Wednesday, August 3, 2016

2014 Yearbook of Immigration Statistics Now Available

The 2014 Yearbook of Immigration Statistics, released by the DHS Office of Immigration Statistics,  is now available here


August 3, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Amazing Profiles of Athletes on the Refugee Olympics Team


The British publication The Daily Mirror contains this inspirational series of profiles on the ten members of the first Refugee Olympics Athletic Team. The team includes "two Syrian swimmers, two judokas from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a marathoner from Ethiopia and five middle-distance runners from South Sudan."  I'm looking forward to cheering on these athletes in the weeks to come. 


August 3, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigration Article of the Day: "Cuba Nos Une": Ending the Cuban Adjustment Act by Carmen M. Cusack


"Cuba Nos Une": Ending the Cuban Adjustment Act by Carmen M. Cusack, Nova Southeastern University, January 1, 2016, Journal of Law and Social Deviance, 11, 1-53, 2016

Abstract: Because opportunity costs and expenditures continue to take their toll on the American economy, and prospects for growth within Cuba, many Cuban Americans are calling for an end to benefits and special treatment. Pundits believe that the American government should end special benefits for Cubans, which may help to reduce incentives for Cubans crossing Latin American and Mexican borders heading for the United States at a rate of more than 13,000 each year, which does not exceed the 20,000 visas annually reserved for Cubans. These exoduses are closely linked to lucrative, yet dangerous, human trafficking operations, meanwhile each report of refugees at sea that instigates a search by the U.S. Coast Guard costs any from a couple of thousand dollars per hour for helicopter searches and tens of thousands of dollars for the use of a small plane (i.e. C130) to search. Ending benefits not only reduces Cubans’ interest in violating American immigration policies by working with human traffickers, it could allow Americans an opportunity appropriately to allocate resources to drug interdiction and prevention of terrorism at the border rather than focusing on droves of Cubans demanding benefits and residency. At this time in Cuban-American political history, American policies need not encourage international violations that negate Cuba’s sovereignty, but rather, the United States should reform immigration policies to benefit both nations and their people. This article discusses these five issues in detail. Section Three discusses money wasted on persecuting the Cuban Five, and political missteps created by the United States in response to the Cuban Five. Section Four outlines special citizenship processes applicable only to Cubans entering the United States; and Section Five explains entitlements to benefits possessed by Cuban Americans. Section Six explains relationships between human trafficking, Cubans, and homeland security. Section Seven concludes that for the foregoing reasons, now is the time to discontinue special treatment of Cuban refugees in the United States, end wasteful spending practices, and invest in strategies that benefit relations between the United States and Cuba.


August 3, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Border Patrol website gives advice on eluding Border Patrol? Or, Making Defensible Enforcement Priority Decisions?

In an article with the headline "Border Patrol website gives advice on eluding Border Patrol," the New York Post is making a big deal out of an effort by U.S. Customs and Border Protection to make it clear on its website at which "sensitive locations" it will not engage in enforcement actions.  Those places include. but are not limited to, the following: 

•  schools (including pre-schools, primary schools, secondary schools, post-secondary schools up to and including colleges and universities, and other institutions of learning such as vocational or trade schools);

•  hospitals;

•  churches, synagogues, mosques or other institutions of worship, such as buildings rented for the purpose of religious services;

•  the site of a funeral, wedding, or other public religious ceremony; and

•  a site during the occurrence of a public demonstration, such as a march, rally or parade.

The idea is to avoid discouraging immigrants from attending school, receiving medical treatment at a hospital, attending church, going to a wedding or funeral, or expressing political views.  Immigrant rights advocates have criticized the U.S. government from engaging in enforcement actions at many of these locations, criticism which no doubt generated the policy and statement on the website.

The Post fails to mention the reasoning behind the enforcement policy and website statement but instead has a lead to the story as follows:

"Immigrants who want to enter the U.S. illegally can learn how and where to avoid the Border Patrol from an advisory on the agency’s own website, which critics say is evidence of the Obama administration’s `schizophrenic' approach to enforcement."

