Tuesday, April 28, 2015

House Hearing on Birthright Citizenship

Tomorrow, the House Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security, holds a hearing entitled “Birthright Citizenship:  Is it the Right Policy for America?"   For analysis, see this article from The Hill.  As the title of the hearing suggests, the hearing's goal seems to be to place into question the 14th Amendment's birthright citizenship provision: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside."

Three of the four witnesses agree that birthright citizenship is a "policy" matter, not something guaranteed by the Constitution.


  • Founding Director
    The Claremont Institute's Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence
  • A.W. Walker Centennial Chair in Law, University of Texas at Austin School of Law
    Testifying in his personal capacity
  • Legal Policy Analyst
  • President
    UPDATE (Apr. 29):  Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi released this statement today as House Republicans on the Judiciary Committee’s Immigration Subcommittee held a hearing on the possibility of eliminating the birthright American citizenship guaranteed under the 14th Amendment:

    “Evidently, there is no American principle too sacred not to be surrendered in Republicans’ race to pander to the most radical, anti-immigrant corners of their party.  Today’s hearing is an appalling Republican effort to reverse one of our most fundamental constitutional guarantees: people born on American soil are Americans.

    “House Republicans that refused to give the American people a vote on comprehensive immigration reform are giving a hearing to one of the most loathsome, xenophobic proposals in recent memory.

    “The Republicans’ unconscionable assault on birthright citizenship dishonors our history, betrays our future, and insults millions of proud first-generation American citizens.  The American people deserve better than such a vile effort to narrow the definition of citizenship in our country.”


April 28, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Entrepreneurs and Immigrant Investors: When Will They Cross Paths?

Guest Blogger: Elisha Yang, third-year law student, University of San Francisco:

The EB-5 immigrant investor visa is one of the five employment-based preference categories issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).  In 1990, Congress created this EB-5 visa to help stimulate the U.S. economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign investors.  Through this program, qualified immigrant investors and their immediate family members are granted lawful permanent resident status in the U.S. when they invest in a commercial enterprise that benefits the U.S. economy that creates at least ten jobs.  Those who are approved receive a two-year conditional green card, which can later be adjusted to permanent resident status.  Achieving permanent resident status is an essential step to obtaining U.S. citizenship--typically the end goal for an EB-5 immigrant investor.  

There are two particular ways to apply for an EB-5 visa.  The first option, involving direct investment, requires the investor applicant to individually create, invest in, and manage a business that meets the statutory requirements of the EB-5 visa.  For a foreign investor, this option does not often appear attractive because of the onerous conditions required, in addition to the fact that all the responsibilities are placed on the applicant.  The second option, frequently identified as the Regional Center Program, allows the investor applicant to passively invest in an approved and designated regional center, which would then be the responsible entity for meeting the requirements of the EB-5 visa.  The investment requirement through this program is reduced from $1 million to $500,000.  Naturally, a majority of investors choose the latter route.

Since its inception, the EB-5 program has been largely underutilized by city governments, economic development corporations, foundations, and other organizations actively promoting inner city investment.  A number of reasons could have been triggering such a result.  The Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC) reasons that the lack of popularity in this international financing mechanism might have been due to the relative obscurity and complexity of the program as well as the negative reputation it developed from a few high profile cases involving fraud.  There are currently about 440 EB-5 Regional Centers in the U.S., and we are recently seeing an increasing interest in creating new ones in response to the spike in EB-5 visa applications.  

In 2013, over 80 percent of EB-5 visas were issued to Chinese nationals.  The program also attracts investors from India, Mexico, South Korea, Canada, and the United Kingdom, among other countries.  In fiscal year 2014, the State Department issued 9,228 EB-5 visas.  Today, the overwhelming number of I-526 petitions filed by Chinese nationals may result in a retrogression of EB-5 visas.  In August 2014, the State Department announced that no more EB-5 visas would be issued for the remainder of the year until the beginning of the 2015 fiscal year.  According to the May 15, 2015 Visa Bulletin, the State Department will impose a cut-off date of May 1, 2013 for EB-5 investor visas for persons born in China.  This means that no more spots will be available to the Chinese for the rest of the U.S. government’s fiscal year, which ends September 30.   

Greenberg Taurig, an international law firm, estimates that the waiting line now for an EB-5 visa will stretch to two to three years.  The developing backlog will have a significant impact on applications for investors hoping to enroll their children in U.S. colleges and universities.  If they apply too close to the child’s 21st birthday, he or she will age out and will no longer be eligible to enter the U.S. with a dependent visa through an investor parent.

