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.
Sunday, September 27, 2015
Humans of New York is one of my favorite social media sites. Brandon Stanton takes beautiful photos and has a knack for getting his subjects to share riveting stories.
Immigration tales abound on HONY, but for the next 10 days, they will be front and center. Stanton will be sharing stories from refugees making their way across Europe and will be highlighting some of the people working to facilitate their migration.
Monday, September 14, 2015
Spotted this editorial cartoon making the rounds on the internets via I.Doubt.It.
A similar meme popped up on the SIR facebook (a group that describes itself as "antifascist anarchists opposing racism").
Both are excellent fodder for classroom discussion.
Friday, September 11, 2015
Thursday, September 3, 2015
you have to understand,
that no one puts their children in a boat
unless the water is safer than the land
This may become required reading for my asylum classes.
Wednesday, September 2, 2015
Those teaching Immigration Law this semester might want to check out the New York Times video database on the International Migrant Crisis. Many clips are short (less than a minute) and they give a good picture of the scope of the European crisis.
And, if you haven't yet seen it, there's a very graphic photo circulating the internet of a toddler's body that washed ashore in Turkey. It's not graphic in the sense of bloody. CNN describes it well, reporting:
He's maybe a year old, maybe a little older. Lying face down, his head to one side with his bottom slightly up -- the way very young children like to sleep.
But the water is lapping around his face and his body is lifeless.
The photo has been circulating with the hashtag #KıyıyaVuranİnsanlık which means "Flotsam of Humanity" in Turkish.
Thursday, August 20, 2015
Tuesday, July 14, 2015
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.
Friday, July 10, 2015
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.