Thursday, March 12, 2015

Fusion: Inside the mind of an undocumented kid

Ted Hesson over at Fusion has a new article: Inside the mind of an undocumented kid. The article describes five psychological stages that undocumented children may go through: (1) The Honeymoon, (2) Awareness, (3) Coping, (4) Identity, and (5) Integration of Self.

The article is quick to recognize the difficulty of generalizing the experiences of 1.5 million undocumented kids in the country. But Lisa Fortuna, the medical director for the Brighton-Allston Mental Health Association in Massachusetts, hopes that the stages will provide a "new language" for understanding the unique problems facing these children.

The article is brilliantly illustrated by Victor Abarca.

Screen Shot 2015-03-12 at 8.03.41 AM


March 12, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Deport Laxalt? Protesters in Nevada Challenge State Participation in Texas v. United States


Here is some out of the ordinary protest news

Protesters in Carson City, Nevada Wednesday stormed the office of newly elected Attorney General Adam Laxalt and then shut down the street in front of the state capitol building for more than an hour. Protestors, many affiliated with the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, demanded that Laxalt withdraw from the lawsuit (Texas v. United States) challenging President Obama's November 2014 executive action on immigration.

Protest organizers estimated that the crowd was between 150 and 200 people. Many were bused in overnight from Las Vegas, although other protestors came from the Reno area and from rural Nevada, organizers said. 

Many of the demonstrators felt that if the lawsuit Laxalt joined with 25 other states is successful, it would increase the chances of undocumented workers being torn away from their families in the U.S. and deported.

"We want Adam Laxalt to pull out of the immigration lawsuit that is threatening to tear Nevada families apart, 97 percent of whom has been here longer than he has," said Bob Fulkerson, executive director of PLAN and a protest organizer. Laxalt, the grandson of former Nevada Gov. and U.S. Sen. Paul Laxalt, moved to Nevada full-time in 2011. He was elected attorney general in November.


March 12, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigration Article of the Day: Indignation and Intelligibility: Contradictions that Place Vulnerable Populations ‘Off the Grid’ by Susan Bibler Coutin and Barbara Yngvesson


Coutin Yngvesson

Indignation and Intelligibility: Contradictions that Place Vulnerable Populations ‘Off the Grid’ by Susan Bibler Coutin, University of California, Irvine School of Law, and Barbara Yngvesson, Hampshire College February 13, 2015 Oñati Socio-Legal Series, Vol. 5, No. 1, 2015

Abstract: English Abstract: Our paper draws on our ethnographic work regarding transnational adoption, unauthorized immigration, and deportation in order to examine the grids of intelligibility that produce adoptability and deportability. Adoptable babies, unauthorized migrants, and deportable aliens are, in some sense “off the grid” in that aspects of their pasts took place elsewhere, or are unknown or sealed, thus enabling them to be excluded or removed from particular polities. Such individuals appear to move – between statuses, territories, and states of being. At the same time, the very possibility of such movements, indeed, of alienability, unsettles the very grids of kinship, property, nationality, and belonging on which exclusions and removals are based. Adoption, migration, and deportation are therefore processes that disturb and fascinate, as evidenced by the numerous news articles about adoptees who return to discover their “roots,” or the hardships and successes of migrants. These stories are not only about the individuals involved but also the nations and assumptions about national “essences” that make it possible to “locate” persons. Our analysis seeks to interrogate these assumptions, while providing alternatives to the grids of deservingness and ideas about a child’s “best interest” that underpin immigration policy and adoption law.

