asylum from Persecution by Non-State Actors: Upholding and Updating Refugee Protection.

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The panelists, with skillful moderation by Jenny Moore (NM), did a fantastic job challenging long-held beliefs about asylum protection. Susan Akram (BU) challenged the ethno-sectarian narrative of violence in Syria to identify more complex reasons behind persecution. Shalini Ray (Florida) spoke about efforts by non state actors to rescue victims of persecution, and how such non-state-sanctioned rescuers may face prosecution for their involvement. Shana Tabak (Georgia State) offered a "gendered perspective" on women facing persecution in the form of domestic violence. I have to give a shout out as well to Ukrainian law professor Iryna Zaverukha who asked, during Q&A, if the lack of protection for internally displaced persons isn't a way to "domesticate an international issue" when displacement occurs as a result of invasion by a foreign power (e.g. Russia in the Crimea). A provocative panel, to be sure.

On Friday, the AALS Academy Program (fancy!) was Does Anyone’s Law Matter at the Border? Shootings, Searches, Walls, and the U.S. Constitution.

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Stephen Vladeck (Texas) moderated this interesting panel. Chiméne Keitner (Hastings) kicked things off by offering a framework for thinking about when those affected by harmful public action might be entitled to pursue legal action that deters and punishes the state or compensates the individual injured. Gerry Neuman (Harvard) updated us about two pending lawsuits concerning cross-border shootings: Hernandez v. Mesa and Rodriguez v Swartz. Lee Gelert (ACLU) then spoke about two other pending border cases: Castro v. DHS and Jennings v. Rodriguez. Finally, Leti Volpp (Berkeley) spoke about functionalist and formalist approaches to these complicated issues.

The last panel of Saturday - Presidential Politics and the Future of the Supreme Court: Post-Election Reflections and Forecasts for the "Post-Racial" Post-Obama White House - offered surprise bonus immigration with a second appearance by Jennifer Chacón (Irvine) speaking about the demonization of migrants and Shirin Sinnar (Stanford) commenting on the intersection of immigration and national security.

All of these sessions will eventually be podcast by AALS. So if you missed the conference, you can still catch these great talks.


January 9, 2017 in Current Affairs, Law Review Articles & Essays | Permalink | Comments (0)