Tuesday, July 5, 2016
Liam Neeson is an actor from Northern Ireland. Neeson rose to prominence when he starred in the title role in Steven Spielberg's 1993 Oscar winner Schindler's List. He has since starred in many other successful films, including Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999). In more recent years, Neeson has starred in the action thriller series Taken (2008–15). He has been nominated for a number of awards, including an Academy Award for Best Actor.
Neeson and his family are New Yorkers. In 2009, Neeson revealed on ABC's Good Morning America that he had recently naturalized as a U.S. citizen. Interviewer Diane Sawyer asked Neeson how he and the boys had been getting along since Natasha Richardson's death. Neeson responded:
"I'm still getting extraordinary condolence letters from American people, that's deeply, deeply touching. And that's partly the reason why I've recently become an American citizen. I've been living here for 20 years and America's been very, very good to me. I'm still a proud Irishman, of course, but I've become an American citizen and I'm very proud of that."
Monday, July 4, 2016
In the waning days of the 2015 Term, the Supreme Court announced a two-line “non-decision” in the continuing battle over immigration reform. A political case if there ever was one, Texas and 26 states brought the suit, alleging that President Obama usurped his authority when he issued a “guidance” articulating direction for the Department of Homeland Security in exercising prosecutorial discretion in deciding how to focus limited resources on whom to attempt to remove from the United States. At bottom, the Republican-led states opposed the policy and the President on political grounds and found a federal judge with similar political leanings
Anil Kalhan’s critique of the Court’s effective endorsement of “Trumpisprudence” highlights Judge Andrew Hanen’s anti-immigrant hostility and the states’ dubious legal claims. The district court order enjoining the expanded deferred action programs played fast-and-loose with the facts and the law.
When the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was announced in 2012, almost 2/3 of U.S. adults supported the program. The 2014 Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) program would have provided the possibility of temporary relief from removal and work authorization for parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents. The expanded DACA provision would have increased the scope of temporary relief.
The President’s deferred action programs did not put an end to the enforcement of the U.S. immigration laws. Nor did they provide anything more than temporary and limited relief to some of the 11-12 million undocumented residents of the United States. As the President admits, only Congress can create a path to legalization for this or any other class of noncitizens. However, with anti-immigrant sentiments fanned by many, including Donald Trump, the states sought to derail even a limited form of relief for undocumented immigrants
The demonization of immigrants, especially those from Mexico, should not be surprising in these times. In the midst of continuing economic disparities, the United States and Europe have witnessed xenophobic outbursts reminiscent of darker historic times. Such racist xenophobia has culminated abroad with the vote by the British people to leave the European Union.
Even refugees seeking safe haven in the United States have been characterized as criminals. In addition to Donald Trump’s rhetoric, the metaphorical criminalization of refugees is in no small part a result of the Obama administration’s decision to detain immigrants and asylum seekers, as if they were criminals. In evaluating immigrant detention, Mariela Olivares has suggested that refugees are the new commodities in the private prison industrial complex.
In the onslaught on immigrants from the Right, advocates for immigrants might change tactics in light of the outcome of United States v. Texas. Instead of focusing on policies on behalf of “innocent” undocumented persons and their families, it may be an appropriate time to take a deeper look at the administration’s removal priorities and examine this category of “criminal aliens” subject to removal.
Deferred action is a form of prosecutorial discretion directing removal resources away from a narrow class of recipients, and directs resources toward “criminal aliens.” In the November 2014 announcement of DAPA and expanded DACA, President Obama also emphasized that “criminal aliens” would be the focus of immigration removal efforts - “felons, not families.”
Some of the “felons” the President was referring to, according to priorities for deportation under the new Priority Enforcement Program (PEP), which replaced the much-maligned and overbroad Secure Communities, includes noncitizens convicted of misdemeanors and those without criminal histories at all. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson described the number of convicted criminals removed as reflecting DHS’s “focus on prioritizing convicted criminals and threats to public safety.” Unfortunately, PEP may be as overbroad as Secure Communities with respect to who is defined and deported, as a “criminal alien.”
Moreover, even more problematic is the immigration removal system’s reliance on the criminal justice system. PEP leaves in place a system that inherently relies on the criminal justice system’s definition of criminality, rife with racial bias and over-criminalization.
