Thursday, October 5, 2017

Remembering a Childhood Border Crossing

Sandra Portilla / Photo StoryCorps

The mission of StoryCorps is "to preserve and share humanity’s stories in order to build connections between people and create a more just and compassionate world."

This recent StoryCorps interview with Sandra Portilla of the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota more that meets those goals.

Sandra recounts her unauthorized journey across the U.S.-Mexico border as a young child. It's a gripping 3 minute interview.

Sandra's walk took eight hours. Fellow travelers ended up carrying Sandra, her sister, and her mom part of the way across the desert. "If it wasn't for those two good men in our lives that came at the moment that we most needed them I don't know what would've happened."

The brevity of the interview coupled with its high emotional impact make it an ideal tool for a class on unauthorized migration.


October 5, 2017 in Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Born Stateless

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Check out this fabulous teaching resource courtesy of the BBC. It's a mini documentary (3:06): Born Stateless.

The film introduces us to Maha Mamo. Her parents are both Syrian, but their marriage was not officially recognized because it was a mixed-marriage: Her mom is Muslim and her dad is Christian. Because of this lack of recognition of the underlying marriage, Maha and her siblings are not considered Syrian by virtue of their parentage.

Maha herself was born in Lebanon. But Lebanon does not follow jus soli. Because her parents were Syrian, Maha could not be Lebanese.

Maha and her siblings sought a new home. They found an unexpected one, Brazil.

This film is 3 minutes well spent. It's a great addition to classroom discussion about jus soli, jus sanguinis, and naturalization (with a side of refugee status).


October 3, 2017 in Film & Television, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 8, 2017

Billionaires Can Seek Asylum Too

Photo via South China Morning Post

The story of Guo Wengui makes for a great in-class real-o-thetical on asylum. With so much news coverage of indigent asylum seekers around the globe, Guo's bid for asylum in the US is stands out. That's because he's a billionaire.

Guo's claim is grounded in political persecution. As the BBC reports, Guo says that he is "perceived as a political opponent of the Chinese regime."

Guo certainly has been outspoken. On youtube and twitter, Guo has made allegations that top members of the ruling Chinese Communist Party are guilty of corruption. (You could show his tweets or play one of his youtube videos for your class.)

Guo is currently in the US on a tourist visa, awaiting a decision on his asylum petition.

One wrinkle of interest in his case - Guo reportedly holds passports to a total of 11 countries (presumably 10 of which aren't China). Even more fodder for classroom discussion!


September 8, 2017 in Current Affairs, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 4, 2017

I Love My Undocumented People

From the LA-based (and undocumented) poet Yosimar Reyes comes this ode to the undocumented.


September 4, 2017 in Film & Television, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (2)

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Your Playlist: Eek-A-Mouse

Jamaican reggae artist Eek-A-Mouse brings it with his song Border Patrol.

It's getting harder, harder
To get across the border, ain't no jive

And, hey, do you also teach Antitrust? Then maybe you should check out his 1988 album Eek-A-Nomics.


August 20, 2017 in Music, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

John Oliver Tackles Border Patrol Hiring

John Oliver recently tackled President Trump's goal of increasing the number of Border Patrol officers in a short period of time.

The segment contains much of the same information as a 2014 article from Politico called The Green Monster. I've been using that reading for two years now to discuss the problems that can occur with surge hiring. It updates that piece and offers some great visuals.

For example, at 14:05-14:25 there's an image of the area where Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez was shot. I, like many of you I'm sure, followed the Rodriguez case. But I hadn't fully appreciated just how far away the 16-year-old was from Border Patrol until I saw that clip. If you're using that case in class, those 30 seconds of tape would be incredibly helpful to discussion.

I also thought that the discussion of boredom as a challenge for Border Patrol agents was very real and something for which students might not have an appreciation. (Check out 6:16-6:32). This phenomenon is one that I've found Border Patrol agents to be very upfront about. A lot of their time is spent waiting at fixed points, serving as a deterrent to unauthorized traffic. That can be hours at a time. And some agents will be sure to spend it in zones where cell reception (and therefore Netflix) is available. Others are able to handle the challenge of boredom and remain focused and alert.

