Monday, August 8, 2022

ProBAR lawyer recalls immigration tent hearings in Texas

Despite a favorable Supreme Court ruling, the Biden administration has not ended President Trump's Remain in Mexico policy, forcing asylum seekers to return to Mexico while their claims are being decided.  Pedro Spivakovsky-Gonzalez for the ABA Journal offers a birds-eye view of the policy at work.   It is noy a pretty picture:

"It is tragic to meet with people who would seem to qualify for asylum but understandably lack detailed documentation of their claims, only to find out that they were ordered to be deported. Since the Supreme Court agrees that the Biden administration has the authority to end this policy, will immigration courts now also look more leniently upon motions to re-open or appeals filed by people who should have been given a full opportunity to present their claims in the first place? When exactly will the MPP policy end? How many people could be excluded from this policy before then? These and many other questions remain about `Remain in Mexico,' a policy, which despite the recent Supreme Court decision, continues with tragic consequences."

 

 

Spivakovsky-Gonzalez is a senior staff attorney with ABA ProBAR. He assists adult asylum-seekers who have been placed in the Migrant Protection Protocols policy in the tent courts in Brownsville, Texas, and takes on a range of immigration cases. 

KJ

 

August 8, 2022 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Caitlin Dickerson For Atlantic Exposes Secret History of Trump Administration’s Family-Separation Policy

45_donald_trump

Official White House Photo

Scholars will be studying the immigration measures of the Trump administration for generations.  The heartless family separation policy will long be a milestone in inhumanity.  In a report for The Atlantic, Caitlin Dickerson provides a detailed account of the policy, called Zero Tolerance: 

"Her reporting also reveals that U.S. officials misled Congress, the public, and the press, and minimized the policy’s implications to obscure what they were doing; that separating immigrant children from their parents was not a side effect of the policy, but its intent; that almost no logistical planning took place before the policy was initiated; that instead of working to reunify families after parents were prosecuted, officials worked to keep families apart longer; and that the architects of the legislation will likely seek to reinstate it, should they get the opportunity. The investigation, `We Need To Take Away Children,' is online now in English and Spanish."

KJ

August 8, 2022 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigrants Should Beware of Cannabis-Related Work

August 8, 2022 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, August 6, 2022

Hofstra Law School’s 2022 Immigration Law and Border Enforcement Program, Student's Reflection

DG

Guest post by Darcy Guio, rising 3L at The Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University

It was my first trip to California, but it was not what most people picture when they hear “I’m going to California for a week.” I attended the Immigration Law and Border Enforcement Program offered by the Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University. I was very excited to take this week-long intensive program where students learn firsthand from some of the top experts in the field about the current situation at the border. We heard from a wide variety of speakers, ranging from judges, government employees, shelter workers, and a representative for deported veterans. The speakers and experiences at the border impacted me in a way I did not imagine.

We started our week off hearing from a powerful speaker – Jenn Budd, a former CBP officer turned whistleblower. She spoke to us about her experience as a CBP officer and some of the horrendous things she went through in training and on duty, and detailed numerous instances of inhumane treatment by CBP officers towards migrants. For me, the most impactful part of Ms. Budd’s presentation was when she described the corruption she witnessed within CBP. I was shocked to hear Ms. Budd explain that CBP has a culture of promoting officers that commit wrongdoing as a way to ensure they will not make public future instances of wrongdoing when they uncover it. This made me wonder: how do we fix a system that is so fundamentally flawed? Unfortunately, while Jenn Budd may not be the only person to witness firsthand CBP wrongdoing, I was grateful that she was brave enough to speak up.

