Monday, March 27, 2017

Trump's Climate of Fear Hits the Latino Metropolis

Immigration Article of the Day: The Nondiscrimination Obligation of Immigration and Nationality Act Section 202(A)(1)(A) by Alan Hyde


The Nondiscrimination Obligation of Immigration and Nationality Act Section 202(A)(1)(A) by Alan HydeRutgers University - School of Law, March 13, 2017


The nondiscrimination obligation of Immigration & Nationality Act Sec 202(a)(1)(A) entered the law in 1965 as part of a larger Congressional repudiation of the executive branch's claim to flexibility and discretion in the issuance of immigrant visas. The administration had specifically claimed the discretion to direct immigrant visas to Western European countries potentially disadvantaged by the abolition of national origin quotas. Congress eliminated this discretion and, in the same substitute bill, reserved the power to create categories of immigrant admission to itself. Congress reinforced that power by directing the executive branch to administer visa categories without favoring countries or races. The nondiscrimination obligation thus rules out some of the more extravagant recent claims for executive authority unilaterally to alter immigration law.


March 27, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, March 26, 2017

ICE Retaliating Against Activists and Sanctuary Policies

From the District Sentinel:

Recent Immigration and Customs Enforcement actions raise questions about the Trump Administration using deportation proceedings to punish political opponents -- both institutions and individuals.

Three undocumented activists in Vermont were arrested over the past week by ICE agents -- two of them, while leaving the office of an organization that advocates for immigrants' rights. In Texas, meanwhile, a federal magistrate judge on Monday confirmed that immigration agents were conducting raids in response to policy changes carried out by the county seat of Austin.

The Texas-based federal magistrate, Judge Andrew Austin, recalled how ICE officials had told him to "expect a big operation" and that it was "a result of the [Travis County] sheriff's new policy." This assertion was confirmed by the testimony of an ICE Agent named Laron Bryant.

Fifty-one people were netted in the raids. Twenty-eight of them had no criminal record whatsoever.

The policy referred to by Judge Austin was a decision by Travis County to only cooperate with ICE detention requests, when they are paired with a warrant. Sally Hernandez, the county sheriff, enacted the change in January, after winning an election, in part, by promising reduced cooperation with federal immigration officials.

The Austin American-Statesman, which first reported the courtroom admission, noted that ICE had previously denied targeting Travis County for so-called "sanctuary city" policies. Supporters of such policies argue that local law enforcement should be concerned solely with community safety, and that it is threatened by asking local cops to enforce federal immigration law.

In Vermont, meanwhile, two undocumented activists with the group Migrant Justice were detained by ICE agents on Friday, while leaving the organization's Burlington-based office.

The arrests of Jose Enrique "Kike" Balcazar Sanchez and Zully Palacios Rodriguez occurred two days after the arrest of another local undocumented activist outside of a county courthouse. Cesar Alexis Carrillo Sanchez, a farm laborer organizer, had reportedly shown up for a hearing on drunk driving charges. Prosecutors were expected to drop criminal charges against Sanchez.

Migrant Justice organizer Abel Luna reacted to the arrests of Rodriguez and Sanchez, saying in a press release that it represents: "a clear demonstration that the Trump administration wants to break organized communities, bring us back to the shadows, bring us back to fear where we once were." Read more...


March 26, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

New Yorkers join to remember tragic Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of 1911



The New York Daily News reports that New Yorkers gathered on Friday to remember Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire — a tragedy that killed 146 workers, many of them young women.  The March 25, 1911 blaze at a factory near present-day New York University rocked the city — and galvanized the International Ladies Garment Workers Union to push for workplace safety rules still in place today.   

The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City on March 25, 1911 was the deadliest industrial disaster in the history of the city, and one of the deadliest in U.S. history. The fire caused the deaths of 146 garment workers – 123 women and 23 men – who died from the fire, smoke inhalation, or falling or jumping to their deaths. Most of the victims were recent Jewish and Italian immigrant women aged 16 to 23; of the victims whose ages are known, the oldest victim was Providenza Panno at 43, and the youngest were 14-year-olds Kate Leone and "Sara" Rosaria Maltese.