Of course the boredom of the job is punctuated by moments of terror. Agents often work alone. And staffing and terrain may mean that backup is an hour or more out. So terror can spike when a single agent encounters a group of 20 unauthorized men, not immediately knowing if the men are drug smugglers or asylum seekers. (This is not a point made by John Oliver but one I think needs to be added.)

I recommend watching the entire segment. But I'm not sure it can be used as a whole in class. There are far too many sex jokes for my taste. That said, it's provocative and engaging. It would certainly grab students' attention. Though be prepared for conservatives to call it out as one-sided.


August 15, 2017 in Film & Television, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 7, 2017

Real-o-thetical: Mar-A-Lago & H-2B Workers

Official White House Photo of Mar-a-Lago

Late last month, President Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort ran two classified ads for winter season waitstaff.

As WaPo reports, interested American applicants would have had to find the ad on page C8 of the Palm Beach Post, prove up “3 mos recent & verifiable exp in fine dining/country club,” agree to “No tips,” and then "apply by fax."

WaPo says this "underwhelming" effort at recruiting was "actually part of Mar-a-Lago’s efforts to hire foreign workers for those 35 jobs." Mar-a-Lago has sought H-2B visas for those positions and others.

More bitingly, WaPo refers to the nationwide effort of seeking American workers as "ritualized failure" where the "outcome is usually a conclusion that there are no qualified Americans to hire, justifying the need for the government to issue the visas."

All of that is fascinating - but how can you turn it into an in-class exercise? Start with the Department of Labor's handy Fact Sheet about the recruitment obligations of employers like Mar-a-Lago. Give it to the students and ask them to think about a hospitality setting. You might consider using The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island for a hypo with less political overtones, or if you can go political without backlash, just use the Mar-a-Lago facts. Ask the students to come up with the minimum steps required to satisfy an employer's obligations. Discuss whether and why an employer might want to do more than the minimum.




August 7, 2017 in Current Affairs, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Searching For Bodies on the Southern Border

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The BBC has a short (2:42) video about searching for the bodies of migrants who have died on the Southern border. It follows one volunteer - Don White - and discusses his personal motivations to search in order to help bring closure to families. There are no bodies shown which might make it an easier watch than, say, Crossing Arizona. That in addition to its brevity makes this clip a potentially good entrée for talking about deaths on the border.


August 1, 2017 in Current Affairs, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Asylum Realothetical: Crudo Ecuador

Here's a tale from 2015 that would make an excellent exam question or in-class realothetical (a hypothetical plucked from real life). It's about Twitter, memes, and the former president of Ecuador.

Rafael Vicente Correa Delgado served as the president of Ecuador from 2007-2017. He was unusually available to his public on Twitter. That may not strike you as terribly uncommon given our current president's Twitter predilections, but think back a few years and consider whether you'd have been surprised to find a political leader reachable so directly.

Correa was known to respond to citizen problems raised via Twitter by tagging the person(s) or group(s) capable of addressing the issue and including this hashtag: #favoratender. That is, the president basically called other officials out and said "take care of this."

Pretty cool, right? You've got a problem, you raise it with the president. It gets handled.

There was a flip side to this accessibility.

Consider Crudo Ecuador ("Raw Ecuador") - an anonymous Facebook page that offered memes with scathing political commentary. The site had hundreds of thousands of followers.

The site's fatal mistake? Taking aim at the president with the meme replicated on the right. Ecuador had imposed a $42 tax on all online and overseas purchases. But, lo and behold, some Ecuadorians ran into the president in a mall in Holland and snapped a selfie. Crudo Ecuador turned the whole thing into a meme reminiscent of old MasterCard ads: "For the bigwigs that buy on the internet and impact the national product... a tax: $42 dollars. But getting caught at a luxurious mall in Europe shopping... priceless."

The president did not find this amusing.