Nothing compared to visiting the border and seeing firsthand what was happening. On one of our trips, we went to Tijuana, Mexico, where we met with Nicole Ramos, a former U.S. Assistant Federal Public Defender who now lives in Mexico and is a Project Director at Al Otro Lado. When we met with Ms. Ramos, she took us to the site where for a couple months a migrant shelter had been set up in the street right next to a U.S. port of entry. Ms. Ramos told us about the many families that had to stay in tents on the street with the hopes of being able to enter the U.S. at this port of entry so they could apply for asylum. Unfortunately, due to Title 42 restrictions, migrants being permitted to enter the U.S. to claim asylum was rarely occurring when we visited. Some families are forced to wait weeks or months in different migrant shelters such as Casa del Migrante, a shelter we visited. Ms. Ramos also spoke to us about discrimination at the border. While most agree Ukrainians deserve an opportunity to seek asylum in the U.S., it was disheartening to see and hear that many Haitian and Central American families are turned away at the border or forced to wait months to cross while at the same time Ukrainian families arriving at the border were often able to cross within a week or less. This type of favoritism unfortunately does not occur only at the border, but south of the border as well. We learned how in Tijuana the Mexican government set up a migrant shelter for Ukrainian refugees, even while nearby we visited Casa del Migrante, which receives no government funding and houses over 100 migrants, including Mexican citizens fleeing cartel violence in the south of Mexico and who are seeking to apply for asylum in the U.S. The shelter’s donations were stretched thin while needing to feed over 100 refugees; and they reported that sometimes the new Ukrainian shelter maintained a full staff even when it sat virtually empty as Ukrainians were permitted to cross the border much more quickly. While I was happy that Ukrainians fleeing violence received services, I wondered why treatment had to differ based on country of origin or skin color. I wondered: how can we prevent discrimination and ensure equal access to asylum seekers fleeing violence regardless of race or nationality?

Hofstra’s border program was definitely one of the best classes I have taken at law school. Even though it was only one week long, we learned so much. We saw the injustices at the border firsthand, which further showed me how deeply broken our immigration system is and how basic changes would go a long way to improving the lives of migrants.

-posted by KitJ on behalf of Darcy Guio

August 6, 2022 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Hofstra Law School’s 2022 Immigration Law and Border Enforcement Program, Professor's Reflection

AH

Guest post by Alexander Holtzman, Visiting Associate Clinical Professor of Law at The Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University

In May 2022, a group of law students and I traveled to San Diego, California, and Tijuana, Mexico, to learn about immigration law and policy at the U.S.-Mexico border. This annual one-week course provides law students throughout the country with three credits and a tremendous immersive learning experience at the border. In addition to curriculum and coursework on the history, law, and policies at the border, students have an opportunity to communicate with leading advocates and experts in the field and visit with government officials implementing immigration law.

As described in this downloadable program schedule, we met with attorney advocates at Al Otro Lado, American Immigration Council, Human Rights First, Immigrant Defenders Law Center, and with a former Senior Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officer turned whistleblower. Students visited government agencies, including the U.S. Consulate in Tijuana, Otay Mesa Immigration Court, U.S. Coast Guard in San Diego, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of California. We met with Federal District Court Chief Judge Dana Sabraw – who issued the Ms. L decision regarding separated children – and with the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California Randy Grossman to discuss prosecutions at the border. Students observed sentencings in federal court and the detained docket at Otay Mesa Immigration Court before speaking with a panel of three immigration judges.

Students toured Tijuana and the border with the Project Director at Al Otro Lado, including visiting Friendship Park, speaking with the co-Executive Director of the Deported Veterans, and visiting several refugee camps. We wrapped up the program by hiking along the border wall to Friendship Park on the U.S. side and shared a farewell meal where we discussed the U.S. immigration system and how we view the current state of immigration law and policy at the U.S.-Mexico border. I am very much looking forward to teaching the program again next year. Interested students can learn more and apply here: https://law.hofstra.edu/border-enforcement/.

-posted by KitJ on behalf of Alexander Holtzman

August 6, 2022 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Engaging Law School Students in Public Service for Citizenship Preparation

Under Executive Order 14012, Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration Systems and Strengthening Integration and Inclusion Efforts for New Americans, and guided by the principles of the Interagency Strategy for Promoting Naturalization, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has been leading efforts since February 2021 to support and partner with educational institutions, businesses, and the nonprofit sector to address the needs of the more than 9.1 million lawful permanent residents (LPRs) who may be eligible to apply for naturalization based on their time in LPR status.

