Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Guor's dream was to run in the Olympics. Fourteen years ago Guor left Sudan. He had been kidnapped as a child and forced to do manual labor. He was eight years old. He just wanted to be with his parents. He escaped but that wasn't the end of it. The years that followed for Guor would be lined with sadness. He was captured again. He experienced the death of eight siblings. It was civil war in Sudan. Guor made it to New Hampshire and he put his head down and went to work. He went to high school and trained hard as a runner. He didn't know English, but he learned by joining the track team. He set a national high school record and received a scholarship to Iowa State. He earned All-American honors and then ran a qualifying time for the Olympics in his first ever marathon.
On March 12, 2013, the State Department made a number of changes and updates to the 9 FAM 40.63 Notes including a new note providing that a minor who makes a false claim to U.S. citizenship is not inadmissible under INA 212(a)(6)(C)(ii) if he or she lacked the legal capacity to make the false claim.
Francisca meets the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) requirements: she was under 18 when she arrived; she’s under 30 years old; she’s in school presently; and she’s never had any legal problems in her life. But she’s not a face you’ll see on TV or read about in the paper by groups promoting immigration reform and DACA. She’s a DREAMer of a more common variety, but her DREAM is no less worthy.
Francisca is someone whose life in the U.S. has passed invisibly to many, but who has contributed to our community, paying taxes each year, owning a home, buying car insurance, shopping in U.S. stores, and most importantly, raising three intelligent, active, and mature U.S. citizen children with very bright futures ahead of them.
Francisca is 28 years old and her oldest daughter is nearing the age when Francisca crossed the U.S. border from Mexico. Francisca was 12 years old then and she remembers it vividly. She’d lived with her grandma for a year before her parents could save enough money to pay a coyote and send for her. She travelled with two family friends to Tijuana, where she spent six weeks trying to cross the border on at least 30 occasions, desperately trying to reunite with her parents.
Eventually an American family piled blankets upon blankets in the backseat of their car and their children rode atop. She spent four hours convinced that she was going suffocate from the weight of the blankets and the children, but she survived. Her parents picked her up and brought her to the San Francisco bay area.
Her parents didn’t enroll her school right away. They didn’t speak English, didn’t know the U.S. system, and moreover school simply wasn’t a priority for her parents. Scraping by was a priority for them. For over two years, Francisca would accompany her parents to the fields where they worked picking fruits and vegetables. Then when she was nearly 15 years old, her father finally enrolled her in high school.
Francisca hadn’t been in school since the 7th grade in Mexico, yet she was placed in 10th grade with teachers who spoke only English. Francisca had been surrounded only by Spanish speakers during her time in the U.S., so she hadn’t learned English. She didn’t understand the teacher and she didn’t know the essentials to be at a 10th grade level. Other kids spoke Spanish, but never to her, only about her. Francisca lasted only three months in high school before the bullying and frustration drove her away.
She then went to work that she knew – picking green beans in the fields of Oakley. Francisca’s mother had left her father shortly after Francisca joined them in the U.S. and moved to Los Angeles. Francisca had stayed behind with her father. He, however, suddenly decided to move to New York. Now she had to choose: move to New York with her father or meet her mother in LA. Both cities were new to her and even though she wasn’t in school, the Bay Area had become her home.
Then 21-year old Jorge offered her another choice. They had met at a wedding only a few months prior and began dating. The 16-year old Francisca realized her parents would never reunite as she’d once hoped, and she felt abandoned. Jorge offered her another option: live with him in the city that had become home and he would take care of her. Francisca chose Jorge.
Francisca had her first child shortly before her 17th birthday. She rose to the challenge of becoming a young mother. Francisca does everything she thinks a mother should do: she cooks, she cleans, she listens, and she wants the best for her children. But Francisca does more. She now has three children excelling in school, enrolled in baseball, ballet, gymnastics, tae kwon do, and wrestling. Francisca spends her days dropping them off and picking them up at school, lessons, and activities. She attends parent-teacher conferences, goes to church with the children, and she takes the kids to the library every week to check out books. She’s an avid reader, and she encourages the kids to read and helps with their homework as best she can. The oldest child is at the top of her class and reads and writes flawlessly in both Spanish and English.
Francisca’s eldest daughter, “Jaz,” is approaching the age when Francisca was locked in a windowless detention center with grown men and women; when she was dumped by CBP at 3 am alone on the streets of Tijuana; when she crawled through tunnels and walked across deserts to be with her parents. Francisca knows Jaz will never have to deal with that, but she also knows she’s entering a time of prepubescent insecurities, and Francisca realizes that her daughter needs something more. She needs her mother to be a role model. Francisca desperately wants her daughter to stay in school and to go on to college, and she thinks the best way to show her how important it is, is to do it herself.
