Sunday, June 30, 2013

On-Line Symposium: Comprehensive Immigration Reform – The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

Over the next few weeks, the ImmigrationProf blog will have a series of features on the comprehensive immigration reform bill pending in the U.S. Congress. Here is the first installment.

SB 744: Border Enforcement Run Amok? by Kevin R. Johnson

The passage of the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act (Senate Bill 744)  by the U.S. Senate is a major achievement. It includes provisions that would increase border enforcement, expand legal immigration, and create a path to legalization for eligible undocumented immigrants.

As with all political compromises, SB 744 will not please everyone. Still, the reform proposal will in my estimation could well turn out to be the first major piece of truly “comprehensive” immigration reform since President Ronald Reagan signed the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 into law.

The new border enforcement measures in SB 744 build on previous enforcement measures, such as the expansion of the border fence along the U.S./Mexico border. More generally, the U.S. government has greatly ramped up border enforcement since the mid-1990s, for example, with the high profile border operation known as Operation Gatekeeper sought to seal the border immediately south of San Diego.

This post focuses on one troublemseome aspect of the Senate bill. The “border security” aspects, including the amendment sponsored by Republican Senators Bob Corker and John Hoeven added immediately before its passage in the Senate, are deeply problematic. The “border surge” amendment dramatically increases unnecessary enforcement, adding thousands of Border Patrol officers along the U.S./Mexico border and billions of dollars into further militarizing the entire region. In my view, the border surge would not reduce undocumented migration and thus constitutes a big waste of money and resources. To add insult to injury, the surge would also exacerbate some of the worst excesses of the current enforcement regime.


Why More Enforcement?

The border enforcement provisions od SB 744, including the requirement that all employers verify employee eligibility to lawfully work through the computer database known as E-Verify, are a response to the claim that the Obama administration is failing to enforce the immigration laws. This is a difficult claim to substantiate based on the facts:

1. Record Deportations: The Obama administration has deported more noncitizens than any administration in U.S. history, setting annual removal records of about 400,000 a year

2. Super-Aggressive Enforcement: The Obama administration has taken aggressive positions toward immigration enforcement, such as the Secure Communities program , which has allowed for record levels of removals and aggressive litigation positions, such as in Moncrieffe v. Holder, a case in which the Supreme Court rejected the U.S. government’s efforts to classify a long term lawful permanent resident as an “aggravated felon” subject to mandatory removal based on one conviction for possession of the equivalent of 2-3 marijuana cigarettes.

3. Decreased Undocumented Immigration: Undocumented immigration has decreased due to the Great Recession and many Mexicans have returned to Mexico. 


The Questionable Policy Impact of Increased Border Enforcement

The border enforcement measures of the Senate reform bill would do little to reduce undocumented immigration. While the requirement of the use of E-Verify by employers might diminish the magnet of jobs (although concerns abound that the database will be accurate or will wrongfully deny employment opportunities to many people eligible to work), other enforcement measures will not have do much to deter undocumented immigration. The stagnant U.S. economy has dramatically reduced undocumented immigration. Moreover, the border surge amendment has caused some pro-immigrant groups to oppose the immigration bill. To make matters worse, the various enforcement measures would continue some of the worst excesses along the border:

1. Destruction of Families: The removal of 400,000 noncitizens a year, many for relatively minor criminal offenses, has torn apart hundreds of thousands of families and communities across the country.  U.S. citizen spouses and children have suffered as well as the noncitizens removed. This destruction of families is inconsistent with the goal of promoting family unity that long has been the linchpin of the U.S. immigration laws.

2. Racial Profiling: U.S. immigration enforcement long has been plagued by racial profiling of Latinos.  By greatly expanding border enforcement and the number of Border Patrol officers, the bill will necessary expand racial profiling of Latinos, who are perpetually suspected of being foreigners. Profiling arguably has increased with increased state and local law enforcement involvement in immigration enforcement. Notably, a federal court in May 2013 ruled that Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his Maricopa County (Arizona) Sheriff’s Office engaged in a pattern and practice of abusing the civil rights of Latinos in the name of immigration enforcement. 


