Monday, December 28, 2015

On the Lighter Side: Australia's Stoner Sloth Making U.S. News

Immigrant of the Day: Billy Wilder, Filmmaker (Austria)


Billy Wilder (1906–2002) was an Austrian-born American filmmaker, screenwriter, producer, artist and journalist, whose career spanned more than fifty years and sixty films. He is regarded as one of the most brilliant and versatile filmmakers of Hollywood's golden age.  With The Apartment, Wilder became the first person to win Academy Awards as producer, director and screenwriter for the same film.

Wilder became a screenwriter in the late 1920s while living in Berlin. After the rise of the Nazi Party, Wilder, who was Jewish, left for Paris, where he made his directorial debut. He moved to Hollywood in 1933, and in 1939 he had a hit when he co-wrote the screenplay for the screwball comedy Ninotchka.

Wilder established his directorial reputation with Double Indemnity (1944), a film noir he co-wrote with crime novelist Raymond Chandler. Wilder earned the Best Director and Best Screenplay Academy Awards for the adaptation of a Charles R. Jackson story The Lost Weekend (1945), about alcoholism. In 1950, Wilder co-wrote and directed the critically acclaimed Sunset Boulevard.

Wilder directed fourteen different actors in Oscar-nominated performances. He was recognized with the American Film Institute (AFI) Life Achievement Award in 1986.



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

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Refugee of the Day: Andrew Grove (Hungary), CEO of Intel


Born in HungaryAndrew "Andy" Grove is an American businessman and engineerr. He is a science pioneer in the semiconductor industry. He escaped from Communist-controlled Hungary at the age of 20 and moved to the United States where he finished his education. He later became CEO of Intel Corporation and helped transform the company into the world's largest manufacturer of semiconductors.

Grove has been called the "guy who drove the growth phase" of Silicon Valley. Steve Jobs, when he was considering returning to be Apple's CEO, called Grove, who was someone he "idolized," for his personal advice.

Grove was born to a middle-class Jewish family in Budapest, Hungary. When he was eight, the Nazis occupied Hungary and deported nearly 500,000 Jews to concentration camps. He and his mother took on false identities and were sheltered by friends. His father was taken to a labor camp to do forced labor, but was reunited with his family after the war.

During the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, Grove fled across the border into Austria, where he eventually made his way to the United States in 1957. 


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

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Disneyland-Bound Family Seeking Entry to US Under Visa Waiver Program Barred


The Washington Post reports that a British Muslim family seeking to enter the US under the visa waiver program in order to visit Disneyland was told -- at the departure lounge of Gatwick airport in London -- that orders from Washington DC would prevent them from visiting the happiest place on earth.

"The only explanation I can think of is that my name is Mohammed," stated Mohammed Tariq Mahmood, one of the travelers. 

We can likely expect more visa waiver program stories to hit the news in 2016. 


December 26, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

7th Circuit Finds "Crime of Violence" Aggravated Felony Provision Void for Vagueness

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, in United States v. Vivas-Ceja, No. 3:14CR00055-001 (7th Cir. Dec. 22, 2015), has found the "crime of violence" definition of federal immigration and criminal law's "aggravated felony" provision to be unconstitutionally void for vagueness.  In doing so, it joins the Ninth Circuit, which found the same provision to be void for vagueness earlier this year in Dimaya v. Lynch, No. 11-71307, 2015 WL 6123546 (9th Cir. Oct. 19, 2015) (Immprof Blog entry available here and here).  

Vivas-Ceja is a criminal sentencing case involving a sentencing enhancement stemming from the treatment of a prior conviction as an aggravated felony, but like Dimaya relies on the Supreme Court's holding in Johnson v. United States, 135 S. Ct. 2551 (2015), which had found a similar provision of the Armed Career Criminal Act to be unconstitutionally void.  


December 26, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

2 SoCal Attorney Position Openings with Public Law Center, Loyola Law School

A couple of attorney positions in Southern California have opened up recently, both of which appear to focus on various forms of immigration relief such as SIJS, asylum, U visas, DACA and related applications: 

The Public Law Center in Orange County, California, is hiring for a Staff Attorney position.  The position announcement is available here.

