Thursday, December 31, 2015

Comparing Modern Refugees with WW2 "DPs"

Ben Shephard, author of The Long Road Home: The Aftermath of the Second World War, spoke with Robert Siegel on All Things Considered today.

Shephard talks about the "straightforward" racial and demographic preferences countries had when accepting displaced persons (DPs) after WW2. "You wanted young, healthy, men or women. You didn't really want dependents." Apparently the UK also favored Baltic DPs, believing they were "racially compatible" and assimilated better than other groups.

The piece features clips from a U.S. Army WW2 news reel, which concludes with this wonderful statement: "For today we realize that our half of the world, the American half, cannot remain well if the other half is sick. We realize that we must rehabilitate these displaced persons for our own interests and self preservation as well as theirs."

Here's the full report:


December 31, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Call the White House to Stop the Planned Family Raids and Deportations

Alianza Americas, formerly NALACC is leading an urgent call-in effort between December 29th - January 4th - calling on President Obama to call off the proposed raids intended to capture and deport children and families seeking refuge from violence and insecurity in Central America.

Targets are said to be those from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala who arrived this past year, who missed their deportation hearings and thus were ordered deported in absentia.

CALL the Whitehouse: 202-456-1414

Call on President Obama to direct DHS and ICE to not conduct these raids and deportations.

talking points
1) Many have not had legal representation
2) Rushed timeframes - on the "rocket docket" pushing their cases very quickly through the system
3) Root Causes of extreme violence and poverty have not been addressed- and people will be getting deported to some of the most dangerous countries
4) The asylum laws and categories are quite outdated and need to be reformed - (written post WWII) and do not often reflect the current situations and contexts of fear and violence
5) Individuals, children and families fleeing high levels of violence and insecurity from our neighboring countries - deserve protection and humanitarian support- not deportation.



December 31, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

An Instant Classic: The Obamas at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama (March 7, 2015)

Photojournalist Don Bartletti

Photojournalist Don Bartletti retired in November after 31 years with the L.A. Times. As the Voice of San Diego reports, during those three decades Bartletti got to know "immigration and refugees like the back of his Canons."

Bartletti's photos document important issues in migration while having the wonderful side effect of being beautiful. Check out this one from 2000:


Bartletti's next project will be compiling photos for a book, which he's tentatively titled “The Roads Most Traveled.” He calls it a "visual record of the causes and consequences of undocumented migration from Mexico and Central America to the United States."

I hope Bartletti will drop us a line at immprof to let us know when it's in print.


December 31, 2015 in Photos | Permalink | Comments (0)

Democratic Presidential Candidates Question Rumored Obama Immigration Raids


Democratic Presidential Candidate and Irish Rocker Martin O'Malley

Last week, the Washington Post reported on the Obama administration's plans to employ immigration raids to apprehend and remove undocumented Central Americans. Yesterday, marchers protested the raids plan at the White House.

The Republican presidential candidates might claim that the raids are too little, too late.  Not so for the Democratic presidential candidates.   

Martin O'Malley and Bernie Sanders criticized the raid plans. O'Malley sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson on Wednesday "to respectfully request that DHS reconsider this approach."  The letter further stated:

"When, in 2014, tens of thousands of children made the journey to escape death gangs in Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, we called on Marylanders to step up and help accommodate them. Maryland took action to safeguard more refugee kids on a per-capita basis than any other state in the nation. Thousands of families opened their homes as foster families. We recruited pro-bono legal help for case preparation. And we did all of this at minimal cost to the taxpayer.

Sometimes there appears to be only two speeds in government: on and off. When it comes to life and death matters—keeping families together and offering refuge to people fleeing violence—we need to take a more balanced approach- one that is guided by our values and character as a nation.  

Forced deportations of unaccompanied refugee minors and refugee families should be a last resort when it comes to women and children fleeing violence. It is my sincere belief that our nation can handle this situation in a more rational, fair, and humane manner."