The factory was located on the eighth, ninth and tenth floors of the Asch Building, at 23–29 Washington Place in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan, now known as the Brown Building and part of New York University.

Because the owners had locked the doors to the stairwells and exits – a then-common practice to prevent workers from taking unauthorized breaks and to reduce theft – many of the workers who could not escape from the burning building simply jumped from the high windows. The fire led to legislation requiring improved factory safety standards and helped spur the growth of the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union (ILGWU), which fought for better conditions for workers.

The building has been designated a National Historic Landmark and a New York City landmark.


March 26, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Cuts to legal services for rural, poor people would hurt those who helped elect Trump


President Donald Trump’s proposed budget calls for the elimination of all funding for the Legal Services Corporation, the nation’s single largest funder of civil legal aid to low-income people. The proposed cut would hurt the poor, rural voters who helped elect him.

Legal Services Corporation works to ensure that low-income Americans have access to much-needed legal assistance. It is often the sole lifeline for vulnerable people with legal problems that affect their health, housing, safety and economic security.

With broad bipartisan support, Congress in 1974 created the LSC, an independent nonprofit organization. President Richard Nixon signed the bill into law. And for more than 40 years, Congress has annually funded the organization so that low-income Americans might realize some semblance of the nation’s promise of equal justice for all.

With the economic recession of 2008, the workload of LSC-funded organizations increased dramatically. In the last three fiscal years, bipartisan majorities in Congress have increased its funding by $10 million per year.

As the late Justice Antonin Scalia emphasized in a speech at the Legal Services Corporation’s 40th anniversary conference in 2014, it “pursues the most fundamental of American ideals, and it pursues equal justice in those areas of life most important to the lives of our citizens.”

Put simply, Legal Services Corporation is the backbone of the modern legal aid system in the United States. It is especially important in rural areas where there are few lawyers and many poor people. Federal funding for civil legal services provides crucial assistance to hundreds of thousands of Americans each year.

The 133 LSC-funded programs serve every county in every state. They help veterans secure benefits, assist domestic violence victims in obtaining protection orders against abusers, protect seniors from consumer scams and to obtain health care, and assist disaster survivors.

One in five Americans is eligible for civil legal aid. LSC-funded offices provide services to nearly 2 million people each year. The simple premise of LSC and civil legal aid is that a person’s economic status should not determine the quality of the justice they receive.

“The Legal Services Corporation is as American as apple pie,” said John Levi, chair of the LSC board. “We promote what Thomas Jefferson described as ‘the most sacred of the duties of government,’ which is ‘to provide equal and impartial justice to all its citizens.’ And we do it at a cost that amounts to less than one one-hundredth of 1 percent of the federal budget.”

Continued funding makes basic fiscal sense: LSC delivers far more economic benefits to the country than what it costs to support the program.

I am proud to have served for many years as president of the board of directors of Legal Services of Northern California, which helps poor and working people from south of Sacramento to California’s northern border. In most of the region, Legal Services of Northern California is the only legal voice for poor and vulnerable populations. It protects the rights of thousands of people every year. Tens of thousands more in these rural areas benefit from Legal Services of Northern California’s community education materials, informational sessions and legal clinics.

Trump wants to change the nation as we know it. In the campaign, he promised to be the voice for the voiceless. Legal aid organizations across the country, especially in the nation’s rural expanses funded for decades by the Legal Services Corporations, provide the critical voice for the poorest and most vulnerable of our neighbors.

I wrote this commentary for the Sacramento Bee.


Read more here:

Read more here:

March 26, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

SCOTUSBlog Preview of Lee v. United States: Ineffective Assistance of Counsel


Amy Howe on SCOTUSBlog previews Lee v. United States, an ineffective assistance of counsel case involving an immigrant that the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in on March 28.  (We posted Manny Vargas' take on the case a few days ago.).  

Here is the gist of the facts of the case:

"Over 95% of criminal cases in the federal system end in a plea bargain, rather than going to trial. One such case is that of Jae Lee, who in 2009 pleaded guilty to possession of ecstasy with the intent to distribute it. Lee was sentenced to one year and one day in prison – considerably less than the 24 to 30 months suggested by the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.