Spanish Abstract: Este artículo muestra el trabajo etnográfico realizado sobre la adopción transnacional, la inmigración no autorizada, y la deportación, para examinar las redes de inteligibilidad que fomentan la adopción y deportación. Bebés adoptables, inmigrantes no autorizados, y extranjeros deportables están, en cierto sentido "fuera de juego", ya que su pasado se desarrolló en otros lugares, es desconocido o inaccesible, lo que favorece que sean excluidos o eliminados de políticas particulares. Parece que estas personas se mueven entre status, territorios y estados del ser. Al mismo tiempo, la posibilidad de tales movimientos, esto es, de extranjería, perturba las redes de parentesco, propiedad, nacionalidad y pertenencia en que se basan las exclusiones. Adopción, inmigración y deportación son por lo tanto, procesos que perturban y a la vez fascinan, como lo demuestran los numerosos artículos de prensa acerca de adoptados que vuelven a descubrir sus "raíces", o las dificultades y los éxitos de los inmigrantes. Estas historias no están relacionadas únicamente con las personas involucradas, sino también con las naciones y las asunciones sobre las "esencias" nacionales que permiten "localizar" personas. Este análisis busca cuestionar estos supuestos, al tiempo que proporciona alternativas a las redes de merecimiento e ideas sobre el "interés superior" del niño en que se basa la política de inmigración y la ley de adopción.


March 12, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Celebrity to Teach Human Rights Law at Columbia

Senator Calls For End of 14th Amendment's Birthright Citizenship


Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) has introduced a measure that purports to end birthright citizenship -- I say "purports" because a statute cannot trump the Constitution and, as interpreted by the Supreme Court for more than a century, the 14th Amendment guarantees birthright citizenship, with a few enumerated exceptions, to all persons born in the United States.  The proposal is an amendment to the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, a bipartisan bill currently under consideration in the Senate. Vitter’s effort follows the recent federal raids of alleged birth-tourism locations in Southern California last week.

Senator Vitter is chair of the Border Security and Enforcement First Immigration Caucus.  Its

"members recognize that Congress has presented the American people with a false choice in solving the illegal immigration problem – give illegal aliens amnesty or round them up and deport them en masse. The principle mission of the Caucus is to promote a true, achievable alternative: attrition through enforcement. Living illegally in the United States will become more difficult and less satisfying over time when the government – at all levels – enforces all of the laws already on the books.

The Caucus is a platform to let Americans know that some in the U. S. Senate are continuing to make sure that the laws already on the books will be enforced, act as the voice of those concerned citizens who have expressed their opinions time and time again for interior enforcement and border security, push for stronger border security and interior enforcement legislation, and work together in the U.S. Senate to defeat future legislation that may be considered amnesty."

Caucus Membership:

U.S. Sen. David Vitter (Chairman)

U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions

U.S. Sen. James Inhofe

U.S. Sen. Richard Burr

U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss

U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson

U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker

U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi

U.S. Sen. John Thune


March 11, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Nation’s Most Diverse Metro Area: Houston Immigrant Population Growth Nearly Twice National Average


Immigration has contributed significantly to the growth and diversity of the Houston metropolitan area, which is the nation’s most diverse and rapidly expanding major U.S. metro area, according to a new Migration Policy Institute (MPI) report. The Latino and Asian shares of the area’s population have doubled over the past 20 years, and today no one racial or ethnic group forms a majority.

In 2013 the Houston metropolitan area was home to 6.3 million people, of whom 1.4 million were foreign born—a 59 percent increase from 2000. That rate of immigrant population growth is nearly twice the national rate of 33 percent over the period. The Houston metro area, which has the nation’s fifth largest immigrant population, is home to the third-largest concentrations of immigrants from Mexico (599,000), Vietnam (74,000) and Honduras (45,000). Altogether, the region’s population is 23 percent foreign born, compared to 13 percent of the U.S. population over the period surveyed.

The report, A Profile of Immigrants in Houston, the Nation’s Most Diverse Metropolitan Area, examines the origins, settlement patterns, naturalization rates, incomes, educational attainment, English proficiency, legal status and eligibility for relief from deportation under the Obama administration’s deferred action programs for immigrants in the 11-county Houston metro area. The report derives from MPI analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data from 2008-2012, supplemented with 2013 data.

The report was commissioned by the Houston Immigration Legal Services Collaborative, comprised of 33 non-profits, two law schools, the City of Houston and four area foundations. Established in February 2013, the collaborative is developing a coordinated network of services to assist low-income immigrants in accessing information and legal representation in areas ranging from naturalization to assistance applying for deferred action.

