Thursday, February 9, 2023

immigration Article of the Day: The Perils of Supreme Court Intervention in Previously Technical Immigration Cases by Nancy Morawetz

author Morawetz

Nancy Morawetz

The Perils of Supreme Court Intervention in Previously Technical Immigration Cases by Nancy Morawetz - Overview | NYU School of Law
64 Ariz. L. Rev. 767 (2022)


The post-Kennedy Court has altered its approach to immigration law issues that the Court previously treated as technical. Surveying cases from 2001 through 2018 of technical issues related to the deportability and relief eligibility of noncitizens with past criminal convictions, this Article shows that the Court often ruled unanimously either for or against the noncitizen and that relatively few cases were decided on conventional ideological grounds. Since Justice Kennedy’s retirement, however, the two first highly technical cases concerning eligibility for relief from deportation for noncitizens with convictions were decided on conventional ideological grounds. Furthermore, the Court’s opinions show a disdain for past precedent and methodological approaches that have protected noncitizens from harsh readings of these laws. Recent cases have also gone beyond the position adopted by the government, either in its briefs or in published agency precedent. The result is a situation in which plenary review in the Supreme Court threatens the rights of noncitizens and, at times, the policy positions of the Biden Administration.

This Article argues that the perils of plenary review in the Court coupled with an executive branch that professes to be more sympathetic to noncitizens create obligations for counsel, potential amici, and government counsel. Counsel should consider the downside risks of plenary review as well as opportunities to advocate for alternative solutions that would help individual clients or resolve a circuit split favorably outside of Court intervention. Amici organizations should recognize that the downside risks of plenary review can be far greater than the narrow issues presented in a specific case. They should consider how any case is an opportunity for the Court to reach beyond the issues squarely presented in a case and compromise interests of noncitizens. Government counsel should recognize the risk that any case before the Court can lead to rulings that extend beyond those advocated by the government. They should further vet positions adopted in the lower courts in defense of agency decisions and reconsider litigation positions that are not warranted.


February 9, 2023 in Current Affairs, Law Review Articles & Essays | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

New Migrant Narrative: “Effects of Policies of Deterrence on Contemporary Migration Experiences”


New Migrant Narrative:  “Effects of Policies of Deterrence on Contemporary Migration Experiences” by Robert McKee Irwin

Professor Robert McKee Irwin cites Haitian and Honduran migrants who have shared their emotionally intense stories with the Humanizando la Deportación project, documenting the real life consequences of the U.S.’s ongoing policies to deter migrants from seeking asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border. These sagas, often extending for years, entail intense journeys complicated by deportations, family separations, coyotes, kidnapping, and death in the Darien jungle.

Students would find these narratives illuminating.  I sure did!


February 8, 2023 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

El Paso shooter pleads guilty to federal charges, "invasion rhetoric" used by shooter continues in immigration debate

report that a Texas man pleaded guilty today to federal charges accusing him of killing nearly two dozen people in a racist attack at an El Paso Walmart.  The U.S. government agreed that it would not seek the death penalty for the hate crimes and firearms violations.

Patrick Crusius still faces a potential death sentence if he’s convicted on a state murder charge in the 2019 shooting that killed 23 people. He has pleaded not guilty in the state case.  The incident was were one of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history.

Crusius surrendered to police after the massacre and said

"that he was targeting Mexicans . . . . Prosecutors have said he drove more than 10 hours from his hometown near Dallas to the largely-Latino border city and published a document online shortly before the shooting that said it was `in response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas.'

His alleged statements echoed both the anti-immigration rhetoric of American politics and racist screeds put out by other mass shooters in the U.S. and abroad.

More than three years after the shooting, the description of an `invasion' on the U.S.-Mexico border by Republicans has continued in American politics, angering Democrats and immigrants rights groups.

From campaign stumps to hearings in Congress, Republicans have increasingly described high numbers of migrant crossings into the U.S. as an invasion threatening public safety and overwhelming border communities. Critics have condemned the characterization as anti-immigrant and dangerous in the aftermath of El Paso and other racially motivated attacks."


