Monday, October 6, 2014

Immigrant of the Day: Mischa Barton (United Kingdom)


Actress and model Mischa Barton played poor-little-rich-girl Marissa Cooper in the popular television series The O.C., from 2003 to 2006. Barton was born in the United Kingdom, moved to New York as a child and began acting and modeling before she was in her teens. In the late '90s she began getting TV and movie roles, including a small role (as the poisoned girl) in M. Night Shyamalan's The Sixth Sense (1999, starring Bruce Willis). She had the lead role in the adolescent love story Lost and Delirious (2001) and appeared in several episodes of TV's Once and Again, but it was The O.C. that made her a star. While she worked on the series, Barton also worked as a model for clothing and cosmetics companies.

Barton's character, Marissa, was killed in a car accident at the end of the third season -- a plot point the actress inadvertently revealed prior to the episode's airing. Since leaving the series, she has focused on modeling and a career in films, with the occasional arrest for driving while intoxicated. Her other work includes the films Homecoming (2009) and You and I (2011), and a recurring guest spot on the Ashton Kutcher TV production, The Beautiful Life: TBL (2009).

Barton is a dual U.S. and British citizen.


October 6, 2014 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Immigrant of the Day: Craig Ferguson From Scotland | Television Host


Photo courtesy of IMDb

Craig Ferguson From Scotland | Television Host

Actor Craig Ferguson is the host of The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. After finding some success in television London, he immigrated to the U.S. in 1994 and soon landed his American breakout role as the title character’s obnoxious boss in The Drew Carey Show. Ferguson has also written and starred in three films and written two books, the novel Between the Bridge and the River and the memoir American on Purpose. The later book details various experiences over several decades in Ferguson's life from his days in Scotland through his migration to the United States; the rise of his performing career in the United Kingdom, then Hollywood, and eventual acquisition of US citizenship in early 2008.  In 2010, he won a Peabody Award for the Late Late Show. 



October 5, 2014 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Women allege sexual abuse at Texas immigrant detention center

CNN reports that women detained at an immigration detention facility in Texas allege that employees there have sexually abused them, including by removing them from their cells at night for sex as well as fondling them in front of others, lawyers wrote in a letter to federal officials this week.

The allegations were detailed in a letter from several immigrant advocacy groups to officials with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security, which had hired one of America's for-private prison operators to run the facility. Zoe Carpenter in the Nation has an insightful story on the private detention companies and how they benefit for increases in immigrant detention.

"We call for an immediate investigation into these serious allegations of sexual abuse and the immediate protection of all women and children forced to reside in the facility," the letter, sent by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) on behalf of all the advocacy groups, reads.  ImmigrationProf reported on this letter earlier this week.

In a September 25 letter, the immigration clinic at the University of Texas School of Law asked federal immigration officials to investigate numerous complaints from detainees, including that children didn't have access to a variety of nutritious snacks between meals, that messages from attorneys weren't getting to their clients in a timely manner, and that -- although they had access to a nurse -- no doctor was on staff to handle significant medical issues such as respiratory infections and chronic illnesses.


October 5, 2014 in Current Affairs, Film & Television, Immigration Law Clinics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Photo Essay: Children of Immigrants

From the New York Times comes a lovely photo essay entitled Children of Immigrants. The series was created by photographer Quetzal Maucci. She writes:

There are around 20 million adult, American-born children of immigrants living in the United States. I am one of them.

She goes on to say:

In discussions about children of immigrants, scholars often deal with statistics, but rarely with the actual individuals who have their own voices and ideas of identification. We are more than numbers, more than the reports that analyze our educational attainment and economic standing.

With her photographs, Maucci hopes to "bring awareness" about the first-generation community as well as to "reclaim our identity."

Maucci's photo of Girogrio Ravalli, 22, Italian-American


October 4, 2014 in Photos | Permalink | Comments (0)

DREAMer Questions President's Inaction on Immigration


Here is a report on the speech by President Obama at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI) Gala earlier this week. "To those hoping that the President would announce encouraging specifics about his plans to take deportation relief executive action after the midterm elections, his overly broad comments were disappointing. To those hoping to embarrass and pressure the President through a picket outside the event and a heckler inside, were probably disappointed that the largely black tie audience and Latino Congressional leaders were polite and even fawning."

