Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Deportations Under ICE's Secure Communities Program


Immediately upon assuming office, President Trump issued an Executive Order terminating what was known as the Priority Enforcement Program (PEP) and "reinstat[ing] the immigration [enforcement] program known as 'Secure Communities.'" This program is widely portrayed as the cornerstone of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) efforts for stepped up deportations.

As TRAC reports, recently released ICE removal-by-removal records from Secure Communities—current through October 2017—provide a portrait of deportations of immigrants from each state and county in the nation by the Trump Administration. This report examines first how the level of Secure Communities deportations has changed under the new administration, and then turns to what types of crimes are now being targeted through this program.

Are Secure Communities Deportations Increasing?

The new administration initially did successfully ramp up deportations, although increases in removals of those who had committed serious crimes were modest. See TRAC's previous report with data through July 2017. Data now through October 2017 continue to show considerable month-to-month variability with no further upward trend. The number of those deported under this program - including some who have no criminal record - appear to have stabilized, averaging around 6,200 per month.

It is instructive to note that this number is still somewhat below the level that had prevailed during the Secure Communities years under President Obama. However, it does represent a significant increase above the Nov 2014 - January 2017 period when Obama's Priority Enforcement Program (PEP) replaced Secure Communities. 

Secure communities


April 25, 2018 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Oral Argument in Trump v. Hawaii/Travel Ban Case



Neal K. Katyal for respondents (Art Lien)

Here is the audio to the oral arguments in the Supreme Court in the travel ban case (Trump v. Hawaii) this morning.  The transcript is here.  Reports (and here) see the Court as upholding the travel ban.  Amy Howe agrees in her recap of the argument.  Commentary is abundant.

As always, it is hard to speculate abut how the Supreme Court will decide a case based on the oral arguments.  Prognosticators famously (and wrongly) declared the Affordable Care Act dead after the Court heard arguments.

I listened to the audio of the arguments and am worried that the ban may be upheld.  However, I am not certain that hope is lost.  The deciding vote in favor of the immigrant in Sessions v. Dimaya, Justice Gorsuch raised questions about justiciability and the propriety of a nationwide injunction, which could lead to a narrow majority holding of limited impact.

There was nothing that surprising in the arguments.  Justice Kagan, as well as Justice Sotomayor, seemed worried about the potential for invidious discrimination if the Court upheld the travel ban.  (I was happy that Solicitor General Francisco in response to Justice Kagan's hypothetical did not invoke The Chinese Exclusion Case or Korematsu v. United States in defense of the decision of an anti-Semitic President to bar admission of noncitizens from Israel.).  The Chief Justice, Justice Kennedy, and others seemed concerned with intervening in the President's decision on a national security matter. 


April 25, 2018 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigration policies can make the difference between life and death for newborn US children

 , Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, School of Medicine, Oregon Health & Science University

r, Professor of Political Science, Stanford University

From The Conversation:

The health of children born to unauthorized immigrants – who are U.S. citizens – is affected by local and federal immigration policies. There are as many as 4 million children who have at least one parent who is undocumented.

Along with colleagues at Stanford’s Immigration Policy Lab and Oregon Health & Science University, we measure the impact of immigration policy on the health of individuals and communities. Our research reveals the public health benefits of laws that make it easier for unauthorized immigrants to integrate into society.

An Obama-era policy that temporarily shielded some Dreamers from deportation, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, offers a dramatic example of how this has worked at the federal level.


April 25, 2018 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Over 7,000 Bodies Have Been Found at the US-Mexican Border Since the Nineties -- And that’s an underestimate.


In this June 22, 2016 photo, Border Patrol agents stand near a border structure in San Diego. (AP Photo / Gregory Bull)


Todd Miller for  The Nation offers analysis of death on the border -- the deaths along the US/Mexico border resulting from the U.S. government's immigration enforcement policies.  The deaths of migrants in the border region -- almost all of them from Mexico and Central America -- began to escalate with the border enforcement measures in the 1990s, which have increased ever since.