Hillary Clinton's campaign more cautiously said that the candidate had "real concerns" about the plan. A Clinton spokeswoman said that the candidate "believes the United States should give refuge to people fleeing persecution, and should be especially attentive to the needs of children."

Click here and here for news reports on the criticism of the proposed raids.


December 31, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Europe’s humanitarian superpower is turning its back on refugees


Griff Witte and Anthony Faiola in the Washington Post reports that Sweden is changing its tune some with respect to welcoming refugees.

Last fall, when the plight of Syrian refugees became international news,  Sweden sprang into action:

"Sweden’s prime minister headlined gala fundraisers, Swedish celebrities starred in telethons, and a country that prides itself on doing the right thing seemed to rally as one to embrace refugees fleeing for their lives. But after taking in more asylum seekers per capita than any other nation in Europe, Sweden’s welcome mat now lies in tatters. Overwhelmed by the human tide of 2015, the center-left government is deploying extraordinary new border controls and slashing benefits in an unmistakable signal to refugees contemplating the long trek to Sweden in the new year: Stay out."


December 31, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigrant Life in New York


As these City Limits stories by students at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, make clear, immigrant life in New York is neither the deviant existence imagined by xenophobes nor the sepia-toned immigration myth harbored by some of those who welcome the newcomers. It's a fast-food restaurant that provides a link to the familiar, the thrill of political progress at home mixed with the realization that there's no going back, the double marginalization of being undocumented and transgender. It's overstaying a visa, or trying to survive according to the onerous rules that some visas impose. It's trying to navigate a global economic crisis or make a living in a dying industry.

But differently, immigrant life is complex and complicated.


December 31, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

H-1B Visa Fee Increase Allegedly ‘Highly Discriminatory’

Newley Purnell in the Wall Street Journal blog reports that an Indian industry group has slammed Congress's decision to raise visa fees for skilled migrant workers on H-1B and L-1 permits, calling the move “highly discriminatory and punitive” toward outsourcing firms. The New Delhi-based Confederation of Indian Industry said in a statement that the United States should reconsider the measure, part of the $1.15 trillion spending bill passed by U.S. House of Representatives earlier this month, that doubles the application and renewal fees incurred by firms wanting to obtain the visas for workers from overseas.

Companies in the U.S. that employ more than 50 people and have more than half of their staff on H-1B or L-1 visas will be affected, with fees for H-1Bs rising from $2,000 to $4,000 and L-1 fees jumping from $2,250 to $4,500 for each application. 

H-1B visas are for skilled workers, and L-1s are for those with specialized knowledge who are transferred to the U.S. within their company. The permits have drawn attention in recent months in the United States with both Republican and Democratic lawmakers having accused firms of using them to bring in cheap noncitizen labor that costs American jobs.


December 31, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Over 3,770 Migrants Died Trying to Cross the Mediterranean to Europe in 2015


Photo courtesy of UNHCR

With over 3,770 estimated deaths, 2015 has been the deadliest year on record for migrants and refugees crossing the Mediterranean, trying to reach Europe. In comparison, approximately 3,270 deaths were recorded in the Mediterranean in 2014. Globally, IOM estimates that over 5,350 migrants died in 2015.

The deadliest month in 2015 was April when nearly 1,250 migrants died, mainly due to the worst tragedy on record involving migrants crossing the Mediterranean from North Africa, in which an estimated 800 migrants died when their overcrowded vessel capsized off the coast of Libya. Only 28 survivors were rescued and brought to Italy.

Seventy-seven percent (77%) of the deaths occurred in the Central Mediterranean route mostly used by smugglers operating from Libyan shores. This compares to 97% of migrant deaths recorded along this route in 2014.

In 2015, 21% of deaths occurred in the Eastern Mediterranean compared to only 1% in 2014. In the Central Mediterranean, deaths recorded were down by 9% from last year with the rate of death at 18.5 deaths per every 1,000 travellers.

