Thursday, October 21, 2021
Guest blogger: Alexandra Villalon, law student, University of San Francisco
Living on the Texas-Mexico border is complicated and complex. I used to think that anyone who lives close to the border would abhor the Border Patrol and ICE as 89% of residents of the Texas-Mexico border region identify as Hispanic or Latino. (Texas Health and Human Services, 2017). Many residents are of immigrant families that immigrated across the border and have settled down in cities like McAllen and El Paso. Many may also know of or have family members that are undocumented living with them. Yet, I was mistaken to think that everyone on the border who identifies as Hispanic or Latino thinks the same way. This was evident (but still shocking) when Latinos voted for Trump in 2020. This seemed counterintuitive after Trump’s border wall initiative, family separation policy, and the racist remarks made during Trump’s first term in office. I still did not understand.
And then an article from Texas Monthly popped into my inbox. It was entitled “In El Paso, Joining Border Patrol Offers a Rare Path to Financial Security. But for Some Immigrant Kids, it’s Complicated.” Here, again was a paradox. Why would anyone, much less Gen X kids, want to join the Border Patrol? The same Border Patrol who racially profiles immigrants who have similar backgrounds and look like these kids?
Being a border patrol agent is a job like any other. One can go online to USAJOBS.gov and apply for open positions. The starting salary varies from $49,500-$78,200 for the first year with the opportunity for promotion for each subsequent year. Within four years of service, one can make up to $125,900/year. As of 2016, Latinos make up a little more than 50% of the Border Patrol. Hispanic or Latino border patrol agents make an average of $70,500 compared to the $59,600 that white border patrol agents make. (Zippia, 2021).
Are Latinos in it for the money? Yes, that’s part of it. The Texas Monthly article focuses on the documentary released at Sundance Film Festival earlier this year that follows El Paso’s Horizon High School’s criminal justice club members and their trek to entering the Border Patrol or other law enforcement agencies. The criminal justice club prepares high school students for a career in law enforcement: students practice active shooter drills, hold fake guns, wear tactical gear and learn how to execute search warrants. There’s even an annual UIL “Border Challenge” competition where top high school law enforcement programs compete in real world law enforcement scenarios like felony stop, burglary in progress, hostage negotiation, and active shooter. Students know that a job in law enforcement is “one of only three career fields in El Paso with wages comparable to national averages.” (Texas Monthly, 2021). El Paso’s median household income is $14,000 less per year and 22% of El Pasoans lacked health coverage in 2018. So, a career in law enforcement is appealing across the board. It provides great benefits, doesn’t require moving far from home for those who wish to support their family, and has a great starting salary.
How do the students grapple with potentially arresting their own ethnic group or even a family member? Most, if not all the students in the documentary who want to enter law enforcement are bought into the idea that border patrol agents are here to protect public safety. The job summary outlining the duties for a border patrol agent states that the DHS “is calling on those who want to help protect American interests and secure our Nation.” These students don’t think they’re doing any wrong, which they are not. They are applying to a legal job and enforcing the law of the country they are a citizen of.
Children of Latino immigrants also want to do right by their immigrant parents. Many have seen first-hand what it takes to survive in the United States and how their parents worked hard to provide for their family. Latino children, especially as they get older, want to make their parents proud and show them that what their parents have done for them all their lives was not in vain. How they show that is through a well-paying job.
I can’t fault these high school students for wanting to do better for themselves and their families. It’s sad to know that their only option, it seems like, is to enter the field of law enforcement and be on the side “against immigrants,” those immigrants could have been their parents!
But those are the nuances and complexities that have developed from immigration enforcement in the United States.
The Administrative Law Review is hosting a virtual symposium on October 29, 2021 that will explore important questions about the role of administrative law in detention and imprisonment. More info here. Register here.
Many immigration law professors were hopeful that the election of Joe Biden would bring changes in many Trump era immigration policies. Law professors Sarah Sherman-Stokes and Lindsay M. Harris for Bloomberg are not keen on the Biden administration's continuation of the Trump administration's Title 42 policy. Here is the gist:
"When it comes to U.S. border policy, President Biden touted changes from the Trump administration, but so far, he has adopted as his own one of the very worst Trump-era policies—Title 42 expulsions based on public health concerns, say immigration and asylum law experts and law professors Sarah Sherman-Stokes and Lindsay M. Harris."
Newly obtained United States government documents detail over 160 internal reports of misconduct and abuse of asylum seekers at the hands of U.S. officials, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The documents report abuse by Customs and Border Protection officers, Border Patrol agents, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials, primarily between 2016 and 2021.
The 26-page report, “‘They Treat You Like You Are Worthless’: Internal DHS Reports of Abuses by US Border Officials,” details internal reports made by asylum officers within U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services about the conduct of personnel in the immigration enforcement arms of their same parent agency, the Department of Homeland Security. Though heavily redacted, the reports, which Human Rights Watch obtained after litigation under the Freedom of Information Act, include allegations of physical, sexual, and verbal abuse, due process violations, harsh detention conditions, denial of medical care, and discriminatory treatment at or near the border.
As part of an effort to speed up removals, the Trump administration imposed case annual quotas on immigration judges in job performance. Numbers, not quality, of dispositions were the touchstone. Needless to say, the quotas were heavily criticized.