The Houston area has a lower-than-average citizenship rate, with 34 percent of eligible immigrants having taken U.S. citizenship compared to 44 percent nationally; those from Mexico and Central America are least likely to have done so. The area has a relatively high share of immigrants ineligible for citizenship, either because they are unauthorized immigrants (400,000 of the region’s 1.4 million immigrants) or have temporary protected status. Still, there are 350,000 legal permanent residents (also known as green card holders), most from Mexico and Central America, who are eligible to apply for citizenship but have not.

“Our report finds that relatively low incomes of immigrants in the Houston area, particularly for Mexicans and Central Americans, as well as low levels of formal education and limited English proficiency may present barriers to acquiring citizenship and other immigration benefits,” said report co-author Randy Capps, who is MPI’s director of research for U.S. programs.

The report also finds that other groups of immigrants in the Houston area, including those from India and the Philippines, have relatively high education levels, incomes and citizenship rates, and have greater economic contributions on average than U.S.-born Houstonians.

“This report offers a detailed snapshot of how immigrants in the greater Houston area have become part of the fabric of the community, in the workforce, the classroom and broader society,” said MPI President Michael Fix, who co-authored the report. “At the same time it also makes clear that the region’s legal services community faces high demand for services — demand that will grow significantly if President Obama’s executive actions are fully implemented.”

Among other key findings:

• About half of the metro area’s 400,000 unauthorized immigrants are eligible for the Obama administration’s deferred action programs providing relief from deportation for certain unauthorized immigrants who have been in the United States for five years or more. An estimated 60,000 who came to the United States as children and have met certain educational criteria are eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Another 140,000, who are parents of U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents, are potentially eligible for the new Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Legal Permanent Residents (DAPA) program. (The DAPA program and recent expansions to DACA are currently on hold as the result of a temporary restraining order issued by a federal judge in Texas in a lawsuit challenging deferred action by Texas and 25 other states.)

• While the area has one of the strongest labor markets in the United States, its economy is relatively low-wage and has relatively high poverty rates for immigrants and the U.S. born alike compared to other major urban areas. Low incomes for immigrants, particularly Latinos, may represent barriers to their integration and access to health care, legal assistance and other needed services. The area’s foreign-born median annual household income for the 2008-2013 period surveyed was $45,000, versus $61,000 for U.S-born households. By contrast, the median incomes of Filipino and Indian immigrants in the Houston area exceeded $90,000, and they also reported the highest levels of formal education and English proficiency.


March 11, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

John Oliver on "The Insular Cases" and the Unequal Voting Rights of U.S. Territorial Residents

Political satirist and comedian, John Oliver, in a recent show drew attention to the fact that U.S. citizens residing in Puerto Rico, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and the Virgin Islands and U.S. nationals in American Samoa do not have equal voting rights.  In particular, these U.S. territorial residents do not have the right to vote for the President.  They also do not have meaningful representation in Congress.  Although they have a voting delegate, the delegate does not have voting rights in the House. (And, as a I blogged previously, people in the territories, such as Justice Sotomayor's parents, should not be described as immigrants).

What's notable about Oliver's segment was his explanation of why these residents do not have equal voting rights.  Specifically, he explained "The Insular Cases," a series of cases decided at the turn of the twentieth century after the United States acquired the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Guam and Cuba.  Questioning the ongoing reliance on these laws, Oliver reminded viewers that the author of one of these cases, Justice Brown (author of Plessy v. Ferguson) wrote in Downes v. Bidwell that "those possessions are inhabited by alien races, differing from us in religion, customs, laws, methods of taxation, and modes of thought, the administration of government and justice, according to Anglo-Saxon principles" and thus, the Constitution does not fully apply in the territories.

The question of the application of constitutional rights, including the right to vote and the right to acquire U.S. citizenship at birth (an issue that we have previously blogged), are complicated and Oliver's segment recognized that.  Yet, addressing the viability of the Insular Cases should not be too difficult.


March 10, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Update on Texas v. United States -- District Court Denies Stay of Injunction, Asks Obama Administration to Explain Its Actions


Judge Andrew Hanen

Seth Robbins of AP reports on the latest from Texas v. United States, the lawsuit in which 26 states have sought to halt President Obama's expanded deferred action program from going into effect.