Hat tip to Professor Carter White.


August 3, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

United Nations Drafts Agreement on Refugees and Migrants


Somino Sengupta of the New York Times reports that, after days of intense negotiations over an international agreement, the nations of the world "on Tuesday adopted a draft that contained virtually no concrete commitments to make their journeys better or safer."  According to the article, Western European countries, along with Russia, resisted what many had hoped would be a pledge to resettle one-tenth of all the people fleeing war and persecution. The United States balked at language that would have committed all countries to not detain undocumented children who arrive at their borders.

What emerged late Tuesday was a 22-page draft “outcome document” that all 193 countries of the United Nations could agree to.   The document will serve as the basis for a meeting at the annual gathering of world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly next month. Decisions on specific commitments on what countries should do to protect refugees and migrants were deferred until 2018.

Refugees and migrants will be the biggest issue at the gathering of world leaders at the United Nations next month. President Obama plans to lead a meeting at the General Assembly in an effort to encourage countries to take in more refugees and contribute to countries that have taken them in for years.

Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations secretary general, also plans to hold a meeting on the plight of refugees and migrants. The document under negotiation will be the centerpiece of his meeting.

"While the draft text has no force of international law, every sentence has been negotiated. The resulting language is sometimes so vague that it is likely to bring little comfort to the millions who are seeking safety and opportunity abroad."


August 3, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Five More Immigration Judges Sworn In

The Executive Office for Immigration Review has announced the swearing-in of five additional Immigration Judges (IJs):  Elisa Castrolugo, Samuel B. Cole, Kathryn L. DeAngelis, Lisa Ann J. de Cardona and Eva S. Saltzman.  The press release  notes that the immigration bench has now reached an "all-time high" of 277 IJs.

A few observations from this small sample size:  Four of the five new IJs have prior government experience, although only one directly with the ICE Office of Chief Counsel or Office of Immigration Litigation (OIL).  One came from private immigration practice; none appear to have nonprofit immigration advocacy experience. Four of the five graduated from law school within the last 20 years. 



August 2, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

NPR with Matt Soerens on Evangelical Churches and Syrian Refugees


National Public Radio recently interviewed Matt Soerens, US Director of Church Mobilization for the faith-based nonprofit World Relief, about evangelical churches' role in resettling Syrian refugees in the US.  (Soerens is the co-author of Seeking Refuge: On the Shores of the Global Refugee Crisis, which emphasizes a Christian view of the current world refugee crisis).

Here's a short excerpt from the interview, of Soerens' comments on Trump:

"He is saying things about refugees that are very different than any other Republican president has ever said and, I think, are very different than what the Scriptures teach us, which is that each person, including every refugee, is made in the image of God with incredible potential and with inherent human dignity. And if we're going to respect life - and, again, that's a value for a lot of evangelical Christians from womb to tomb, we would say - then we need to be concerned about the lives of refugees as well."


August 2, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Democratic, Republican Platforms Contrast Sharply on Immigration Policy

The Migration Policy Institute looks at the stark contrast between the Republican and Democratic parties over immigration. The roster of convention speakers further illustrated the gulf between the parties. The Republican convention gave prominent speaking slots to victims of crimes committed by unauthorized immigrants, as well as to Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who has attracted accolades, controversy, and litigation over his immigration enforcement tactics. The Democratic convention, by contrast, showcased several unauthorized immigrants who have become prominent activists, including some who have benefited from the Obama administration’s deportation-relief policies. Though party platforms are not binding on legislators or the executive branch, they do offer a clear picture of the issues animating the parties’ most vocal constituencies and often represent a roadmap for future legislative agendas.