The real problems began after Lee went to prison. In 1982, at the age of 13, Lee had moved from South Korea to the United States with his parents. They became U.S. citizens, but he did not. Lee’s attorney, Larry Fitzgerald, had told Lee before he entered his plea that he would not be deported: The government wasn’t seeking to deport him as part of the plea bargain, Fitzgerald explained, and because Lee had been in the country so long, the government couldn’t remove him from the country even if it wanted to. Fitzgerald’s advice, it turned out, was dead wrong. Lee learned that deportation was a mandatory penalty for the crime of which he had now been convicted."

Amy Howe concludes her preview as follows: 

"given the ubiquity of plea deals in the criminal justice system and the apparent frequency with which criminal defendants receive bad advice about the immigration consequences of such pleas from their attorneys, this is a case that attorneys and advocates in the field of `crimmigration' will be watching closely."


March 26, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigration Article of the Day: Migrants and the Making of America: The Short and Long Run Effects of Immigration During the Age of Mass Migration by Nathan Nunn, Nancy Qian, Sandra Sequeira


Nathan Nunn

Migrants and the Making of America: The Short and Long Run Effects of Immigration During the Age of Mass Migration by Nathan Nunn (Harvard University - Department of Economics), Nancy Qian (Yale University - Department of Economics), Sandra Sequeira (LSE)


We study the effects of European immigration to the United States during the Age of Mass Migration (1850-1920) on economic prosperity today. We exploit variation in the extent of immigration across counties arising from the interaction of fluctuations in aggregate immigrant flows and the gradual expansion of the railway network across the United States. We find that locations with more historical immigration today have higher incomes, less poverty, less unemployment, higher rates of urbanization, and greater educational attainment. The long-run effects appear to arise from the persistence of sizeable short-run benefits, including greater industrialization, increased agricultural productivity, and more innovation.


March 26, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Love Wins in Louisiana


Alvaro M. Huerta of the National Immigration Law Center spent Wednesday morning reminding a court that, despite how far we’ve come, our nation still needs to protect the freedom to marry. The client, Viet “Victor” Anh Vo, was denied the right to marry the love of his life in his hometown in Louisiana.

The problem? In 2015, state lawmakers decided to require all marriage license applicants to show a birth certificate and prevented those born outside of the United States who might not have one from proving their identity through other means. Any immigrant without this piece of paper -- like Victor, who was born in a refugee camp in Indonesia and who has lived in the U.S. since he was three months old -- was legally barred from marrying the person they love. It didn’t even matter that Victor has been a U.S. citizen since he was 8 years old.

With partners at the New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher, & Flom LLP, the National Immigration Law Center took Victor’s case for immigrants’ freedom to marry to court.

Check out a video on Victor's case and our successful fight for the equal right to marry:


Before the hearing was over, the judge had declared that the law must be put on hold because it was likely to violate the Constitution. We all erupted in hugs and tears of joy. Yesterday, the judge issued a formal order to prevent this law from harming any other Louisianan too.

It’s shocking to believe that in 2017 -- five decades after the Loving v. Virginia decision that struck down laws preventing interracial marriage, and just two years since the Obergefell v. Hodges decision that reiterated the fundamental right to marry, regardless of sexual orientation -- a law like this could be on the books. 

By fighting back against this discriminatory law, Victor paved the way for other immigrants in his state to get married without government interference, which helped him realize “one person can actually make a change in the world."

Watch the new video and celebrate this victory.


March 25, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Debating the big questions on immigration: What rights do immigrants have — and is the president free to bar them?

has pulled together a panel of experts to discuss the constitutional rights of immigrants, immigrant rights, presidential powers and the dark lessons of history.   The experts include:


John S.W. Park is chair and professor of Asian American Studies at the University of California at Santa Barbara. He is a specialist in race theory, immigration law and policy, and Anglo-American legal and political theory. His books include “Elusive Citizenship: Immigration, Asian Americans, and the Paradox of Civil Rights,” “Probationary Americans: Contemporary Immigration Policies and the Shaping of Asian American Communities,” with Edward J. W. Park, and “Illegal Migrations and the Huckleberry Finn Problem.”

