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.

Screen Shot 2015-03-10 at 5.42.34 AM

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:

Screen Shot 2015-03-10 at 5.43.50 AM


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)

Sunday, November 23, 2014

SNL Takes on President Obama's Executive Action

An excellent video to spark in-class discussion!



November 23, 2014 in Current Affairs, Film & Television, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 14, 2014

Hyeonseo Lee: My Escape from North Korea

In this Ted talk, Hyeonseo Lee discusses her childhood in North Korea, escape to China, relocation in South Korea, and smuggling of her family out of North Korea through China and Laos. Grab some tissues and watch her powerful talk. It's a great vehicle for class discussion on open borders!



November 14, 2014 in Current Affairs, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Laugh Break

My favorite comic Bizzaro is back again with more immigration fun. It's perfect for those of you who enjoy peppering your powerpoints with miscellany.



November 6, 2014 in Current Affairs, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 3, 2014

Your Playlist: Chingo Bling

Chingo Bling (known to his parents as Pedro Herrera) is a Mexican-American rapper. Born in Houston, he attended Trinity College. And, most importantly for you, dear readers, he recorded the oh-so-catchy single The Can't Deport Us All.



November 3, 2014 in Music, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Immigrant Justice Clinic in Artesia

This past week, Professor Jayesh Rathod, Director of American University WCL's Immigrant Justice Clinic, traveled to Artesia, NM with eight of his clinic students. They spent the week working with women and children detained in New Mexico.

The clinic students made videos about their experiences. I think these two are particularly compelling and would make great additions to the classroom.

In the first video, a student talks about the sick children at Artesia.

In this second video, three students discuss the difficulties facing indigenous clients at Artesia, including translation issues.

Kudos for accomplishing what was clearly a terrific clinic experience!


October 26, 2014 in Current Affairs, Immigration Law Clinics, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 17, 2014

2014 Rebellious Lawyering Conference San Francisco, California

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Saga of Dario Guerrero Meneses

Guerrero, photo AP

If you blinked, you might have missed the story about Harvard University junior Dario Guerrero Meneses.

Yesterday, the AP reported on how Guerrero, a DACA recipient, left the country without federal authorization. He traveled to Mexico in a vain attempt to find alternative medical treatment for his dying mom. His mom passed away, and Guerrero found himself unable to return to the United States.

Hours after the publication of that piece, Guerrero received a "humanitarian visa" enabling him to return to the U.S. and Harvard.

These are stories worth reading. They might make for great teaching moments on using the press to achieve change, humanitarian visas, DACA, or any number of issues.




October 15, 2014 in Current Affairs, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)