Grace Dixon for Law 360 ("DOJ Walks Back Trump-Era Quotas For Immigration Judges?") reports that the Presiudent Biden's U.S. Department of Justice has walked back the quotas imposed on immigration judges. The Trump-era quotas were intended to expedite proceedings.
For the CNN report on this story, click here.
Wednesday, October 20, 2021
CFP: Business Accountability for Human Rights: Addressing Human Rights Issues in Global Supply Chains
The Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law is pleased to announce a call for papers to be presented in the course of its April 2022 conference on Business Accountability for Human Rights: Addressing Human Rights Issues in Global Supply Chains (rescheduled from October 2021 due to the impact of the COVID-19 Delta variant). The conference will bring together government officials, business people, lawyers, scholars, and representatives of faith traditions to explore human rights issues in global supply chains. The program will feature discussions of overarching challenges, cross-sector commitments to eliminating human rights violations, the benefits and costs of transnational regulation, ESG strategies, and financial issues. Specific topics will include subjects such as supply chain management, leading technologies, public/private partnerships, and emerging standards of human rights compliance. We welcome paper presentations from scholars in law, business or religion, as well as in other disciplines involving the study of matters germane to business accountability for human rights in global supply chains. The conference website may be found here.
SUBMIT ABSTRACTS FOR CONSIDERATION
If you are interested in presenting a paper at the Conference, please submit a working title and abstract of 200-300 words by January 15, 2022. Abstracts should pertain to works in progress or at least begun by the author, but they need not be completed papers. We hope to award travel stipends available to the authors of the three abstracts that score highest in the selection process. We will notify authors about acceptances by January 31, 2022. Thanks to those who already have submitted abstracts. All abstracts already submitted will be considered for the rescheduled conference in April.
To submit abstracts for consideration, please click here. Contact Professor Sarah Duggin - Director, Catholic Law Compliance, Investigations and Corporate Responsibility Program, about any questions at email@example.com.
Moderated by USIPC director Tom K. Wong, this conference will feature four panels of speakers representing experts in the law, politics, policy, and advocacy surrounding climate displaced persons, including:
- Jonathan Martinez, Legislative Director for Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-NY-7)
- Hiroshi Motomura, Susan Westerberg Prager Distinguished Professor of Law, UCLA School of Law
- Bill Ong Hing, Professor of Law and Migration Studies, University of San Francisco
- Kayly Ober, Senior Advocate and Program Manager, Climate Displacement Program, Refugees International
- Ama Francis, Climate Displacement Project Strategist, International Refugee Assistance Project
Law360 (October 18, 2021, 7:29 PM EDT) -- The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday vacated a Third Circuit ruling in a deportation case that barred a Yemeni man from acquiring citizenship through his naturalized but divorced parents, after the Biden administration said the lower court overlooked precedent.
Abdulmalik Abdulla, who had lived in the U.S. for nearly 30 years before he was deported in 2019, had fought deportation by claiming citizenship through his father, who became an American citizen while married to Abdulla's mother. But the Third Circuit ruled in August 2020 that Section 1432 of the Immigration and Nationality Act could allow Abdulla's claim only if his father had become a citizen after getting divorced. Appealing to a new BIA decision, In Matter of Douglas , Abdulla aruged Section 1432 allowed divorced parents to pass on citizenship to their children, regardless of when the parents became citizens. On the basis of the new pleadings, the Supreme Court vacated the Third Circuit judgment and remanded Abdulla's case for further proceedings.
The case is Abdulmalik Abdulla v. Merrick Garland, case number 20-1492, in the U.S. Supreme Court.
Amanda Ottaway for Law360 ("Facebook Inks $14M Deal To End Feds' Anti-US Bias Claims") reports that Facebook has agreed to pay up to $14.25 million in a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice. Facebook was alleged to have unlawfully favored temporary visa holders over U.S. workers. The settlement is the largest financial recovery ever under the Immigration and Nationality Act's anti-discrimination provisions.
Here is the Settlement attached.
Fqacebook's monetary payout, which includes a $4.75 million fine and a fund of up to $9.5 million for individuals impacted by Facebook's policy, resolves an administrative lawsuit claiming that it held thousands of high-paying job slots for foreign workers, made those jobs tough for U.S. workers to seek, and rejected the few who applied. According to another news report, "The company allegedly employed a recruitment process that was intentionally designed to dissuade US workers from applying for positions it had set aside for temporary visa holders."
"Under the DOJ settlement, Facebook will pay a civil penalty of $4.75 million to the United States, pay up to $9.5 million to eligible victims of Facebook’s alleged discrimination, and train its employees on the anti-discrimination requirements of the INA. In addition, Facebook will be required to conduct more expansive advertising and recruitment for its job opportunities for all PERM positions, accept electronic resumes or applications from all U.S. workers who apply, and take other steps to ensure that its recruitment for PERM positions closely matches its standard recruitment practices. Today’s civil penalty and backpay fund represent the largest fine and monetary award that the Division ever has recovered in the 35-year history of the INA’s anti-discrimination provision." (bold added).