Heading into the 2022-2023 academic year, USCIS is seeking support from law schools for two initiatives to help applicants overcome obstacles to U.S. citizenship, which include limited pro bono or low-cost legal assistance providers in many communities.  Because integration is a whole of society effort, we are seeking your support to help aspiring eligible lawful permanent residents to apply successfully for naturalization.  Specifically, we would like law schools around the country to agree to one or both of the following initiatives:

  • Recognizing naturalization application support to satisfy law school public service requirements:  Many law schools require a set number of public service hours for graduation. Permitting law students to count naturalization application assistance as a part of their public service requirement would be an inspiring option for students and, given the straightforward nature of many naturalization applications, could also potentially draw in 1L students while meeting an important community need.
  • Creating naturalization-focused “days of service” around key calendar dates, e.g., Constitution Day (September 17) and MLK Day (January 16): Many law students want to gain practical legal experience but are often not able to participate in semester or year-long legal clinics. Providing opportunities for students to join time limited legal clinics (one-two day or week-long events, held multiple times a year) permits students to develop legal skills while offering much needed (and often overlooked) support for applicants. While it might seem logical to center this work in immigration law clinics, they are most often focused on complicated benefits and issues (e.g., relief from removal in immigration court and administration areas such as asylum, T and U visas, and VAWA self-petitions). Naturalization application focused “days of service” have high impact potential and minimal cost to law schools, firms, and associated attorneys and students.

A briefing and training will be held on August 10, 2pm EST. More information on how to register for the online session can be obtained from Kelly Ryan, Senior Advisor, Office of the Director, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. 

 

MHC

August 6, 2022 in Conferences and Call for Papers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 5, 2022

EOIR Announces 19 New Immigration Judges--and Special Congrats to Geoffrey Hoffman!

The Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) today announced the appointment of 19 new immigration judges to courts in California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. A copy of the full announcement is available here

These new judges appointed by Attorney General Merrick B. Garland appointed are Tanisha L. Bowens-McCatty, Michael P. Davis, James T. Dehn, Julia E. Egy, Ashley Gadson-Andrews, Amy F. Haer, Robert J. Herrington, Geoffrey A. Hoffman, Maria L. Jaimes-Salgado, Christina M. Jimenez, Christopher M. Kozoll, Nicole A. Lane, Francis M. Mwangi, Alex D. Perez, Xavier F. Racine, Raphael G. Rojas, Marc B. Stahl, Michelle M. Venci, and Mary C. Vergona.

A special welcome to the bench goes to Judge Geoffrey Hoffman, who will join the immigration court in Houston. A former member of the faculty at the University of Houston Law Center, Judge Hoffman was an active and distinguished member of the immprof community, and frequent contributor to this blog. Here is Judge Hoffman's bio from the EOIR announcement. Congrats to EOIR and to Judge Hoffman!

Geoffrey A. Hoffman, Immigration Judge, Houston – S. Gessner Road Immigration Court
Geoffrey A. Hoffman was appointed as an Immigration Judge to begin hearing cases in August
2022. Judge Hoffman earned a Bachelor of Arts in 1991 from Columbia College, Columbia
University, a Juris Doctor in 1997 from Tulane Law School, and a Master of Laws in 2004 from
Harvard Law School. From 2009 to 2022, he served as Director of the Immigration Clinic at the
University of Houston Law Center. From 2004 to 2009, he practiced immigration law at
Kurzban, Kurzban, Weinger, and Tetzeli PA in Miami. From 1998 to 2000, Judge Hoffman
served as a judicial law clerk for the Honorable Paul V. Gadola U.S. District Court for the
Eastern District of Michigan. Judge Hoffman is a member of the Florida Bar and the State Bar of
Michigan.

