Tuesday, August 16, 2016
It can be hard to decide what to assign for your first day of class reading. I humbly submit the following proposal - Psalm by Polish poet Wisława Szymborska.
Oh, the leaky boundaries of man-made states!
How many clouds float past them with impunity;
how much desert sand sifts from one land to another;
how many mountain pebbles tumble onto foreign soil
in provocative hops!
Need I mention every single bird that flies in the face of frontiers
or alights on the roadblock at the border?
A humble robin - still, its tail resides abroad
while its beak stays home. If that weren't enough, it won't stop bobbing!
Among innumerable insects, I'll single out only the ant
between the border guard's left and right boots
blithely ignoring the questions "Where from?" and "Where to?"
Oh, to register in detail, at a glance, the chaos
prevailing on every continent!
Isn't that a privet on the far bank
smuggling its hundred-thousandth leaf across the river?
And who but the octopus, with impudent long arms,
would disrupt the sacred bounds of territorial waters?
And how can we talk of order overall?
when the very placement of the stars
leaves out doubting just what shines for whom?
Not to speak of the fog's reprehensible drifting!
And dust blowing all over the steppes
as if they hadn't been partitioned!
And the voices coasting on obliging airwaves,
that conspiratorial squeaking, those indecipherable mutters!
Only what is human can truly be foreign.
The rest is mixed vegetation, subversive moles, and wind.
Thursday, August 11, 2016
People are guaranteed freedom of movement within the United States pursuant to the privileges and immunities clause of our national constitution. That's not the case everywhere.
As the South China Morning Post reports, China's capitol city of Beijing recently enacted migration rules to keep its exploding population in check.
[A] migrant will be graded according to their contributions to the city and qualifications such as education or age. He or she cannot obtain permanent residency, which is tied to a series of social benefits that migrants do not get, without gaining enough grades.
"Grades" can be achieved by working and paying into social security, having a clean criminal record, having a high educational background, and being under the age of retirement. Benefits from permanent residency include access to better educational opportunities.
Beijing's new rules offer "extra grades" to those willing to move to relocate both work and home to the suburbs.
This article is a keeper for any immprof looking for a comparative perspective on the regulation of internal migration.
Monday, June 20, 2016
Check out this ad from the U.K. Independence Party, which favors the United Kingdom's exit from the European Union (-aka- Brexit).
The Atlantic has thoughtful discussion of the poster and the immigration battle at the heart of Brexit.
Monday, June 6, 2016
Saturday, May 21, 2016
Here's a wonderful little vignette from the NYT: Proposing Marriage to Save Citizenship. The twist? It's the story of a U.S. citizen looking to secure Dutch citizenship in order to stay in the same country as his two children. An immigration official told him he'd have to give up his U.S. citizenship if he wanted to become a Dutch national. Unless he married a Dutch national. And so the author proposed to his then-girlfriend in a cubicle of a government administrator.
That twist just might make this a fabulous reading assignment for students.
Tuesday, May 10, 2016
Monday, May 9, 2016
The Institute for Law Teaching and Learning will be hosting a conference at Washburn University School of Law on June 9-11, 2016. The topic is "Real-World Readiness."
Saturday, May 7, 2016
Wednesday, May 4, 2016
Thursday, April 28, 2016
Monday, April 18, 2016
Oklahoma Photo via the Boston Public Library
You've no doubt spent today glued to the internets scouting for word about United States v. Texas. Sure, it's fun to speculate about what SCOTUS might do, but we'll be waiting on a decision for a few months.
So why not take a fun and distracting trip down history lane with this great piece on Castle Island in New York City.
In 1855, New York City started using Castle Garden (a former fort turned beer garden) as a "state-run immigration portal." As Atlas Obsura describes it, Castle Garden "wasn’t just the main point of entry for immigrants to the U.S., it was the only organized immigration station in the entire country."
Immigrants arriving at Castle Garden were screened for disease and offered treatment. And while it was a place to meet up with family in the New World, it was also a place filled with con artists looking to scam the new arrivals.
One of the most fascinating tidbits in the article is this:
the Yiddish noun kesselgarten, which means “disorder and chaos”, comes directly from a pronunciation of Castle Garden.
Castle Garden remained open until 1890. Thereafter, immigrants were sent to the Barge Office and, later, Ellis Island.