With a high demand for the EB-5 visa, Congress might find it useful to study successful investment-based immigration programs used in other countries.  For example, Canada offers a highly competitive investment-based visa program, which provides multiple avenues for foreign investors to pursue.  The Federal Entrepreneur Program awards permanent resident status to those who demonstrate an ability to become economically established in Canada by proving two years of suitable business experience and meeting the personal net worth requirement.  On the other hand, Canada also offers the Immigrant Investor Program, which is passive in nature but has a much higher net worth and investment requirement.  With these two avenues, Canada has been able to gradually increase as well as diversify the foreign investors it attracts.

This September, the Regional Center Program will expire, but this is not the first time.  Congress has continuously extended the program periodically.  Last month, Congressman Jared Polis of Colorado introduced a bill in the House to permanently extend the program.  His bill is called the “American Entrepreneurship and Investment Act of 2015.”  Permanence, however, does not yet seem likely, as the program requires amendments and reform to resolve loop holes that create problems subject to much criticism from the public at large.  What will likely occur is that another three or five-year extension is granted.  


April 28, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

UK Elections: Parties Move Toward More Immigration Enforcement

Monday, April 27, 2015

Karnes in the News: Private Prison Company Sued For Allegedly Putting Hunger-Striking Moms In Solitary Confinement


Photo courtesy of ICE website

Three immigrant women who say they were punished for joining a hunger strike in a Texas family detention center on Thursday sued U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and GEO Group, the private company that operates the facility. The class action lawsuit was filed in federal court against ICE Director Sarah Saldaña and personnel at the Karnes County Residential Center, seeks to prohibit ICE and GEO from putting women and their children in isolation as punishment for protesting, and from threatening to separate mothers from their children.   The University of Texas Civil Rights Clinic filed the lawsuit on behalf of the women.

The women were part of a wave of families that crossed the border without proper authorization and have sought asylum in the United States.  The vast majority traveled by land from the violence in the Central America countries of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala.

Click here and here for more on this story.


April 27, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Justice Jackson's Liberating Jurisprudence in Shaughnessy v. Mezei

Guest Blogger: Erich Snow, second-year law student, University of San Francisco:

At the beginning of any substantive law course law students are typically shown a traditional case where the law and common sense diverge, and the students are allowed to see how the law makes decisions in that field. Consider an old English case for murder, Regina v. Dudley & Stevens, in which Dudley, Stevens, another man called Brooks, and a boy named Richard Parker were stranded on a rowboat after a shipwreck. They had no way of knowing when or even if they would be rescued. The seamen were all starving and dying of thirst. The boy fell into a coma after drinking seawater and was about to die. Dudley and Stevens agreed that the boy would be killed for his flesh and blood, so that the men might live for a bit longer. Parker was killed and eaten and the four men were later rescued. They were rescued after the point at which, had they not eaten Parker’s body, they would have starved. The men were tried for murder, and found guilty, even though anyone who was familiar with the facts would immediately understand the murder to be justified. The reason this is the first case law students read in their Criminal Law casebooks is to show the decision-making process the court follows in that area of law. As a student, I have never accepted “that’s just the way it is” as an adequate explanation. When the law permits arbitrary or clearly wrong results, it is because the law has failed in some respect.

In an immigration case decided in 1953 by the Supreme Court of the United States called Shaughnessy v. United States ex rel. Mezei, the court uses a similar rote application of the law, which leads to a similarly “correct” result as in the Regina case. In the immigration case, Mr Mezei lived in the United States as a foreign citizen from 1923 to 1948. He left for Romania in 1948 to visit his ailing mother. Mr. Mezei was not allowed into Romania, but instead had to remain in Hungary while different visa attempts were made, unsuccessfully, both to enter Romania and to exit Hungary. Eventually, after nineteen months, Mr. Mezei attempted to return to his home in the United States. He was detained at Ellis Island, and the US government cited national security as the reason he was denied entry. Mr Mezei was not imprisoned per se; he was free to travel to any country besides the United States. However, after Mr. Mezei was denied entry into Great Britain, France, Hungary, and over twelve countries in South and Central America, it became clear that his situation was one of indefinite detention: a seemingly-unconstitutional prospect. The problem with this result, however, is that it is the correct one, inasmuch as the existing law was properly applied to Mr. Mezei’s case.