April 25, 2018 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

From the Bookshelves: The Girl Who Smiled Beads: A Story of War and What Comes After by Clemantine Wamariya and Elizabeth Weil


The Girl Who Smiled Beads: A Story of War and What Comes After by Clemantine Wamariya and Elizabeth Weil

“The plot provided by the universe was filled with starvation, war and rape. I would not—could not—live in that tale.”
Clemantine Wamariya was six years old when her mother and father began to speak in whispers, when neighbors began to disappear, and when she heard the loud, ugly sounds her brother said were thunder. In 1994, she and her fifteen-year-old sister, Claire, fled the Rwandan massacre and spent the next six years migrating through seven African countries, searching for safety—perpetually hungry, imprisoned and abused, enduring and escaping refugee camps, finding unexpected kindness, witnessing inhuman cruelty. They did not know whether their parents were dead or alive.
When Clemantine was twelve, she and her sister were granted refugee status in the United States; there, in Chicago, their lives diverged. Though their bond remained unbreakable, Claire, who had for so long protected and provided for Clemantine, was a single mother struggling to make ends meet, while Clemantine was taken in by a family who raised her as their own. She seemed to live the American dream: attending private school, taking up cheerleading, and, ultimately, graduating from Yale. Yet the years of being treated as less than human, of going hungry and seeing death, could not be erased. She felt at the same time six years old and one hundred years old.
In The Girl Who Smiled Beads, Clemantine provokes us to look beyond the label of “victim” and recognize the power of the imagination to transcend even the most profound injuries and aftershocks. Devastating yet beautiful, and bracingly original, it is a powerful testament to her commitment to constructing a life on her own terms.

For a story on Clemantine and her book, click here.


April 25, 2018 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Court Orders Trump Administration to Accept New DACA Applications -- Ruling Stayed for 90 Days


Going beyond the injunctions entered by other district courts, Judge John D. Bates (D.D.C.) held in this ruling that the Trump administration must accept new Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) applications as well as requests for reauthorization:

"the Court concludes that it has both jurisdiction and statutory authority to hear plaintiffs’ [Administrative Procedure Act] and constitutional claims. The Court further concludes that, under the APA, DACA’s rescission was arbitrary and capricious because the Department [of Homeland Security (DHS)] failed adequately to explain its conclusion that the program was unlawful. Neither the meager legal reasoning nor the assessment of litigation risk provided by DHS to support its rescission decision is sufficient to sustain termination of the DACA program. Thus, plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment will be granted in part, and the decision to rescind DACA will be vacated and remanded to DHS. Vacatur of DACA’s rescission will mean that DHS must accept and process new as well as renewal DACA applications. The Court will stay its order of vacatur for ninety days, however, to allow the agency an opportunity to better explain its rescission decision."

The reasoning is summarized here:

"Here, the Department’s decision to rescind DACA was predicated primarily on its legal judgment that the program was unlawful. That legal judgment was virtually unexplained, however, and so it cannot support the agency’s decision. And although the government suggests that DACA’s rescission was also predicated on the Department’s assessment of litigation risk, this consideration is insufficiently distinct from the agency’s legal judgment to alter the reviewability analysis. It was also arbitrary and capricious in its own right, and thus likewise cannot support the agency’s action. For these reasons, DACA’s rescission was unlawful and must be set aside." 

The court "stay[ed] stay its order of vacatur for 90 days . . . to afford DHS an opportunity to better explain its view that DACA is unlawful."

For more on the ruling, click here.  Judge Bates was appointed to the federal bench by President George W. Bush.


April 25, 2018 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Analysis of SCOTUS Argument in Pereira v. Sessions

The Overlooked Legal Challenge to Trump’s Travel Ban


With the Supreme Court hearing oral arguments tomorrow morning in the travel ban case, here is something clearly worth reading.

