Sunday, December 28, 2014

At the Movies: A Comprehensive List of Immigration Movies and Documentaries

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Tension Over Swedish Immigration Rises, Christmas Day Arson at Mosque



Stephen Castle in the New York Times reports on a disturbing development on Sweden.

With fears of racially motivated violence on the rise in Europe, political leaders in Sweden on Friday condemned a suspected arson attack on Christmas Day at a mosque that injured five people.  Immigration has become a significant political issue in Sweden. The fire broke out at the mosque in a town about 70 miles west of Stockholm.  15 to 20 people were inside the mosque at the time that the fore broke out.

Sweden's justice minister, Morgan Johansson, called the suspected arson “disgusting” and told Swedish Radio News that he hoped the culprits would be arrested.

Sweden historically has been one of the most welcoming nations in Europe for refugees, but migration has become a prominent political issue in recent years. The right-wing Sweden Democrats party, which campaigns against immigration, has become the country’s third largest and recently voted against the national budget, prompting a government collapse and forcing new elections, set for March.

Swedish media outlets have reported that  black swastikas were painted on the front door of a mosque in Stockholm in January, and in December 2013, right-wingers attacked people participating in an anti-racism demonstration in a suburb of Stockholm, injuring three people.

Sounds like not all is perfect in Sweden.  Among other nations in Europe, Switzerland also has experienced anti-immigrant political activity in recent months.



December 27, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, December 26, 2014

Pittsburgh Tries To Attract Enterprising Immigrants And Refugees



NPR ran an upbeat story on immigration appropriate to the holdiay season.  While recent headlines have focused on the kinds of stories that make the U.S. sound wary of immigrants — border security, strict new state laws, failed national reform efforts — Pittsburgh is the latest of a number of cities trying to attract them. "It's 20,000 new residents over the next 10 years, and a portion of that — if we're doing it right — should be immigrants," says Betty Cruz, head of Welcoming Pittsburgh, a new initiative to attract and retain newcomers.  Studies show immigrants start businesses at a higher rate than non-immigrants, and can raise home values when they move into neighborhoods. 


December 26, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!


December 25, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Families In Detention This Christmas

Karnes Civil Detention Center by San Antonio Press News

Many of our readers will spend today with their family and friends - sharing presents, food, and fellowship.

Many migrant families will be spending this day in detention facilities in Texas. Hundreds of children - with an average age of six and a half - will spend today behind barbed wire and under the watchful eyes of government contractors.

Immigration attorneys Mary Neal and Daniel Thomann have published a moving op-ed about family detention via Fox News Latino. They write:

President Obama has said to Americans that his deportation policies will focus on “felons not families,” but we have met hundreds of children in immigration jails who tell a different story. These children – nursing infants, toddlers, pre-schoolers and school aged – are fleeing unimaginable violence in their home countries, and are being re-traumatized by our government in a morally bankrupt effort to deter people seeking asylum. These children and their mothers are not felons, they are families with U.S. relatives willing to shelter and support them. However, they had the misfortune of seeking refuge in the U.S. at a time when our policy was not to help and protect, but to detain and deport.

These children, Neal and Thomann write, "deserve to live with their families while they await their day in court." They are, after all, waiting to present claims of asylum based on their desperate flights from "death threats, torture, and sexual violence" in countries that offer no protection from such terror.


December 25, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Santa: Everyone's Favorite Immigrant

Santa has to be the most beloved immigrant of all. Who else is welcomed around the globe without any fanfare over visas?

To celebrate this Christmas Eve, I give you Santa's Christmas travels visualized. Enjoy.


December 24, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

At the Movies: The Interview to Premiere on Christmas Day

Jan Brewer: Obama a "Big Disappointment"

German Leader Denounces Anti-Immigrant Surge


I understand that this is not a very Christmas-y topic but immigration events in Germany warrant comment.  As the New York Times has reported,

"With visible and vocal far-right protests against foreigners swelling in Germany in recent weeks, Chancellor Angela Merkel forcefully denounced the demonstrations on Monday, affirming that the country has both a special obligation and a desire to welcome anyone in need of sanctuary. More than 150,000 people sought asylum in Germany in the first 11 months of this year, many of them refugees fleeing the conflict in Syria, straining the country’s ability to house them. In addition, a looming labor shortage means Germany is increasingly attracting immigrants to work here. `There is freedom of assembly in Germany but there is no place here for incitement and lies about people who come to us from other countries,' Ms. Merkel told reporters . . . , hours before a group opposing alleged “Islamization” held its ninth weekly protest in Dresden, where attendance has swelled from a few hundred to 15,000 this week."