David Brotherton is professor of sociology at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice at the City University of New York (CUNY). His recent books include “Keeping Out the Other: A Critical Introduction to Immigration Control,” edited with Philip Kretsedemas, and “The Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation: Street Politics and the Transformation of a New York City Gang,” with Luis Barrios. His current research projects include a performance-based sociological study of immigration removal hearings in New York City. 

Stay tuned.  Next week, these scholars will discuss the following questions:  What are the worst effects of that 1996 immigration law — and the worst failures of our current immigration system? What can state and local governments do to counteract punitive federal immigration laws? 


March 25, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

University of California is moving forward with Mexican initiative, regardless of Trump actions


Teresa Watanabe for the Los Angeles Times reports that University of California President Janet Napolitano is headed to Mexico next week to reassure leaders there that UC remains committed to academic collaboration — even if some of it, such as climate change research, is at risk under the Trump administration.  In an interview, Napolitano said she would build on the UC-Mexico Initiative she launched in 2014 despite President Trump’s plans to build a border wall, increase immigration enforcement and reduce federal research funding. 

She said she planned to tell Mexicans during three days of meetings starting next Wednesday, "Regardless of what is happening federally, the University of California remains open to academic partnerships with Mexico."

Napolitano developed ties with Mexico as the governor of Arizona and as U.S. Homeland Security secretary. She said she launched the initiative to bring together disparate work at individual UC campuses. She provided $60,000 in seed money for UC faculty to meet with Mexican counterparts and decide priorities; they selected education, energy, the environment, health and the arts and culture.






March 25, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigrants -- Including Legal Immigrants -- Afraid to Access Public Benefit Safety Net

Last week, the Washington Post ran a story about how, due to fears of removals, lawful immigrants are deciding to go hungry rather than access public benefits.  Annie Lowrey in The Atlantic reports that, across the country, a climate of fear—sparked by Trump’s executive order on immigration enforcement, a series of highly public raids, and a draft executive order that would push families off of means-tested benefit programs—has spooked families away from the safety net. Of the 20 organizations working with documented and undocumented immigrants that Lowrey spoke with in recent weeks, 17 said they had seen legally eligible families declining to enroll or even unenrolling from programs, including SNAP, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, free school lunches, and the Women, Infants, and Children program.

“The immigration-enforcement order created chaos and fear,” said Wendy Cervantes of CLASP, an anti-poverty nonprofit, referring to a Trump initiative to ramp up deportations. “The fear of immigration enforcement creates a chilling effect. We’ve seen seen this in states that have passed really aggressive and harsh anti-immigrant laws at a local level, and now we might be seeing it nationally.”


March 25, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Blame game: Trump casts immigrants as dangerous criminals, but the evidence shows otherwise


This story in the Washington Post by David Nakamura reiterates what long has been the case -- immigrants are less crime-prone to crime than U.S. citizens.  Nonetheless, President Trump through his immigration executive orders and public statements is attempting to build public support for harsh measures directed at "criminal aliens."  Critics, including civil rights advocates and immigration lawyers, said the Trump administration is purposely inflating the dangers and scapegoating a wide swath of immigrants to manipulate public fears and create more political support for its hard-line policies.

Two reports released this month — by the Sentencing Project and the libertarian Cato Institute — confirmed past studies that immigrants, including those here illegally, commit crimes at lower rates than do native-born Americans.


March 25, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigration Article of the Day: Stateless in the United States: The United Nations' Efforts to End Statelessness and American Gender Discrimination in Lynch v. Morales-Santana by Rick Zou


Stateless in the United States: The United Nations' Efforts to End Statelessness and American Gender Discrimination in Lynch v. Morales-Santana by Rick Zou, Southern California Law Review, 2016