The “criminal alien” priority deserves exploration as mass detention and record numbers of removals have failed to increase safety and security and is the result of a failed drug war. Michele Alexander has deemed the prison industrial complex the “New Jim Crow.”
The way in which racial bias inherent in the criminal justice system impacts immigration removals is demonstrated by the fact that, even under the new PEP, more than 95 percent of the “criminal aliens” removed are from Mexico or Central America, even though foreign nationals from those countries make up less than half the immigrant population in the United States. See here. Latina/os are disproportionately deported because the criminal justice system targets them for law enforcement.
At a time when federal and state policies are scaling back criminalization and focusing on rehabilitation, not incarceration in the war on drugs, the immigration removal system is moving in the opposite direction. Angélica Chárazo notes that, even while politicians across the political spectrum have called for reform to the criminal justice system, the immigration removal system continues to incorporate the problematic paradigm of the criminal justice system. Immigration law’s reliance on criminality to prioritize immigrants for removal reproduces demarcations “along lines of race, class and other vectors of social vulnerability.”
As the trajectory of immigration reform has demonstrated, there is no right or good time to advocate for legalization or fair treatment for “innocent” undocumented immigrants. To the extent that Democrats have attempted to compromise with Republicans to focus on deporting “criminal aliens” while attempting to benefit undocumented immigrants and refugees, the result has been record numbers of removals of a broad array of “criminal aliens” and little relief for undocumented immigrants and refugees.
It is time to return to the political drawing board. The Court’s non-decision in United States v. Texas underscores the political nature of the problem and the significance of Congress’ failure to reform the immigration laws. Given the racial impacts of the modern removal apparatus, civil rights and anti-racist ideologies may need to play a greater role in immigration reform discussions, including even reconsideration of the “criminal alien” category.
Perhaps one of the lessons learned from both the outcome of the Texas litigation, and the Trump campaign, is to double down on our advocacy for those deemed as least deserving of respect and a path out of the shadows.
Today we celebrate the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. Some of the words are familiar to us all -- "We hold these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal." (Thanks to Lin Manuel Miranda, I'll forever sing those words.)
But you may not be familiar with that portion of the declaration charging the King of Great Britain with "a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States." Check out this one:
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
Seattle Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano got his name from his father, who admired baseball great Jackie Robinson. Born in the Dominican Republic, Cano came to the United States to play baseball. In 2012, Cano became a U.S. citizen.
Cano was born Oct. 22, 1982 in San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic. The city is often called “The Cradle of Shortstops” because so many of them have come out of this city. His father, Jose Cano, played briefly with the Houston Astros in the 1980s Cano spent most of this childhood in the Dominican Republic.
Canó is a six-time All-Star (2006, 2010–2014) and five-time Silver Slugger Award winner (2006, 2010–2013). He won two Gold Glove Awards (2010, 2012) and has been named American League Player of the Month twice (September 2006, April 2010). In 2011, Canó won the Home Run Derby. He was a member of the Yankees' 2009 World Series championship team and the Dominican Republic's 2013 World Baseball Classic championship team, for which he won the tournament's most valuable player award.
The White House blog states that President Obama and his family will again celebrate the Fourth of July with members of the armed forces, veterans, and their families. This year, the United Service Organizations (USO) - a partner of the Joining Forces Initiative - is observing its 75th anniversary across 180 locations around the world, including the Middle East, Europe, Asia, the South Pacific, and of course at the White House.
The USO will host a special program on the South Lawn featuring remarks from the President, performances by Grammy-award winning musical guests, and a dazzling fireworks display. You can tune in to share the fun at Whitehouse.gov/Fourth-of-July.
Sunday, July 3, 2016
United States v. Texas: The Supreme Court Punts, Returns the Political Question of Immigration Reform to Congress
A little over a week ago, an equally divided Supreme Court left intact a lower court injunction barring the implementation of a major immigration initiative of the Obama administration. The program and litigation had proven to be controversial. Not surprisingly, most of the voluminous commentary about the case has focused on the power of the President vis-à-vis Congress to regulate immigration, the plight of the undocumented immigrants who might have been eligible for temporary reprieve under the program, the role of the states in future immigration policies, and related issues.
