Thursday, April 14, 2016

History Teaches Us One Thing: Fear Makes Bad Policy

Guest blogger: Erin Caliri, third-year law student, University of San Francisco

In 1994, President Bill Clinton passed the 1994 Crime Bill. The effects of that bill are still present to this day. The bill set the precedent for mass incarceration, the privatization of prisons, and overcrowding of prisons. In 1994, Americans had a fear of crime, a fear of criminals, and a fear of juvenile “superpredators.” “Lock them up and put them away” was the motto. Incarceration over rehabilitation was the preference.

            Twenty years later, the dialogue shifted. Criminals were no longer the number one target but immigrants were. With the influx of what some called a “surge” of Central Americans migrants, the Obama administration responded. They responded by locking up families and detaining women and children—most who were asylum-eligible and fleeing countries where their lives were at risk and in danger. These women and children were held in detention facilities. These detention facilities are operated like prisons in every sense of the word. These facilities that are even owed and operated by private prison companies.

            In June of 2014, the Artesia Detention Center opened in New Mexico to supplement the additional family detention capacity at Berks facility in Pennsylvania. The location of the Artesia facility was 3.5 hours outside of Albuquerque, the closest major city to the facility. That meant it took at least 3.5 hours for an attorney to see a client—if the woman was even able to find representation to help her asylum case. Because the right to an attorney is not a guaranteed right in immigration proceedings, holding women and children in detention facilities, in a removed and remote location, provides a further obstacle and due process concern for these women and children held in prison-like detention centers.

            The Artesia Detention Center closed in December 2014, but the Obama administration responded with the opening of two additional family detention centers, the Karnes County Residential Center in Karnes City, Texas, and the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas. Despite the attempt to end a “catch and release” policy, the Obama administration’s goal of family detention facilities was the same—eventually deport these women, but have a wait time in between, while treating these women and children like prisoners in the meantime. Give them substandard access to medical care, nutrition, and psychological treatment. Make them subject to room checks and put them in barracks. 

            With the result of these policies, President Obama has deported more people in his presidency than any other president in the history. As the November 2016 election approaches, the Republican and Democratic candidates’ stance on immigration is more important than ever.

At the Democratic debate on February 11, 2016, Hillary Clinton “called for the end of family detention, for the end of privately-run detention centers,” but she also supported Obama’s decision because “we also had to send a message to families and communities in Central America not to send their children on this dangerous journey in the hands of smugglers.” Bernie Sanders pointed out this was the wrong answer and replied, “Who are you sending a message to? These are children who are leaving countries and neighborhoods where their lives are at stake. I don’t think we use them to send a message. I think we welcome them into this country and do the best we can to help them get their lives together.”

On the other side of the spectrum, on February 13, 2016, at the Republican debate, Ted Cruz promised to deport “illegal aliens” and reverse President Obama’s execution action under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Donald Trump’s solution was, “We’re not taking care of our people. We have no border. We have no control. People are flooding across. We can’t have it. I will build a wall. I will build a wall. Remember this, the wall will be paid for by Mexico. We are not being treated right.”

As a national and global concern today, we must make sure that we elect a president who addresses the treatment and acceptance of refugees in the right way, the most tolerant way, the humane way. We cannot continue to detain families and children in prison-like structures. Fear cannot be a motive that drives our decisions because fear has led the United States to be a country of mass incarcerations and mass deportations. We cannot afford to continue using fear as the foundation for implementing bad policy because the effects of these bad policies do not go away.


April 14, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Migrant Deaths and U.S. Border Policy: Human Rights Violated

Guest blogger: Anna Manuel, J.D. Candidate 2017, University of San Francisco, School of Law

During the 1990s and again after 9/11, border security was beefed up around the more frequently traversed migrant paths from Mexico into the U.S. This has caused a funnel-effect wherein migrants are now diverted from safer urban routs into dangerous remote reaches of borderland deserts, primarily in Arizona and Texas. Dangers include scalding hot temperatures during the day, freezing temperatures at night, rough mountainous terrain, desert washes, exceedingly dry or humid environments, poisonous snakes, and lack of drinking water. It is impossible to hand carry the amount of water required to sustain a human for the number of days it takes to reach the safety of a town or residence. Many migrants perish due to exposure and/or dehydration as a result of losing their group and becoming lost in these vastly uninhabited lands; some become too sick or injured to keep up, while others scatter when running from Border Patrol. Between 2000 and 2015, more than 6,000 people died while trying to migrate into the U.S.[1]—presumably, however, many more have in fact perished, their bodies yet to be discovered.

