Thursday, October 2, 2014

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)

Executive Grants of Temporary Immigration Relief, 1956-Present

Today, the American Immigration Council releases Executive Grants of Temporary Immigration Relief, 1956-Present. Since at least 1956, every U.S. president has granted temporary immigration relief to one or more groups in need of assistance. The publication includes a chart of 39 examples which span actions large and small, taken over many years, sometimes by multiple administrations. Some presidents announced programs while legislation was pending. Other presidents responded to humanitarian crises. Still others made compelling choices to assist individuals in need when the law failed to address their needs or changes in circumstance.

Mark Noferi, Enforcement Fellow with the American Immigration Council, also has published an op-ed in The Hill today exploring the "Family Fairness" policy implemented by Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush, Sr., a response to family separation caused by immigration law that is strikingly similar to the choices President Obama faces today.


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

Get Visa: The Game!

Immigration Enforcement Actions: 2013 -- Obama administration removed 438,000 noncitizens last year, 95 percent of them from Mexico and Central America

Each year, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) undertakes immigration enforcement actions involving hundreds of thousands of aliens who may be or are in violation of U.S. immigration laws. These actions include the apprehension or arrest, detention, return, and removal from the United States of aliens.

This Office of Immigration Statistics (OIS) Annual Report presents information on aliens determined inadmissible, apprehended, arrested, detained, returned, or removed, during 2013. Key findings in this report include:

• CBP determined approximately 204,000 aliens were inadmissible.

• DHS apprehended approximately 662,000 aliens; 64 percent were citizens of Mexico.

• ICE detained nearly 441,000 aliens.

• Approximately 178,000 aliens were returned to their home countries through processes that did not require a removal order.

DHS removed approximately 438,000 aliens from the United States. The leading countries of origin for those removed were Mexico (72 percent), Guatemala (11 percent), Honduras (8.3 percent), and El Salvador (4.8 percent).

• Expedited removal orders accounted for 44 percent, of all removals.

• Reinstatements of final orders accounted for 39 percent, of all removals.

• ICE removed approximately 198,000 known criminal aliens from the United States.


Note that the Obama administration removed 438,000 noncitizens last year, 95 percent of them from Mexico and Central America.

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

From the Bookshelves: Extraordinary Rendition Paperback by Paul Batista


Extraordinary Rendition Paperback by Paul Batista (2013 Fiction)

When Ali Hussein, suspected terrorist and alleged banker for Al Qaeda, is finally transported from Guantanamo Bay to the US mainland to stand trial, many are stunned when Byron Carlos Johnson, a pre-eminent lawyer and son of a high-profile diplomat, volunteers to represent him. On principle, Johnson thought he was merely defending a man unjustly captured through rendition and water-boarded illegally. But Johnson soon learns that there is much more at stake than one man's civil rights. Hussein's intimate knowledge of key financial transactions could lead to the capture of or the unabated funding of the world's most dangerous terror cells. This makes Hussein the target of corrupt US intelligence forces on one side, and ruthless international terrorists on the other, and puts Byron Carlos Johnson squarely in the crosshairs of both. Written by no-holds-barred attorney Paul Batista, Extraordinary Rendition excels not only as an action thriller, but as a sophisticated legal procedural as well. Smart. Fast. Heart-pounding. A legal thriller of the highest order.


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

Immigrant of the Day: Bai Ling From China | Actor


Photo Courtesy of IMDb

Bai Ling From China | Actor

Born in Chengdu, China, actor Bai Ling was a major star in her country by the time she left for the U.S. Learning English while she attended film school at New York University, she soon won the lead in Terence Malik’s play Sansho the Bailiff. Not long after, she landed her breakout role in the 1997 film Red Corner, which won her a National Board of Review award for a Breakthrough Performance. Later, she garnered acclaim for her role in Anna and the King.



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

UC Davis Opens Center for Undocumented Students, Law School's Immigration Clinic to Provide Legal Assistance to Undocumented Studentsenter


With the new quarter starting today, UC Davis has opened a new AB540 and Undocumented Student Center. AB 540 refers to a California state law, passed in 2001, that exempts students from paying nonresident college tuition (which is costlier than resident tuition) if they have attended a California high school for at least three years, graduated from a California high school and met other requirements.