It should not be surprising that little of the commentary has focused on the real legal issues before the Supreme Court. Raising legal issues that only a law professor could love, the case really is about something much deeper and much more important to the United States. The case is simply the latest skirmish in the long political debate over immigration reform. As seen with the recent Brexit vote – in which concerns with immigration contributed to passage of a referendum removing the United Kingdom from the European Union, American immigration politics – as historically has been the case -- can be messy, divisive, and heated.
With no success, Congress has debated comprehensive immigration reform bills for more than a decade. Some versions of the reform bills would have offered a path to legalization for the 11-12 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States. Various incarnations of the DREAM Act would have provided relief to undocumented youth.
Because of the lengthy stalemate in Congress, President Barack Obama announced measured, limited, and temporary steps to address some of the issues facing this nation’s undocumented immigrants.
In November 2014, the Obama administration announced a “deferred action” program, Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) for the undocumented parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents. The program built on the previous Deferred Action Program for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which was implemented in the summer of 2012. DACA provided limited and temporary relief to hundreds of thousands of undocumented young people and was viewed as a ray of hope at a time when improvements through congressional action looked bleak. DAPA would have provided similar relief to many more.
“Deferred action” is fancy language that means that the U.S. government will not focus on removing undocumented immigrants who are otherwise law-abiding. It is a kind of prosecutorial discretion routinely employed by government in the enforcement of the law. Deferred action is not a path to legalization or citizenship and should not be mistaken as some kind of “amnesty.” It instead is a temporary reprieve from removal, revocable at the will of the Executive Branch (and thus by a new President).
Nobody, including President Obama, disputes that only Congress could create a durable path to legalization or citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
Although cloaked in the language of the law, the simple truth of the matter was that the Republican governor of Texas and 26 states did not agree with the Democratic administration’s policy choices. And, politically, they had little use for President Obama. They sued in federal court to put the immigration plan on hold and ultimately ended one of the Obama administration’s signature immigration measures. Fortunately, the Supreme Court with its even split did not create precedent that would allow the states in the future to pursue litigation for partisan political ends.
In the end, what began as a political question will return to the political arena after the Supreme Court’s non-decision in United States v. Texas. The question of immigration reform will return to Congress.
But even if the Supreme Court had upheld the administration’s immigration programs, Congress would still have needed – as it does now -- to address immigration reform. Deferred action does not offer permanent relief for the millions of undocumented immigrants like that which would be provided by many comprehensive immigration reform proposals. Indeed, a future president – a President Donald Trump, for example – might try to deport any and all deferred action recipients.
As the outcome of United States v. Texas should make clear, congressional action is necessary to reform the immigration laws. As most knowledgeable observers agree, the mass deportation of the millions of undocumented immigrants who are parts of our communities simply is not feasible. Consequently, some kind of path to legalization of undocumented immigrants is needed. Most informed observers further agree that reform of the legal immigration provisions of the laws is needed. Last but not least, many Americans believe that we need better enforcement measures All of these aspects of immigration reform raise thorny political questions that require careful deliberation and rational discourse..
In the end, the nation needs to think about how we achieve meaningful and lasting immigration reform that works.
The fall 2015 issue of the Washburn Law Journal is devoted to immigration Check it out!.
The Foulston Siefkin Lecture
The President’s Dilemma: Executive Authority, Enforcement, and the Rule of Law in Immigration Law (307 KB PDF)
Articles & Essays
Immigration Inside the Law (120 KB PDF)
Not So Simple: How "Simple" Assault and Battery Became Distorted in the Context of Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude (183 KB PDF)
The Sudden Embrace of Executive Discretion in Immigration Law (339 KB PDF)
DAPA and the Future of Immigration Law as Administrative Law (148 KB PDF)
When Two Wrongs Make a Right: Deferred Action and the Rule of Law — A Response to Hiroshi Motomura (173 KB PDF)
The New Era of Presidential Immigration Law (143 KB PDF)
Deferred Action: Considering What is Lost (158 KB PDF)
Deferred Action and the Bounds of Agency Discretion: Reconciling Policy and Legality in Immigration Enforcement (276 KB PDF)
Crimmigration Creep: Reframing Executive Action on Immigration (175 KB PDF)
The President and Deportation: DACA, DAPA, and the Sources and Limits of Executive Authority — Response to Hiroshi Motomura (127 KB PDF)
Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia
Demanding Identity Papers (274 KB PDF)
Rafael Bernal on The Hill reports that the Democratic Party delivered a huge win to immigration activists in its party platform draft released last week, taking a liberal stance in sharp contrast to Republican proposals. The party called immigration "a defining aspect of the American character and history."