3. Border Deaths: One less well-known aspect of increased border enforcement has been the growing death toll along the U.S./Mexico border region.  As enforcement has centered on major urban areas along the border, migrants have sought entry in more desolate locations where death due to exposure (i.e., heat in the desert) is more likely. Deaths on the border are a regular part of live in the border region. More enforcement, including extension of the border fence, will likely contribute to more deaths as migrants are redirected toward more desolate – and dangerous – locations.



Many observers see the border enforcement provisions of comprehensive immigration reform as a political compromise necessary to attract votes, especially from Republicans in the House of Representatives. That may be true. However, there is little, if any, reason to believe that the measures will in fact reduce undocumented immigration. And there is every reason to believe that the enhanced border enforcement will have negative impacts on Latina/os and other Americans, tearing apart American families, increasing racial profiling and discrimination, and resulting in more deaths along the U.S./Mexico border. Conmsequently, we should view the political compromise with those significant costs in mind.

Where does this analysis leave us? There are other parts of SB 744 that do make more policy sense, such as many of the changes to the legal immigration provisions (e.g., increasing the visas for high- and low-skilled workers, abolition of the diversity visa program, elimination of the long visa backlogs, etc.), and the path to legalization for eligible undocumented immigrants, including the DREAMers who were brought to this country as children by their parents.  The enforcement provisions do not help the bill achieve the policy goals of immigration reform.  Moreover, the decision to double down on border enforcement will result in horrible collateral damages.  It ultimately is a legitimate question whether the costs of the enforcement measures outweigh the benefits of the more positive policy aspects of the Senate bill.  we also should keep in mind that the Senate bill may be as good as it gets.


June 30, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Immigration Article of the Day: The Plea Bargain Crisis for Noncitizens in Misdemeanor Court by Jason A. Cade

The Plea Bargain Crisis for Noncitizens in Misdemeanor Court by Jason A. Cade University of Georgia Law School June 30, 2013 34 Cardozo Law Review 1751 (2013)

Abstract: This Article considers three factors contributing to a plea-bargain crisis for noncitizens charged with misdemeanors: 1) the expansion of deportation laws to include very minor offenses with little opportunity for discretionary relief from removal; 2) the integration of federal immigration enforcement programs with the criminal justice system; and 3) the institutional norms in non-federal lower criminal courts, where little attention is paid to evidence or individual equities and where bail and other process costs generally outweigh perceived incentives to fight charges. The Article contends that these factors increase the likelihood that a noncitizen’s low-level conviction will not reliably indicate guilt or will be the product of unchecked constitutional rights violations. Unwarranted convictions, many of which trigger deportation and other negative immigration consequences, undermine the integrity of both criminal justice and deportation systems. The Article also argues that, contrary to the Supreme Court’s assumption in Padilla v. Kentucky, lawful permanent resident defendants are often unable to effectively negotiate for immigration-safe dispositions in the low-level cases where the rift between the underlying criminal conduct and the deportation outcome is largest. The Article’s analysis suggests that reforms at both federal and state levels remain critical to address the disproportional immigration consequences of minor convictions and the plea-bargain crisis for noncitizens in misdemeanor court.


June 30, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Immigrant of the Day: Anthony Bennett (Canada)

Friday, June 28, 2013

Center for Gender & Refugee Studies is Hiring!

The Center for Gender & Refugee Studies (CGRS) is hiring! The Center is seeking candidates for our Refugee and Human Rights Fellowship position to work as a Staff Attorney with CGRS, based at UC Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco. The position is for a one-year, full-time appointment with the potential for renewal. The position requires admission to practice in at least one U.S. jurisdiction, a minimum of 3 years’ experience in asylum and immigration law in the U.S., and fluency (written and oral) in Spanish, among other things. The fellow will work in all CGRS program areas, including managing our Technical Assistance and Training program as well as our Impact Litigation, Policy Advocacy, and International Human Rights programs. More information and application instructions found in the attached. The deadline to apply is COB Monday, July 15, 2013.


