Thursday, August 20, 2015

Tweet Teaching

This tweet from legendary scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson would be a fabulous conversation stater for your first day of class.

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August 20, 2015 in Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Your Playlist: Malinda Kathleen Reese

For those who discuss translation issues in immigration court, have I got the song for you. Malina Kathleen Reese sings the anthem "Let it Go" from the movie Frozen, after running the lyrics through Google Translate (several times). The result is incredibly charming with lyrics like "Give up! Give up! Tune in and slam the door!"


The song is an excellent jumping off point for discussing:

  • Quality problems for esoteric languages
  • Quality problems for fluent speakers with agendas (e.g. a Tutsi translating for a Hutu)What it might be like for clients to not have other witnesses testimony translated for them, nor exchanges between the IJ and counsel

I learned of this great song from television personality John Oliver. In October 2014, John Oliver ran a scathing report on the U.S. treatment of military translators from Afghanistan and Iraq. It's really a must watch, if you missed it.


The interview with Mohammad toward the end of the program is a particularly excellent teaching tool as it provides a venue for class discussion on how we expect people to relay stories of intense horror (his father was murdered and his baby brother was kidnapped for ransom - facts he relays with little visible emotion) and the problems with judging veracity by way of demeanor in court.


July 14, 2015 in Music, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 10, 2015

Ethics Realothetical for the Classroom

A "realothetical" (re-Al-o-thetical), a word coined by my law professor husband, is an in-class problem pulled from the real world. Such problems can be fun for students, who see the exercises as a genuine step toward practice-readiness. They can also be messy, as the real world doesn't tend to turn out quite as neatly as the world of hypotheticals.

Photo via The State Bar of Nevada

The area of ethics, in particular, can be quite messy. But that mess can be a tremendous opportunity for engaging students and preparing them for the real world.

I am sharing with you today an immigration ethics realothetical that you could use in the classroom. It goes like this:

You are an immigration lawyer. A new client comes to your office for an initial consultation. The client is in removal proceedings and has weak claims to relief. During the course of your discussion, the client discloses that he was the victim of sexual assault while in jail. You suddenly see a genuine opportunity for relief - perhaps this person could be eligible for a U visa. You begin to ask questions about the crime and, in particular, whether the crime was reported or prosecuted. After hearing all about the heartbreaking circumstances of the crime, the victim tells you the name of his assailant. That name rings a bell - you have a client by the same name. But, you can't be sure. You ask for the description of the assailant. The description you get confirms your fears, it's your client. What red flags do you see? What should you do?

This is a realothetical. A real-life immigration lawyer was faced with this horrifying conundrum.

As for the first question (red flags), here are some prompts for starting classroom discussion:

  • Can you represent the new client?
  • Can you help the new client obtain representation with someone else?
  • What if the result would harm your current client who would, after all, likely lose avenues for relief if convicted of the crime?
  • Can you continue to represent your old client?
  • What can you tell your old client about what you learned from the new client?

In terms of the second question (what should you do) consider the following prompts:

  • Where would you look for advice?
  • Imagine you practice in a small firm, would you ask colleagues within your firm for advice?
  • Imagine you're a solo practitioner. Would you seek advice from other immigration attorneys? How?
  • Did you know that state bar associations offer ethics hotlines? Would you call the hotline?

In terms of the real-world resolution of this realothetical - the immigration attorney terminated the consult with the new client and disclosed there might be a conflict of interest preventing the attorney from continuing to offer representation. The attorney contacted the bar hotline and sought advice from immigration attorneys. He was able to refer the "new" client to alternative counsel. He is prohibited from disclosing anything (including the potentially imminent criminal charges) to the client-assailant, whose own immigration case is ongoing.

I look forward to hearing from folks with other realotheticals that you think would make good classroom exercises.


July 10, 2015 in Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Your Playlist: Timbalive

It's Tuesday afternoon. Maybe you're sitting around the office trying to muster up the energy to proofread the current draft of your school's ABA site visit questionnaire. You know you could do it, if only you had a great background beat.

Ladies and gentlemen, enter Timbalive with their exceptionally catchy tune Llego mi pasaporte. And, bonus, it's a great classroom song for covering citizenship or defenses to deportation. After all, the opening lyrics are: "Ya llego, ya llego mi pasaporte, soy Americano y no hay quien me deporte...!!!"

Do watch the video. President Obama shows up. Sort of.



June 23, 2015 in Music, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Happy Third Anniversary, DACA!

Photo by Zdenko Zivkovic

Monday marked the third anniversary of DACA: Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. So, Happy Anniversary, DACA!

While DAPA (Deferred Action for Parental Accountability) and the extended DACA program are currently on hold, so-called "original" DACA remains active.

Immprofs might be interested in the USCIS statistics on original DACA. The agency has created a number of handy charts that might be of use in the classroom.