Loyola Law School's Immigrant Justice Clinic is also hiring a Staff Attorney; applications should be submitted to  


December 26, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Top 10 Immigration Stories of 2015

Immigration was in the news last year. Here are my top 10 immigration stories of 2015.



1.  Donald Trump  

How could Donald Trump not be the top immigration story of 2015? He said things about immigrants and immigration that had not been heard from mainstream political candidates for generations.

As the Republican front-runner in the race for the presidency, Trump consistently took extreme positions on immigration, beginning with a focus on Mexican immigrants as criminals, even going so far as to call for a revival of the 1954Operation Wetback,”  and later moving to target Muslims (and here) and their families.  Even when criticized, Trump generally refused to back down.

The Trump had quite an impact on popular culture as well as political news, including an appearance on Saturday Night Live and inspiring Donald Trump piñatas.




2. Syrian Refugees

Civil war fueled mass migration from Syria, which generated significant concern throughout Europe.  Some nations, such as Hungary, were less welcoming than others, like Germany. The large numbers of persons fleeing Syria contributed to the mixed responses. The picture of a young Syrian boy who died in his effort to reach safety tugged at the heartstrings and brought home the human reality of what was at stake.

The vetting process for refugees coming to the United States provoked discussion and concern




3. President Obama, Deferred Action 2014, and the Supreme Court

Why is this man smiling?  The challenge of 26 states to President Obama’s 2014 expanded deferred action program in Texas v. United States was clogged up in the courts for the year, with the Supreme Court now considering possible review.  In November, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's preliminary injunction putting the new program on hold.

2015 was the third anniversary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.




Who is this man?  Martin O'Malley, Democratic Presidential Candidate

4. Immigration and the Presidential Campaign

Donald Trump is only one of the presidential candidates. Immigration so far has been a prominent issue for both the Democrats and Republicans. Generally speaking, Democrats were moving left on immigration while Republicans veered right.

The Republican debates (and here) were fascinating from an immigration perspective, with each candidate seeking to be tougher than the next one.

Democrats also sparred on immigration Hillary Clinton voiced support for comprehensive immigration reform and to do more on immigration than President Obama did.  Although its took him a while, Democratic insurgent Bernie Sanders took a firm position in support of comprehensive immigration reform and a "fair and humane immigration policy."  On life support in the polls, Maryland former Governor Martin O'Malley had a detailed and pro-immigration program laid out from the beginning of his candidacy and may be the most pro-immigration candidate.




5. Terrorism, San Bernadino, Paris, Etc.

Terrorist acts resulting in mass death in sleepy San Bernadino, California and in urbane Paris, France grabbed worldwide headlines. The woman involved in the San Bernadino violence entered the United States on a fiancé visa; two Senators demanded more information about her immigration records. In Paris, one of the terrorists was a refugee.

The involvement of Muslim immigrants in both terrorist incidents led to a focus on background checks in immigration and refugee processing. It provoked Donald Trump to float the idea of a temporary ban on all Muslim migration to the United States.  




6. A Tragic Killing in San Francisco

Last summer in San Francisco, a repeat criminal (and immigration) offender in the nation unlawfully was released by the San Francisco Sheriff’s office as required by the city’s “sanctuary ordinance.”   He has been charged with killing a young woman named Kate Steinle. The national reaction was swift, putting undocumented immigration in the spotlight.  One result was a political attack on state and local “sanctuary laws” and a national outpouring of concern.



7.  China Becomes the Number One Immigrant Sending Country, More Mexicans Now Leave than Come to the United States.

This story did not make as big of a national splash as it should have. A Pew Research Center study found that more Mexicans left than came to the United States from 2009-14.  And China became the top country sending legal immigrants to the United States.  The changing immigration demographics will no doubt influence future immigration concerns and law and policy responses.  



