Tuesday, April 23, 2019
Guest blogger: Jonathan Deras, Masters in Migration Studies, graduate student, University of San Francisco
In 2009, I drove early to the stadium in downtown LA. I had spent the night at a friend’s house that had recently separated from the U.S. Marine Corps. Otherwise, I would have had to drive early from three hours away at my duty station in Twentynine Palms, California. I had recently returned after a ten-month tour in Iraq and decided that it was time to receive my citizenship. I remember it as a fast-tracked system. First step: meet with a lawyer on base. Second step: Meet with an official for an interview and take the citizenship exam. Step three: Go to the naturalization ceremony. It took approximately 3 to 4 months total from the beginning of the process. The best part was that I did not even have to wait the five years as a resident to apply for my naturalization. After the written exam, the official told me that I was going to become a citizen. I felt excitement and joy. I had become the first person in my family, except for the youngest, who had been born in the United States, to become accepted as an official American.
On the day of the Naturalization ceremony, I was sent to the front of the stadium. Little did I know those who sat up front were immigrants who were serving currently in the U.S. Armed Forces like myself. There were a total of seven of us from different backgrounds and ethnicities. The only difference was that I had not received notice that I was required to wear my uniform. Officials gave me a little grief about wearing civilian attire for the ceremony. As the ceremony began, my fellow military service members and I were asked to come to the front and face the crowd. The man behind the podium said some words that will echo eternally in my memories. He looked to the crowd and with gratitude said, “ I inherited my citizenship, but these men and women earned it!”
The ceremony will always remain a happy memory, but reflecting on the process is more complicated than the three simple steps that I went through. At the time, I had not counted all the years, money, and hardships that followed with being an immigrant in the United States and the necessary extremes it took to get to that single moment. Step one: be born in a violent and impoverished country that was in a civil war backed by America. Step two: jump onto a moving train in the middle of the night to cross the border into the U.S. Step three: live in low-income communities and shelters until my late teens. Step four: become a legal permanent resident at sixteen. Step five: join the U.S. Marines at 17 years old. Step six: Raise my hand when my unit sat us down and asked who wants to go to Iraq with the next unit. Step seven: complete a ten-month tour. Those were seven steps that took twenty years just so that I can even meet the requirements to apply for citizenship, not counting the money spent on lawyers and yearly fees on visas.
It had taken me an entire lifetime to complete the ten necessary steps that lead to being treated equally as a human in America. It is a status that is automatically given to babies when born within America’s borders, but difficult to obtain if born outside of the U.S. and do not meet the requirements of a wealthy white immigrant from Europe. Regardless of status and place of birth, every person still has the right to basic needs that fall under the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights that the U.S has signed. Considering that the United States has immigration roots, it should be willing to help immigrants instead of dehumanizing them by calling people “aliens” or, in the words of President Trump, "animals." Immigrants are still humans, and in some cases super humans, but we will never become animals or aliens.
Later today, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in two cases implicating immigration and immigrants. SCOTUSBlog collects some links to previews of the arguments in the cases.
The justices will hear 80 minutes of argument in Department of Commerce v. New York, a challenge to the Trump administration’s decision to add a question about citizenship to the 2020 census.
The final argument of the day is in Rehaif v. United States, in which the court will consider whether, to convict defendant in U.S. illegally for violating a federal gun-possession law, prosecutors must show that defendant knew he was in the country illegally.
Monday, April 22, 2019
Guest blogger: Kenny Lee, Masters of Migration Studies Graduate Student, University of San Francisco
Growing up undocumented, I witnessed the danger of activism when I saw, heard, and read about young immigrant activists detained and removed from the United States. I forced myself to be practical in order to avoid such a prospect, only revealing my status in order to inquire and receive support, like a zero-sum game. Like many others, education, especially higher education, was extremely crucial to me. It was a credential that I needed in order to meet the qualifications of the DREAM Act or other proposed immigration bills. Yet growing up in a mixed-status family and being the only person undocumented in the household, my family was an incomplete support system as I navigated through junior high, secondary, and higher education.
I understood that it was a practical reality that latinx were the largest undocumented population in the United States. Despite that, I knew I wanted to be part of a support group, a community just for undocumented Asians. But being undocumented and Asian in the United States, it was hard to find others who are also undocumented and Asian—let alone Chinese. Although I went to a supportive university like UC Davis where they had a resource center specifically for AB540 and undocumented students, I felt a degree of alienation when I saw mostly latinx students. Even though there was solidarity through our shared undocumented status, it felt like a space that could not meet my needs emotionally.