On his weekly TV show, the president said "Let's see if it's so funny when we know his name." And then Crudo Ecuador was unmasked as a man by the name of Gabriel Gonzalez. His address, phone number, kids names and ages, even a disturbingly recent photograph were all published online.

He took his family and fled to another Ecuadorian city. He didn't tell anyone where he'd gone. But he received a floral delivery at this place of temporary refuge with this accompanying note:

I confess that it gives me great satisfaction and a great pleasure to know that you are passing some much deserved vacations here in the province of Guyas, which will give you a moment of relaxation after your not so appropriate activities.

At this point, Gonzalez relented. He posted this:

Usted copy

It's a thoroughly fascinating set up. What if instead of relenting, Gonazlez had fled to the US - would he be eligible for asylum? What if he fled to the US after his declaration of defeat - same result?

This story came to me from the podcast Reply All, Episode 25 Favor Atender. There is an accompanying article on Digg titled Ecuador's President Will Respond To You On Twitter. I encourage you to read the full coverage.


July 30, 2017 in Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Meme of the Day


How's that for a provocative meme to spark student conversation? When this was shared by the Facebook group The Other 98% back in 2015, one user wrote: "Meanwhile, the immigrant is the one who actually made all the cookies..."


July 23, 2017 in Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (2)

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Life As A Teen Refugee

Check out CNN's coverage of the life of a teenage refugee in Europe. The report includes photographs taken of the teen, Milad, and his story is told in an engaging way. Unusually, it also includes some of Milad's own drawings, such as this one depicting his journey from Afghanistan to Germany.


There are also photographs taken by Milad in Germany, with drawings and annotations.

With this story, CNN delivers unusually deep and multi-layered coverage of a topic that's of keen interest to our readers.


July 15, 2017 in Current Affairs, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

U.K. Bound? Check Out The Migration Museum

Photo: Roland Williams/The Migration Museum Project

Are you headed to London? Consider checking out the city's Migration Museum at the Workshop, "an adventurous programme of exhibitions, events and education workshops, telling stories of movement to and from Britain."

Current exhibits include Call Me by My Name: Stories from Calais and Beyond, 100 Images of Migration, and Keepsakes.

For more about the museum, check out this lovely write-up from the Pacific Standard magazine.



July 11, 2017 in Photos, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

CNN's Refugee Videos

CNN has posted a series of videos - interviews with Muslim refugees who resettled in the United States between 1982 and 2014.

The interviewees answer questions such as: What was the American dream for you? What is the greatest difficulty you face in the US? What are your greatest fears about today's political and social climate? What does the future hold for you and other refugees in America?

The clips are all brief - less than 2 minutes each. They could easily be incorporated into the classroom to really humanize the issue of asylum and refugee law.


June 27, 2017 in Current Affairs, Film & Television, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 23, 2017

Immigration is One of the "Fastest Growing Skills Online"

The next time your dean asks you to justify offering immigration law or running an immigration clinic, you just might find some backup from this data from Bloomberg:

Experts on immigration law saw the demand for their labor soar eight-fold from a year earlier, according to data from the first quarter compiled by Upwork, which connects freelancers with employers. That made immigration law the fourth fastest-growing skill on the online job market[.]

For the record, the top three fastest growing skills online were: (1) Asana project management, (2) artificial intelligence, and (3) rapid prototyping. If you understand any of those words, kudos to you.


June 23, 2017 in Current Affairs, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (3)

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Searching for Syria

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The Searching for Syria website is a joint project of the UNHCR and Google. It looks to answer the following questions in an interactive and compelling way:

What was Syria like before the war?
Who is a refugee?
Where are Syrian refugees going?
How can I help Syrian refugees?

There are photos, stories, and videos. This is a tremendous resource for those teaching asylum and refugee law this fall. If you do end up using these materials - please let me know how you incorporate them!