August 2, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

From the Bookshelves: Legal Protection of the Sinking Islands Refugees by Cosmin Corendea

Refugee book

Legal Protection of the Sinking Islands Refugees by Cosmin Corendea

Starting from the question of how international law may protect the Pacific people from climate change, this book represents the original development of the international hybrid law concept, as the basic legal study of climate change from the environmental, human rights and refugee perspectives. From 2007 to 2012, the research conducted in the Pacific demonstrated that the most affected people by the gaps of international law are the vulnerable ones whose adaptation options are limited or exhausted, and are facing displacement. In this individual context of the Pacific islands, the book analysis the most important documents, relevant institutions and (political) actors, offering the readers, including students, the most appropriate legal analysis of the climate change impacts in the Pacific. The 2015 Paris Agreement, by recognizing human rights and human mobility in the context of climate change, confirms the hybrid legal approach described in this book as one of the future solutions in identifying and addressing international legal gaps by placing the people affected by climate change in the center of the discussion.

Dr. Cosmin Corendea works as Associate Academic Officer/Legal Expert at the United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security.



August 2, 2016 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Chandra Levy Case Takes an Immigration Turn


Keith L. Alexander of the Washington Post reports that there is a new immigration twist to the saga of Chandra Levy, a student intern who was killed in 2001.

Ingmar Guandique, the man previously charged with the 2001 slaying of Levy, was released from jail this weekend and placed in the custody of immigration officials.  After the reliability of the testimony of a jailhouse informant who testified that Guandique confessed to the killing was put into question, prosecutors dismissed charges against him in the Levy case.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Monday that Guandique was in the agency’s custody and that he is awaiting a hearing in immigration court. Guandique, who is originally from El Salvador, was undocumented at the time he was charged in Levy’s death.   Due to his previous criminal convictions, he is considered a threat to public safety, and ICE intends to maintain him in custody,” an agency spokeswoman said in a statement. 

In 2002, Levy’s skeletal remains were found in Rock Creek Park in Washington. Guandique was found to be a suspect in Levy’s killing due to the fact that he had admitted attacking two women in the same park around the time of Levy’s disappearance. Levy was an intern with the Federal Bureau of Prisons when she disappeared May 1, 2001. The intern’s disappearance and killing captured national attention when it was revealed that she had had an affair with then-Rep. Gary A. Condit (D-Calif.), who was married and 30 years her senior.


August 2, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 1, 2016

Training of Interest: Advanced Issues in Cross-Border Practice, Sept. 14 (with Webinar Option)

Earlier this year, I blogged about the work of Los Angeles-based attorney Nora Philips and Al Otro Lado, the non-profit organization she co-founded, which provides legal services to deportees, migrants and refugees on the Mexican side.  In anticipation of Al Otro Lado's next legal screening clinic on October 7-8, 2016, Al Otro Lado and the Immigrant Defenders Law Center will co-host what looks to be a cutting-edge training on cross-border legal practice.  The training, Advanced Issues in Cross-Border Practice will take place from 5:30 - 8:30 PM PST on Wednesday, September 14.   It will "highlight current trends, legal remedies (U Visa, asylum, SIJS, trauma-informed client interview skills), the Lopez-Venegas and Flores settlements, and behind-the-scenes procedures implicated for refugees, deportees, and migrants seeking protection along the US-Mexico border, particularly at the San Ysidro, CA port of entry." 

The training will take place in Los Angeles at the Immigrant Defenders Law Center, but there is a webinar option. The training is free (and mandatory) for those volunteering at the October clinic, and $125 for anyone else who would like to attend. 


August 1, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friends of the Orange County Detainees: One Visitation Program's Efforts to Assist Immigrant Detainees



(Photo credit:  LA Times; picturing Peggy Thompson, Beverly Huff, Ellen DeYoung, and Sheryl Hagen). 