It is now a national monument, and it is definitely on my list to visit the next time AALS rolls around to NYC.
Saturday, March 5, 2016
Trevor Noah is the South African comic who took over for Jon Stewart as host of the Daily Show. He used to be a stand up comic traveling the world and enjoying the strict gaze of immigration officials. Check out this bit:
The first two minutes might be good for use in class to give students the feel of a border interrogation.
Thursday, January 21, 2016
This is the U.S. Land Port of Entry in Van Buren, Maine, as photographed by Paul Crosby. Architect Magazine ran a story on this unique building in 2013.
And here is the The Mariposa Land Port of Entry in Nogales, Arizona, as photographed by by Bill Temmerman for another Architect Magazine profile.
Citylab reports that the beauty of these POEs is no coincidence:
For the past two decades, the federal government has been constructing architecturally refined “land ports of entry” (as they’re officially known) along our borders with Canada and Mexico. This effort is part of a larger program in the General Services Administration called Design Excellence, which started under President Bill Clinton and has continued, quietly, through three administrations.
The purpose of Design Excellence is to raise the bar for public architecture, ensuring that federal buildings such as courthouses or agency headquarters are not just functional, but showcase the country’s design talent.
Hat tip to immprof Liz Keyes for pointing me to this story. You know I love a good border station. It's time to plan my next immigration-destiny family vacay.
Wednesday, January 6, 2016
The Tennessean has a must-read story about Sawng Hing, a Burmese refugee accused of child abuse.
Hing speaks Matu-Chin, a language spoken by just 40,000 people in the entire world. When Hing was prosecuted criminally, the court relied on translations by her pastor, who himself did not speak Matu-Chin. The article provides multiple examples of the mis-translations that ensued.
Hing was ultimately convicted. And the government sought to deport her on that basis.
Now Hing is appealing both the criminal conviction and the resulting deportation on the basis of the faulty translation.
Wednesday, December 30, 2015
I missed this piece from back in November. Colbert takes on Republican candidates looking to restrict or eliminate refugee flows from Syria or Iraq.
He notes that Trump has suggested that relocating refugees to a place like Minnesota would be against their interests because of the extreme difference in the weather from Syria. Colbert agrees: "It's a tough call for the refugees. I mean, do I want to stay in a war zone where my family faces almost certain death or I want to go somewhere where I have to put on a jacket before I go to the mall?"
It's a great two minutes for sparking classroom conversation (check out 1:20-2:03).
And here's a still image from the show that could also work well in the classroom.
Monday, December 7, 2015
I recently posted my old immigration law exams online. They are available at this link.
Several law schools also make their exams freely-available. Here are a few from:
If you're aware of any other open-access exam sources, please contact me or leave a note in the comments.
Thursday, December 3, 2015
Maurice A. Roberts (1910-2001) served as chairman of the Board of Immigration Appeals from 1968-1974. He'd been involved in immigration for more than two decades before that, joining the INS in 1941.
In 1996, Roberts, well retired, wrote a short piece for Interpreter Releases called The Tule Lake Hearings. It is, unfortunately, not publicly available. But those of you with Westlaw access can find the piece at 73 No. 31 Interpreter Releases 1065 (Aug. 12, 1996).
Roberts wrote about his experience at Tule Lake, a holding facility for those Japanese-Americans who had renounced their U.S. citizenship during their internment in the 1940s. In January 1946, Roberts was one of several individuals selected to go to Tule Lake and assess which of the"renunciants" should be deported to Japan. It was a question of loyalty. Roberts had to judge "which ones were loyal to Japan, and these were to be deported."
Roberts does not write in 1996 with the mere memory of 1946. His article draws on contemporaneous daily correspondence with his wife.
After his first day of hearings, Roberts wrote to his wife:
It’s really quite a difficult job to determine what goes on in another’s mind and where his loyalty lies. It’s equally difficult to determine how much credibility, if any, to give to any given individual, since I’ve had no prior contact with Japanese and am unfamiliar with their reactions. I am especially concerned because the decisions in these cases are fraught with such drastic consequences for the renunciants concerned. It’s no simple matter to take a person who was born in this country and knows no other and deport him to a place where he’s never been and whose language he may not even know.
On another day:
I can’t help feeling that this whole program is still part of the hysteria engendered by the war, and that ten years from now it will be compared to the witch-hunting that went on after the last war. Of course, the Government is doing more than it is required to do in having any hearings at all; it might have deported all the renunciants indiscriminately, without individual hearings.
