Friday, June 9, 2017

Federal judge rules that immigration detainers are unconstitutional

Texas flag

News from Texas!  The same federal judge who will hear the lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the state’s new controversial anti-sanctuary cities law ruled earlier this week  case that the Bexar County sheriff violated the constitutional rights of a Mexican citizen when he was held in jail on an immigration detainer after his criminal charges were dismissed.

In ordering summary judgment for the plaintiffs, Judge Orlando Garcia found the Bexar County Jail regularly honors ICE detainers, which are requests that the jail hold for 48 hours people who were arrested on state criminal charges and were ordered released but are suspected of violating immigration laws.  Because immigration violations for the most part are civil matters that don’t incur criminal penalties, the Sheriff’s Office does not have probable cause to hold them, he ruled.

“In short, the county's assumption that probable cause must exist to detain any individual for whom it receives an ICE detainer request was unreasonable,” Garcia wrote. “Its routine detention of such individuals made it inevitable that it would engage in warrantless detention of individuals who were not suspected of any criminal offense, but who became the subjects of ICE detainer requests either because they fell within a noncriminal … enforcement priority or because a detainer request was lodged despite their nonpriority status.”


June 9, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Neither Facially Legitimate Nor Bona Fide–Why the Very Text of the Travel Ban Shows It’s Unconstitutional

On Just Security, the brilliant Gerald Neuman lets the travel ban have it. The punch line:

"The Fourth Circuit rightly asserted that `we cannot shut our eyes' when evidence `stares us in the face.'  The religious animus that underlies the Executive Orders is already visible in the text, and the less formal statements merely provide confirmation.  That point deserves more emphasis." `Nuf said.


June 9, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigration Hawk Kris Kobach to Run for Governor of Kansas


Immigration enforcement advocate Kris Kobach, now Kansas Secretary of State, has announced that is running for Governor.  A controversial figure, Kobach has politically and legally advocated for many tough-on-immigrant measures, including Arizona's watershed SB 1070 and Hazleton, Pennsylvania's ill-fated effort at immigration enforcement. He has provided immigration advice to President Donald Trump.


Kobach's campaign website states the following on "illegal immigration":

"Strong borders are essential to our nation and to our State.  They are essential to fighting terrorism, essential to fighting crime, and essential to protecting American workers.  And the only way to combat a problem as severe as a lawless immigration system is to have action at both the federal and the state level.

Unfortunately, Kansas has become the sanctuary state of the Midwest.  We are the only state in the 5-state area that has done nothing to discourage illegal immigration.

This hurts Kansas taxpayers. This puts Kansans’ jobs at risk. And it puts Kansans’ lives at risk.  We can solve this problem in Kansas.  But it takes leadership and political will.  I’ll get the job done."

One law professor responded to the announcement as follows:  "At least he won't be going to DC any time soon."



June 9, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Breaking #FreeClaudia: Claudia Released on Own Recognizance

Breaking news from the Otay Mesa Facility:  Claudia Rueda (see blog post from yesterday) has been released on her own recognizance. On one hand, this is a tremendous victory for her and all who organized around her case. On the other hand, that was a month of her life spent in a detention facility that she won't get back, and tax dollars spent detaining a young college student who had herself organizing around justice and equality for her community.  And more resources spent on her continued deportation case.


June 9, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Voice of DACA: ‘If We Are Deported, Who Benefits?’


Courtesy of Maisie Crow/ACLU

Immigrationprof previously blogged about the revocation of Jessica Colotl's DACA status.  Jessica offers her thoughts on Politico.  Here is how she starts off:

"Until a few weeks ago, I was working as a paralegal at an immigration law firm in a suburb of Atlanta. I was saving money for law school and hoped to practice as an immigration attorney. Then, my world came crashing down: I was told that the U.S. government revoked my status as a recipient of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), an Obama-era policy that gives work and study permits to undocumented young people who arrived in the U.S. as children. Now I can’t work or drive and I’m afraid to leave the house, because without DACA, I have no legal permission to be here."

The conclusion:

"As I write this in Atlanta, I’m afraid that in a few weeks, I’ll get notice that the government wants to deport me—send me to a country I’ve never known as an adult and force me to start my life over.