At first blush, these migrant border deaths do not fit squarely into any existing international frameworks for missing persons investigations and related duties owed. These typically include situations of disaster recovery, enforced disappearances, armed conflict, and human rights violations. I would suggest, however, that the crisis at hand does in fact stem from systematic human rights violations. I could begin this human rights discussion by citing some root causes of migration: gang and cartel violence, (U.S. supported) repressive regimes, civil wars in Central America in the 1980s, the failed war on drugs, and economic structural violence resulting from "free trade" policies like the North American Free Trade Agreement. But instead, I will point specifically to U.S. border security policy as facially neutral law that in practice systematically violates human rights.

There is a paradigm in Constitutional Law, which provides that when a U.S. law is not discriminatory on its face but is discriminatory in practice, that law is rendered unconstitutional. Where intent to discriminate can be surmised, courts apply a strict scrutiny test, wherein the law must employ narrowly tailored means to accomplish a compelling state interest in order to survive a Constitutional challenge. Where intent cannot be proven, a rational basis review provides that the state must use reasonably related means to accomplish a legitimate state interest. Here I am not necessarily making a Constitutional argument, but merely drawing a parallel to this paradigm in order to illustrate how a rhetorically innocuous law can in fact be severely injurious in practice.[2]

Heightened border security is not facially contrary to human rights, however, U.S. border policy violates human rights law in practice, rendering it illegal, immoral, and unethical. Here I could proceed with the argument that under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD), border policy discriminates against Latin-American migrants because the U.S.-Mexico border is militarized to extremes unseen anywhere else in the U.S. I could also argue that the Fifth Amendment’s due process clause protects unauthorized migrants inside U.S. borders from said discrimination. But instead, I will more simply point to the fact that these migrants’ fundamental human right to life is being violated. The right to life is codified in every major international treaty, and is accepted customary international law.

The policy interest put forth by the government is prevention through deterrence. The U.S. government intended to make it extremely difficult to enter the country without authorization in order to deter migrants from entering. If we apply either standard of review discussed above to this human rights violation, the law fails. The means, funneling migrants into corridors of death, have not justified the end goal of deterring migrants from entering the U.S. without inspection. It is well established that deterrence is ineffective. Further, when we consider the fact that these policies endure, unchanged, in the face of statistical evidence demonstrating that border policy has in fact brought on substantially higher numbers of border deaths,[3] and has not resulted in deterrence, this particular violation has transformed into a willful, ongoing, and systematic violation of human rights.

When human deaths occur as a result of a State’s human rights violations, certain duties are triggered. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights prescribes that States are obligated to promote observance of human rights. In order to comply, the U.S. must reform harmful border policy. It is also obligated to investigate all U.S.-Mexico border related missing persons cases and to identify unknown migrant remains found at the border, so that families of the missing can know the fates their loved ones. In a resolution on the Right to the Truth, the U.N. Human Rights Council stated that: “adequate steps to identify victims should also be taken in situations not amounting to armed conflict, especially in cases of massive or systematic violations of human rights.”[4] The U.S. also must recognize and classify these border deaths as the humanitarian crisis that it is, and must offer support to organizations that are already working with the families of the missing or utilizing forensic science to address this crisis.


[1] Sarah Illingworth, Identifying the Bodies of Border Crossers, Huffington Post, (April 8, 2015), available at

[2] While Congress’ plenary power over border policy renders it immune to many if not most Constitutional challenges, Congress does not enjoy the same position of impunity where international law is involved. It is ironic then, that the U.S. very often caveats its entrance into international treaties with reservations that where there is conflict between the treaty and the U.S. Constitution, the Constitution controls.

[3] In Pima County, Arizona, only 12 migrant deaths occurred annually on average between 1990 and 1999, whereas the average was 163 deaths per year between 1999 and 2012.