It was not until graduate school in San Francisco that I found a community that was specifically for undocumented Asian and Pacific Islanders. We are a group of mixed Asian ethnicities—Korean, Chinese, Filipino, and other API. Our solidarity comes from our shared struggle of being different from the mainstream undocumented movement. I realized that feeling alone for so many years, being part of a community was so liberating to my mental health. With this community, we are able to focus on issues that pertain to undocumented Asians—mental health and the need for activism within our respective ethnic communities. And for the first time, I do not have to feel exhausted, vulnerable, and dehumanized to ask for support and being understood.
Being part of an undocumented Asian group also transformed me to think about immigration and activism differently. Practicality had made me undervalue ALL the other noncitizens affected by immigration law by putting my security over others. Where is fairness when immigrants have served their sentence, persecuted again for removal, and denied the opportunity to show they can reform and stay? How could we teach people about inalienable rights when the country treats noncitizens like disposables and exceptions when children are detained in detention ice boxes and divorced from their parents and siblings—the only people that can they DEPEND on? Where is the line that we have to draw when human rights violation is a human rights violation? Activism and civic engagement in this sense is a necessity in order to reform immigration law and inform American citizens the stake at hand that affects their family, neighbors, and friends who are immigrants. Activism is not suicide. Indeed, it is the agency of those who demanded—the young activists—that helped me and hundreds of thousands of young people obtain prosecutorial discretion under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival.
Undocumented status affects all racial groups and ages, including Asians, Africans, and Europeans. For a minority within the undocumented population, finding an undocumented Asian community was a liberating experience for my mental health. It shifted my view away from the zero-sum game mindset, especially the “deserving” immigrant narrative, to that of a social justice lens. Yet, it is difficult to escape that political narrative when these communities are small. Universities, Asian American educators, immigrant rights organizations, community members, and undocumented Americans must work together to establish community for those who are inconspicuous. Justice cannot overcome politics for those who are pacifist—it comes from those who demand.
I talk about border militias in two different classes: Immigration Law and Border Enforcement (Hofstra) and Crimmigration (OU).
In the Hofstra class, I use the film Crossing Arizona as a jumping off point for discussion. (See past posts on this movie here, here, and here.) A 2006 documentary, it has sometimes felt dated. That's no longer an issue, with this week's crazy news of a border militia detaining migrants (including children) and the subsequent arrest of one member of that militia by the FBI. (See Kevin's post on the developments here.)
You should download or bookmark the youtube video from this militia about their round up of migrants. It's remarkable.
I also recommend that you revisit this 2016 article, that we previously highlighted, from The Atlantic: Undercover with a Border Militia. It's an astounding first-hand account of a reporter embedding himself with a border militia. Again, more evidence that while no one is currently talking about "minutemen project" that was big in 2004-2006, the border militia movement is still going strong.
Today, the Supreme Court granted certiorari in Barton v. Barr. The issue in the case is "[w]hether a lawfully admitted permanent resident who is not seeking admission to the United States can be `render[ed] ... inadmissible” for the purposes of the stop-time rule, 8 U.S.C. § 1229b(d)(1).'" The Eleventh Circuit, agreeing with three circuits and disagreeing with the Ninth Circuit, held against the noncitizen.
Amy Howe on SCOTUSBlog describes the case as follows:
"In Barton v. Barr, the justices will consider the case of Andre Barton, a 40-year-old native of Jamaica who came to the United States as a child in 1989 and obtained his green card – becoming a lawful permanent resident – a few years later. In January 1996, Barton was charged with aggravated assault, damage to property and first-degree possession of a gun during the commission of a felony. In 2007 and 2008, he was arrested on drug possession charges but has stayed out of trouble since then: He graduated from technical college and now runs a car shop; his four children and his fiancée are all U.S. citizens.
In 2008, the government began proceedings to deport Barton. Under federal immigration laws, a green-card holder can fend off deportation if he has lived in the United States continuously for at least seven years. But under a provision known as the “stop-time” rule, the period of continuous residence ends if he commits an offense that would make him inadmissible to the United States. The question that the court agreed to review today in Barton’s case is whether a lawful permanent resident can, for purposes of the “stop-time” rule, commit an offense that makes him inadmissible if he is not seeking to be admitted to the United States."
Sunday, April 21, 2019
Utah is known for its red rock canyons, steep ski slopes, and a mega-majority Republican legislature. And now it can be recognized as one of just a handful of states to pass legislation that helps noncitizens avoid deportation if they are convicted of a misdemeanor.
The bill, which was signed into law by Gov. Gary Herbert on March 25, clarifies that misdemeanor convictions in Utah can no longer be interpreted as aggravated felonies for immigration purposes, avoiding automatic deportation for a crime as simple as shop-lifting. To make this happen, the bill reduces the maximum possible sentence for misdemeanors in Utah by a single day — from 365 days to 364 days. In an era when lawmakers often pass splashy message bills that create little impact, the new law is just the opposite — a nuanced piece of legislation that spans the twin chasms of criminal justice and immigration reform, while improving the lives of thousands of Utah residents. Red more...
