Tuesday, November 10, 2015

From the Bookshelves: Violetta Armour, I'll Always Be With You


Violetta Armour holds family close to her heart, a concept she hopes to share in her new book I’ll Always Be With You.” Drawing from her own experience as a first-generation American with Bulgarian roots, Armour tells the story of Teddy, a young boy who has lost his father and finds comfort in a book his great-grandfather carried with him to America. Through this life-changing book, Teddy embraces his origins and finds the peace of mind he’s been looking for. “I’ll Always Be With You” offers insight into the trials of facing racial tensions and prejudices while encouraging the celebration of culture and traditions.


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

Naturalization Ceremonies to Honor Veterans and their Families


Veterans, service members and military spouses across the country will become U.S. citizens this week as they take the Oath of Allegiance at special Veterans Day naturalization ceremonies. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will highlight the sacrifices that military members and their families have made while serving our country. From Nov. 7-13, USCIS will welcome more than 10,000 new citizens in nearly 130 naturalization ceremonies across the country and around the world. Of those being naturalized, more than 255 are veterans, service members and military spouses.

Many current and former military members and their families are eligible for citizenship, including expedited screening and overseas processing, under special provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Since Oct. 1, 2001, when data collection on military naturalizations began, more than 109,000 service members have become U.S. citizens, including individuals serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, South Korea, Germany, Japan and elsewhere. In 2015 alone, USCIS hosted nearly 175 naturalization ceremonies at military installations in the U.S. and abroad.

USCIS has a military outreach program that provides information about immigration and naturalization to service members and veterans at military installations, Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals, universities and various military organizations. USCIS also has offices on multiple military installations, including Fort Benning, Georgia; Camp Lejeune, North Carolina; and Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. These offices identify recruits who may be eligible for naturalization.

USCIS’ Veterans Day activities this year will feature a naturalization ceremony at the USS Torsk and USS Constellation, located at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore, Maryland, on Nov. 11. During this event, Dan Renaud, USCIS associate director for the Field Operations Directorate, will administer the Oath of Allegiance, and Sgt. Maj. Mercy A. Diez of the U.S. Army Band will be recognized as an Outstanding American by Choice.

Other ceremonies include events at:

In addition, 12 recruits will become new citizens at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, California, through the Naturalization at Basic Training Initiative. Developed with the Department of Defense, this program allows enlisted service members to complete the naturalization process during basic training.


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

Turning Our Backs on the 14th Amendment: Ongoing Attacks on Birthright Citizenship

DOJ: No Charges in Border Patrol Tasing Resulting in Death


The Associated Press reports that the U.S. Department of Justice will not bring criminal charges in the death of a man from Mexico who was shocked by U.S. border authorities with a stun gun.

The 2010 death of 42-year-old Anastasio Hernandez-Rojas raised complaints of excessive force from the Mexican government and others.  The Justice Department examined the case for evidence of a civil rights violation.

Last Friday, November 6, 2015, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that following a comprehensive investigation it would not pursue criminal against the federal agents involved in the in-custody altercation that resulted in the death.  The announcement states that:  

"After a careful and thorough review, a team of experienced federal prosecutors determined that the evidence was insufficient to pursue federal criminal civil rights charges.  Under the applicable federal criminal civil rights law, prosecutors must establish, beyond a reasonable doubt, that an official willfully deprived an individual of a constitutional right, meaning that the official acted with the deliberate and specific intent to do something the law forbids.  This is the highest standard of intent imposed by the law.  Neither accident, mistake, fear, negligence nor bad judgment is sufficient to establish a federal criminal civil rights violation.  In the present matter, the federal government could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the subjects acted willfully, that is with the specific intent to deprive the victim of a constitutional right.  Specifically, the federal government cannot disprove the agents’ claim that they used reasonable force in an attempt to subdue and restrain a combative detainee so that he could be placed inside a transport vehicle. 

