Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Women and Migration 4-part webinar

Women have been part of global and historical movements of people, to escape war, to avoid persecution, for work, for security. Women have been uprooted, stolen, trafficked, enslaved; they have been displaced from land despoiled of resources and habitats lost to extreme weather patterns and climate change. Now, in the midst of a global pandemic, displaced women can neither stay put nor return to the places from which they have fled; women are unequally in low-paid, high-risk, insecure “essential” employment, on the front lines of crisis; women are subjected to increasing violence, in domestic situations or the temporary and communal living arrangements in which women and girls in migratory situations are sheltered. 

My law school alma mater NYU will host a four part webinar on women and migration featuring NYU Tisch's Deb Willis and Ellyn Toscano with Cheryl Finley of Spelman's AUC Art Collective. The four part series will explore the importance of photography, art, film, history, law, policy and writing in identifying and remembering these migratory experiences. 

  • June 3  a general discussion of the issues of women and migrations, through a multiplicity of disciplinary perspectives.
  • June 10 COVID and other crises 
  • June 17 memoir
  • June 24 art

This event is free and open to everyone. Registration is required in order to receive log-in info.


June 3, 2020 in Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

USCIS reopening on June 4

USCIS reports that it will reopen "certain field offices and asylum offices" on June 4, 2020. These offices will resume non-emergency face-to-face services to the public. Application support centers will resume services later. Additional details here.

This is what you can expect as USCIS offices re-open on June 4, 2020:

  • Naturalization Ceremony: Expect a notice from USCIS regarding the new rescheduled date. The Ceremonies will be shorter in duration and attendees will receive flyers with informational links instead of watching videos during the ceremony.
  • Biometrics Appointment: Expect an update to the previously sent appointment-reschedule notice.
  • Visa/US Citizenship InterviewA new date and time will be issued for the next available interview slot.
  • Asylum Interview Appointments: Applicants that may have received interview cancellation notices from USCIS asylum offices should anticipate a notice about rescheduled asylum interview dates. This will have a new time, date and location of the interview. These interviews will be conducted via video transmission and applicants and USCIS officers will be sitting in different rooms.
  • Application Support Centers: USCIS will send new appointment letters in the mail regarding the next steps-of-action for appointments that were affected due to office closures.
  • InfoPass Appointments: Please reschedule your previously cancelled or new appointments by contacting the USCIS Contact Center. This may vary with each office and depend upon guidelines from individual states.

Important to Know

  • Even though the USCIS offices reopen on June 4, offices will reduce the number of appointments and interviews to ensure social distancing, allow time for cleaning and reduce waiting room occupancy.
  • Always check to see if the specific office has been reopened before calling the Contact Center.
  • As each State Governor issues guidelines about reopening certain services within each state, USCIS offices will adhere to these.
  • While USCIS offices re-open, minimal social distancing is still to be maintained. Unless applicants receive the reschedule notice, they should not visit the office.
  • There won’t be any penalty for requesting to reschedule an appointment if the applicants are sick or feeling ill and can’t make it to the offices on the appointment date. Just follow the protocol about rescheduling and notify the USCIS office in time.
  • The notices being sent out have instructions about rescheduled visa appointments. Please adhere to the directions therein.
  • Making personal visits at the counter at any USCIS office is strongly discouraged unless an appointment is confirmed first.
  • Since CDC guideline requires restrictions on gatherings of more than 35 people, any walk-in immigration petitioner or unscheduled visitor will be asked to leave. 
  • Federal guidelines require that most essential service offices function at 25% of their capacity. Depending upon the perimeter of each USCIS office, the number of people inside the office could be restricted.


June 3, 2020 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Iowa Congressman Steve King, staunch anti-immigrant advocate, loses in Iowa primary

King_headshot_low_res (1)

News from Iowa.  Iowa Republicans yesterday voted to end the congressional career of Rep. Steve King, whose hard-right views on immigration squared with those of President Trump. 

Support for King started to evaporate last year after he made racially offensive remarks that forced national Republicans to distance themselves from the conservative Iowa firebrand.  State Senator Randy Feenstra garnered support from national GOP groups and from some prominent Iowa conservatives who argued that King undermined his influence in Washington with his provocative behavior. Feenstra led by nine points late last night and was projected to beat King.

King had a long record on immigration.

In 2006, King called for an electrified fence on the U.S./Mexico border, commenting that such fences were successful in containing livestock.

In 2013, speaking about proposed immigration legislation, King said of undocumented immigrants: "For every one who's a valedictorian, there's another 100 out there who weigh 130 pounds—and they've got calves the size of cantaloupes because they're hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert." Despite strong rebukes from both Democrats and Republicans, including House speaker John Boehner, King defended his comments, saying he got the description from the border patrol.

In 2017, King wrote "culture and demographics are our destiny. We can't restore our civilization with somebody else's babies."  King was rebuked by members of his own party, including Speaker Paul D. Ryan, but praised by white supremacist David Duke and a neo-Nazi website.

In 2017, the House Appropriations Committee voted to appropriate $1.6 billion for the US-Mexico border wall. King called for an additional $5 billion for the wall, to be paid for with monies coming from Planned Parenthood, food stamps, and other public benefit programs, saying, "I would find half of a billion of dollars of that right out of Planned Parenthood's budget, and the rest of it could come out of food stamps and the entitlements that are being spread out for people who have not worked in three generations."

In 2018, King retweeted a comment by a British neo-Nazi and self-described admirer of Hitler, about Europe "waking up" to mass immigration.

In 2018, King referred to Mexican immigrants as "dirt" while at a campaign stop. King denied making the remark and The Weekly Standard released a recording of the exchange.

In 2019, King posted a video of himself drinking water from toilets at migrant facilities.


June 3, 2020 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigration Articles of the Day: Immigration in the Era of Trump: Jarring Social, Political, and Legal Realities by Engy Abdelkader


Immigration in the Era of Trump: Jarring Social, Political, and Legal Realities Free Download, by Engy Abdelkader, 44 N.Y.U. Review of Law & Social Change - The Harbinger, 2020


In 2020, immigration is proving to be an election year issue. The Trump reelection campaign is strategically leveraging it as a political narrative to win votes while further polarizing an already fractured nation along ideological and partisan lines. Indeed, a review of related public opinion surveys may prove illuminating on this score.

According to recent data from the Public Religion Research Institute (“PRRI”), immigration ranks among the Republican party’s top three priorities. A closer examination reveals a higher propensity for xenophobic views, particularly in comparison to colleagues across the political aisle. For instance, a strong majority of Republicans — a whopping 60% — perceive immigrants as increasing crime in local communities, compared to only 22% of Democrats who hold such beliefs. Additionally, an astounding 63% of Republicans believe that immigrants are invading our country and replacing our cultural and ethnic background (37% “mostly agree” with this sentiment and 26% “completely agree”). In contrast, 79% of Democrats reject such anti-immigrant bias. Similarly, on the topic of assimilation, 66% of Republicans believe that recent immigrants do not make an effort to learn English while only 27% of Democrats share this viewpoint.