DACA helped me to make a life in the community I grew up in and call home. It allowed me to plan for the future—a future that my parents and I have worked so hard to make real. All I want is the opportunity to continue working for that future."


June 9, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigration Article of the Day: Trump and Chinese Exclusion: Contemporary Parallels with Legislative Debates over the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 by Stuart Chinn


Trump and Chinese Exclusion: Contemporary Parallels with Legislative Debates over the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 by Stuart Chinn, University of Oregon School of Law


Donald Trump’s presidential victory in November has prompted much public commentary about American political dynamics, and about the future of American democracy. Given these inquiries, this paper is timely in aiming to reexamine, through a comparative-historical lens, one of the most prominent parts of Trump’s campaign and one of the biggest points of concern among his critics: Trump’s campaign rhetoric on immigration. Trump’s own flirtation with racist themes is not hard to see in some of his most notable campaign comments regarding Mexican immigrants and Muslim immigrants. And given that these comments were also directed at immigrant constituencies, equally clear is Trump’s flirtation with particularly nativistic forms of racial exclusion during his presidential campaign.

My aspiration in this paper is to shed some light on the Trump presidential victory and contemporary politics by examining these recent events in light of another significant moment in American immigration history: the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. By interrogating this crucial episode of nativist-influenced exclusion in the nineteenth century, I hope to illuminate certain dynamics that continue to resonate in and influence present-day politics.

In Part II of this paper, I offer some preliminary comments on the significance of the legislative debates over Chinese Exclusion in the late nineteenth century, and set forth the two primary claims of this paper: first, that a crucial component of American political community has historically resided within cultural bonds. Second, precisely because cultural bonds have been so significant in defining American political community, they have helped give rise to the presence of statuses in our polity marked by relative inclusion and exclusion. Stated otherwise, we commonly find within historical debates and contemporary debates a conceptualization of minority groups, by political actors, where exclusionary and inclusionary themes are inescapable intertwined. In Part III, I will demonstrate the validity of these two claims in the context of the legislative debates over Chinese Exclusion. Finally, in Part IV, I return to the contemporary context and demonstrate the relevance of my claims within Trump’s campaign rhetoric prior to the 2016 election. Within his rhetoric, we see both a reliance upon culture in constituting American political community, and the articulation of statuses that are characterized by the relative inclusion and relative exclusion of certain minority groups.

I will conclude with some discussion on how we might evaluate cultural claims, and claims about relative inclusion/exclusion. It is undoubtedly tempting to view both types of argument, especially when paired with exclusionary political goals, as at best a mere smokescreen for racism. Yet, while I think there may indeed by a strong overlap between cultural claims, relative inclusion/exclusion claims, and racist themes, I maintain that the first two are conceptually distinct from the third. Furthermore, for those inclined toward more inclusionary political goals, the first two types of argument should be viewed as attractive tools that can provide intriguing opportunities for co-option by proponents of more inclusionary views — options that are simply not available with respect to more categorically racist forms of argument.


June 9, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 8, 2017

"Immigration Agents Came for Our Student" #FreeClaudia



Claudia Rueda is a Cal State Los Angeles student who - like many of the most vocal and passionate leaders of the grassroots immigrants' rights movement today - does not have immigration status.  She is DACA-eligible, but did not apply for DACA due to the application fee.  She was active in the Los Angeles immigrants rights community, and in fact had led a community-based campaign to support her own mother's bond case before the Los Angeles Immigration Court.  And just days after supporting her mother's bond petition, she was herself detained by immigration agents in what appears to have been a targeted operation against her, specifically.  Her case has generated substantial public and social media outrage (see #FreeClaudia).

In a Los Angeles Times editorial, two of Claudia's professors, Beth Baker and Alejandra Marchevsky, express their outrage over the federal government's detention of Claudia. They write:  "Claudia is the face of immigration enforcement under the Trump administration. Under current executive guidelines, any immigrant suspected of a crime, even if never arrested, charged, or convicted, has become a priority for deportation. Basic due process, such as the right to know the charges and evidence against you, is absent in the immigration system. This policy has led to a 32% increase in immigrant detentions in the first three months of Trump’s presidency compared with the same time last year, and a 100% increase in the detention of people with no criminal record or with only minor traffic infractions. 'Criminal investigations' serve as a pretext for a policy of mass deportation of immigrants who have deep ties in local communities."