IE

August 5, 2022 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Death on the Border: Crossing the US-Mexico border is deadlier than ever for migrants – here’s why

Nevins

For the Conversation ("Crossing the US-Mexico border is deadlier than ever for migrants – here’s why"), Joseph Nevins analyzes how a 1994 US policy was supposed to deter migration by securing popular access points but insteadt drives people to enter the US by more hazardous means, such as being crammed in hot tractor-trailers.

Nevins begins:

"The June 2022 deaths of 53 people, victims of heat stroke, in the back of a tractor-trailer in San Antonio, Texas, show the dangers of crossing the U.S. southern border without authorization.

All of the dead came from Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras – the three most common origin countries of migrants encountered by the Border Patrol in 2021 and so far in 2022.

Such fatalities result from two intersecting phenomena. One is the massive growth in the federal government’s policing system in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands since the mid-1990s. The other is the strong and profoundly unequal ties between the United States and the home countries of most unauthorized – or undocumented – migrants."

KJ

 

August 4, 2022 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

From the Booksheles: Bad Mexicans: Race, Empire, and Revolution in the Borderlands by Kelly Lytle Hernández

 

Bad mexicans

On Fresh Air on NPRHistorian Kelly Lytle Hernández tells the story of the rebels who fled Mexico to the United States, and helped incite the 1910 Mexican Revolution that overthrew dictator Porfirio Díaz. Hernández spoke with guest interviewer Tonya Mosley about her new book, Bad Mexicans. "People who were being disparaged at that time as 'bad Mexicans' in the United States were those who organized, those who protested against the conditions of what was then known as Juan Crow, a similar form of social marginalization as Jim Crow," Hernández says.

Hat tip to my colleague Raquel Aldana.

KJ

August 4, 2022 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

NPR: "Talk of 'invasion' moves from the fringe to the mainstream of GOP immigration message"

 

NPR reports that "in Republican primary races this year, few issues have come up more in TV ads than immigration. And one word in particular stands out: invasion."  It is squarely into the mainstream.

"We're gonna end this invasion," Blake Masters, a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in Arizona, says in a campaign ad.

The word has also appeared in ads for Gov. Brian Kemp in Georgia, Sen. Rick Scott in Florida, and Kari Lake, who's locked in a close race in the Republican primary for governor in Arizona.

The invasion language is not new to attacks on immigrants.  Chinese immigrants were attacked for the "invasion" of the United States in the 1800s.  More recently, California Governor Petre Wilson, a champion of the state's Proposition 187, an anti-immigrant landmark, in 1994 sued the U.S. government over the "invasion" of immigrants.   President Trump, in words repeated by a mass murderer in El Paso in 2019, spoke of the immigrant "invasion." 

KJ

August 4, 2022 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigration Article of the Day: A Comparative Perspective on Safe Third and First Country of Asylum Policies in the United Kingdom and North America: Legal Norms, Principles and Lessons Learned by Susan M. Akram & Elizabeth Ruddick

A Comparative Perspective on Safe Third and First Country of Asylum Policies in the United Kingdom and North America: Legal Norms, Principles and Lessons Learned by Susan M. Akram & Elizabeth Ruddick, Boston University International Law Journal (2022)

Abstract

 This article will first look at the history of “safe country” rules and procedures in North America before exploring litigation over such rules in the United Kingdom, in order to identify emerging legal norms limiting or prohibiting “safe country” transfers.  We will argue that although there is a clear legal consensus that transfer cannot take place without an individualized assessment of whether it would put an asylum-seeker at risk of refoulement or inhuman and degrading treatment, there is so far little indication of consensus on the need to ensure access to the positive benefits of refugee status, such as housing, education, employment and eventual integration, or on the relevance to the legality of the transfer of social and cultural ties or private and family life. 