Estimated migrant and refugee deaths in 2015 along the Mediterranean routes

Migration Route


Central Mediterranean


Eastern Mediterranean


Western Mediterranean




An additional estimated 32 migrants died en-route to the Canary Islands


Globally, the majority of the estimated 5,350 deaths were recorded with the Mediterranean, the most deadly region, followed by Southeast Asia (mostly in the Bay of Bengal, Andaman Sea, Malaysia and Thailand) which saw at least 800 deaths this year. Within Mexico and along the US-Mexico border there have been at least 330 deaths recorded this year.

Reacting to the 2015 figures, IOM Director General William Lacy Swing, said: “It is shocking and inexcusable that desperate migrants and refugees have lost their lives in record numbers this year, when they should not. The international community world must act now to stop this trend against desperate migrants.”

“Migration has been the major theme of 2015, with record numbers of refugees and migrants arriving in Europe, fleeing from conflict and acute poverty. Throughout the year, we have been reminded that much of human mobility is not voluntary and tragically we have seen so many who felt they had no option but to leave their beloved homelands and were lost at sea, in the deserts or trapped in the back of lorries they had hoped would carry them to a safer and better life,” said Ambassador Swing.

"One of the major challenges for the coming years would be for the international community to work diligently towards changing from the  current toxic migration narrative to one that is more historically accurate, namely, that migration has been overwhelmingly positive. We can do this through measures that will help governments and societies to manage diversity. This will require addressing several paradoxes of (a) national sovereignty of states and individual aspiration of migrants; and, (b) protecting national security on the one hand and human security on the other," Ambassador Swing said.

IOM’s Missing Migrants Project which draws on a range of sources to track deaths of migrants along migratory routes across the globe is managed by IOM's Global Migration Data Analysis Centre (GMDAC) in Berlin, Germany. Data from this project was initially published in the report Fatal Journeys: Tracking Lives Lost during Migration, which provided the most comprehensive global tally of migrant fatalities for 2014, and estimates deaths over the past 15 years. Since the publication of Fatal Journeys, IOM has regularly updated the global estimated figures of migrants who have gone missing or have died during the migration process.
Missing Migrants Project is a global database sharing key data on deceased and missing migrants along migratory routes. This info-graphic focuses on migrant arrivals ...

For the latest updates on arrivals and fatalities in the Mediterranean please visit here. 

Learn more and support the Missing Migrants Project at 


For further information please contact, Leonard Doyle at Tel: +41-792857123, Email: [email protected] or Itayi Viriri at Tel: +41-792854366, Email: [email protected]


December 31, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Colbert on Syrian Refugees

I missed this piece from back in November. Colbert takes on Republican candidates looking to restrict or eliminate refugee flows from Syria or Iraq.

He notes that Trump has suggested that relocating refugees to a place like Minnesota would be against their interests because of the extreme difference in the weather from Syria. Colbert agrees: "It's a tough call for the refugees. I mean, do I want to stay in a war zone where my family faces almost certain death or I want to go somewhere where I have to put on a jacket before I go to the mall?"

It's a great two minutes for sparking classroom conversation (check out 1:20-2:03).


And here's a still image from the show that could also work well in the classroom.



December 30, 2015 in Film & Television, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Texas, States File Opposition to U.S. Petition for Certiorari in United States v. Texas


Lyle Denniston on SCOTUSBlog reports on the brief filed in the Supreme Court yesterday by the State of Texas, representing 26 states, in opposition to the petition for certiorari filed by the U.S. government in United States v. TexasHere is the brief.   The United States seeks review of the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirming an injunction barring the implementation of the expanded deferred action program (including the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) program) announced by President Obama in November 2015.  For links to an on-line symposium with commentary by immigration scholars on the Fifth Circuit's decision, click here.