Claudia was detained about a month ago, and remains in detention despite a heavily-documented request for prosecutorial discretion, according to her attorney Monika Langarica of the ABA Immigrant Justice Project in San Diego (who, coincidentally, I just met this evening at a panel on DACA and law school admissions).  Her bond hearing is tomorrow (June 9) in San Diego.


June 8, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Indefensible: Sisters, Separated by Birth

Immigrant Defense Project Podcast--Indefensible: Episode 2:

Lundy and Linda Khoy are sisters who both got in trouble with the law. They were arrested separately for intent to distribute ecstasy when they were in their teens. Both say they were rebelling against their strict parents in Virginia. The fork in their destinies can be traced back to where they were born – illustrating how a seemingly straightforward fact like birthplace gets codified in harsh immigration laws to create vastly different life chances.

Lundy was born in a refugee camp in Thailand after her parents fled Cambodia’s genocide. Like millions of other Southeast Asians displaced from the region due to US aggression, the family was brought to the United States through a refugee resettlement program, and Linda was later born in California. As they adjusted to life here, Lundy and her parents, who received Green Cards (or permanent residence status), didn’t know how to become U.S. citizens.

Linda’s arrest at 19 years old involved hundreds of pills of ecstasy. As a U.S. citizen, Linda served a year in prison and when she was released, she got on with her life. Lundy, on the other hand, was arrested with just seven pills. The judge suspended her sentence and put her on probation so she could go back to school, but now she is facing deportation. Even though Lundy married a US citizen and has a US citizen child, an immigration judge ordered her deported. Through her activism with groups like the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC), Immigrant Defense Project (IDP), and the Immigrant Justice Network (IJN), Lundy secured a pardon from the Governor of Virginia. But the risk of deportation still looms.

Immigrants with criminal convictions have been increasingly demonized by the Trump Administration. Alongside hateful and racist rhetoric, Trump’s executive orders set into motion an indiscriminate deportation machinery, blind to the realities of people’s lives: their children and families, how long they have been in the country, what they have contributed to their communities. Because of changes enacted in the 1996 immigration laws, many non-citizens (including longtime residents like Lundy) face mandatory deportation for a broad range of offenses, including minor drug charges.

Southeast Asian American refugees have been disproportionately impacted by harsh laws designed to deport anyone with an old criminal record. Of all deportation orders to Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam since 1998, almost 80% were due to old criminal convictions. The vast majority of these are people who came as babies and children fleeing war and genocide with their parents. Because these countries accept only a small number of deportees, around 12,000 community members like Lundy are living day-to-day with final orders of deportation, rebuilding their lives and raising families, all the while knowing that the threat of deportation looms over them. Lundy calls this a “life sentence.”

Click here to access the podcast.


June 8, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

A Summary of Magana Ortiz v. Sessions by Law Student Niki Moshiri

Reinhardt Judge_Jacqueline_Nguyen

In Magana Ortiz v. Sessions, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (Judges Stephen Reinhardt and Jacqueline Nyuyen) denied an emergency stay of removal pending appeal.  Judge Reinhardt concurred in an opinion that has previously been discussed on this blog and which received a fair amount of press attention.  Below is a summary of the case drawn from the concurrence.

Magana Ortiz v. Sessions (9th Cir. May 30, 2017)

During prior immigration proceedings, Petitioner Andres Magana Ortiz was deemed to be of good moral character, despite two prior DUIs. Regardless, the government ordered removal on the basis of his unlawful entry into the United States in 1989. Following this decision, Magana Ortiz filed for a stay of removal in September 2014. The stay was granted and he was allowed to remain with his family and explore options to attain legal status.

On November 2, 2016, Magana Ortiz filed for an additional stay of removal. The government rejected the request without explanation, and he was ordered to report for removal the following month. An additional application for a stay was rejected. On May 10, 2017, Magana Ortiz filed an emergency request in the district court for a stay of removal for a nine-month period. When the emergency request was denied, he appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and filed a motion for injunctive relief against the U.S. government. The question before the court was whether the district court should have granted Magana Ortiz’s request for a stay for removal. the court held that it lacked legal authority to grant the stay.