Justice Jackson wrote a unique dissent to the Mezei decision in which he employed striking language as a tool, because legal analysis out of the context of the resulting indefinite detention would have led to the result the majority reached—clearly the wrong result in Justice Jackson’s esteem.

Justice Robert H. Jackson served as the United States chief prosecutor in the Nuremburg trials in 1945 and 1946. Once he returned to the Supreme Court to resume his duties after the military war tribunal, Justice Jackson was far more cautious of procedural safeguards, and was far more likely to rule against government overreaching, having experienced the extreme version of rote application of the law during his time in West Germany prosecuting former Nazi leaders. The Mezei decision was written in 1953, one year before Jackson retired and 6 years after he returned from West Germany. This caution and protectiveness is apparent when Justice Jackson suggests that it would be more beneficial to live in a country which used Soviet substantive law and American procedural law, instead of American substantive law and Soviet procedural law. The failure in this case, he thought, was a failure to consider the arbitrary result of applying substantive law, and failure to apply procedural due process to Mr. Mezei’s entire situation in context.

The dissent contains some beautiful language: “Since we proclaimed him a Samson who might pull down the pillars of our temple, we should not be surprised if peoples less prosperous, less strongly established, and less stable feared to take him off our timorous hands.” Justice Jackson doesn’t hold back his contempt: “Government counsel ingeniously argued that Ellis Island is his ‘refuge’ whence he is free to take leave in any direction except west. That might mean freedom, if only he were an amphibian.” What Justice Jackson’s dissent does not hold is any reference to law or jurisprudence (aside from one mention of Knauff v. Shaughnessy, but rather than following the law from Knauff, Justice Jackson lauds the fact that the court was able to avoid “perpetrating an injustice”). The dissent, which would not be accepted in any law school final exam, is an examination of American ideals. It takes a critical look at the Attorney General’s attempt to thwart what Justice Jackson sees as the best guard against tyranny—procedural due process protections.

He cites no precedent aside from the Constitution itself (and even then he only cites it in a secondary or even tertiary sense). Justice Jackson is saying that the fact that this result is acceptable and legal in the American Legal System means the American Legal System itself is broken in a certain aspect. The first sentence of the dissent is “[f]ortunately it still is startling, in this country, to find a person held indefinitely in executive custody without accusation of crime or judicial trial . . . .” The last two sentences are “[i]t is inconceivable to me that this measure of simple justice and fair dealing would menace the security of this country. No one can make me believe that we are that far gone.” Justice Jackson’s optimism, not misplaced, is that the crack through which Mr. Mezei has fallen is reparable. The system is not terminally broken. He concedes that the law, properly applied, allows for this result. His contention is that the law, properly applied, shouldn’t lead to this result.

Justice Jackson has to resort to compelling penmanship because the primary tools of the Supreme Court, namely, stare decisis, would land him in the same camp as the majority. This is liberating for Jackson, and his tone suggests a caged bird spreading its wings for the first time in a long time, or a master clockmaker dusting off their workbench and tools. This is why Justice Scalia is also compelling to read, and why Lord Mansfield the Scot is so difficult. The danger of only saying what the law is and not what it should be (historically saying what the law is has been the purview of the Supreme Court) is that common sense and the shifting ideals of a dynamic society are often left out. Rather, the jurisprudence is doomed to follow the course of society, but remain decades behind the Zeitgeist at any given time.


April 27, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Think of Undocumented Immigrants as Parents, Not Problems

Roberto Suro and Marcelo M. Suárez- Orozco  highlight this statistic in an op/ed in the New York Times:  "Now at least one of every 15 children living in the United States has an unauthorized parent, and nearly all of those children are native-born United States citizens."

In a recent report, the authors assessed more than 50 research studies of the children of unauthorized immigrants conducted by scholars in a variety of fields. This growing body of work shows that fear and uncertainty breed difficulties that manifest themselves in delayed cognitive development, lower educational performance and clinical levels of anxiety.


April 27, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Fresh Off the Boat and the Lighter Side of Immigrant Assimilation


ImmigrationProf previously posted about "Fresh Off the Boat", the ABC sitcom based on celebrity chef' Eddie Huang's memoir.  (Huang has been critical of the depiction of his life in the show.).  It is the first network primetime show to feature an Asian-American family in 20 years.

The show is set in 1995 and 11-year-old hip-hop loving Eddie Huang has just moved with his family from Chinatown in Washington D.C. to suburban Orlando. They quickly discover things are very different there. Orlando doesn’t even have a Chinatown—unless you count the Huang house.

