Saturday, November 14, 2015

The Danger of a Single Story, Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie’s TED Talk

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.


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

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Is Air-Born Baby a US Citizen?

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.


October 20, 2015 in Current Affairs, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Flickr Group for Immprof Photos


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. 


October 7, 2015 in Photos, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, September 27, 2015

HONY Covers Syrian Refugees

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.



September 27, 2015 in Current Affairs, Photos, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 14, 2015

"If She Drowns She's A Refugee, If She Floats She's An Economic Migrant"

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").Refugee_5


Both are excellent fodder for classroom discussion.


September 14, 2015 in Current Affairs, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 11, 2015

Your Playlist: Manu Chao

Clandestino by Manu Chao would be a great entree into discussion of undocumented migrants.


He sings:

Correr es mi destino
Por no llevar papel


September 11, 2015 in Music, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 3, 2015

"Home" by Warsan Shire

"Home" by Warsan Shire is your must read of the day. It offers a powerful message in the wake of the widely-publicized photo of 3-year old Aylan Kurdi's body, washed upon the shores of Turkey.

Shire writes:

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.


September 3, 2015 in Current Affairs, Photos, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Images of the European Refugee Crisis

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.

It's gut-wrenching.

The photo has been circulating with the hashtag #KıyıyaVuranİnsanlık which means "Flotsam of Humanity" in Turkish.



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

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)