The federal government is also unable to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the subjects violated the federal homicide statutes within the Special Maritime and Territorial Jurisdiction of the United States.  Although positional restraint of Hernandez-Rojas and electro-shocks from the taser were contributory factors in his death, there is no evidence that any of the federal agents deployed the taser or restrained Hernandez-Rojas with malice.  Nor is there sufficient evidence to establish that the federal agents’ conduct violated the federal manslaughter statute, which does not require malice but requires that the federal agents committed a lawful act in an unlawful manner, or without due caution and circumspection, that might produce death.  Rather, the federal agents’ restraint and deployment of the taser against Hernandez-Rojas when he was non-compliant and physically assaultive was not unlawful and, based on the evidence gathered relating to the federal agents’ use of force training, the federal agents’ action were not done without due caution and circumspection.

While the loss of life is regrettable, the facts of this matter do not support a federal prosecution.  Accordingly, the investigation into this incident has been closed."


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

Immigration Article of the Day: The Curse of the Nation-State: Refugees, Migration, and Security in International Law by Jill I. Goldenziel


The Curse of the Nation-State: Refugees, Migration, and Security in International Law by Jill I. Goldenziel, Harvard Kennedy School; Harvard University November 1, 2015 Arizona State Law Journal, 2016

Abstract: How does international law protect migrants? For the most part, it does not. Of the millions of people who flee persecution, conflict, and poverty each year, international law protects only refugees: those who flee persecution on the basis of religion, race, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. The 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees provides critical protections for minorities that must never be diluted. However, it is insufficient to protect the swarms of migrants landing on the shores of Europe and elsewhere, or to guide states on how to protect them while guarding their own security. This article argues that states have always revised international law regarding displaced people to protect their own security interests and changing circumstances of displacement. The time is thus ripe for the creation of an additional instrument of international law to protect the 35 million displaced people who do not meet the definition of “refugee.” To support this argument, this article presents a comprehensive history of refugees in international law, combining primary sources and original interview data to trace how states have used refugee law to protect minority rights, even as state security interests have changed refugee protection over time. In doing so, the article makes two theoretical claims that contribute to growing scholarly interest in the history of human rights law. First, the article argues that refugee law is paradigmatic human rights law, although it is often excluded from the human rights canon. Second, the article claims that refugee law predates the modern human rights regime, challenges its foundations, and extends its claims to universality.


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

Fifth Circuit Affirms Injunction of Obama's Expanded Deferred Action Program


Judge Jerry Smith

The big news is that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit late yesterday issued an opinion in Texas v. United States.   The court, in a 70 page opinion by Judge Jerry Smith (and joined by Jennifer Walker Elrod), summarized its ruling as follows:

"The government appealed and moved to stay the injunction pending resolution of the merits. After extensive briefing and more than two hours of oral argument, a motions panel denied the stay after determining that the appeal was unlikely to succeed on its merits. Texas v. United States, 787 F.3d 733, 743 (5th Cir. 2015). Reviewing the district court’s order for abuse of discretion, we affirm the preliminary injunction because the states have standing; they have established a substantial likelihood of success on the merits of their procedural and substantive [Administrative Procedure Act (APA)] claims; and they have satisfied the other elements required for an injunction."

In synthesizing the essence of the case, the majority stated that "[a]t its core, this case is about the Secretary[ of the Department of Homeland Security's] decision to change the immigration classification of millions of illegal aliens on a class-wide basis.  *(page 70).

Judge Carolyn King dissented:

"There can be little doubt that Congress’s choices as to the level of funding for immigration enforcement have left [Department of Homeland Security (DHS)] DHS with difficult prioritization decisions. But those decisions, which are embodied in the [Deferred Action for Parental Arrivals (DAPA)] Memorandum, have been delegated to the Secretary by Congress. Because federal courts should not inject themselves into such matters of prosecutorial discretion, I would dismiss this case as non-justiciable.

Furthermore, the evidence in the record (the importance of which should not be overlooked) makes clear that the injunction cannot stand. A determination of “pretext” on the part of DHS must have a basis in concrete evidence. Of course, as appellate judges, we may not substitute our own view of the facts for that of the district court. But we must also embrace our duty to correct clear errors of fact—that is, to ensure that factual determinations are based not on conjecture, intuition, or preconception, but on evidence. Based on the record as it currently stands, the district court’s conclusion that DAPA applications will not be reviewed on a discretionary, case-by-case basis cannot withstand even the most deferential scrutiny. Today’s opinion preserves this error and, by reaching the substantive APA claim, propounds its own. I have a firm and definite conviction that a mistake has been made. That mistake has been exacerbated by the extended delay that has occurred in deciding this “expedited” appeal. There is no justification for that delay.