In Fresh Off The Boat's season finale, Jessica, the family matriarch, worries over whether or not she and her kids have assimilated too much, a common concern of immigrant parents.. For a further look at the finale on NPR, click here.


April 27, 2015 in Books, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Ellis Island Museum to Update the Story of Immigration in America


David Dunlap of the New York Times offers a preview on upcoming new exhibits at the Ellis Island Immigration Museum.  Next month, two new galleries will open.

According to the report, the new gallery will focus on modern migration to the United States,  including migration from Mexico:

"Though the exhibition unabashedly celebrates the idea of arrival and naturalization, visitors expecting a sentimental view of the journey to the United States or a gauzy salute to American immigration policies will find some sharp rebukes. For instance, a panel titled `Feet People' says that until a half century ago, when caps were imposed, Mexican workers had routinely crossed into the United States to fill agricultural, construction and service jobs, because there were no immigration quotas on other independent nations in the Americas. . . . . Further, the panel notes, the Border Patrol `began militarizing the 2,000-mile United States-Mexico border and deporting any unauthorized immigrants' in 1993. `This fortification has pushed men, women and even children, who seek to cross on foot without documentation, even deeper into remote and dangerous terrain,' the panel continues. `They cross deserts and mountain ranges on foot and swim contaminated irrigation ditches. They crawl through sewer pipes and tunnels. To find work and reunite with family members, hundreds risk their lives every week to reach the United States.'”


April 27, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thousands Of Dreamers Are Losing Their Work Permits

Timothy Dugdale on the Fifth Circuit's Ruling in Hernandez v. United States

A couple of teenagers are playing a game in a culvert next to the U.S. border fence with Mexico. One of them is apprehended by a U.S. border guard; the other one is shot and killed as he hides behind a pillar. On the Mexican side. The kid's family tries to seek damages in U.S. court. On April 26, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, in a full en banc ruling, put an end to that quest. Click here for a photo of the young man who died and more on the story.

The court decided that under the control of Verdugo the kid didn't have any meaningful connections to the United States - he was not part of "the People" and thus couldn't invoke the Fourth Amendment. The majority also ruled that the Fourth Amendment was the sole challenge even open to the family.

Constitutional rights are not interchangeable. When a litigant asserts multiple constitutional claims arising from the same conduct, we must “identify[] the specific constitutional right allegedly infringed . . . .” . . . . If it becomes apparent that “a particular Amendment ‘provides an explicit textual source of constitutional protection’ against a particular sort of government behavior, ‘that Amendment, not the more generalized notion of substantive due process, must be the guide for analyzing these claims.’ ” Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 273, 114 S. Ct. 807, 813 (1994) (citations and internal quotation marks and footnote omitted).

The ruling becomes more interesting in Judge Prado's concurrence. Prado takes on the interplay between Verdugo, Boumediene and Fifth Amendment rights. Was Boumediene limited to an analysis of the Suspension Clause and the grant of habeas corpus? Prado argues that Boumediene is the shining new avatar of constitutional extraterritorality. Hernandez suffered the ultimate penalty of arbitrary official conduct, covered by the Fifth Amendment. Prado also makes the crucial linkage between Justice Kennedy's "functional" approach in Verdugo and that of Boumediene.

Boumediene, and its functionality-focused reading of the Court’s previous extraterritoriality decisions, is instructive here. Confronted with a novel extraterritoriality question, we must apply the only appropriate analytical framework the Court has given us: the Boumediene factors. Adapted to the present context, three objective factors and practical concerns are relevant to our extraterritoriality determination: (1) the citizenship and status of the claimant, (2) the nature of the location where the constitutional violation occurred, and (3) the practical obstacles inherent in enforcing the claimed right. . . . As the panel majority’s original opinion explained, the Boumediene factors, coupled with an analysis of the operation, text, and history of the Fifth Amendment, militate in favor of the extraterritorial application of substantive due process protections on these facts. See Hernández v. United States, 757 F.3d 249, 259–63, 267–72 (5th Cir. 2014), vacated in part and reinstated in part on reh’g en banc, --- F.3d --- (5th Cir. 2015).

What does Hernandez mean for immigration litigation? At some point, the Supreme Court is going to have to address the situation of an alien who has lived in the United States for many years and then is illegally removed from the United States in an exclusion proceeding that violated due process. Under the control of Kiyemba, only the executive branch can authorize his return. Under the competing controls of Verdugo and Boumediene, citing a holy trinity of voluntary meaningful connections, Suspension Clause violations and Fifth Circuit due process violations, a federal court should be able to declare his or her release after full habeas review.