The Los Angeles Times' weekend edition contains a story about Friends of the Orange County Detainees, a program that visits immigrant detainees in Orange County, CA.  The piece serves as a great example of how a group of people who care enough to get involved in an otherwise hidden problem can make a true difference in the lives of others.  (I was personally thrilled to see the LA Times cover their work, as I have seen these advocates in action as they have extended compassion and community to so many immigrant detainees in the area). "It gives your soul back to you," said one individual from Ghana, who the article describes as having been detained for over a year at two Orange County-based detention facilities, Theo Lacy (a medium security jail) and Musick (a minimum security facility). 

For more information on starting a visitation program, check out this helpful site by Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC).


August 1, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

"Trump" -- the New Synonym for Narcissist

As Donald Trump continues his attack on Khizr and Ghazala Khan and Muslims in general, it's evident to me that at some point, dictionaries will come to list the word "Trump" as a synonym for "narcissist."

From Psychology Today:

Narcissistic Personality Disorder involves arrogant behavior, a lack of empathy for other people, and a need for admiration-all of which must be consistently evident at work and in relationships. People who are narcissistic are frequently described as cocky, self-centered, manipulative, and demanding. Narcissists may concentrate on unlikely personal outcomes (e.g., fame) and may be convinced that they deserve special treatment. Related Personality Disorders: Antisocial, Borderline, Histrionic. Narcissism is a less extreme version of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Narcissism involves cockiness, manipulativeness, selfishness, power motives, and vanity-a love of mirrors. Related personality traits include: Psychopathy, Machiavellianism.

Narcissists tend to have high self-esteem. However, narcissism is not the same thing as self-esteem; people who have high self-esteem are often humble, whereas narcissists rarely are. It was once thought that narcissists have high self-esteem on the surface, but deep down they are insecure. However, the latest evidence indicates that narcissists are actually secure or grandiose at both levels. Onlookers may infer that insecurity is there because narcissists tend to be defensive when their self-esteem is threatened (e.g., being ridiculed); narcissists can be aggressive. The sometimes dangerous lifestyle may more generally reflect sensation-seeking or impulsivity (e.g., risky sex, bold financial decisions).

From the Mayo Clinic:

Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for admiration and a lack of empathy for others. But behind this mask of ultraconfidence lies a fragile self-esteem that's vulnerable to the slightest criticism.

A narcissistic personality disorder causes problems in many areas of life, such as relationships, work, school or financial affairs. You may be generally unhappy and disappointed when you're not given the special favors or admiration you believe you deserve. Others may not enjoy being around you, and you may find your relationships unfulfilling.

Narcissistic personality disorder treatment is centered around talk therapy (psychotherapy).


August 1, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Farewell Ferris Wheel: A Documentary about Migrant Carnival Workers

You might want to think twice before you take the kids to the next local fair or carnival. This fall, PBS will air Farewell Ferris Wheel, which premiered earlier this summer during the local  AFI DOCS Film Festival.  This is a must-see film for anyone with an interest in labor rights and the U.S.'s dependence on immigrant workers.
Farewell Ferris Wheel spends six years exploring how the U.S. Carnival industry fights to keep itself alive by legally employing Mexican migrant workers with H-2B guestworker visas.

Set in the greater DC area, the documentary follows seasonal workers from Veracruz, Mexico on temporary U.S. work visas (H-2Bs).  For eight months each year, the Mexicans labor for "Jolly Shows", a company operating carnivals in the region. 

Farewell Ferris Wheel introduces audiences to both sides of the labor shortage. 

The job is grueling. Employees, separated from family, work up to 20 hours per day setting-up, operating, and taking down the rides and equipment.  They are paid little and subjected to squalid living conditions, including lack of running water and electricity.  When on-the-job injuries happen, Jolly Shows is reluctant to assist with medical care.  Nevertheless, the workers return year after year.  We learn that nearly one-third of U.S. carnival workers hail from Tlapacoyan, Mexico.

Centro de los Derechos del Migrante, Inc.(CDM), a close friend of Grossman Law, and a reputable local non-profit organization with offices in Mexico, is featured in the Film for its advocacy for increased oversight of the carnival industry.