I dissent."

For Politico commentary on the ruling, click here

Obama's November 2014 executive actions have been on hold since February.  The Fifth Circuit agreed in March to hear the appeal on an "expedited" basis, and the case was argued July 10.  The Fifth Circuit Circuit decision would seem to allow the Supreme Court enough time to take up the dispute this Term.

Stay tuned for analysis of the ruling.

UPDATE (10:30 PST, Nov. 10, 2015):  The Obama administration has decided to seek review of the Fifth Circuit ruling in the U.S. Supreme Court.




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

Monday, November 9, 2015

Holiday Gift Guide for Immprofs

It's that time of year. Stores are playing holiday music. You find yourself checking the holiday countdown clock. Buying gifts for family is fun, but then you get this question: What's a good gift for you this year? Ugh. I hate that question. I never have any good ideas. 

This year will be different. The immprof blog is here with a few handy thoughts.

First, are you headed to the AALS conference in January? Then ask for tickets to see Allegiance on Broadway. This is George Takei's musical about Japanese internment. Tickets are available for the Thursday and Friday night showings during the conference. (And thank you Mom, for this super special Christmas present - I can't wait to see it with you!)


If you're not going to AALS, there are wonderful books about immigration that you might enjoy. I'm a fan of Shaun Tam's The Arrival. It's a children's book that has no words but brilliantly captures the immigrant experience. (Another thank you to Mom. That was a great Christmas present in 2010. I still read it regularly.).

Another good book is Haven. It's about immigration - the country's acceptance and internment of less than 1000 refugees during WW2. It has immigration law content, but it doesn't leave you feeling like you're working instead of diving into a good book.

Of course, for the super altruistic, you might suggest a donation on your behalf to a worthy cause, like Safe Passage (just click on the big red "donate" button).

Have other great holiday gift ideas for the immprof in your life? PM me to share them.


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

Treat Central American Asylum Seekers with Dignity and Fairness--Not Detention

Guest Blogger: Kaitlin Talley, second-year law student, University of San Francisco

Reflection on Spending a Week with Detained Asylum Seekers in Dilley, Texas

“Welcome to the United States.” This is what refugees and asylum seekers should hear when they first arrive to the United States, but unfortunately it is a welcome that often comes excruciatingly too late, if at all. Met instead by being thrown into temporary jail-like detention facilities that have gained nicknames such as “the ice box” and “the pound”, the message many asylum seekers from Central America receive from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Patrol (CPB) officials, detention facility staff, and the U.S. government itself is very clearly, “We will send you back.”

Met often by aggressive and untruthful immigration officials at the border, lengthy detention, high bonds, pressure to leave with an ankle tracking device, and very limited access to legal counsel, the women and children detained after their arrival to the United States still face significant obstacles to being able to assert their right to live in safety. While many refugee and asylum seekers seek safety in the United States from countries all over the world, in this essay, I offer reflections on the stories, strength, and resilience of the women and children asylum seekers detained in Dilley, Texas, at the South Texas Family Residential Center, as seen from my week spent volunteering there as part of the CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Project in October.

The majority of the women and children detained in Dilley, along with the majority who entered from the surge of the summer of 2014, travel from their home in one of the Northern Triangle countries of Central America: El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. Almost all of the women and children speak Spanish, as does much of the detention facility staff. However, some women speak indigenous languages and either speak limited Spanish as their second language or do not speak Spanish at all. These women have a particularly difficult time in detention because the resources provided to the women are provided in Spanish, and indigenous language interpreters are very difficult to obtain. The indigenous language speakers are very much isolated within the center because they cannot effectively communicate with the other detained women, detention center staff, or with asylum officers, or legal counsel. The CARA project does have access to an indigenous language interpreter phone line that facilitates communication between legal volunteers and clients.