February 8, 2023 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Biden's Embrace of Trump's Transit Ban Violates US Legal and Moral Refugee Obligations

My colleague Karen Musalo, Professor at UC Law San Francisco and Faculy-Director, Center for Gender and Refugee Studies, writes in Just Security:

The Biden administration is poised to resurrect a Trump-era policy, the transit ban, which in its most recent form was repeatedly struck down by the courts as unlawful. The new transit ban, the subject of a notice of proposed rulemaking, would create a “rebuttable presumption of asylum ineligibility” for individuals arriving at the southern border who have not sought “protection in a country through which they traveled” on their journey, “unless they meet exceptions that will be specified.” The announcement of the imminent policy change drew quick condemnation in a letter from members of Congress, as well as in separate letters from faith-based and civil rights and human rights organizations.

The new transit ban would violate the United States’ protection obligations to refugees, which are long-standing and solidly based in both international and domestic law. The United States acceded in 1968 to the Refugee Protocol, which incorporates the substantive provisions of the 1951 Refugee Convention. With congressional passage of the Refugee Act in 1980, the United States aligned its federal immigration statute with the provisions of the Refugee Convention and Protocol. The cornerstone of both international and domestic law is the principle of non-refoulement, the prohibition against returning refugees to any country where their lives or freedom would be threatened.

Although the U.S. refugee statute does permit the denial of asylum to those who pass through a “safe third country” en route to the United States and do not apply for protection there, the law sets forth two non-negotiable requirements – the country of transit must not be one where the asylum seeker’s life or freedom would be threatened on account of their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion, and the asylum seeker must have access to a “full and fair” procedure for determining claims to protection. (The United States must also have a formal agreement with the third country.)  These conditions are not met in the countries most asylum seekers travel through on their way to the United States.

The Biden administration will undoubtedly argue that because the proposed rule imposes only a rebuttable presumption instead of an outright prohibition, it is distinguishable from Trump’s legal ban and will pass legal muster. But the facts on the ground do not support even a presumption of safety and access to a full and fair procedure.

Furthermore, if the presumption of ineligibility is applied during credible fear screening interviews at the border, as part of the deeply flawed expedited removal process, it will be very difficult for asylum seekers to clear the hurdle it presents. The majority of asylum seekers navigate expedited removal without an attorney, and do not possess detailed knowledge of human rights conditions and asylum procedures in each of the countries they transited in order to make the case that they qualify for an exception. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has specifically recommended that “exclusion” decisions, which would include decisions such as those made on the applicability of the transit ban, not be made in accelerated procedures such as expedited removal.

All migrants arriving at the southern border have transited Mexico, and depending on their country of origin and route, they may have traveled through Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, or Panama before arriving to Mexico. With the possible exception of Costa Rica, none of these countries of transit offer the safety or access to a refugee protection system which would justify imposition of the ban.

Pervasive violence against migrants in Mexico, carried out by state as well as non-state actors, has been well-documented. The most recent U.S. State Department country conditions report noted the “targeting and victimization” of migrants, and in striking down the Trump transit ban in July 2020, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals cited the high levels of violence, including sexual violence, against asylum seekers in Mexico.

Even if Mexico were safe, which it is not, U.S. policies, such as Title 42, have overwhelmed its refugee system, preventing meaningful access to a “full and fair” procedure. A little over a decade ago – in 2011 – a  total of 752 claims for refugee protection were lodged; in 2021 the number had soared to over 130,000. Funding has not kept pace, and the Mexican Commission for Refugee Assistance (COMAR) lacks resources for its core operations.

The four Central American countries south of Mexico – Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua – are even less able to pass the safe third country test. Significant human rights abuses, including extrajudicial killings, torture, and disappearances, prevail at high levels in each country. Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala have the highest rates of femicides (gender-motivated killings) in the world, as well as extreme violence against LGBTQ+ individuals, while the brutal suppression of political opponents to the authoritarian regime in Nicaragua is well-documented.

Furthermore, not one of the four countries has anything approaching an adequate refugee protection system. Guatemala’s system has been described as “inadequate” and cumbersome, and El Salvador’s as having “major regulatory and operational gaps.” The system in Honduras is “nascent,” and those individuals who try to access it, especially women, children, and LGBTQ+ individuals, are especially vulnerable to abuse and sexual exploitation. Nicaragua is even more of an outlier, having ceased any cooperation with the UNHCR; in 2015 it suspended meetings of its refugee determination body, the National Commission for Refugees.

This leaves Costa Rica, a country with a population of five million, and Panama, a country of four million, as remaining countries of transit for the majority of asylum seekers arriving to the United States. Although they have human rights records far superior to any of the countries discussed above, access to protection is complicated by the unique circumstances in each.

Costa Rica, with its admirable human rights record, well-established asylum framework, and history of welcoming refugees, has long been viewed as a destination country for those seeking protection. In recent years, however, it has been swamped by claims for protection; in 2021 and 2022, it was among the top four countries globally for asylum claims registered. In the beginning of 2022, the UNHCR reported just under 1.44 million asylum seekers in the United States — a country of 332 million — and 204,730 applications in Costa Rica, a country of 5 million; in other words, Costa Rica is already taking approximately 10 times as many refugees per capita as the United States. The rising numbers have overwhelmed Costa Rica’s systems, resulting in delays, difficulty accessing protection, and a rise in “xenophobic, racist, and discriminatory” attitudes. This has also led to the adoption of restrictive asylum policies, including its own “safe third country” ban, and rules that limit the right to work and freedom of movement.

In contrast to Costa Rica, a country of destination, Panama has been seen as a country of transit. Migrants enter via the Isthmus of Darién, which straddles the border of Panama and Colombia. They then travel north on the infamously dangerous route known as the Darién Gap. Panama has also experienced a dramatic rise in numbers. In the seven years from 2013 to 2020, just over 100,000 migrants entered Panama through the Darién, while in 2021 alone, the number rose to 140,000.

Panama has a refugee protection system, but the process is difficult to access. The country applies its refugee laws in an extremely narrow manner, leading Panama to have an asylum approval rate of only 1 percent, and a record of having only granted asylum to 2,500 refugees since it began hearing claims. In-country experts consider refugee status to be “the single most difficult pathway” to obtain legal status in Panama. Even those who are recognized as refugees find it difficult to integrate due to laws which prohibit non-citizens from a broad range of professions. Human rights groups have proposed and advocated for migration reform so that ultimately Panama can become a “safe harbor for . . . refugees.” However, that day has yet to arrive.

The Biden administration could be forgiven if it were totally unaware of the conditions in the countries of transit – which are either patently unsafe, or beyond capacity.  But lack of knowledge is not the case, making the administration’s actions all the more deplorable. With the planned implementation of his own version of a transit ban, Biden stands willing to outsource U.S. protection obligations to countries such as Costa Rica, which are already overwhelmed by a disproportionately high rate of asylum applications per capita, or in the alternative, to return those fleeing persecution to situations as violent as those they have fled.

But beyond the legal folly of resurrecting the ban is the shame that this administration should feel when it repudiates its international and domestic obligations, tries to offload its responsibilities to smaller countries with far less resources, and abandons not only refugees seeking protection, but its own moral high ground. One can only hope that the Biden administration will heed the call of lawmakers, faith leaders, and community groups to reconsider its plan to impose a transit ban. If it does not, it can anticipate a sustained critique throughout the notice and comment period, and beyond.


February 8, 2023 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Use of Social Media in Human Trafficking

Foto Bandera USA

Read in Spanish

Human smugglers are using social media and instant messaging applications to promote and provide their illegal services, according to a study published by the International Organization for Migration (IOM). The study found that digital technology has made it easier for migrant smugglers to exchange money, goods, and information. Most of these activities occur on commonly used services and applications rather than on the dark web. 


February 8, 2023 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigration Article of the Day: Affidavits are Forever: Public Charge, Domestic Violence, and the Enforceability of Immigration Law’s Affidavit of Support by Veronica Tobar Thronson

Today's immigration article of the day is Affidavits Are Forever: Public Charge, Domestic Violence, and the Enforceability of Immigration Law’s Affidavit of Support by Veronica Tobar Thronson (Michigan State). 41 Yale L. & Pol'y Rev. 69 (2022).

Affidavits of support were designed to benefit the government by shifting financial responsibility from the public to individual sponsors. In other words, the petitioner-sponsor must sign an affidavit for the intending immigrant to ensure that the immigrant will not fall into poverty and rely on government assistance. Some have criticized this requirement as hostile to a welfare state and punitive to low-income petitioners. But these affidavits have another dark side: they can be wielded against victims of abuse to force them--without recourse and potentially in perpetuity--to support their own abusers. And lest there be any doubt, women are overwhelmingly those most affected. ...

Affidavits of support provide a tool that an abuser can use to perpetuate a connection with and control over aspects of his victim's life. Any obligation to support an abuser, and especially one that might never end, perpetuates the trauma of the relationship. Merely being obligated to pay support is harmful and inhibits the victim's ability to move forward by perpetuating the abusive relationship and preventing closure. For example, when an abuser takes actions to limit his victim's financial options, he can have an ongoing daily impact on her ability to support herself and her children. Moreover, this forced connection can be its own form of violence.


February 8, 2023 in Law Review Articles & Essays | Permalink | Comments (0)

Biden speech acknowledges immigration and pathway to citizenship issues


President Biden delivered the State of the Union speech last night.  There was a bit of a brief nod in the speech to the need for Congress to pass immigration reform, at least a path to lawful status for DACA recipients.


February 8, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

CBP One App


U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) launched its CBP OneTM mobile app in October 2020. Initially, the app was available for:

land travelers to submit their traveler information in advance prior to their border crossing into the United States, air travelers to request an inspection of biological and agriculture products upon their air arrival into the U.S., brokers/carriers/forwarders to make appointments for the inspection of perishable cargo, travelers to apply for and view their I-94s and permission-based use for International Organizations (IOs) to verify the status of individuals in CBP Programs.

On January 5, 2023, Biden announced "New Border Enforcement Actions" in response to court limits on lifting the Title 42 border restrictions. Those "new" actions include:

  • Increasing the Use of Expedited Removal (meaning the end of "explusion" without "removal" (and its consequent 5 year reentry ban).
  • Announcing New Measures to Encourage Individuals to Seek Orderly and Lawful Pathways to Migration
    • Expanding the Parole Process for Venezuelans to Nicaraguans, Haitians, and Cubans
    • Tripling Refugee Resettlement from the Western Hemisphere
    • Launching Online Appointment Portal to Reduce Overcrowding and Wait Times at U.S. Ports of Entry.
    • New Legal Pathways to Other Countries Across the Region.
    • Increasing Humanitarian Assistance in Mexico and Central America.
  • Surge Resources to Secure the Border, Disrupt Criminal Smuggling Networks, and Support Border Communities

Ok. Back to CBP One. Where does that app come in? With the highlighted entry above. As the Biden administration described it:

noncitizens located in Central and Northern Mexico seeking to enter the United States lawfully through a U.S. port of entry have access to the CBP One mobile application for scheduling an appointment to present themselves for inspection and to initiate a protection claim instead of coming directly to a port of entry to wait. This new feature will significantly reduce wait times and crowds at U.S. ports of entry and allow for safe, orderly, and humane processing.

At the time, I admit to being a little wary of how this would play out on the ground. I mean, color me skeptical, but do all asylum seekers have cell phone access? Maybe they do. I mean, if I was fleeing my house with nothing but the clothes on my back and my family, I would be more likely to grab my phone than just about anything else. Still, managing a U.S. based app? That seems fraught even if, as one helpful blogger pointed out, it's a free system meant to “'democratize' the process and give direct access to noncitizens for scheduling appointments for presentation at the Ports of Entry."