U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen ordered Monday that the lawyers for the federal government appear in his court March 19. The hearing is in response to a filing last week in which the government acknowledged that it had granted three-year deferred action relief before Judge Hanen's Feb. 16 injunction, which temporarily halted parts of the new November 2014 program.

The Justice Department has stated in court filings that officials had given 100,000 people three-year reprieves from removal and granted them work permits under the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which was not halted by the injunction. The 2012 program guidelines provided just two-year relief from removal and work permits.  The question is whether the administration mislead the court about implementation of the new program. 

Judge Hanen also rejected a request from the Obama administration Monday night to rule quickly on an emergency stay to allow the President's executive actions on immigration to go forward.  The one-page order said that the court will not rule on "any pending motions" until at least March 19.

The Plaintiff States have filed a "Motion for Early Discovery," which will be argued on March 19.  The court order stated that "Due to the seriousness of the matters discussed therein, the Court will not rule on any other pending motions until it is clear that these matters, if true, do not impact the pending matters or any rulings previously made by this Court."


March 10, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

MapFight: Your Classroom App

MapFight is a handy teaching app. It allows you to compare countries and states by size.

If you're talking about refugees and asylees, you might want to discuss the fact that Germany had the highest number of registered asylum claims in 2013: 109,600 compared to the U.S. figure of 88,400. MapFight offers a great visual comparison of the two countries, which should kick off conversation about comparative obligations.

Screen Shot 2015-03-10 at 5.42.34 AM

If you're talking about Matter of Acosta, you might want to address the idea that Acosta could move to another part of El Salvador in order to escape violence (see footnote 14). Students may find it helpful to have a visual understanding of the size of the country, like this:

Screen Shot 2015-03-10 at 5.43.50 AM


March 10, 2015 in Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigration Article of the Day: Slavery by Another Name: 'Voluntary' Immigrant Detainee Labor and the Thirteenth Amendment by Anita Sinha



Slavery by Another Name: 'Voluntary' Immigrant Detainee Labor and the Thirteenth Amendment by Anita Sinha, American University - Washington College of Law, February 27, 2015, Stanford Journal of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, Vol. XI, No. 1, 2015

Abstract: During the McCarthy era, Congress passed an obscure law authorizing detained immigrants to work for a payment of one dollar a day. The government justified the provision, which was modeled after the 1949 Geneva Convention’s protections for prisoners of war, in the context of the period’s relative heightened detentions of noncitizens. Soon afterwards, the enactment of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 diminished the use of detention drastically, and the practice of detainee labor lay dormant for decades. Modern changes to immigration law and its systems have rendered immigration detention today the largest mass incarceration movement in U.S. history. The use, and in some cases abuse, of detainee labor is one of the symptoms of an epidemic involving the growing influence of the criminal justice system and prison industry on immigration enforcement. This Article uncovers the historic origins of paid detainee labor, and then situates the practice within a contemporary immigration system that includes for-profit corporations and increasingly punitive characteristics. It examines the legal and policy distinctions between criminal incarceration and immigration detention. In doing so, it describes how detainee labor, particularly in cases when the work is forced, is a violation of the Thirteenth Amendment’s prohibition of slavery and involuntary servitude. The Article concludes by offering additional specific and systemic recommendations, with the overarching objective of scaling back on the immigration detention system’s trend of operating more like a penal than civil institution.


March 10, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 9, 2015

The Underside of Fraternity Life in America?


A University of Oklahoma fraternity caught on video singing a racist song is all over the news.  Unfortunately, this kind of intolerance is too common in Greek life.  Last month, for example, a fraternity at the University of Texas held a "border" themed party, which is reported on in the news clip above..

Nor is my home state of California immune from such incidents.  In 2010, students at the University of California, San Diego, held an off-campus “Compton Cookout” to mock Black History Month, with guests invited to don gold teeth in the style of rappers from Compton, eat watermelon, and dress in baggy athletic wear. Other UC campuses reportedly have had similar racial-theme parties targeting African Americans and Latinos.


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

At the Movies: Crossing Over


Crossing Over

A Reel Progress screening and live Q&A

March 11, 2015, 6:00pm ET - 8:00pm ET

About This Center for American Progress Event

“Crossing Over” documents the sacrifices and triumphs of three transgender women who fled persecution in Mexico to seek asylum in the United States. Directed by Isabel Castro and produced by Katrina Sorrentino, the film follows Abigail, who choreographs quinceañaras to put herself through community college; Brenda, an HIV activist and community leader; and Francis, who works as a housekeeper to help support herself and her mother back in Mexico as she prepares for her immigration hearing. From violence and discrimination to living with HIV, the film highlights the challenges faced by people living in the shadows and shows that for transgender immigrants living at the intersection of being transgender and being undocumented, their fight for survival isn’t over when they cross the border.

Please join the Center for American Progress' Reel Progress series for a screening of “Crossing Over” and a conversation with the filmmakers and experts about the challenges faced by transgender immigrants.


Isabel Castro, Director, "Crossing Over"
Katrina Sorrentino, Producer, "Crossing Over"
Other panelists to be announced

Sharita Gruberg, Senior Policy Analyst, Center for American Progress


March 9, 2015 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

DREAM On: Immigration Reform on the Deep Back Burner

It should be no surprise but the nation is unlikely to see immigration reform in the near future.

Immigration reform has been on the congressional agenda for at least a decade.  Nothing good has come of the many proposals.  And the Republican effort to attack the President's executive actions in Department of Homeland Security funding failed after a bruising fight.  As Politico explains, immigration reform is not likely to be brought up in Congress again soon.


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

From the Bookshelves: Forgotten Citizens Deportation, Children, and the Making of American Exiles and Orphans by Luis Zayas


Forgotten Citizens: Deportation, Children, and the Making of American Exiles and Orphans by Luis Zayas (Oxford University Press, 2015)

A topic of immigration that has never been dealt with directly

Walks the reader through the immigration, arrest, detention, and deportation process using real-life cases

Well-researched and describes the impact of deportation in human terms

Suggests new policies and practices that can be implemented to protect the children's and our nation's future


March 9, 2015 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Timothy Dugdale, Six Degrees of Sutton


Amongst my LGBT friends, the name Jeff Sutton gets their blood boiling or running cold. Sutton wrote the majority opinion in the Sixth Circuit gay marriage case that has now set up the Supreme Court day of reckoning on April 28. Sutton's sheepish defense of states' rights and political process stands in stark contrast to Posner's barbed outrage in his celebrated Seventh Circuit opinion. People also should remember, however, that Sutton wrote the opinion on Obamacare that endorsed the inter-state commerce of ACA, a ruling that helped save the president's signature piece of legislation.

Now that Obama's other showstopper, his Executive Action initiative on immigration, has been stopped by a conservative bulldog down in Texas, the new Congress is taking action not only against the substance of the president's plan but a ruling by none other than Jeff Sutton. In Romeike v. Holder (2013), Sutton denied the petition for review of a German couple seeking asylum in the US because they claimed they faced discrimination in Germany for homeschooling their kids. Sutton was unimpressed. "Even assuming for the sake of argument that faith-based homeschoolers (or for that matter homeschoolers in general) are a cognizable social group, a matter we need not resolve, “[t]he record does not show that the compulsory school attendance law is selectively applied to homeschoolers like the applicants,” or that “homeschoolers are more severely punished than others whose children do not comply with the compulsory school attendance law.”

Sutton's ruling must had conservatives foaming at the mouth and now in The Asylum Reform and Border Protection Act (HR 1153; 2015), they look to soothe their rabid souls with very generous asylum provisions for foreign homeschoolers. The rest of the Act is a nativist wet dream in which the expedited removal system is tweaked to make asylum claims for anyone else much tougher and puts new limits on parole and humanitarian parole. If this thing becomes law, refugees best arrive at customs with home schooling materials in hand.

Timothy Dugdale, Ph.D.

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

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Happy International Women's Day (8 March)


International Women's Day has been observed since in the early 1900s.

In 1908, unrest and critical debate was occurring amongst women. Women's oppression and inequality was spurring women to become more vocal and active in campaigning for change. In 1908, 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding shorter hours, better pay and voting rights. The first National Woman's Day (NWD) was observed across the United States in 1909.

In 1913, International Women's Day was moved to March 8 and this day has remained the global date for International Women's Day ever since.

IWD is now an official holiday in Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, China (for women only), Cuba, Georgia, Guinea-Bissau, Eritrea, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Madagascar (for women only), Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Nepal (for women only), Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Zambia. The tradition sees men honoring their mothers, wives, girlfriends, colleagues, etc with flowers and small gifts. In some countries IWD has the equivalent status of Mother's Day where children give small presents to their mothers and grandmothers.


March 8, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Best Sex Symbols of the 2010's

At Iowa Ag Summit, Immigration Separates Republican Hopefuls


NBC News reports on a presidential hopeful event that is the first of its kind -- an all-day discussion of agriculture issues attended by nearly a dozen potential presidential candidates, including Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.

Presidential candidates took questions from Iowa agriculture entrepreneur Bruce Rastetter who organized this event at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines. It's the first event of its kind to focus on ag policy. Rastetter questioned each likely candidate for 20 minutes about immigration, trade trade, genetically modified food labeling, the role of the Environmental Protection Agency in regulating farm runoff into the water, the crop insurance program, ethanol mandates, and wind energy tax credits.

Differences emerged between the possible candidates on immigration. Florida Governor Jeb Bush stood by his controversial position that a path to legal residency for undocumented immigrants currently in the U.S. is necessary. "We need to fix this broken immigration system," Bush told the audience.

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, who supported the Senate's comprehensive immigration reform bill last year, has a similar stance. He said immigration is going to be critical for continuing to grow the American economy and to pay for the aging population's Social Security benefits. "Strom Thurmond had four kids after he was 67. If you're not willing to do that, then we need immigration," Graham said.

Scott Walker adhered to his new-found opposition to a path to legalization.


March 8, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

50 Years After Selma: The March Continues

"If the worst in American life lurked in [Selma's] dark streets, the best of American instincts arose passionately from across the nation to overcome it."

    — Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., March 25, 1965

This weekend, the First Family traveled to Selma, Alabama to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the marches from Selma to Montgomery.  Learn about the history of the marches. Listen to the stories of those who marched. And tell us how you'll honor their legacy and #MarchOn.

And earlier today, President Obama spoke at the Edmund Pettus Bridge to mark the anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery marches. Watch it below.  For a transcript, click here.


As we have blogged before, the immigrant rights movements has much to learn from Dr.  King and the civil rights movement.  President Obama has said that deporting immigrant children is not true to the spirit of Selma.


March 8, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Immigration Article of the Day: Cascades Wanted: Searching for Consistency in Asylum's Protected Grounds by Isaac T. R. Smith

Cascades Wanted: Searching for Consistency in Asylum's Protected Grounds by Isaac T. R. Smith, University of Iowa, College of Law, Iowa Law Review, Forthcoming

Abstract: Currently, international and domestic immigration law identifies persecution on account of membership in a “particular social group” as one basis for granting an individual asylum. The dominant approach in both domestic and foreign analysis for defining what constitutes a “particular social group” has been to look for an immutable characteristic that all members of the group share. This was the approach originally adopted in the landmark Board of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”) ruling Matter of Acosta. However, since that ruling, the BIA has adopted an additional inquiry into the “social visibility” of potential particular social groups. Circuit courts are divided on whether such a requirement is valid, and the definition of “particular social group” has strayed from its traditional sources grounded in the jurisprudence of the other protected grounds, such as political opinion and the interpretation of the UNHCR Guidelines. The Ninth Circuit’s decision in Henriquez-Rivas v. Holder moved the “social visibility” requirement closer to conformity with political opinion jurisprudence and the UNHCR Guidelines. This Note argues that the BIA should adopt a cascading analysis for “particular social group” determinations that conforms to the Guideline’s use of social perception and the encompassing nature of the political opinion analysis.


March 7, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)