The draft platform calls for a path to citizenship "for law-abiding families who are here," the defense of President Obama's executive actions on immigration, the end of immigration raids against children and families, due process for "those fleeing violence in Central America," and to rescind statutory bans on immigrants who modify their status in the country.
The platform calls religious tests for entry un-American and explicitly mentions Trump and his rhetoric. "Finally, Democrats will not stand for the divisive and derogatory language of Donald Trump. His offensive comments about immigrants and other communities have no place in our society. This kind of rhetoric must be rejected,” the platform reads.
The draft platform contrasts sharply with the 2012 version, which also touted the need for comprehensive immigration reform, but stated that undocumented immigrants should "get right with the law, learn English, and pay taxes in order to get on a path to earn citizenship." The Democrats seek to energize the Latino electorate, after the Obama administration's promises of comprehensive immigration reform and perceived heavy-handed enforcement policies.
Elie Wiesel, the Auschwitz survivor who seared the memory of the Holocaust on the world’s conscience, died on Saturday at his home in Manhattan. He was 87.. Wiesel was the author of several dozen books and was a charismatic lecturer and humanities professor. In 1986, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Wiesel, who had been liberated from Buchenwald as a 16-year-old with the tattoo A-7713 on his arm, gradually exhumed the Holocaust from the burial ground of the history books.
Buchenwald concentration camp, photo taken April 16, 1945, five days after liberation of the camp. Wiesel is in the second row from the bottom, seventh from the left, next to the bunk post.
Saturday, July 2, 2016
Friday, July 1, 2016
This story is nothing less than an immigration nightmare! .
Bubacarr Jobe was born in Gambia, a tiny West African nation where a third of the population earns less than $1.25 a day. His passage to his soccer dream consisted of flights to Senegal, Morocco, Newark (N.J.), St. Louis, Memphis and finally Houston. Jobe, or “Buba” as he’s known, misses those Houston skyscrapers. There’s a chance he won’t see them again, because Bubacarr Jobe is a young man has an immigration crisis. He is an athlete with a team but without a country.
Buba Jobe’s journey to the United States began in 2011. When he arrived in Texas, just 16 years old, he found himself stunned by luxuries like hot water and electricity and baffled by animals who lived inside people’s homes.
Soon after he got to Houston, Buba tore his ACL. The coach of the Rush, Don Gemmell, along with his wife, Brooke, took him in. Through the rehab, the three became close.
Gemmell hoped to help Buba stay in the U.S., and a lawyer advised him to obtain a Special Immigrant Juvenile Visa. The family went ahead. But before that process was complete, Buba turned 18 and his visitor’s visa had expired.
“He became unlawfully present,” says John Sandweg, a former general counsel for the Department of Homeland Security. “He became illegal.”
The family wasn’t aware of this mistake until they traveled to Canada to apply for the new visa at the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa. Officials there looked at his case, immediately saw that Buba was in the U.S. without a valid visa, and banned him from returning to the States for 10 years.
“We were horrified,” Gemmell says. “My wife was in tears. So here we are in Ottawa. We have to put him on a train to Toronto to my hometown. Buba has never set foot on a train. It was so gut-wrenching saying goodbye. He was supposed to come back and play in the USL (United Soccer League).”
The Gemmells went back to Texas. Buba went to London, Ontario, to stay with Gemmell’s extended family.
“We all go to Canada and then I get rejected and they have to go back to the USA,” Buba says. “It was scary.”
Buba remains separated from his only family in the US while he lives in Canada.
President and General Counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Foundation (MALDEF) Thomas A. Saenz, whose recent U.S. Supreme Court argument on behalf of immigrant mothers underscored the human impact of immigration policy, presented as the keynote speaker at the American Immigration Lawyer's Association annual conference.
"Donald Trump's latest jab at Mexico is taking off.
The U.S. Government has placed unnecessary hurdles in front of asylum seekers who are attempting to file asylum applications within the required )one year) time period. In fact, bureaucratic obstacles, a well-documented court backlog, and jurisdictional disputes between agencies often make it impossible for individuals to file their asylum applications by the deadline, leaving them ineligible for asylum and subject to deportation.