The President reiterated his support for comprehensive immigration report and blamed the failure to enact legislation on the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. DREAMer Blanca Hernandez from the audience yelled to complain about the failure of the President to take executive action.  Watch the video above to see the interruptions.


October 4, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigrant of the Day: Constantine Papadakis From Greece | Educator


Constantine Papadakis From Greece | Educator

Constantine Papadakis, born in Athens in 1946, served as president of Drexel University from 1995 to 2009. During his thirteen-year tenure, the school experienced a sustained period of success and growth, constructing new buildings, acquiring schools of medicine, nursing, and public health, and starting its own law school. It also established an online degree program. Papadakis earned a master’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Cincinnati, and a doctorate from the University of Michigan


October 4, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Former Congress Member's "Mostly False" Claim that President is Permitting "Illegal Aliens" to Enlist


In case you missed this claim making the social media rounds, former U.S. Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) is saying that President Barack Obama has extended open arms to undocumented immigrants to join the U.S. military.

West specifically has said that Obama "ordered our military to enlist illegal aliens."  According to PolitiFact, West is right that the administration has decided to allow certain recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals to enlist. "However, West’s analysis exaggerates what’s going on. The program in question was initiated by [President] Bush in 2008, before Obama was president. In addition, contrary to West’s sweeping suggestion, experts say it’s doubtful that many undocumented immigrants would be brought into the military. And Obama didn't order the military to take illegal aliens but rather made it an option. The statement contains an element of truth but ignores critical facts that would give a different impression, so we rate it Mostly False."


October 4, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 3, 2014

Oklahoma Law Review Immigration Symposium

The Oklahoma Law Review invites you to its Annual Symposium on Friday, November 14, 2014, on the topic of immigration law. It will feature presentations by David Martin, Kevin Johnson, Margaret Taylor, Rose Cuison Villzor, Victor Romero, and Michael Scaperlanda. The symposium will be held from 9 a.m. till noon, in the Bell Courtroom, Andrew Coats Hall, OU Law Center, 300 Timberdell Road, Norman, OK. Lunch will be served following the presentations. Parking will be available in the south lot of the College of Law. Please RSVP to Amanda Lee at by Monday, November 10.


October 3, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

At the Movies: The Good Lie (Opens Today)


They were known simply as “The Lost Boys.” Orphaned by the brutal Civil war in Sudan that began in 1983, these young victims traveled as many as a thousand miles on foot in search of safety. Fifteen years later, a humanitarian effort would bring 3600 lost boys and girls to America.

In “The Good Lie,” Philippe Falardeau, (writer and director of the Oscar®- nominated Foreign Language film “Monsieur Lazhar”) brings the story of their survival and triumph to life. Academy Award® winner Reese Witherspoon (“Walk the Line”) stars alongside Sudanese actors Arnold Oceng, Ger Duany, Emmanuel Jal, and newcomer Nyakuoth Weil, many of whom were also children of war.

Click here for a review of The Good Lie by Emily Arnold-Fernandez of Asylum Access.


October 3, 2014 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigrant of the Day: Maria Klawe From Canada | President of Harvey Mudd College


Maria Klawe From Canada | President of Harvey Mudd College

Maria Klawe is the fifth president of Harvey Mudd College, the first woman to lead the institution. A renowned mathematician and computer scientist who has made numerous research contributions in a male-dominated field, Klawe has been active as an administrator in the effort to change preconceptions and increase the number of women entering computer science. Among her numerous honors, she received the Vancouver YWCA Women of Distinction Award in Science and Technology, in 1997, and the Wired Woman Pioneer Award, in 2001.


