Tuesday, October 19, 2021
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.
Amy Howe on SCOTUSBLOG reports that
"At the suggestion of the Biden administration, the justices sent a case involving derivative citizenship – that is, citizenship for children born outside the U.S. whose parent becomes a U.S. citizen after their birth – back to the lower courts for another look. The case arose after the petitioner, Abdulmalik Abdulla, who was born in Yemen to Yemeni parents and came to the United States as a lawful permanent resident, was convicted on fraud charges and sought to ward off deportation by contending that he had obtained U.S. citizenship through his father, who had become a U.S. citizen when Abdulla was 10 years old."
The case is Abdulla v. Garland. The Supreme Court granted the petition for certiorari granted, vacated the judgment vacated, and remanded to case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit for further consideration.
Monday, October 18, 2021
The Cardozo School of Law’s Kathryn O. Greenberg Immigration Justice Clinic is interested in hiring two attorneys as Clinical Teaching Fellows. On fellowship will begin in early 2022 and the other in summer 2022. Past fellows have generally had 3-5 years of practice experience prior to coming to the clinic and have generally worked with the clinic for 2-3 years. The annual salary for fellows is $72,000 with full benefits.
The fellow’s core responsibilities would include a combination of the following:
work on deportation defense, or related cases, in the immigration, federal and state courts;
work on impact litigation and advocacy projects with immigrant community-based and national advocacy
supervision of clinic students on litigation and advocacy projects;
assistance in teaching and administering the clinic seminar; and
- primary responsibility for the clinic docket during the summer session.
In addition, the fellow would have significant autonomy to construct her or his own docket of relevant work in accordance with his or her interests and would have the opportunity to take part in the academic life of the law school. This position is ideal for candidates interested in the substantive areas of immigration or criminal law, candidates interested in transitioning from direct service to impact work, candidates seeking supervisory experience, and/or candidates interested in careers in clinical teaching. Past fellows have gone on to positions as clinical professors, executive directors of non-profits, managing attorneys of direct service immigration practices, and leadership positions in city government.
The Immigration Justice Clinic at Cardozo is an in-house year-long intensive live client clinic in which students represent immigrants in a variety of matters. Individual cases most frequently involve deportation/removal proceedings in the immigration and federal courts. In addition, students and fellows have the opportunity to represent immigrant community-based and national advocacy organizations engaged in impact projects on cutting edge immigration issues. Impact litigation, as well as legislative advocacy, are mainstays of the clinic’s docket. Substantively, the clinic’s docket focuses primarily on immigrants facing deportation because of encounters with the criminal justice system and more generally on immigration enforcement issues. You can learn more about the clinic under the “Learn About Our Work” link at http://www.cardozo.yu.edu/immigrationjusticeclinic.
The clinic directors, Peter L. Markowitz and Lindsay Nash, full-time members of the Cardozo faculty, will be responsible for mentoring, training, and supervising the Clinical Teaching Fellow.
To apply, please send a cover letter, resume and list of at least three references (ideally academic and professional) to: Linda Falk at email@example.com as soon as possible. Please put “IJC Fellowship” in the subject line. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis.
The National Parks have been trying to expand the reach of their resources to invite more cultures. One initiative that may help is the creation of a new exhibit at Yosemite. The cornerstone of the exhibit is a restoration of a Chinese laundry. The building is dedicated to telling the story of Chinese immigrant workers in Yosemite National Park using text and photos on the walls. Parts of the history that will be highlighted are workers who built major roads, including Tioga Road, north of Yosemite Valley; the contributions of Tie Sing, a cook, to the establishment of Yosemite National Park and the National Park Service; the history of Ah You, who served as head chef of the Wawona Hotel in California for 47 years; and the contributions of Chinese who worked in Yosemite’s hotels.
Sabrina Diaz, who was chief of interpretation and education at Yosemite National Park and initiated the idea of restoring the building (after learning that it was being used for storage), explained to NBC News it is the last remaining laundry building from Yosemite’s early days.
Yenyen Chan, a Yosemite Park ranger who has conducted extensive research on the history of Chinese in Yosemit, told NBC Asian America in 2018 that Sing played an important role in cooking meals for a two-week wilderness expedition in 1915 that was intended to convince business and cultural leaders of the importance of a national park system.
A more extensive description of the exhibit and a video about its recreation appear on the NPS website.
Conditions in Haiti have led many to flee the island. Things do not seem to be getting any better in the troubled country. As Maria Abi-Habib and Ruth Graham report for The New York Times, incidents of kidnappings and ransoms have spiked in Haiti. In addition to a group of 16 American missionaries who were taken over the weekend, gangs are controlling much of Port-au-Prince, "kidnapping children on their way to school and pastors in the middle of delivering their services." As a reminder, last month, the U.S. removed thousands of Haitians from Del Rio, Texas, returning many of them to Haiti.