June 28, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Dark Side of S. 744 Part 2

From the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights:

Senate Immigration Bill Dashes Hopes for Fair, Just Reform
'Border surge' approval further threatens border communities, migrant safety and well-being
(Oakland, CA) With the Senate’s passage of S. 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013, the Board of Directors and members of the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights voiced their disappointment and concern with the dramatic escalation of border enforcement negotiated to secure support from conservative Republican senators hostile to the legalization of undocumented immigrants.

Executive Director, Catherine Tactaquin, commented, “The Senate passed a historic immigration reform bill yesterday. We had hoped the bill would have been historic for upholding the human rights of immigrants, for providing fair and equitable access to visas, protecting their rights as workers, fueling resources to process the long backlog of pending family visa applicants, and ending flawed and punitive immigration enforcement policies at the border and in the interior. “ She continued, “Unfortunately, S. 744 was not that bill. This is not the kind of legislation and deal-making that we can support nor encourage.”

Susan Alva, a Los Angeles-based immigrants rights attorney, also criticized the immigration “compromise”:  “Legislative deal-making is a given. But in this bill, the legalization carrot has been beaten to a pulp by an enforcement stick that staggers the imagination.  By shamelessly presenting this as a victory, proponents of this bill are banking on the toll that years of historic levels of enforcement have already taken on immigrant communities.  This is not compromise; this is blackmail."

Board member Christian Ramirez, Human Rights Director at Alliance San Diego, spoke to the Corker-Hoeven “border surge” amendment added in the final days of negotiations: "Despite this unwarranted aggression against 15 million people who call the border home and the irresponsible language of war and occupation used in the Senate floor to refer to the safest region in the United States, southern border communities will continue to ensure that rights and dignity are restored for the betterment of the people of the United States.” He continued, “The threat of militarization by policy makers has no place in a democratic society. Social and economic needs cannot and must not be resolved through military might if we are to preserve our morals and values as a society.”

Board Chairperson Eduardo Canales of Corpus Christi, Texas, added that the bill “perpetuates and enhances failed policies of increased enforcement on the border and will continue to increase migrant deaths.” He also warned that the expansion of the “E-verify” employment verification system would “allow further discrimination and racial profiling of immigrants and other workers of color.”

Other board members also raised an alarm about the consequences of the dramatic escalation of the border security program. Hamid Khan, based in Southern California, stated that the bill served as a model for what he termed as the “Surveillance Industrial Complex.”  “Under the guise of public safety and security, he commented, “the bill is a political investment in the further strengthening and legitimization of the police state.” He identified the huge transfer of public funds to be invested in surveillance equipment, data collection and data mining, enhanced communications interoperability and information sharing between federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies. “Intermixing current and new technologies, enhancing operational capacities, adding thousands of new customs and border patrol agents are key steps in a full spectrum of information gathering, storing, sharing and disseminating as necessary tools for social control.” 

Monami Maulik, Executive Director of the New York-based Desis Rising Up and Moving-DRUM, raised similar concerns. “This bill is not what thousands of our members, as South Asian immigrants, have been organizing tirelessly for years alongside so many communities,” she said. “Congress will send an alarming message to all of us and the world, that human rights are no concern to the U.S.” She continued, “This bill is using immigration as an excuse to further a national security state—to fly drones above us, surveil us, and set the stage for a national ID system and database. We need real human rights-based reform. The world is watching.”

Gerald Lenoir, Executive Director of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration, described the bill as “a nasty piece of legislation that attempts to codify repression on the border and wasteful spending.” He also expressed concern about the limitations of the legalization program: “It falls far short of the promise of a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants. The onerous work and income provisions will disqualify millions of low income undocumented immigrants from accessing the path to a green card and citizenship.”