As Denniston summarizes, the states urged the Supreme Court on Tuesday to leave intact the lower court order blocking any enforcement of that policy. But, the states went further; if the Court chooses to step in, the states argued, it should broaden the review to rule on their claim that the plan is unconstitutional. Up to this point, the constitutionality of the policy itself has not been decided by lower courts, and the government did not raise that question in its cert petition. Nonetheless, the states contend that, if the Court grants review, it should find that the expanded deferred action program violates the separation of powers doctrine, by intruding on Congress’s lawmaking power, and also violates the president’s constitutional duty to enforce existing immigration laws.

With the state's opposition having been filed, it remains possible for the Court to grant the petition for cert, allow for full briefing on the merits of the case, hold oral argument, and issue a ruling before the end of the 2015 Term in June.

These are the argument headings from the States' brief.  There is nothing too surprising here:

I.  The court of appeals correctly upheld the preliminary injunction. 

    A. Respondents have standing.

    B. DAPA is reviewable.

        1. DAPA is reviewable agency action.    

        2. Respondents satisfy the APA’s zone-of-interests test.

    C. DAPA is unlawful.

        1. DAPA required notice and comment.

        2. DAPA is contrary to law and violates the Constitution.


II. Certiorari is not warranted at this stage. 



December 30, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

U Visa Statutory Cap Met for Fiscal Year

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that for the 7th straight fiscal year, the agency has met its statutory cap of issuing 10,000 U visas (for survivors of certain criminal activity who demonstrate a requisite level of helpfulness to law enforcement).   USCIS  will begin issuing U visas again on October 1, 2016  and will continue its practice of reviewing applications and placing applicants on a wait list until an actual visa becomes available, while offering deferred action and employment authorization to individuals on the wait list.  Advocates report that the most recently issued U visas are going to applicants who filed their applications over two years ago, around the end of October 2013.  This Los Angeles Times article from February 2015 describes the nature and ramifications of the U visa backlog - which include prolonging separation of family members and undermining the goal of encouraging undocumented crime victims to cooperate with law enforcement -  in more detail.  

One very concrete fix that Congress could make would involve raising the statutory cap for principal U visas, or placing the annual allocation of U visas in the hands of the executive branch.  


December 29, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

March to White House in Protest of Planned Raids Against Immigrant Families Fleeing Violence

This Wednesday, immigrants and their supporters will march and rally against the President in response to news that the administration has planned raids against immigrant families, most of whom are women and children fleeing violence in Central America.

The mass deportation plan was publically exposed by the Washington Post the day before Christmas, a day celebrated by billions as the birthdate of a homeless refugee who would transform the world. In light of the news, advocates across the region are scrambling to prepare terrorized local communities. On Wednesday, activists will take to the streets to first target democrats on the cusp of squandering immigrant political gains, then move on to ICE which advocates fear will engage in civil rights violations as the raids occur, and close at the White House.

What: March and Press Conference

When: Wednesday, December 30, 2015

When: 12:30 pm at Lafayette Park, Pennsylvania and 16th Street NW, Washington DC, (march starts at 11am at the Democratic National Headquarters at 430 South Capitol Street Southeast, Washington DC)

Who: Participating – CASA, community members; Endorsed By – Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice, Arkansas United Community Coalition, Causa Oregon, CHIRLA, Church World Service, Fair Immigration Reform Movement, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, Maine Immigrant Rights Coalition, Maine People’s Action, One America, PICO, Promise Arizona.


December 29, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Outlaw Ocean Continues: Maritime ‘Repo Men’: A Last Resort for Stolen Ships

Ian Urbina's "The Outlaw Ocean" series has been gripping and eye-opening.   Here is the latest installment.
Lawlessness offshore often stems from corruption onshore. Thousands of ships and boats are stolen each year around the world - sometimes through port scams or while at sea. Many of these vessels become part of a global “phantom fleet” that is involved in a variety of other crimes, including gun, drug and people smuggling, illegal fishing, intentional dumping and forced labor.