Twitter has some great on-the-ground reporting about CBP One, including this from attorney Lindsay Toczylowski:

It's only been about a month since the app has been used for asylum appointments. More data will undoubtedly roll in about its efficacy. For now, twitter is a uniquely great resource for updating students about how the system is working in practice.


February 7, 2023 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

New Rough Translation Podcast on the Indefinite Detention of Cuban Migrants at FCI Talladega

A new issue of Rough Translation podcast is titled White Lies: The Men on the Roof. It features an in-depth investigative reporting of what happened to a group of men from Cuba held in indefinite detention in the federal prison in Talladega, Alabama in the 1980s.

Their reporting began with a photograph that they found while investigating a different story of a 1991  prison takeover by Cuban detainees protesting their indefinite detention. In the photo, a group of men on the roof of the prison hold a bedsheet with the powerful words "PRAY FOR US."

The episode is riveting journey through the the racist history of U.S. immigration law, the Mariel boatlift, and the unfolding horrific treatment of Cuban migrants. 

You an listen to the full episode here.


February 7, 2023 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

UTEP ‘research fellow’ is ex-Border Patrol official accused of sexual impropriety


El Paso Matters reports that a former Border Patrol official reportedly facing allegations of sexual improprieties has been listed recently as a research fellow on the University of Texas at El Paso’s website.  "UTEP officials said the former official, Tony Barker, was improperly listed as a researcher for the university by a program director who also is a former Border Patrol official."

I found interesting the research unit on the UTEP campus focuses in part on border enforcement and securing federal homeland security grants.  Victor Manjarrez Jr., the director of UTEP’s Center for Law and Human Behavior, admitted to listing the officer as a research fellow without approval.  Manjarrez's bio on the website states that he

"served for more than 20 years in the United States Border Patrol and filled key operational roles both in the field and at Headquarters over the course of his extensive homeland security career. Many of his innovative border security methods and ideas are still the basic cornerstones for the U.S. Border Patrol that are still being utilized today. Chief Manjarrez’ skills continue to be recognized by the Department of Homeland Security in the area of developing complex, efficient, and comprehensive border security programs. . . . He has received more than $2 million research funding from federal grants as a principal or co-principal investigator. His primary area of study is the homeland security enterprise with research topics that include: professional development, organizational system analysis, border security system assessments, and issues related to legitimate trade and travel."

According to El Paso Matters, the Center for Law and Human Behavior "was founded in 2010 with an original focus on detainee interrogation research, according to a video Manjarrez posted last year.” (bold added).  "Detainee interrogation research"? Hmmmmmmm.

Hat tip to Cappy White.



February 7, 2023 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, February 6, 2023

Reports on California Immigrants

Two interesting California Public Policy Institute reports:

Immigrants in California

Cesar Alesi Perez, Marisol Cuellar Mejia, and Hans Johnson

Almost a quarter of immigrants in the US live in California. Most of the state’s immigrants are documented residents, and the vast majority come from either Latin America or Asia.


California’s Highly Educated Immigrants

Marisol Cuellar Mejia, Cesar Alesi Perez, Hans Johnson

Recent immigrants to California are among the most educated residents of the state. More than half of the working-age immigrants who arrived over the past ten years hold a bachelor’s or graduate degree.



February 6, 2023 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

NPR: The Evolving Politics of Busing Migrants from the US/Mexico Border


NPR looks at the evolving reactions to the busing of migrants from the US/Mexico border region, which initially was championed by Republican governors.

Hat tip to Nolan Rappaport.


February 6, 2023 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Why Not a Humanitarian Climate Visa?

image from latest episode on the Changing Climate, Changing Migration podcast of the Migration Policy Institute features Ama Francis, a climate displacement strategist with the International Refugee Assistance Project and Columbia Law School’s Sabin Center for Climate Change Law.

One interesting idea advocated by Ama Francis on the podcast is a Humanitarian Climate visa for climate displaced people from climate vulnerable areas. The visa could have two-step eligibility that asks, first, if the person is from an area particularly prone to climate impact. Second, the visa could evaluate vulnerability. As Francis points out, there is an example of such a visa from Argentina, which in 2022 approved a new humanitarian visa to enable people displaced regionally by climate disasters (in Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean) to access the visa.