Many of the women and children who are being detained as they cross the southern border of the United States are asylum seekers. Approximately 85% of those detained in Dilley, and 88% of all women and children detained receive a positive Credible Fear Interview determination. The Credible Fear Interview is an interview with an asylum officer that screens their claim for a “significant possibility” of succeeding in an asylum case in front of an Immigration Judge. Passing this interview is the first step in being determined eligible to begin an application for asylum in the United States. The results from the Credible Fear Interviews demonstrate that a very strong majority of the women and children are sincere asylum seekers. Many are fleeing truly unimaginable threats of violence in their home countries. Gang-rapes of young women who refuse to become involved in a gang, brutal violence from domestic partners or husbands that refuse to let them file for divorce or leave the relationship, threats from gang members to kill women, kidnap their children, or kill the families of those who do not comply with the gang’s recruitment or other demands are just a few of the fears often expressed.

As a volunteer with the CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Project in Dilley, Texas, I was able to speak with the women and children detained in the center. Many of them had crossed the border only days before, either by crossing the Rio Grande or by approaching immigration officials at a border checkpoint and declaring their fear of returning to their country. As volunteers, our role was to educate women about the detention process, basic asylum law, Credible Fear Interviews, and the release process. We welcomed the women to the United States and assured them that volunteers from the program would be with them to fight for their release from detention and their reunification with their family or friends in the United States. Legal volunteers also met individually with women to prepare them for their Credible Fear Interviews and to prepare affidavits for bond hearings or for negative credible fear review hearings. Lawyers represented women in bond hearings and credible fear review hearings in a separate trailer set up with makeshift courtrooms equipped with video access to the Miami Immigration Court.

As legal volunteers, we set up each day in a visitation trailer just inside the security checkpoint for the entire detention facility. Lawyers and volunteers from the CARA project are not allowed beyond the legal visitation trailer or the court trailer. At 7:30 am, we were met by the faces of 30-50 women and children awaiting their morning meeting with a volunteer. In the afternoons, at least that many were waiting again. Mothers waited with their children who ranged in age from just a few months to 17 years old. Sounds of crying, coughing, and sneezing were constant as we worked through the week.

Detention was especially difficult for the children who were old enough to understand what was going on. Those children knew that they were being detained and it visibly wore on them. Many mothers reported that their children started crying through the entire night, a 12-year-old would start wetting the bed again, or that their children simply refused to eat. Other mothers reported waiting hours in the detention center’s medical clinic for medical treatment for their child’s fever, headache, stomach ache or other complaints, only being told to put ice cubes under their armpits, to drink honey and water, that the child had allergies, or if they were lucky given a Tylenol to help with the pain.

Legally, the situation was not much better. Many women who had received a positive credible fear decision were being pressured into leaving the center with an ankle monitor, like those given to criminals on probation. The women were not told by ICE officials how long they would have to wear the ankle monitors. Yet in court, the government attorneys argued that the ankle monitor, or Alternatives to Detention Program, was a ninety-day program that would end when the woman satisfactorily met the conditions imposed by the ICE official in the region where she would be released. In one bond hearing I observed, the Immigration Judge began the hearing by saying, “I have a policy of setting high bonds. Knowing this, would you like to continue?” A bond hearing should be an individualized determination of a specific client’s flight risk and potential of danger to the community. Yet this judge made it clear that she would not make an individualized determination. The client said she still wanted to continue with the bond hearing, which consisted of a two-hour inquiry into her contacts in the United States and probed into her asylum claim itself. The government attorney argued several times that the simple act of declining release with the ankle bracelet (which allows clients to leave without cost) made the client an even greater flight risk. At the end of the hearing, despite hearing from the client herself that she knows the only way for her to secure her safety and asylum status in the United States is for her to appear at all her future immigration court hearings, the Immigration Judge set a $7,000 bond, one of the highest Dilley had seen yet.

Despite the depressing and infuriating conditions, I still left from the week inspired. I was inspired most by the strength and resilience of these women and their children. These women had experienced some of the most violent things I had ever heard of in my life, and yet they had found the courage to leave their countries and make the dangerous journey to the United States. They faced the uncertainty of their detention and their future in the United States with incredible strength and relentless hope. Women who cried during our interview prep sessions nodded their heads at the end of our sessions with grace and firm resolution, knowing that they must recount the gruesome and intimate details of their persecution to the asylum officer the next day. I also was incredibly inspired by the collaboration and teamwork of the legal volunteers who left their homes and work to band together, compassionately combining language and legal skills with the next volunteers to serve these women as best as we could.