The AB 540 and Undocumented Student Center will offer undocumented students community, coordinate resources for them, and support their success. Building on the efforts of students over the years, students, including members of SPEAK (Scholars Promoting Education Awareness and Knowledge), a student-run organization that supports undocumented students, last year drafted a proposal for a center and began discussions with campus leaders. In fall 2013, UC President Janet Napolitano announced a $5 million initiative to enhance student services and financial aid available to undocumented UC students. UC Davis is receiving $500,000 to serve its estimated 200 undocumented students.

The new center will offer academic and financial advising, and access to counseling services. It will also advocate for undocumented students and raise campus awareness about their concerns. Through a partnership with the School of Law's Immigration Law Clinic, the center will offer free immigration-related legal services including representation in immigration court or before immigration agencies; and workshops for preparing applications for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, naturalization and other forms or immigration relief.  Professors Leticia Saucedo and Amagda Pérez have taken leadership roles in expanding the Immigration Law Clinic's services to include legal assistance for undocumented UC Davis students.



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

Using Ebola Scare to Foment Anti-Immigrant Sentiment (Without the Facts)

Jessica Vaughan on the Center for Immigration Studies blog tries to make anti-immigration hay out of the nations's Ebola scare in a story entitled "Dallas Ebola Patient Was Another Visa Mistake."  It begins "Look up `likely visa overstay' in the dictionary, and you should find a picture of Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian man who is the first Ebola case diagnosed within the United States, and who is now being treated in a Dallas hospital."

The post goes on to admit that "The federal government has yet to disclose the details of Duncan's immigration history . . . ."  (emphasis added).  Without knowing the facts, Vaughan goes on to suggest that the United States cut off all travel from the three nations in Western Africa experiencing Ebola outbreaks.


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

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Top 10 large law firms in California who donated to Calfornia Justice Gap Fund


The legal aid community is kicking off a new season of fund-raising in October to coincide with Campaign for Justice Month. The campaign – formed by a network of legal aid organizations, private lawyers, the Office of Legal Services of the State Bar and the Legal Aid Association of California – raises money for legal services for the poor. Attorneys have the opportunity to contribute to the Justice Gap Fund when they pay their State Bar annual fees. The campaign recently recognized the 10 large law firms that reported the highest levels of participation by their attorneys from July 2013 to June 2014. Attorneys at these firms contributed $81,325, or 9.4 percent of the $860,000 collected in that time.


October 1, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Class Challenging Immigration Detainers Certified

A federal  district court has granted class certification in a federal class action lawsuit challenging the federal government’s unlawful use of immigration detainers to hold immigrants in the custody of local law enforcement agencies.

Heartland Alliance’s National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) and the law firm of Winston & Strawn LLP represent the plaintiff class in Jimenez Moreno v. Napolitano. The plaintiffs challenge the constitutionality of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) use of immigration detainers, which instruct police to continue to detain individuals until ICE officers arrive to take the individuals into custody. Among the plaintiffs in the lawsuit is a U.S. citizen who was held on an immigration detainer in Rockford, Illinois, from March 2011 until shortly after the federal lawsuit was filed in August 2011. As a U.S. citizen, the man cannot be deported from the United States.


October 1, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

CRS Report: Noncitizen Eligibility for Federal Public Assistance: Policy Overview and Trends

photo via U. of Md.

The Congressional Research Service has released a new report entitled Noncitizen Eligibility for Federal Public Assistance: Policy Overview and Trends. The report is authored by Ruth E. Wasem.

The report discusses the eligibility of non-citizens for the "four major federal means-tested benefit programs:"

  • SNAP: the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly food stamps),

  • SSI: the Supplemental Security Income program

  • TANF: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families

  • Medicaid

The report is filled with informative charts that address both eligility for and usage of these federal programs.


October 1, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Out of the shadows and out of poverty: Reducing poverty through immigration reform

US Mayors: “We will provide compassion and care for children fleeing violence.”

We Will Provide Compassion and Care for Children: A Statement of the Nation’s City and County Leaders

Today, children fleeing horrific violence are seeking shelter and safety in the United States.  These young children from Central America have often traveled thousands of miles, have suffered abuse along the way, and have surrendered themselves to U.S. border patrol agents, asking for our help.