This next installment in The Outlaw Ocean series delves into the world of maritime thievery and specifically the hidden art of stealing and stealing back ships and boats. An option of last resort, repo men of the sea are sometimes called to retrieve ships that are stolen, in mortgage default or ensnared in port shakedowns. This article explores how hired troubleshooters — and the scheming debtors, dodgy port mechanics, testy guards, disgruntled crews and dishonest port officials that they are hired to outwit — take advantage of the lack of policing and jurisdictional ambiguity of the open ocean.


December 29, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

From the Bookshelves: The Cultural Defense of Nations: A Liberal Theory of Majority Rights by Liav Orgad


 The Cultural Defense of Nations:  A Liberal Theory of Majority Rights

Liav Orgad

The changing patterns of contemporary immigration have initiated a new form of majority nationalism. In recent years, liberal democracies have introduced immigration and citizenship policies that are designed to defend the majority culture. This trend is fed by fears of immigration-some justified, some paranoid-which explain the rise of extreme right-wing parties in the West. Liberal theory and human rights law seem to be out of sync with these developments. While they recognize the rights of minority groups to maintain their cultural identity, it is typically assumed that majority groups have neither a need for similar rights nor a moral basis for defending them. The majority culture, so the argument goes, "can take care of itself." This singular book shifts the focus from the prevailing discussion of minority rights and, for the first time, directly addresses the cultural rights of majorities. The findings reveal a troubling trend in liberal democracies, which, ironically, in order to protect liberal values, violate the very same values. The book criticizes this state of affairs and presents a liberal theory of cultural defense that distinguishes between justifiable and unjustifiable attempts by majorities to protect their cultural essentials. It formulates liberal standards by which liberal states can welcome immigrants without fundamentally changing their cultural heritage, forsaking their liberal traditions, or slipping into extreme nationalism.

The Cultural Defense of Nations presents a timely, thought-provoking thesis on one of the most pressing issues of our time-immigrants, majority groups, and national identity.


December 29, 2015 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

San Bernadino Shooter Claimed to be Pregnant in Visa Application Process


Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Times and Associated Press

 Here is more news about the San Bernadino terrorists.  (I thought about saying "suspects" but that would seem an understatement of the truth at this point.).  Tashfeen Malik apparently claimed she was pregnant when she was interviewed by a visa officer after she had applied for lawful permanent resident status as the fiancé of Syed Rizwan Farook in 2014.   A note scrawled in red ink on a page in Malik’s application reads: “applicant is pregnant due on 05-21-15,” a congressional official who has reviewed her immigration record said Monday.


December 29, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Syrian Refugees in Brazil

Can we put an end to human smuggling?

Monday, December 28, 2015

Top Immigration Issues for 2016 Presidential Campaign

From the Los Angeles Times:

This year saw new influxes of Central Americans and Cubans on the southern border, Syrian refugees rejected by the leaders of more than 30 states and the president's executive action on immigration mired in legal challenges.

Next year, those stories are expected to play out amid a presidential campaign in which immigration is already a key issue. A look at what's ahead in 2016:

1. Cuban migrants: Will their special status change?
2. Syrian refugees: Will states win the right to reject them?
3. Executive action on immigration: Will the Supreme Court take the case?
4. Central American families: Will we see another crisis on the border like last year?
5. Pope on the border: Will it be safe?

Read more here...


December 28, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

ICE is Coming to Town: How to Protect Yourself in Case of an ICE Raid in Your Home


The word is out that immigration raids may soon commence.  Here are some tips if ICE comes knocking at your door from Benach Ragland, LLP:


DO NOT SIGN ANYTHING. Again, tell them that you want to speak to a lawyer.

If ICE arrests you in a ICE raid:

  • MAKE A PHONE CALL.  If you are arrested, you have a right to make a phone call.  Call family.  Call a lawyer.  Tell people where you are and who is holding you.

Here are the tips on how to respond in Spanish.


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