Tuesday, October 19, 2021
Guest blogger: Shweta Rathore, LLM student, University of San Francisco
In order to survive in this world as humans, it is always a bit more than hope and faith that we all need. The end goal of any actions, choices we make is “a happy life” which can be easy for few but can be a basic battle for a mere survival for others. The basic needs can be counted as health, food, sanitation, livelihood and in most traumatic phases just a question as to whether one shall survive the day and see the rising sun once again.
The life of migrants is one example of human society where the life struggles not only to meet up basic needs but to figure a way out of persistent miseries and lead one’s family in a livable atmosphere. In general, the society has become so hard to the empathetic traits of humanity that every action of the other is put under the lens of doubt even if that action is an attempt to make it to the next day of her life. Nations view such individuals who carry so much of emotional and mental burden along, as trespassers, law breakers, illegal humans, aliens and what not! But the question is how logical this race has become that acknowledging pain and suffering appears a risk? And if that is the case, how do we even challenge ourselves to be a developing race when the core values (which distinguish us in the natural strata of living beings from animals) has vanished?
Climate crisis has been constantly affecting the world in various ways and the impact of the same is heavily felt by the world at large. But if we look deeper, why is the world worried about climate crisis? Is it because we have become too caring for the environment out of the blue? Had that been the case, the very situation of climate crisis wouldn’t persist. It is the fear of survival! And when such fear is experienced by a set of individuals on a daily basis because no day is a day without crisis and one wonders with such climatic situation around them how and what is the way out to mere survival.
For no life is a matter of great joy to leave behind the life long memories one makes and walk ahead just to ensure survival of family and that of oneself. The situation of climate crisis has and continues to force hundreds and thousands of individuals to leave their lands, loved ones and roots just to ensure food, shelter and basic needs. And all of this because they have no choice! A small province called Alta Verapaz in rural Guatemala, has been experiencing hurricanes and natural disruptions leading to enormous damage to the crop of mostly maize which is the staple crop for families in the region. The families put together their hope and sweat with hope of obtaining a flourishing harvest but continuous rains and hurricanes have left them with nothing but devastated fields. With such repetitions of climatic scenarios, people from the region and other parts of Mexico who also face no better state look at the borders of United States with a hope for survival. Individuals and families not just from rural Guatemala but other agrarian areas of Salvador and Honduras are forced to leave their land and choose survival. When considering the bigger picture, it is not just the climate crisis alone that put these individuals in such scenario, but it is also the food insecurity. And when taken together it makes life vulnerable for such people. Finding life amidst such harsh conditions, Guatemalan migrants have been apprehended at the US-Mexico border more than 153,000 times this year in 2021. The situations are harsh to an extent that in Alta Verapaz and Huehuetenango, at least one member from a family migrated or attempts to migrate in the last five years according to the survey conducted by the International Organization for Migration, and the primary motive is found to be fleeing from Natural disasters and climate crisis. It is just not hurricanes that are a matter of concern in areas like Guatemala, but also natural calamities like drought, volcano eruption, floods and influential fluctuation in Coffee prices.
The impact of such crisis is job insecurity, unemployment, loss and large-scale damage to the infrastructure. And if this alone was not enough, the locals faced double defeat due to the pandemic kicking, which took the entire scope of survival into darker space.
In such affected regions like Guatemala, the lack of proper living conditions and shortage of food means that most of the children are chronically hungry, leading to many being short for their age, weakened bones and bloated bellies. The question in the minds of families is where their next meal for the day shall come from. The young folks are choosing to compromise the early years of adulthood and step out to seek security for their family and themselves. There are few who say we tried to move out and failed but will try again because there is no hope here and trying again and again to choose life over death is the only choice.
For most of the human past, humans have been inhabiting areas that supported their livelihood and the food production was supported by climatic conditions. However, with present climatic scenario and the planet warming up, the survival of entire race seems to be dreadful. And this is not all, in 2018 the World Bank estimated that there are three regions -- Latin America, Sub-Saharan-Africa and South East Asia -- that will generate 143 million more climate migrants by 2050. In 2017, 68.5 million people were forcibly displaced, more than at any point in human history. And a rough estimate indicates that one third of these were displaced due to “sudden onset” climate conditions like floods, drought or fires in the forest. The impact of climate crisis might be different in different parts of the world but the responsibility of survival will have to be collectively borne by the world in totality.
And as the Biden administration expresses its sincerity in tackling the root causes of migration from areas like Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, any work it does to navigate climate related problems in terms of migration, would show a path to other parts of the world too. But the ongoing reaction on part of the US government speaks in contrary terms; rhetoric such as “you will be turned back” offer no solution to these thousands of individuals approaching the US southern borders, and places major powers like the US in a position of shame. Using exclusionary strategies like Title 42, the US government only displays an insensitive side of its system. Using the pandemic as a pretext actually costs life and creates devastation.
How is UNHCR playing its part?
“Climate change is the defining crisis of our time and it particularly impacts the displaced” says the UNHCR’s Special Advisor on Climate Action, Andrew Harper. As an international agency responsible for refugee protection, the UNHCR expresses its concern for people who have been displaced by conflicts or prosecuted across international borders. But the organization sees climate change as a risk multiplier or an aggravated threat for other aspects of displacement.