As Americans, but more importantly as human beings, we must not overlook the refugee crisis happening in our own backyard. A large majority of the people fleeing their Central American homes are refugees--people who have a legitimate fear of persecution in their home country on account of their religion, political opinion, nationality, ethnicity, or membership in a particular social group. The U.S. government should treat these asylum seekers with the dignity and due process they deserve in their pursuit to live a life free from violence.


November 9, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

EU Immigration and Asylum Law and Policy Droit et Politique de l'Immigration et de l'Asile de l'UE

Transatlantic Symposium Report: Improving Instruction for Immigrant and Refugee Students in Secondary Schools


A new Migration Policy Institute report,Transatlantic Symposium Report: Improving Instruction for Immigrant and Refugee Students in Secondary Schools, synthesizes the themes and central questions raised during the presentations and discussions that took place over the course of a symposium devoted to these issues in Brussels in June 2015. The symposium brought together policymakers, teacher educators, and researchers from the United States and Europe to explore the imperative of improving educational outcomes for students from migrant and language-minority backgrounds, with a particular focus on the initial and ongoing training of teachers and school leaders. The event also focused on elements of school and policy design that promote effective instruction for migrant and language-minority students in the secondary grades.

A companion commentary, authored by MPI Policy Analyst Julie Sugarman, also explores the challenges in building teacher capacity to meet the needs of newcomer youth. “Training must go beyond the application of instructional strategies and focus on intercultural communication, language and content integration, and appropriate responses to students who have experienced trauma and the persistent stresses of family reunification, uncertain legal status, and cultural adjustment,” Sugarman writes.


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

Immigration Article of the Day: Elusive Equality: Reflections on Justice Field's Opinions in Chae Chan Ping and Fong Yue Ting by Victor C. Romero


Elusive Equality: Reflections on Justice Field's Opinions in Chae Chan Ping and Fong Yue Ting by  ictor C. Romero Pennsylvania State University, Penn State Law October 27, 2015 Oklahoma Law Review, Vol. 68, No. 165, 2015, pp. 165-184 

Abstract: For immigration scholars, Justice Field is perhaps best remembered for his majority opinion in Chae Chan Ping v. United States, the Supreme Court’s decision upholding Chinese exclusion, and credited for introducing the plenary power doctrine to immigration law. Yet, despite the opinion’s xenophobic rhetoric reflecting his personal views of the Chinese, Justice Field dissented in Fong Yue Ting v. United States, reasoning that, once they became lawful residents, the Chinese were entitled to be treated as equals under the law regardless of citizenship, a position supported by his earlier federal circuit court opinion in Ho Ah Kow v. Nunan.

Regardless of one’s particular views of his opinions in these cases, it appears Field sought to balance his unfavorable personal and political views about mass Chinese immigration against his duty as a federal judge to uphold the constitutional rights of individual persons within the United States, regardless of their race and citizenship, before Congress’s plenary power. This tension between viewing immigrants as an undifferentiated mass and recognizing each immigrant as a person worthy of constitutional protection pervades contemporary debates regarding immigration today.

Further, research in social psychology suggests that, within immigration policy, seldom will personhood trump membership as an organizing principle when benefiting noncitizen outsiders is perceived to come at the expense of U.S. citizen insiders. Put another way, immigration law presumes differences among citizens and noncitizens and creates others among noncitizens; thus, while it is already difficult to extend the circle of empathy beyond family and friends to strangers, it is particularly difficult to do so within a field like immigration law, which is designed to maintain boundaries between citizen and “alien.” Nonetheless, recognizing and working within these constraints, immigrant rights advocates would do well to emphasize and guard against our inherent parochialism, as Field appeared to do in Fong notwithstanding his opinion in Chae.