Timothy Dugdale, Ph.D.

Founder Atomic Quill Media

April 27, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1)

Sunday, April 26, 2015

French Artist JR on American Immigration

French artist and "photograffeur" JR has been tackling immigration in America.

With "Unframed," JR has brought life to the Ellis Island Immigrant Hospital in New York harbor. (For those who can't get to Ellis Island to see the installation in person, check out this NYT photo essay).

JR's latest project is "Globe Trotters." He's been taking photos of recent U.S. immigrants in his studio, creating over-sized prints, and photographing his subjects with their prints on the street of New York. As Dean Robinson so beautifully writes for the NYT:

To be an immigrant is to have moved; to be a New Yorker is to keep moving. As captured here by JR, these newest New Yorkers become portraits in motion, unstuck, peeled loose, set free in the city.


April 26, 2015 in Current Affairs, Photos | Permalink | Comments (0)

Is It Time for Sheriff Joe Arpaio to Go? Contempt Hearings in Civil Rights Lawsuit in a Nutshell

IMGP5704Photo courtesy of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office

This week, ImmigrationProf has been offering daily coverage of the contempt hearings against Sheriff Joe Arpaio and the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MSCO) in Melendres v. Arpaio, in which the district court (Judge Murray Snow) in a civil rights action had entered an injunction, among other things, halting the practices that had targeted Latinos, including U.S. citizens and lawful immigrants, in the MSCO's law enforcement efforts.

It was a week of surprises, with the violation of the injunction being perhaps the least surprising part of witness testimony.  Indeed,  before the hearing, Sheriff Arpaio admitted that the Sheriff's Office in numerous ways failed  to comply with the injunction.

The first big surprise was that one of Arpaio's attorneys, Tom Liddy, son of Gordon Liddy of Watergate fame, sought to withdraw from the case, citing a conflict of interest.  But that was just the beginning.  The admission in open court by Sheriff Arpaio that his attorney had retained a private investigator to investigate Judge Murray Snow’s wife unquestionably was the bombshell of the week.

The Arizona Republic recaps the hearings hereJude Joffe-Block at KJZZ Arizona has some excellent reports from the courtroom.  For our coverage, see


Day 1 

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4 

The contempt hearings are scheduled to resume in June.  One has to wonder whether Sheriff Arpaio can withstand the withering criticism of his leadership and failure to comply with a federal court order.  At this point, the only question before the court appears to be whether the violations of the court's order was intentional and what the appropriate sanctions for the violation should be.

By the way, it is ironic that the Arpaio contempt hearings occurred the same week as the fifth anniversary of immigration enforcement law known as Arizona's S.B. 1070, an anniversary that sparked protests in Phoenix.


April 26, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

New Immigration Clinic at South Texas College of Law


The Adjunct Law Prof Blog recently spread the word that South Texas College of Law is opening a new immigration clinic.  Here is the announcement.


April 26, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Defining the Indefinable: Crimes of Moral Turpitude

Guest Blogger: Kelsey Quist, third year law student, University of San Francisco

The phrase “moral turpitude” may seem like an outdated term, however, it is alive and well in the immigration world. Although its origin dates back hundreds of years, the phrase has never been explicitly defined. And yet, to be convicted of a crime of moral turpitude carries extremely grave consequences. Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, “an alien convicted of a crime of moral turpitude is deportable when the potential term of imprisonment is one year or longer, and the offense was committed within five years of the alien’s admission to the United States, or within ten years of admission if the alien was granted lawful permanent resident status.” Additionally, “any alien that has committed two or more crimes involving moral turpitude (or “CIMTs”) is deportable if the offenses do not arise out of a single scheme of conduct.” What then does it mean to be convicted of a crime of moral turpitude? And why should such a conviction carry so much weight in a culture that has increasingly distanced itself from inflicting morality on its residents?