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June 16, 2015 in Current Affairs, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 8, 2015

Investor Visa Showdown: United States vs. Canada

What a delight to find Forbes has combined my passion for visas, U.S. business interests, and explanatory charts & tables into one fabulous article: U.S. vs Canada -- Which Country Has The Best Investor Immigration Program?


Who could resist this lead in: "Recently I traveled to Nigeria with Michael Petrucelli, the former Deputy Director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service and now representative of the U.S. Freedom Capital regional center in Texas and Dillon Colucci, an EB5 immigration attorney with the law firm of Greenberg Taurig." That's my kind of name dropping, even if it does remind me a bit of a Weird Al song (you won't be disappointed if you click through).


June 8, 2015 in Current Affairs, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, June 5, 2015

Immigration & Education

Public Radio International (PRI) has a made a new push to cover "immigrant student life" in its collection Global Nation Education.

Photo Eric E. Johnson

One segment offers an interactive timeline of events that have "laid a foundation for the first- and second-generation children in classrooms today and those who will follow."

In terms of law, the timeline starts with the Naturalization Act of 1906 and runs through 2002's No Child Left Behind.

Obviously, more contributions could be cited. As we covered here last month, it seems like the timeline could be expanded to 1885 with Mary Tape's lawsuit against the San Francisco School District. Nonetheless, it's an interesting and engaging collection that may be of interest to readers.


June 5, 2015 in Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Your Playlist: REO Speedwagon

REO Speedwagon's Take It On The Run offers the perfect musical introduction to a discussion on the use of hearsay in removal proceedings. Listen to Kevin Cronin croon:

Heard it from a friend who
Heard it from a friend who
Heard it from another you been messin' around

The song is also an acoustic companion to Mary Halper's Confronting Cops in Immigration Court. Enjoy.



May 14, 2015 in Music, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

What You Don't Know About Immigration

What You Don't Know About Immigration is a HuffPo piece penned by Bronwyn Lea, a lawfully-present nonimmigrant. The article details the tenuousness of her nonimmigrant status, and the difficulties she's faced in an effort to obtain greater permanency (a green card), despite being present lawfully, speaking English, having graduate degrees, and birthing USC children. She writes:

What I want you to know is that there is no line. Immigration is not like Disneyland, where if you pay enough money and queue patiently for several hours, anyone can ride Space Mountain. There is not a single line that I can stand in on my own merit. Even with language and education and money and privilege aplenty, even though I don't come from India or China or Mexico, there is no line for me. So, I'm holding my husband's hand while he stands in that elusive, exclusive line; and we're hoping for the best.

It's a nice, short piece that would work well in class. Perhaps it could even be paired with the Thronson exercise.


May 6, 2015 in Current Affairs, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Teaching Materials: Divisibility of Criminal Statutes and the Modified Categorical Analysis of Immigration Consequences by Maureen Sweeny

Maureen Sweeny of the University of Maryland has created another great video explaining Descamps - this time focusing on the modified categorical approach used to analyze whether a state criminal offense should have immigration consequences. Check it out:


You will be blown away by how straightforward Prof. Sweeny manages to make it all!


April 15, 2015 in Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Signs You Might Be a Terrorist

The Intercept has an intriguing exposé on signs used by the Transportation Security Administration to identify potential terrorists in airports. The basis for the article is a "confidential" TSA checklist shared with the website by "a source concerned about the quality" of the TSA's Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques or SPOT program.

Check out this handy summary created by The Intercept:


Discussion of this checklist would make an intriguing addition to a class on post 9/11 national security and terrorism. It might also be helpful in a clinic setting to discuss inferences made about clients based on their non-verbal behavior in court. I plan to use it in combination with discussion of the USCIS Fraud Referral Sheet.


April 2, 2015 in Current Affairs, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Your Playlist: Michael Jackson and Kermit the Frog

If you teach Ozawa v. United States - the 1922 case where a Japanese man sought classification as being white - I've got two songs for your playlist. Both are classics.

First, I give you Michael Jackson's Black or White. And yes, your eyes do not deceive you. That's McCaulay Culkin in the video.


And, second, you cannot forget Kermit the Frog's soulful ballad It's Not Easy Being Green.



March 15, 2015 in Music, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 13, 2015

Video: Lynn Marcus on Cancellation of Removal

The LegalED immigration videos are a great resource for use in or out of the classroom. The latest comes from Lynn Marcus, co-director of the immigration clinic at the University of Arizona. The topic: cancellation of removal. Check it out:



March 13, 2015 in Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

MapFight: Your Classroom App

MapFight is a handy teaching app. It allows you to compare countries and states by size.

If you're talking about refugees and asylees, you might want to discuss the fact that Germany had the highest number of registered asylum claims in 2013: 109,600 compared to the U.S. figure of 88,400. MapFight offers a great visual comparison of the two countries, which should kick off conversation about comparative obligations.