The statutory arguments related to the Travel Ban litigation are certainly something our community has been discussing for some time, but they’re less prevalent in the public discourse.

 For those interested, here’s a short article on the Harvard Law Review’s blog that Fatma Marouf, Sabi Ardalan, and Philip L. Torey authored discussing why the Immigration and Nationality Act's text, structure, and prior usage preclude the President from wielding the sort of delegated authority he proclaims to have in enacting the Travel Ban. The post is largely based on the amicus brief submitted with the Court.


April 24, 2018 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)



Online survey     Confidential     30 minutes     A real chance to share your thoughts


We are conducting a nationwide online survey of US immigration lawyers to learn more about your perspectives on the immigration system today. If you are a barred immigration lawyer practicing in the US, at least 18 years old, and are willing to participate in an online survey, please visit here.

Please feel free to share this link with your colleagues who may wish to take this survey as well.


Dr. Katherine Abbott, University of New Hampshire,

Dr. Maya Barak, University of Michigan-Dearborn, 

Dr. Austin Kocher, The Ohio State University, 

The University of New Hampshire’s Institutional Review Board for the Protection of Human Subjects in Research has approved the use of human subjects in this study.  


April 24, 2018 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1)

U.S. Approves Far Fewer Muslim Refugees, Immigrants, & Travelers


In this CATO report, David Bier discusses disturbing, yet not surprising, developments in terms of Muslim refugee and immigration admissions.

President Trump’s campaign promise to ban all Muslim immigration will play an important role in the arguments against his “travel ban” executive order at the Supreme Court this week. While Trump later clarified that the “Muslim ban” actually referred to more targeted policies-such as the ban on certain countries and other “extreme vetting” measures-he consistently argued that the goals of the Muslim ban and these other policies were the same. It is now apparent that these policies are working.

91 Percent Drop in Muslim Refugees

During the campaign, Trump referred to Muslim refugees as a “Trojan horse” that could bring down the United States from the inside. Not surprisingly then, Muslim refugees have seen their numbers slashed most dramatically. From October 2015 through December 2016 (“FY 2016”), monthly arrivals of Muslim refugees averaged 3,076 (Figure 1). From January 2017 through October 2017 (“FY 2017”), they fell to 951 per month. During the first six months of FY 2018, they have fallen to just 275 per month-91 percent below their rate in FY 2016. Sunni Muslims have seen their numbers cut by 98 percent and Shi’ite Muslims by 86 percent.


April 24, 2018 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 23, 2018

A Profile of Immigrants from Travel Ban-Affected Countries in the United States


A Profile of Immigrants from Travel Ban-Affected Countries in the United States

Given that the Supreme Court hears arguments in the "travel ban" case later this week, the Institute for Immigration Research at George Mason University released a timely new report, "A Profile of Immigrants from Travel Ban-Affected Countries in the United States."

The data show that immigrants from the travel ban-affected countries are typically employed, highly educated, have high incomes, are homeowners, and make economic contributions to the United States. While the social and economic contributions made by these immigrants did not occur over night, with time these immigrants overcame challenges to make significant contributions to the United States. All of this suggests that barring future nationals from these countries could have a negative economic and social impact on the United States.


April 23, 2018 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

(Former) Professional Football Player Colin Kaepernick receives Amnesty International’s Ambassador of Conscience Award


Athlete and activist Colin Kaepernick received Amnesty International’s Ambassador of Conscience Award.  The award wasy presented at a ceremony in Amsterdam, Netherlands, on April 21.

“The Ambassador of Conscience award celebrates the spirit of activism and exceptional courage, as embodied by Colin Kaepernick. He is an athlete who is now widely recognised for his activism because of his refusal to ignore or accept racial discrimination,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

“Just like the Ambassadors of Conscience before him, Colin Kaepernick chooses to speak out and inspire others despite the professional and personal risks. When high profile people choose to take a stand for human rights, it emboldens many others in their struggles against injustice. Colin Kaepernick’s commitment is all the more remarkable because of the alarming levels of vitriol it has attracted from those in power."