Climate migration in itself might not be a area of conflict but it can certainly result in food insecurity and challenges to survival for people across the globe. It increases challenges to livelihood and puts pressure on education and health services. This is often coupled with pressures on governance and access to overall resources, because of challenges to socio-political and religious grievances, or community structures. The combination of factors could be the spark to set everything off.
And ultimately, all the related entities will have to take necessary measures to mitigate the arising vulnerabilities or else the chances of conflict will only escalate with time. And this is where UNHCR is trying to play a role. The organization is aiming to show a nexus between climate crisis, vulnerability, its challenges and those being displaced as a results.
Some UNHCR measures:
- It has developed a Strategic Framework on Climate Action, which covers three pillars of response. The first pillar speaks to the legal and normative work regarding protection for people being forced to move due to climate change. The overall goal is to support access to protection for people displaced in the context of climate change and disasters through guiding the interpretation and application of relevant legal and policy frameworks, developing guidance and catalyzing international discussions.
- The second pillar is to enhance the resilience of displaced population to the climate and other related vulnerabilities and provide a framework to strengthen preventive measures for disasters.
- The third pillar is most relevant one in the view of this body -- trying to “green itself”’ such as reducing their green house gases emission and reducing its impact on the environment.
In totality, UNHCR is aiming to work with governments and other agencies to assist communities to better withstand climate related calamities when they arise.
But looking beyond, climate migration is not just an independent global concern but a root problem which shall deprive thousands of individuals from even a basic life span. Any solution will only be through a collective effort on part of the developed nations like the US to offer constructive help to displaced individuals rather than emphasizing protection of borders and getting away from its responsibility.
Finally, what first appears to many as a security issue is actually a climate displacement issue and needs to be acted upon for the sake of human survival.
Do undocumented migrants have Second Amendment rights? This is a question the 2d Circuit recently assessed in a case called Perez.
The Constitution protects "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms." Do undocumented migrants fall within "the people"?
Law360 has really comprehensive coverage of the issue in a recent article that quotes many of our very own immprofs.
Deep Gulasekaram (Santa Clara) asks: "Can you interpret 'the people' as only covering citizens?... That's actually a fairly indefensible interpretation if you think that the Second Amendment is an individual right of self-defense."
Lenni Benson (NYLS) says: "Citizen or noncitizen," the Perez case "is an example of the tremendous power of government to upend your life... At the core of this case, is this issue of how we treat, constitutionally, the people living amongst us."
Geoffrey A. Hoffman (Houston) comments: "You're now decreasing the Second Amendment with respect to immigrants. And what does that say about the First Amendment?... This decision could be interpreted, more globally, to implicate and undermine immigrants' rights in many different areas."
Geoffrey Heeren (Idaho) states: "It's this evolving trend to limit the definition of 'the people' to citizens... The way that the courts decide cases under the Second Amendment could bleed over into the analysis of other issues.... That goes to the heart of our democracy."
Guest blogger: Seena Taalomi, law student, University of San Francisco
The Failure of DACA.
Under the Obama presidency, there was a brief moment when it seemed that immigration reform might become a key achievement. President Obama announced the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) policy on June 15, 2012, the 30th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision Plyler v. Doe. However, DACA failed to provide meaningful and long-lasting relief for immigrants, as executive orders are prone to be disregarded or abrogated by later presidents.
Subsequently, the Trump presidency exposed the weaknesses of executive orders and policies like DACA, as President Trump attempted to do away with DACA within his first year in office. Of course Trump soon found himself embroiled with legal battles, including challenges to his treatment of DACA, and the Supreme Court ultimately ruled that the Department of Homeland Security’s rescission of DACA was “arbitrary and capricious,” in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”). Nevertheless, the Supreme Court decision only preserved DACA for the time being. Future presidents who wish to do away with DACA now know that they simply need to come up with better reasons to do so in order to avoid violating the APA. And the state of Texas has recently successfully argued that DACA was not properly put in place by Obama in the first place.
Currently, President Biden is in favor of DACA (which comes as no surprise since he was Vice President when DACA was announced). However, DACA still falls short of providing meaningful relief for most immigrants. President Biden has correctly stated that “only Congress can ensure a permanent solution by granting a path to citizenship for Dreamers that will provide the certainty and stability that these young people need and deserve.” Nevertheless, with the current state of Congress, it seems unlikely that President Biden will be able to persuade Congress to enact immigration reform.
When it comes to immigration reform, the last three presidencies can be summarized with the ebb and flow of DACA. Although DACA has provided relief for some, at this point it seems that DACA is a distraction from the bigger picture.
It’s time to retreat from the DACA quagmire and look to alternative solutions for bringing about comprehensive immigration reform.
Possible Solutions for Immigration Reform.
The obvious solution is for Congress to enact comprehensive immigration reform. Unfortunately, this seems unlikely given the deadlocked state of Congress. The current Senate is the oldest in American history, and the past few years have been a continuous cycle where senior members of congress (e.g., Mitch McConnell and Nancy Pelosi) grapple until the two parties are deadlocked. This style of politics will never result in comprehensive immigration reform. Therefore, altering the identity of Congress needs to be a top priority for those in favor of immigration reform. This means that voters need to play the long game by chipping away at Congress and electing members who care about immigration reform. Moreover, immigration reform needs to be cast in a new light in order to appeal to both the DNC and the RNC.