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If you're talking about Matter of Acosta, you might want to address the idea that Acosta could move to another part of El Salvador in order to escape violence (see footnote 14). Students may find it helpful to have a visual understanding of the size of the country, like this:

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March 10, 2015 in Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 26, 2015

New H4 Regs in Meme Format

Yesterday, I posted about the new H4 regs, which will grant work authorization to certain spouses of H1B holders.

Today, I bring you the meme response:


Thank you, internet.


February 26, 2015 in Current Affairs, Photos, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Teaching Materials: Categorial Analysis by Maureen Sweeny

Maureen Sweeny of the University of Maryland has created a video explaining Descamps. Check it out:


This is an outstanding teaching tool. It's a great visualization of categorical approach

I'll admit that the brief mention of the modified categorical approach, 5:05-5:20. will probably throw students off, but it's a great teaser for what I hope will be the next video to come!


February 12, 2015 in Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Stop Training Lawyers to Be Jerks

Jenna Cho, Photo via JC Law Group

Attorney Jeena Cho wants you to stop training lawyers to be jerks. Writing for the Huffington Post, Cho talks about the advice she received early in her legal career from a mentor: "to be the most aggressive man in the room, to be the most boisterous and to never give an inch."

Cho has just three pieces of (contrary) advice:

1. Lead with kindness.

2. Don't wear other people's suits.

3. Be a good human.

I find myself giving versions of this advice to students with some frequency. But it's a message that bears repeating often and with emphasis. After all, lawyers on TV are rarely nice and, let's be honest here, TV inspires many of our students to go to law school. But there's absolutely no reason why lawyers in the real world can't aspire to something better.

And now for some fun facts about Jenna Cho. She's not only a bankruptcy lawyer in San Francisco, she's also an immigrant from South Korea. And her "about me" page is one of the best I've seen in ages.


February 4, 2015 in Current Affairs, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Citizenship Exams in the Classroom

Could your students pass the citizenship exam? I quiz my Immigration Law students every year. I find that naturalized USCs and government majors tend to ace it. Others struggle. (Admit it, did you realize Publius was one of the writers of the U.S. Constitution? Check out question 67.)

The NYT reports that several states are now requiring high school students to pass the citizenship exam before they can graduate. Passing is defined as 60%, which is the score immigrants need for naturalization.

Arizona was the first state to pass such a law, which it did earlier this month. And other states are following suit:

North Dakota’s House of Representatives has passed a comparable bill, and its Senate approved it Tuesday; legislators in Indiana, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia and seven other states have recently introduced similar initiatives.

For those high school students looking for a little extra motivation (or for profs looking for a nice video for class), check out late-night personality Craig Ferguson on his citizenship test.



January 29, 2015 in Current Affairs, Film & Television, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 9, 2015

Your Playlist: The Sensations

Those of your preparing for the Spring semester may be looking to update your in-class playlist. Or maybe you're just looking for tunes to listen to while revamping your syllabus. Let me recommend the 1962 hit "Let Me In" by The Sensations. It pairs perfectly with admission procedure. Enjoy!



January 9, 2015 in Music, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Brushing up your Spanish the Michel Thomas Way

Photo by Jim Block

Michel Thomas was an extraordinary man. Born in Poland in 1914, Thomas left the country as a young man, studying in Germany and France in an effort to escape antisemitism. During WW2, he served in the French Resistance and ended up spending two years in French concentration camps. After the war, Thomas moved to the United States where he spent a lifetime teaching Hollywood stars to master foreign languages.

While Thomas passed away in 2005, his method for language learning lives on in audiotapes.

I was introduced to the Michel Thomas method by my colleague Lindsay Robertson. Lindsay knew that I was trying to brush up on my Spanish before heading to the immigration detention facility in Artesia, NM. In a past life, my Spanish was excellent. I studied through college - taking advanced literature courses and studying abroad. But it had been over a decade since I tried to use my skills.

I did many things to bring my Spanish back up to speed - and will post about them all, eventually. But without a doubt the most surprisingly effective tool was the Total Spanish series by Michel Thomas. 

The Thomas CDs are different from anything I've ever listened to before. You listen as he teaches two students how to speak Spanish. In effect, you are the third student in the room. It's extra fun because one of the students isn't very good and so you won't feel like the dunce in the room as you practice.

Thomas emphasizes practical communication skills - pointing out the thousands of words that are largely the same in English and Spanish. As a result, you end up with a much more sophisticated vocabulary that you would if you tried to learn words one at a time.

These langauge CDs are a truly effective tool, whether you are looking to learn Spanish for the first time or looking to brush up on skills you already have. I'd actually recommend that clinics around the country invest in a copy for their students to borrow. (OU has a set available for students in our International Human Rights Clinic.)

Finally, I should also note that Michel Thomas was a polyglot. His language CDs are not just available in Spanish but a multitude of other languages. 


January 6, 2015 in Books, Immigration Law Clinics, Music, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)