As leaders of the nation’s cities and counties, we remind the American public that the moral compass of our nation resides in our local communities.  We call on our residents and leaders across the country to respond with compassion and concern for the welfare of all children, and to join us in doing all we can to live up to our values as a just and welcoming nation.

As Americans, we will not turn our backs on children. Fortunately, the majority of these children have family living in our communities who are longing to take care of their loved ones. Local governments, community organizations and volunteers across the country are working together to assist these families and provide shelter and care for the few who do not have it. We will do our part to support their efforts, as well as those of faith communities who are leading the call to help children in need.

As Americans, we also believe in the values of freedom, justice, and due process. We will listen to these children and treat them fairly. The children should have a chance to tell their story and the law should be applied fairly and in accordance with our justice system. The children are also young, scared, and need a trusted adult looking out for their interests, whether as a translator, legal advocate or care provider.  Volunteers in our towns and cities are already stepping up to provide this help, and we commit to supporting their efforts in whatever way we can.

We believe, and know, our local communities to be welcoming communities. Whether our residents were born here or traveled thousands of miles to join us, we all look out for one another and for our families. Our values – and for many of us, our empathy as parents with young children of our own – remind us that our greatest strength lies in our ability to work together and care for one another.  As local governments, we will play an essential role in bringing our communities together to strengthen our ability to respond compassionately.

We know that our nation can and will respond with courage and compassion, just as we always have in moments of adversity.  We are proud that our nation’s cities and counties are leading the way and of what our communities are already doing to be welcoming places, and hope that you and your community will join us.


Mayor Kasim Reed City of Atlanta, Georgia


Mayor Martin J. Walsh City of Boston, Massachusetts

Mayor Rahm Emanuel City of Chicago, Illinois

Mayor Stephen K. Benjamin City of Columbia, South Carolina

Mayor Michael B. Hancock City of Denver, Colorado

Mayor Eric Garcetti City of Los Angeles, California

County Executive Isiah Leggett Montgomery County, Maryland



October 1, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

As New Countries Embrace Immigrant Investor Programs, Others Question Their Economic Benefits


A growing number of countries have created immigrant investor programs offering citizenship or residency rights in exchange for a sizeable financial investment, as demand from wealthy immigrants from China and other emerging economies increases. Yet even as more countries jump into the ring, some governments with more experience have questioned the programs' economic benefits and are looking for ways to increase their impact, a new Migration Policy Institute (MPI) report finds.

The report, Selling Visas and Citizenship: Policy Questions from the Global Boom in Investor Immigration, examines the increasing mix of players and types of immigrant investor programs, their policy design, benefits and other considerations. During the past decade, the number of countries with immigrant investor programs has increased dramatically, and about half of all European Union member states now have dedicated routes. Demand has increased as well, with the U.S. EB-5 program, for example, nearing its annual cap of 10,000 visas this year for the first time, after two decades of relatively low uptake.

"Cash-for citizenship" policies have not been without controversy, however, as Malta experienced in 2013. Its plan to sell passports for 650,000 euros (later upped to 1.15 million euros in cash and investments) sparked an outcry in the country—as well as in Brussels, since a Malta passport grants immediate access to EU citizenship.

"In theory, the benefits of investor programs are straightforward: investors obtain new residency rights, while destination countries gain revenues or job-creating investments," authors Madeleine Sumption and Kate Hooper write. "In practice, policymakers have often found the results disappointing."

The report explores the two primary models: (1) investment in private-sector assets, such as the business investment programs used in the United States, Singapore and the Netherlands, or the purchase of private property, as seen in Greece, Latvia, Portugal and Spain, and (2) providing funds to the government via non-refundable fees, low-interest loans or bonds, as occurs in the Caribbean as well as Australia, Malta and the United Kingdom.

The report argues that the clearest economic benefits come from programs that encourage cash payments to the government or national development funds, though it notes that these are the most controversial as they accentuate public concerns about whether it is appropriate to sell citizenship. Programs requiring private-sector investment—such as the U.S. EB-5 program—are promising in theory but raise some thorny compliance issues. In particular, the government may have little control over where and how the money is invested, as well as whether investments actually create the expected number of jobs.