And so several months ago, Francisca began taking English as a Second Language and GED prep classes at a community center. She says it’s difficult – finding time to study and still do all the little things for her children she’s done for so long. But she’s doing it, and she will succeed.
Francisca is still working on collecting evidence of her continuous U.S. presence for her DACA application. Without having been in school or working for so many years, it’s challenging. However, Francisca wants to apply for DACA, so that once she finishes her GED, she can attend community college and become a dental assistant to help pay her children’s way through college. She doesn’t want to hide and she doesn’t want to be “illegal.” She wants her children to be proud of her accomplishments.
The DREAMers we read about are kids who didn’t know they were undocumented, whose parents kept them in school from a young age, who speak perfect English, and who went to college. They are kids who hold advanced degrees yet cannot work. Their stories are appealing and reveal a desperate need for immigration reform and for relief such as DACA.
Francisca will not likely go to medical school or write an award-winning novel like other DREAMers, but she may raise U.S. citizen children who do. Francisca is a DREAMer of a more common variety, but her DREAM is no less worthy.
Dean Kevin R. Johnson has kindly invited me to share with you my cycle trip to Florida. For the third year running, I am pedaling into America's heartland with Joey, a 1-pound "kangaroo court" puppet. Read about the trip, law and philosophy, and our rides from NYC to Postville, IA, and Nashville, TN, at rideforhumanrights.com.
As an adjunct member of the Brooklyn Law School faculty, in 1992 I started the first NYC clinical program dedicated to asylum work. During the 12 years I taught at Brooklyn, I taught for 5 years at Seton Hall. And ran my small private law practice. And attended nursing school. And took the laboring oar at home, so my spouse, Nancy Freund Heller, could support us and protect your retirement at TIAA-CREF. Spread thin, I became competent at many things, but not a star at any of them.
Some say the curse of stardom is being condemned to repeat one's performance endlessly. I dodged that curse. I am free to explore.
Follow the blog, and you can explore too. And please watch for cyclists on the road.
As the debate over comprehensive immigration reform unfolds in Washington, a new Manhattan Institute report reveals dramatic changes in immigrant assimilation as a result of the so-called Great Recession. The report, Measuring Immigrant Assimilation in Post-Recession America, is authored by adjunct fellow and Duke University professor Jacob Vigdor.
Census Bureau statistics show that in the five years since the recession the foreign-born population has crossed a major milestone—the 40-million mark—for the first time in American history. The report utilizes the assimilation index, which is comprised of economic, cultural, and civic indicators, and reveals that immigrants are now more assimilated, on average, than at any point since the 1980s. While opposition to immigration reform has focused on newly arrived, unassimilated, and often undocumented immigrants from Mexico and nearby countries in Central America, Vigdor’s analysis of current demographic trends raises the possibility that the era of rapid immigration from Mexico is already behind us.
The report’s key findings include the following:
The immigrant population has shifted dramatically since the recession. Migration rates from Mexico have been very slow for the past five years, while rates from other parts of the world—notably Asia—have quickened.
· Between 2006 and 2011, overall immigration from Asia has seen a net increase of 1.4 million people. This includes major cohorts from mainland China and Vietnam as well as English-speaking countries such as India and the Philippines.
· By 2011, the total number of Mexican immigrants and the total number of immigrants from all Asian countries were roughly equal. In 2007, Mexican immigrants exceeded the number of Asian immigrants by 1.5 million.
Immigrants are now more assimilated, on average, than at any point since the 1980s. The rise in assimilation can be attributed to this slowdown and shift in the arrival rate of new immigrants. The rise in assimilation has been most apparent along cultural and civic dimensions. The immigrant population shows signs of recovering from the recession. Economic assimilation declined as growth slowed, but has regained its pre-recession level.
· Post-recession immigrants are more assimilated than those who arrived before the recession. In general, more recently arrived immigrants tend to be less assimilated. In a stark reversal of this historical pattern, post-recession immigrants are more culturally and economically similar to natives than immigrants arriving as much as a decade earlier.
· The bursting of the housing bubble played a role in increasing assimilation. Metro areas with the largest increases in immigrant assimilation tend to be those that were most affected by the housing boom-and-bust cycle. The evaporation of easy mortgage credit and construction-related jobs likely reversed the flow of new immigrants to these areas.