From Trump declaring a public emergency to construct “the wall” at our southern border6 to escalating acts of violence against members of marginalized communities, the above-referenced stereotypes and tropes about real or perceived foreigners have disrupted and damaged innocent lives. Those impacted have been afforded little relief over the course of the last three years with Republicans controlling at least two of the three branches of government, testing the fabric of our liberal democracy. Indeed, this interdisciplinary essay argues that this xenophobia has translated into jarring social, political, and legal realities for immigrant populations and socially oppressed groups in the era of Trump. It has also adversely impacted the nation as a whole. To that end, the second section examines the contemporary social, political, and racial climate confronting socially oppressed groups including members of the Muslim, Black, Latinx, and Jewish communities. In doing so, it seeks to illuminate the manner in which ideologies of oppression — anti-Black racism, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, xenophobia — often overlap and intersect culminating in violence against minorities. The third section examines how the current climate has impacted the law. Specifically, it identifies two related categories:

(a) laws that the Trump Administration has passed that are grounded in xenophobia but dressed in pre-textual garb; and

(b) those proposed as a corrective, response, and/or act of resistance to the first category.

The essay ends with some conclusory observations.


June 3, 2020 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

DREAMer dilemmas relating to black lives matter protests

All year, DREAMers have been waiting with lives in limbo for a Supreme Court decision on DACA. In the meantime, their uncertainties have been complicated by the covid-19 pandemic and black lives matter protests.

As Rafael Bernal reports in The Hill, Dreamers know that participating in protests could lead to an arrest that jeopardizes their  work permit and deferral from deportation -- all the more worrisome during a time that so many undocumented family members have lost jobs and/or are ineligible for covid-stimulus funding. Members of mixed-status families could also put at risk undocumented relatives and others in their social circles if they’re taken into police custody. And participating also presents risk of exposure to covid infection.

The dilemmas they face pile atop longstanding tensions about immigrant and African-American alliances for justice, as described here and here.


June 2, 2020 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Human Rights Watch: US: Investigate "Remain in Mexico" Program  -- The Department of Homeland Security Knowingly Returning Asylum Seekers to Harm


Clothing hangs to dry at a makeshift migrant camp for asylum seekers in Matamoros, Tamaulipas state, Mexico, on March 1, 2020.  © 2020 Alejandro Cegarra/Bloomberg/Getty Images

The U.S. government should initiate an internal investigation into the Trump administration’s “Remain in Mexico” program, Human Rights Watch said today after submitting a formal complaint to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The department should be held accountable for its failure to protect asylum seekers under the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) program from routine targeting in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas. 

The complaint was submitted to the DHS Office of the Inspector General and the Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, both of which are responsible for ensuring that the department complies with the law and its own policies. 


June 2, 2020 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigration Article of the Day: Justifying Family Separation by Juliet P. Stumpf


Justifying Family Separation Free Download by Juliet P. Stumpf, Wake Forest Law Review, Forthcoming


This Article analyzes the powerful handshake between public discourse and law that created the 2018 family separation policy. It undertakes a discursive analysis to examine how the pairing of public discourse with law employed both the criminalization of parents and the concept of parens patriae to make family separation not just an unfortunate collateral consequence of border enforcement, but a way in which an administrative agency became the substitute parent to the separated child. The justifications offered for separating children from parents brought to the foreground particular legal frameworks—crimmigration and parens patriae—that facilitated a family separation policy, and pushed formerly robust legal frameworks—asylum or discretionary forbearance from exclusion—out of sight and out of reach. In symbiosis with these threads of discourse, changes in law and legal policy removed humanitarian grounds for entry and erased family relationships in racialized and gendered ways. The analysis in the Article holds promise beyond family separation for greater understanding of how this marriage of discourse and law can reframe whole areas of law into or out of public view, centering some, like crimmigration, and rendering others, like asylum, wholly invisible.


June 2, 2020 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 1, 2020

Starting June 8, International Travelers to UK Must Quarantine 14 days


In an effort to contain coronavirus in the United Kingdom, international visitors arriving to the nation after June 8 will have to self-quarantine for 14 days. As the BBC reports, Travelers must identify where they will isolate themselves, and they will be subject to spot-checks to assure their isolation and fines for those who do not obey the rules.

Naturally there are exceptions. Truck drivers, among other workers (such as nuclear emergency responders!), do not have to quarantine. The edict also does not apply to travel from Ireland, the Channel Islands, or the Isle of Man.

The government will arrange quarantine accommodations for those who do not have their own, but at a charge.


June 1, 2020 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Immigrant Experience: A Conversation with the Executive Producers of Little America

A Conversation with Lee Elsenberg, Kumail Nanjiani, and Emily V. Gordon will be offered as a Washington Post livestream on Jun 2, 2020 at 1pm ET. It is free but requires pre-registration. The event description says:

The lives of immigrants in the U.S. have long driven national mythology and political discourse – today is no exception. What can be lost are the intimate narratives of love, loss and triumph that connect and inspire us. “Little America” is a new Apple TV+ anthology series that dramatizes true stories of immigrants across the country. Join the executive producers and writers Lee Eisenberg, Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon for a conversation with Washington Post opinions writer Jonathan Capehart on Tuesday, June 2 at 1:00 p.m. ET.
A trailer for the show appears here.

June 1, 2020 in Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Breaking News: Supreme Court Decides Nasrallah v. Barr


In Nasrallah v. Barr, a 7-2 majority of the Supreme Court in an opinion by Justice Kavanaugh  holds that federal immigration law provisions barring judicial review of removal orders do not preclude judicial review of a non-citizen's factual challenge to an order seeking relief under the Convention against Torture.

Justices Thomas, joined by Justice Alito, dissented.

Here is the syllabus to the decision:

"Under federal immigration law, noncitizens who commit certain crimes are removable from the United States. During removal proceedings, a noncitizen who demonstrates a likelihood of torture in the designated country of removal is entitled to relief under the international Convention Against Torture (CAT) and may not be removed to that country.  If an immigration judge orders removal and denies CAT relief, the noncitizen may appeal both orders to the Board of Immigration Appeals and then to a federal court of appeals. But if the noncitizen has committed any crime specified in 8 U. S. C. §1252(a)(2)(C), the scope of judicial review of the removal order is limited to constitutional and legal challenges. See §1252(a)(2)(D).

The Government sought to remove petitioner Nidal Khalid Nasrallah after he pled guilty to receiving stolen property. Nasrallah applied for CAT relief to prevent his removal to Lebanon. The Immigration Judge ordered Nasrallah removed and granted CAT relief. On appeal, the Board of Immigration Appeals vacated the CAT relief order and ordered Nasrallah removed to Lebanon. The Eleventh Circuit declined to review Nasrallah’s factual challenges to the CAT order because Nasrallah had committed a §1252(a)(2)(C) crime and Circuit precedent precluded judicial review of factual challenges to both the final order of removal and the CAT order in such cases.

Held: Sections 1252(a)(2)(C) and (D) do not preclude judicial review of a noncitizen’s factual challenges to a CAT order. Pp. 5–13.