June 4, 2017 in Current Affairs, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, May 19, 2017

4th Biennial Emerging Immigration Scholars Conference: Day Two

Today was the second (and, sadly, last) day of the 4th Biennial Emerging Immigration Scholars Conference. We began the day with a scholarship panel. Sameer Ashar (Irvine) spoke about his desire to "expand the spectrum of what’s permissible to talk about in the classroom.” In that vein, he spoke about picking work for the clinic, resisting NGO or academic privilege, criminalization, critiquing culture competence, not ignoring race, and questioning professional norms. He also referred folks to Guerilla Guides to Law Teaching - which includes information about clinical teaching and teaching criminal law. An immigration guide will be forthcoming, so stay tuned.

Becky Sharpless (Miami) spoke about her doctrinal and clinical immigration work - including the particular challenges of teaching in a time when "everything feels so important and significant but paltry at the same time." She spoke about ways in which she's challenging students - asking students to complete writing assignments in her doctrinal course, guiding students through the Socratic method, and challenging students to articulate their beliefs with analysis and not simply emotion. At the same time, she acknowledged that she gives herself permission to complete some tasks on her own without student involvement.

Isabel Medina (Loyola New Orleans) spoke about the arc of her career as an immprof. She emphasized the opportunities created by teaching in the post Trump era, the difficulties that occur when the classroom becomes a battlefield, and how to handle, raise, and have uncomfortable conversations with students in the classroom.

Carolina Núñez (BYU) spoke about her concerns with teaching immigration law in the time of Trump including the particular challenges of students who are afraid, keeping up with swift changes in the law, connecting the abstract with real consequences, responding to student comments that aren’t related to facts, and creating opportunities for students to DO something. Beyond identifying these concerns, Carolina spoke about how she has adjusted the format of her courses to take into account and address many of these issues.


After the plenary session, we broke into small group sessions to discuss works in progress. I had the pleasure of reading the current work of Jason Cade (Georgia), who is exploring whether sanctuary cities are not bastions of civil disobedience, as they're often described, but rather enforcers of the rule of law. Liz Keyes (Baltimore) spoke about her efforts to focus on state and local level advocacy in the time of trump - including how to re-align clinic space and build capacity among students to engage in such advocacy.


Liz's work was a terrific segment to the next break out session on Transformation Work at the State and Local Level. Bram Elias (Iowa), Liz Keyes (Baltimore), and Annie Lai (Irvine) moderated an interactive session on how professors can effectively and efficiently engage with state and local issues. We were encouraged to come up with new and concrete steps to take in order to maximize our effectiveness going forward. Many of our comments involved the identification of others who might help carry the weight of community work - including folks who could help out with or take over such tasks as know your rights presentations, administrative work, and media appearances.


After our breakout sessions, we regrouped as a whole. Pooja Dadhania (Georgetown) filled folks in about the discussions happening in another breakout session about Transformation through Amicus Work. That session also talked about developing partnerships, and also discussed the particular challenges of using amicus work as teaching and learning opportunities. Suzan Pritchett (Wyoming) summarized the breakout session on state and local advocacy.


We ended our time at TAMU with cake and cupcakes to celebrate the birthday of beloved immprof Anita Maddali (Northern Illinois).


Thank you, TAMU, for hosting this excellent conference. Whether you were able to attend or not, you can look forward to the next immprof get-togethers. We'll be in Philadelphia at Derexel for the immprof conference in May 2018. And May 2019 will take us to BYU for the next emerging immprof conference. Plan your travel budgets accordingly!


May 19, 2017 in Law Review Articles & Essays, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 18, 2017

4th Biennial Emerging Immigration Scholars Conference: New Realities

Today began the Fourth Biennial Emerging Immigration Scholars Conference, hosted this year by Texas A&M University School of Law in Fort Worth. The focus of the conference is "New Realities" - a perfect theme for the times we find ourselves in.

We were graciously welcomed to the program by TAMU immprofs Fatma Marouf and Angela Morrison.


The first plenary session was a career panel. Jean Han (American) kicked things off with advice for those going on the market: "Don't freak out." Solid. Angela Morrison (TAMU) spoke from the perspective of a new hire having served on the appointments committee, addressing how to "make yourself a competitive candidate.” Liz Keyes (Baltimore) spoke about success on the tenure track including how to be a team player while playing to your individual strengths. Leticia Saucedo (Davis) offered insights from the other side of tenure - including my favorite nugget "cultivate a network" to help with the various aspects of your career. Leticia also plugged the Faculty Boot Camp available through, which sounds fantastic.