Assimilation Trends in Major U.S. Metro Area
New York and Miami top the list of destination areas with the most assimilated immigrants. The most noteworthy departures occur in Houston and the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, where assimilation levels fall well below average—in the high teens in the Dallas area. Low assimilation in Texas cities reflects the high concentration of immigrants from Mexico and Central America in that region.
Mexican immigrants are also found in significant number in Southern California. The Los Angeles area posts the third-lowest assimilation level among the top ten immigrant destinations. In spite of its proximity to the Mexican border, the San Diego metro area posts an assimilation index above the national average.
o Assimilation has increased most rapidly in the “inland empire” encompassing Riverside and San Bernardino in Southern California.
o Two other metropolitan areas with significant housing price fluctuations in recent years—Orange County, California and Miami, Florida—have also witnessed large increases in assimilation.
This report demonstrates that the economic recession and its aftermath have altered the flow of migrants coming to the United States. This change is critical to the formulation of a forward-looking immigration policy.
Freedom University in Georgia was featured on the Colbert Report last night. Founded in 2011 after Georgia banned undocumented immigrants from its top public universities, Freedom University is a volunteer-driven organization that provides rigorous, college-level instruction to all academically qualified students regardless of their immigration status. Its faculty are fully committed to providing our students with college courses equivalent to those taught at the state’s most selective universities. We believe that all Georgians have an equal right to a quality education. Separate and unequal access to higher education contravenes this country’s most cherished principles of equality and justice for all.
Monday, March 25, 2013
Saturday, March 23, 2013
Earlier this week, the Republican National Committee formally endorsed comprehensive immigration reform, bringing its position back in line with the Republican Party platform of 2004. Championing immigration reform was among the suggestions offered in a report about how the RNC can reinvent itself as part of a $10 million plan to reach out to minority groups. “We must embrace and champion comprehensive immigration reform,” says one recommendation in the 100-page report. “If we do not, our party’s appeal will continue to shrink.” Click here for more on this story on Immigration Impact.
The ‘Back of the Line’: New Migration Policy Institute Issue Brief Explains ‘The Line,’ Who Is in It, Wait Times & More
Contrary to popular belief, there is not one “line” that leads to legal permanent residence; current immigration law provides multiple paths to permanent residency. With a bipartisan group of senators and the Obama administration advancing immigration reform frameworks that would grant legal permanent residence to eligible unauthorized immigrants only after current immigration backlogs have been cleared, the Migration Policy Institute (MPI) yesterday released an issue brief examining key topics associated with lines, wait times and more. The brief, Going to the Back of the Line: A Primer on Lines, Visa Categories, and Wait Times, is the first in a new series of issue briefs that MPI will publish over the coming weeks focusing on major topics related to the immigration reform debate underway in Washington. MPI also has gathered online its key research and data resources on point to the current debate.
More than 4.4 million people had approved petitions for legal permanent residence as of November 1, 2012 but were awaiting further adjudication of their cases (generally because their priority dates had not become current), according to the State Department. That 4.4 million estimate does not represent the full extent of the number of applicants “in line” for legal permanent residence because it represents only processing by the State Department, which focuses on people outside the United States. A small share of cases, for non-citizens already living in the United States, is handled by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which does not publish statistics on the number of pending petitions. Of the 4.4 million cases pending with the State Department, 97 percent were applicants for family-based visas. A majority came from just a handful of high-demand countries: Applicants from Mexico made up 30 percent of those waiting for green cards, with the Philippines, India, Vietnam and China the other top countries with approved beneficiaries on the State Department’s waiting list. Currently, U.S. law allows approximately 226,000 green cards annually for immigrants filing through one of several family-based preference categories (there is no numerical limit for the spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens or the parents of U.S. citizens over the age of 21). At this rate, it would take 19 years to clear the existing backlogs in the family-based preference categories if no additional visas are allocated, assuming that no additional petitions for family-based preference immigrants were filed during this time and that current filing trends in other visa categories remains similar.
IMMIGRATION AND NATIONALITY LAW: PROBLEMS AND STRATEGIES
Lenni B. Benson Professor of Law New York Law School
Lindsay A. Curcio Principal, Law Office of Lindsay A. Curcio Adjunct Professor, New York Law School
Veronica Jeffers Associate of Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy Adjunct Professor of Law, Southwestern Law School
Stephen W. Yale-Loehr Miller Mayer, LLP, Ithaca, NY Adjunct Professor of Law, Cornell University Law School
AVAILABLE IN JUNE
Immigration and Nationality Law: Problems and Strategies introduces the reader to the legal concepts and experience of practicing immigration law. This book is designed for both law students and attorneys as it covers not only statutory provisions and key immigration law cases, it also provides an understanding to the many government agencies involved in the immigration process and how to navigate the wide variety of adjudications that are central to the U.S. immigration system.
Immigration and Nationality Law: Problems and Strategies includes problems that ask the reader, from a variety of legal roles, to learn how to solve common immigration problems. By working through these problems the user will observe the immigration process from initial sponsorship to the United States, to seeking admission at the border, to finding and maintaining status and securing permanent resident status within the United States.
Immigration and Nationality Law: Problems and Strategies moves through the complex issues of determining whether a person is inadmissible or barred from securing status or entering the United States. It explores the removal process and which categories of people and what type of behavior can subject a noncitizen to expulsion. It then continues with an examination of the forms of relief from removal and asylum and other humanitarian protections. The text closes with the ultimate goal of many immigrants -- naturalization. Other ways to acquire or derive U.S. citizenship are also explored. The book will be available in early June.
In early May, the electronic files (.pdf) of the book and the teacher's manual will be available for you to review on the Coursebook Support Communities (CSC) Web Course that will be created for this book. This CSC is for professors only. Please do not share access to it with your students. To access the CSC: Go to the LexisNexis Law School Portal (www.lexisnexis.com/lawschool).
Friday, March 22, 2013
Arizona’s immigration laws have hurt its economy. The 2007 Legal Arizona Workers Act (LAWA) attempts to force unauthorized immigrants out of the workplace with employee regulations and employer sanctions. The 2010 Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act (SB 1070) complements LAWA by granting local police new legal tools to enforce Arizona’s immigration laws outside of the workplace. LAWA’s mandate of E-Verify, a federal electronic employee verification system, and the “business death penalty,” which revokes business licenses for businesses that repeatedly hire unauthorized workers, raise the costs of hiring all employees and create regulatory uncertainty for employers. As a result, employers scale back legal hiring, move out of Arizona, or turn to the informal economy to eliminate a paper trail. SB 1070’s enforcement policies outside of the workplace drove many unauthorized immigrants from the state, lowered the state’s population, hobbled the labor market, accelerated residential property price declines, and exacerbated the Great Recession in Arizona. LAWA, E-Verify, and the business death penalty are constitutional and are unlikely to be overturned; however the Supreme Court recently found that some sections of SB 1070 were preempted by federal power. States now considering Arizona-style immigration laws should realize that the laws also cause significant economic harm. States bear much of the cost of unauthorized immigration, but in Arizona’s rush to find a state solution, it damaged its own economy.
Courtesy of Frontier Youth website
A short documentary, Frontier Youth, explores immigration and border issues on an intimate human scale. Its three characters are young people growing up in Douglas, Arizona and Agua Prieta, Mexico – neighboring border towns defined by undocumented migration, deportation, and an increasingly militarized border. Frontier Youth is unique in viewing these issues through the perspective of young adults on both sides of the border.
As the United States moves towards immigration reform, it is a perfect time for students to discuss the human impact of likely policy changes, such as a path to citizenship for undocumented residents and ever-tightening border security.
At 16 minutes, the film is a perfect length for classroom use.
Immigration Article of the Day: Allison Brownell Tirres, Property Law as Immigration Law: The Creation of Non-Citizen Property Rights
Abstract: This Article explores the collusion of states and the federal government in encouraging migration and expanding notions of membership in the American polity. It is the first sustained treatment of the creation of property rights for non-citizens in American law. In the mid-nineteenth century, eleven states adopted provisions in their constitutions guaranteeing the property rights of resident aliens. Prior to this period, state courts had restricted non-citizen property rights, applying English common law doctrine. Under the common law, aliens were unable lawfully to hold or inherit property; the sovereign could force a property forfeiture at any time. Additions to state constitutions dramatically altered this scheme. Iowa, Wisconsin, California and Michigan led the way, including these rights in their state constitutions prior to the Civil War. In this article, I place these constitutional developments in the larger context of the histories of immigration, westward expansion, and property reform. I show that federal territorial law played a critical role in the expansion of non-citizen property rights at the state level. Federal law allowed for fee simple alien property ownership and alien suffrage; these rights directly influenced proponents of state property reform. I argue that both the federal government and the states utilized property law as a form of immigration regulation: not to expel migrants but rather to attract them. At the same time, these reform efforts held the seeds of restrictive policies that would develop later in the twentieth century. Becoming “American” through property ownership was not a fully inclusive process; from the outset it was limited by assumptions about origin, race, and territorial location.