In an attempt to bring order and fairness to what has become an overly bureaucratic and chaotic process, today, 4 asylum-seekers filed a class action lawsuit challenging the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) failure to advise them of the deadline for filing their asylum applications, as well as both DHS’s and the immigration courts’ failure to adopt procedures which would ensure that an individual is able to file an asylum application by the deadline.
Plaintiffs, represented by the American Immigration Council, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, Dobrin & Han, PC, and the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, sue on behalf of themselves and all other individuals in the United States who are in the same situation.
The immigration statute imposes a one-year deadline within which an asylum seeker must apply for asylum. With very limited exceptions, an individual who misses this deadline becomes ineligible for asylum. Despite these dire consequences, DHS agents and officers do not notify asylum-seekers of the one-year deadline for filing. Additionally, neither DHS nor the immigration courts have adopted procedures to ensure that an individual is able to file an asylum application within one year. Many applicants and their attorneys take extraordinary steps to attempt to file, but even then have no guarantee that DHS or the immigration will find that the deadline was met.
“It is inexcusable that DHS and EOIR—fully aware that their own case backlogs and bureaucratic stumbling blocks prevent many asylum-seekers from filing on time—have not adopted national, uniform procedures to remedy the situation,” said Mary Kenney, Senior Attorney with the American Immigration Council.
“In many cases, trying to comply with the one-year filing deadline is nothing but a wild-goose chase; timely filing an asylum application in open court is simply impossible when court hearings are routinely scheduled a year or more after the person's arrival,” explained Trina Realmuto, Litigation Director of the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild.
“Our Constitution and immigration laws require a fair process,” said Matt Adams, Legal Director for Northwest Immigrant Rights Project. “The government must make the rules clear, ensuring that those who qualify for asylum have a genuine opportunity to apply.”
“The United States must continue to be a place of refuge for those fleeing harm in their home countries,” said Hilary Han, a partner at Dobrin & Han, PC. “The government has failed to honor our obligation to genuine asylum seekers by making it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for them to file their asylum applications in a timely manner.”
The complaint can be viewed here.
Law professors and commentators have focused generally on the legal aspects of the Supreme Court deadlock in United States v, Texas. We should not forget the very human impacts on people, families, and communities of delays in providing relief to vulnerable residents. This news story about a town hall on immigration at a NYC public library reminds us of the human impacts of the law.
Here is more on a story that Jennifer Koh previously blogged about. A federal judge in Tucson, Arizona, approved the release of some photos and documents filed as evidence in a class action lawsuit against US Customs and Border Protection over allegedly deplorable conditions in eight detention facilities.
US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) told the court that even a partial release of the photographs and documents would invade the privacy rights of immigrants and jeopardize security at border patrol facilities.
Judge David Bury, in an order filed earlier this week, dismissed those concerns and ordered the unsealing of certain photos and documents.
The documents are CBP inspection reports covering the recurring problems with lighting, air conditioning and surveillance cameras not working properly in the facilities. One report pointed out video monitors as well as holding room audio and video loops “have been inoperable for over two years.”
The class-action lawsuit was filed on behalf of immigrants who were held at eight detention facilities in southern Arizona. A coalition of advocates and lawyers, including the American Immigration Council in Washington, DC and Morrison & Foerster LLP, claim immigrants were held in unsanitary and inhumane conditions, subjected to cold and deprived of sleep by the border enforcement’s Tucson Sector.
The U.S. Border Patrol has a long history of excessive use of force and accompanying controversy. Most recently, Brian Bennett of the Los Angeles Times reports that border officials for the first time have publicly released the conclusions of internal investigations of agents who opened fire while on duty, ruling that officers had acted properly in four shootings.
The reviews were conducted by an internal panel that the U.S. Customs and Border Protection service set up to address a troubling pattern of agents’ use of deadly force, according to a summary of the reviews published online Thursday. Fourteen other shootings are still being investigated.
The Border Patrol has more than doubled in size in the past decade, growing to more than 21,000 agents. With that expansion, the level of experience of agents in the field has declined, according to a report by the Congressional Research Service.
For more than two years, Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske has been under pressure to reform the agency, which has been plagued by problematic lethal shootings and a lack of accountability. Last week, Kerlikowske named a senior FBI official, Mark Morgan, to head the Border Patrol, the first outsider to lead the force in its 92-year history.