(a) Three interlocking statutes establish that CAT orders may be reviewed together with final orders of removal in a court of appeals. The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 authorizes noncitizens to obtain direct “review of a final order of removal” in a court of appeals, §1252(a)(1), and requires that all challenges arising from the removal proceeding be consolidated for review, §1252(b)(9). The Foreign Affairs Reform and Restructuring Act of 1998 (FARRA) implements Article 3 of CAT and provides for judicial review of CAT claims “as part of the review of a final order of removal.”
§2242(d). And the REAL ID Act of 2005 clarifies that final orders of removal and CAT orders may be reviewed only in the courts of appeals. §§1252(a)(4)–(5). Pp. 5–6.

(b) Sections 1252(a)(2)(C) and (D) preclude judicial review of factual challenges only to final orders of removal. A CAT order is not a final “order of removal,” which in this context is defined as an order “concluding that the alien is deportable or ordering deportation,” §1101(a)(47)(A). Nor does a CAT order merge into a final order of removal, because a CAT order does not affect the validity of a final order of removal. See INS v. Chadha, 462 U. S. 919, 938. FARRA provides that a CAT order is reviewable “as part of the review of a final order of removal,” not that it is the same as, or affects the validity of, a final order of removal. Had Congress wished to preclude judicial review of factual challenges to CAT orders, it could have easily done so. Pp. 6–9.

(c) The standard of review for factual challenges to CAT orders is substantial evidence—i.e., the agency’s “findings of fact are conclusive unless any reasonable adjudicator would be compelled to conclude to the contrary.” §1252(b)(4)(B).
The Government insists that the statute supplies no judicial review of factual challenges to CAT orders, but its arguments are unpersuasive. First, the holding in Foti v. INS, 375 U. S. 217, depends on an outdated interpretation of “final orders of deportation” and so does not control here. Second, the Government argues that §1252(a)(1) supplies judicial review only of final orders of removal, and if a CAT order is not merged into that final order, then no statute authorizes review
of the CAT claim. But both FARRA and the REAL ID Act provide for direct review of CAT orders in the courts of appeals. Third, the Government’s assertion that Congress would not bar review of factual challenges to a removal order and allow such challenges to a CAT order ignores the importance of adherence to the statutory text as well as the good reason Congress had for distinguishing the two—the facts that rendered the noncitizen removable are often not in serious dispute, while the issues related to a CAT order will not typically have been litigated prior to the alien’s removal proceedings. Fourth, the Government’s policy argument—that judicial review of the factual components of a CAT order would unduly delay removal proceedings—has not been borne out in practice in those Circuits that have allowed factual challenges to CAT orders. Fifth, the Government fears that a decision allowing factual review of CAT orders would lead to factual challenges to other orders in the courts of appeals. But orders denying discretionary relief under §1252(a)(2)(B) are not affected by this decision, and the question whether factual challenges to statutory withholding orders under §1231(b)(3)(A) are subject to judicial review is
not presented here. Pp. 9–13.

762 Fed. Appx. 638, reversed.

UPDATE (June 2):  Jennifer Chacon for SCOTUSBlog analyzes the opinion in Nasrallah v. Barr.  Her concluding sentence:  "Ultimately, then, this decision allows for federal appellate court review of administrative factual findings in [Convention Against Torture] claims, but it also may invite such challenges in statutory withholding of removal claims."


June 1, 2020 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigration Article of the Day: Can sanctuary policies reduce domestic violence? by Catalina Amuedo-Dorantes and Monica Deza.

Dorantes-amuedo-web Monica-Deza


Executive Summary

Sanctuary cities limit the involvement of their law enforcement officials in federal immigration policy enforcement. In practice, this means that local police officers are restricted from making arrests solely for federal immigration violations, and required to refuse entry of federal immigration officials into jails without a warrant, among other related practices. These policies are meant to encourage cooperation between immigrant communities and law enforcement in order to improve public safety. 

In this paper, economists Catalina Amuedo-Dorantes and Monica Deza examine the effects of sanctuary policies on domestic violence. This research is important because reports of domestic violence may change when sanctuary policies are in effect. For example, domestic violence reports may increase after sanctuary policies are enacted because individuals no longer fear deportation for themselves or another in the household. Increased reports of domestic violence do not necessarily mean that more domestic violence is occurring. Instead, it may mean that people simply feel safer coming forward to report acts of violence because they don’t fear being deported. 

To avoid these confounding effects, the authors concentrate on extreme events of domestic violence, domestic homicides. Homicides rarely go unreported, whether or not the city provides sanctuary, so the authors can isolate the effect of sanctuary policies on domestic homicides.

The authors find that the adoption of sanctuary policies is accompanied by a lower rate of domestic homicides involving a female Hispanic victim. Sanctuary policies contribute to a reduced domestic homicide rate among Hispanic women by between 52 and 62 percent. This effect is unique to Hispanic women. They do not find any change in the rate of domestic homicides against men, for example. 

The authors suggest three possible explanations for the reduced level of domestic homicides. First, sanctuary policies may promote early reporting of incidents before they escalate to homicides. Sanctuary may also reduce the likelihood that would-be abusers ever commit violence because the abuser knows that victims may call the police. And finally, the authors examine evidence that sanctuary policies improve women’s economic independence. This may make it easier for them to leave abusers.

Overall, these findings show how increasing cooperation between local law enforcement and immigrant communities can help improve public safety by lowering rates of domestic violence. States and cities should view these results as an opportunity to create policy benefitting vulnerable populations.

The whole paper is available on here

June 1, 2020 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

From the Bookshelves: Death in the Haymarket: A Story of Chicago, the First Labor Movement and the Bombing that Divided Gilded Age America by James Green

51AhyawnToL._SX322_BO1 204 203 200_

On May 4, 1886 in Chicago's Haymarket, a labor rally is interrupted first by a column of police officers, and then by a bomb from the crowd thrown into their ranks. The Haymarket affair would have major implications for the labor and social reform movement in the United States. James Green, author of Death in the Haymarket: A Story of Chicago, the First Labor Movement and the Bombing that Divided Gilded Age America, talks on this podcast about the events leading up to the bombing and the aftermath. 

The bomb that exploded at a Chicago labor rally wounded dozens of policemen, killing seven.   A wave of mass hysteria swept the country, leading to a sensational trial, that culminated in four controversial executions, and dealt a blow to the labor movement from which it would take decades to recover. In his book, Green recounts the rise of the first great labor movement in the wake of the Civil War and brings to life the struggle for the eight-hour workday. Blending a gripping narrative, outsized characters and a panoramic portrait of a major social movement, Death in the Haymarket is an important addition to the history of American capitalism and a moving story about the class tensions at the heart of Gilded Age America.

Immigration was part of the story of the Haymarket affair.  As recounts,

"The Haymarket Riot set off a national wave of xenophobia, as scores of foreign-born radicals and labor organizers were rounded up by the police in Chicago and elsewhere. In August 1886, eight men labeled as anarchists were convicted in a sensational and controversial trial in which the jury was considered to be biased and no solid evidence was presented linking the defendants to the bombing."


June 1, 2020 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Meaning of DACA by Kevin R. Johnson, Michael A. Olivas, and Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia 


Photo courtesy of the Supreme Court of the United States website

The Meaning of DACA

By Kevin R. Johnson, Michael A. Olivas, and Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia 

The Supreme Court will soon release an opinion on the lawfulness of the Trump administration’s choice to end DACA or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Former President Barack Obama rolled out DACA in June 2012 and the Department of Homeland Security implemented it two months later through a memorandum signed by then-Secretary Janet Napolitano.