“S. 744 does not deliver even our minimum aspiration for immigration reform: bringing the undocumented community ‘out of the shadows’, commented Lillian Galedo, Executive Director of Filipino Advocates for Justice, based in Oakland, California. “The proposed legalization program will not legalize 11 million people.  The 10 to 20 year ‘path’ to citizenship will not benefit the mostly elderly Filipino caregivers in our base.’ She also stated that they “totally oppose the massive militarization of the border and border communities. The only beneficiaries of this boondoggle are the war and prison contractors whose successful lobbying resulted in a $46 billion set-aside for ‘border security’. This is a sad day for human rights.”

Bill Chandler, Executive Director of the Mississippi Immigrant Rights Alliance and a longtime labor organizer, expressed concern about the bill’s drive to increase and continue guest worker programs. These, he said are “another form of indentured servitude and a benefit for employers, not workers.”

Board member Janis Rosheuvel, Executive for Racial Justice with United Methodist Women in New York, declared, “As people of faith, we call on our elected officials to end the criminalization of communities of color exemplified by this bill. We call for justice-driven legislation that delves into the root causes of migration and does not rely on punitive policies as a matter of course. Our communities and nation deserve more.”

The National Network pledges, as the immigration reform debate focuses on the House and where hostile representatives have declared their opposition to any form of legalization, to continue the fight for fair and just immigration reform. “We will push back on the mean-spirited, xenophobic and punitive proposals that have already begun to emerge there,” said Tactaquin, adding, “The Obama Administration also needs to shoulder greater responsibility for the well-being and safety of immigrant communities, and break this downward spiral in the direction of immigration reform. We call on the Administration to start by suspending detentions and deportations and keeping families together as we continue on this difficult road to immigration reform.”


June 28, 2013 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Top Ten Countries with the Largest Number of International Migrants

Top Ten Countries with the Largest Number of International Migrants (2010)

Source: United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division, Trends in International Migrant Stock: The 2008 Revision, UN database, (New York: United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division, 2009). Available at

Courtesy of Migration Policy Institute








June 28, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Latina/o Law Professors Respond to SCOTUSBlog Commentary on "Hispanics and Affirmative Action in State Universities After Fisher"

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its ruling in Fisher v. University of Texas, the much-awaited affirmative action case.  David Bernstein (George Mason) participated in a SCOTUSBlog on-line symposium of responses to Fisher.  His piece, Commentary: Hispanics and affirmative action in state universities after Fisher, which to me came somewhat out of the blue given that these issues were not raised in the case before the Court, questioned Latina/o identity, whether Latina/os should be eligible for affirmative action programs, and opined that Latina/os were the primary beneficiaries of the program at the University of Texas. 


A group of Latina/o law professors, led by Professor Tanya Hernandez (Fordham), respond here to Prefessor Bernstein's commentary. (I am one of the signatories to the letter.).  The letter begins:

"We are a group of Latino/a Law Professors who wish to address some of the fallacies of the David Bernstein ScotusBlog Commentary of June 25, 2013, “Hispanics and affirmative action in state universities after Fisher.” While this complex issue cannot be fully addressed in a short letter, we believe that the variations in Latino/a identity do not undermine the justifications for affirmative action because of the commonality in how “Hispanic” has been negatively racialized. We may all look different, have different cultures, linguistic abilities, and histories, but U.S. society tends to lump together all ”Hispanics” and often negatively stereotypes us as a result."

The letter continues:

"Stereotypes and pervasive animus have had devastatingly negative impacts on our people leading to their frequent mistreatment in this country. Latinos/as, historically and in the present, have been treated as inferior and discriminated against by White, Anglo (or English-speaking) America. The discrimination has included school segregation, residential segregation, and employment discrimination throughout the Southwest and in many other parts of the country. From the military annexation of lands formerly belonging to Latino/a people, as in the case of Mexico and Puerto Rico, or government efforts to remove us , as in the forced expulsion campaign of Operation Wetback that expelled U.S. citizens and noncitizens alike, to the overtly blatant efforts to forcibly demonize us and our cultures, as in the case of the “Americanization” or English-only efforts of the Twentieth Century, history is replete with examples of institutionalized racism that merits remedial redress.

The negative stereotypes and rampant discrimination create barriers across our society and in particular in the educational context impediments that affirmative action seeks to address. With respect to the University of Texas in particular, it is important to note that Mexican Americans are dramatically underrepresented in terms of numbers, at least partly because racism towards Mexican Americans, and towards all Hispanics, continues to rear its ugly head."


Professor Bernstein has posted a short follow-up to his commentary on The Volokh Conspiracy.  Among other things, he says that "I think that some subgroups of the Hispanic population (among others) may very well qualify for affirmative action under the social justice rationale . . . . "


June 28, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

US Senate Passes Immigration Reform Bill

Professor Michael Vastine Honored with AILA Teaching Award


Congratulations to Michael Vastine at St. Thomas University in Miami, who was awarded the Elmer Fried Excellence in Teaching Award at the American Immigration Lawyers annual conference in San Francisco earlier this week. Michael's students nominated him for this award, to recognize his extraordinary efforts on clinical education.


June 28, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Guest Blog Post: Geoffrey Heeren on Windsor's Impact on Immigration Law

Over the next few days, we will feature a guest blog post written by various scholars on the impact of Windsor v. United States on immigration law. Yesterday, Geoff Hoffman of the University of Law Center shared his thoughts on the opinion.

Today, Geoffrey Heeren, Assistant Professor of Law at the Valparaiso University School of Law discusses his views as well.


"In 1975, the former INS responded to an immigration petition filed by a U.S. citizen on behalf of his same-sex partner by stating “[y]ou have failed to establish that a bona fide marital relationship can exist between two faggots.” Scott C. Titshaw, The Meaning of Marriage: Immigration Rules and Their Implications for Same-Sex Spouses in A World Without DOMA, 16 Wm. & Mary J. Women & L. 537, 589 (2010). When Richard Frank Adams and Anthony Corbett Sullivan brought a federal court case to challenge the decision, District Court Judge Irving Hill was more judicious with word choice, but basically agreed that he could not imagine a world in which a man could marry another man:

The time may come, far in the future, when contracts and arrangements between persons of the same sex who abide together will be recognized and enforced under state law. . . . But in my opinion, even such a substantial change in the prevailing mores would not reach the point where such relationships would be characterized as “marriages”. . . . And even when and if that day arrives, two persons of the same sex, like those before the Court today, will not be thought of as being “spouses” to each other within the meaning of the immigration laws.

Adams v. Howerton, 486 F. Supp. 1119, 1125 (C.D. Cal. 1980) aff'd, 673 F.2d 1036 (9th Cir. 1982).

I would like to be among the first to point out that Judge Irving Hill was wrong. Today same-sex marriages are recognized in twelve states and the District of Columbia. Moreover, in United States v. Windsor, 570 U. S. ____ (2013) the Court held that the federal government is bound to recognize them in allocating federal benefits. This should include the ability of a US citizen or LPR to petition for a same-sex spouse to have lawful status.

This is not to say that matters as they stand are entirely clear. In Windsor, the Court struck down Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defined marriage as being between a man and a woman. But as Justice Scalia pointed out in his dissent, the majority’s rationale was somewhat opaque. Good arguments could be made that the decision rests on equal protection, substantive due process, or federalism grounds. Justice Kennedy notably failed to answer the question that was most-contested in the lower courts: should heightened scrutiny apply to laws that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. As much of the majority opinion was devoted to a discussion of the rights of states as the rights of same-sex spouses. Arguably, by focusing on federalism concerns and the discriminatory animus of legislators who passed DOMA, Justice Kennedy’s opinion muddles equal protection jurisprudence, which is something that may hurt non-citizens in the long term.

Moreover, as Justice Scalia points out in his dissent, people often move from one state to another, and difficult choice of law questions will arise when persons move from a state allowing same-sex marriage to one banning it. This could turn out to a salient point in the immigration context, depending on how DHS decides to move forward. One option would be for DHS to use the same analysis for evaluating the legality of same-sex marriages that it has in a variety of other controversial areas, including marriages that violated anti-miscegenation laws, consanguinity regulations, or prohibitions on polygamy.

The basic rule that the Board of Immigration Appeals has always applied is that, absent some strongly expressed federal or state public policy, a marriage that was valid where celebrated will be valid for immigration purposes. See Titshaw, supra at 550. Thus, a same-sex marriage celebrated in New York will clearly be valid there, but there is a question whether DHS will continue to treat it as valid for immigration purposes after the couple moves to Alabama, which explicitly refuses to recognize same-sex marriages. Is Alabama’s prohibition on same-sex marriage a strongly expressed state public policy? In its briefs in Windsor and other cases, DOJ opined that this sort of policy violates the equal protection rights of same-sex partners. Given DOJ’s constitutional analysis, DHS should not give full faith and credit to these state “mini-DOMAs.”

There are many other issues that DHS will have to consider, such as when and how to allow same-sex fiancés to seek fiancé visas. Given the many barriers that same-sex fiancés face, DHS should be liberal in doing so. LPRs can’t apply for fiancé visas, but opposite sex fiancés at least can usually go back to their country of origin to get married and then petition for their spouse to come to the US. Most countries, however, don’t allow same sex marriage and it will be very difficult for same-sex partners of LPRs to get a tourist visa to come to the US, unless the Department of State waives its normal restrictions on persons entering the United States on tourist visas who have “immigrant intent.”

The situation may be even worse for gay and lesbian refugees and asylees. US law recognizes persecution based on sexual orientation as a basis for refugee status, and one aspect to this persecution may have included the inability of a refugee to marry her same-sex partner. Refugees can ordinarily petition for their spouses abroad to come to the United States, but gay and lesbian refugees may face serious difficulties in marrying a partner left behind in the country of persecution. DHS and DOS may be able to facilitate the entry of same-sex refugee partners to the United States through humanitarian parole, but Congressional action is a better solution.

Congress could allow persons to file immigration petitions if they can establish that they are in a committed, long-term partnership but are unable to get married because of restrictions on same sex marriage. This would allow LPRs or refugees to petition for their fiancées who they cannot marry because their country of origin prohibits same sex marriage. In fact, Senator Leahy proposed an amendment during the Senate Judiciary Committee markup of the Senate’s comprehensive immigration reform bill, S. 744, which would have done exactly this. Unfortunately, the amendment was not adopted.

Windsor will not solve all problems for the bi-national same-sex couples who have struggled to find a home. But it is an important victory that should offer some of the dignity that was denied to Richard Frank Adams and Anthony Corbett Sullivan."
Thanks Geoffrey!

June 27, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

AILA Conference in San Francisco June 26-29

The American Immigration Lawyers Association Annual Conference is now going on in San Francisco.  Have fun immigration attorneys!


June 27, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Immigrant of the Day: Stokeley Carmichael (Trinidad and Tobago)






Stokley Carmichael was born in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, on June 29, 1941 and died in 1998. One of the leading figures in the American civil rights movement of the 1960s, Carmichael rose to prominence as a member and later the chairman of Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), working with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other leaders to organize civil rights protests. Carmichael later lost faith in the tactic of non-violence and became a leader in the Black Panther Party.  

Carmichael moved to Harlem, New York City in 1952 at age eleven to rejoin his parents, who had immigrated when he was age two and left him with his grandmother and two aunts.  He graduated from Howard University.  Click here for more details about Stokeley Carmichael's life.


June 27, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thomas Ragland Honored with AILA's Lowenstein Award


On Thursday, June 27, 2013, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) will bestow its highest annual honor, the Edith Lowenstein Memorial Award for excellence in advancing the practice of immigration law, to our very own Thomas Ragland. AILA awards the Lowenstein award to the lawyer who has most positively impacted impacted immigration law over the past year. Thomas is being recognized not only for his recent important victories in Congress and in federal courts, which have provided significant benefits for immigrants nationwide, but also for his leadership of AILA’s National Federal Court Litigation Committee, which helps lawyers around the country improve their litigation skills and share knowledge and efforts in advancing immigrant rights in the courts.

Click here for more details.


June 27, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Death on the Border Chapter 1001: In Arizona, border crossings down, but migrant deaths on rise


If you have been a regular reader of the ImmigrationProf blog, this really is old news.  Here is another report -- this one by the Binational Migration Institute at the University of Arizona -- about deaths along the U.S./Mexico border.  As Cindy Carcoma in the Los Angeles Times summarizes:

 "The numbers of people crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally into this country are at historical lows, but a report released Wednesday shows that the death rates among these migrants are at an all-time high in the southern Arizona desert.

The deaths have likely increased because those who still choose to cross the border illegally are traveling for longer periods of time — mostly on foot — through more remote areas to avoid detection by border enforcement officials, suggest data collected by the Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner."


June 27, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

American Immigration Lawyers Association on DOMA and Immigration, DHS Secretary Napolitano Promises Action


In this video, the President of the American Immigration Lawyers Association explains her understanding of the Supreme Court's historic decision yesterday striking down the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).  

As has been previously blogged over the last 24 hours, there are uncertainties about just how the Court's invalidation of DOMA will affect U.S. immigration law.  A clear sign of the possibility of greatly increased recognition of same sex marriages under the immigration laws can be seen in this statement by U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano just hours after the ruling:  

“I applaud today’s Supreme Court decision in United States v. Windsor holding that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional. This discriminatory law denied thousands of legally married same-sex couples many important federal benefits, including immigration benefits. I am pleased the Court agreed with the Administration’s position that DOMA’s restrictions violate the Constitution. Working with our federal partners, including the Department of Justice, we will implement today's decision so that all married couples will be treated equally and fairly in the administration of our immigration laws."   Download Napolitano


Patricia Murphy on the Daily Beast opines that, by taking the issue of the recognition of same sex marriage off th etable in discussions of immigration reform (assuming that the U.S. government begins to recognize same sex marriages under the immigration laws), the Supreme Court has improved the chances that Congress will pass a reform bill. 

There is lots going on on this front.  Stay tuned!


June 27, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Path Cleared for Same-Sex, Binational Couples

From Immigration Equality Action Fund:


It’s the answer I’ve been waiting a decade to share. This morning, the Supreme Court ruled (striking down DOMA). Our families, at long last, can qualify for a green card.

This is the moment we’ve been waiting for, and it is finally here.

We know you have many questions: How do we apply for a green card? What documents do we need to have? How long does it take?

Please join me, Immigration Equality’s Legal Director Victoria Neilson, and Binational Couples Attorney, Tom Plummer, for a special, 90-minute conference call tomorrow at Noon ET. We will summarize the Court’s ruling, let you know what it means for your family, and take questions.

To join the call, dial
(800) 868-1837
(404) 920-6440 if you are outside the United States
and use access code 397548#

We’ve ordered extra phone lines to ensure you can all join, and we’ve extended the call to make sure we take as many of your questions as possible.

Our legal team has posted answers to your preliminary questions on our website. You can read those online here. Then, join us tomorrow for more information about what to do next.

This moment is historic. Join us tomorrow as we celebrate this incredible victory and plan for our families’ futures.

Yours in the fight,

Rachel B. Tiven


June 26, 2013 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

DOMA Ruling a Victory for Bi-National Couples but Legal Questions Remain

Here is another look by Leslie Berestein Rojas of Southern California Public Radio at the impact of the Supreme Court's DOMA ruling on binational same sex couples.

Minutes after the Court's ruling, one immigration court stayed the removal of a married gay immigrant. 


June 26, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

A Pitch for STEM Visas

From Rich Templeton:

Big gains ahead if we get immigration engine back on track
Past performance is no guarantee of future returns, but with respect to America’s immigration policies, past is in fact prologue.
Two hundred years of openness, of encouraging the best and brightest to come to our shores to create jobs, ideas, companies and wealth have yielded tremendous returns.
Immigration, as much as any other factor, explains our past success and present greatness. No other factor is as likely to predict America’s future gains as our ability to remain open to creative, energetic newcomers.
In today’s world, where an idea can circle the globe in the blink of an eye, the rest of the world is catching up. Advances in science, technology, engineering and math — STEM — are occurring in growing economies worldwide. In the past, those innovations were dominated by American companies. This is changing, and we must update U.S. policies to keep up with the global technology economy.
According to the Partnership for a New American Economy, in five short years, American companies will have 230,000 jobs in STEM fields that they cannot fill in this country. We face a skills gap — for every unemployed person in Texas, there are 2.5 STEM job openings.
At the same time, we have incredibly talented, foreign-born students graduating from U.S. universities with advanced degrees in technical fields each year who want to stay here after graduation. Our broken immigration system is driving many of them home or to other countries.
Instead of doing everything we can to keep these highly educated students in America after graduation, our outdated immigration laws have made it increasingly difficult for them to stay, work and contribute. At a time when our nation needs these students to help keep us the world leader in science and technology, we are sending them home to compete against us.
America’s resiliency is based on determination, common sense and innovation. Just when a problem appears too difficult to solve, we find a way to turn it to our advantage. The time has come to unleash that spirit on our broken immigration system.
The U.S. Senate has begun that process. Led by a bipartisan group of senators, a bill is being debated that would modernize our immigration system. The legislation goes a long way toward fixing the problems in the current structure.
It provides common-sense reforms that would streamline access to green cards for U.S.-educated foreign nationals with advanced STEM degrees and their immediate families, and streamline the process to ensure the decadelong backlogs become a thing of the past.
It creates programs to grow domestic STEM talent, establishes an entrepreneurial visa and a startup visa.
The bill also significantly increases funding for border security and addresses the thorny issues associated with those who arrived here illegally or overstayed their visas.
Adapting and innovating is what we do in America. We analyze problems and fix them. It’s time to fix our broken immigration system so our country can flourish. We can’t wait any longer for these solutions. It’s time to act.
Rich Templeton is CEO of Dallas-based Texas Instruments. He can be contacted at


June 26, 2013 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

In Mexico, U.S. border 'surge' proposal stirs outcry

Richard Fausset of the Los Angeles Times reports that the "border surge" recently added by amendment to the Senate immigration reform proposal is ruffling some feathers in Mexico, our southern neighbor and ally in the "war on drugs.".


June 26, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Comments on the Impact of Windsor v. United States on Immigration Law?

As you may have heard by now, the Supreme Court held in Windsor v. United States that DOMA is unconstitutional. According to Justice Kennedy, who wrote the majority opinion joined by Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan that, "[DOMA] is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and to injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity."

What are your thoughts on the impact of Windsor v. United states on immigrants?

Here's one view from Geoffrey Hoffman of the University of Houston Law Center.


"My take on immigration consequences of today's decision-reply to me with any more thoughts--thanks The Supreme Court's 5-4 decision in U.S. v. Windsor today striking down DOMA on Fifth Amendment equal protection grounds will have profound effects on immigrants and immigrant rights. Under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and principles of comity, the immigration authorities are required to respect and apply the law where the marriage took place. The law of the place of marriage normally applies to determine the validity of the marriage. In the immigration context that might mean applying the law in Massachusetts if, for example, the U.S. citizen petitioner and foreign national beneficiary were married there, or in some other state where same-sex marriage has been legalized. Petitioners and beneficiaries who are in legitimate same-sex marriages sanctioned by the state  --  or country  --  in which the marriage arose will now under the Supreme Court's decision today be entitled to be recognized by the immigration authorities. There are three separate areas within the context of immigration where this will have the greatest impact: (1) in family-based cases involving marriage adjustment of status or consular processing;  (2) in employment-based cases where the principal applicant has a sponsoring business but also seek to bring his/her same-sex spouse as a dependent beneficiary; and (3) in waiver cases and other cases involving relief from deportation, such as for example cancellation of removal, where there must be an appropriate "qualifying relative" who is U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse. The immigration courts and the administering agency, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, now will be obliged to recognize those lawful same-sex marriages. As a result, more people will be potentially eligible to apply for waivers and/or relief from removal."

Do you agree? If you're interested in having your views posted, please contact me at


June 26, 2013 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)