In the San Francisco 49ers third preseason game of the 2016 season, Kaepernick was noticed sitting down during the playing of "The Star-Spangled Banner" as opposed to the tradition of standing. During a post-game interview, he explained his position stating, "I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder," referencing a series of events that led to the Black Lives Matter movement and adding that he would continue to protest until he feels like "[the American flag] represents what it's supposed to represent".

In the 49ers' fourth and final preseason game of 2016, Kaepernick opted to kneel during the U.S. national anthem rather than sit as he did in their previous games. He explained his decision to switch was an attempt to show more respect to former and current U.S. military members while still protesting during the anthem.

Kaepernick soon became highly polarizing as numerous people took public stances either supporting or maligning Kaepernick's actions.


April 23, 2018 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigration Outrage from the Week

In case you missed some of the most recent reasons for moral outrage, here are a few from the past week:


April 23, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Travel Ban and Presidential Power

President Trump orders DHS not to let immigrant caravans into US


Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump

Despite the Democrat inspired laws on Sanctuary Cities and the Border being so bad and one sided, I have instructed the Secretary of Homeland Security not to let these large Caravans of people into our Country. It is a disgrace. We are the only Country in the World so naive! WALL

The Hill reports that President Trump has said today that he hass ordered the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to turn away “caravans” of immigrants attempting to enter the U.S. through the southern border. “Despite the Democrat inspired laws on Sanctuary Cities and the Border being so bad and one sided, I have instructed the Secretary of Homeland Security not to let these large Caravans of people into our Country,” Trump tweeted.


April 23, 2018 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Latinos Heavily Represented in Border Patrol


Few have discussed the fact that Latina/os at employed in large numbers in the expanding immigration enforcement agencies of the U.S. government.  Britny Mejia for the Los Angeles Times reports on the increasing employment of Latina/os in immigration enforcement.

Mejia notes that, when the Border Patrol was established in 1924, Latinos were a tiny minority. By 1989, they made up almost 36% of the agency. Now, Latinos make up a little more than 50% of the Border Patrol, according to 2016 data.

This year, 10 out of the 11 people taking part in a recent Border Patrol citizens’ academy were Latino.

"Being a Border Patrol agent and Latino has always been potentially fraught, with immigrants from Latin America, especially Mexico, long the focus of often vitriolic debates over illegal immigration. But with Trump reserving his most heated rhetoric for immigrants coming from Mexico and Central America — and promising massive walls to keep them out — it has rarely seemed as delicate a tightrope."


April 23, 2018 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

French Assembly Passes Tough Immigration Reform


France''s National Assembly approves controversial immigration reform proposed by the government [Photo Christophe Archambault/AFP]

The BBC reports that the French National Assembly has passed a tough new immigration law that tightens the rules around asylum.The bill shortens asylum application deadlines, doubles the time for which illegal migrants can be detained, and introduces a one-year prison sentence for unlawfully entering France.

Opponents of the bill, including human rights groups, claim that the bill goes too far.

The bill passed by 228 votes to 139, with 24 abstentions, after more than 60 hours of debate over the weekend and hundreds of amendments.

The bill now moves to the French Senate for a vote.  For analysis of the politics behind the bill, click here.


April 23, 2018 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Disrupting Southeast Asian Communities Through Deportation

Guest blogger: Grey Hensarling, law student, University of San Francisco:

Escape from the Khmer Rouge        

            Recently, ICE has targeted the Southeast Asian community for deportation, separating many families and leaving them in turmoil. I sat down with Chivy, who has been affected by the increased number of removals of Cambodians since late last year. Chivy shared with me the story of her family’s traumatic journey to the United States. Her family moved to the United States as one of a massive number who fled the Khmer Rouge during a mass genocide which killed an estimated 1.7 to 3 million people from 1975 to 1979--roughly a fifth of the country’s population.

Q: “When did your family move to the U.S.?”

A: “In 1982. They escaped the Khmer Rouge during the late 70s. My mom and dad's villages were pretty close to the border to Thailand, so they had to cross the mountains into Thailand. [My mother] was hiking while pregnant with my middle sister when they were escaping. I was supposed to have an older sister who was born in ’77 or ’78. But, she died of some mysterious disease while they were hiding and escaping in the mountains. I was the only one who was born here [in the U.S.].  I was born in ’86.””

Q: “Where are your parents?” 

A: “They are currently in Cambodia right now for over 2 months. They are visiting my brother.”

Q: “Did they speak English when they moved to the U.S.?”

A: “They did not know English. There was a program in south Seattle that kind of taught you basic English. Their English still isn’t very good.”

Q: “How old were they?”

A: “I think they were around 35.” 

Q: “Why the U.S.?”

A: “After Thailand, they went to the Philippines for a bit and I think they were supposed to go to France. So, a lot of my dad's side of the family are currently French citizens. My dad's the youngest out of 9. A lot of them escaped and went to France. My dad's the only sibling that came to America because he had my grandma who was really old at the time. She couldn't sit at the airport because she was super old and so they got a quicker flight out to Seattle and that's why we’re American. I could have been French.” 

Q: “When did they take the naturalization test?”

A: “They did that when I was in high school. So, it took them a while. [My father] had to take it twice. ‘I take a walk in the park every day’ was the sentence that he couldn't write.”

Q: “What is your impression of their immigration process?”

A: “It was easier for them because of Reagan’s amnesty act. They all got green cards. It wasn't an issue until now. I think everyone is a citizen now except maybe my middle sister and, obviously, my brother.” 

Brother’s Removal

            Of those ICE has selected, those with old criminal charges have been among the first removed. Many came to the United States as children escaping the Khmer Rouge. As a result of their chaotic childhood, many turned to crime and gang membership but have since turned their lives around. The stories of those being removed can sometimes come down to being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Chivy’s brother, Khemera, had been in prison for 27 years; most of his life. As a youth in the United States, Khemera had been in and out of trouble with the law.  Even though he escaped the Khmer Rouge he is still affected by it.  Those who have turned to violence are merely a reflection of having spent an early childhood surrounded by mass genocide and civil war.

In 1990, Khemera was a 19-year-old high school student and a member of a local street gang. At the school was a group of about forty students who called themselves the “Cowboys.” They wore Western clothing, listened to country music, and drove pick-up trucks. Tensions grew when one of the Cowboys made a rude remark and gesture toward one of Khemera’s gang members. The following day, Khemera told some of the Cowboys to meet at the local pizza restaurant following a football game. That night, escorted by a group of gang members, Khemera fired a gun twice into a crowd in the parking lot hitting two students and a bystander who was parking his pickup truck. None who were injured were members of the Cowboys. 

At the age of 19, Khemera was convicted to a life sentence with the possibility of parole for three counts of attempted murder with enhancements for the use of a firearm. Khemera consistently maintained his innocence. In 2010, he was denied parole. But, under a new law Khemera was found eligible for having been convicted of a crime under the age of 23. Late 2017, Khemera was granted parole based on earning an associate degree, remaining free from disciplinary action, and being designated “low risk” by the prison psychologist.

            Immediately following the news of his release came an order for Khemera’s deportation back to Cambodia. Chivy’s fight to win her brother’s freedom began early in her life. The majority of their interactions have been during his incarceration. Chivy shared her account of her visit with her brother during his detention by ICE.

Q: “Did you live with your brother?”

A: “When I was a kid. Because, he went to jail in 1990, and I was born in ‘86.”

Q: “So, you visited him in holding, how were the conditions there?” 