 KJ

August 4, 2022 in Current Affairs, Law Review Articles & Essays | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Your Playlist: Me Fui (various artists)

The story of the song Me Fui is fascinating. It was originally composed and sung by Reymar Perdomo, a migrant from Venezuela living in Perú. The original video is a street performance with Reymar leading a group of Venezuelan immigrants in song.

That video went viral. And what happened next was pretty epic.

A Colombian journalist, Daniel Samper, brought Reymar to Colombia and surprised her with a bus sing-a-long featuring three well-known Colombian singers--Carlos Vives, Santiago Cruz and Andrés Cepeda.

Cool, right? THE STORY ISN'T OVER!

Some time later, 16 Latin American artists collaborated on another version of her song: Ventino, San Luis, Debi Nova, Víctor Muñoz, Sebastián Yatra, Raquel Sofía, Fonseca, Juan Fernando Velasco, Santiago Cruz, Fanny Lu, Leslie Shaw, Silvestre Dangond, Andrés Cepeda, Cáceres and Javier Ramírez.

The title of the piece now is Me fui: El himno de los migrantes venezolanos que reunió a diferentes cantantes latinos (I left: The Anthem of Venezuelan Migrants that Brought Together Different Latino Singers).

This is clearly a song with legs. A great accompaniment to your push/pull discussion.

-KitJ

August 3, 2022 in Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Teachers Workshops on Asian American History

The 1990 Institute is offering teachers workshops on various aspects of Asian Americans and US-China relations. Recent programs include Former Dean of University of San Francisco Law School John Trasvina on "Asian Americans Legal Cases that Shaped Civil Rights for All." 

Trasvina

To sign-up for the next program, on China Past Present (August 6), link here.

MHC

August 3, 2022 in Conferences and Call for Papers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Attitudes toward US Immigrants More Positive and More Partisan

Data scientists have used computational analysis (aka machine learning) to comb through 150 years of political speeches and find that attitudes toward immigrants are more positive, but also more partisan.

The study, co-authored by Dallas Card and colleagues from Stanford University, charts the tone of more than 200,000 congressional and presidential speeches on immigration since 1880. Published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the study finds that the overall trend of political speeches became more sympathetic following World War II and has remained favorable, on average, until today.

At the same time, however, attitudes have become increasingly polarized along party lines. Democratic rhetoric has been reliably sympathetic toward immigrants since the 1960s, and especially pro-immigration in the past decade, while that of Republicans has become increasingly hostile since the 1990s, and more likely to characterize immigrants with subtle de-humanizing language.

Read the study, "Computational analysis of 140 years of US political speeches reveals more positive but increasingly polarized framing of immigration.

MHC

August 3, 2022 in Data and Research | Permalink | Comments (1)

"Border Patrol agents are trashing Sikh asylum-seekers’ turbans"

Border Patrol agents are forcing Sikh men to remove their turbans, and disposing them, reports John Washington of Arizona Luminaria, in partnership with The Intercept.

In a letter to Border Patrol, the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona documented dozens of such instances and said the actions "blatantly violate federal law," agency policy, and religious freedom protections in the U.S. 

"They told me to take off my turban. I know a little English, and I said, ‘It’s my religion.’ But they insisted," one Sikh man said via an interpreter. 

According to the ACLU of Arizona and the Phoenix Welcome Center, Yuma’s Border Patrol has confiscated at least 64 turbans this year. With many asylum seekers fearful if complaining, the number may be higher.  

"The turban is sacred to Sikhs," said Deepak Ahluwalia, a private immigration attorney and advocate for Sikh rights in San Jose, California. "... It can be weeks and even months before these young men or women can cover their head — which is not only part of their faith, but part of their identity." 