Sunday, October 17, 2021
Guest blogger: Kelsea Villanueva, law student, University of San Francisco
Not all judges should be immigration judges. Sometimes being a judge is just not for everyone, period. Bad attitudes and questionable decision making within the immigration courts often cause the most noise because the impact is often more than a rude remark. While I do not believe problematic judges make up the whole picture of immigration courts, just one bad judge can be enough to impact the lives of many, and I only wonder whether it is the system that perpetuates behavior, the history and beliefs of immigration, or both that give rise to bad experiences.
Surprisingly in our own city, San Francisco Judge Nicholas Ford was the subject of a complaint that was sent to the U.S. Justice Department for being hostile and having biased treatment of immigrants in the courtroom. The accusations stated that he belittled migrants’ stories and struggles by making inappropriate comments. One account stated that he said “I can tell an indigent person when I see one, and you can afford an attorney” in response to someone who claimed they could not pay. Many accounts also made it a point to mention that he had previously been criticized for jailing a pregnant woman without bail for a nonviolent crime – this gives an idea of his character in court. When he was first appointed by the Attorney General under the Trump administration, Ford had been a judge in the criminal justice system and apparently had no prior immigration law experience. Other judges that have similar backgrounds can take biases from the criminal justice system and bring them into the immigration law field. There is the risk that the treatment of criminals becomes synonymous with the treatment of immigrants.
Even if judges like Ford represent a minority, the behavior exhibited by him is not unusual in immigration courts. In Jacinto v. INS, 208 F. 3d 725 (9th Cir. 2000), it was difficult for the respondent to even answer basic questions about her family’s struggles; she was constantly faced with interruptions by the immigration judge and a blatant lack of patience. Most people regardless of being an immigrant or not could become overwhelmed during questioning or lack of information about legal procedures. Lacking compassion and basic manners, whenever Jacinto was asked a question regarding why she was seeking asylum, the immigration judge or government attorney would interrupt her midsentence and not allow her to ask any clarifying questions. The transcripts reveal a sense of confusion and urgency, as they treated her as if they were in a rush and like she was wasting their time.
At the end of the day, being an immigration judge is a job and just like any other job, there are expectations. The overwhelming number of responsibilities that an immigration judge is tasked with like scheduling hearings, making determinations on a detainee’s competency, deciding removability, and are huge responsibilities and involve great power over a person’s life. However, immigration judges are limited in their authority; for example they cannot terminate proceedings simply for humanitarian reasons. So this may cause an internal friction. Perhaps these contradictions of power contribute to the festering of hostility that seems to seep its way into the attitudes of some immigration judges. For example, an immigration judge may decide the mental competency of a detainee but is not able to terminate proceedings due to “humanitarian reasons” as was the case in Lopez-Telles v. INS, 564 F.2d 1302 (9th Cir.1977). The fact that a respondent had nothing to go back to in Nicaragua due to natural disasters did not matter. In a system that seems to favor efficiency and national security, individual lives get lost in the entire process. After years in the practice, it is easy to lose sight of the humanity and to prioritize numbers on the docket and completing quotas. Quotas set in place, like those from the Trump administration only encourage that thought process.
We are all familiar with the way in which our environment can shape our own perceptions, especially when certain processes become routine and certain beliefs are built into a much larger system. Despite the courtroom being a place of justice, that does not mean that the much larger and historically problematic immigration system has not been a prevalent factor in shaping attitudes we see today. First, the whole immigration system and detention centers used to detain thousands of immigrants around the country is very secretive which means there is little room for accountability. Detention centers become businesses with the use of private prison companies, and this in turn feeds into the commodification of immigrants as numbers and not people. Additionally, the statutes that create the grounds for removal and grant authority for the government to detain can create stigmas that heavily criminalize the individuals. A noncitizen becomes deportable if they commit an aggravated felony. When people hear “aggravated felony” they tend to think of crimes such as murder or robbery, when in reality they may just be relatively minor offenses. The 1996 laws increased penalties for immigration law violations and expanded classes of non-citizens subject to removal for commission of crimes feeding the system that overall favored removal. The easier it becomes for an immigrant to be labeled a criminal, the perception of immigrants becomes more tainted in the eyes of immigration judges.
What consequences do immigration judges actually face for their misconduct? With respect to the allegations against Judge Ford during his time as an immigration judge, the many accounts of misconduct collected by the local chapter of the National Lawyers Guild led to an investigation. The Justice Department closed the complaint against Ford with no word on any consequences he faced. Many months later, he resigned issuing a scathing letter. But we still have much work to do in these circumstances because the “Justice” Department did not appear to hold him accountable.