In 2014, the United Nations initiated a plan to end statelessness, the widely deplored condition in which a person does not have a nationality or the rights conferred by citizenship, which aims to fill gaps in national laws that contribute to statelessness. One such gap exists in the United States' Immigration and Nationality Act—specifically, a gender-based physical-presence requirement that prescribes how American parents can confer citizenship to their children. The Second Circuit, reviewing the physical-presence requirement, held it unconstitutional in Morales-Santana v. Lynch, despite a conflicting ruling from the Ninth Circuit, because the requirement violates the Constitution's Equal Protection Clause. Having granted certiorari to Morales-Santana, the Supreme Court must take this important opportunity to affirm the Second Circuit to ensure that no American citizen is made stateless by a wrongful interpretation of the Immigration and Nationality Act. This Note explores relevant domestic and international laws and conventions and explains why affirming the Second Circuit in Morales-Santana is consistent with both the United Nations' efforts to end statelessness and the U.S. Constitution.


March 25, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 24, 2017

Supreme Court to Hear Oral Argument in Ineffective Assistance of Counel Case Involving Immigrant


On March 28, the Supreme Court will be hearing oral arguments in an ineffective assistance of counsel case (Lee v. United States) in which a noncitizen faces mandatory removal based on a drug plea bargain


As Manny Vargas on the Huffington Post describes the case,

"Mr. Lee repeatedly asked his lawyer about the risk of deportation if he agreed to plead guilty [to a drug charge.] Again and again, the lawyer reassured Mr. Lee that he would not be deported given, as the lawyer put it, Mr. Lee’s `30 plus years of living in the U.S. and strong ties, in combination with a lack of prior criminal history and the small amount of drugs involved.' So, based on his lawyer’s advice, Mr. Lee agreed to plead.

Unfortunately, the lawyer’s advice was dead wrong. Under immigration laws enacted in 1996, long before Mr. Lee’s 2009 plea, a conviction of such a distribution offense makes a lawfully admitted permanent resident immigrant like him not only deportable, but mandates deportation regardless of extenuating circumstances or any other factors, including long residence, family, or other ties to the U.S., or even contributions to the country such as military service or employment of U.S. workers. Thus, if Mr. Lee pled to this offense, an immigration judge in later removal proceedings would almost certainly have no choice but to order him deported."

The lower courts incredulously ruled that Lee could not establish that he was prejudiced by the ineffective assistance of counsel because the evidence of his guilt was so overwhelming that he would have been convicted and deported anyway. 


March 24, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

From the Bookshelves: States, the Law and Access to Refugee Protection Fortresses and Fairness, Editors: Maria O'Sullivan and Dallal Stevens


States, the Law and Access to Refugee Protection Fortresses and Fairness, Editors: Maria O'Sullivan and Dallal Stevens

This timely volume seeks to examine two of the most pertinent current challenges faced by asylum seekers in gaining access to international refugee protection: first, the obstacles to physical access to territory and, second, the barriers to accessing a quality asylum procedure – which the editors have termed 'access to justice'.To address these aims, the book brings together leading commentators from a range of backgrounds, including law, sociology and political science. It also includes contributions from NGO practitioners. This allows the collection to offer interdisciplinary analysis and to incorporate both theoretical and practical perspectives on questions of immense contemporary significance. While the examination offers a strong focus on European legal and policy developments, the book also addresses the issues in different regions (Europe, North America, the Middle East, Africa and Australia). Given the currency of the questions under debate, this book will be essential reading for all scholars in the field of asylum law.


March 24, 2017 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Death of Teen in Custody Leads to Million-Dollar Settlement

Cruz Velazquez Acevedo was 16 when he sought to enter the U.S. from Mexico carrying two containers of liquid. When he told the CBP officers that the liquid was apple juice, they asked him to drink the liquid to prove his claim.

It wasn't apple juice. It was liquid methamphetamine. And when the teen drank a few sips, he started having convulsions and shouting "my heart, my heart" and "the chemicals!". He died within hours.

The family of Cruz Velazquez Acevedo sued, alleging that their child was "coerced and intimidated" into drinking something that the officers knew or strongly suspected to be dangerous.

The BBC reports that the suit settled for 1 million dollars.


March 24, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

University of Baltimore Law: Clinical Fellow Opportunities



The University of Baltimore School of Law invites applications for a Fellowship in its Civil Advocacy Clinic to start on or about July 1, 2017. This public interest fellowship program offers practicing attorneys exposure to law school clinical teaching.

