Wednesday, October 28, 2015

How to forge a place in the ‘Wealthy West’ – challenges for second-generation immigrants

Decades of immigration has created a diverse demographic of people from a range of ethnic, racial and religious backgrounds on both sides of the Atlantic. But what happens when the second, and even third, generation of immigrants reach adulthood and begin to enter the labour market? A recent study, published in the Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, considers the challenges and opportunities created by ethnic integration in the ‘Wealthy West’.

The authors introduce the study by addressing the reasoning behind their research – that a growing population of less-advantaged minority backgrounds will increasingly be looking to enter the job market – and that they may be at a disadvantage to those who have lived within Western social constructs and hierarchies for generations. The authors write “leadership posts in the political world and stable and well-numerated jobs are dominated by the members of long-established majorities…taking more or less for granted the advantages they hold over immigrant-origin newcomers”.

To give evidence to this study, the authors consider the backgrounds of a number of immigrants who have integrated into North American and Western European societies. Focusing particularly on low-status families in four critical European countries – France, Germany, Great Britain and the Netherlands, and across the Atlantic in the US, they analyse their progress into an array of institutions – particularly focusing on education and the job market.

By surveying educational statistics of second generations in five countries, the study deduces that “on average, its members finish their educational careers with substantial deficits compared to their counterparts in the native majority population”. This conclusion inevitably raises the question of how these people of the second generation will fare in the world of work. The authors deduce that each case of ethnic minorities needs to be considered differently – part of the study uncovers the effect of intermarriage in the US, for example, which affects the way second generations of immigrant parents fare against the long-established majorities.

It is a pivotal study of its kind – at once acknowledging the challenges faced by immigration, while shedding light on the opportunities that interracial communities can provide.


October 28, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

A Nix on Immigration Reform is Part of Paul Ryan Deal to Become Speaker of the House


Immigration reform is playing a major role in the selection of the next Speaker of the U.S. House of RepresentativesDavid Weigel in the Washington Post reports on the drama as hard core Republicans against a path to legalization seek to obtain assurances that Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), who appears to be on the way to being the new Speaker, will not allow for the passage of immigration reform -- at least while President Obama is in office.

Yesterday, the National Review reported that Paul Ryan has signed off on a letter promising members of the House Freedom Caucus (HFC) that he will not bring up comprehensive immigration reform “so long as Barack Obama is president” and, as speaker, Ryan will not allow any immigration bill to reach the floor for a vote unless a “majority” of GOP members support it.


October 28, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigration Article of the Day: Competing for Refugees: A Debt-Based Solution to a Humanitarian Crisis by Joseph Blocher and G. Mitu Gulati



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Competing for Refugees: A Debt-Based Solution to a Humanitarian Crisis by Joseph Blocher (Duke University - School of Law) and  G. Mitu Gulati (Duke University School of Law), October 15, 2015

Abstract: The global refugee crisis is perhaps worse today than it has been since the development of international refugee law in the wake of World War II, and existing rules and structures are increasingly unable to address it. People fleeing persecution tend to seek refuge in the (typically poor) countries nearest to them, or, if they are able, in the (typically rich) countries that present them with the best future prospects. But these countries often claim that the resulting legal burdens are unbearable or unfair, and so they take steps — sometimes drastic ones — to keep refugees from landing on their shores and thereby gaining legal rights. Proposals have been made over the years for the equitable sharing of refugees among potential refugee-hosting nations, but these have not come to fruition.

We ask whether it is possible to improve the system by giving refugees a realizable legal asset, giving host nations increased incentive to accept them, and giving countries of origin the bill for the costs of their persecution. One way to achieve this would be to recognize that persecuted refugee groups have a financial claim against their countries of origin, and that this claim can be traded to host nations in exchange for acceptance. Although modifications to the international apparatus would be necessary, the basis for this proposal already exists in international law. While not displacing existing legal rules and obligations, this mechanism would give bad countries another reason not to create refugees, and good countries more incentive to welcome them.