October 3, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Real Housewives of New Jersey Sentenced to Prison, Joe Guidice may be Deported


The married stars of “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” face prison time. Teresa Giudice was sentenced yesterday in federal court to 15 months in prison on conspiracy and bankruptcy charges while her husband, Giuseppe “Joe” Giudice, was sentenced to 41 months. Having come to fame with a hit television show, the couple was ordered to pay $414,000 in restitution.   The court agreed to stagger the Giudices’ sentences so one parent can be home with their four children while the other is in prison. Teresa Giudice will serve her sentence first because, as has been reported, Joe Giudice is not a U.S. citizen -- he is an immigrant from Italy -- and faces possible deportation to Italy when he’s released from prison.

Last March, Joe's lawyer told Us Weekly that deportation is a possible punishment for Joe. "Joe could be deported," says Joe's attorney. "I think it would be a tremendous injustice, given that he's been here since he was one year old. His parents and brothers have been naturalized, and Teresa and the children are citizens. Joe not getting U.S. citizenship, just slipped through the cracks." So why isn't Joe a U.S. citizen? "He could have gotten it easily," says his lawyer. "He thought he was a citizen, as did everyone else. The fact that he wasn't, was brought up in the state case. He didn’t know up until then."


October 3, 2014 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

America's Brain Gain


The Vilcek Foundation Fall 2014 newsletter spotlights "America’s Brain Gain: Immigrants at the Frontier of Neuroscience."

The Vilcek Foundation aims to raise public awareness of the contributions of immigrants to the sciences, arts, and culture in the United States. The Foundation was established in 2000 by Jan and Marica Vilcek, immigrants from the former Czechoslovakia. The mission of the Foundation was inspired by the couple’s respective careers in biomedical science and art history, as well as their personal experiences and appreciation for the opportunities offered them as newcomers to the United States. The Foundation achieves its mission through hosting immigrant artists and performers at their gallery space in New York City, awarding the annual Vilcek Prizes in the biomedical sciences and the arts and humanities, and sponsoring programs such as the Hawaii International Film Festival.


October 3, 2014 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Kudos to the George Washington University Law School Immigration Clinic: 16 Years for Asylum


Attorneys from MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund), the Immigration Rights and Civil Rights Clinics at the University of Texas Law School, and the Law Office of Javier N. Maldonado, filed a complaint earlier this week with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) demanding the immediate investigation of and swift response to widespread allegations of sexual abuse and harassment at the detention center in Karnes City.

The Karnes detention center, which opened on August 1, 2014, detains over five-hundred mothers and their children, most of whom fled violence and persecution in Central America and are now seeking asylum in the U.S.  The abuse allegations cited in the complaint include the exploitation of vulnerable women by facility guards and staff, such as:

  • removing      female detainees from their cells late in the late evening and early      morning hours for the purpose of engaging in sexual acts in various parts      of the facility, and attempting to cover up these actions;
  • calling      detainees their “novias,” or “girlfriends” and requesting sexual favors      from female detainees in exchange for money, promises of assistance with      their pending immigration cases, and shelter when and if the women are      released; and
  • kissing,      fondling and/or groping female detainees in front of other detainees,      including children.

Although this unlawful conduct was reported to Karnes Center personnel, to date, no reasonable actions have been taken to stop or prevent this abuse, or to prevent its escalation.  

“This is exactly why the federal government should not be in the business of detaining families,” said Marisa Bono, staff attorney with MALDEF.  “These women and children have fled horrific conditions in their home countries, including sexual violence and extortion.  Guards using their respective positions of power to abuse vulnerable, traumatized women all over again is not only despicable, it’s against the law.” 

Congress passed the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) in 2003 to address the problem of sexual abuse of persons in the custody of U.S. correctional agencies, including immigrant detention centers.  DHS finalized PREA regulations earlier this year, adopting a zero-tolerance standard for sexual assault and rape in DHS facilities.  All facilities are required to adopt and follow a PREA protocol to detect, prevent, and respond to sexual abuse. 

The complaint admonishes DHS for its failure to implement and oversee protocols effectively under PREA at Karnes, and questions DHS’s ability to keep women and children safe.  The Karnes Center guards, who are predominantly male, have free access to the detention cells and the women and children at any time, day or night, and some children over the age of thirteen have been separated from their mothers and placed in separate sleeping quarters without any explanation or warning. 