As recited by Judge Reinhardt, the facts are compelling.  Magana Ortiz arrived in the United States at age 15. He is now 43. In those 28 years, he built his home here, paid taxes, and became a father to his three U.S.-born (and thus U.S. citizen) children with his wife Brenda, an American citizen. His children are ages 12, 14, and 20. Magana Ortiz is paying for the education of the oldest child as she attends university in Hawaii.

By all appearances, Magana Ortiz is a productive and responsible member of his community. He has started a company, and in Hawaii he has a well-established reputation as a respectable businessman in the coffee farming industry, even lending his farm free of charge to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for a five-year study on pests affecting Hawaii’s coffee crop.

While he has two convictions for driving under the influence in his record — the latest of which took place fourteen years ago — the government had conceded during immigration proceedings that he maintained good moral character.

After the government ordered his removal in March of 2017, Magana Ortiz requested a stay in order to remain in the U.S. to pursue a means of attaining legal status. This is in the works, as his wife submitted an application to have him deemed an immediate relative over a year ago. His oldest daughter turns 21 in August 2017, at which point she will also able to file an application for her father.

Until then, the government’s decision splits this family and subjects Magana Ortiz to a ten-year ban on his return. His children have spent the entirety of their lives in this country, and now have two options. They can remain here as their father is deported. If they stay in the United States, they lose not only a parent, but potentially also their physical home, their chances to attain higher education, and financial support. The other option is to join their father and interrupt their lives to start anew in a country they have never known, among people who speak a language they have never learned. To choose the latter would also mean an interruption of their education and a deprivation of the opportunities they could have in the United States.

The government’s decision was based on the current administration’s immigration policies intended to target those the President has characterized as “bad hombres.” On January 25, 2017, the President signed executive orders that eliminated the system of priorities that Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Border Patrol used to make deportation decisions. These executive orders also had expanded individual officers’ authority to deport noncitizens, broadening the scope of immigrants at risk from those who have committed an offense to those who are merely here illegally, regardless of whether they committed any offenses. Consequently, authorities now have vastly greater power to deport the undocumented, with far less discretion in such undertakings. Undocumented persons in the U.S. thus face greater risks of removal which could affect their abilities in daily endeavors like school and work, or seeking medical care in hospitals and legal matters in courts.

Although the court concurs in its holding to remove Magana Ortiz, it acknowledges that it has no power to do otherwise, and takes the opportunity to strongly object to the Trump administration's decision to deport Magana Ortiz. Judge Reinhardt writes that this removal is contrary to the values of the United States and its legal system. The judges who must uphold such decisions for lack of authority to reject them are victims of this system as well, as they suffer a loss of dignity and humanity, unable to pursue justice. Under this current policy, a man like Magana Ortiz — who had built a life with roots here, who was deemed to have good moral character, and who was in the process of seeking legal status via proper channels — was regardless deported, in what Judge Reinhardt views as an unnecessary move.

Niki Moshiri is a rising second year student at UC Davis School of Law.


June 8, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

A Worldwide Problem: Abuse of Domestic Workers


The International Organization for Migration reminds us to be aware of abuse of domestic workers.  Check out the video. Serene is the Singaporean employer of Lisa, a domestic worker from the Philippines. When Lisa starts working for her, Serene takes her passport and work permit, and does not allow her to take a day off. Serene is caught up in her own work until she realizes what she is unknowingly teaching her daughter about how to treat others. Serene recognizes that in order for her home to be a happy one, she needs to set a good example for her own child about respecting and appreciation others.

Visit to LEARN | ACT | SHARE and help raise awareness of domestic worker abuse.