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

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Hunger Strikes by Immigration Detainees


The Los Angeles Times reports on a hunger strike by approximately 300 immigration detainees at one of the largest immigration detention centers in California, the Adelanto Detention Facility.  According to the article, detainees are protesting poor conditions at the center, including poor medical treatment.  The GEO Group, one of several for-profit corporations that specialize in immigration detention, runs the Adelanto facility, which is located about 90 miles from Los Angeles.  In the last week, hunger strikes have also reportedly taken place at other immigration detention centers, such as the T. Don Hutto detention center in Taylor, TX.  Unfortunately – as the work of scholars such as Cesar Cuauhtemoc Garcia Hernandez, Anil Kalhan and others suggests – the fact that detainees across the country have taken to refusing food in order to bring attention to their concerns about mistreatment should come as no surprise.  



November 8, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Displaced

Not to be outdone the great coverage in the Baltimore Sun this week, the NYT magazine has stepped up to the plate with its piece on The Displaced. Part video, part photography, part written word, the segment tells the tale of:

an 11-year-old boy from eastern Ukraine named Oleg, a 12-year-old Syrian girl named Hana and a 9-year-old South Sudanese boy named Chuol. All three have seen their homes destroyed; two have lost family members. Yet they carry on.


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

The Baltimore Sun's Impressive Series on Migrant Youth in MD

The Baltimore Sun's special series Unsettled Journeys documents the stories of teenage migrants who've found their way to the United States and are now attending East Baltimore's Patterson High School. It's a school with a student body population that's 1/3 migrants.

The series is the culmination of eight months of work by a reporter and a photographer. You know that these folks took their jobs seriously when they contacted UB immprof Liz Keyes to help them understand the story in all its complexity.

Part One features the story of Narmin Al Eethawi, a reluctant refugee from Iraq. A victim of trauma and war, Narmin struggles to make find her place in the United States while having her attention pulled back to Iraq where family and a long-distance boyfriend remain.

Part Two tells the tale of Exel Estrada from Guatemala, struggling to forge a relationship with his mother after 9 years apart (and the arrival of new half-siblings), to work, to pursue his education, and to fight for his right to stay in the United States.

Part Three follows Monique Ngomba from the Central Africa Republic who came to the United States illiterate in her native tongue of Sango. It follows her struggles to learn English, to cope with the challenge of high school academics, and to adapt to the very different life she lives in the United States.


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

Immigration Judge Openings Throughout Country

The Executive Office for Immigration Review has a number of openings for Immigration Judge positions across the country.  As immigration practitioners know – and as Professors Jaya Ramji-Nogales, Andrew Schoenholtz, and Philip Schrag wrote eight years ago in the Stanford Law Review in the context of asylum cases– the Immigration Judge randomly assigned to the case often influences the legal outcome.  With discretionary asylum cases, data from the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse continues to show denial rates across the country from as low as below 10 percent to more than 90 percent, depending on the judge.  But the influence of the Immigration Judge can extend beyond the outcome of an asylum claim, and may include matters such as the granting of continuances, the assessment of the criminal record, advisals regarding possible eligibility for relief, and the discretionary outcome of other applications for relief such as Cancellation of Removal, not to mention the overall anxiety level of the noncitizens (and their attorneys).  Here’s to hoping that this hiring initiative results in a group of Immigration Judges who demonstrate the appropriate judicial temperament, possess a deep understanding of the immigration laws, and are committing to adjudicating immigration cases consistent with constitutional values.


November 8, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

America hasn’t always lived the values celebrated in ‘Bridge of Spies’

Tom Hanks' latest movie Bridge of Spies is good entertainment.  I saw it yesterday.  The film also has an interesting immigration angle with the immigration removal process used as a tool in the criminal justice system. 

Professor Jeffrey Kahn in the Washington Post explains some lessons from the case of Rudolf Abel

The movie is based on the sensational arrest of Abel, a KGB colonel and the Soviet Union’s top spy in North America. FBI agents pushed their way into his hotel room in Manhattan on June 21, 1957. Because the FBI wanted Abel to turn double-agent against the Soviet Union, publicity about his capture was not desired. The problem was that a public appearance before a judge is required shortly after any arrest and the courtroom is open to the public. To keep things quiet, the FBI turned to Immigration and Naturalization Service officials to pick up Abel on a pretextual violation while federal agents waited to search his vacated room. Instead of pursuing a deportation hearing, able was taken far away;  "There was no public appearance before a magistrate. No charge. No lawyer. In the words of Justice William Brennan, dissenting from the Supreme Court opinion that ultimately resolved the case, `As far as the world knew, he had vanished.'”