Voters Capture the Attention of Both Parties.
Latino voters continue to rise in the U.S. Both the DNC and RNC are acutely aware of this trend. Therefore, a grass roots movement which ties immigration reform with the Latino vote could be appealing to both the DNC and the RNC. One inherent problem with this solution is that grass roots movements are not easy to organize, and another problem is that its success may depend on whether it receives adequate media coverage. Additionally, even if such a movement gains traction, it seems that the RNC might not have the stomach to approach the issue of immigration reform; the Trump style of politics may still be in effect, as far-right republicans like Ron DeSantis continue to cash in on Trump-style rhetoric. Consequently, it may be a stretch to sell immigration reform to the RNC when they are still unsure of their identity in the wake of Trump.
Surprisingly, it is also unclear whether immigration reform is even a key issue for the majority of Latino voters. In 2020, Latino voters ranked the economy, health care, and COVID-19 as their top three issues. Immigration was ranked number eight (but there were notable differences when separated by gender, with more Latina women ranking immigration as a top issue than Latino men). Consequently, immigration reform advocates may need to appeal to a broader demographic of voters to bring immigration reform into the national spotlight.
Immigration Reform Will Likely Require a Strong President to Rally Congress.
Immigration reform needs at least a two-pronged approach. First, voters need to convince Congress that immigration reform is a key issue. Second, some president (either Biden or one yet to come) needs to convince the public, and Congress, that immigration is a key issue.
To come full circle, this piece began by talking about how presidents have failed to enact immigration reform, but that was largely because DACA lacked permanence and stability. DACA certainly provided relief for many, and it continues to do so to some effect, but it may also be a distraction at this point. It’s time to look forward towards meaningful immigration reform.
A comprehensive immigration reform bill needs to be passed by Congress. The right presidential candidate can still capture attention of the American public, and perhaps persuade Congress to enact meaningful immigration legislation, but waiting for the right candidate is not the only way to move forward.
It’s time to get Congress to listen. To do so, the American public must also be convinced that immigration reform is long overdue.
 Plyler v. Doe, 457 U.S. 202, 102 S. Ct. 2382, 72 L. Ed. 2d 786 (1982)
 Dep't of Homeland Sec. v. Regents of the Univ. of California, 140 S. Ct. 1891, 207 L. Ed. 2d 353 (2020)
Guest blogger: Justin Colón, law student, University of San Francisco
The US response has been lackluster, with much of the discussion focused on the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program. The SIV program was created in 2009 as part of legislation that was intended to support Afghan allies. Along with the SIV program, the P-2 program (a special priority designation under the US Refugee Admissions Program) are the two primary legal paths for Afghan nationals hoping to immigrate to the US. Like many of the legal pathways to immigration, the task of applying and qualifying for the programs are daunting in themselves. A lot can be said about how the United States ended and exited its 20+ year war in Afghanistan. In the immediate aftermath, the Taliban began targeting groups who offered aid or worked with the U.S. during that 20-year war. Among those groups were those who had offered aid to the U.S. military or U.S.-funded organizations. These groups face particular hardship as their lives are continuously threatened by the fear that the Taliban will kill them.
First there are the requirements. To be eligible for an Afghan special immigrant visa, an applicant must show: (1) they were employed for at least one year by the US government (either as an interpreter, or performing other activities for US military personnel); (2) a letter of recommendation from a senior supervisor; and (3) a constant and ongoing threat as a consequence of such employment. There is a mountain of paperwork that goes into each step of the process, which is a lot to ask from individuals facing imminent and constant persecution. There isn’t currently any allowance made for Afghans who are in real and imminent danger to expeditated the process. Those ineligible for an SIV (such as Afghan nationals who did not work with non-military US government funded programs, or who did not meet the “time in service” SIV requirement), the P-2 program provides a pathway to immigration albeit with similar daunting requirements. For the rest of the Afghan nationals facing danger, humanitarian parole might be the only other pathway to safety in the US. Further, as with many visa programs there are only a certain amount allotted each fiscal year (8000 in the case of Afghan SIVs), an amount that is far outnumbered by the number of potential applicants.
The first step in the lengthy process requires that the applicant go to a U.S. Embassy for an interview. This has proven problematic because the U.S. Embassy shut down due to the abrupt exit of U.S. forces. Individuals not lucky enough to have obtained interviews in Afghanistan must now reach a U.S. embassy in another country. However, in order to do so they need to bring with them legal documents allowing them to leave Afghanistan. As one State Department official told NPR “For many it’s a Catch-22: You can’t get approved until you get out of Afghanistan and you can’t get out of Afghanistan until you have paperwork showing you’ve been approved.”
The president and the executive branch have the authority to relocate individuals on an emergency basis. The Indochina Migration and Refugee Assistance Act, passed in 1975, has been used by the president to authorize programs to evacuate refugees such as Iraqi Kurds and Kosovans. These programs allowed the president to create an expedited asylum process in which the refugees were housed and fed awaiting for approval. Additionally, the Executive branch can expand existing humanitarian parole programs or create a parole program that doesn’t force the thousands of Afghans waiting either for an SIV/P-2 visa, or who are in the process of the rigorous initial review, while they are in immediate danger of their lives. An expansion or new parole program would also capture the many who would not otherwise be eligible under existing visa programs.
