Sunday, October 17, 2021

Presidential Determination on Refugee Admissions for Fiscal Year 2022


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:

 Expand Table
  Africa 40,000  
  East Asia 15,000  
  Europe and Central Asia 10,000  
  Latin America/Caribbean 15,000  
  Near East/South Asia 35,000  
  Unallocated Reserve 10,000


The numbers are an increase from previous years and was the response was generally favorable.


October 17, 2021 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Trouble in Paradise? Tensions Flare between Biden Administration Officials and Immigrant Activists

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.”



October 17, 2021 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Guantánamo’s Other History


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.

Jeffrey S. Kahn in the Boston Review reviews the long history of detaining asylum seekers at Guantánamo.


October 16, 2021 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Biden Administration to Bring Back "Remain in Mexico" Policy pursuant to Court Order


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.

The “Remain in Mexico” policy was first implemented in 2019 by former President Donald Trump to deter Central American families from crossing the southwest border. 

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.


October 16, 2021 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 15, 2021

Good News, Bad News: Biden Narrows Expedited Removal, Continues Title 42 Expulsions


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.'"


October 15, 2021 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Afghan Immigrants in the United States

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



October 15, 2021 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Children's experiences on Central America-US migration corridor highlighted in IOM report

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.

Articles include:


1. IOM - UN Migration Missing Migrant's Project Marta Sánchez Dionis Andrea García Borja Kate Dearden on accounting for the deaths and disappearances of indigenous migrant girls & boys; 


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; 


5. Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) Lisa FrydmanElba Coria Catherine Mongeon on US & MX laws protecting unaccompanied children, and 


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)


October 15, 2021 in Data and Research | Permalink | Comments (0)

From the Bookshelves: Saving the Freedom of Information Act by Margaret B. Kwoka

Margaret Kwoka of Ohio State University Moritz College of Law has just published a new book titled Saving the Freedom of Information Act.

The book promises to be an essential Kwoka resource for a diverse set of readers, including those using the FOIA law to request immigration-related records. Here is the abstract:

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.


October 15, 2021 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0)

ABA Commission on Immigration offers students "hands-on" experience with people in detention

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.


October 15, 2021 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Gift That Keeps on Giving? Judge Orders Trump To Give Deposition In Immigration Activists' Suit


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


October 15, 2021 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigration Article of the Day: Immigration Law's Arbitrariness Problem by Shalina Bhargava Ray


Immigration Law's Arbitrariness Problem by Shalina Bhargava Ray, Columbia Law Review, Vol. 121, No. 7 (forthcoming 2021)


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.


October 15, 2021 in Current Affairs, Law Review Articles & Essays | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 14, 2021

From The Bookshelves: Beautiful Country by Qian Julie Wang


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:


October 14, 2021 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0)

Democrats consider new immigration reform proposal

It has been back to the drawing board for Democrats on immigration reform as the Senate parliamentarian  has nixed efforts to include big reforms in the budget reconciliation process.  Along with many news reports on the latest plan for reform, Alan Fram for the Associated Press reports that Democrats in the U.S. Senate may propose that the government exercise its existing parole power to allow noncitizens to remain temporarily in the United States:

"The idea is being advanced as President Biden and party leaders labor to resolve disputes and win the near-unanimous Democratic support they will need to move the giant social and environment package through the narrowly divided Congress. The massive legislation has been bogged down for months amid internal fights over the measure’s ultimate price tag and the initiatives it will include."

Under the proposal, parole could be granted to those here since 2011 for five years and could be renewed for another five years.



October 14, 2021 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigration Article of the Day: Are People in Federal Territories Part of “We the People of the United States”?  by Gary Lawson and Guy I. Seidman

Lawson-Gary Guy

Are People in Federal Territories Part of “We the People of the United States”?  by Gary Lawson and Guy I. Seidman
9 Texas A&M Law Review (forthcoming 2022)


In 1820, a unanimous Supreme Court proclaimed: “The United States is the name given to our great republic, which is composed of states and territories.” While that key point is simple, and perhaps even obvious, the constitutional implications of such a construction of “the United States” as including federal territories are potentially far reaching. In particular, the Constitution’s Preamble announces that the Constitution is authored by “We the People of the United States” and that the document is designed to “secure the Blessings of Liberty” to the author and its “Posterity.” If inhabitants of federal territory are among “We the People of the United States,” then federal actors owe them (and their “Posterity”) the same fiduciary duties owed to people in the States. There is no definitive answer as a matter of original meaning as to the scope of “We the People of the United States,” but the presumptive meaning of “the United States” in 1788 included federal territory, so the presumptive meaning of “the People of the United States” would similarly include people in federal territory. While there are strong textual and contextual arguments for excluding territorial inhabitants from “We the People,” there are also countervailing textual and contextual arguments for their inclusion. In the end, the answer may depend on something beyond the reach of interpretative theory: How strong is the presumption in favor of inclusion that can be drawn from pre-1788 understandings and practices? If territorial inhabitants are indeed among “We the People of the United States,” then federal action towards the territories must conform to fiduciary norms, including the key norm of impartiality with respect to multiple beneficiaries, which would require very strong reasons for disfavoring territorial inhabitants in comparison to state inhabitants.