Citing concerns over economic benefits, Canada earlier this year scrapped its federal program. And the United Kingdom's Migration Advisory Committee has argued that the country is giving away residence rights in return for a government bond investment with no economic value. Australia, meanwhile, has adjusted its program to target investors who will make clearer economic contributions.

The report provides a global overview of immigrant investor initiatives, examines residency requirements and upfront costs.

KJInvestortr programs

October 1, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigrant of the Day: Pardis Sabeti From Iran | Vilcek Prize Winner, Biomedical Science


Pardis Sabeti From Iran | Vilcek Prize Winner, Biomedical Science

Pardis Sabeti, born in Tehran, Iran, in 1975, has made important contributions to the understanding of both human resistance to disease and microbes’ evolved resistance to drug treatments. While studying malaria as a post-doctoral fellow in infectious disease and genomics at the Broad Institute, she developed an algorithm to identify recent changes in the human genome. Her discovery might eventually lead to better methods of defeating drug-resistant diseases. Sabeti is currently an associate professor at Harvard University, where she continues her research, and she was awarded the 2014 Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Biomedical Science. 


October 1, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Refugee plan set up for Central American minors?

The Associated Press reports that the Obama administration is initiating a program to give refugee status to some young people from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador in response to the influx of unaccompanied minors arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border. Under the program, immigrants from those countries who are lawfully in the United States will be able to request that child relatives still in those three countries be resettled in the United States as refugees. The program would establish in-country processing to screen the young people to determine if they qualify to join relatives in the U.S.

In a memorandum on Fiscal Year 2015 Refugee Admissions to the State Department released yesterday, President Obama allocated 4,000 slots for refugees from Latin America and the Caribbean for next year. The number is a fraction of the number of children who have already crossed the border into the United States and are awaiting deportation proceedings.

The administration's program would not provide a path for minors to join relatives unlawfully in the United States, and would not apply to minors who have entered the country illegally. Instead, it aims to set up an orderly alternative for dealing with young people who otherwise might embark on a dangerous journey to join their families in the United States.

UPDATE (10/1 3 p.m. PST):  For former BIA Member Lory Rosenberg's criticism of the Obama administration's refugee allocation to Central America, click here.


October 1, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

ISIS and Security Along the U.S.Mexico Border


In this piece, Ian Haney López, author of Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism and Wrecked the Middle Class (2014), critcizes conservative attempts to link ISIS and security along the U.S./Mexico border: 

"Using severe orthodoxy to justify barbarous violence, the Islamic State in Syria is a major destructive force in the Middle East that demands the attention of the United States, prompting political leaders from President Obama on down to warn the American polity of the danger posed by ISIS. Strikingly, though, many Republicans have been depicting ISIS not primarily as a foreign concern, but as a domestic threat that may portend the invasion, and even the potential collapse, of our country. Especially in the repeated linkage of ISIS to security on the Mexican border, conservative warnings on ISIS seem to constitute a new form of dog whistle politics, the dark art of using coded terms to stir racial anxiety among voters."

Since the events of September 11, 2001 (and before), national security fears have been invoked by political leaders advocating restricting immigration, increased border enforcement, and otherwise limiting migration from Mexico.  For further analysis, click here.


October 1, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

NPR: Mexican Government Pays DACA Application Fees for Some Mexican Citizens

NPR reports that Mexico is helping some of its citizens with paying fees to apply for relief under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Mexican consulates are helping some unauthorized immigrants from Mexico pay application fees for DACA relief. 

Since the Obama administration created the DACA program in 2012, more than 580,000 unauthorized immigrants brought to the U.S. as minors have received temporary relief from deportation and been given temporary work permits that last for at least two years. But 45 percent of those who are eligible for DACA have not applied, and the cost may be holding some back. Immigrants must pay $465 to the Department of Homeland Security for fees related to the work permit and for required fingerprinting. Mexican consulates around the U.S. have been paying those fees for some applicants through a program for Mexican citizens with financial need.

The Mexican government states that it is seeking to help its citizens living and working in the United States.  The support may be a response to claims for years that the Mexican government fails to do enough for its citizens in the United States. Recent years have seen increasing efforts by Mexican consulates in the United States to protect the rights of its citizen workers in the United States and provide other services.

An official with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which reviews DACA applications, told NPR that foreign governments are not restricted from providing filing fees.


October 1, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)