Univ. of Ariz. Binat’l Migration Inst., A Continued Humanitarian Crisis at the Border: Undocumented Border Crosser Deaths Recorded by the Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner, 1990-2012 (2013), available at

[4] U.N. Human Rights Council Res. 21/L.16, 2, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/21/L.16 (Sept. 24, 2012).


April 14, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Frequently Requested Statistics on Immigrants and Immigration in the United States

Migration Information Source provides the latest and historical facts and figures on immigrants and immigration in the United States in this handy resource. With immigration often surfacing in public and political debates, learn the answers to such questions as: How do current immigration flows compare to earlier ones? How many unauthorized immigrants live in the United States? How many refugees are admitted annually? And get answers to many more questions.


April 14, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2015


Secretary's Preface

The 2015 edition of the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices points to a global governance crisis. In every part of the world, we see an accelerating trend by both state and non-state actors to close the space for civil society, to stifle media and Internet freedom, to marginalize opposition voices, and in the most extreme cases, to kill people or drive them from their homes. Some look at these events and fear democracy is in retreat. In fact, they are a reaction to the advance of democratic ideals – to rising demands of people from every culture and region for governments that answer to them.

The frequently grim examples detailed in this Report strengthen our resolve to promote fundamental freedoms, to support human rights defenders, and to document and promote accountability for violations of human rights. We do so because it is right and because it reinforces our interest in a more peaceful world. People everywhere want to be free and in control of their lives. If they are denied basic rights and dignity, they will ultimately stand up for what they want, as we have seen from Syria to Sri Lanka, from Burma to Nigeria. The choice some governments offer between freedom and stability is thus a false one, for freedom is the foundation for lasting stability.

This year we witnessed shocking abuses of human rights, violations of international humanitarian law, and other criminal acts by non-state actors such as Da’esh, Boko Haram, al Shabaab, the Taliban, transnational criminal organizations, and others. The range of abuses included genocide and crimes against humanity directed against religious minorities in Iraq and Syria.

Violent non-state actors do not come from nowhere: they flourish in the absence of credible and effective state institutions, where avenues for free and peaceful expression of opinion are blocked, where court systems lack credibility, where unchecked security forces instill fear in populations, and where even the most basic of day-to-day transactions by citizens with their government are characterized by corruption.

The Report this year continued to track the weakening of institutions that undergird human rights and democracy. In many countries, governments cracked down on the fundamental freedoms of expression and association by jailing reporters for writing critical stories, or sharply restricting or closing non-governmental organizations for promoting supposedly “foreign ideologies” such as universal human rights. Our message to these countries is that, far from threatening the democratic process, a free press and open civil society are the release valve and life blood of a thriving democracy.

We also note the troubling trend among some elected leaders who undermined existing democratic institutions, such as by taking steps to stifle opposition, circumvent the electoral process, and weaken judiciaries, often in an attempt to perpetuate their continued rule.

Corruption, often carried out with impunity, had a corrosive effect on democracy, respect for human rights, and the rule of law. Institutions lose credibility when people can no longer expect a fair and impartial judiciary to address their grievances, obtain basic government services without a bribe, or participate in the political process without their franchise being undermined by corruption. People must have faith in their institutions in order for societies to thrive.

The contents of this report renew our commitment to promoting and protecting universal human rights, to supporting and defending civil society in its peaceful efforts to hold governments accountable, and to working with our partners to advance peace, development, human rights, and democracy.

I hereby transmit the Department of State’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2015 to the United States Congress.

John F. Kerry
Secretary of State

April 14, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Everything You Need to Know About United States v. Texas


Next Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in United States v. Texas, a case brought by Texas and 25 other states challenging federal immigration enforcement policies. The plaintiff states argue that the policies, Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, or DAPA, and the expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or expanded DACA, violate federal immigration law and the president’s constitutional duty to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”

The Center for American Progress prepared the video above explaining its view that a ruling in favor of Texas could threaten to tear apart millions of American families, while dealing a serious blow to national, state, and local economies. 


April 14, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Justice Clarence Thomas in the News


Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is not known for being particularly friendly to the claims of immigrants.  Justice Thomas is in the news, with a new HBO movie (Confirmation) being run this weekend on the controversial confirmation hearings before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee in 1991 in which law professor Anita Hill accused Thomas of sexual harassment.  For a review of the film Confirmation on Slate, click here.