The reality is, there is no direct answer to these questions. Our courts are still defining what it means to be categorized as a crime of moral turpitude and whether certain questionable conduct should be considered in light of the surrounding circumstances, or simply measured against the language of the statute. Some of the offenses that have been considered within the realm of moral turpitude have included: murder, voluntary manslaughter, kidnapping, mayhem, rape, fraud, spousal abuse, child abuse, incest, assault with intent to commit another specific intent offense, aggravated assaults, assaults on vulnerable classes, lewd and lascivious conduct toward a child, knowing possession of child pornography, driving under the influence without a license, theft, robbery, receiving stolen goods with guilty knowledge, forgery, embezzlement, extortion, perjury, and willful tax evasion. The list seems pretty exhaustive. Still, offenses that may fall outside the realm of moral turpitude have included: simple assault, unlawful entry, damaging private property, escape, possession of an altered or fraudulent document, and indecent exposure. So where does the Legislature draw the line? While it seems obvious that certain offenses are “immoral” or “corrupt” - such as murder, kidnapping, or rape - it is less clear when it comes to offenses such as petty theft, or false use of a social security number, which may have been committed out of necessity or desperation. Even within the long list of offenses above there exists a varying degree of depravity, some of which warrant long periods of imprisonment, others which merely impose a fine. This only adds to the complexity of the definition of moral turpitude.

Nevertheless, in a society where our moral standards are ever-changing, we use morality as a foundation for deportation. Several hundred years ago, abortion was considered a crime and women were prosecuted and some even faced the death penalty. Now, under Obamacare, birth control is free. Sixty years ago, our society would not have thought possible the recognition of same sex marriages, and yet today it is hard to imagine a world without this acceptance. It seems misguided and inherently unfair to subject immigrants to our constantly evolving standards of decency when we as a society have trouble defining them. Perhaps if we were still living in the time of the Ten Commandments, the application of this category would be clear-cut and straightforward. But we cannot sum up our country’s morals in ten simple rules. Even if we could, these rules would be in constant flux as time goes on. As a result, our courts are left with the task of determining what constitutes moral turpitude – and inevitably, it becomes an extremely subjective analysis.

So where do we go from here? While I am not suggesting that we completely abolish laws based on an evaluation of our society’s morals, I do think we need to reevaluate their applicability in modern times. From a due process standpoint, it is impossible to put immigrants on notice that certain “morally reprehensible” conduct is grounds for deportation when such conduct is not unanimously held to be immoral. Since the phrase “moral turpitude” has been around for over 100 years, there have been various conflicting definitions that have developed over time, ranging from that of  “vile, based, and depraved” to “dishonest and deceitful.” Since our courts seem to be at odds with which definition they employ, our Legislature needs to step in and explicitly define the phrase, so as to provide some direction for our judicial system. Most importantly, the definition of moral turpitude should accurately reflect the time in which we live – not an ancient representation of good versus evil.  


April 25, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Day 4 of Sheriff Joe Arpaio Contempt Hearings

_MG_8593 re

As reported on ImmigrationProf this week, Maricopa County (Arizona) Sheriff Joe Arpaio has had a tumultuous week of hearings in federal court on whether the Sheriff and the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office were in contempt of court in violating the terms of an injunction in a civil rights action. 

Jude Joffe Block reports on the hearing on Friday.  Sheriff Arpaio's chief deputy, Jerry Sheridan, took the stand. Sheridan, along with Arpaio, have admitted to violating the judge's orders. The question is whether it was willful.

ACLU attorney Cecillia Wang questioned Sheridan about his role in violating the court's May 2014 instructions for how to collect videos from deputies without giving them the opportunity to destroy evidence of potential misconduct.

At times the testimony was tense. "Be careful about calling me a liar," Sheridan told Wang at one moment when she tried to point to inconsistencies in his actions and previous statements.

Wang also played video clips in court in which Sheridan is seen in a training for deputies calling the court's 2013 racial profiling ruling "crap" and "ludicrous." "I have very few regrets in my entire life on this planet and this was probably my number one regret," Sheridan said.

Sheridan said he was attempting to raise deputies' morale given they were going to be facing new burdens as a result of the court ruling.

The contempt hearings are scheduled to resume in June.


April 25, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Maria Chavez: Immigration Reform and the Impacts on Undocumented Latino Youth


Yesterday, ImmigrationProf posted the Ted talk of Professor Maria Chavez on the de-Americanization of Latino youth.  Here is a follow-up blog post by Maria:


The decades-long lack of reasonable immigration reform by Congress has profound consequences on undocumented Latino youth.

First, there is the very real possibility of the destruction of their families by detention and deportations— more than 400,000 deportation in 2012 alone, over 5000 children being placed in foster care, and over 50,000 children missing either one or more parents due to deportations in what is referred to as “collateral damage.”