June 8, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

How U.S. Immigration Law Enables Modern Slavery

Chris Lapining, a Skadden Fellow at Asian Americans Advancing Justice, in the Atlantic ("How U.S. Immigration Law Enables Modern Slavery") reminds us of the role that U.S. immigration law plays in modern exploitative labor arrangements, human trafficking (a $10 billion industry), and slavery:

"Like many of the immigrant workers that I represent at the legal-services nonprofit I work for in Los Angeles, [Lola] Pulido’s [Pulido was the family slave of the Tizon family, which was revealed after her death in an Atlantic article] legal status in the U.S. was inextricably tied to her employer. This feature of U.S. immigration law gives exploitative employers a powerful tool to control their immigrant workers, whose lack of familiarity with the laws and customs of the United States already render them vulnerable. Aware of this advantage that they hold, some employers believe they can abuse employees with impunity. If workers complain or threaten to seek help, they are told that leaving their employer may very well lead to deportation. For many immigrant workers, who may have borrowed significant amounts of money to come to America, leaving the U.S. early may mean financial ruin at home. U.S. immigration policy, in other words, leaves them no choice but to endure their employers’ abuse."

In a lawsuit filed on May 31, two former prisoners at a California private immigration prison have filed a class-action lawsuit against the operator of the facility, claiming they were forced under the threat of additional punishment to do work around the prison for as little as $1 a day.

According to the lawsuit, plaintiffs Sylvester Owino and Jonathan Gomez accused CoreCivic, one of the largest private prison companies in the country, of forcing them to do things like clean bathrooms and medical facilities and run the prison law library. They also claim that they were forced to perform clerical work for CoreCivic, which owns and operates the Otay Mesa Detention Center in San Diego, where the two men were held.

"In some instances, CoreCivic pays detainees $1 per day, and in other instances, detainees are not compensated with wages at all, for their labor and services," according to the lawsuit. It added that "CoreCivic reported $1.79 billion in total revenues" in 2016.



June 8, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

NPR Code Switch: A Prescription For "Racial Imposter Syndrome"

In this week's NPR Code Switch Podcast, Shereen and Gene look at "racial imposter syndrome." It's what one listener described as feeling fake, or inauthentic, in her identity. We invited listeners to write in, and hundreds of bi-racial and multi-cultural people shared their views. We'll also talk to social scientists about the basic need for belonging and the role language plays in identity. Later, writer Heidi Durrow joins us. She's founder of The Mixed-Remixed Festival, the largest annual gathering of its kind in the U.S.



For exploration of biracial identity on The Conversation, click here.



June 8, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

More on AILA's Texas Boycott

Immigration Judges Transferred to Deportation Mill in LaSalle, Louisiana

In "Inside Trump's Secretive Immigration Court: Far from Scrutiny and Legal Aid," journalist Oliver Laughland covers the newly established immigration courtrooms at the LaSalle, LA detention facility for The Guardian.  This piece provides a partial answer to my co-blogger Kit Johnson's post earlier today about the transfer of immigration judges out of New York.  It describes a makeshift immigration court system in which immigration judges are transferred for two-week temporary assignments to hold removal proceedings for recent detainees from all over the country, many of whom lack criminal records but do have strong community and family ties.  The article highlights the heartbreaking story, for instance, of a man who has lived in the US for nearly forty years, has a US citizen wife with stage 3 cancer, no criminal record, and cannot afford the $7,000 bond.  Not surprisingly, few have attorneys, and many give up claims to legal relief because of poor detention conditions.  The piece offers a glimpse into the diminished accountability, transparency, and fairness that will likely characterize immigration adjudication -- in some parts of the country more than others -- under this Administration.


June 7, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

AILA Leaves Texas for 2018 Annual Conference, Citing SB 4



The Texas Tribune reports that the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), the largest national association of immigration lawyers, will no longer be holding its annual conference for 2018 in Texas.  The annual conference - which typically draws about 3,000 people, including a number of immigration law professors and readers of this blog - had been scheduled to take place in Grapevine, TX.  But concerns over the state's recently-passed "anti-sanctuary" law SB 4 led the conference organizers to pull out of the location and instead seek a new site for the conference.  SB 4 is scheduled to go into effect on September 1 and allows law enforcement to question the immigration status of persons detained or arrested.  SB 4 also punishes department heads and elected officials who choose not to cooperate with federal immigration.


