Monday, June 12, 2017

Breaking News: Supreme Court Holds that the Constitution Applies to Gender Distinctions in Derivative Citizenship Laws

Supreme court seal

Equal protection

This morning, the Supreme Court decided Sessions v. Morales-Santana and held that the Constitution applies to gender distinctions in the derivative citizenship laws.  Justice Ginsburg, joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Kennedy, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan, wrote the opinion for the Court.  Justice Thomas, joined by Justice Alito, concurred in the judgment in part.  Justice Gorsuch took no part in the consideration or decision in the case.

The issues in the case were:  (1) Whether Congress’s decision to impose a different physical-presence requirement on unwed citizen mothers of foreign-born children than on other citizen parents of foreign-born children through 8 U.S.C. 1401 and 1409 (1958) violates the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection; and (2) whether the court of appeals erred in conferring U.S. citizenship on respondent, in the absence of any express statutory authority to do so.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that the laws governing citizenship for the children of unmarried parents violated the father’s constitutional right to be treated the same as a U.S.-citizen mother. (The statute was amended in 1986 to reduce the number of years that a father must have lived in the United States, but it continues to apply different standards for men and women.) The court of appeals declared Morales-Santana a U.S. citizen.

Two Supreme Court cases previously raised the question of the constitutionality of the requirement that unwed U.S. citizen fathers, but not mothers, must formally acknowledge parenthood of their foreign-born children in order to transmit citizenship.  In Miller v. Albright (1998), a majority of the justices had not been in agreement. In another case, Nguyen v. INS (2001), the Court applied rational basis review to uphold the gender distinction.  The Court found those cases, as well as Fiallo v. Bell (1977), upholding gender distinctions in admissions, were not controlling.

Justice Ginsburg noted that the statutory provisions in question "date from an era when the lawbooks of our Nation were rife with overbroad generalizations about the way men and women are."  (citations omitted).   The immigration and nationality laws historically have been filled with distinctions based on gender stereotypes, which Justice Ginsburg reviewed in detail.  The majority that gender distinctions today are subject to heightened scrutiny under the Equal Protection Clause.  "Prescribing one rule for mothers, another for fathers, § 1409 is of the same genre as the classifications we [have] declared unconstitutional . . . ." In the majority's view, the gender distinctions are "stunningly anachronistic" and violate the Equal Protection guarantee.

The majority, however, declined to rewrite the statute.  That is within the purview of Congress.  In the interim, the Court agreed with the U.S., government and ruled that a five-year requirement under another subsection of the statute should apply prospectively to children born to unwed U.S.-citizen mothers.

Justice Thomas, concurring in part in the judgment, would not decide the constitutional issues but would simply find that the Court could not provide the relief sought by Morales-Santana.

Immigration law has been exceptional in its immunity from judicial review.  Sessions v. Morales-Santana is another step down the road toward applying ordinary constitutional norms to the immigration and nationality laws. Put differently, it is a step away from the "plenary power" doctrine, which historically has immunized the immigration laws from constitutional review and fits uncomfortably with modern constitutional jurisprudence.  Six justices agreed that the Equal Protection Clause applied to gender distinctions in the derivative citizenship laws.  We shall see whether the decision marks the beginning of a trend in this Term's immigration decisions -- several that raise constitutional questions.

UPDATE (June 12, 4:00 PST):  Amy Howe on SCOTUSBlog offers her analysis of the Court's opinion in Sessions v. Morales-Santana.



June 12, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Trump Administration Finding Out that Immigration Control is Easier Said than Done



The Wall at the border of Tijuana, Mexico and San Diego. The crosses represent migrants who died in the crossing attempt. Some identified, some not. Surveillance tower in the background.

President Trump is learning the challenges of attempting to restrict undocumented immigration.

Reports are that visa overstays are on the rise,  Indeed, overstays currently outnumber illegal entries.    A Department of Homeland Security “entry/exit” report released late last month showed that nearly 629,000 people who came to the United States on a visa in fiscal year 2016 stayed after it expired, and were still here at the end of the year.  This data undercuts President Trump’s claim that “a big, beautiful wall” will fully address undocumented immigration.

In addition, according to news reports, undocumented immigration across the southwest border appears to have jumped 27 percent in May, according to numbers released this week by the Department of Homeland Security, ending three months of declines under President Trump.

The Border Patrol apprehended 14,535 illegal immigrants in the southwest last month, up from just 11,129 in April. The number of undocumented immigrants showing up at ports of entry without authorization also ticked up, from 4,649 to 5,432.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection attributed the increase in border crossings to “a seasonal uptick.”  Such an uptick suggests that control measures cannot end established migration patterns.