At the same time, it is a very difficult thing to determine questions of loyalty on such meager evidence and in so short a time. Loyalty isn’t a simple question; it consists of many complex factors, each one of which involves many variables. In the final analysis, I’m afraid that the decisions will still depend largely on the viewpoint and conditioning of the examining officer. At any rate, I intend to go on deciding the cases as I see them, even though my ratio of deportations may be far smaller than the others.
Roberts struggled with the fact that many of the renunciants were quite young, between 19 and 25. They'd been born in the United States but raised since infancy in Japan (the Kibei). In a stroke of bad timing, they had returned to the United States shortly before the war, which they then spent interned.
Where disloyalty has appeared, I have developed not only the fact of disloyalty but also the underlying reasons therefor. As a result, what appeared at first blush to be disloyalty turned out in many cases to be merely a temporary state of disaffection, engendered by the evacuation program. I don’t think the other officers have attempted to distinguish between disaffection and disloyalty.
Roberts concludes his piece by denouncing the "return of this current cycle of alien-bashing brings with it an uneasy sense of déjà vu. Isn’t it time that we learned from our past mistakes?" Two decades later, and we, unfortunately, remain in a cycle of alien-bashing.
The full article truly is a must read. It offers unique insight into the mind of an immigration officer, tasked with the impossible job of deciphering loyalty in a time of dissatisfaction. Thank you, so very much, to Dan Kowalski, for bringing it to my attention.
Saturday, November 14, 2015
This year in my Clinic seminar on cross-cultural competence, I showed novelist Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie’s 2009 TED talk entitled, “The Danger of a Single Story.” The talk has over 9.5 million views, but readers of this blog who have not yet seen it may appreciate the talk which, like everything else I've read by Adichie, reflects beauty, truth, honesty and humor. ("My American roommate was shocked by me. She asked where I had learned to speak English so well, and was confused when I said that Nigeria happened to have English as its official language. She asked if she could listen to what she called my 'tribal music,' and was consequently very disappointed when I produced my tape of Mariah Carey.")
The TED website describes the talk as follows: “Our lives, our cultures, are composed of many overlapping stories. Novelist Chimamanda Adichie tells the story of how she found her authentic cultural voice — and warns that if we hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding.”
Immigration law provides a rich context for reflecting on Adichie’s talk in at least two ways. First, her talk highlights the ways in which public discourse produces stereotypes about immigrants that are singular and flat. During one particularly honest moment in the talk, Adichie draws attention to the example of the US immigration debate, particularly with respect to Mexico. Second, in the immigration cases that many clinic students work on – U visas, asylum, and even discretionary applications from removal – the law arguably pressures attorneys to tell limited stories about clients’ lives in ways that may overlook the richness and complexity of their actual lived experiences. The talk provides a springboard upon which students might explore the implications of storytelling in the immigration laws and might reflect upon the aspects of their clients’ lives that do not make their way into the application for relief.
Tuesday, October 20, 2015
Last week, a woman gave birth on board a plane bound from Bali to Los Angeles. The plane had to make an emergency landing in Alaska where the new mom and babe were taken to a hospital.
What an excellent in-class hypothetical. Is a child born in US airspace a US citizen?
Consider this. Service of process on a plane is sufficient to confer personal jurisdiction over an individual flying above a state. See Grace v. MacArthur, 170 F Supp 442 (E.D. Ark. 1959). That would seem to support the idea that birth in US airspace would be enough for the 14th Amendment.
All-in-all, great fodder for in-class debate.
Wednesday, October 7, 2015
The immigration law group on Flickr contains photos for your classroom, blogs, or scholarly presentations. There are photos of the Southern border, the Northern border, immigration court, the statue of liberty, a holding cell, and more.
At the moment, the group has three contributors: me, my husband, and the federal government, the latter of whom, thanks to the lack of copyright protection for government works, only takes public domain pics. It would be great to expand the collection.
If you have taken a photograph that you think would be useful to others - please consider adding it to the group. Or just e-mail it to me, and I'll add it for you.
BuzzFeed already loves the group. If you read their piece on the interpreter crisis yesterday, you'll see three of the group's photos featured prominently.
I look forward to working with you to make this a robust resource.