October 14, 2021 in Current Affairs, Law Review Articles & Essays | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

The Role of Mental Health Evaluations in Immigration Court Proceedings

A recent article by Seattle Times staff reporter Esmy Jimenez highlights the role of mental health evaluations in immigration proceedings. As the author explains, 

For some people in immigration proceedings, a psychosocial assessment or evaluation is that key document. In many cases, it can help verify someone’s story in the absence of physical evidence, showing immigration officials why someone is in need of a new home country, whether it’s an undocumented mother from Honduras filing for asylum or a victim of torture fleeing from the Philippines.

The article features Henry Hwang, the directing attorney at the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project who explains how courts rely on mental health evaluations in analyzing trauma and related aspects of asylum and other types of cases. It also cites to a study published in the Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health that found that 89% of asylum cases that had mental health evaluations were successful.


October 13, 2021 in Current Affairs, Data and Research | Permalink | Comments (0)

UNLV Law Dean Search


The University of Nevada, Las Vegas invites applications and nominations for the position of Dean of the William S. Boyd School of Law.  For details, click here.


October 13, 2021 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

From the Bookshelves: Mexican American Civil Rights in Texas: Latinos in the United States (Robert Brischetto and J. Richard Avena, editors)

Mexican American Civil Rights in Texas

Mexican American Civil Rights in Texas: Latinos in the United States Edited by Robert Brischetto and J. Richard Avena (Oct. 2021)

Publisher's Abstract

Inspired by a 1968 U.S. Commission on Civil Rights six-day hearing in San Antonio that introduced the Mexican American people to the rest of the nation, this book is an examination of the social change of Mexican Americans of Texas over the past half century. The San Antonio hearing included 1,502 pages of testimony, given by more than seventy witnesses, which became the baseline twenty experts used to launch their research on Mexican American civil rights issues during the following fifty years. These experts explored the changes in demographics and policies with regard to immigration, voting rights, education, employment, economic security, housing, health, and criminal justice. While there are a number of anecdotal historical accounts of Mexican Americans in Texas, this book adds an evidence-based examination of racial and ethnic inequalities and changes over the past half century. The contributors trace the litigation on behalf of Latinos and other minorities in state and federal courts and the legislative changes that followed, offering public policy recommendations for the future. The fact that this study is grounded in Texas is significant, as it was the birthplace of a majority of Chicano civil rights efforts and is at the heart of Mexican American growth and talent, producing the first Mexican American in Congress, the first Mexican American federal judge, and the first Mexican American candidate for president. As the largest ethnic group in the state, Latinos will continue to play a major role in the future of Texas.


October 13, 2021 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

US borders reopening to tourists, travelers

A few weeks ago, the Biden administration announced that it would lift its restrictions on non-essential travel from tourists coming overseas. They are now lifting similar travel restrictions on the US and Canada borders

The lifted restrictions represent a new phase of reopening in the ongoing effort to curb the spread of COVID-19. Whether it represents a new phase in other border restrictions remains to be seen.


October 13, 2021 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Biden administration defends H1-B wage rule

The Biden administration has urged a D.C. federal judge to uphold a Trump-era policy to award H-1B specialty occupation visas by salary rather than by lottery, saying the policy is procedurally valid and consistent with the Immigration and Nationality Act. The argument was made in a summary judgment motion (read on Law360).

In the closing months of the Trump administration, the Department of Labor (DOL) proposed a rule that would assign H-1B visas based on wages, as opposed to the current lottery system. The DOL rule would have raised the lowest possible wages that companies could have offered for workers on the H-1B, H-1B1, and E3 visas. The goal, added a DOL press release at the time, was to “improve the accuracy of prevailing wages paid to foreign workers by bringing them in line with the wages paid to similarly employed U.S. workers.” A few months after Biden took office, the DOL sought public input on fair H-1B wage levels, indicating that the concept was still alive in the halls of government, although it delayed implementation of the actual Trump-era rule until November 2022.

Although the Biden administration seemed interested in continuing some version of the plan, several lawsuits enjoined the rule. It was unclear whether it would continue into a new administration (Biden's proposed Citizenship Act of 2021 favors a wage-based H1-B and DOL sought public input on fair H-1B wage levels,). For more background on the H1-B and the system of awarding the visas by salary rather than by lottery, see writings by Stuart Anderson in Forbes.



October 13, 2021 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Migrants and refugees caught up in Belarus-EU "hybrid warfare" are freezing to death in no man's land

CBS News reports that

"As you approach the Poland's border with Belarus, an automatically-generated text message pops up on your cell phone. It warns any refugees to turn around. `The Polish border is sealed. Belarussian authorities told you lies. Go back to Minsk!' reads the advisory, adding: `Don't take any pills from Belarusian soldiers.'"

In the last few months, more than 10,000 migrants have tried to cross from Belarus into Poland — an entry point to the European Union. The migrants are mainly from Iraq and Syria, but they also come from Africa and even as far away as Cuba. At least five of them have reportedly died in the last few weeks due to the conditions in the frozen swampland and forests between the two countries.



October 13, 2021 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)