DACA, based on a conventional concept of prosecutorial discretion, provided limited relief from removal – and work authorization -- to nearly 800,000 young undocumented immigrants through a discretionary tool called “deferred action.” All legal challenges to DACA, including one by campus immigration hawk former Maricopa County (Arizona) Sheriff Joe Arpaio, failed. How will the story of DACA be remembered? 

Much more than the sum of its parts, DACA will be remembered as an intriguing political story. For years, Congress introduced legislation known as the DREAM Act to provide legal status and a pathway to permanent residency for young undocumented college students. Congress has debated some kind of comprehensive immigration reform over two decades. All of these efforts failed. Said President Obama in announcing DACA “In the absence of any immigration action from Congress to fix our broken immigration system, what we’ve tried to do is focus our immigration enforcement resources in the right places.” DACA helped jump start the forceful movement across the nation calling for the vindication of the rights of immigrants.

Politics led to DACA’s demise. Donald J. Trump ran for President on a strident immigration enforcement ticket and promised to end the “unconstitutional” DACA policy. After the inauguration of President Trump and lobbying by some Republican leaders to keep DACA, the administration tried to terminate DACA and announced this “wind-down” in a press conference on September 5, 2017. Ultimately, political slogans, not reasoned analysis, were offered for the decision to end DACA.

The Trump administration’s arguments to the Supreme Court defending the end of DACA were also mired in politics. In a convoluted fashion that wended its way to federal appellate courts from coast to coast, the administration—through a series of Interim leaders—simply ignored the requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act and in an arbitrary and capricious way simply declared that DACA was “illegal,” and that they were required to end it.

The claim that DACA was somehow “illegal” was simply not true. No court found it to be, and for good reason. Deferred action is an instrument of discretion used to shield “low priority” immigrants from deportation. Deferred action enjoys a long history and legal foundation across both Republican and Democratic administrations. The administration could decide to end the policy it, but not by undertaking the judicial role of declaring their own exercise of discretion to be unconstitutional. As it did in the Department of Commerce v. New York (2019) in manufacturing a civil rights rationale for a U.S. citizenship question on the 2020 Census that would have chilled the participation of many Latina/os and immigrants, the administration simply misrepresented facts. The Supreme Court should require the Department of Homeland Security to undertake the searching analysis of facts and policy impacts, and honestly proceed, playing by the rules. Those with DACA have upheld their part of this bargain, and the administration must abide by open and fair procedures required by the law.

DACA will be reminisced as a story about human pain and hope. Said one DACA recipient one author spoke to described September 5, 2017, the day the end of DACA was announced as “just an awful day … Eventually you just get over the pain, get over the fear… and you continue to organize and protect your community in whatever way you can.” Throughout the time DACA has been tossed around in the courts, thousands continue to build families of their own, work in the frontlines of healthcare. and revitalize classrooms in colleges and universities across the country, a phenomenon we have seen first-hand as educators and administrators. DACAmented recipients are now our doctors, lawyers, and schoolteachers, repaying the investment this country has made in them.

If the Supreme Court fails to require the Trump administration to abide by the law, as we urge the Court to insist upon, those with DACA must live under a cruel Sword of Damocles, with no clear pathway to legal permanent residency. They deserve an honest policy determination, and the Supreme Court should insist on no less. Ultimately, it will take Congressional action to enact a DREAM Act, and comprehensive immigration reform to enable these young members a means to their rightful place in our society.  


Kevin R. Johnson is Dean of the University of California, Davis School of Law and Mabie/Apallas Professor of Public Interest Law and Chicanx Studies.

Michael A. Olivas is William B. Bates Distinguished Chair of Law, Emeritus, at the University of Houston Law Center and the author of Perchance to DREAM: A Legal and Political History of The DREAM Act and DACA.

Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia is Samuel Weiss Faculty Scholar, Founding Director of the Center for Immigrants’ Rights Clinic at Penn State Law in University Park, and the author of Beyond Deportation: The Role of Prosecutorial Discretion in Immigration Cases and Banned: Immigration Enforcement in the Time of Trump.

June 1, 2020 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (2)

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Book Review: Dads for Daughters by Michelle Travis

For Father’s Day, Dads for Daughters is a remarkable book that every father who has a daughter must read. Not only will the book inspire you to do the right thing, but you will learn how and why we got to this point. Only a legal expert with broad knowledge of labor and employment law, sex discrimination, Title IX, the judicial system, history, and relevant examples in each area, and who is a parent of confident, well-adjusted daughters could write this extraordinary work. That expert is Professor Michelle Travis.

The purpose of the book is to inspire dads of daughters to actively join the cause of making the world better for women and girls. In her call to action, Professor Travis invites us to imagine the impact if these men answered the call. From boardrooms to schools to the workplace to the sports field to the ballot box to any part of life, if fathers with daughters stood up for equality, things would change so much for the better.

And change they have in the dozens of accounts of dads with daughters that Professor Travis shares with us. There’s the electrical engineer who recognizes the need to inspire young girls to explore engineering and other STEM fields; the law firm chair who was among the first to sign the local bar association’s “No Glass Ceiling” commitment to increasing women partners; the dads with daughter employed by the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare who saw to it that Title IX regulations require that girls are provided equal opportunity to compete in school sports; future hall of fame basketball coach Gregg Popovich and father of a daughter helped to break down barriers for women in professional sports coaching ranks; the not one but two U.S. Supreme Court Justices whose views on gender equality were influenced by the fact that at different points in their lives, they had to leave work early to pick up their grandchildren from school because their daughters were busy at work; the Brigadier General West Point Professor who became the headmaster at a K-12 school committed to reducing gender bias in educational materials and in the classroom; deficit hawk Senator Pete Domenici who pushed through full mental health parity funding after his experience with his own daughter’s mental health problems; and President Obama, with two well-known daughters who is proud of the fact that the first piece of legislation he signed was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Immigrants play a role in some important stories, like Qusi Alqarqaz who has helped to establish tech opportunities for women and Ray Umashakar who, with his daughter, established a nonprofit organization to help women and their daughters escape the sex trade. The book also includes cross-border examples such as the Coaching Boys Into Men (CBIM) program which works with high school coaches in India, South Africa, and the U.S. to teach male athletes about respecting women.

Grounded in these and so many more interesting stories, Professor Travis provides details, facts, and data on gender inequality that should embarrass us as a nation. In 2020, we have so much more ground to cover in order to achieve equality for our daughters, wives, sisters, and mothers. Dads for Daughters is something that every father of daughters should read and join in the battle on their behalf. In fact, even fathers or men without daughters should read the book and join the battle.