August 1, 2016 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

USS Carney Rescues 97 Migrants in Mediterranean


Sputnik reports that the guided-missile destroyer USS Carney of the U.S. Navy has helped in rescuing of 97 migrants, who attempted to cross the Mediterranean Sea.  For another report, click here.

The rescue operation took place on July 29.  The vessel provided help to migrants until the SOS Mediterranean ship arrived.

"Today Team Carney aided in the rescue of 97 migrants while operating in the Mediterranean Sea. Seeing the plight of these desperate migrants and the danger they were in was humbling. As Sailors we make our living on the high seas. We were honored to help these 97 people to safety. My crew acted with the utmost professionalism and compassion and I couldn't be more proud of them." Kenneth Pickard, the commanding officer, was quoted as saying by the press service.



A visit, board, search and seizure team from the guided-missile destroyer USS Carney (DDG 64) approaches a migrant vessel in the Mediterranean Sea. (U.S. navy photo by Chief Information Systems Technician Wesley R. Dickey).  Photo courtesy of


August 1, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

New Campaign Informs Migrants of the Perils of Irregular Migration


Italy - ‘Aware Migrants’ is a new campaign that has emerged from the stories of migrants who were assisted by and spoke to International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Italy, after they were rescued in the Mediterranean, writes Federico Soda. The campaign aims to inform people who are considering migrating irregularly across the Sahara desert and the Mediterranean about the perils of irregular migration.  

As IOM, our experience and closeness to migrants makes us aware of the risks that they undertake to reach Europe. We know how dangerous the Mediterranean Sea is and also that the journey across the Sahara desert could even be more dangerous. We do know that the Mediterranean Sea continues to be the most dangerous body of water in the world and that more than 3,000 migrants and refugees have already died this year alone – despite commendable ongoing search and rescue efforts by governments and civil society and attempts to reduce loss of life.

These journeys are facilitated by unscrupulous criminals who exploit desperate migrants’ hopes, putting their lives at risk.

You can watch the migrants’ testimonies here.


August 1, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1)

Sunday, July 31, 2016

This immigrant became an American just to defeat Donald Trump: “I want to vote because I want to make sure that crazy man doesn’t (become president of the United States)”

Will Donald Trump's harsh rhetoric about immigration and immigrants lead to a spike in naturalization rates among immigrants?  California's 1994 immigration landmark, Proposition 187, and later immigration and welfare and immigration reform in 1996, led to a rise in naturalization rates.  Some observers are seeing naturalization rates on the rise.

Sacramento Bee columnist Marcos Breton writes about how Trump convinced one reluctant 77 year old immigrant from Ecuador to take ng hand as he took the oath of citizenship in Sacramento last week, along with 1,000 people from 76 countries who also became citizens.  Washington Espinoza, who was named after George Washington, had lived in the United States for 30 years and had resisted the suggestions of his children to become an American citizen.  He abruptly changed his mind in the last year. Donald Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, had scared Washington Espinoza into becoming an American. “I want to vote because I want to make sure that crazy man doesn’t (become president of the United States),” said Espinoza.


Photo courtesy of the Sacramento Bee

July 31, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

A Fallen Immigrant Soldier Dominates the Early Days of Campaign 2016


Earlier this week, Khizr Kahn, father of a U.S. soldier killed in Iraq in combat, offered a passionate speech at the Democratic National Convention.  His son, Humayun Khan, a Muslim American, sacrificed his life to save the lives of soldiers under his command. His parents emphasized their patriotism and loyalty to America and attacked Donald Trump's hateful rhetoric directed toward all Muslims.

Khizr works as a legal consultant in Charlottesville, Virginia. He is married to Ghazala Kahn. Khizr was born in Pakistan. In 1980, the Khan family moved from the United Arab Emirates to Boston, Massachusetts so that Khizr could attend a masters in law program at Harvard. The family then moved to Maryland, where Humayun Khan attended high school.