The U.S. has a moral obligation to ensure the safety of Afghan nationals fleeing persecution. There are several legal avenues, many of which get around the bureaucratic red tape of official visa programs, that the Biden Administration can exercise to fulfill that obligation.
Guest blogger: Manjinder Kaur, law student, University of San Francisco
Many, if not all, immigrants that migrate to the United States often have this idea of the United States being a country where one gets freedom or where dreams become reality. But the sad reality is that these dreams are often times broken when a migrant becomes familiar with the treatment of individuals in detention centers. The torture and separation faced by those in detention centers often leaves them in worst situations than they would have been in if they had stayed in their home country.
The horrific treatment of individuals in detention centers is not a new tactic employed by immigration officials, but rather something that has taken place for several years. In Wong Wing v. United States, 163 U.S. 228 (1896), the Court found that subjecting the defendant to hard labor was not permissible because it was a form of punishment that cannot be enforced without there being a jury trial. Furthermore, since immigration laws and enforcement are rooted in civil law and not criminal law, officials can detain but cannot submit the detainees to punishment.
The Court further clarified the limits of detention in Zadvydas v. Davis, 533 U.S. 678 (2001) by ruling that indefinite detention is not permitted for those ordered deported and post-removal period detention is limited to a period reasonably necessary to bring about the detainee’s removal from the United States. An exception was noted in Demoore v. Kyung Joon Kim 538 U.S. 510 (2003) where it was held that one can be detained for an unreasonable or indefinite amount of time when your removal hearing is pending.
But how does this all relate to the question of the conditions of detention centers today? Well, today many immigrants are kept in detention centers where the conditions are so inhumane that it might as well be considered punishment. An example of such treatment is a New Mexico ICE facility, a privately run facility in Torrance County that failed its annual government inspection. At least 22 deficiencies were found as a result of the inspection. The main concerns involved issues such as the facility being understaffed, unsanitary food conditions, and visitation rules that were inaccessible to those without the money to fund such visits. The facility being understaffed led to circumstances such as legal visits being put off for two weeks. Not having access to make legal visits only adds on to the stress the detainees face while being locked up in facilities where they are uninformed about their cases or the options available to them. Furthermore, unsanitary food conditions led to health concerns for detainees such as stomach aches due to the food being undercooked and the dishes not being properly sanitized especially at a time when COVID concerns are at such an extreme. Not being provided with adequate food is an egregious violation against basic human rights because it can lead to one of two outcomes: starving or developing health conditions. Lastly, the visitation rules changed due to the COVID pandemic in which general visitation was replaced with paid video calls through a tablet which made it inaccessible to those who did not have the funds to be able to make those calls. Sometimes, even if a person was able to place a call, the lack of internet stability led to calls being more expensive since it often took a long time for calls to be made or images to load. Such conditions only highlight the system’s inefficiency in implementing proper procedures in ensuring the conditions that detainees are kept in are humane and at the very least provide basic amenities.
However, the Nakomoto Group’s action in failing the annual inspection at the Torrance facility has at the very least brought attention to the problem at one facility and can be an eyeopener for other facilities where such practices take place. For a private company that usually takes the side of the facilities, this could be a wake-up call to detention centers that often pass their checks even when the conditions employed by these ICE facilities deny basic amenities to those that are detained there. However, earlier this year and prior to the Torrance County incident, the Nakomoto Group passed a facility in Otero County in New Mexico which has had a history of inhumane treatment of its detainees. So, whether there will be actual changes in the treatment of detainees in New Mexico ICE facilities is a question that remains unanswered.
Guest blogger: Sabrina Nassir, law student, University of San Francisco
Twenty years. For twenty years, the United States has engaged in discussions, conflict, war, agreements, and numerous additional interactions with Afghanistan. A country and people still incredibly misunderstood and misrepresented by the American media. For twenty years, they have been portrayed as the “bad guys” or, towards the last decade, a “country dependent on our aid.” However, throughout this tumultuous relationship there has been a constant silver lining, and that is the bonds of comradery, reliance, and affection shared between the U.S. military forces and Afghan’s aiding in the fight to free their lands of tyranny.
The aftermath of 9/11 resulted in swift retaliatory action by the Bush administration. They set their eyes on Afghanistan as misinformation or other agendas guided them to the land that their British forefathers had unsuccessfully attempted to conquer long before. The Taliban is a monster, bred from Pakistan and Saudi training, armed by past U.S. funds and guns, and set loose in Afghanistan, capturing the easily swayed war-torn minds of Afghan nationals lost and seeking to reclaim the country’s former independence. During the first decade of the U.S.’ longest war, the goal was to eradicate the enemy and extract the threat. Once officials realized this is no easy feat and time seemed to push past the bounds of deadlines already set, reliance on the Afghan government and civilians for translation and intel became key for survival.