American Immigration Council's Immigration Impact reminds us of the importance of the contributions of undocumented immigrants to the survival of Social Security in the United States.
Social Security is projected to become insolvent in only a decade and a half if current trends continue. According to Social Security’s board of trustees, the system “will be depleted in 2034.” Social Security’s costs are projected to exceed its income in 2018 “for the first time since 1982.” The system needs more workers who are paying in while older Americans retire and begin collecting Social Security benefits.
This is where immigrants come in: Unauthorized immigrants are therefore extending the life span of the Social Security system. In 2016, the most recent year for which data is available, unauthorized immigrants added $13.3 billion to Social Security. This comes on top of the $3.3 billion they added to Medicare and the $9.4 billion they poured into state and local tax coffers. Click the link above for more details.
Saturday, April 20, 2019
In this report, Latino USA features Grupo Fantasma, a popular band from Texas, which just released its seventh album (American Music, Vol. 7). The band recorded the album at a studio in Tornillo, Texas—and after discovering that ICE was running a notorious tent city for detained immigrant youth in the same town, the band decided they needed to say something about it. On one of the song’s stand-out tracks, titled “The Wall,” the band teams up with fellow legends Ozomatli and Locos Por Juana to tackle the themes of the border and the anti-immigrant rhetoric coming out of the Trump administration.
It is no surprise to students of immigration but the Attorney Generals in the Trump administration have been intervening much more regularly in matters in the immigration adjudication system than the Obama Attorney Generals did. Such actions have an impact on immigration law and policy that the public generally does not see.
In this Reuters report "How Trump’s Attorneys General are transforming U.S. immigration law" by Reade Levinson and Ally J. Levine look at the interventions by the Attorney General in Board of Immigration Appeals matters. Attorney General Sessions was active in this regard and Attorney General William Barr recently intervened in a case to expand executive power over the detention of asylum-seekers. in a little over two years, the Trump AGs have intervened in nine (9) matters compared to four (4) matters by the Obama AGs.
Friday, April 19, 2019
News from Eater NYC about Mexican restaurateurs active in immigration causes. Yajaira Saavedra, an owner of the Bronx’s Oaxacan restaurant La Morada (with mole on the menu!), says. “I’m very proud of my roots.” Her family’s restaurant serves Oaxacan dishes in a bright space that features the banner above: “No deportaciones / No deportations.” A lending library offering free books to the community sits in the back, and the front door reads “Refugees Welcome.”
Saavedra, along with other Mexican restaurateurs around the city, like Daniel Ortiz De Montellano Luft of Casa Publica and Guillaume Guevara of Miscelanea, have been vocal advocates for Mexico and for their communities here in NYC. All three have spoken out on Trump’s immigration policies, and Guevara launched a line of pro-immigration goods like hats, pins, and stickers in his Mexican deli that benefits the American Civil Liberties Union. Luft and chef Fany Gerson (the two are married) have assisted their employees with immigration proceedings and paperwork.
Saavedra in particular is a striking example of a restaurateur-activist. She’s the daughter of Natalia Mendez, the chef-owner of La Morada, which is transparent about the immigration status of its proprietors. “We are an undocumented family-owned and operated Oaxaca Restaurant in the South Bronx,” its website reads in both English and Spanish. “Our goal is to preserve and share indigenous Mexican cuisine with our neighbors and friends.”
Earlier this year, Saavedra was taken into police custody; she claims she was targeted by the NYPD for being an undocumented immigrant activist.
Krishnadev Calamur in The Atlantic focus our attention on visa overstays, the source of a majority of new undocumented immigrants in the United States today. The much-discussed "wall" will not have any impact on visa overstays, who entered the country lawfully at ports of entry. As Calamur writes, "These immigrants, who enter countries legally on student, tourist, or work visas and then stay past their visa’s expiration date, are often overlooked in the discussion of illegal immigration. But in the past 10 years, visa overstays in the United States have outnumbered border crossings by a ratio of about 2 to 1, according to Robert Warren, who was for a decade the director of the statistics division at the agency that has since been renamed U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and who is now a senior visiting fellow at the Center for Migration Studies, a New York–based organization."
Yesterday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit decided United States v. California. Judge Milan D. Smith, Jr., joined by Judges Paul J. Watford and Andrew D. Hurwitz, panel ruled unanimously that U.S. District Judge John Mendez correctly denied the federal government preliminary injunctions that would have prevented three "sanctuary" laws from going into effect.
Courthouse News reports on the details. “The district court did not abuse its discretion when it concluded that AB 450’s employee-notice provisions neither burden the federal government nor conflict with federal activities, and that any obstruction caused by SB 54 is consistent with California’s prerogatives under the 10th Amendment and the anticommandeering rule,” U.S. Circuit Judge Milan Smith wrote for the panel. “We also affirm the denial of a preliminary injunction as to those provisions of AB 103 that duplicate inspection requirements otherwise mandated under California law.”