June 7, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Call for Papers from Journal of American Ethnic History - Immigration Control & Resistance

The Journal of American Ethnic History has issued a Call for Papers related to Immigration Control and Resistance. Below is the announcement:  

 Immigration Control and Resistance: Historicizing the Present Moment
A Special Issue of the Journal of American Ethnic History

Guest Editors:
Chantel Rodríguez, University of Maryland, College Park
Andy Urban, Rutgers University, New Brunswick

The 2016 presidential election foregrounded public debates about immigration, national security, and belonging in ways that scholars have struggled to understand.  The hardline stances on immigration emanating from the new presidential administration-from Executive Orders aimed at suspending migration from designated majority-Muslim countries to the proposal to "build a wall" on the US-Mexico border-represent to many a daunting expression of how the federal government plans on exercising its power to conduct immigrant surveillance, detention, and deportation.

In this environment, how the United States came to be a "gatekeeping nation" is again a topic of considerable importance. This special issue of the JAEH seeks to historicize the current political moment by examining how the immigration enforcement apparatus developed; how immigration controls functioned during previous eras of enforcement; how immigrant communities and activists have organized to contest and resist such efforts in the past; and how the governance of national borders informed immigration policy. We also seek submissions that historicize Americans and the United States government's attitudes toward refugees, and address how asylum policies in the past have either conformed to or challenged restrictions and controls on migrants already in place.

The editors encourage submissions that examine immigration policies through the multiple frameworks required to understand border surveillance; and that examine the politics of immigration control as both involving federal, state, and municipal actors-as well as social workers, legal advocates, and community and religious leaders-working to disparate ends.  Articles that shed light on the historical origins of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency and its predecessors, detention facilities and prosecutorial strategies used to remove immigrants are also encouraged.

Lastly, the guest editors welcome submissions that examine cultural responses to restrictive immigration policies and enforcement practices, which historicize how immigrant and ethnic publics have used art, literature, music, and other mediums as modes of criticism.

Submissions for this special issue are due by September 1, 2017. Manuscripts should be a maximum of 35 pages in length (double-spaced, including notes). They should be emailed to chanrod[at] and aturban[at] Authors should follow the guidelines in the JAEH style sheet, which the editors can provide upon request, and include a 50-100 word bio blurb with their submission.

The issue editors also hope to organize a series of panels and online forums connected to the publication of this issue. They welcome ideas and suggestions for programming.




June 7, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

16 States Back Trump's Travel Ban In Amicus Brief

Law360 (registration required) reports on that 16 states filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court yesterday in support of President Donald Trump’s travel ban on nationals from six Muslim-majority nations, arguing that the Constitution does not protect nonresident immigrants entering the U.S. and that the court must presume the executive order was valid and drafted in good faith.  Trump is seeking review of the Fourth Circuit's enjoining of the travel ban.  Here are the states, led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, supporting the ban:

1. Texas

2.  Alabama

3.  Arizona

4.  Arkansas

5.  Florida

6.  Kansas

7.  Louisiana

8.  Mississippi

9.  Montana

10.  North Dakota

11.  Ohio

12.  Oklahoma

13.  South Carolina

14.  South Dakota

15.  Tennessee

16.  West Virginia


June 7, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Reallocation of Immigration Judges to the Border

I'm sure most of our readers are aware that, since March 2017, immigration judges have been temporarily reassigned to new posts at border detention facilities. The goal of the administration is to speed up the deportation of recent border crossers.

I can tell you that, having recently observed the detained docket at the Otay Mesa detention center, the facility is currently using all of it's five courtrooms. One year ago they were not.

WYNC has interesting coverage of this issue with a New York bent. They set out to find out where exactly New York immigration judges were heading. They found that "[a]t least eight of New York City’s 29 immigration judges had been sent to Texas and Louisiana since March to conduct hearings in person or by video. Six judges were out for different parts of the month of May, alone."

What's the impact for those on the docket in NY? In all likelihood - delays.

What's the impact for border courts? That's unclear too. One knowledgeable person who I spoke with in San Diego indicated that the influx of judges wasn't making a dent in the overall caseload. It would be a great area for empirical research.