Second, despite Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), many obstacles remain.  Harvard professor Roberto G. Gonzales highlights some of these obstacles including difficulty completing college, as many undocumented youth still do not have access to federal financial aid, or being at a permanent disadvantage regarding work experience resulting in a type of stratified economic and social incorporation.  This is especially evident with Mexican-origin youth who so often lack greater resources.

Finally, there is the issue of having one’s identity stripped away in the process of what Bill Ong Hing terms “de-Americanization.” Here are some examples of this de-Americanization that my co-authors and I uncovered in our data of 101 in-depth interviews with undocumented Latino youth in four states:

 Samuel[1] who has been living in the United States since the age of 5, states:

“Mexican. . . well, like, I know I’m Mexican definitely but. . . I know I’m Mexican, but I definitely see myself as a little whitewashed. . . Mexican-American as well. I mean, I have, only my roots tie me to Mexico, I haven’t really visited, I don’t really know much, so. . . .”

Josefina who has been living in the U.S. since she was an infant, states:

A: I think I’m Mexican. . . . I mean, I don’t know, I’m like, because I’m not, like you know, how my parents are here, I guess, people are considered to be Mexican-American either because they’re born here and their parents are Mexican, or if your parents were born here and you. . . I don’t know, because I do feel myself as American, but then I do love being Mexican.

Q: Yeah.

A: Because I was born here and I kind of, I kind of feel this is my home.

Q: Born here?

A: [laughing] I’m not, I mean, not born here, but you know, like . . . I feel like I was born here, that’s why . . . I think I would say Mexican-American/Chicano.

Raquel who has been living in the United States since the age of 8, states:

“I guess, Mexican. . . I mean, I guess . . . it’s ’cause, like, I feel like, if I was to go to Mexico I feel like, I don’t even belong there . . . ’cause I was raised, like, American . . . so, but I, I’m not, I’m not Chicano ’cause I’m Mexican Mexican. So I guess Mexican.”

Bianca who has been living in the United States since the age of 8, states:

" That’s when it hits you that you realize that you’re in the system but they don’t really want you to contribute to it, ‘cause you don’t have that number, and you feel discouraged. Thrown out. Segregated. Like a leftover."

The long term effects of these three consequences--being torn apart from one’s families, being disadvantaged economically and socially, and being treated as an outsider in the country you grow up in can derail a person’s life in very damaging ways.  And this is all due to the lack of reasonable immigration policy leaving 5 million undocumented Latino youth feeling like “left overs.” Unwanted and disregarded by the only country that they know. De-Americanized in a nation of immigrants.  As Franklin D. Roosevelt once stated: “Remember, remember always, that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists.”

[1] The names used in our research are pseudonyms.


April 25, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 24, 2015

The Unjust Prosecution of Rasmea Odeh

Guest blogger: Nuha Abusamra, second-year law student, University of San Francisco:

I have closely followed Rasmea Odeh’s case for nearly six months. Rasmea Odeh is a 70-year-old Palestinian woman who serves as the associate director at the Arab American Action Network in Chicago. She is also heavily involved with organizing and collaborating with Arab American women as her role as Adult Women Organizer.

After immigrating to the United States in 1995, Rasmea became a naturalized U.S. citizen. However, in 2013, she was indicted and charged with immigration fraud for concealing a 1970 conviction before an Israeli military court for alleged involvement in two terrorist bombings in Jerusalem. In 1980, she was among 78 prisoners released by Israel in an exchange with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine for one Israeli soldier captured in Lebanon. In November, a federal jury convicted Rasmea and Judge Gershwin Drain revoked bail and ordered Rasmea into custody.

After Rasmea was released from solitary confinement and prison in December pending sentencing, we all rejoiced but worried for the status of her future as a U.S. citizen. However, on March 12, 2015, Judge Drain sentenced Rasmea to 18 months in prison and stripped her of U.S. citizenship after being found guilty of lying on her immigration papers when asked about prior convictions over twenty years ago. She currently faces deportation to Jordan and remains free on bond, pending appeal.

Rasmea’s attorney, Michael Duetsch and various community members have harshly criticized Judge Drain’s ruling. However, the government responded by focusing on Rasmea’s failure to disclose the conviction in an Israeli military court on her immigration application. Her failure to confess alleged involvement in two bombings, one of which killed two people at a supermarket in Jerusalem, remains the key factor in her case.

The allegations against Rasmea are serious in a Post 9/11, over criminalizing America. The U.S.’s enduring support for Israeli policies does not aid her case, either. How could anyone disagree with deporting a person who was allegedly involved in terrorist bombing in Jerusalem?