October 28, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Family-based immigration: Reunite the Family

Guest Blogger: Rachana Panchal, second-year law student, University of San Francisco:

Immigration visa categories allow lawful permanent residents and United States citizens to petition for family members to immigrate to the United States. Even though there are many categories available, there still needs to be change in the categories. The family based categories only allow a United States citizen to petition for parents, spouse, married son or daughter, unmarried child under age 21, unmarried son or daughter 21 and older, or siblings. The lawful permanent resident can only petition for spouse, unmarried child under age 21, or unmarried son or daughter 21 and older. But what about the other family members who are not immediate family members? The meaning of family to different people varies and can include friends, grandparents, and distant relatives. Presidential candidates all have been arguing for comprehensive immigration reform which I think should include changing the family categories to allowing US citizens or lawful permanent residents to petition for people regardless of whether they immediate family or not.

Another change that the comprehensive immigration reform should include is allowing children who are derivative beneficiaries of the petitioner to come with the petitioner when the priority date reaches the visa bulletin regardless of the child aging out when the priority date comes up in the visa bulletin. The Child Protection Act only protects children who were under age 21 when the priority date reached the visa bulletin but due to administrative delay, the child turned 21 before the visa was granted. The Child Protection Act should protect children who are over age 21 but are very close to reaching the priority date. Children who turn 21 around the same time as the priority date is reached should be allowed to keep the priority date as the petitioner and go through the process with petitioner.

Those who are against family immigration believe that family immigration is not economically beneficial to the country; rather they believe that this “chain migration” leads to family helping family. The argue that, in contrast, employment immigration is economically beneficial because the immigrant is contributing to the economy. But isn’t there value to the reunification of family? Family based immigration allows families to be reunited, live their life together in the same country, work in the same country, and add value to the society. In the interest of family reunification and societal benefit, the petitioner should be allowed to petition for whomever they wish. Perhaps there should be a limit to how many people the petitioner can petition for rather than limiting categories to immediate family members. Of course, the person for whom the petition has been filed would be subject to the grounds of inadmissibility and immigration laws.

NumbersUSA, which advocates for stricter immigration laws, releases data on the number of family based immigrants coming to the United States. Over 5 years, the recent average of legal immigration was over 1 million people. NumbersUSA contends that one petitioner can actually bring 115 people. It is so ridiculous to even average out how many family members one petitioner can bring to the United States through “chain migration.” On its face, it is unreasonable to say that one person can bring 115 people, but consider other factors such as the length of time it takes to petition for a relative and the challenge of backlogs on the visa bulletin. For example, a United States citizen who petitions for a brother or sister in India is looking at a 13 year backlog that may get worse depending on unpredictable demands. Also, many relatives abroad are not interesting in immigrating because they are happy in the native country.

Some opponents of family based visa categories especially target the sibling and married sons and daughters categories. I doubt that family immigration category will change. The family immigration system essentially has remained same since 1965. The family immigration categories at the least should remain the same because they allow immediate family members to immigrate. However, comprehensive immigration reform should include expansion of the categories and clearing the current backlogs.


October 27, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Your Playlist: Toby Keith

Living in Oklahoma, I get a lot of exposure to country superstar Toby Keith. Every time I drive into OKC, I pass a large water tower dedicated to the singer by his hometown of Moore. (Though, according to People magazine, he actually lives in my neck of the woods these days.)

If you're not familiar with his music, you may have seen a Toby Keith's I Love This Bar & Grill in Las Vegas or somewhere else around the nation. Perhaps you've enjoyed their signature meatloaf.

His music is also perfect for the generating classroom conversation. Take the opening stanza to "American Ride":

Winters getting colder, Summer gettin warmer 
Tidal wave comin cross the Mexican border

I mean, wow. That's bold. For you Torts profs out there, a later stanza in the same song includes:

Plasma gettin bigger, Jesus gettin smaller. 
Spill a cup of coffee, make a million dollars.

Now, Toby Keith does not shy away from controversial lyrics. His post-9/11 anthem "Courtesy of The Red, While, and Blue (The Angry American)" is an unabashedly pro-war with the memorable lyrics:

`Cause we`ll put a boot in your ass
It`s the American way

But it's Toby Keith's 2011 song "Made in America" that I think is really of interest to immprofs. It's an ode to a man, born and raised in the United States, who only buys American-made goods that he can fix himself.

The idea of being "made" in America is interesting, particularly in light of the dominant DREAMer narrative of children who've been raised in the United States and know nowhere else as home. Are they not "made" in America? And why should the randomness of birth geography as opposed to years of nurturing make a difference? Put differently, what about the difference between being randomly "made" American and choosing to be American?

All-in-all, a great musical accompaniment to your discussion of citizenship, naturalization, or issues surrounding undocumented migrants.



October 27, 2015 in Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Supreme Court Oral Argument in Torres v. Lynch

Supeme court

On November 3, the Supreme Court will hear oral argument in Torres v. Lynch.  The question presented by the case is whether a state offense constitutes an “aggravated felony” under 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(43), on the ground that the state offense is “described in” a specified federal statute, when the federal statute includes an interstate commerce element that the state offense lacks.  This is an important practical issue under the U.S. immigration laws.  An “aggravated felony” renders a noncitizen, including a lawful permanent resident, subject to mandatory removal and detention and makes him or her ineligible for almost any relief from removal.  The case involves Jorge Luna Torres, a lawful permanent resident from the Dominican Republic who came to the United States in 1983; the sole blemish on his record is a 1999 conviction under a New York arson statute, for which he was sentenced to one day in jail and five years probation.

In an opinion by Judge Sack, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit deferred to the Board of Immigration Appeals interpretation of the statute in ordering the removal of Torres and denied the petition to review the removal order. 

An amicus brief filed by the National Immigrant Justice Center and the American Immigration Lawyers Association outlines the general immigration and criminal law questions raised by the case, many of which (such as deference to the interpretation of the Immigration and Nationality Act by the Board of Immigration Appeals) arise commonly in what are known as "crimmigration" case.  The UCLA Supreme Court Clinic is on the brief for Petitioner Jorge Luna Torres. 

SCOTUSBLog should be posting a preview of the oral argument soon. 

A bit of background is necessary to put the case into its proper context. Torres v. Lynch is one of many arising from the Obama administration’s concerted efforts to focus removal efforts on “criminal aliens,” who President Obama has referred to with the racially-charged phrase “gang bangers.”  As none other than Donald Trump can attest, the targeting of criminals for removal often is popular with the general public.   Somewhat surprisingly, the Roberts Court has rejected a number of the Executive Branch’s aggressive efforts to remove from the country long term lawful permanent residents based on criminal convictions. 

The Obama administration has strived to demonstrate a firm commitment to vigorously enforce the immigration laws, setting deportation records with removals of about 400,000 persons a year.  Well-publicized increases in the number of immigrant removals have served as the centerpiece of nothing less than a sustained campaign to convince Congress to enact comprehensive immigration reform, which the President has repeatedly proclaimed to support.  The administration’s deep commitment to enforcement is evident in the much-criticized mass detention and removal of thousands of women and children fleeing widespread criminal violence in Central America in 2014.  See Flores v. Lynch, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 112911 (C.D. Cal.  Aug. 21, 2015) (denying a motion to reconsider a ruling that the U.S. government’s detention and other actions in response to the 2014 increase in the migration of Central American minors, violated a consent decree).

Not surprisingly, focusing deportation efforts on noncitizens who have encountered a criminal justice system well-known for consistently generating stark racial disparities, in turn has had racially disparate impacts on the removals of noncitizens from the United States.   These systems operating in tandem have contributed to the fact that today more than 95 percent of the noncitizens removed annually from the United States are from Mexico and Central America.  That stark and jarring statistic represents a much higher percentage than the Latina/o composition of the nation’s overall immigrant − both legal and unauthorized − population.   

A number of cases illustrate the racially disparate impacts of allowing criminal law enforcement to feed into immigration enforcement as well as the Executive Branch’s tough removal positions, many of which have been rejected by the Roberts Court.  In Moncrieffe v. Holder (2013), a Black immigrant from Jamaica became caught up in what by all appearances was a local drug interdiction operation.  A traffic stop on an interstate highway by police in a small Georgia town, questioning, arrest, and criminal conviction all appear to have been influenced by the fact that the driver and passenger of a vehicle in question were Black males.  Adrian Moncrieffe ultimately was convicted in Georgia state court for possession of a small amount of marijuana, which has been decriminalized in a number of states, and subsequently was ordered removed from the United States.  Finding that Moncrieffe’s removal was not authorized by the federal immigration statute, the Supreme Court set aside the removal order.

Two relatively recent decisions in which the Supreme Court rejected removal orders involving efforts to deport lawful permanent residents from Mexico provide a concrete indication of the disparate impacts of the state and local “war on drugs” on Latina/o immigrants.  In Lopez v. Gonzales (2006), the Supreme Court rejected the Justice Department’s argument that a state drug conviction of a lawful permanent resident from Mexico for aiding and abetting another person’s possession of cocaine was an “aggravated felony” under the immigration laws, justifying removal.  Similarly, in Carachuri-Rosendo v. Holder (2010), the Court set aside a removal order of a lawful permanent resident from Mexico who had two drug possession convictions, one for simple possession of a small amount of marijuana and one for unlawfully possessing a single tablet of a prescription drug.  Both cases involved efforts to remove long term lawful residents of the United States from Mexico who were what can be most reasonably characterized as small time drug offenders caught up in local enforcement of the “war on drugs.” 

In a similar vein, the Supreme Court in 2015 in Mellouli v. Lynch, a case involving a lawful permanent resident from Tunisia, rejected as the basis for removal a drug paraphernalia conviction based on possession of a sock used to conceal a prescription drug.

Click here for analysis of the Supreme Court's immigration decisions from 2009-13.  Immigrants have done relatively well with the Roberts' Court, with the Obama administration's aggressive litigation positions frequently rejected.

UPDATE (Oct. 29 7 a.m. PST):  Here is the SCOTUSBlog argument preview by Steve Vladeck. He concludes that "[a]s the circuit split underscores, there are strong arguments on both sides."  I could be wrong but I bet that Jorge Torres wins in the end and, once again, Roberts Court rejects an aggressive removal position taken by the Obama administration, which in certain respects is no friend of immigrants.


October 27, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Educational Experiences of Refugee Children in Countries of First Asylum

In The Educational Experiences of Refugee Children in Countries of First Asylum, researcher Sarah Dryden-Peterson draws upon her field-based case studies involving refugee children in Bangladesh, Burundi, Egypt, Kenya, Malaysia, and Uganda to examine how pre-resettlement educational experiences can affect how children encounter school and the relationships they form with their teachers and peers.

As Dryden-Peterson notes, refugee students often have gaps in their skills and knowledge, which U.S. teachers and school staff may misinterpret as lack of aptitude. Recognizing refugees’ past experiences may help teachers identify strategies to overcome these gaps and better engage refugee children in school.  These strategies include identifying educational needs based on prior exposure
to academic content, teaching children how to ask questions in the classroom, and helping them develop a positive ethnic and cultural identity to buffer the effects of discrimination.

The report is the third in a series, supported through a research grant from the Foundation for Child Development, on young children in refugee families.  Earlier reports examined the effects of school disruptions and trauma on Syrian children in refugee camps in Turkey, as well as experiences of Somali Bantu refugee children after their enrollment in a Chicago elementary school. At 2:30 p.m. ET today, MPI will host a webinar with the authors of all three reports.


October 27, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s Contempt Hearings



 Lower photo courtesy of Phoenix New Times

Jude Joffe-Block on KJZZ provides the latest on a contempt hearing for violation of orders and other alleged misconduct in connect with Melendres v. Arpaio, a racial profiling case, in a federal courtroom in Arizona.  The contempt hearings are against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. There have been 14 days of testimony. Arpaio himself testified

A a handful of courtroom regulars make a point to come and listen to the testimony. One is Salvador Reza, an activist who for years has advocated for day laborers, and against Arpaio and his immigration enforcement tactics. “To me, it is funny to see how karma comes around,” Reza said. “And everything [Arpaio] has done to so many people, and now he is on the opposite side.”

U.S. District Court Judge Murray Snow directly questioned both Arpaio and his chief deputy, Jerry Sheridan.

There have been two rounds of contempt hearings, the first was in April, and the current one began in late September. The plaintiffs have called several Maricopa County Sheriff's Office personnel to testify. Sometimes witnesses have remained on the stand for days.

After hearing concludes, Snow will decide what kind of remedies he will order. Arpaio and Sheridan have already admitted they are in contempt of court for violating Snow’s orders in the racial profiling case. Snow could order them to pay fines or require more reforms at the sheriff’s office, including greater powers for the independent monitor appointed by the court. He will also determine whether three other sheriff’s commanders are in contempt.


Sheriff Arpaio has long been controversial.  He unquestionably has some interesting law enforcement practices, such as the Mugshot of the Day (which allows website visitors to vote on their favorite mugshot).


October 27, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Mexican Immigrant Denied Re-Entry Into U.S. Over Tattoos


Photo Courtesy of Think Progress and Shutterstock

Esther Yu-Hsi Lee on Think Progress reports on the reliance on tattoos for denial of immigrant visas.  A noncitizen recently was denied a visa into the United States to reunite with his U.S.-citizen wife and children based on tattoos that U.S. consulate officials in Mexico say are gang-related, according to the NY Daily News.

Ruben Zamora crossed the southern United States border from Mexico at the age of 8 and illegally lived in the country until he was 29. He married U.S.-citizen Vanessa Ruiz in 2009 and the pair have two U.S.-born children under the age of ten. In 2014, attorneys told Zamora to return to Mexico so that he could begin his immigrant visa process to become a legal permanent resident in the United States after marrying his citizen wife. The U.S. consulate in Mexico has barred his re-entry because they claim that he has gang tattoos.

The U.S. State Department said that the consulate’s decision was based on “more than mere suspicion, noting that “it is a probability, supported by the facts, that the alien is a member of an organized criminal entity.” The email added that new evidence proving Zamora’s innocence would help change the consulate’s ruling.

Ruiz said that her husband got his tattoos when he was a teenager and that the symbols weren’t gang-related at the time. She also stated that her husband left his group after they became involved in gang activity.

U.S. State Department officials say that they don’t deny visas based on tattoos. But consular officers sometimes consider certain tattoos as “a display of symbols of the organization or maybe as a form of acknowledgment by the individual of his membership in the organized crime group,” Asian Journal reported.


October 27, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Do E-verify mandates improve labor market outcomes of low-skilled native and legal immigrant workers?

This study examines examine the impact of the 2007 Legal Arizona Workers Act (LAWA) on employment outcomes of low-skilled legal workers. The Act requires employers in the state to use the federal E-Verify database to determine whether a prospective employee is authorized to work.  This law was upheld by the Supreme Court in Chamber of Commerce v. Whiting  (2011).  

The results of the study suggest that contrary to its intent, LAWA does not appear to have improved labor market outcomes of legal low-skilled workers who compete with unauthorized immigrants, the target of the legislation. In fact, the study finds some evidence of diminished employment and increased unemployment among legal low-skilled workers in Arizona. These findings are concentrated on the largest demographic group of workers—non-Hispanic white men. While they are less likely to find employment, those who do have on average higher earnings as a result of LAWA. The pattern of results points to both labor supply and labor demand contractions due to LAWA, with labor supply dominating in terms of magnitude.

The authors of the study are Sarah Bohn (Public Policy Institute of California), Magnus Lofstrom (Public Policy Institute of California; Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)), and Steven Raphael (University of California, Berkeley - The Richard & Rhoda Goldman School of Public Policy).  It is downloadable here and here and was published in the Southern Economic Journal.


October 27, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigration Article of the Day: Challenging the 'Criminal Alien' Paradigm by Angélica Cházaro


Challenging the 'Criminal Alien' Paradigm by Angélica Cházaro, University of Washington School of Law September 24, 2015 UCLA Law Review, Forthcoming

Abstract: Deportation of so-called "criminal aliens" has become the driving force in U.S. immigration enforcement. The Immigration Accountability Executive Actions of late 2014 provide the most recent example of this trend. Even for immigrants’ rights advocates, conventional wisdom holds that if deportations must occur, "criminal aliens" should be the first to go. A voluminous crimmigration scholarship notes the ever-growing entwinement of criminal and immigration enforcement, but does not challenge this fundamental premise.

This Article calls for a rejection of the formulation of the "criminal alien" — the figure used to increasingly justify the preservation and expansion of a harmful immigration regime. It thus defends a normative claim that is starkly at odds with settled assumptions in advocacy and the literature: Deportations should not be distributed along the lines of migrant criminality. As a consequence, this Article argues, scholarship and advocacy should embrace "criminal aliens" as the priority group to defend against immigration enforcement efforts.

This move is long overdue. Across the political spectrum, calls are being made to trim back the excesses of the criminal justice system, with both policing and incarceration practices suffering from crises of legitimacy. Yet the immigration system continues to layer the shortcomings and dysfunctions of the criminal justice system onto immigration enforcement efforts. The latest immigration reform effort, the Immigration Accountability Executive Actions, refine what it means to be a "criminal alien," thereby expanding partnerships with the criminal justice system and creating stronger nets of social control over broad swaths of the noncitizen population. While offering the possibility of deportation relief to part of the undocumented population, the Executive Actions ultimately do not curb deportations. Rather, the programs refocus enforcement efforts on an ideologically acceptable target: the "criminal alien." To avoid this outcome, and to begin to dismantle immigrant vulnerability, the "criminal alien" paradigm must be challenged.


October 27, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 26, 2015


Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services has released this FAQ, which includes basic information, such as the following:

What happens to children when they cross the border into the United States? Are they always taken into custody by U.S. authorities?

If children are encountered crossing into the United States without permission by Custom and Border Protection (CBP) within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), they are always taken into custody. The overwhelming majority, 93% in Fiscal Year 2014, are apprehended directly by U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) between official Ports of Entry. Other children are encountered at the Ports of Entry, which are monitored by CBP’s Office of Field Operations (OFO) officers. Once children are apprehended, they are taken to short-term holding cells at either USBP stations or OFO stations where they are processed. This includes obtaining their demographic information and interviewing them about how and why they came to the United States. If they are unaccompanied and from non-contiguous countries, children are then transferred to the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) for temporary placement pending family reunification.

According to the


Flores Settlement agreement and the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA), unaccompanied children must be moved out of CBP short-term holding locations and transferred to ORR custody within 72 hours of their apprehension.1 During the summer of 2014, when an unprecedented number of children were fleeing from Central America and being apprehended at the U.S. border, CBP was unable to comply with this timeframe. Today, as the numbers of children being apprehended at the U.S. border are much lower, CBP is generally complying with this timeframe. Likewise, ORR now has the bed space to accept children more quickly from CBP custody.

For a detailed overview of the treatment of unaccompanied children, please read the LIRS report



At the Crossroads for Unaccompanied Migrant Children.

October 26, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Rubio: Trump’s immigration plan ‘makes no sense’


It took a (long) while but . . . .  The Hill reports that Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida), vying for the Republican presidential nomination, now says that Donald Trump's immigration program, including mass deportations of Mexican immigrants, "makes no sense."  One possible reason for Senator Rubio's new-found criticism of Trump on immigration:  the latest polls show Trump is leading Rubio in Rubio's home state of Florida.


October 26, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigration Article of the Day: In Pursuit of Calmer Waters: Managing the Impact of Trauma Exposure on Immigration Adjudicators by Kate Aschenbrenner


In Pursuit of Calmer Waters: Managing the Impact of Trauma Exposure on Immigration Adjudicators by Kate Aschenbrenner, Barry University School of Law May 1, 2015 Kansas Journal of Law & Pubic Policy, Vol. 24, p. 401, 2015

Abstract: A significant percentage of noncitizens in the United States are likely to experience trauma in some form. Like a pebble skipped across a pond, or a boulder dropped into a river, this trauma not only has an effect at the point of direct impact on those noncitizens but also creates a ripple effect that spreads out from that point to touch others that it encounters in its path. While our understanding of the ripple impact of trauma could benefit greatly from additional study, existing information allows us to conclude that it affects adjudicators in the immigration process, the process itself, and the noncitizens, attorneys, and others participating in it. Response to this trauma exposure is a naturally occurring phenomenon, and is not an entirely negative occurrence. It allows those exposed indirectly to empathize with primary victims and, if managed successfully, may be a source of strength and growth for an individual. However, it can also have profoundly negative consequences for individuals and systems. For immigration adjudicators, it may manifest as oversensitivity or insensitivity, irritability or anger, hyper-arousal, lack of patience, and difficulty concentrating. Such symptoms may inappropriately affect the outcome of immigration proceedings and certainly affect the experience of noncitizens and attorneys appearing before these adjudicators.

This article considers the logical next question: What can and should be done about the impact that trauma exposure has on the immigration process? As the title of this article alludes, the goal is to move towards calmer waters, to reduce the intensity and the reach of the impact of trauma on those who experience it both directly and indirectly. Stated another way, it is neither possible nor desirable to completely eliminate trauma exposure response in the immigration process. Instead, the objectives are twofold. First, we must persuade immigration adjudicators and their agencies that trauma exposure response is real and something that needs to be addressed. Second, the legal profession should explore reforms that would better manage trauma exposure response so as to have, at a minimum, a less negative impact on all participants in the immigration process.


October 26, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sadie Weller, UC Davis Law Student: “Grave concerns” regarding treatment of U.S.-born children of immigrant parents not enough for birth certificates, says federal Texas judge


On October 16, a federal judge in Texas ruled that the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) may continue to deny issuance of birth certificates to U.S-born children of undocumented immigrant parents in a preliminary order in the case of Serna v. Texas Department of State Health Services. The order came in response to Plaintiff’s Emergency Application for Temporary Injunction.

Under Texas law, a parent seeking a birth certificate for their child must provide either one “primary identification document,” two forms of “secondary identification,” or one form of secondary and two forms of “acceptable supporting” identification (Tex. Admin Code tit. 25, §181). Parents without legal immigration status “almost universally” lack such identification. Without birth certificates, children face barriers in enrolling in schools and day cares and receiving social welfare benefits, and even in getting baptized. The U.S. District Judge who issued the order, Judge Robert Pitman, conceded that this would curb the constitutional right to travel and of free exercise of religion (by way of baptism) of these Texas-born children.

Plaintiffs sought a preliminary injunction requiring that the State determine “at least two forms of identification reasonably and actually accessible to undocumented immigrant parents.” They argued that the diminished exercise of the First Amendment right to free exercise of religion, as well as the interference with the fundamental rights of citizenship and education, constitutes an irreparable injury by the government. The court found the State’s response to this assertion inadequate and concluded that plaintiffs sufficiently proved a “substantial threat of irreparable injury,” meeting the first of the four requirements for a preliminary injunction.

Applying strict scrutiny, the court found that the plaintiffs failed to show that Texas lacked a “compelling interest” in protecting the issuance of birth certificates. The court also found that the plaintiffs sufficiently showed that application of the Texas law mandating certain forms of identification resulted in deprivation of a fundamental right. Ultimately, however, the court was persuaded that the State had adequately attempted to make birth certificates “reasonably available to the appropriate parties,” and their unwillingness to accept the matrícula (an identification documented issued by the Mexican Government through its consulate offices) as an adequate form of identification was sufficiently founded in the State’s interest in protecting access to birth certificates. Thus, the court found that plaintiffs failed to show a substantial likelihood of success on the merits of their constitutional claims. The plaintiffs also raised preemption claims, but the Court held that there was insufficient support for those claims as well.


  1. Serna v. Texas Dept. of State Health Services, Vital Statistics Unit (U.S. District Court, W.D.Texas, Austin Division, citation not yet available).
  2.  Texas Administrative Code Title 25, §181.


Sadie Weller is a law student at UC Davis School of Law.



October 26, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, October 25, 2015

A New Secessionist Movement? In California, No Less: The State of Jefferson Moves One Step Closer to Reality


A secessionist movement has brewing in California since the 1940s.  Last January, a small group of people gathered in front of the California State Capitol in Sacramento, California. They chanted slogans like "The time has come for fifty-one." This group is part of the State of Jefferson movement.  The State of Jefferson would take a chunk of largely rural Northern California and part of Southern Oregon and create a new state. 

On September 3, 2013, when the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors voted 4–1 in favor of withdrawal from California to form the proposed state named Jefferson. The proposal was joined by the Modoc County Board of Supervisors and Glenn County Board of Supervisors. On April 15, 2014, Yuba County supervisors joined the State of Jefferson movement. On July 15, 2014, the Tehama County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to adopt a resolution supporting the declaration of withdrawal from California; county voters had voted 56% to 44% in favor of splitting the state. On July 22, 2014 the Board of Supervisors of Sutter County unanimously adopted a resolution supporting a declaration and petition to the Legislature to withdraw from California to redress a lack of representation. On March 3, 2015, Lake County supervisors voted 3-2 to submit the question of secession to voters and on March 17, Lassen County supervisors made a similar declaration.




October 25, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigrant of the Day: Maureen O'Hara (1920-2015) RIP




Born in Ireland, famous actress Maureen O'Hara has died of natural causes at age 95 in Boise, Idaho.

O'Hara was known for playing passionate but sensible heroines, and often worked with director John Ford and longtime friend John Wayne. She was one of the last surviving stars from the Golden Age of Hollywood.

O'Hara co-starred with him in the Hollywood production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. She made a number of films with John Wayne and director John Ford.  One of those films was The Quiet Man (1952), which was set in Ireland.  O'Hara also starred in the Christmas classic Miracle on 34th Street (1947).

O'Hara was a naturalized U.S. citizen.




October 25, 2015 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigration Article of the Day: Detained: A Study of Immigration Bond Hearings by Emily Ryo


Detained: A Study of Immigration Bond Hearings by Emily Ryo, University of Southern California Gould School of Law, October 13, 2015, Law & Society Review (2016) 

Abstract: Immigration judges make consequential decisions that fundamentally affect the basic life chances of thousands of noncitizens and their family members every year. Yet, we know very little about how immigration judges make their decisions, including decisions about whether to release or detain noncitizens pending the completion of their immigration cases. Using original data on long-term immigrant detainees, I examine for the first time judicial decision-making in immigration bond hearings. I find that there are extremely wide variations in the average bond grant rates and bond amount decisions among judges in the study sample. What are the determinants of these bond decisions? My analysis shows that the odds of being granted bond are more than 3.5 times higher for detainees represented by attorneys than those who appeared pro se, net of other relevant factors. My analysis also shows that the detainees’ prior criminal history is the only significant legally-relevant factor in both the grant/deny and bond amount decisions, net of other relevant factors. This finding points to the need for further research on whether and how immigration courts might be exercising crime control through administrative proceedings.


October 25, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, October 24, 2015

New Migration Route: Biking from Russia into Norway

Russia does not allow migrants to cross its border with Norway on foot. And Norway does not allow drivers to enter the country ferrying unauthorized migrants. But where there's a will, there's a way. Migrants are now crossing the border between Russia and Norway on children's bicycles.


The BBC reports that while a whopping 7 migrants used this route in 2014, some 1100 migrants have crossed on bicycle this month.


October 24, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

House bill would remove the term 'alien' from federal law



Lydia Wheeler on The Hill reports that a bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives would change how "aliens" are referred in federal laws. Rep. Joaquín Castro (D-Texas) has introduced the Correcting Hurtful and Alienating Names in Government Expression Act. Here is how Castro describes the bill in his news release.

The bill would remove the term "illegal alien" and replace it with "undocumented foreign national” and keep executive branch agencies from using “alien” or "illegal alien" in signage and literature.

"America is a nation of immigrants, yet our federal government continues to use terms that dehumanize and ostracize those in our society who happen to have been born elsewhere," Castro said. "Regardless of status, immigrants to our nation are first and foremost human beings. Removing the term 'alien' from our federal laws shows respect to our shared heritage and to the hundreds of millions of descendants of immigrants who call America home."

Congress has passed similar legislation before to remove offensive language from federal law, including the 21st Century Language Act, which removed the term “lunatic,” and Rosa's Law, which removed the term “mentally retarded."

"Discontinuing our use of the term 'alien' will help lessen the prejudice and vitriol that for too long have poisoned our nation's discussions around immigration reform," he added.

I hate to say it but I wrote an article in 1997 on the dehumanizing aspects of the "alien" terminology.  At the same time, the word "alien" is literally the DNA of the INA (Immigration and Nationality Act).


October 24, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)