May 31, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

From the Bookshelves: Eternity Street: Violece and Justice in Frontier Los Angeles by John Mack Faragher

51HsRLDSo3L._SX332_BO1 204 203 200_

Eternity Street: Violece and Justice in Frontier Los Angeles by John Mack Faragher (W.W. Norton & Co., 2017)

Los Angeles is a city founded on blood. Once a small Mexican pueblo teeming with Californios, Indians, and Americans, all armed with Bowie knives and Colt revolvers, it was among the most murderous locales in the Californian frontier. In Eternity Street: Violence and Justice in Frontier Los Angeles, "a vivid, disturbing portrait of early Los Angeles" (Publishers Weekly), John Mack Faragher weaves a riveting narrative of murder and mayhem, featuring a cast of colorful characters vying for their piece of the city. These include a newspaper editor advocating for lynch laws to enact a crude manner of racial justice and a mob of Latinos preparing to ransack a county jail and murder a Texan outlaw. In this "groundbreaking" (True West) look at American history, Faragher shows us how the City of Angels went from a lawless outpost to the sprawling metropolis it is today.

The author, John Mack Faragher, discusses the book on this podcast.  Faragher makes it clear that that immigration is central to the story of Los Angeles, with Anglos and Blacks migrating to frontier LA when it was part of Mexico and interacting with Mexican and Indian peoples  living there, to be joined later in the 1800s by Chinese immigrants.  


May 31, 2020 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0)

Coronavirus: ICE confirms first case of COVID-19 at immigration detention center in Adelanto



As previously reported, immigrant detention centers are not immune from the COVID-19 virus.   Rebecca Plevin for the Palm Springs Desert Sun reports that federal immigration officials have confirmed the first COVID-19 case at the federal immigration detention center in the California desert city of Adelanto.

The patient is a 38-year-old immigrant from Belize.  The patient has been quarantined and is receiving care. Those who have come in contact with the immigrant are being monitored, consistent with guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.



There were 25,911 people in immigration detention as of May 13, according to ICE. As of Friday, the agency had tested 2,781 people and 1,406 of those — or 51% — were positive.

The largest outbreak is at Otay Mesa Detention Center in San Diego, where 158 people have tested positive for the virus and one detainee has died.

Immigration officials this week also confirmed the first positive COVID-19 case at the Imperial Regional Detention Center in Calexico.

An ICE spokesperson said detainees at Adelanto "continue to be tested for COVID-19 in line with CDC guidance." But court documents indicate there has been minimal testing at the 1,940-bed facility, which is one of the country's largest detention centers.

Just 15 of the 1,112 immigrants detained at Adelanto — about 1.3% of the population — had been tested for coronavirus as of May 14, according to Gabriel Valdez, an assistant field office director for the  U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Los Angeles. None had tested positive at that time, he said.

That means that for every 1,000 detained immigrants at the facility, about 13 had been tested as of May 14. In comparison, for every 1,000 immigrants in ICE custody nationwide, about 107 have been tested.


May 31, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Immigration Article of the Day: Immigrants and Interdependence: How the COVID-19 Pandemic Exposes the Folly of the New Public Charge Rule  by Medha D. Maklouf & Jasmine Sandhu

Makhlouf-Medha-190x220_0 0


Immigrants and Interdependence: How the COVID-19 Pandemic Exposes the Folly of the New Public Charge Rule Free Download by Medha D. Maklouf & Jasmine Sandhu


On February 24, 2020, just as the Trump administration began taking significant action to prepare for an outbreak of COVID-19 in the United States, it also began implementing its new public charge rule. Public charge is an immigration law that restricts the admission of certain noncitizens based on the likelihood that they will become dependent on the government for support. The major effect of the new rule is to chill noncitizens from enrolling in public benefits, including Medicaid, out of fear of negative immigration consequences. These chilling effects have persisted during the pandemic. When noncitizens are afraid to (1) seek treatment or testing for COVID-19 or (2) access public benefits in order to comply with stay-at-home guidance, it impedes efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19, contributing to the strain on the health care system.

This Essay describes how the pandemic has exposed the folly of the public charge rule: Discouraging noncitizens from accessing public benefits to support their health and well-being is and always has been unwise from a public health perspective. The pandemic merely magnifies the negative consequences of this policy.

This Essay contributes to scholarly conversations about how immigration law and policy have framed the United States’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, it provides an in-depth analysis of the negative public health consequences of the new public charge rule during the pandemic.


May 30, 2020 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, May 29, 2020

Proclamation on the Suspension of Entry as Nonimmigrants of Certain Students and Researchers from the People’s Republic of China


Read the Proclamation on the Suspension of Entry as Nonimmigrants of Certain Students and Researchers from the People’s Republic of ChinaElizabeth Redden for Inside Higher Education describes the proclamation as follows:

"The Trump administration plans to cancel the visas of Chinese graduate students and researchers who have direct ties to universities in China affiliated with the People’s Liberation Army, a decision that will only affect a small percentage of the approximately 370,000 Chinese students studying in the U.S. The move was praised by some as a smart approach to mitigating the risk of theft of sensitive research and criticized by others as an overly blunt and likely ineffective measure that could open the door for further restrictions on Chinese students."

The Preamble to the proclamation reads as follows:

"The People’s Republic of China (PRC) is engaged in a wide‑ranging and heavily resourced campaign to acquire sensitive United States technologies and intellectual property, in part to bolster the modernization and capability of its military, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).  The PRC’s acquisition of sensitive United States technologies and intellectual property to modernize its military is a threat to our Nation’s long-term economic vitality and the safety and security of the American people.

The PRC authorities use some Chinese students, mostly post‑graduate students and post-doctorate researchers, to operate as non-traditional collectors of intellectual property.  Thus, students or researchers from the PRC studying or researching beyond the undergraduate level who are or have been associated with the PLA are at high risk of being exploited or co-opted by the PRC authorities and provide particular cause for concern.  In light of the above, I have determined that the entry of certain nationals of the PRC seeking to enter the United States pursuant to an F or J visa to study or conduct research in the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States, by the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including sections 212(f) and 215(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. 1182(f) and 1185(a), and section 301 of title 3, United States Code, hereby find that the unrestricted entry into the United States as nonimmigrants of persons described in section 1 of this proclamation would, except as provided for in section 2 of this proclamation, be detrimental to the interests of the United States, and that their entry should be subject to certain restrictions, limitations, and exceptions."

For commentary, see here (New York Times) and here (Inside Higher Education). The Times story quotes immigration law Professor Frank Wu:

“`In China, much more of society is government-controlled or government-affiliated,' said Frank Wu, a law professor who is the incoming president of Queens College. `You can’t function there or have partners from there if you aren’t comfortable with how the system is set up.'

`Targeting only some potential professors, scholars, students and visitors from China is a lower level of stereotyping than banning all,' he added. `But it is still selective, based on national origin.'”


May 29, 2020 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Time to Declare War Against Racism

Friends--Minneapolis is a wake up call.

The tragic police murder of George Floyd highlights the sad truth that racial profiling of African Americans and the country’s racial divide continue. The juxtaposition of this incident and the fits and starts the nation is going through in its battle against the coronavirus provides us with an opportunity to declare another war — a war on racism in America. With race on the front pages, the opportunity is ripe for national, state, and local leaders to declare war on bigotry and hate.