KJ

August 3, 2022 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1)

Immigration Article of the Day: Mapping Racial Capitalism: Implications for Law by Carmen Gonzalez and Athena Mutua

1x1-Carmen_Gonzalez_gold 1593115030546

 
Mapping Racial Capitalism: Implications for Law by Carmen Gonzalez and Athena Mutua, Journal of Law and Political  Economy (2022)
 
Abstract
 
The theory of racial capitalism offers insights into the relationship between class and race, providing both a structural and a historical account of the ways in which the two are linked in the global economy. Law plays an important role in this. This article sketches what we believe are two key structural features of racial capitalism: profit-making and race-making for the purpose of accumulating wealth and power. We understand profit-making as the extraction of surplus value or profits through processes of exploitation, expropriation, and expulsion, which are grounded in a politics of race-making. We understand race-making as including racial stratification, racial segregation, and the creation of sacrifice zones, which reflect the strategies and outcomes of profit-making. The structural features of racial capitalism thus are mutually constitutive: profit-making processes create and reinforce the making of racial meaning, while race-making, underwritten by white supremacy, structures and facilitates the economic processes of profit-making. Together, they constitute a global system dependent on the unbridled extraction of wealth from both humans and nature.
 
There is a section in the article that discusses how immigration law creates segmented labor markets, particularly for Asian Americans and Latinos.  In addition, the section on the expropriation of migrant labor provides a case study on the meat-packing industry that might be of interest to immigration law professors. The expropriation section also examines unfree (prison) labor as well as the labor of persons in immigrant detention facilities.
 
KJ

August 3, 2022 in Current Affairs, Law Review Articles & Essays | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Ninth Circuit Finds that Trump Administration's Immigration Enforcement Conditions on States and Local Government Were Unlawful

The panel included Judge Sidney R. Thomas, Ronald M. Gould, and Carlos T. Bea. Judge Thomas wrote for the panel, with Judge Bea dissenting in part:

"In three consolidated appeals, a three-judge panel on Friday upheld decisions from the California and Oregon federal courts that said the DOJ, under the Trump administration, exceeded its authority by attaching immigration-related conditions in 2017 and 2018 to the disbursement of funds from the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant, which supports criminal justice programs at the state and local government level.

`Consistent with our prior precedent and the government decision not to appeal the district courts' judgments on this issue, we affirm the judgments of the district courts enjoining the DOJ from withholding Byrne JAG program grant funds,' U.S. Circuit Judge Sidney R. Thomas wrote on behalf of the panel.

The panel, however, was divided on whether to make a ruling on the powers that federal laws give the DOJ to impose immigration-related conditions on federal grants.

U.S. Circuit Judge Carlos T. Bea said in a dissent, which otherwise supported the majority decision, that the panel wouldn't ordinarily decide the separate question of whether federal law authorizes the DOJ to impose the challenged grant conditions after the agency waived its appeal to the district courts previous ruling."

KJ

August 2, 2022 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, August 1, 2022

How Law Professor Michelle Pistone is Training Non-lawyers as Immigrant Advocates

Pistone

From Marco Poggio at Law360

As a law professor who routinely took her students to immigration courts for field work, Michele R. Pistone was irked to see how many noncitizens went unrepresented. She witnessed similar situations at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services asylum office in Newark, New Jersey, she said.

"We'd always sit there and look around the room and see how many people didn't have a lawyer and know that access to legal representation really is so central in these cases," said Pistone, who has taught for more than 20 years at Villanova University School of Law and led its immigration law clinic.

Pistone told Law360 she got interested in online technology about a decade ago as a way to reach law students across the country, but later saw in it an even greater potential: the school could remotely train nonlawyers, many of them professionals in other fields, to become advocates for immigrants and even represent them in court, helping confront the lack of legal representation.

After obtaining a grant from Villanova, Pistone and a group of faculty designers including lawyers, professors and judges developed the idea into an academic program, now in its third year. The online program, called Villanova's Interdisciplinary Immigrations Studies Training for Advocates — or VIISTA for short — currently enrolls about 90 students from 42 states, with ages ranging from 21 to 85.

"I decided to create an educational program out of a university that would give people a certificate and give them the education that they needed in order to pursue this line of work," Pistone said. "This is a new program, it's very innovative, and as far as I know, there's none other like it."