You can listen to the full episode here.


February 6, 2023 in Data and Research | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, February 5, 2023

'Last Of Us' Star Pedro Pascal Talks of Family Fleeing Pinochet's Chile on SNL


Last of Us” star Pedro Pascal hosted “Saturday Night Live” last night.  Near the tail end of his monologue, "Pascal, born in Chile, slipped into a quick summary of his life that became suddenly emotionally powerful as he spoke about moving to the U.S. when his parents escaped the repressive Pinochet regime with his sister and him when he was just nine months old."

“They were so brave, and without them I wouldn’t be here in this wonderful country,” he said, his voice breaking. “And I certainly wouldn’t be standing with you all here tonight.”

He issued a heartfelt message to them, then translated: “I love you, I miss you — and stop giving out my phone number."




February 5, 2023 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Northwest ICE center uses ‘chemical agents’ on immigrant detainees


Here is a disturbing report from the Pacific Northwest.   for the Seattle Times reports that the private company that operates the immigrant detention center in Tacoma, Washington has confirmed using “chemical agents” this week in the midst of protests over allegedly inadequate food and unsanitary conditions.

"GEO Group guards at the Northwest ICE Processing Center [(and here)] took the measure after U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement authorized `non-lethal use of force' in response to a confrontation during a housing unit inspection that discovered contraband razor blades, an ICE spokesperson said.

The unit’s detainees barricaded their door before the chemical agents were used, according to GEO and a witness, and multiple reports say a hunger strike is taking place at the facility, though that’s contested by GEO."

According to a member of a group that follows conditions at the detention center, this was the first time she’s heard of chemical agents being used at the facility.  There have been reports of the use of tear gas at other immigrant detention centers.




February 5, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, February 4, 2023

Real Housewives of New Jersey: Immigration Update

There's no shame in admitting it, I know that some of y'all immprofs are using the Real Housewives of New Jersey to teach crimmigration. Specifically, the sentencing and deportation of Giuseppe “Joe” Giudice.

Have you followed the key updates since his 2019 deportation?

So what's the latest?

His oldest daughter, Gia Giudice (22), will be graduating from Rutgers this Spring and will be joining, you guessed it, an immigration law practice! To be clear, she's not graduating law school -- she's only 22! But she plans to attend law school in the future. For now she'll be getting experience working at a law firm. (Hey, Rose, looks like Rutgers Law has some recruiting to do!)


February 4, 2023 in Current Affairs, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, February 3, 2023

Republicans oust Congress Member Ilhan Omar from House Foreign Affairs Committee

Rep. Ilhan Omar

Official House Photo

Rather than seeking to pass legislation, Congress has begun its new session with political maneuvering.  As the BBC reports, congressional Republicans have ousted Democrat Ilhan Omar from the House Foreign Affairs Committee ostensibly because of past comments about Israel.  "But Democrats and Ms Omar said it was revenge after two Republicans were ousted from committees in 2020 when Democrats held a House majority.

Ms Omar also suggested she was being removed due to her being a Muslim woman who immigrated to the US [from Somalia] as a refugee."

Omar's official website states that "In 2016 she was elected as the Minnesota House Representative for District 60B, making her the highest-elected Somali-American public official in the United States and the first Somali-American State Legislator. "

Republicans secured a majority in the House of Representatives in the midterm elections.  Members voted along party lines to remove Representative Omar from the Foreign Affairs Committee.



February 3, 2023 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Close to 1,000 migrant children separated by Trump yet to be reunited with parents

Nearly 1,000 migrant children separated at the U.S./Mexico border under President Trump’s still have not reunited with their parents, despite the Biden administration’s reunification effort, reports Ted Hesson of Reuters. In fact, "[t]he number of new families identified continues to increase, as families come forward and identify themselves," per a DHS fact sheet. The task force claims to have reunited 600 families. 

Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary

Official DHS Photo

Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas released the following statement regarding the Family Reunification Task Force’s progress:

“Today is the second anniversary of the Family Reunification Task Force that President Biden established soon after he assumed office. Thanks to the tireless work of public servants across the federal government and the critical partnership of non-governmental organizations, the Department of Homeland Security and the Task Force it leads has thus far reunited more than 600 children who were separated from their families under the prior administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy.

“Today we recognize the dedication of those who have helped reunite these families, and we reaffirm our commitment to work relentlessly to reunite the other families who suffered because of the prior cruel and inhumane policy – a policy that did not reflect the values of our nation. 

“We understand that our critical work is not finished. There are 148 children who are currently in the process of being reunited with their families. The Task Force continues to coordinate outreach to families who were separated to ensure they are afforded the opportunity to reunite in the United States and receive critically needed behavioral health services to address the trauma they suffered.

“We remain steadfast in our commitment to fulfill President Biden’s pledge to reunify all children who were separated from their families under the “zero-tolerance” policy to the greatest extent possible, and we continue to work diligently to incorporate the foundational principle of family unity in our policies and operations.”    


February 3, 2023 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

For Mixed-Status Students, Immigration Reform Is the Only Hope

The Nation magazine cover - 18-25 June 2018.jpg

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Yamila Martinez for the Nation reminds us of the many Americans in mixed status families:

February 3, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 2, 2023

The U.S. Southern Border: Repeating History in Response to Humanitarian Challenges

The Biden administration and the new House Judiciary Committee both treat the U.S. southern border as a crisis. It is very disappointing that the Biden administration buys into this rhetoric. Violence and unrest force thousands of residents from El Salvador, Guatemala, and other regions of Central America to flee from their homes, seeking safety in the United States. Upon arrival, they are detained. Asylum is denied at high rates. Migrant children are held for long periods of time, while their parents are arrested. Enforcement policies are implemented to deter asylum seekers, while legal challenges are filed to restore due process and to challenge detention conditions. This picture describes the circumstances facing Central American and other migrants today, but the images aptly describe what took place in the 1980s as well.

Then, as now, the United States' approach to what is essentially a mixed refugee flow has been mischaracterized as an illegal immigration problem. As a result, U.S. strategy has predominately been motivated by a desire to deter people from coming. Many of the tactics used in the 1980s are the same today. What we should have learned then, and what should be clear to us now, is that deterrence is not only wrong, but given the challenge, deterrence policy simply will not work. In the process, refugees are forced to endure more unnecessary hardship. In order to really move forward, we have to learn from the lessons of the past. We have refused to treat mixed refugee flows in our hemisphere-- principally from Latin America, and additionally Haiti--as humanitarian challenges rather than illegal immigration challenges.

There is a better way than simply repeating our mistakes of the past. The solution begins with recognizing the challenge for what it is--tens of thousands of human beings--fleeing serious violence. We need to invest in a fair and efficient adjudicatory process and get serious about working with partners in the region to increase citizen security, and reduce poverty. Yes, we should demand more from the governments we support, but the demand should not be a mindless “stop your people” from leaving or forcing displaced persons from seeking protection in other violent states. The demand should be about security and investment for citizens of the region.
Spending billions on harsh border enforcement that preys on human beings seeking refuge is wrongheaded. Rather, we should focus on reducing the need for people to migrate while ensuring we have fair and humane procedures in place domestically, regionally, and internationally to handle those who flee and have claims for protection. We also should be re-thinking refugee definitions themselves--criteria fixed in a period of time long past that are overly restrictive, inadequate to deal with the gang and gender-based violence that we are increasingly seeing. At the same time, we need to re-think our commitment to fair legal process. For decades, the process has been entirely inadequate, further contributing to the pressures on our system. Relying on the goodwill of pro bono attorneys and under-funded legal services programs is a severely deficient approach that I have witnessed and participated in since the 1970s.
In short, let's learn from and acknowledge our past and current mistakes. Then let's implement policies and procedures that are cognizant of the reasons migrants are fleeing today, while working on sensible, regional solutions.
Read more here.

February 2, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)