More than 150 years after the Civil War and 55 years since the Civil Rights Act and the end of the national origins immigration system, racism continues in the United States. From hate speech and hate crimes to employment discrimination and forms of social preference, subtle actions and institutionalized racism continue to challenge our nation. Almost 20 years ago when Trent Lott was sharply criticized for racist sentiment at Strom Thurmond’s retirement party, we saw Democrats and Republicans alike agree that racism is wholly and completely unacceptable. But after Lott stepped aside, addressing racism was pushed to the back burner again, allowed to eat away at our nation’s character. We now see Donald Trump getting away with calling neo-Nazis and white supremacists at Charlottesville “very fine people” while labeling Minneapolis protesters as “thugs.”

A dozen years ago, presidential candidate Barack Obama gave a stirring speech on our nation’s racial divide. Then a few years later he sat down to discuss profiling with Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. and his arresting Boston police officer. But after that, we heard little further discussion nor witnessed much direct public action. Any talk of improving race relations remains hushed and polite when it occurs at all. Hushed until there’s another black victim of police brutality: Amadou Diallo. Sandra Bland. Manuel Loggins Jr. Ronald Madison. Kendra James. Sean Bell. Eric Garner. Michael Brown. Mario Woods. Philando Castile. Walter Scott. Freddie Gray. Sam DuBose. Tamir Rice. Eric Harris. Akai Gurley. Terence Crutcher. William Chapman. Jeremy McDole. Alton Sterling. Ahmaud Arbery. Breonna Taylor. Sadly, George Floyd was not the first black murder victim of Minneapolis police—just Google the name Jamar Clark.

The problem with polite talk on these issues is that it lets the vast majority of the nation off the hook. The nation ends up treating overt incidents as the exception, regarding those instances as rare—as they move on to the next day’s headline. What will it take to realize that we should be taking aim at what should be our prime target—the foundation of institutionalized racism that has created an environment that enables subtle and unconscious racism, emboldens perpetrators of racist speech, and licenses acts of hate.

We need more than polite talk. We need a sense of outrage and indignation. We need massive mobilization over the issue. We need a declaration of war. The declaration of war on the evils of hate and racism must be loud and constant. Just as we have poured millions of dollars into campaigns against COVID-19, against drugs and smoking, and into efforts to address recycling and other environmental concerns, we need attention-grabbing strategies to begin now, in the midst of current recognition that improving race relations matters.

We need a clear vision statement on these issues to serve as the basis for this moral declaration. We must be driven, not politely, because we are beyond politeness on the evils of hate and prejudice that our sensible leaders acknowledge are not American values. Let’s put our heads together on this national priority. Be creative and imaginative in approaches. Set an example. Call for a broad new campaign to keep these issues in our consciousness constantly, new laws, enforcement of existing regulations, smart coalition-building, civility, respect and approaches to addressing private attitudes and actions. Make that call loud and clear and remind us over and over. Make it part of the national psyche, not just part of the national agenda. That call and that declaration of war against racism is happening right now on the streets across the country.

The public face of American pluralism — dominated by politicians, professionals and community leaders — has its positive moments in spite of Donald Trump. The problem is with the private off-camera face of America that fails to teach our children and challenge our neighbors to be respectful of others. We all share to varying degrees the blame for a culture that gives rise to hate speech and ethnic animosity. Every time we engage in even subtle racism or the fostering of stereotypes, we perpetuate that culture. As much as each of us shares the blame, each of us can be part of the solution. Every time we reach out to others whom we have been conditioned to distrust, fear, or subordinate because of culture, race or class, we begin to chip away at the wicked culture that gives rise to irrational hatred, animosity, and violence.

In the aftermath of 9/11, President Bush spoke out against hate crimes directed at Americans of South Asian, Pakistani, Arab, and Muslim descent. He urged “Americans not to use this as an opportunity to pick on somebody that doesn’t look like you, or doesn’t share your religion.” But then, he and other leaders did little to demonstrate an informed understanding about the racialized structures of our society that continue to subordinate blacks, Latinos, Native Americans, and many Asian Americans. President Obama called on Americans to do better, but his efforts have been derailed by the MAGA-wearing president. So we must take it upon ourselves to support and get on the war path against racism. It’s time to roll up our sleeves and get serious about racism as a nation and as individuals. Will a local, state, or national leader please help us step up in this declaration of war? Please declare your commitment to work with schools, churches, neighborhood groups, business leaders, unions, and every day workers to constantly combat racism. Just imagine the impact if we see daily reminders at bus stops, stadium banners, text books, pulpits, classrooms, and public service announcements. We can and must do this together.

Bill Hing

May 29, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Immigrant Communities Would Benefit from Community-Based Investigation and Contact Tracing

From Ed Kissam and JoAnn Intili of the WKF Giving Fund:

COMBATTING COVID-19: Why Community-Based Case Investigation  and Contact Tracing is Crucial

By Ed Kissam and JoAnn Intili

May 27, 2020

While the current strategic focus of County Public Health Departments is on conducting as many tests as possible for the COVID-19 virus, the next critical juncture will be to follow up on case identification and treatment with rapid and effective contact tracing to control transmission and suppress further outbreaks of the disease. Rapid and efficient case identification and contact-tracing, coupled with effective case management to assist infected individual to self-isolate and for families to self-quarantine, will be crucial.[1]

However, the diversity of California’s population presents challenges for effective contact-tracing.  Building the capacity to rapidly and effectively conduct case investigation and contact tracing in low-income neighborhoods with concentrations of minorities and immigrants is not a small “marginal” problem. The Public Policy Institute of California has estimated that almost four in ten Californians (36.9%) live in poverty or near poverty.

It is clear that special efforts to combat COVID-19 will be needed in communities with concentrations of low-income minorities, and immigrants.

County public health departments charged with leading contact-tracing efforts in California can most effectively overcome the formidable challenges they face by partnering with a broad spectrum of community-based organizations and their networks of community activists to suppress recurrent outbreaks. Building such partnerships need to be seen not only as an investment in confronting the current emergency of the COVID-19 pandemic but as an essential component of sustainable response (since there will be ongoing resurgence of COVID-19 until a vaccine is developed and made widely available—probably at least through 2022).[2]

The Challenges That Must Be Confronted

Four out of five (79.6%) of California’s low-income minority and immigrant families are working poor—whose overall exposure to COVID-19 has been and will continue to be particularly high because so many are employed in essential businesses.[3] These “working poor” families confront distinctive dilemmas in dealing with COVID-19.[4]  The workplaces in essential industries such as agriculture, homecare, and health care where they are employed do not necessarily make social distancing easy. As an NPR reporter put it, “It’s not possible to pick strawberries on Zoom”. And effective self-quarantine is extraordinarily difficult, often impossible, in crowded living quarters.[5] These real-world considerations must be taken into account in crafting effective initiatives to suppress the COVID-19 pandemic.

Communities with concentrations of low-income families of minorities and immigrants are known to have chronic and pervasive disparities in access to health care.[6]  This has consequences for COVID-19 strategy. For example, households without an existing relationship with a primary care provider and individuals in those households who lack health insurance have, until very recently, faced many difficulties in accessing PCR testing when ill, securing appropriate advice, and taking steps to avoid infecting others.