Official White House Photo
The Biden administration has released the Presidential Determination on Refugee Admissions for Fiscal Year 2022 (and here). It provides, in relevant part, that:
"By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, in accordance with section 207 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (the “Act”) (8 U.S.C. 1157), and after appropriate consultations with the Congress, I hereby make the following determinations and authorize the following actions:
The admission of up to 125,000 refugees to the United States during Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 is justified by humanitarian concerns or is otherwise in the national interest.
The admissions numbers shall be allocated among refugees of special humanitarian concern to the United States in accordance with the following regional allocations:
|Europe and Central Asia||10,000|
|Near East/South Asia||35,000|
The numbers are an increase from previous years and was the response was generally favorable.
Alex Thompson for Politico reports on a blowup between Biden immigration officials and immigrant rights activists. And there is trouble in paradise.
Thompson reports that dozens of immigration advocates walked out -- at least virtually -- on Biden officials yesterday in protest of the administration’s decision to continue border policies enacted during the Trump administration. The meeting was by the administration’s plans, pursuant to court order, to reinstate Migrant Protection Protocols, also known as the “Remain in Mexico” policy.
Tensions between the Biden administration and immigration advocates have been escalating for months. Activists are increasingly convinced that the administration’s decisions are being driven largely by politics and that senior White House officials see the border as a potentially toxic issue for Democrats. “I think they're afraid of the backlash of anti-immigrant groups, and we'll continue to remind them that that backlash will exist regardless of what they do,” said Luis Guerra, the 32-year-old strategic capacity officer at the Catholic Legal Immigration Network who walked out of the meeting. “We don't actually believe they're doing everything in their power to actually restore asylum at the border, the way that they say that they're trying to.”
Saturday, October 16, 2021
The Biden administration's harsh treatment of Haitian migrants on the U.S./Mexico border has been in the news. The current crisis at the southern border is only the latest stage in a decades-long legacy of brutal treatment of Haitians and others by the U.S. government.
Official White House Photo
CBS News reports that the Biden administration will reinstate a Trump-era border policy in November that forces asylum seekers to stay in Mexico while the U.S. immigration courts decide their claims.
The decision comes after the Supreme Court declined the administration’s request to block an order by a federal judge to reinstate the policy, leaving the administration.
On his first day in office, President Joe Biden ended the policy, known as Migrant Protection Protocols, or MPP. He called it inhumane due to the violence migrants faced while waiting in Mexico, often in dangerous cities with few resources.
Friday, October 15, 2021
Ali Noorani from the National Immigration Forum shared this news in an e-mail blast earlier today:
"First the good news: The Biden administration has suspended its use of a Trump-era policy that allows for arrest and rapid deportation without an immigration hearing, reports Hamed Aleaziz of Buzzfeed News. The expanded expedited removal policy applied nationwide, rather than close to the border only, and "anyone who could not prove that they had lived in the U.S. for longer than two years" was at risk. Now the not so good news: Data underscore the lack of due process for immigrants expelled under the pandemic-era Title 42, as Camilo Montoya-Galvez of CBS News reports. There have been 1,163,000 expulsions under the policy — and only 3,217 migrants referred to asylum officers for interviews. `Migrants are being prevented from exercising a basic human right, which is to apply for asylum," said Michael Knowles, president of a union that represents hundreds of U.S. government asylum and refugee officers.'"
Jeanne Batlova for Migration Policy Institute in Afghan Immigrants in the United States includes information on Afghan immigrants in the U.S. "The dramatic evacuation from Afghanistan may bring more than 50,000 new Afghan immigrants to the United States, according to government predictions. These new arrivals would join a small but growing population of Afghans in the United States, most of whom have arrived since 2010. This article provides insights into this immigrant group, many of whom arrived on the Special Immigrant Visa."
Figure 1. Afghan Immigrant Population in the United States, 1980-2019
A special issue of IOM's Migration Policy Practice Journal on children in the current Central America– Mexico–United States context identifies critical blind spots on child-related migration data. It urges readers to look beyond cyclical trends, to instead identify underlying and pressing policy and practice issues that have remained unattended or ignored by past United States administrations, and that are at risk to remain so unless we collectively – and critically – examine our understandings of child migration.
2. Gabriella Sanchez on why the securitized focus on organized crime in irregular migration hides the serious risks children face as migrants and as smuggling facilitators;
3. Yaatsil Guevara González & Alexandra Leston on how asylum may not be the outcome migrant children expect while in Mexico;
4. Lauren Heidbrink, Ph.D. & Amelia Frank-Vitale on the perils of development aid;
6. Caitlyn Yates critical work on racism and discrimination of Asian, African and Afro-descendant migrant children.
The special issue can be accessed here. Questions can be directed to Gabriella Sanchez.