On Monday, Reuters reported that more than 17,000 people took part in Germany's largest anti-immigrant rally to date in Dresden, "gathering to sing Christmas carols and listen to speakers complain about immigrants and asylum-seekers."


December 24, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Oral Arguments in Supreme Court in 2014 Term Immigration Cases


The Supreme Court has set oral argument in Kerry v. Din, which raises the issue of the scope of the doctrine of consular nonrecviewbility, for February 23.  The Court previously had set oral arguments in Mellouli v. Holder, which involves the removability of a lawful permanent resident because of a misdemeanor drug paraphernalia conviction, had previously been set for January 14.  Watch for previews of the oral arguments on, with links on this blog, in coming weeks.

At this time, Din and Mellouli are the only immigration cases that the Court has accepted for review in the 2014 Term.





December 24, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Arpaio Challenge to Obama Executive Action Dismissed

Joseph M. Arpaio


Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio is in the news again, this time for another loss in the courts as he labors to keep his name in the immigration headlines.  Late Tuesday, a federal court dismissed a legal challenge to President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration. U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell dismissed on standing grounds a challenge to deferred action programs brought by Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio and backed by conservative legal activist Larry Klayman  (whose argument in the case was described by Dana Milbank in the Washington Post as a "legal massacre").   In dismissing the case, the court emphasized that “The role of the Judiciary is to resolve cases and controversies properly brought by parties with a concrete and particularized injury— not to engage in policymaking better left to the political branches.”  Consequently, the court declined to issue a preliminary injunction barring the implementation of the executive actions.

December 24, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, December 23, 2014



HARD WINTER FOR CALIFORNIA FARM WORKERS, Photoessay by David Bacon San Joaquin Valley, CA, December 2014

In October in California's farm worker towns, the unemployment rate starts to rise as the harvests end. In Coachella, not far from the wealth of Palm Springs, one of every eight workers has no job. In Delano, where the United Farm Workers was born in the grape strike 50 years ago, it's one of every four, as it is in other small towns of the southern San Joaquin Valley. On the coast in Santa Maria and Lompoc the rate is 13.8 and 15.5% respectively. In the Imperial Valley, next to the Mexican border, the unemployment rate is over 26% in Brawley and Calexico. This is a reality invisible to the state's urban dwellers. Los Angeles has a high unemployment rate for a city, but it is still less than rural towns at 8.7%, or one of every twelve workers.

Food for thought as many Americans celebrate the holiday season.


December 23, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Congressional Research Service: U.S. Immigration Policy: Chart Book of Key Trends

The Congressional Research Service recently released U.S. Immigration Policy: Chart Book of Key Trends by William A. Kandel.

This report is a chart book of selected immigration trends that touch on the main elements of comprehensive immigration reform (CIR). Most policymakers agree that the main issues in CIR include increased border security and immigration enforcement, improved employment eligibility verification, revision of legal immigration, and options to address the millions of unauthorized aliens residing in the country.

The report offers snapshots of time series data, using the most complete and consistent time series currently available for each statistic . The key findings and elements germane to the data depicted are summarized with the figures. The summary offers the highlights of key immigration trends.


December 23, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

From the Bookshelves: ISLAND: Poetry and History of Chinese Immigrants on Angel Island, 1910-1940

The University of Washington Press has just released a second edition of Island: Poetry and History of Chinese Immigrants on Angel Island, 1910-1940, edited by the late Him Mark Lai, Genny Lim, and Judy Yung.

From the press release:

From 1910 to 1940, most Chinese immigrants coming to the United States were detained at the Angel Island Immigration Station in San Francisco Bay.  There, they were subject to physical exams, interrogations, and long detentions aimed at upholding the exclusion laws that kept Chinese out of the country.  Many detainees recorded their anger and frustrations, hopes and despair in poetry written and carved on the barrack walls.