Federal regulations allow for nonlawyer "accredited representatives" who work for recognized nonprofit, federally tax-exempt organizations to provide legal services in immigration cases. The regulations have been on the books since the 1950s, but they are underutilized, Pistone said.

"Today, there are less than 2,000 accredited representatives nationwide. And yet, we know that six out of every 10 immigrants who go to immigration court face the court system without an advocate, and that the chances of success on the merits are 10 times higher if you have an advocate as opposed to those who don't," she said.

Through VIISTA, which takes a year to complete, students learn critical skills needed to build a case: what needs to be established in court, what evidence is needed, and how to collect it and assemble it into a legal argument with a case theory. They also learn how to work alongside interpreters and interview people in ways that are culturally sensitive and mindful of their traumas.

"They get a lot of practice," Pistone said.

In order to become an accredited immigrant advocate, a person must be affiliated either as a volunteer or as a staff member with a nonprofit organization serving immigrants already recognized by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Cyndy Levy, a 73-year-old retired therapist living in Gwynedd Township, Pennsylvania, north of Philadelphia, completed the VIISTA program in August 2021 while volunteering for nonprofits, one of which she co-founded.

A series of arrests carried out by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents in her community in 2017 compelled her and her neighbors to become active in helping immigrants. Together, they formed an organization called Immigrant Rights Action, based in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, and began organizing Know Your Rights training sessions and accompanying immigrants to check-ins with ICE, she told Law360.

Immigrant Rights Action became a nonprofit in January 2019 and was recognized by the DOJ in May 2021.

Through VIISTA, Levy learned the basics of immigration law and skills needed to help noncitizens understand their rights and obtain effective legal assistance.

In addition to her work with Immigrant Rights Action, Levy also volunteers with a national nonprofit called VECINA, where she has helped pro bono lawyers to reunify families separated at the border. In October, she began conducting research about what is happening on the ground in Afghanistan to provide accurate, credible and up-to-date information to support Afghan evacuees' applications for asylum and humanitarian parole, which allows people to be temporarily admitted into the U.S. without a visa to escape danger in their home countries.

Levy is now waiting for the DOJ to give her accreditation, which will allow her to become more involved in helping immigrants. Representing noncitizens before a judge would be "a huge responsibility," she said.

"I don't know whether I will actually, you know, represent someone in court," she said. "There are so many, many other ways that people can provide assistance."

One of those ways is to help lawyers prepare asylum cases, a task that involves thorough research on countries' conditions. Levy's weekly curation of updates on the conditions in Afghanistan are being used by legal aid organizations, immigration attorneys and law schools around the country. The updates are posted on an American Immigration Lawyers Association listserv and shared with Asylos, a European nonprofit supporting asylum, she said.

Another VIISTA student, Shakera Atiq Rahimi, a physician by training who in 2014 came to the U.S. with a special immigrant visa from Afghanistan after working on U.S.-sponsored projects for years, said she wanted to find ways to continue to help people. The U.S. military's withdrawal from Afghanistan at the end of last summer and the evacuation of thousands of people fleeing Taliban rule provided an opportunity for her to get active, she said.

"When more than 70,000 Afghans were airlifted to the United States last summer, I realized that my firsthand understanding of the refugee experience might allow me to be of unique assistance to these newcomers," Rahimi said. "I am very passionate about working for and with refugees." 

Rahimi now works at the Afghan Alliance as a coordinator with the Luminus Network for New Americans, a nonprofit based in Maryland. Since January, her organization has helped almost 400 Afghan evacuees resettle in the U.S.

"They have so many needs. But the greatest need is finding ways to get legal representation," she said.

More than 83,000 Afghans have made it to the U.S. as part of an operation called Allies Welcome. As they look for legal paths to stay in the country, experts say nearly half of them have no other choice but to apply for asylum.