The Civil Advocacy Clinic represents low-income individuals and organizations in poverty law litigation, legislative advocacy, and legal reform.  The Clinic handles a wide variety of cases, which include housing, public benefits, consumer, and employment law.  The Civil Advocacy Clinic Fellow's duties include direct supervision of case work by clinic students and clinic classroom teaching in coordination with clinic faculty. Fellows also pursue professional goals in conjunction with his/her clinic director, including opportunities for scholarship. Fellows are responsible for case coverage during school vacations. This position is a contractual appointment for up to two years and can be extended for a third year under certain circumstances.

Qualifications: excellent oral and written communication skills; at least two years of experience as a practicing lawyer primarily in litigation; a strong academic record and/or other indicia of high performance ability; commitment to work for low income clients and a strong interest in teaching. Fellows must be members of the Maryland Bar (currently licensed in Maryland or willing to take the next Maryland Bar exam) in order to supervise law practice by students.

Salary: The current salary is $55,000.  The position includes full benefits, including retirement annuities, research support, and travel allowance.


The University of Baltimore School of Law invites applications for a Fellowship in its Immigrant Rights Clinic to start on or about July 1, 2017. This public interest fellowship program offers practicing attorneys exposure to law school clinical teaching, and is aimed at attorneys who wish to shift from law practice into clinical teaching.

The Immigrant Rights Clinic represents low-income immigrants in a range of direct client representation and immigrant rights policy work. Individual client work includes litigation of asylum and cancellation cases in Baltimore’s immigration court, and preparation of a broad range of applications before USCIS. The policy work has included such projects as state-level legislative amendments that would benefit immigrants in Maryland, building a brief bank for a coalition of clinics, and developing community education materials requested by a community partner. Fellows also have the opportunity to pursue other professional goals, including scholarship, during the Fellowship.  Fellows are responsible for case coverage during school vacations.  This position is a contractual appointment for up to two years and can be extended for a third year under certain circumstances. 

Qualifications: Excellent oral and written communication skills; at least two years of experience as a practicing lawyer primarily in immigration, including both defensive and affirmative work; a strong academic record and/or other indicia of high performance ability; commitment to work for low income and immigrant clients; and a strong interest in teaching. Fellows must be members of the Maryland Bar (currently licensed in Maryland or willing to take the next Maryland Bar exam) in order to supervise law practice by students. 

Salary: The current salary is $55,000.  The position includes full benefits, including retirement annuities, research support, and travel allowance.  


Position is open until filled, and applications submitted by April 20, 2017 will receive priority consideration. For more details about the Fellows’ Program, please view our website

We appreciate your interest in our recruitment. Please review the information at the bottom of the Job Posting here before you visit here to apply.

 We need to receive your electronic application in our system by the vacancy closing date in order to consider you for the vacancy. If you have any questions about the CAC position, please email Prof. Michele Gilman at  If you have questions about the IRC position, please email Prof. Elizabeth Keyes at



March 24, 2017 in Current Affairs, Immigration Law Clinics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Remembering Oscar Romero (1917-1980)


From the University of California Press blog:

Remembering Oscar Romero

by Matt Eisenbrandt, author of Assassination of a Saint: The Plot to Murder Óscar Romero and the Quest to Bring His Killers to Justice

Thirty-seven years ago today, a gunman fired a single bullet that took Archbishop Óscar Romero’s life as he said mass inside a small chapel. We just observed the fortieth anniversary of another notorious crime from that era, the murder of Romero’s friend, Rutilio Grande. The 1977 ambush of Father Grande began a string of death-squad attacks on priests and other religious figures in El Salvador, a bloody campaign that lasted more than a decade. The diabolical logic of the killers was summarized in the slogan, “Be a patriot, kill a priest.”

Despite years of slander in some sectors, legacies of Romero and Grande are now being honored. Pope Francis is likely to name Romero a saint of the Catholic Church by the end of the 2017. Religious leaders in El Salvador recently sent the Vatican evidence of a miracle they believe is attributable to Romero’s intercession, the last requirement on the road to sainthood. Rutilio Grande is now being considered for beatification as a martyr, the same hurdle that Romero’s cause cleared in 2015.