June 12, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Professor Susan Green: Activists Support Claudia Rueda

ImmigrationProf has been keeping readers abreast about the case of Claudia Rueda, the Cal State LA student, who was detained by the U.S. government and ultimately released. 

Here is an update on the activism that helped gain Claudia's release by Susan Marie Green, Associate Professor Chicano Studies and History, CSU Chico.

On Friday June 9, educators, students, and community activists from across the state of California assembled at Otay Mesa Detention Center, for the immigration hearing of Claudia Rueda. Claudia, a Cal State Los Angeles student, was picked up by ICE in May, after her mother had been detained by federal agents in April. Rueda, an immigrant rights activist, was eligible for DACA, but could not afford the fees. Supporters from the California Faculty Association(CFA), the California Teachers Association (CTA), the National Education Association (NEA), the United Auto Workers (UAW), National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) and Immigrant Youth Coalition (IYC), as well as a representative from Senator Kamala Harris’ office, gathered outside the detention center to show their support.  Instead of the 30 observers CCA said would be able to enter the hearing, only four representatives were allowed, along with Rueda’s attorney Monika Langarica, of ABA Immigration Justice Project in San Diego. By 9:30 Rueda’s attorney and spokesperson announced her release on her own recognizance. The request for an ankle monitor was denied. Rueda’s ultimate fate is still unclear, but for the moment, she is home in her community


Clara Green, junior high student from Chico, outside Otay Mesa, supporting Claudia Rueda’s release on June 9, 2017. Otay Mesa is privately run by Corrections Corporation of America.



June 11, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Trump administration is reopening cases of hundreds reprieved from deportation


Reuters reports that the trump administration is reopening cases in which the Obama administration had declined to seek the removal of immigrants.  President Trump signaled in January that he planned to dramatically widen the net of undocumented immigrants targeted for deportation, but his administration has not publicized efforts to reopen immigration cases. News of the administration’s effort represents one of the first concrete examples of the crackdown and is likely to stir fears among tens of thousands of undocumented people who thought they were safe from deportation.

Cases were reopened during the Obama administration, but generally only if a person had committed a serious crime. The Trump administration has sharply increased the number of cases it is asking the courts to reopen, and its targets appear to include at least some people who have not committed any crimes since their cases were closed.

Between 1 March and 31 May, prosecutors moved to reopen 1,329 cases, according to an analysis of data from the Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR). The Obama administration filed 430 similar motions in the same period in 2016.
It is not possible to tell from the EOIR data how many of the cases the Trump administration is seeking to reopen involve immigrants who committed crimes after their cases were closed. Attorneys said some of the cases were being reopened because immigrants had been arrested for serious crimes, but said they were also seeing cases involving people who had not committed crimes or who were cited for minor violations such as traffic tickets. 


June 11, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, June 10, 2017

South Asians Condemn ACT for America's Anti-Muslim Rallies

From SAALT (Strengthening South Asian Communities in America):