June 7, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigration Article of the Day: Alternative Facts in the War on Immigrants by Philip L. Torrey


Alternative Facts in the War on Immigrants by Philip L. Torrey, Harvard Law & Policy Review, 2017


This short online essay analyzes the recent use of propaganda and manufactured facts by the Trump Administration to stigmatize immigrants as dangerous.  Here is the basic argument:

"Trump has directed ICE (the federal agency responsible for immigration enforcement) to collect and study data on what Trump has long—and falsely—alleged to be a major public safety problem: the criminal behavior of immigrants in this country. With a sweep of his pen, Trump has created an ICE public relations office that is charged with providing “quarterly reports studying the effects of the victimization by criminal aliens present in the United States.” At first glance, the professed cause seems noble. But narrowing these studies to only those crimes perpetrated by immigrants and shoehorning such a study into the agency responsible for immigration enforcement is both irresponsible and dangerous. ICE has neither the time nor the expertise to be advancing someone else’s social science theories of crime.

Here’s the truth on immigrants and crime. Numerous studies have shown that the crime rate among immigrants is significantly lower than among native-born U.S. citizens. In the 1990s and 2000s, as the immigrant population dramatically grew in the United States, FBI data shows that the violent crime rate simultaneously plummeted. These and other statistics demonstrate that the vast majority of immigrants are law-abiding, contributing members of society."


June 7, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The Effects of Trump's Policies on Female Asylum Seekers

Guest blogger: Deborah Ibonwa, law student, University of San Francisco:

Imagine this: a woman reaches the American border after days of traveling with small children who are hungry and exhausted. She has hopes of finding escape from her rapists/traffickers/abusive partner, does not speak any English, has no lawyer, and no knowledge of United States (U.S.) immigration law. Under President Trump’s new immigration policy, border patrol agents are more likely to turn her away even if she is eligible for asylum.


Female asylum seekers who are here for safety and whom are the backbone of our workforce deserve legal protection in the United States.  Under the new immigration policy declared n President Trump’s Border Enforcement Order, a new Asylum Division Lesson Plan was released, making it easy for migrant women and girls to be turned away to face persecution. More women are at risk to be sent to face rape, human trafficking, domestic violence, and other forms of gender violence and persecution. Further, President Trump’s immigration policy has resulted in violations of the non-refoulment principle of Article 33 of the Refugee Convention. We need this administration to make sure women get asylum when they are eligible and that they are protected from further abuse while in the U.S.

Effect on female asylum seekers:

Women who make it to the U.S. border must inform a Customs and Border Patrol officer that they are afraid to go back to their home country, after which they are detained while waiting for a credible fear interview with an asylum officer. If that is cleared they eventually attend an asylum hearing. Tahirih Justice Center,  Tahirih Justice Center,  Summary of February 13, 2017 Asylum Division Lesson Plan Implementing Executive Orders, (March 6, 2017).   The rule was that a person should be referred to an asylum officer for a screening interview if there was any reasonable doubt as to whether the person had a credible fear of persecution. An asylum officer had to consider if the victim had “significant possibility” to convince an Immigration Judge that they had credible fear of being subject to torture as defined in the Convention Against Torture. Under Trump’s policy, there is no “significant possibility” standard, and asylum officers now decide whether someone holds credible fear, which is the authority of an Immigration Judge.  Id.  As a result, women and girls are often turned away without having a chance to seek representation and having a full adjudicative proceeding. Id.

Why we need to protect female immigrants:

In addition to the U.S.’ humanitarian obligations, we need to protect women immigrants because they are a crucial driving force to our economy. According to the Women’s Refugee Commission, Female immigrants make up 95% of the domestic labor force, 40% of all immigrant business owners, and they are more likely to start businesses than U.S. born women. Despite their huge impact in the U.S. economy, immigrant women, especially undocumented immigrants, are unlikely to report abuses committed against them by employers because they fear deportation and have no protection. This is especially true under the Trump administration. The impact of immigrant women in the US economy is tremendous, and President Trump’s immigration policy reforms and Executive Order poses many threats to these individuals.


Our new immigration policy has a disastrous impact on women seeking refuge from persecution and gender-based violence. The changes make it shamefully easy to turn away millions of women who are eligible for asylum back to their death, violating international human rights obligations all the while. We need to step up the pressure on our current administration to take these lives into consideration.  It is imperative for the good of humankind and under legal obligation.


June 6, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)