Despite morphing for public appearance purposes, the second decade’s chapter seemingly worked towards re-establishing democracy while the Taliban was kept at bay. Throughout this time frame, Afghan translators, interpreters, and support personal cooperated with the U.S., at great risk to themselves and the lives of their families, in pursuit of recovering their culture and land from the Taliban. Both the U.S. military and Afghans fought ferociously, bled, and died to prevent an enemy to peace from regaining power. For twenty years there has been a solid reliance, by both sides of this partnership, that if assistance is given to help the U.S. to accomplish their goals, to a threat of their own lives, the U.S. in return will help them acquire Special Immigrant Visas (SIV) for future safety.
Now, regardless of where one falls on the line of whether withdrawal was overdue or the incorrect choice, I’m sure it is not difficult to determine that it was done incorrectly. Pictures of wild desperation and pure chaos following the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in August 2021 following mere months after the U.S withdrawal goes to show no efficient contingency plan was put in place to account for this.
With time of the essence, immigration lawyers, humanitarian groups, and nonprofit orgs are vigorously working to get as many qualifying visa applicants out of the country before the Taliban hunts them down due to their connections with America. Organizations such as No One Left Behind, urge the Biden administration to do more to ensure all Afghan translators who put their lives at risk to help the U.S. are evacuated from the country safely. Established by Army Veteran Matt Zeller and Janis Shinwari, an Afghan translator who killed two Taliban members attempting to take Zeller’s life, this relationship reflects thousands that have been forged and in need of the U.S. governments resources immediately.
Originating in 2008 to assist Afghan and Iraqi translators, SIV’s are one of the most direct pathways for Afghans to acquire visa status in the United States. Direct, yes. Simple, no. According to both the National Immigration Forum and U.S. Dept. of State Consular Affairs, issuance of a SIV only comes after the applicant assembles all the required documents mandated on the forms followed by a screening period. Mind you, to become a translator, these individuals were subject to heavy screening at the outset. At this stage it’s more for procedure than anything else. Additionally, the processing of these applications by the U.S. government, which is supposed to take no more than nine months after a 2013 amendment to the Afghan Allies Protection Act, can actually vary in time, pushing some applicants to wait upwards of five years for approval.
Fortunately, considering recent incidents, the previous cap of fifty SIV applicants in a fiscal year has been expanded to eight thousand as part of the Emergency Security Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021. Moreover, there are other avenues of escape for these refugees. Social activist groups are assisting Afghans gain Humanitarian Parole. Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, individuals can enter claiming urgent humanitarian reasons. This path comes with its own unique terrain that asylee’s must traverse but many believe it’s worth the shot.
With tens of thousands still waiting to immigrate to the U.S., one cannot help but wonder what will be the sentiment when arrival finally takes place? Will similar situations mirroring Noor Alocozy’s be the new norm for these refugees? Working as a pizzeria owner, Alocozy was arrested due to “suspicion” with eventually none of the terrorist support allegations set against him bearing any truth. In fact, it was found both he and his wife fled persecution from Afghanistan themselves.
America has and continues to witness how aggressive the anti-muslim fever can be when agitated. With the stigma against Afghanistan already ingrained in certain circles of American society, can these refugees expect a warm welcome? For our country to adopt these migrants while maintaining a semi-stable footing on the social attitude towards these individuals, future policy and legislation should reflect an inclusive attitude where wide-spread programs fit for growth in community and educational opportunities are made available. Now, this is a lofty goal along with all the other pressing issues America has on its agenda, however, it’s not impossible.
If America can gather the lessons it has learned from past immigrant attitude shifts and weave it together with the nation’s modern commitment to multiculturalism, Afghans, who once worked hard to make American’s feel at home in Afghanistan, will be able to assimilate at a pace they are comfortable with here.
Guest blogger: Heather Philson, law student, University of San Francisco
Miru Alcana was born in the island of Rhodes on May 24, 1915. She described her childhood in Rhodes as beautiful. She attended school as well as Hebrew lessons three times weekly. She also described how everyone in Rhodes was like one big family, the woman in Rhodes calling their elders Auntie. Her family language was Ladino, which was spoken at home, and she learned Italian and French at school. Miru described how her culture taught her to be kind and to help others without any interest or expectation of anything in return. She described the values her family instilled in her to be generosity and kindness. Miru grew up in a religious household, keeping Shabbat and holding her religion very dear to her.
On July 23, 1944, Miru was deported. She was put on a covered wagon and sent to Chaidari, and eventually was transported in a wagon to Auschwitz. She went with her mother and father, as well as her brothers, sister, brother-in-law, and nieces and nephews. Of her entire immediate family, Miru was the only one who survived. On the journey, they were given no water and only hard bread to eat. The journey to Auschwitz was approximately 3 weeks. Miru describes seeing others die of dehydration during this time.
Once she arrived in Auschwitz, the soldiers told the young people they would work during the day and then in the evening they would see their parents. It was at this point that they separated them in line. Miru recalled smelling meat burning and hearing music, thinking the SS were having barbecues. Eventually, a French woman told Miru their parents would be “cremated” and that those who could not work were “put into the ovens.” The music was played so they could not hear the screams of those being sent to their deaths.