The National Coalition of South Asian Organizations (NCSO), a network of 58 South Asian American community organizations across the country, condemns the local anti-Muslim events organized by ACT For America on June 10.  These events are an alarming part of a larger wave of white supremacy targeting our communities nationwide. 
ACT for America, reportedly the largest anti-Muslim hate group in the United States, has branded their campaign a "March Against Shariah," a divisive fear mongering effort to manufacture hatred against the nation's already-embattled Muslim American communities.  The organization's founder, Brigitte Gabriel, has made her bias and opposition to an entire religion clear, stating "every practicing Muslim is a radical Muslim" and that Muslims are a "natural threat to civilized people of the world, particularly Western society."  While ACT for America remains a fringe organization, not representative of the majority of public opinion, the June 10 protests are a physical manifestation of the ongoing effort to sow hatred against our communities nationwide.
Gabriel's statements are troubling and reminiscent of President Trump's, who has declared on the record, "I think Islam hates us."  The President's "Muslim Bans" and divisive rhetoric have validated and amplified the views and actions of violent white supremacists and white nationalist extremists in recent months.
Recently in Portland, OR, a known white supremacist, Jeremy Joseph Christian, spewed racist comments at two commuters, one of whom was a young Muslim woman wearing a hijab.  When other passengers attempted to intervene, Christian stabbed two of them to death and injured another before being arrested.  At his arraignment Christian reaffirmed his white supremacist beliefs, declaring, "Death to the enemies of America. Leave this country if you hate our freedom." 
This brutal bigotry builds on a rising tide of violence and intimidation that has defined much of the last several years and accelerated during the 2016 Presidential election cycle.  Tragic shootings in Kansas and Washington State, ongoing arson attacks and vandalism of mosques, businesses, and homes across the country, and the persistent targeting and harassment of South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, and Hindu communities nationwide continue to be a fact of life.
"While white supremacists believe Islam is incompatible with Western society, we believe racism and fear mongering are incompatible with core American values," stated Suman Raghunathan, Executive Director of South Asian Americans Leading Together.  "ACT for America's anti-Muslim rallies, scheduled during the month of Ramadan, are an affront to the core religious freedoms enshrined in our Constitution and encourages divisive rhetoric that paints Muslim communities in our nation as un-American, which couldn't be farther from reality. We call on all elected and appointed officials to denounce ACT for America and its anti-Muslim protests as un-American and unacceptable." 
"Much of ACT for America's gatherings are the sum result of existing practices and policies by local and federal governments that harm frontline communities such as surveillance, racial profiling, and collaboration between local and federal enforcement agencies that commit violence, accelerate deportations, and allow for continued unaccountability from law enforcement officers," stated Roksana Mun, Director of Strategy at Desis Rising Up & Moving. "Racist, Islamophobic, and xenophobic actions like these are the reasons why all frontline communities need to join together and build our community defense which builds our own people power."
"Many southeastern states such as North Carolina are on the frontlines of the juxtaposition of South Asian American population growth and the growth in white supremacist organizations," stated Chavi Koneru, Executive Director of North Carolina Asian Americans Together (NCAAT).  "Given these dynamics, it is critical for grassroots organizations like NCAAT to work with our local partners to support smart, inclusive public policies that take a stand against division."
As grassroots organizations, NCSO members work on numerous issues including domestic violence, immigrant rights, civil rights, civil liberties, and LGBTQIA rights. We have confronted hate violence, advocated for major shifts in law enforcement, government documentation, and responses to hate crimes, as well as policy solutions to anticipate and prevent these horrible incidents.  With South Asian Americans the most rapidly growing demographic group in the nation, the NCSO continues to work on inclusion and community building as we mobilize in the face of hate.  In this urgent moment, we combine our voices and join our hands in opposition to the organized bigotry and racism targeting our communities every day.  We demand our rights and freedoms.
During his arraignment, the Portland attacker declared with zeal, "You got no safe place."  This is the world that white supremacists, with their powerful allies, want to speak into reality.  This is the world we will never stop opposing, because love must always trump hate.

June 10, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Prom Night 2017? ICE agents arrest high schooler hours before prom


Photo courtesy of the New York Post/Facebook

A sign of the times. USA Today reports that Federal immigration authorities took a 19-year-old high school student into custody hours before his senior prom.

Diego Ismael Puma Macancela, a citizen of  Ecuador, was arrested at his cousin's Ossining, New York home earlier this week.  He is being held at a federal detention center pending deportation. The arrest comes in wake of a deportation order entered last November.

His cousin, Gaby Macancela, said a frightened Puma Macancela came to her apartment Wednesday night after his mother's arrest. The following morning, she said they cowered in fear in one of the bedrooms when they heard agents banging on the door of her apartment.


June 10, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigration Article of the Day: Criminal Immigrants: Their Numbers, Demographics, and Countries of Origin by Michelangelo Landgrave and Alex Nowrasteh

Michelangelo Nowrasteh
Criminal Immigrants: Their Numbers, Demographics, and Countries of Origin

Michaelanelo Landgrave, University of California, Riverside and  Alex Nowrasteh, Cato Institute - Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity

Immigration Research and Policy Brief No. 1


In his first week in office, President Donald Trump issued an executive order directing the Department of Homeland Security to deport most illegal immigrants who come in contact with law enforcement. His order is based on the widespread perception that illegal immigrants are a significant source of crime in the United States. This brief uses American Community Survey data to analyze incarcerated immigrants according to their citizenship and legal status. All immigrants are less likely to be incarcerated than natives relative to their shares of the population. Even illegal immigrants are less likely to be incarcerated than native-born Americans.


June 10, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 9, 2017

Federal judge rules that immigration detainers are unconstitutional

Texas flag

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

Immigration Hawk Kris Kobach to Run for Governor of Kansas


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


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

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

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

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

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



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

Breaking #FreeClaudia: Claudia Released on Own Recognizance

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


June 9, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

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


Courtesy of Maisie Crow/ACLU

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

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

The conclusion:

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

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


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

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


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


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

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

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

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


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

Thursday, June 8, 2017

"Immigration Agents Came for Our Student" #FreeClaudia



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

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

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


June 8, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Indefensible: Sisters, Separated by Birth

Immigrant Defense Project Podcast--Indefensible: Episode 2:

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

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

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

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

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

Click here to access the podcast.


June 8, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

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

Reinhardt Judge_Jacqueline_Nguyen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

A Worldwide Problem: Abuse of Domestic Workers


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

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

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

How U.S. Immigration Law Enables Modern Slavery

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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



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



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

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

More on AILA's Texas Boycott