Family Law Prof Blog

Editor: Margaret Ryznar
Indiana University
Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Fordham Urban Law Journal, Vol. 38, No. 1

The Fordham Urban Law Journal has published several family law essays in its recent book on immigration policy.  The entire issue is availabe here, and the family law pieces include:


Evelyn H. Cruz: Because You’re Mine, I Walk The Line: The Trials and Tribulations of The Family Visa Program, available here:
The current backlog of over 3.5 million immigration visas places strains on mixed immigration status families and exacerbates the undocumented population problem. Families who choose to wait for a visa to become available before reunifying may strain the family unit. Those who reunify in the United States without first obtaining legal status face deportation and inadmissibility because of their unlawful residence in the United States. Congress has made some attempts to alleviate these strains. Unfortunately, the broad intent of these statutory changes has run up against narrow administrative interpretation. Nonetheless, in the present political climate, administrative solutions that seek to solve inadequacies in the current system are more politically expedient than installing a completely new family visa program. Therefore, immigration reform efforts must focus on expansive statutory interpretation of these and other existing statutes. In this essay I outline the social costs of an inadequate family visa program and offer some suggestions for administrative improvements to the program that do not necessitate legislative action. However, the inadequacies of the current family petition system must eventually be addressed through a congressional overhaul of the process. Therefore, I visit the history of narrow administrative interpretation of immigration legislative action to highlight how important agency interpretation is in the drafting of immigration legislation. I conclude the essay by discussing the elements I believe should be included in family visa petition reform. 
David B. Thronson: Entering the Mainstream: Making Children Matter In Immigration Law, available here:
Myths that parents are afforded easy and unwarranted pathways to U.S. citizenship through their U.S. citizen children and that children receive privileged treatment in U.S. immigration law stubbornly persist in public discussion surrounding possible immigration reform. Testing these myths, this essay examines immigration law’s treatment of children in three contexts: (1) as lawfully immigrating dependents of adults; (2) as immigrants on their own or outside the structures of immigration law; and (3) as individuals empowered to generate immigration rights in others. In each of these contexts, analysis reveals that the failure of immigration law to advance, or in most instances even consider, the interests of children places it far from mainstream values and legal conceptions regarding children. In particular, immigration law fails to fully recognize children as individuals with independent rights and interests, attaches punishing and lasting legal consequences to children for choices of adults in their lives or for choices that children make prior to reaching the age of discretion, and effectively and pervasively precludes children from generating immigration rights in their parents or others. At the least, this deeper understanding of the nature of immigration law’s marginalization of children serves as a counterweight to calls for reform based on false characterizations of current law. Ironically, myths about the treatment of children in immigration law serve as an effective template for simple, yet fundamental reforms that would bring U.S. immigration law closer to mainstream values and approaches regarding children.  The essay suggests three simple, yet fundamental reforms that would not only bring the law closer to mainstream values, but also closer to the place where many seem to think it is already. Any reform agenda that fails to address the role of children in immigration law will not prevent accepted societal and demographic pressures from replicating the current situation in which millions find themselves unable to reconcile their family relationships and responsibilities with the dictates of immigration law. Children matter, and it is time they mattered in U.S. immigration law.
Bernard Trujillo: Mexican Families & United States Immigration Reform, avaiable here:
This essay argues that we should understand U.S. immigration policy as a series of bi-national relationships rather than as a single, user-indifferent interface. Applying this regulatory approach to Mexican labor migration (i) allows a more accurate definition of the migrating person in the context of the family he seeks to support; and (ii) highlights the United States’ duty to provide for Mexican families.

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