Given that the maximum period of infectiousness for COVID-19 is during a few days before and after symptoms appear, and the fact that about half of all cases are asymptomatic, it is clear that speed and thoroughness in case tracing determines the real-time reproductive rate of COVID-19 in these neighborhoods and communities.[7]

Unless California develops the public health system capacity to rapidly and reliably identify and map networks, COVID-19 transmission in low-income minority and immigrant neighborhoods will continue to be disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and continuing transmission in these areas will slow progress for the entire state. The speed and accuracy of case investigation teams in connecting with and interacting with “hard to reach” households will determine the eventual success of “reopening”.  The slogan “We are all in this together” has very practical implications.

Strategic Context for Implementing Case Investigation and Contact-Tracing

On May 4, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced the overall framework for the state’s ambitious efforts to increase the size of the state’s case investigation/contact-tracing workforce needed to respond to “hotspots” of COVID-19 re-emergence as more businesses resume operations and as “stay at home” restrictions are loosened. The objective in Phase I of this strand in the comprehensive state strategy is to rapidly mobilize 10,000 case-tracers and, possibly, move on subsequently to expand to a workforce of 20,000 in Phase II. The state will support training provided through an on-line Academy with some ‘in-person’ supplementary content. Workers will be recruited from furloughed or volunteer government workers.

Unfortunately, a variety of factors mitigate against success of standard mainstream efforts to effectively implement contact-tracing in these neighborhoods and communities. Low-income communities of color and immigrants’ concerns about government intrusion; attitudes toward government agencies, experiences in previous interaction; living and housing conditions; vulnerabilities associated with immigration status make for limited interest in responding to contact-tracers and in communication about contacts.

Widespread dissemination of information explaining that 80% of COVID-19 cases are “mild” and that serious cases are most frequent among the elderly and people with co-morbidities, further, leads some contacts of COVID-19 infected individuals to discount the urgency of engaging with contact-tracers in the first place and/or self-isolating or self-quarantining.  Contact-tracers will need not only to be good listeners, good communicators, but also de facto health educators prepared to impact mistaken beliefs, nudge attitudes toward responsibility, and persuasively shape contacts’ aspirations and behavior.

Employers relying on a workforce of low-wage minority or immigrant workers may also be hesitant about exposing their worksite to the intrusion of contact tracers in search of individuals who have had direct contact with other workers diagnosed with COVID-19.  “Informal” working arrangements are common in many immigrant workplaces; and often work is not structured in a standard way, and supervisors have latitude to adopt and refine or, more often, simply not give much attention to social distancing. [8] But both efforts to sidestep guidelines about social distancing and incomplete follow-through on site can have devastating side-effects when there is a limited window in which work can be done (e.g. in harvesting crops).[9]

For this reason, contact tracing among front-line workers requires an orchestrated effort among the various stakeholders – not least of which are workers themselves, to build awareness about how controlling viral spread will actually maximize their chance of successfully continuing business operations, so that families can continue with their lives and jobs and paychecks maintained.

Requirements for Effective Case-Tracing in Low Income, Minority Communities

Accurately mapping networks of COVID-19 transmission, identifying nodes in local communities’ transmission networks, and the sub-populations affected, are needed to provide a basis for tailoring assistance to the distinctive needs of different kinds of individuals and households, and segments of the low-wage workforce, and delivering that help rapidly.[10] 

Effective response also requires working toward a deeper understanding of the dynamics of transmission—due to distinctive aspects of workplace organization that affect transmission risk, community social interactions, and housing infrastructure (household size, crowding, composition in “complex households”, prevalence and type of sub-standard, unconventional hidden housing). Just the overall panorama of ways in which social distancing and sheltering in place reduce transmission. Interactions between each of these “sub-domains” of social and economic life varies from community to community and better understanding of variations is a critical element in “design thinking” to develop optimal interventions.[11]

Consequently, beyond the general challenge of rapidly building overall state-level organizational capacity to conduct the level of case-investigation and contact-tracing needed to permit systematic opening-up of counties, states, and regions of the U.S., there needs to be focused attention to the demands of contact-tracing in these communities with linguistically and culturally diverse populations; where housing conditions might not be ideal for isolation or quarantine; and where healthcare access might be (or has been) constrained for some individuals.[12]  

To ignore the special demands placed on efforts to conduct effective case investigation and contact tracing in these communities, proceeding to do it in a standardized way without adaptation to local context, will not be advantageous either to the community itself or to California as a whole.  

It will be crucial to build into the state’s case investigation/contact-tracing initiative the following objectives, in order for it to function effectively:

  • Recruiting and training a linguistically and culturally diverse workforce of grassroots community service providers and activists who can reach out in each of California’s diverse communities to rapidly contact and establish rapport with sub-groups who are already under stress and resistant to communication with “outsiders”;
  • Developing local consortia that can efficiently integrate case investigation and contact tracing with practical advice, so as to streamline the challenging process of securing temporary housing for self-isolation or self-quarantine of COVID-19 infected and/or exposed individuals living in low-income overcrowded households;
  • Enhancing standard contact-tracing by reliance on the cultural and social capital of community contact-tracers to allow rapid and reliable identification of nodes in diverse social networks and workplaces where COVID-19 is particularly prevalent
  • Including mechanisms to mobilize the resources needed for rapid-response where patterns of transmission are identified that warrant special attention – e.g. where case clusters of COVID-19 are observed among farmworkers, day-laborers, hospital support staff, or home health care workers
  • Providing opportunities for case investigators, contact-tracers, and navigators recruited from low-income communities to move onward and upward in public health careers.

The optimal strategy is not to attempt to train “mainstream” health professionals to communicate effectively with communities they are not part of but, instead, to give priority to training community members.

Ideally, the workforce recruited for a California Community-Based COVID-19 Case Investigation and Contact-Tracing Program would be diverse not simply in terms of language and cultural competency but, also, include workers drawn from diverse sociological sub-groups within each racial/ethnic population.  These might, for example, include: community activists who can gain the trust of their peers and communicate effectively with them, middle-aged locally well-known community activists, Chicanos/Chicanas and, also, Mexican and Central American immigrants from indigenous communities (e.g. Mixteco/as, Zapoteco/as, Kanjobal, Mam), African-American church leaders, and youth program counselors/leaders, Hmong elders, DACA recipients, and other immigrant community members under-employed or unemployed due to COVID-19 disruption.

Technical training to assure the integrity and reliability of case identification, contact-tracing, data collection, reporting and adherence to protocols to safeguard privacy is, of course, crucial.  But this technical competency can be developed rapidly. The UCSF pilot model, for example, consists of rapid online training followed by practicum.


Conclusion:  Community-Based Contact-Tracing is Crucial and Viable

A crucial objective for case tracing is rapid mobilization to initiate case identification, contact-tracing, and intervention so that new cases will rapidly self-isolate and persons who have been in close contact with an infected person will self-quarantine and that those with more infrequent and/or not such close contact will, at the very least, be particularly vigilant for COVID-like symptoms. 