Khizr Kahn's speech continues to reverberate nationally. Trump lashed out at Khan over his speech at the Democratic Convention, expressing doubt over whether he prepared his own remarks and firing off questions over his wife Ghazala's silence on stage.  The Hill reports that Donald Trump is experiencing a backlash for attacking Khan. A spokeswoman for Speaker of the House Paul Ryan yesterday responded to Trump's comments, reaffirming the Speaker's distaste for Trump's rhetoric about Muslims. "The speaker has made clear many times that he rejects this idea, and himself has talked about how Muslim Americans have made the ultimate sacrifice for this country," AshLee Strong said in a statement to CBS News.



July 31, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, July 30, 2016

How the Democratic Party Platform Addresses Immigration

DC Circuit Rules for Production of IJs Names in Misconduct Cases


E. Barrett Prettyman U.S. Courthouse and William B. Bryant Annex

Josh Gerstein on reports that  in a Freedom of Information Act case involving records of misconduct allegations leveled at immigration judges.  Here is the opinion.

The panel held that the identities of immigration judges accused of misconduct could not be categorically deleted from records made public under the Freedom of Information Act. The court also ruled that when producing email chains and similar records under FOIA, agencies cannot redact information solely on the basis that it appears to be nonresponsive to the subject of a request.

The finding that rejects across-the-board privacy deletions could make it easier to expose information about inappropriate actions by federal employees or perhaps even by people outside government.

Judge Sri Srinivasan said the blanket redaction of names ignored the fact that there might be good reasons for striking the transparency-privacy balance differently in different instances.

“Variations in the privacy and public interests at stake leave us unable to find, at least as a blanket matter, that the ... balance tips in favor of withholding immigration judges’ names in all circumstances,” Srinivasan wrote in an opinion joined by judges Karen Henderson and Patricia Millett. “That is not to say, necessarily, that [the Justice Department’s Executive Office for Immigration Review] could not ultimately support redacting identifying information in all cases if its justifications for doing so were framed in a more targeted manner. That question is not before us, however. Because EOIR here sought to justify its withholding of immigration judges’ names in purely categorical, across-the-board terms, it has not carried its burden.”

The decision came on a lawsuit brought by the American Immigration Lawyers Association, which is investigating the system of discipline for immigration judges. In response to a FOIA request, the Justice Department turned over records regarding complaints and their resolution but removed the names of judges and substituted a code number.

Srinivasan said that action sold short the public's interest in knowing how the judges were discharging their duties.

“Given the variety in types of complaints and circumstances of individual immigration judges, not every judge has the same privacy interests at stake and not every complaint would equally enlighten the public about ‘what their government is up to,’” Srinivasan wrote.

“The public interest likely would be more pronounced in the case of a sitting immigration judge, who continues to make decisions as an employee of the Department of Justice, than in the case of a former judge. Additionally, disclosing the name of an immigration judge subject to numerous and/or serious substantiated complaints might shed considerable light on matters of public interest, whereas disclosing the name of an immigration judge subject to a single, unsubstantiated complaint might not,” the appeals court judge added.

The second key aspect of Friday's decision could help the public understand more about the context of government actions, but it could also slow down FOIA processing even further by pulling more extraneous issues into a request.

“Once an agency itself identifies a particular document or collection of material — such as a chain of emails — as a responsive ‘record,’ the only information the agency may redact from that record is that falling within one of the statutory exemptions,” Srinivasan wrote.

The judge acknowledged that it’s sometimes difficult to say what qualifies as an individual record, but he said immigration officials had not struck the right balance when they deemed individual sentences in a single email to be “nonresponsive.”

“We find it difficult to believe that any reasonable understanding of a ‘record’ would permit withholding an individual sentence within a paragraph within an email on the ground that the sentence alone could be conceived of as a distinct, non-responsive ‘record,’” Srinivasan wrote.


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July 30, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)