However, the panel found one provision of AB 103, which mandates the state attorney general to periodically inspect immigrant-detention centers to ensure conditions and standards of care are sufficient and due process standards are being followed, unfairly and impermissibly burdens the federal government – violating the doctrine of intergovernmental immunity.
The panel stopped short of siding with the federal government and instead asked the judge in the case to reconsider the extent of the government’s “economic or operational burden” for the extra inspections AB 103 calls for.
Regarding SB 54, which the panel recognized as “the most contentious of the three challenged laws” since it restricts state and local law enforcement’s cooperation with federal immigration agents except where certain violent crimes and felonies are involved, the panel ruled it passes constitutional muster.
Here is a statement by Thomas A. Saenz, president and general counsel of MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund):
“The Ninth Circuit’s decision demonstrates anew the Trump administration’s unlawful pretensions to imperial power. California has the right to avoid being implicated in the administration’s nativist policy agenda that daily violates the rights of countless immigrants contributing to the growth and betterment of California. Neither current federal law nor the Constitution forces any state to acquiesce in the thuggish mistreatment of immigrants promoted by Donald Trump.
Just as Trump lacks the authority to override protective state laws like those upheld by the Ninth Circuit, he also lacks the legal authority to retaliate against states and cities that do not support his white nationalist agenda by transporting released detainees to those jurisdictions. While these jurisdictions do not fear the immigrant detainees -- who are not criminals despite Trump’s regularly-emitted lies to the contrary -- the tactic, if implemented, would violate detainees’ rights to settle where they wish on release, and would tread unlawfully upon the right of states not to be bullied by the president.
This administration should cease wasting taxpayer dollars on frivolous litigation designed to secure megalomaniacal powers for Donald Trump. And Trump should put his tweeting fingers to better use than threatening those who disagree with his retrograde and racist policies.”
Immigration Article of the Day: Irregular Migration and International Economic Asymmetry by Chantal Thomas
Irregular Migration and International Economic Asymmetry by Chantal Thomas Forthcoming in WORLD TRADE AND INVESTMENT LAW REIMAGINED: A PROGRESSIVE AGENDA FOR AN INCLUSIVE GLOBALIZATION, edited by Alvaro Santos, Chantal Thomas, and David M. Trubek (Anthem Press, 2019).
The world is on the point of a stunning reversal. Nationalism and isolationism have surged against the global laws and institutions that have advanced economic liberalization and integration for half a century. Hostility is rising against international trade and international migration, both of which the new cadre of self-styled “anti-globalists” see as interrelated and threatening to national security and economic stability.
Thursday, April 18, 2019
Photo via ETOnline
Could Harry and Meghan’s child pay US taxes? That's the question the BBC asked and answered this week.
Short answer: yes. So does Meghan since she's still a U.S. citizen -- though it's rumored she'll try to acquire UK citizenship as soon as she becomes eligible.
I swear that taxes and expatriation have never been so sexy.
Immigration Article of the Day: It's Just Like Prison: Is a Civil (Nonpunitive) System of Immigration Detention Theoretically Possible? by René Marin and Danielle C. Jefferis
It's Just Like Prison: Is a Civil (Nonpunitive) System of Immigration Detention Theoretically Possible? by René Marin and Danielle C. Jefferis, Denver Law Review
This Article questions a fundamental premise on which the U.S. immigration detention system is build: Is a civil — that is, nonpunitive — system of immigration detention even possible? The Supreme Court has never questioned this assumption. Most scholars who critique the state of immigration confinement in this country assume the possibility of a civil detention system but argue the modern system is too much like punishment to be civil in nature. And that is true: One of us has experienced both punitive incarceration and so-called civil immigration detention and is left with the conclusion there is little meaningful difference between the two. Immigration detention is just like prison. But in an era when the scope of immigration confinement is expanding rapidly — with tens of thousands of people in the custody of federal immigration-enforcement agencies each day — which question should we be asking ourselves: How do we make civil detention civil? Or is civil detention just a fallacy?
Wednesday, April 17, 2019
Argument preview: Must an unauthorized immigrant in possession of a firearm know he is in the country illegally?
Immigrants and guns are currently before the Supreme Court. Evan Lee preview the upcoming arguments in the case on SCOTUSBlog. As he summarizes the issue before the Court:
"When the federal government prosecutes someone not legally in the United States for possessing a firearm, must the government prove that the person actually knew he was not legally in the country? Or need the government merely prove that the person knew he possessed the firearm? The U.S. Supreme Court will puzzle over this classic, yet novel, statutory question of `mens rea,' or criminal intent, when it hears argument on April 23 in Rehaif v. United States."
Rehaif overstayed his student visa and was out of status when he ran into firearm violation problems.