But as jurors, lawyers, judges, and critical thinkers, we are supposed to listen to both sides of a story, no matter its shock value. Rasmea continuously denies her involvement in the attacks in Jerusalem. She states that she was forced to confess to involvement in the bombings after weeks of prolonged sexual, physical, and mental torture experienced by Israeli authorities.

How are we to listen to both sides of a story when Judge Gershwin denied evidence of her PTSD back in October? Judge Gershwin’s refusal to admit evidence regarding Rasmea’s PTSD and experiences within the Israeli prison clearly demonstrates a bias against her as a Palestinian woman of color.

Drain however, did admit, “approximately one hundred documents from the Israeli military court, including her signed confession and information about the 1969 Jerusalem bombings she confessed under torture to participating in.”

It is frightening that the Israel Law Center, stationed in Israel, aided the American government with the prosecution of her case. Why is a foreign, and heavily biased entity, assisting the U.S. government in prosecuting its case? This only proves the political nature of Rasmea’s trial and the arbitrariness in the admittance of crucial evidence.

To elaborate more on issues with the evidence, the videos permitted within the courtroom were a waste of the court’s time as well as highly prejudicial in nature. Clips from documentaries that covered the bombing allegedly featured statements “implicating [Rasmea] in the attack. But none of the clips played by prosecutors, in Arabic with English subtitles, offered any such clear proof.” In fact, Rasmea was never depicted in the clips.

But let’s hypothetically pretend that Rasmea was in fact involved with the bombings. Let’s pretend that the prosecution submitted reliable evidence indicating her involvement. This raises a serious question of whether a person with a criminal background, after so much time has passed, should face prosecution. Or should there be a statute of limitations on such matters?

According to Rasmea’s attorney, Rasmea is dedicated to a life of service and is at an age where her mental and physical health is significantly deteriorating, and suffering from “chronic post-traumatic stress disorder.”

I do not think punishing Rasmea for lying is an appropriate response, given her suffering from serious and unaddressed PTSD. But if punishment is the focus, then by all means, punish accordingly. Deporting her, however, is an irrelevant response to a criminal matter. Rasmea can be prosecuted but her citizenship status should in no way be compromised. Furthermore, deporting Rasmea to Jordan is strategically irrational. Jordan’s notorious peace treaty with Israel does not ensure Rasmea’s physical and mental safety.

The prosecution of Rasmea Odeh is an embarrassing testament to the American justice system. This is the most politically fueled immigration case I have studied in law school. Rasmea is a symbol. The imprisonment and deportation of her body sends a loud and clear message to Arab American activists living in the U.S.A.

Rasmea said that during her life she had suffered many hard blows, but “every time I rebuilt my life, something else from outside would put me back to zero.” This lack of hope infuriates me but keeps me motivated to fight the good fight.


April 24, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigration Article of the Day: Humanitarian Protection for Children Fleeing Gang-Based Violence in the Americas by Elizabeth Carlson and Anna Marie Gallagher

Carlson Gallagher

Humanitarian Protection for Children Fleeing Gang-Based Violence in the Americas by Elizabeth Carlson and Anna Marie Gallagher, Maggio + Kattar

Violence perpetrated by gangs and other criminal organizations has contributed to the large numbers of Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) migrating to the United States from Central America and Mexico since 2011. This article in the Journal of Migration and Human Security  describes the US government’s obligations to protect UAC upon arrival and good practices of other governments in providing humanitarian aid to migrant and refugee children. It also discusses Special Immigrant Juvenile Status and asylum claims based on gang-related violence. It concludes with recommendations designed to bring the United States into compliance with domestic and international law. 


April 24, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

crImmigration Law Professor Interviewed on The RightsCast

The De-Americanization Of Latino Youth

My friend Professor Maria Chavez gave this great TED talk.


Maria was born and raised in Northern California. Her father's family and her mother's family, both from Mexico, emigrated to the U.S. during the Bracero guest worker program. She is the eldest of four children and the first person in her family to have graduated from college earning a B.A. (cum laude) and an M.A. from California State University, Chico. She earned my Ph.D. in political science from Washington State University.  She currently is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Pacific Lutheran University specializing in American government, public policy, and race and politics. She is the author of Everyday Injustice: Latino Professionals and Racism (Rowman and Littlefield, Inc. 2011) and co-author of a new book Living the Dream-New Immigration Policies and The Experiences of Undocumented Latino Youth.


April 24, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)