Island tells these immigrants’ stories while underscoring their relevance to contemporary immigration issues.  First published in 1980, Island has been updated and expanded to include a new historical introduction, 150 poems in Chinese and English translation (including from Ellis Island and Victoria, B.C.), extensive profiles of immigrants gleaned through oral histories, and dozens of new photographs from public archives and family albums.

An important historical document as well as a significant work of literature, Island is a testament to the hardships Chinese immigrants endured on Angel Island, their perseverance, and their determination to make a new life in America.

A great book to run out an get for the immprof in your life still needing a holiday gift.


December 23, 2014 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 22, 2014

Immigration Stories for the Holiday Season

Immigration Article of the Day: Reconfiguring the Law of Non-Refoulement: Procedural and Substantive Barriers for Those Seeking to Access Surrogate International Human Rights Protection by Mark R. von Sternberg

Reconfiguring the Law of Non-Refoulement: Procedural and Substantive Barriers for Those Seeking to Access Surrogate International Human Rights Protection by Mark R. von Sternberg, Journal on Migration and Human Security

Executive Summary

Both geographic and normative constraints restrict access to surrogate international human rights protection for those seeking a haven from serious human rights abuses. Primary among territorial restrictions has been the fall-out from the US Supreme Court’s decision in Sale v. Haitian Council Centers in which the court explicitly ruled that nothing in US statutory law, or in the 1951 Convention on Refugees or its 1967 Protocol, precluded the interdiction of Haitian refugees in international waters and their return to the country of origin without an effective interview on their protection clams. This ruling is in transparent contradiction to the general international law norm of non-refoulement according to modern scholarship and emerging case law. This paper concludes that Sale should be overturned by statute as should related pre-screening practices. A new standard of “jurisdiction” should be adopted which does not depend on territorial access to a signatory state but on whether the state is exercising power in fact. Similar concerns exist with respect to safe third country agreements which often offend the international customary right of the asylum seeker to choose where his or her claim will be filed. This paper argues that the right of choice should be recognized and onward travel and admission to the country of destination allowed. This result is especially called for where return of the alien by the country of first contact raises serious concerns under the law of non-refoulement. Imbalances noted in this paper include those generated by the new terrorism related grounds of inadmissibility in theUnited States and the summary denial of children’s asylum claims flowing from gang violence.

Other questions are raised in this paper concerning work authorization and detention of asylum seekers. Access to an employment authorization document for those filing colorable claims should be recognized by statute to render US practice consistent with that of most other states. Release from detention, on the other hand, for asylum seekers has now been broadly recognized by the US Department of Homeland Security where the asylum seeker’s identity can be ascertained and the claim is non-frivolous in nature. This approach is largely consistent with international law, although there have been unnecessary delays in implementing it.

On the substantive law, the international customary norm of non-refoulment has been expanded considerably through the development of opinio juris by scholars and the practice of states. This paper traces efforts in Europe to develop a law of temporary refuge for those fleeing civil war situations characterized by humanitarian law violations. Similarly, case law under the European Convention of Human Rights has now come to focus on the harm the claimant would suffer as the result of conditions in the country of origin without identifying an explicit agent of serious harm. Related to these developments has been the notion of complementary protection under which relief can be conferred where the alien would suffer serious harm upon return to the home state but not for a Convention reason. These approaches have now received approval in the European Union Asylum Qualification Directive so that international protection may now be conferred either because the alien would suffer serious harm on account of the intensity of human rights violations taking place in the country of origin, or those conditions, taken in conjunction with the claimant’s personal situation, support a finding that the claimant would be impacted. This paper argues that this latter standard has now been made a part of the customary norm of non-refoulement and that it should be recognized by statute as a basis for non-return and coupled with status where the new standard can be met. Such a measure would help restore the nation’s commitment to human rights and humanitarian concerns.


December 22, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Inside "Obama's Family Deportation Mill"


Ian Gordon has an interesting immigration story in Mother Jones.  This past summer, thousands of unaccompanied minors from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras detained after crossing into the United States, became the country's latest immigration crisis. Aid groups mobilized, Congress held hearings, and pleas for compassion resounded at the highest levels of government.

As the story points out, however, the Obama administration has not extended that caring attitude to another huge group of Central American migrant kids—those traveling with a parent or guardian, usually their mother.


December 22, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Humans of New York

Brandon Stanton is the photographer behind the Facebook sensation Humans of New York. In 2010, he set out to create an "exhaustive catalogue of New York City’s inhabitants." His work ended up evolving. Photographs are a key part of his project but even more important are the stories he collects from his subjects.

Given the fact that New York City has a level of net international migration more than twice as high as any other U.S. city, it's hardly surprising that a number of HONY subjects have immigration stories to share.

Here are just a few examples:


This is the story accompanying the above photo:

“What has been your proudest accomplishment?”
“Surviving in America. I’ll be honest-- I crossed the border about eight years ago. I had no job, no money, no place to live. I spoke zero English. I started as a dishwasher, then eventually got a job working behind the bar. I taught myself English. Now things are going pretty well. I want to open up my own coffee shop one day. I just want my son to have it easier than I did.”
“Were you scared when you were crossing the border?”
“No. I had nothing back then. And it’s hard to be scared when you have nothing to lose.”


His story:

“I grew up on an island off the coast of Honduras, and I came to America on a banana boat when I was very young. I’m the superintendent for some of the apartment buildings around here. I always try to collect the clothing and junk that the tenants throw away, and every couple of months, I pack it into barrels and send it back to Honduras. I especially try to find medical equipment. If a crippled man in Honduras has nothing but a stick, a crutch will change his life.”

Stanton has turned his work into books (here and here) that I imagine would make wonderful holiday gifts.


December 21, 2014 in Current Affairs, Photos | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Last Migrant Families Transferred From Artesia To Dilley


The Artesia Daily Press reports that the final 16 families housed at Artesia were moved to Dilley, Texas, on Thursday.

The mayor of Artesia, Phillip Burch, said this about the transfer:

“The citizens of Artesia showed a great deal of compassion and constraint during the past six months and should be commended... We have an outstanding community that handled a potentially volatile situation with a great deal of class.”


December 20, 2014 in Current Affairs, Photos | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, December 19, 2014

Workers’ Lawsuit Prompts Arpaio to Announce Halt to Last of Immigration Programs

Joseph M. Arpaio
Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio has frequently been in the news, including for a high profile court loss in which the office was found to have engaged in teh unconstitutional racial profiling of Latinos in the name of immigration enforcement.  His lawyer have filed papers in the case Puente v. Arpaio announcing his plan to terminate the criminal employment squad that has, for the past six years, conducted workplace raids on local businesses and arrested workers under felony identity theft charges.
The announcement that Arpaio is disbanding the criminal employment squad came in response to a lawsuit brought by the community organization Puente, its members and a Phoenix pastor, Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray. They are represented by the UC Irvine School of Law Immigrant Rights Clinic, the ACLU of Arizona, the National Day Laborer Organizing Network and attorney Ray Ybarra Maldonado. The lawsuit charges that the two identity theft statutes passed by Arizona legislators in 2007 and 2008 and used by Arpaio and other agencies to arrest and prosecute hundreds of undocumented workers are unconstitutional. A motion for a preliminary injunction is pending in the case.
The Associated Press writes, "The ID theft cases marked Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's last major foothold in immigration enforcement after his powers to enforce such laws have been curtailed in recent years."
“This could not have been possible if not for the courage of undocumented workers who came forward to challenge the workplace raids. The community targeted by Arpaio's war of attrition is turning the tables on the Sheriff,” said Carlos Garcia of Puente Arizona. “Arpaio also announced he is proceeding with one last investigation that will end early next year. If this is an attempt to sow more fear among members of our community in the holiday season, it’s a cynical move. We will continue to fight because even one more raid is unacceptable."
Annie Lai, a director of the UC Irvine School of Law Immigrant Rights Clinic and an attorney in the case, said, “Arpaio is a man who has shown his word is not enough. This announcement certainly does not resolve the suit, and we will continue with the case until we get an enforceable order from the federal court.”
The details on the court case can be found here.

December 19, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)