NPR ran an extremely interesting extended interview with Nina Totenberg, who broke the story. 




April 14, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1)

Useful Compilation of Top Current and Historical Facts, Trends on Immigration to United States

In need of current or historical statistics on immigrants in the United States, immigration flows or citizenship and visa trends? The Migration Policy Institute’s online journal, the Migration Information Source, today published its annual compilation of some of the most frequently sought-after U.S. immigration statistics. Frequently Requested Statistics on Immigrants and Immigration in the United States compiles data from MPI, the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. Departments of Homeland Security and State, Mexico's National Population Council and National Institute of Statistics and Geography, and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. The article answers questions such as: What is the size of the overall immigrant population, and how does its share of the total U.S. population compare with earlier eras? How many people immigrate to the United States? How many become U.S. citizens? What is the size of the unauthorized population? What jobs do immigrants hold? How do today's top source countries compare to those in earlier decades?

Among other interesting facts, the article reports that: 

  • The overall immigrant population is at a numerical high, reaching 42.4 million people in 2014. However, the immigrant share of the total U.S. population of 319 million, which stood at 13.3 percent in 2014, remains below the 14.8 percent high recorded in 1890.
  • 1.3 million immigrants moved to the United States in 2014, an 11 percent increase from the 1.2 million who did so in 2013. India was the leading country of origin (147,500 immigrants), followed by China (131,800), Mexico (130,000), Canada (41,200) and the Philippines (40,500).
  • Most immigrants (59 percent) entered the United States prior to 2000, with 29 percent arriving between 2000-2009 and 12 percent entering since 2010.
  • In 2014, 46 percent of immigrants (19.4 million people) reported having Hispanic or Latino origins. Of the 55 million people in 2014 who identified themselves as of Hispanic or Latino origin, 35 percent were immigrants.
  • Between 2000 and 2014, the five states with the largest percent immigrant population growth were Tennessee and Kentucky (102 percent each), Wyoming (101 percent), North Dakota (99 percent) and South Carolina (97 percent).
  • In 2014, approximately 53 percent of all immigrants in the United States had private health insurance (compared to 68 percent of the native born), and 27 percent had public health insurance coverage (compared to 34 percent of the native born).


April 14, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

University of California President Announces Public Service Law Fellowships for All UC Law Schools


University of California President Janet Napolitano announced yesterday a first-of-its-kind systemwide fellowship program to support UC law students and graduates committed to practicing law in service to the public.

The President’s Public Service Law Fellowships Program will award $4.5 million annually to promising law school students at UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UCLA and UC Irvine. The funding will make post-graduate work and summer positions more accessible for students who want to pursue public service legal careers but might otherwise — out of financial need — seek private sector jobs.

The program includes:

  • Post-Graduate Public Service Law Fellowships: The program will provide $45,000 for law school graduates entering public service, plus an additional $2,500 to help defray bar-related costs.
  • Summer Public Service Law Fellowships: The program will provide $4,500 for second year students and $4,000 for first year students pursuing summer public service law positions.
  • UC Washington Program: The program will provide funding to enable UC law students to participate in the UC Washington Program — a vital UC program that gives students real-world public service experience in the nation’s capital.
  • UC National Public Service Law Conference: The program will culminate each year in a national conference on public service law that rotates among the UC law schools. The conference will showcase important legal scholarship and practice and contribute to the national conversation on public interest law.
  • UC Law Public Service Network: Through the program, fellows will have the opportunities to build relationships with other fellows at their school and across the system, creating a new network of UC public service lawyers who will support each other and future generations of UC law graduates.

In all, the fellowship program is expected to create approximately 424 summer fellowships and 58 post-graduate fellowships each year for UC law students.

UC’s four top-ranked law schools have long demonstrated a strong commitment to public interest law. These fellowships will build on that history by making UC’s law schools a destination for top law students interested in public service.

“Lawyers who serve the public interest can use the power of the law to effect positive change and strengthen our democracy,” Napolitano said. “For the benefit of California and the nation, we want to foster the public-service careers of more UC-educated legal scholars.”

The fellowship funds will be distributed proportionately based on the number of law students enrolled at each law school each year. The law schools will manage the application process and select fellowship recipients.


April 14, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigration Article of the Day: Citizens and Aliens in U.S. Courts by Wayne McCormack


Citizens and Aliens in U.S. Courts by Wayne McCormack, University of Utah - S.J. Quinney College of Law March 31, 2016 Culture of Judicial Independence (Shetreet ed. Brill 2016)

Abstract: When asked how foreign nationals (known as aliens) are treated in U.S. courts, the short answer should be "just like citizens," but of course a more complete answer will be a bit more complicated. The basis for equal treatment is found in both the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution: no person shall "be deprived of life, liberty, or property without Due Process of law." The Due Process clause was adapted from the British Magna Carta, which assured that the Crown would follow the "law of the land," a phrase that was later converted to "Due Process of law." The applicability of Due Process to every person and not just to citizens should guarantee the same treatment, with respect both to applicable law and to procedures, for both citizens and aliens. The differences come in areas in which the fact of nationality is relevant to the issues involved.


April 14, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

From Ferguson to Palestine: Disrupting Race-Based Policing



Forthcoming, Vol. 59 Howard Law Journal  (2016)  

Since Michael Brown’s killing, “Ferguson” has become the battle cry of embattled black communities targeted by over-policing and activists protesting racist policing. The battle cry has been all too important, unfortunately, as more than a dozen other police on black shootings occurred over the next several months. The story has become all too familiar. A traffic stop or a call about someone acting out. The target might answer respectfully, blandly, or with some attitude. He or she might sprint to escape, sit still, or glance away with attitude. Whatever the trigger, the cop’s violent reaction can end with another unarmed black man or woman shot in the head. 

This article is based on an understanding that police in many parts of the country often are guilty of abusing their authority in a racist manner. The over-policing of African American communities in many respects can be traced to the “broken windows” model of policing. The model focuses on the importance of disorder (e.g. broken windows) in generating and sustaining more serious crime. The problem is that this approach has evolved into a zero-tolerance mentality in the cop-on-the-street, manifested in constant harassment of young black males. Another problem is Urban Shield, a controversial law enforcement training and weapons expo held in Alameda County every year, where companies that make military-style weaponry market their products to local police and fire departments. Urban Shield is coordinated by the Urban Areas Security Initiative, a key program in the extreme militarization of police departments seen in Ferguson, Baltimore, and many other black communities nationwide. In short, Urban Shield also inculcates law enforcement officials with a hard core enforcement mentality. 

Broken windows policing and Urban Shield represent disruptions in how police work is done. Disruption (a term we may be more familiar with in the technology world) literally uproots and changes how we think, behave, do business, learn and go about our day-to-day. The question for us today is whether we can offer disruptive alternatives to policing that offer real public safety in a manner that is not racist. 

#Black Lives Matter and others are working on disruptive alternatives to create true community policing that is about public safety for all. Their rebellious method of organizing recognizes that meaningful, lasting change can only come about through collaboration with allies with common goals and experiences. Working with the labor movement, immigrant rights groups, Latino and Asian American organizations, and pro-Palestinian leaders represents a strong foundation for collective change. What are the disruptive approaches that will result? More civilian monitoring of the police? Training civilians to be first responders? Better training of police officers in de-escalation techniques? Better integration of police forces? Or something much more innovative and unconventional that is yet to be described? 

 The entire article can be downloaded here. 



April 13, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Embraced, Fighting, and No Longer Ashamed: One of ASPIRE-LA’s co-founders shares his own immigration story

Guest blogger: Giselle Guro, first-year law student, University of San Francisco

Anthony Ng was born and raised in the Philippines along with his sister, parents and grandmother. After his parents’ local supermarket business went bankrupt in the late 1990s, they made the decision to immigrate to the United States. Seeing how much the siblings needed their parents, Ng’s grandmother made the decision to bring them to the United States shortly after his parents had immigrated. As a teenager, Ng had to adapt quickly to the culture shock.

I had difficulty getting accustomed to American culture even though the Philippines is heavily influenced by American culture. I spoke English, but not the same way as Americans do. I remember being made fun of for having a thick accent and for continuing mannerisms that I learned growing up, like standing up to answers a teacher’s question. There were moments in my teenage years where I was ashamed of my Filipino and immigrant identity because of how I was treated and how people saw me.

Ng was able to assimilate into American culture after a few years and decided to focus on education as the way to a better life. He viewed his potential success in academia--reinforced by the positive feedback of his educators--as a manifestation of his parents’ hard work for a better life. Then he discovered that he was an undocumented immigrant. When trying to apply for a summer internship in Washington D.C., he asked his mom for his social security number. She was unable to answer him, and he realized he didn’t have one.

The difficulties that came with his undocumented status manifested when it was time to apply for college. Ng had a limited selection of schools he could apply to and was uncertain if he could even attend a 4-year university since undocumented students could not receive any financial aid. He could not get a State ID or a driver’s license, and did not have access to the same resources, programs, and services that citizens or legal permanent residents received. Fortunately, in 2012, he became eligible to apply for DACA and has been able to attend college, go to work, and enjoy limited access to resources, programs, and services that were unavailable to him before.

In college, Ng became inspired by his peers and his activism flourished. Issues that touched upon his Filipino heritage, such as seeking justice for Filipino WWII Veterans, as well as the campus climate amidst rising tuition gave him the fire to continue his activism after graduating. He learned of an internship program called The Dream Summer through the UCLA Labor Center that placed immigrant youth with nonprofit organizations to develop undocumented youth into leaders in the immigrant rights and social justice movements. Ng was placed at Asian Americans Advancing Justice-LA (AAAJ-LA) where he worked on immigrant rights policy and helped create safe spaces for undocumented API youth. It was during this internship where he met members of ASPIRE, the first undocumented API youth led organization in the United States. In 2012, at ASPIRE’s state-wide retreat, he connected with a member of ASPIRE UCLA, a student group that aimed to “strengthen and unify the undocumented Asian students both on and off campus.” With the help of AAAJ-LA, Ng and others helped transition ASPIRE UCLA into ASPIRE-LA* to target the greater Los Angeles area.

            My role is to help provide guidance to the organization. I have mentored many of our members in my 4 years of involvement in ASPIRE-LA as well as help build out our membership and infrastructure. Hearing stories a day to day basis of families who have suffered deportation, how immigrants are treated while in detention, and stories on how and why our immigration system is broken impacts the way I approach my work. It shows me how resilient we are as a community. 

With all the work he is doing, Ng somehow manages to maintain hobbies including cooking, binge-watching shows, running, and of course, hanging out with friends. He says he is lucky to live in a fairly progressive and immigrant friendly state that creates a more normal life compared to others who live in conservative/anti-immigrant states. Currently, Ng supervises the part-time ASPIRE-LA organizer who leads the day to day operations. In addition to working at ASPIRE-LA and AAAJ-LA, he is the Policy Advocate under the Immigrant Rights Project. After focusing on immigrant youth organizing for his first two years, he now leads the project and its immigrant rights policy work.

            I’ve learned a lot about the injustices that various immigrant communities face, such as the inhumane treatments of detained immigrants and the fact that private corporations that have been linked to anti-immigrant legislation benefit from the detention of immigrants. For me, fixing The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, which is causing the current deportation crisis, is a priority.

Ng’s specific focus on immigration reform is an issue that he takes to heart.

Being undocumented means I can’t visit my family back home to mourn deaths or even be there to celebrate momentous occasions. In a society where having status dictates your life, being undocumented creates many barriers, as well as shows how outdated our policies are when it comes to immigrant communities. We need to address our broken immigration system, ensuring that families are kept together. We must continue to figure out how to welcome all immigrants of all walks of life and help integrate them into society by providing services and programs addressing their needs.

For more information about ASPIRE-LA click here and here.

*ASPIRE & ASPIRE-LA are sister organizations who share a name, but are autonomous.


April 13, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

CNN's Faces of a divided island

Faces of a divided island is an in-depth story by CNN on the relationship between island neighbors Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

CNN approaches the issue through vignettes - tales of individuals affected by the struggles between the DR and Haiti over immigration, nationality, and belonging. 


April 13, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Trump Spokeswoman Fires Back at Zuckerberg, And It's Hillarious

Katrina Pierson

So, yesterday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg criticized some of Donald Trump's immigration plans. Zuckerberg didn't mention Trump by name, but he did speak about "fearful voices calling for building walls and distancing people they label as others..."

Trump spokeswoman Katrina Pierson fired back:

"Self-righteousness isn’t very proactive: We can talk about taxes, we can talk about jobs and even immigration, but that doesn’t really put food on the table and save lives... I think I’ll take Mark Zuckerberg seriously when he gives up all of his private security, moves out of his posh neighborhood, and comes to live in a modest neighborhood near a border town."

This has to be one of the oddest statements put forth by a candidate's proxy. Is the implication that Trump is more connected to the issue of immigration? And if so, why? Because he has given up his private security, moved out of his posh neighborhood, and come to live in a modest neighborhood near a border town? Hmmm.


April 13, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Webinar: The Syrian Refugee Crisis: Methods for Credential Assessment


The Syrian Refugee Crisis: Methods for Credential Assessment Friday, April 22, 2016, 2-3 pm EDT
World Education Services is presenting a webinar on the Syrian refugee crisis.  Conflicts such as the civil war in Syria result in millions of refugees and displaced people, who often find themselves in new countries where their educational and professional backgrounds are not easily recognized. Canada and the United States are among the major host countries of refugees and are planning to take in larger numbers in the coming years. This webinar will give a brief overview of the Syrian education system, the refugee crisis, and discuss issues surrounding credential assessment for refugees with limited documentation. We will also cover assessment practices from a range of countries and describe WES methodology for assessing credentials held by refugees. These practices will hopefully aid institutions in their efforts to assist refugee applicants.

Topics Covered: 
  • Syrian refugee crisis and what’s being done to help
  • Overview of the education system in Syria
  • WES assessment method of refugee academic documents from Syria and potential challenges
  • How the educational community (e.g., academic institutions, licensing boards, school districts) can assist in the assessment process

Note: Registration is limited to participants working at colleges, universities or nonprofit organizations. Please be sure to use your institution/organization email address for prompt approval.



April 13, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigration Article of the Day: Actually, Padilla Does Apply to Undocumented Defendants by Daniel A. Horwitz


Actually, Padilla Does Apply to Undocumented Defendants by Daniel A. Horwitz Independent Accepted September 2015 19 Harvard Latino Law Review, __ (2016 Forthcoming)

Abstract: In Padilla v. Kentucky, the U.S. Supreme Court held that non-citizen defendants who accept guilty pleas as a consequence of having received incompetent immigration advice are entitled to withdraw their pleas if they can “convince the court that a decision to reject the plea bargain would have been rational under the circumstances.” To date, however, a nearly unanimous line of authority that includes two U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals, seven U.S. District Courts, trial and appellate courts in four states, and at least one academic scholar has concluded in some form or fashion that “Padilla applies only to those who were present in the country lawfully at the time of the plea.” Specifically, these authorities have reasoned that because “a guilty plea does not increase the risk of deportation” for undocumented defendants, “in a situation where a defendant seeks to withdraw a plea based on Padilla, and alleges lack of knowledge of the risk of deportation, prejudice cannot be established[.]” In other words, these authorities conclude, regardless of either the breadth or the magnitude of their counsel’s incompetent immigration advice, undocumented defendants are never entitled to relief under Padilla because they are categorically incapable of satisfying Padilla’s “prejudice” prong.

These contrary authorities notwithstanding, however, this Article argues that Padilla does apply to undocumented defendants. Four reasons are offered to support this view. First, the contrary conclusion neglects the legal and practical reality that a guilty plea frequently does increase the risk of deportation for undocumented defendants. Second, regardless of the fact that there are myriad situations in which a guilty plea can cause an undocumented defendant to be deported who otherwise would not have been, the test for prejudice under Padilla is not whether a non-citizen defendant would have been deported anyway; instead, the applicable test is whether “a decision to reject the plea bargain would have been rational under the circumstances.” Third, the contention that Padilla does not protect undocumented defendants undermines the underlying purpose of the right to effective assistance of counsel itself: to prevent inaccurate convictions. Fourth, Padilla held without equivocation that: “It is our responsibility under the Constitution to ensure that no criminal defendant — whether a citizen or not — is left to the ‘mercies of incompetent counsel,’” and because this holding expressly includes undocumented defendants, lower courts lack the authority to ignore it.

Taken together, this Article concludes that future courts should reject the prevailing view that Padilla does not apply to undocumented defendants and should hold instead that undocumented defendants’ Padilla claims must be carefully reviewed for prejudice on a case-by-case basis.


April 13, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Donald Trump To Visit Long Island Village With Painful Immigration History

From the Bookshelves: Voices of the Undocumented by Val Rosenfeld and Flor Fortunati


Voices of the Undocumented by Val Rosenfeld and Flor Fortunati

America is in the midst of a daily debate about the issue of undocumented workers. It seems that every day there is another controversy about immigration in the news. Most Americans read these articles and look upon the undocumented immigrants as an undifferentiated block of people. Few seem to truly understand them as individuals, how they got here and their personal stories. This non-fiction book, Voices of the Undocumented, tells the stories of nine undocumented individuals, their struggles as day workers, how their lives are in limbo and their hopes for a better future. This is not a political book. The purpose of these life stories is to give these faceless people a voice.

From the heartbreaking story of Salvador (an illiterate Mexican farm worker who entered the U.S. illegally four times), to Ernesto (an educated Peruvian womanizer), to the amazing accomplishments of Rocío (a graduate of a prestigious university), Voices of the Undocumented relates poignant accounts of the undocumented workers' lives. One must know the stories to truly know the people.

Val Rosenfeld is retired and lives in Los Altos, California.  She has been a volunteer with various organizations and is currently an ESL teacher at the Day Worker Center of Mountain View, California.  She has an MBA degree from the University of Santa Clara and worked in corporate finance for several high-technology companies.

Flor Fortunati lives in Sunnyvale, California.  She is from Buenos Aires, Argentina and is temporarily living in the United States. She is currently a volunteer at the Day Worker Center of Mountain View. She graduated from the Universidad de Buenos Aires with a degree in Chemical Engineering. Before moving to the United Sates in 2013, she worked for various petroleum companies.


April 13, 2016 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Mark Zuckerberg Talks Immigration At F8

F8 (be cool and pronounce it "eff-eight") is Facebook's annual conference for the company's developers and entrepreneurs. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's keynote speech at today's F8 started with a message of connectivity: "We stand for connecting every person. For a global community. For bringing people together." 

And then it took a decidedly immigration turn:

"I'm starting to see people and nations turning inward. Against this idea of a connected world and a global community. I hear fearful voices calling for building walls and distancing people they label as others, for blocking free expression, for slowing immigration, reducing trade... You have to be optimistic to think you can change the world.... Whether we're welcoming a refugee fleeing war or an immigrant seeking new opportunity... I hope that we have the courage to see that the path forward is to bring people together, not  push people apart. To connect more, not less. We are one global community."

You can listen to his full remarks below. Jump to 3:07 to listen to his comments on immigration.



April 12, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

SG's Reply Brief in United States v. Texas

Here is the Solicitor General's reply brief in United States v. Texas.


April 12, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigration Article of the Day: Applying the U.S. Constitution to Foreign Asylum-Seekers: Exposing a Curious, Inconsistent Practice in the Federal Courts by Shalini Bhargava Ray


Applying the U.S. Constitution to Foreign Asylum-Seekers: Exposing a Curious, Inconsistent Practice in the Federal Courts by Shalini Bhargava Ray, University of Florida - Levin College of Law March 29, 2016 Marquette Law Review, 2016, Forthcoming

Abstract: Asylum law is based on an international treaty, but federal courts routinely invoke U.S. constitutional norms in adjudicating asylum claims. Specifically, they rely on constitutional norms when gauging whether an asylum applicant has suffered harm amounting to “persecution” and whether the harm was inflicted “on account of” a protected characteristic, such as political opinion or religion. In a close analysis of this unusual practice, this Article argues that federal courts have come to inconsistent, and often incompatible, conclusions regarding the use of constitutional norms in the analysis of asylum claims: principally, on whether constitutional norms establish sufficient, insufficient, necessary, or unnecessary conditions for qualifying for asylum. Moreover, some courts discuss constitutional norms explicitly while others completely ignore relevant constitutional norms or use them only implicitly. In addition to exposing these inconsistencies, this Article offers insights into improving the current practice of using constitutional norms in deciding asylum cases. Ultimately, this Article seeks to start a larger discussion on the relationship between U.S. constitutional law and international human rights law - what it is and what it should be.


April 12, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)