The facility is run by a private, for-profit prison company called The GEO Group, Inc. The detention center is not licensed under Texas state child welfare standards, making state oversight impossible.  Immigrant and human rights advocates from across the country and Texas have called on the federal government to immediately close the Karnes facility and find alternatives to detaining women and children. 

Barbara Hines, Co-Director of the University of Texas Immigration Clinic and co-counsel in the lawsuit that closed the T. Don Hutto family detention center, said: “The government has no business detaining vulnerable mothers and children that it cannot protect from this type of abuse. These incidents are particularly disturbing because ICE has refused to release mothers and children on bond, even after they have shown a threshold asylum claim.”

This complaint follows on the heels of another complaint filed last week by MALDEF, Grassroots Leadership, University of Texas School of Law Civil Rights Clinic, and the Law Office of Javier N. Maldonado, alleging harsh conditions for women and children at the Karnes Center, including inadequate food, health and mental services, and disproportionate disciplinary tactics.  Advocates have also noted that family detention of women and children seeking asylum violates human rights law and due process. 

Despite the calls to end family detention, the Department of Homeland Security is making plans to build a 2,500-bed family detention facility in Dilley, Texas. 

Today’s complaint is available here. And, last week’s complaint is available here.


October 2, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Put North America First, Report Recommends to U.S. Government

Unaccompanied Minors Crisis Has Receded from Headlines But Major Issues Remain

As Central American child migrant flows have returned to their precrisis level, challenges remain concerning the fate of tens of thousands of newly arrived children and families now residing in the United States pending immigration court hearings. Meanwhile, Congress has declined to authorize new funding to address the situation. Click here for analysis.


October 2, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Noncitizen Eligibility for Federal Public Assistance: Policy Overview and Trends

A Congressional Research Service report (Noncitizen Eligibility for Federal Public Assistance: Policy Overview and Trends by Ruth Ellen Wasem) provides a helful summary of federal public benefit receipt by noncitizens:

"The extent to which residents of the United States who are not U.S. citizens should be eligible for federally funded public aid has been a contentious issue for more than a decade. This issue meets at the intersection of two major policy areas: immigration policy and welfare policy. The eligibility of noncitizens for public assistance programs is based on a complex set of rules that are determined largely by the type of noncitizen in question and the nature of services being offered. Over the past 16 years, Congress has enacted significant changes in U.S. immigration policy and welfare policy. Congress has exercised oversight of revisions made by the 1996 welfare reform law (the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, P.L. 104-193)— including the rules governing noncitizen eligibility for public assistance that it established—and legislation covering programs with major restrictions on noncitizens’ eligibility (e.g., food stamps/SNAP, Medicaid).

This report deals with the four major federal means-tested benefit programs: the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps), the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant programs, and Medicaid. Laws in place for the past 15 years restrict the eligibility of legal permanent residents (LPRs), refugees, asylees, and other noncitizens for most means-tested public aid. Noncitizens’ eligibility for major federal means-tested benefits largely depends on their immigration status; whether they arrived (or were on a program’s rolls) before August 22, 1996, the enactment date of P.L. 104-193; and how long they have lived and worked in the United States.

LPRs with a substantial work history or military connection are eligible for the full range of programs, as are asylees, refugees, and other humanitarian cases (for at least five to seven years after entry). Other LPRs must meet additional eligibility requirements. For SNAP, they generally must have been legally resident for five years or be under age 18. Under TANF and SSI, they generally are ineligible for five years after entry and then eligible at state option. States have the option of providing Medicaid to pregnant LPRs and children within the five-year bar. Unauthorized aliens (often referred to as illegal aliens) are not eligible for most federal benefits, regardless of whether they are means tested, with notable exceptions for emergency services, (e.g., Medicaid emergency medical care or Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster services). TANF, SSI, food stamp, and Medicaid recipiency among noncitizens decreased over the 1995- 2005 period, but has inched upwards in 2011. While the 10-year decrease was affected by the statutory changes, the poverty rate of noncitizens had also diminished over the 1995-2005 decade. The poverty rate for noncitizens residing in the United States fell from 27.8% in 1995 to 20.4% in 2005. It has risen to 24.3% in 2011. Noncitizens are disproportionately poorer than native-born residents of the United States.