Case investigation and contact-tracing is not necessarily easy or straightforward in diverse communities, especially immigrant ones that are particularly distrustful of outsiders-- given the current immigration enforcement climate and apprehension regarding potential federal mis-use of confidential data.[13] “Trusted voices” are more important than ever at this point in time as part of efforts to secure, accurate, complete information on sensitive issues; and speed is crucial in managing and containing the virus. [14] They can often elicit more reliable information. Informants reached by contact-tracers immersed in community life may more easily be prompted to accurately recall contacts from some contexts (like personal friends and families) than others (i.e. workplaces).   Incorporating a community-based COVID-19 case investigation/contact-tracing program into California’s newly-initiated case-tracing initiative will enhance the strategic effectiveness of these efforts.[15]  

By preparing contact-tracers to engage in conversations with family members in immigrant and other low-income minority households with little access to online information resources and limited experience in assessing personal health risk can, it is possible, as part of epidemiological surveillance, can also contribute practically to impacting beliefs and aspirations, thereby enhancing behaviors that contribute to reduced transmission of COVID-19.

Authorities and institutional leaders engaged in developing COVID-19 case tracing strategies agree that although medically-trained and other college-educated professional personnel are currently being relied on for contact tracing, lay people can also be successfully and rapidly trained to fulfill these roles.  A person with a high-school education, if well-trained, diligent in eliciting and recording information, good in communicating, and computer/database literate, could fill this sort of role well[16]

As Miguel Tirado notes, in a companion paper, quoting Wessler and Feliciano, “While it certainly is possible to identify bilingual individuals with advanced education to serve as contact tracers in these communities, the local population may still see the person as an outsider and not to be trusted”.  As Wessler and Feliciano suggest, “In diverse communities, being a peer from the community may be a more important qualification than education level or professional degrees” [17]

The first step toward enhancing the initial model for contract-tracing used by UCSF and the San Francisco Health Department is to put in place 2-3 pilot/demonstration projects that will provide a framework for enhancing the effectiveness of standard contact-tracing operations by creating partnerships in diverse California communities.  We recommend at least one pilot in a low-income urban community with a high degree of ethnic/racial diversity and one in agricultural areas of California with concentrations of farmworkers.[18]


[1] Hellewell, J. et al, “Feasibility of controlling COVID-19 outbreaks by isolation of

cases and contacts”, Lancet Global Health, March 5, 2020

[2] Kissler et al, “Projecting the transmission dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 through the postpandemic period” Science, April 14, 2020.

[3] See Public Policy Institute of California, “Who’s in Poverty in California” See, also, Sarah Bohn, Caroline Danielson, and Tess Thorman, “Poverty in California”, July, 2019,

[4] About one-third of California households with incomes of $25,000 or less were uninsured in 2012 (California Health Care Almanac, 2013). A proportion of the working poor families are not income-eligible for Medi-Cal and those who are undocumented have not, until Governor Newsom’s Executive Order on access to emergency access to Medi-Cal for COVID-19 related services have had great difficulty securing assistance.

[5] Antonio Olivo, Marissa Lang, and John D. Harden, “Crowded housing and essential jobs: Why so many Latinos are getting coronavirus”, Washington Post, May 27, 2020.

[6] Presentation by Sergio Aguilar-Gaxiola, Director, UC Davis Center for Reducing Health Disparities, UCSF

Institute for Global Health Sciences Webinar, May 5, 2020. See also

[7] The Los Angeles County Public Health COVID-19 dashboard, as well as their initial strategic data analysis “COVID-19, Racial, Ethnic, and Socioeconomic Disparities Data and Strategies Report”, April 28, 2020, provides stark evidence as to how much higher real-time reproductive rate is in these low-income neighborhoods than in others.

[8] Nationally, about one-third of farmworker households are crowded.  In some areas of California such as Monterey and Santa Cruz counties, 93% of farmworkers live in crowded housing and one-third in extremely crowded housing. See Ed Kissam, “Why Special Help To Farmworker Families In Crowded Housing Is So Important As Part of Overall Strategy to Suppress COVID-19”, WKF Fund Working Paper, April 7, 2020.

[9] In particular, both employers and their employees are inclined to conveniently discount the challenges inherent in COVID-19 being asymptomatic in about half of all cases and about 40% of transmission being from pre-symptomatic infected individuals. (See CDC “COVID-19 Pandemic Planning Scenarios” for underlying coefficients for projecting transmission).

[10] Case investigation and contact-tracing needs to go beyond observed patterns in datasets derived from PCR and/or antibody-based testing to characterize the distinctive circumstances of transmission in specific outbreaks.  In the Smithfield outbreak among meatpacking workers, for example, it turned out that one factor in rapid spread was a well-known back door to the plant where workers could avoid pro-forma front-door screening.  In a well-documented COVID-19 cluster in a Washington state farmworker community, infection spread among workers on a crowded farm labor crew bus. Advocates have observed that work breaks with little shade have resulted in crowding and potential transmission. Field-packing in the lettuce harvest is also worrisome. It helps to identify these specifics rapidly.

[11] See Delamater PL, Street EJ, Leslie TF, Yang Y, Jacobsen KH. Complexity of the Basic Reproduction Number (R0). Emerg. Infect. Dis. 2019;25(1):1-4. It is assumed that, in general, within-household transmission accounts for about one-third of COVID-19 transmission but, based on data about farmworker household crowding and family size, in-home transmission is likely to be about 2.5 times higher than in the average U.S. household. 

[12] The utility of proximity-based contact-tracking technology has been debated at length—but “human intelligence” will be needed even if automated contact-tracking is widely accepted by the public because assessment as to whether proximity constitutes a “contact” generates many “false positives” and inconsistent use of cellphones will generate “false negatives”.

[13] There is widespread concern, for example, about potential use of DACA applicants’ personal information submitted to USCIS for enforcement purposes.  Parallel concerns persist about mis-use of data collected in Census 2020 and use of social service program data in review of eligibility for green cards (although DHS has stated it will not use information on services accessed during the COVID-19 pandemic in its review of family visa applications).   

[14] Speed is crucial because one of the components of the basic reproduction rate in an epidemic is the duration during which an infected person is in close contact with others.  

[15] Governor Newsom announced the initiative in his May 4, press conference on COVID-19 strategy. Summary descriptions have been published in several news outlets.  See, for example, Politico  More detailed discussion of details of some key elements were provided by the UCSF pilot team in their April 29, 2020 webinar.

[16] See Centers for Disease Control, “Health Departments: Interim Guidance on Developing a COVID-19 Case Investigation and Contact Tracing Plan”, May 20, 2020  Also, Watson, C., et al, “A National PlanTo Enable Comprehensive COVID-19 Case Finding and Contact Tracing in the U.S.”, Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security”, April, 2020 national-plan-to-enable-comprehensive-COVID-19-case-finding-and-contact-tracing-in- the-US.pdf . Also Martha Bebinger, “Here’s How Contract Tracing Works in Massachusetts”, Commonhealth, May 7, 2020. Also, Resolve To Save Lives, “Contract Tracing Playbook”, May 12, 2020.

[17] Wessler J, Feliciano A. “Correcting NYC’s health disparities starts with how we do contact tracing”, City Limits, May 11, 2020). 

[18] About 90% of the California farm labor force consists of immigrants and the majority lack legal status.  This particularly vulnerable population of farmworkers and their family members number about 1.5 million.

May 29, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)