MHC (h/t Jaya Ramji-Nogales)
Margaret Kwoka of Ohio State University Moritz College of Law has just published a new book titled Saving the Freedom of Information Act.
Enacted in 1966, The Freedom of Information Act (or FOIA) was designed to promote oversight of governmental activities, under the notion that most users would be journalists. Today, however, FOIA is largely used for purposes other than fostering democratic accountability. Instead, most requesters are either individuals seeking their own files, businesses using FOIA as part of commercial enterprises, or others with idiosyncratic purposes like political opposition research. In this sweeping, empirical study, Margaret Kwoka documents how agencies have responded to the large volume of non-oversight requesters by creating new processes, systems, and specialists, which in turn has had a deleterious impact on journalists and the media. To address this problem, Kwoka proposes a series of structural solutions aimed at shrinking FOIA to re-center its oversight purposes.
Amanda Robert for the ABA Journal reports on great opportunities being provided to college and law students by the ABA Commission on Immigration’s Detention and Legal Orientation Program Information Line. Student interns help with calls from immigrants and refugees who are detained in more than 200 facilities across the country. They also help pull together information that the detained noncitizens need for their cases, such as how to apply for asylum or how to appeal a denial of asylum. These services are free for detainees who reach the information line.
Official White House Photo
Immigration and President Trump remain in the news even though Trump is no longer in office. The latest is that a New York judge has ordered former President Trump to give a videotaped deposition next week in a lawsuit brought by a group of protesters who claim that Trump and his security team assaulted them during a 2015 rally.
Bronx state Supreme Court judge Doris Gonzalez has ordered the ex-President Trump to appear for a deposition on October 18.
The lawsuit by several protesters names Trump, the Trump Organization, his former head of security Keith Schiller and four unnamed members of Trump’s security team. The lawsuit stems from a Sept. 3, 2015, protest outside Trump Tower over the then-presidential candidate’s inflammatory comments about Mexican immigrants.
Despite deportation’s devastating effects, the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) specifies deportation as the penalty for nearly every immigration law violation. Critics have regularly decried the INA’s lack of proportionality, contending that the penalty often does not fit the offense. The immigration bureaucracy’s implementation of the INA, however, involves a spectrum of penalties short of deportation. Using tools such as administrative closure, orders of supervision, and deferred action, agency bureaucrats decide whom to deport and who stays, and on what terms, on a purely ad hoc basis. In this so-called shadow system, immigrants, their advocates, and the broader public lack basic information about what penalties are being imposed and why.
This Article argues for reframing the problem of immigration law’s disproportionality as a problem of insufficient justification, one remediable only by building the infrastructure for reason-giving in the immigration bureaucracy. Deportation strikes many as disproportionate because the government often lacks satisfactory reasons for imposing such a drastic penalty. But in the system of shadow sanctions today, the government not only fails to offer good reasons: it fails to offer any at all. As a result, the system of shadow sanctions represents a classic case of an arbitrary exercise of government power. Looking to examples of procedural innovation across the administrative state, this Article backs prudential reforms to create immigration law’s missing reason-giving infrastructure. With it in place, the public can demand better reasons, or proportionality. But the first step is addressing immigration law’s arbitrariness problem.
Thursday, October 14, 2021
Beautiful Country is a memoir written by Qian Julie Wang. Here's the publisher's pitch:
In Chinese, the word for America, Mei Guo, translates directly to “beautiful country.” Yet when seven-year-old Qian arrives in New York City in 1994 full of curiosity, she is overwhelmed by crushing fear and scarcity. In China, Qian’s parents were professors; in America, her family is “illegal” and it will require all the determination and small joys they can muster to survive.
In Chinatown, Qian’s parents labor in sweatshops. Instead of laughing at her jokes, they fight constantly, taking out the stress of their new life on one another. Shunned by her classmates and teachers for her limited English, Qian takes refuge in the library and masters the language through books, coming to think of The Berenstain Bears as her first American friends. And where there is delight to be found, Qian relishes it: her first bite of gloriously greasy pizza, weekly “shopping days,” when Qian finds small treasures in the trash lining Brooklyn’s streets, and a magical Christmas visit to Rockefeller Center—confirmation that the New York City she saw in movies does exist after all.
But then Qian’s headstrong Ma Ma collapses, revealing an illness that she has kept secret for months for fear of the cost and scrutiny of a doctor’s visit. As Ba Ba retreats further inward, Qian has little to hold onto beyond his constant refrain: Whatever happens, say that you were born here, that you’ve always lived here.
Inhabiting her childhood perspective with exquisite lyric clarity and unforgettable charm and strength, Qian Julie Wang has penned an essential American story about a family fracturing under the weight of invisibility, and a girl coming of age in the shadows, who never stops seeking the light.
Here's a conversation with the author on NPR: