Saturday, April 4, 2015

Immigrant of the Day: Sim Bhullar (Canada), Professional Basketball Player

Supreme Court Immigration Study Profiled on SCOTUSBlog


Amanda Frost, who covers the legal academy for SCOTUSBlog, generously profiles my article analyzing trends in the Supreme Court's immigration decisions from 2009-13 Terms.  She writes that "Although the Supreme Court has frequently departed from the normal rules of constitutional and statutory interpretation in immigration cases, Dean Johnson’s study of the 2009 through 2013 Terms suggests that `immigration exceptionalism' may be on its way out."

In the 2014 Term, the Court has pending decisions in two immigration cases, Kerry v. Din, which implicates the doctrine of consular nonreviewability (and implicates the continuing vitality of the plenary power doctrine), and Mellouli v. Holder,which involves removal based on a state drug paraphernalia conviction based on possession of a sock used to conceal a prescription drug.


April 4, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 3, 2015

Montana Highway Patrol Settles Traffic Stop Case

From Montana Department of Justice

Montana Highway Patrol and Plaintiffs Settle Litigation over Traffic Stops
HELENA – The Montana Department of Justice announced an agreement with plaintiffs to resolve a lawsuit that challenged the manner in which the Montana Highway Patrol (MHP) handled traffic stops involving people suspected of being in the U.S. illegally. This morning’s agreement was reached between Attorney General Tim Fox, MHP Colonel Tom Butler, and Shahid Haque-Hausrath and Brian Miller, attorneys for the plaintiffs.  The terms of the agreement require approval by U.S. District Court Judge Dana L. Christensen.
In October 2013, a group of plaintiffs led by Jose Rios-Diaz and the Montana Immigrant Justice Alliance filed suit against the MHP in federal court alleging it had engaged in a practice of detaining Latino drivers and passengers for the purpose of checking into their immigration status.
During the course of the litigation, MHP voluntarily adopted a policy to specifically address handling of traffic stops during which it is suspected or becomes known that the driver or passengers are in the U.S. illegally. Revision of that policy helped the parties to settle the litigation. While the MHP does not admit any wrongdoing in the settlement, both parties agree that these policies and safeguards will address the concerns that gave rise to this litigation.
In reaching settlement, the parties agreed that:
·         MHP will comply with the policy adopted in late 2014 and revised in 2015 (available to view/download here)

·         For the next five years, MHP will continue to retain Washington State University researchers who conducted a 2013 study titled “MHP Traffic Stop Data Analysis Project.” That independent analysis found no evidence that the MHP has engaged in racial profiling (the report is available to view/download here)

·         MHP will note whether, in the course of a traffic stop, troopers contact U.S. Department of Homeland Security personnel regarding a person’s immigration status.

·         MHP will retain an independent auditor who, for a period of five years, will review, if requested to do so by a member of the public, the investigations of complaints against MHP.

·         MHP will submit annual reports to the Montana Department of Justice, as required by law, regarding actions taken to avoid racial profiling. The reports will be available at
Shahid Haque-Hausrath, an immigration law specialist and attorney for the plaintiffs, praised the actions of the MHP in working with the plaintiffs to formalize these policies and safeguards. “We hope that police departments throughout the state use this policy as an example, and train their officers that they cannot demand that Latinos show them their papers, or detain people just to check their immigration status,” Shahid said.
Col. Butler praised the agreement. “My primary concern has been and continues to be that the Montana Highway Patrol follows the law in terms of how we handle interactions with the traveling public,” Col. Butler said. “Analysis of our traffic-stop data over the last several years has shown that our troopers do not engage in racial profiling or discriminate against persons on the basis of race, ethnicity or national origin. While we believe that we have always done what the law requires, the lawsuit prompted us to enshrine in policy what has already been the practice in the field.”


April 3, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

U.S. is Far Behind in the Race for Global Talent

Most Americans agree that the future of the U.S. economy depends on the ability of its businesses to compete globally. One of the key factors that allow U.S. employers to grow their businesses and create new jobs is their ability to recruit and retain talent from other countries. How well does the current U.S. employment-based immigration system support this goal?  Based on original research and analysis, Business Roundtable found that the United States falls short when compared to other advanced economies.


April 3, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Future of World Religions: Population Growth Projections, 2010-2050

The Pew Research Center projects that, if current trends continue, by 2050:

The number of Muslims will nearly equal the number of Christians around the world.

◾Atheists, agnostics and other people who do not affiliate with any religion – though increasing in countries such as the United States and France – will make up a declining share of the world’s total population.

◾The global Buddhist population will be about the same size it was in 2010, while the Hindu and Jewish populations will be larger than they are today.

In Europe, Muslims will make up 10% of the overall population.

◾India will retain a Hindu majority but also will have the largest Muslim population of any country in the world, surpassing Indonesia.

In the United States, Christians will decline from more than three-quarters of the population in 2010 to two-thirds in 2050, and Judaism will no longer be the largest non-Christian religion. Muslims will be more numerous in the U.S. than people who identify as Jewish on the basis of religion.

Four out of every 10 Christians in the world will live in sub-Saharan Africa.


April 3, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Anti-Defamation League, Passover and Immigration

This is a late post but given that Passover begins today at sundown, it made sense to blog about it. On March 29th, 2015, the Anti-Defamation League New England Region hosted a community seder in Boston.  

The ADL Regional Director Robert Trestan issued the following statement:

The symbolism of Passover is found in universal themes of the struggle for freedom, liberation, and hope.  The Seder allows the Boston community to come together to welcome each other, recall the universal immigrant experience, and celebrate freedom and liberation.  The Seder provides us the opportunity to rededicate ourselves to together rooting out injustice and overcoming all forms of bigotry and hate.

Happy Passover to those who celebrate!


April 3, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigration Film of the Day: Anayansi Prado's "Children In No Man's Land"

Filmmaker Anayansi Prado has a new documentary, "Children in No Man's Land," which features the stories of children who immigrated to the United States without their parents.


Info from the film's website: "Every year, more and more children are immigrating to the United States without a parent or legal guardian. At any given time, an average of 700 unaccompanied minors are being detained by the U.S. Homeland Security Department (formerly known as Immigration and Naturalization Services or I.N.S.). The majority of the 85,000 undocumented immigrants under 17 arrested in 2003 were teenagers, although cases of children as young as 10 traveling alone have been reported. Some of these children come to the United States seeking asylum, others hope to be reunited with family members, and all are simply in search of a better future for themselves. Often, these children are running away from physical, sexual and/or emotional abuse from a parent, relative or guardian. Others are fleeing their countries because of persecution due to their religious beliefs or gender. Many are often homeless and/or orphans. These children are driven by a strong survival instinct assuring them that the United States is their last resource, their salvation. They are willing to risk it all for a chance at a new life. And they do."

UC Davis will be doing a screening of the film and Q & A with Prado on Wednesday, April 15, at 6 PM. If you are interested in screening this film, click here.

This is Prado's second documentary. Her first one, "Maid in America," which is available on PBS, follows the lives of three Latina women who left their homes and immigrated to Los Angeles to work by cleaning other people's homes and caring for their children.


April 3, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Will the UK Pull Out of the EU? Elections on the Horizon, Immigration and "Open Door" an Issue

There is ferment on immigration in the United Kingdom, which is leading to some calls for the UK to leave the European Union.    As ABC reports, British Prime Minister David Cameron and his policies have come under attack from six other party leaders in the only full debate before next month's general election. An unprecedented seven-leader live television contest underscored the fragmentation of the electorate.

 An ITV News/ComRes survey of 1,120 viewers showed a tie between Cameron, Ed Miliband (Labour Party), the anti-immigration UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage, followed by Nicola Sturgeon of the Scottish National Party that is set to sweep up most seats in Scotland. As topics ranged from a housing crisis, to national debt and the health service, Farage, who has blamed many social problems on immigration (see the videos below),insisted the root problem was an influx of immigrants and that Britain should cut migrant numbers by leaving the European Union.

The UK Independence Party's website articulates the following positions on "Controlling and managing our borders"

– UKIP recognises the benefits of limited, controlled immigration.

– UKIP will leave the EU, and take back control of our borders. Work permits will be permitted to fill skills gaps in the UK jobs market.

– We will extend to EU citizens the existing points-based system for time-limited work permits. Those coming to work in the UK must have a job to go to, must speak English, must have accommodation agreed prior to their arrival, and must have NHS-approved health insurance. – Migrants will only be eligible for benefits (in work or out of work) when they have been paying tax and NI for five years and will only be eligible for permanent residence after ten years.

– UKIP will reinstate the primary purpose rule for bringing foreign spouses and children to the UK.

– UKIP will not offer an amnesty for illegal immigrants or those gaining British passports through fraud.

– UKIP will return to the principles of the UN Convention of Refugees which serves to protect the most vulnerable.




April 3, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Here's why Hillary is cheering for Ted Cruz


Here is some food for thought from the Salina Journal:

"U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz’s announcement that he is running for the Republican presidential nomination is great news for Democrats: He will push the other Republican hopefuls to the right on immigration, further scaring away Hispanic voters and making it more difficult for Republicans to win next year’s elections."



April 3, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigration Article of the Day: 'Impossible Families': Mixed‐Citizenship Status Couples and the Law by Jane Lilly López


'Impossible Families': Mixed‐Citizenship Status Couples and the Law by Jane Lilly López, University of California, San Diego (UCSD) January-April 2015 Law & Policy, Vol. 37, Issue 1-2, pp. 93-118, 2015

Abstract: This article explores the complex and contradictory relationship between citizenship in the law and the immigrant reality of mixed‐citizenship family life through in‐depth interviews with individuals in mixed‐citizenship marriages. An examination of mixed‐citizenship marriage exposes the inadequacies of approaching citizenship as an individual‐centered concept. The data indicate that, though both immigration and citizenship laws focus on the individual, the repercussions of those laws have family‐level effects. Because of their spouses' immigrant status, many citizens are obliged by the law to live the immigrant experience in their own country or to become immigrants themselves.


April 3, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Immigration Reform 2015: What Menendez Corruption Charges Mean For National Debate On Immigrant Rights


Cristina Silva of the International Business Times analyzes the impacts of the indictment of an ardent supporter of immigration reform on the prospects for immigration reform.  For decades, U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., has been a national advocate for Latinos and immigrants, holding their hands at immigration reform rallies and pushing for legislation in Congress to expand their legal rights. But with Menendez now facing federal corruption charges, Latino groups fear that their tireless champion will have to turn his attention to his own problems, leaving them without a voice in Washington.


April 2, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigrant Women in the United States

This Migration Information Source Spotlight looks at women immigrants in the United States.  Following a history of majority male migration through the mid-20th century, women have migrated to the United States in large numbers as a result of the emphasis on family reunification ushered in by the 1965 Immigration Act. Female immigrants represent 51 percent of the overall foreign-born population, with 21.2 million immigrant women residing in the United States in 2013, out of a total immigrant population of 41.3 million. The female share of the immigrant population is higher in the United States than it is globally, where about 48 percent of the international migrant stock is female. Even as female migration has increased globally since 1980, the share in the United States—the world’s top immigrant destination—has decreased slightly from 53 percent in 1980 to around 51 percent in 2013.


As of 2013, 49 percent (10.5 million) of all immigrant women were naturalized U.S. citizens. (Photo: McBeth/Flickr)


April 2, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Asylum Applicants in the EU: The Top 15 Sending Countries

H&R Block Out of Immigration Business

H&R block

David Noriega at Buzzfeed reports that immigration lawyers pressured H&R Block, the tax preparation giant, to shut down a pilot program to help immigrants file forms with the U.S. government. The program, which was limited to Texas and aimed at the Latino community there, gave immigrant customers access to specialized software that would help them with applications for green cards, deferred action, and other immigration-related matters.

State and federal laws strictly limit who can provide legal advice to immigrants, however, and the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) said H&R Block’s program ran afoul of those restrictions and would have put immigrant consumers at risk of harm, because they could wind up filing inaccurate information or applying for programs they weren’t eligible for.


April 2, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Signs You Might Be a Terrorist

The Intercept has an intriguing exposé on signs used by the Transportation Security Administration to identify potential terrorists in airports. The basis for the article is a "confidential" TSA checklist shared with the website by "a source concerned about the quality" of the TSA's Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques or SPOT program.

Check out this handy summary created by The Intercept:


Discussion of this checklist would make an intriguing addition to a class on post 9/11 national security and terrorism. It might also be helpful in a clinic setting to discuss inferences made about clients based on their non-verbal behavior in court. I plan to use it in combination with discussion of the USCIS Fraud Referral Sheet.


April 2, 2015 in Current Affairs, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Mothers on Strike at Karnes Immigrant Detention Center



Photo Courtesy of Jezebel

Aura Bogado on ColorLines reports that 78t mothers being held at Karnes County Residential Center have signed a letter demanding their release. The Spanish-language letter suggests that the immigration detainees are staging a hunger and work strike. Located in Karnes County, Texas, and run by the private GEO Group, Karnes been the site of repeated allegations of sexual abuse. Most of these mothers are asylum-seeking Central Americans picked up in the U.S.-Mexico border region. Most have brought their children from Guatemala and El Salvador—countries with some of the highest femicide rates on the planet. The mothers who’ve signed the letter have all been interviewed by immigration officials and have established a credible fear of persecution or torture if they were to be deported. But they either haven’t been given an opportunity to post bond for release, or the bond amount has been set too high. Their letter, in part, reads:



April 2, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

From the Bookshelves: Border Contraband: A History of Smuggling across the Rio Grande By George T. Díaz


Border Contraband: A History of Smuggling across the Rio Grande By George T. Díaz

In this first history of smuggling along the U.S.-Mexico border, Díaz shows how illicit trade evolved from a common practice of ordinary people into a professional, often violent, criminal activity. 

Present-day smuggling across the U.S.-Mexico border is a professional, often violent, criminal activity. However, it is only the latest chapter in a history of illicit business dealings that stretches back to 1848, when attempts by Mexico and the United States to tax commerce across the Rio Grande upset local trade and caused popular resentment. Rather than acquiesce to what they regarded as arbitrary trade regulations, borderlanders continued to cross goods and accepted many forms of smuggling as just.

In Border Contraband, George T. Díaz provides the first history of the common, yet little studied, practice of smuggling across the U.S.-Mexico border. In Part I, he examines the period between 1848 and 1910, when the United States’ and Mexico’s trade concerns focused on tariff collection and on borderlanders’ attempts to avoid paying tariffs by smuggling. Part II begins with the onset of the Mexican Revolution in 1910, when national customs and other security forces on the border shifted their emphasis to the interdiction of prohibited items (particularly guns and drugs) that threatened the state. Díaz’s pioneering research explains how greater restrictions have transformed smuggling from a low-level mundane activity, widely accepted and still routinely practiced, into a highly profitable professional criminal enterprise.


April 2, 2015 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigration Article of the Day: National Study of Access to Counsel in Immigration Court by Ingrid V. Eagly and Steven Shafer



National Study of Access to Counsel in Immigration Court by Ingrid V. Eagly (UCLA School of Law; University of Oxford - Border Criminologies) and Steven Shafer (UCLA School of Law), March 19, 2015, University of Pennsylvania Law Review, Vol. 164, 2016, Forthcoming UCLA School of Law Research Paper No. 15-10

Abstract: Although immigrants have a right to be represented by counsel in immigration court, it has long been the case that the government has no obligation to provide an attorney for those who are unable to afford one. Recently, however, a broad coalition of advocates, public figures, scholars, courts, and philanthropic foundations have begun to push for the establishment of a public defender system to appoint counsel for at least some poor immigrants facing deportation. Yet, the national debate over appointing immigration defense counsel has proceeded with limited information regarding how many immigrants currently obtain attorneys and the efficacy and efficiency of such representation.

This Article presents the results of the first national study of access to counsel in United States immigration courts. Drawing on an extensive data sample of over 1.2 million deportation cases decided between 2007 and 2012, we find that only 37% of immigrants overall, and a mere 14% of detained immigrants, secured representation. Nationwide, only 2% of removal respondents obtained pro bono representation from nonprofit organizations, law school clinics, or large law firm volunteer programs. Barriers to accessing counsel were particularly acute in immigration courts located in rural areas and small cities, where almost one-third of detained cases were adjudicated. Moreover, we find that immigrants with attorneys in immigration court do better: after controlling for numerous case and respondent characteristics that could affect case outcomes, our regression analysis reveals that the odds are 15 times greater that an immigrant with representation, as compared to one without, sought relief, and 5.5 times greater that they obtained relief from removal. In addition, we show that involvement of counsel was associated with certain gains in court efficiency: represented respondents did not use valuable court and detention time to seek counsel, they were more likely to be released from custody, and, once released, were more likely to appear at their future deportation hearings. This research provides an essential data-driven understanding of immigration representation that should inform current efforts to expand access to counsel, while improving court efficiencies.


April 2, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Living in the United States: A Guide for Immigrant Youth

The H-1B Visa Program: A Primer on the Program and its Impact on Jobs, Wages, and the Economy

Today, the American Immigration Council released The H-1B Visa Program: A Primer on the Program and its Impact on Jobs, Wages, and the Economy. This fact sheet provides an overview of the visa and application process and discusses the important role that H-1B workers play in our economy.  

Today also marks the day that U.S. employers seeking highly skilled foreign professionals can start submitting their petitions for H-1B visas. If recent history is any indication, the available pool of H-1Bs will run dry in a matter of days. The statutory limit for H-1Bs stands at 65,000 for new hires, plus an additional 20,000 for foreign professionals who earn a graduate degree from a U.S. university. This numerical cap, which dates back to 1990, falls far short of demand—which is unfortunate given the contributions that H-1B workers make to the U.S. economy. H-1B workers are associated with higher wages and lower unemployment for native-born workers—and they add billions of dollars to the U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

April 1, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)