My new book, Assassination of a Saint: The Plot to Murder Óscar Romero and the Quest to Bring His Killers to Justice, examines the people who executed Romero and how they did so. Equally important, however, the book explains why the conspirators felt the almost incomprehensible need to target priests, nuns, and lay people who were merely practicing their faith. The answer to that question is found in part in Romero’s own homilies. Despite the danger, Romero regularly criticized the repressive power structure in El Salvador, including the small group of wealthy landowners and businesspeople whose interests were protected by a succession of military governments. Romero referred to them as people “who pile up spoils and plunder in their palaces, who crush the poor, who bring on a reign of violence while reclining on beds of ivory.” Organizations that represented their interests responded by defaming Romero and others, branding them as Communists and traitors. One tabloid, in a 1970s version of fake news, carried the headline “Monseñor Romero Directs Terrorist Group,” with the subtitle, “Archbishop Great Ally of Agents of Subversion.”

The day before his death, Romero delivered his most forceful sermon, calling on Salvadoran soldiers to disobey the orders of their tyrannical commanders. He instead implored them, in the name of God, to “stop the repression.” Father Bill Wipfler, an Episcopalian priest who attended the mass that day in San Salvador and later testified about it in our trial against one of Romero’s killers, turned to a colleague after hearing Romero’s plea and said, “I don’t think that the military is going to let this one pass by.” A day later, Romero was dead.

Despite the devastating impact of Romero’s murder in 1980, today his memory is a source of hope and inspiration to millions in El Salvador and around the world. His canonization will be a historic moment for the country and a validation of his courageous and unflinching message.


March 24, 2017 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Source: ICE is targeting 'sanctuary cities' with raids


In a January 25 executive order, President Trump threatened to defund "sanctuary cities," cities that go undefined in the order but are generally thought of as not fully cooperating with federal immigration enforcement efforts.  Now, there is a troubling report about the targeting of "sanctuary cities" for immigration enforcement. 

Consistent with other reports, CNN reports that Immigration and Customs Enforcement has been targeting so-called "sanctuary cities" with increased enforcement operations in an effort to pressure those jurisdictions to cooperate with federal immigration agents.  This is what a senior US immigration official with direct knowledge of ongoing ICE actions told CNN.

A sanctuary city is a broad term applied to states, cities and/or counties that have policies in place designed to limit cooperation or involvement in the enforcement of federal immigration operations. More than 100 US jurisdictions -- among them New York, Los Angeles and Chicago -- identify as such.
High-ranking ICE officials have discussed in internal meetings carrying out more raids on those locations, said the source.

March 24, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

After an Immigration Raid, a City’s Students Vanish


The climate of fear created by President Trump's immigration enforcement drumbeat has had deep impacts on immigrant communities across the United States.  Immigrant parents worry what might happen to their children if they are deported.

Jonathan Blitzer in the New Yorker writes about how students disappeared from the Las Cruces, New Mexico schools after an immigration raid.  On February 15th, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers conducted a raid in Las Cruces, arresting people at a trailer park on the outskirts of town. The raid came a few weeks after President Trump signed two executive orders, signalling his plans to crack down on undocumented immigrants. Rumors spread that there were further raids planned, though none took place. On February 16th, a Thursday, Las Cruces’s public schools saw a sixty-per-cent spike in absences compared to the previous week—twenty-one hundred of the district’s twenty-five thousand students missed school. Two thousand students stayed away again the next day. Attendance returned to normal the following week, which made the two-day rash of absences all the more pronounced. “It was alarming,” Greg Ewing, the district’s superintendent, told me. News of the raid caused such fear in the community that Ewing wrote a letter to parents on the 16th, in English and Spanish, reassuring them that “we do not anticipate any ICE activity occurring on school campuses.” 

Parents fear dropping their children off at the Las Cruces schools and elementary school absences have spiked.


Walter White, New Mexico high school chemistry teacher in the television show Breaking Bad


March 24, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)