Miru was forced to work in an ammunitions factory during the war. It was underground, so the women working in the factory did not know whether it was day or night, or how many days had passed. At the time, other prisoners were stealing the small amount of food from Miru and other Sephardic Jews, who could do nothing as they did not speak Yiddish nor German. Miru describes how her lack of either language led to further mistreatment. The Polish and Hungarian Jews would prey on the Sephardic Jews, especially those who spoke Ladino. They would steal their food and blankets, and tell the guards of the camp that it was the Italian Jews. Even with this, however, Miru helped other girls and women do their jobs so they would not be killed. She also assisted in getting them medicine when they contracted dysentery.
She was liberated in 1945 in the Theresienstadt Ghetto in the Czech Republic. Miru also assisted as a nurse at the hospitals, helping those who were liberated from the concentration camps.
The Italian consul gave her and others what Miru described as a nice place to live, which was a live-in school that was empty for the summer. The consul also gave the survivors money, and they were able to use public transportation for free. After some time, she decided that she was ready to go back to Italy. However, Milan and Modena did not have room. Eventually she found herself in Bologna, where the conditions were far less than ideal. She lived in an old building with no doors or windows, with over 50 men and women sleeping on the floors in hallways. While the Jewish community donated mattresses and blankets, the survivors had little food.
Miru had an Italian passport, as she was an Italian citizen, but Rhodes passed to Greece in 1948. She did not wish to be Greek and came to the United Sates as a displaced person. In order to do so, she had to go back to Germany for three weeks and be among German people while waiting for American soldiers who were transporting refuges in boats back to the United States. Miru told of how she was unable to go outside, as the sound of German voices was too difficult for her to hear. Eventually, she was put on a boat and made her way to the United States.
Miru arrived in the United States in 1950. When she came to the United States, she went on a train from New York to Los Angeles. She did not eat, as she did not know how to ask for food in English. Once in Los Angeles, she had difficulty adjusting to her new life. She was even told to changer her name to Mary, as it was more American. She refused. Miru also faced difficulty in obtaining employment. As she described, when potential employers saw she was Jewish, they would not employ her. This was not new. While she did not have issues in Rhodes, Miru stated that Greece was very anti-Semitic at the time she lived in Rhodes. Places in Greece, before the war, had posted signs stating, “no Jews allowed.” Met with frustration with her life in the United States, Miru decided that she would return to Italy.
Miru also described how many Nazis there were in California, and how this also made her wish to leave the country. She recounted meeting a woman who she realized was German and recognized as the wife of an SS officer. They had moved to Brazil and eventually came to the United States. This was difficult to see -- that those who had killed her family were here in the same place that she was. Eventually, Miru went back to Italy. Once back in Italy, she faced issues with finding employment and eventually decided that she would came back to the United States, as she had a better support system in America. She had planned to one day move to Israel once it was safe to do so and the country was no longer in war.
While she was still alive, the grandson of one of the Aunties had asked what the numbers were on her arm, only to be shushed away by the other Aunties. They felt she had been through enough. Miru never made it to Israel. She passed away in Los Angeles in 2004. She never married nor had any children. One of her Aunties described Miru as a kind woman who had been through unimaginable and heartbreaking events. Miru is remembered as a hero among the Sephardic Community in Los Angeles.
Long Island City in Queens is a burgeoning site for Asian food, cutlure, and politics in what is becoming a mecca for a new migrant community. According to the NY Times, there has been a fivefold increase in Asian residents in Long Island City since 2010 so that the Asian population of 11,000 is now one-third of the total city population. There are at least 15 Asian-owned businesses — including a Mandarin child care center and hair salon and several restaurants — that have opened in the neighborhood since March 2020.
Residents, many of whom are Chinese and Korean students (Japanese is the third largest ethnic group), are attracted by the close proximity to Manhattan and comparatively lower rents for luxury apartments. They are changing the profile of the community from its Italian immigrant and artist roots.
Here is a review of an immigration-themed film making the film festival rounds. Eyemofe, by Nigerian twin brothers Chuko and Arie Asiri, ":showcases two movies in one, both tied to a quest to find a better life abroad. Daily life. However, daily life keeps getting in the way." Here is the description of the film on the official movie website:
"Set in Lagos, Nigeria Eyimofe (This is My Desire) follows the stories of Mofe, a factory technician, and Rosa, a hairdresser, on their quest for what they believe will be a better life on foreign shores.
A passport, photos and a visa form recurring elements. The characters’ misfortunes are part of their everyday life and they are sketching out the need to leave Nigeria at the same time. At the bottom of the socio-economic ladder, status, money, gender, skin colour and family structures are inextricably connected. The longing for another life is but one thread in this complex mesh, a promise that floats above things at once near and far away."
One reviewer of the film mentions that "One of 17 contenders for the top prize, the Stallion of Yennega, at FESPACO, the Pan-African film festival in Ouagadougou, `Eyemofe', or `This is My Desire' in Yoruba, is one of the few English-language offerings, and a movie not to be missed."
Here is an out of the box immigration detention story from The Insider. Anna Sorokin has been in Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention for seven months. Sorokin, a German national who hit the headlines (and here) when she scammed New York's SoHo scene pretending to be heiress "Anna Delvey," was released from state prison in February after serving a sentence on theft and larceny charges. In March 25, ICE detained Sorokin because she had overstayed her visa. An immigration court ruled that Sorokin should remain in custody pending deportation.
Sorokin is the subject of the BBC podcast Fake Heiress.