The movement toward comprehensive immigration reform has accelerated significantly in recent months. A bipartisan “Gang of 8” in the Senate—a group of four Democratic senators and four Republican senators—released a framework for immigration reform on January 28, 2013, and the next day President Barack Obama gave a speech launching White House efforts to push for immigration reform. Both proposals contained strong language regarding the need to provide legal status for the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the country, as well as a road map to full citizenship.Some lawmakers, however, do not want to extend legal status—let alone citizenship—to the unauthorized. Others have expressed interest in stopping just short of providing full citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants, calling instead for a so-called middle-ground option—to leave undocumented immigrants in a permanent subcitizen status.
This new Center for American Progress report “The Economic Effects of Granting Legal Status and Citizenship to Undocumented Immigrants” explains that legal status and a road map to citizenship for the unauthorized will bring about significant economic gains in terms of growth, earnings, tax revenues, and jobs—all of which will not occur in the absence of immigration reform or with reform that creates a permanent subcitizen class of residents. The report also shows that the timing of reform matters: The sooner we provide legal status and citizenship, the greater the economic benefits will be for the nation.
Jose Antonio Vargas, a journalist, filmmaker, and the founder of the immigration awareness organization Define American, is the 2013 recipient of The Ridenhour Prize for Truth-Telling. In June 2011, against the advice of several immigration lawyers, he came out as an undocumented American in a stunning and groundbreaking essay, “My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant,” in the New York Times Magazine. In it, he revealed how he came to the United States from the Philippines as a 12-year-old boy to join his grandparents, both naturalized citizens, in California. At the age of 16, he discovered that his green card was fake when he went to the DMV to get a driver’s permit. The clerk examined his residency card and then whispered to him that it was a fake and that he shouldn’t come back again.
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Migration Policy Institute's The E Pluribus Unum Prizes are a national awards program that provides prizes annually to exceptional initiatives that promote immigrant integration. In 2012, the program has awarded three $50,000 prizes and one Corporate Leadership Award.
Washington D.C. - Today, the American Immigration Council issued Two Systems of Justice: How the Immigration System Falls Short of American Ideals of Justice. This new report explores how the justice system for immigrants falls far short of the American values of due process and fundamental fairness. In fact, the immigration system lacks nearly all the procedural safeguards we expect in the U.S. criminal justice system. Given the high stakes involved in immigration cases and the increasing criminalization of immigration law, the report concludes that we must no longer tolerate a system that deprives countless individuals of a fair judicial process.
ImmigrationProf previously posted about the film Innocente. We failed to mention that it was honored with an Academy Award® for Best Documentary Short Subject. Here is a brief synopsis:
At 15, Inocente refuses to let her dream of becoming an artist be caged by her life as an undocumented immigrant forced to live homeless for the last nine years. Color is her personal revolution and its extraordinary sweep on her canvases creates a world that looks nothing like her own dark past – – a past punctuated by a father deported for domestic abuse, an alcoholic and defeated mother of four who once took her daughter by the hand to jump off a bridge together, an endless shuffle year after year through the city’s overcrowded homeless shelters and the constant threat of deportation.
Immigration Article of the Day: Dagmar Rita Myslinska, Contemporary First-Generation European Americans: The Unbearable 'Whiteness' of Being
Dagmar Rita Myslinska (Charlotte School of Law), Contemporary First-Generation European Americans: The Unbearable 'Whiteness' of Being
Abstract: Contemporary European immigrants face unique socio-cultural and legal concerns that go beyond issues of race, class, national origins, or accent discrimination. These concerns are not adequately addressed by laws protecting groups based on their national-origins or ancestries. Scholarship and public discussions are silent on this topic. As a result, European-born Americans fall through the cracks in critical legal theory, not fitting into any of the traditional analytical frameworks. No labels apply to them. Like their predecessors a century ago, they are expected to assimilate easily. At the same time, they are (incorrectly) assumed to always, and uniformly benefit from access to white privilege. In reality, European-born Americans oscillate between being visible as foreigners, and fading into the invisible “white” norm. A closer analysis of their culturally-constructed identity — as illustrated by looking at employment discrimination — exposes the artificiality of the concept of “whiteness.” A more accurate understanding of European immigrants’ experience also calls for a more holistic and consistent definition and application of “national origins” protections under Title VII, and of “race”-based safeguards under section 1981. Looking more critically at the European immigrant experience points to the benefits of separating the concept of foreignness from the study of “race,” which often gets conflated with notions of national-origin and ethnicity.