A: “I got a phone call saying my brother's going to be here for another night. The only day I can visit him is Monday between 6:00 and 8:00 at night. So, I took work off and I went with my boyfriend Daniel and drove out there. They wouldn't let anybody in until 6:00 pm, but what I noticed was that everyone there was Southeast Asian. I think around 80% of the families who were waiting were Cambodian.” 

Q: “When was this?”

A: “This was around Christmas time when I went to visit him in an ICE center.

“I was waiting there for a while. There were two people working.”

“One left and there was just one security guard checking everybody in.  As soon as we get through the metal detectors they have us in this area. Then they open this gate and let you kind of roam around freely. It was really weird.  He just stood there and pointed to what building whoever you wanted to see was in, by yourself. I kind of just followed the people who looked like me honestly. So, we all get to this room with telephones. When I used to visit my brother in prison you were in a cafeteria, there were vending machines, I could give him a hug. You’re there with him; it’s like you and me.” 

“It was the first time I had actually gone to a place that was like the movies where there was glass and a telephone. So, maybe 15 or 20 prisoners came out, and you had around 45 minutes to talk. It was kind of sad. I saw one man, I think he was Cambodian, super old man, I don’t think he did anything wrong. I think someone knew he was not a citizen and took him away. His family was there, children were in there. It was strange to me how few guards there were.” 

“[My brother] was only in ICE for 5 months.” 

Q: “What happened when he was released from prison?” 

A: “He was released and flown down to LA for the Adelanto detention facility, for months. Then they moved him up to Sacramento, I think to be closer to the capital. Because my parents met him that morning to give him clothes and shoes, basically, and a cell phone. He didn’t take the cell phone because he had heard from friends who had gone through the same process that they take it away. He didn’t take anything of value with him. So, when he went to Cambodia he didn’t have anything.”

Q: “They take it away?”

A: “Yeah, he heard that people with cell phones or people with nice electronics would have them taken away by the guards. I think they do it just to be mean.”

“So, we got him a new phone. I think he has it now because my parents just got there [to Cambodia]. They’re setting him up in a house kind of by the temples. I heard he was offered a job in the capital. But, my parents want him to fix up the house first. He also got work painting some murals in restaurants. He painted two murals already which was pretty cool. And, so I don’t think he’s having a tough time finding work.”

Take Away

            This story is only one account of a family whose lives have been disrupted. Chivy waited nearly her entire life to be with her brother only to have him caught in the politics of immigration at the last minute. This should be a reminder that those who seek refuge in a new place are fighting their own battles against the memories of the places they left behind.  And, sometimes immigration policies are on the wrong side of the fight.


April 22, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Reuters Wins Pulitzer for Rohingya Photography

Reuters has been awarded a Pulitzer prize for "shocking photographs that exposed the world to the violence Rohingya refugees faced in fleeing Myanmar." You can see the full collection of award-winning photographs at this link. Among the photos is this one, snapped by photojournalist Damir Sagolj in December 2017. It's of an 11-month-old Rohingya refugee, Abdul Aziz, who died in a Bangladeshi refugee camp after battling a high fever and severe cough.



April 22, 2018 in Current Affairs, Photos | Permalink | Comments (0)

Death on the Border: Border Trilogy Part 3: What Remains


Radiolab has posted its final podcast on the US/Mexico border.  The focus of this chapter is the rising death toll in the desert and the massive efforts to identify the dead.

While scouring the Sonoran Desert for objects left behind by migrants crossing into the United States, anthropologist Jason De León happened upon something he didn't expect to get left behind: a human arm, stripped of flesh.

This macabre discovery sent him reeling, needing to know what exactly happened to the body, and how many migrants die that way in the wilderness.  In researching border-crosser deaths in the Arizona desert, he noticed something surprising. Sometime in the late-1990s, the number of migrant deaths shot up dramatically and have stayed high since. Jason traced this increase to a Border Patrol policy still in effect, called “Prevention Through Deterrence.”

Over three episodes, Radiolab will investigate this policy, its surprising origins, and the people whose lives were changed forever because of it.



April 22, 2018 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)