After the plenary session, we broke into smaller groups for discussion of works-in-progress. I had the pleasure of reading the WIPs submitted by Mary Holper (BC) and Mina Barahimi (Berkeley). Mary is exploring the Fourth Amendment implications of administrative and expedited removal, and Mina is examining the coercive tactics used at the border to encourage voluntary removal to Mexico. Great pieces to keep an eye out for as they develop into to published works.


Over the lunch hour, Anil Kalhan (Drexel) led us all in a discussion of what it means to teach immigration law in interesting times. It's not always easy.


Post-lunch, we reconvened as a whole to discuss scholarship. César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández (Denver) spoke about his post-Trump scholarship which has taken new forms, embracing blog posts, op-eds, legislative testimony, and media appearances. He strongly recommended the acquisition of an umbrella insurance policy covering legal fees for defamation and libel suits - concrete, actionable advice! Jennifer Lee Koh (Western State) spoke about the intersection of her work as a clinician/practitioner/advocate/scholar and also about the benefits of identifying an individualized writing process to facilitate scholarship. Rick Su (Buffalo) encouraged everyone to question the assumed foundations of immigration scholarship - for example that immigration law is federal and federal immigration law is good - and perhaps move the field forward by taking new approaches. Ming Hsu Chen (Colorado) spoke about interdisciplinary work and how professors can endeavor to ensure that their scholarship matters. Ming helpfully pointed the group to the Scholars Strategy Network as a concrete way to become a "citizen scholar."


And then it was time for another round of WIPs or, in our group's case, incubator sessions. Geoffrey Heeren & Robert Knowles (Valpariso) are looking at how use of force in immigration enforcement functions as a form of regulation. Jennifer Lee Koh (Western State) is continuing her research on "shadow removals" (outside of immigration courts), looking at the expansion of expedited removals under Trump, and the implications of that expansion for legal and non-legal advocacy. And I'm examining how immigration might pose a unique opportunity to improve US foreign intelligence efforts.


It was a wonderful day of scholarly engagement. I look forward to continuing these discussions tomorrow.


May 18, 2017 in Law Review Articles & Essays, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

And The Winner For Best Headline Goes To...

...the NYT for Mexican Drug Smugglers to Trump: Thanks!

Beyond the headline, the article has great information about how drugs are coming across the Southern border (climbing the wall, hidden in cars, through tunnels, by catapult). The influx of drugs is controlled by cartels. And the prices they can charge for drugs increase as the wall grows higher.

In addition to the uptick in drug prices, the border wall increases the prices charged by cartels to bring people across the border. "If migrants try to cross the border without paying, they risk getting beaten or murdered."

Not to be missed in this video linked to within the article of drug smugglers climbing the wall with their bare hands. That clip is definitely making it into my next class.


May 9, 2017 in Current Affairs, Film & Television, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Tohono O'Odham Nation's Border Wall Opposition

The Tohono O'Odham nation straddles the U.S.-Mexico border and includes portions of Arizona and Sonora. Should President's Trump vision of an uninterrupted wall between the United States and Mexico ever come to pass, it would cut this nation in two. And it would end the free passage that the Tohono O'Odham currently enjoy when traveling within their boundaries.

The tribe has posted a video outlining their opposition to the wall:

For an even shorter clip - check out this coverage by CBS evening news:

Both clips are great additions for coursework about the border. (For readers - here's the NYT coverage).

And if you're looking for a more in depth examination of the problems facing the Tohono O'Odham pre-wall, check out this piece from one of my former OU students: Sara Daly, Bordering on Discrimination: Effects of Immigration Policies/Legislation on Indigenous Peoples in the United States and Mexico, 38 Am. Indian L. Rev. 157 (2013).


April 26, 2017 in Current Affairs, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Syrian Child Describes Refugee Camp

More here from the BBC.


April 22, 2017 in Current Affairs, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)