But immigration law is complicated, and practicing it is particularly hard when it comes to asylum cases, attorneys say. There are language barriers, it's hard to get evidence to establish a case, and denial rates are high. In addition, asylum seekers often wait in limbo for years as their cases are processed.

Although in most states only lawyers are authorized to provide legal representation, some, including Utah and Minnesota, have recently relaxed their rules to allow paraprofessionals to provide legal services in discrete areas, such as landlord-tenant disputes, debt collection and certain family law matters. In Arizona, paralegals can represent clients in misdemeanor cases where there is no possibility of jail time, as well as in family and small claims court. The main driver behind these changes has been to increase legal representation for people who can't afford to hire lawyers.

Immigration, however, is regulated by the federal government, which decides who can represent noncitizens before immigration judges. Under Title 8 of the Code of Federal Regulations, nonlawyers who have been trained in immigration and practice can sub in for attorneys. The Justice Department says its accreditation program "aims to increase the availability of competent immigration legal representation for low-income and indigent persons, thereby promoting the effective and efficient administration of justice."

Noncitizens don't have a constitutional right to an attorney paid for by the government, but several courts have held that lack of representation harms due process.

According to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, a research institution based at Syracuse University, the current national backlog in immigration court exceeds 1.8 million cases, and the average wait time for each case to clear is two years and three months.

Overall, immigrants are represented in only about half of all the cases currently pending before immigration courts. Representation reaches 67% in cases where there has been at least one hearing adjournment, DOJ statistics show.

Programs like VIISTA could help fill some of that gap, Pistone said, by helping create a new ecosystem of people who can provide legal services. She likened it to the medical field, where nurse practitioners and physician's assistants have been allowed to provide medical assistance.

"This is a moment in time when we have an opportunity to think about new models for the delivery of legal services," Pistone said. "We know that there's an access to justice problem in the country, and lawyers alone aren't going to solve that problem. If they were, we would have solved it already."

MHC

August 1, 2022 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Video of fatal attack on African immigrant shocks Italy

 

Colleen Barry for the Associated Press report that "[p]olice in Italy have arrested an Italian man in the murder of a Nigerian street vendor whose brutal beating death was filmed by onlookers without any apparent attempt to intervene physically. . . .

Police in Italy arrested an Italian man in the slaying of a Nigerian vendor whose brutal beating death on a busy beach town thoroughfare was filmed by onlookers without any apparent attempt to intervene physically.

Video footage of the attack has circulated widely on Italian news websites and social media, eliciting outrage as Italy enters a parliamentary election campaign in which the right-wing coalition has already made immigration an issue."

KJ

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August 1, 2022 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

TRAC Releases New Data on Criminal-Related Grounds for Deportation

In a new report, TRAC at Syracuse University found that DHS is listing criminal-related grounds for removal on NTAs less often than in the past. The dataset was created by analyzing all charges listed on NTAs, then  compiling specifically those charges that were listed in the INA as criminal grounds for deportation.

The report finds that over the past decade, the number of criminal-related charges listed on Notices to Appear as the basis for deportation has declined dramatically. In 2010, across all Notices to Appear (NTAs) received by the immigration courts that year, ICE listed a total of 57,199 criminal-related grounds for deportation. By 2021, just over a decade later, that number dropped to 8,694, less than a sixth of its original height.

Typically, more criminal charges are listed on court documents for non-citizens who were admitted into the country lawfully compared to those who entered the country unlawfully. For instance, in FY 2021, a total of 5,895 criminal-related charges were listed on NTAs for lawfully admitted immigrants compared to 2,799 for immigrants who were not lawfully admitted.

The table, updated by fiscal year from FY 2017 to March 2022 is available below and on TRAC's website.

The report is titled "Fewer Immigrants Face Deportation Based on Criminal-Related Charges in Immigration Court" and is available here: https://trac.syr.edu/immigration/reports/690/. The underlying table is available here: https://trac.syr.edu/immigration/reports/685/. 

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- Austin Kocher

August 1, 2022 in Data and Research | Permalink | Comments (0)