After Abel's capture, he was flown 13 hours and 2,000 miles away to McAllen, Texas. For almost seven weeks, the FBI interrogated Abel and sought to turn Abel or break him.  It failed and Abel was charged and Jim Donovan, played by Hanks.  

Professor Kahn nicely ties the movie and its plot into the modern "war on terror," with the attendant pressures to forego the protections of persons accused of being enemies of the United States and the American people.


November 8, 2015 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Donald on Saturday Night Live

The Fair Immigration Reform Movement and The Nation to Host Presidential Forum in Las Vegas: Presidential Candidates Sanders and O’Malley Confirmed



The Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM), in partnership with The Nation, will host a nonpartisan presidential candidate forum that will take place in two sessions in Las Vegas, NV on Sunday, November 8 and Monday November 9, 2015 at the LINQ Hotel. All Republican and Democratic presidential candidates have been invited to participate. Presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley have confirmed attendance. 

The presidential forum sessions, which are part of a three day FIRM Strategy Summit that will take place in Las Vegas, NV from November 8-10, provides an opportunity for presidential candidates to address issues that directly impact the Latino and immigrant communities in America and to discuss their vision for the future of the country.

FIRM is a national coalition of grassroots organizations fighting for immigrant rights at the state, local, and federal level.

The forum sessions will be live streamed on The Nation and FIRM’s websites.

WHO:    Democratic Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders (Confirmed)
                Democratic Presidential Candidate Martin O’Malley (Confirmed)
                All Republican and Democratic candidates have been invited
                Fair Immigration Reform Movement
                The Nation
                Over 350 immigrant right advocates

WHAT:   Presidential Forum

WHEN: Sunday, November 8th at 4:00 p.m. PST. (Candidate Martin O’Malley)
               Monday, November 9th at 11:00 a.m. PST (Candidate Bernie Sanders)               

WHERE:  The LINQ Hotel. 3535 S. Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89109


UPDATE  (November 9):  The Washington Post reports that former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley intensified his attacks against the two other Democratic presidential candidates on Sunday.   O’Malley told a meeting of immigration activists in the early caucus state of Nevada that Hillary Rodham Clinton and Bernie Sanders each represent “the failed thinking of the past” and have governed with a strategy of “poll-tested triangulation.”  O’Malley singled out Clinton’s opposition to granting driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants in New York.



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

Ankle Bracelets as an Alternative to Immigration Detention


Photo Courtesy of Latino USA

Latino USA reports on the increasing use of ankle monitors as an alternative to immigrant detention.  Over the last 10 years, immigration officials have been the expanding the use of what they call “alternatives to detention” (ATD) for immigrants released from their custody: ankle monitors, telephone check-ins, home visits and so on. The idea is find ways to ensure that immigrants will show up for court hearings, without needing to detain them for the full period that their case makes its way through the system, which can take years.

Currently, about 12,000 immigrants wearing ankle monitors. By 2016, the Department of Homeland Security plans to expand to 50,000 immigrants on some form of supervision.

Immigrant advocates say the ankle monitors aren’t a true “alternative to detention,” but rather a way to expand the scope of detention and to further punish immigrants living in the U.S. illegally. They point to evidence that more humane tools —like providing legal help to immigrants— are just as effective at getting people to show up to their hearings. And they question how appropriate is it to strap ankle monitors on mothers seeking asylum with their young children, one of the groups that has been seeing more and more use of the monitors.


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

African immigrant population in U.S. steadily climbs

According to a new Pew Research Center study (African immigrant population in U.S. steadily climbs, by Monica Anderson), African immigrants make up a small share of the U.S. immigrant population, but their numbers are growing – roughly doubling every decade since 1970. There were 1.8 million African immigrants living in the U.S. in 2013, up from 881,000 in 2000 and a substantial increase from 1970, when the U.S. was home to only 80,000 foreign-born Africans. They accounted for 4.4% of the immigrant population in 2013, up from 0.8% in 1970.  Check out the link above for more details.


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