This report does not track legislation and is updated as policy changes warrant."


October 2, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

DACA Status Recipients Can Join U.S. Military under MAVNI Program

From CBS News and USA Today:

Last week, the Department of Defense modified its policy for recruitment to allow some immigrants currently living in the U.S. illegally to serve in the military.

The policy expands an existing program called Military Accessions Vital to National Interest, or MAVNI, which allows the military to enlist foreign nationals "holding critical skills." These include specialized medical training and foreign strategic language expertise.

Now, as long as they came to the U.S. with their parents prior to age 16, are pending approval for adjustment of status, or have held legal status for at least two years at some point, immigrants without a proper visa fall within grounds of eligibility.

In the brief, the Department of Defense cited a July 2002 executive order making noncitizen service members eligible for accelerated citizenship processes.

Military Times suggested that the Pentagon program, which caps at 1,500 recruits per year, "may be the first phase of a broader government-wide effort to ease pressure on immigrants and create new paths of citizenship."


October 2, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Join The Second Class of Immigrant Justice Corps!


The Immigrant Justice Corps is getting ready to hire its second class of Fellows. The application process opens October 15.

The Immigrant Justice Corps seeks recent law graduates with a history of commitment to and an interest in building a career in immigration law. Applicants from around the country are welcome, though Fellows will work in New York City to expand "the quality and quantity of immigration legal representation for under-served immigrants."

Although the application process isn't open quite yet, be ready to pounce when it does. Those applications are due by 11:59 p.m. on November 15 and must be submitted via the IJC website:

Good luck!


October 2, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Supreme Court Grants Cert in Consular Nonreviewability Doctrine Case

At the behest of the Solicitor General, the U.S. Supreme Court today granted certiorari in Din v. Kerry to decide whether immigrant families separated by U.S. government officials have any right to know the basis for their forced separation. The government claims “complete discretion” over whether to allow “alien spouses (and other family members) of U.S. citizens … admission to the United States,” and sought Supreme Court review to avoid being required to provide an explanation for excluding the spouse of a U.S. citizen from entry to the United States.

The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court’s order granting the U.S. government’s motion to dismiss, on the basis of consular nonreviewability, U.S. citizen Fauzia Din’s claims for a writ of mandamus directing the government to adjudicate the visa application she filed on behalf of her husband Kanishka Berashk and for a declaratory judgment under the Administrative Procedure Act. Before their marriage, Berashk worked for the Afghan government and his work necessarily included work for the Taliban. The Embassy denied his visa under the Immigration and Nationality Act § 212(a)(3)(B), 8 U.S.C. § 1182(a)(3)(B), which lists a wide variety of conduct that renders an alien inadmissible due to “terrorist activities.” The panel, in an opinion by Judge Murgia (and joined by District Judge Collisn, sitting by designation), concluded that the U.S. government’s citation to 8 U.S.C. § 1182(a)(3)(B), in the absence of any allegations of proscribed conduct, was not a facially legitimate reason to deny Berashk’s visa, and held that the U.S. government did not put forth a facially legitimate reason to deny it. The panel also concluded that Din had standing to seek a declaratory judgment that the visa denial notice provision under § 1182(b)(3) was unconstitutional as applied to her. Dissenting, Judge Clifton would find that the U.S. government is specifically not required to provide information about a visa denial based on concerns for national security or terrorism. He wrote that basing a denial of the application on the statute provided a lawful reason for denying it.“

Stay tuned for updates (briefs etc.) on Din v. Kerry on SCOTUSBlogReuters reports on the cert grant here.

UPDATE (10/6):  For analysis of Kerry v. Din by Gary Endelman and Cyrus D. Mehta, click here.  


October 2, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)