8. The Immigration Act of 1965 Turns 50

In 1965, President Lyndon Johnson signed into law the Immigration Act of 1965, which abolished the discriminatory national origins quotas system and eliminated the last vestiges of the invidious Chinese Exclusion laws. At the same time, through a new Western Hemisphere ceiling, the Act began a process of tightening immigration from Mexico and all of Latin America, which has led to the undocumented population in the millions from Mexico and Latin America that we have today.  Most scholarly studies of the 1965 Act focus on its benefits to opening immigration from Asia but fail to consider the restrictive impacts on migration from Mexico and Latin America. Jack Chin and Rose Villazor have edited a wonderful book on the Immigration Act of 1965 that offers a rich and complex study of its benefits and costs. 



9. The Pope Visits the United States

As an aside, it seems much more natural to me to refer to Pope Francis as “the Pope” than to call Donald Trump “the Donald.” In any event, the Pope visited the United States and inspired the nation by calling for decent and respectful treatment of immigrants.  In a wonderful moment, Sophie Cruz, the daughter of undocumented immigrants, runs out to greet the Pope as his motorcade traveled the streets of Washington, D.C.


10. Miscellaneous

There were many other news items that I could mention but none were earth-shattering. Although perhaps interesting to immigration law professors, the Supreme Court’s immigration decisions were not blockbusters.  Convicted of the 2013 Boston bombing, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, whose family from Chechnya had been granted asylum, was given the death penalty for his role in the act.  Last but not least, Loretta Lynch was confirmed as the new Attorney General of the United States.

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

Immigrant of the Day: Igor Ivanovich Sikorsky (Soviet Union)


Igor Ivanovich Sikorsky was an American aviation pioneer in both helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft. He designed and flew the world's first multi-engine fixed-wing aircraft, the Russky Vityaz in 1913, and the first airliner, Ilya Muromets, in 1914. After immigrating to the United States in 1919, Sikorsky founded the Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation in 1923, and developed the first of Pan American Airways' ocean-conquering flying boats in the 1930s. In 1939 Sikorsky designed and flew the Vought-Sikorsky VS-300, the first viable American helicopter, which pioneered the rotor configuration used by most helicopters today. Sikorsky modified the design into the Sikorsky R-4, which became the world's first mass-produced helicopter in 1942.




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

Friday, December 25, 2015

Your Playlist: Bowling for Soup

You may know Bowling for Soup from their fabulous hit 1985. But they also have a Christmas album. And so, today, for your playlist, Bowling for Soup (just jump to 0:30 for your top listening experience).



December 25, 2015 in Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Feliz Navidad



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

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Hillary Clinton, leave our grandmothers out of it



Raul A. Reyes was not happy with Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's latest appeal to Latino voters and expressed his displeasure on

"On Tuesday morning, Hillary Clinton's campaign released a post on her campaign site with the headline "Seven ways Hillary Clinton is just like your abuela." "Abuela" is the Spanish word for "grandmother," so presumably this list was designed to appeal to potential Latino voters.

On the list were items such as, "She reads to you before bedtime" and "she had one word for Donald Trump ... 'Basta!' Enough!"

With all respect, Clinton's latest effort to connect with Latinos is beyond lame. Her campaign's list is an example of "Hispandering" at its worst. It is condescending to Latinos and has generated deserved pushback on social media. Clinton is an intelligent, accomplished woman and certainly presidential material. But let's be clear: She is not "just like" my abuela or those of most Latino voters. My grandmother did not go to Wellesley College and Yale Law School; she was fortunate to finish grade school. My grandmother did not give speeches for $200,000 a pop at Goldman Sachs; for most of her life, she cleaned other people's houses. My grandmother raised seven children In El Paso, Texas, yet did not live long enough to know most of her grandchildren."


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

Not in the Holiday Spirit? U.S. plans raids to deport families who surged across border

Jerry Markon and David Nakamura report in the Washington Post that the Department of Homeland Security has begun preparing for a series of raids that would target for deportation hundreds of families who have flocked to the United States since the start of last year, according to people familiar with the operation. The nationwide campaign, to be carried out by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents as soon as early January, would be the first large-scale effort to deport families who have fled violence in Central America, those familiar with the plan said. More than 100,000 families with both adults and children have made the journey across the southwest border since last year, though this migration has largely been overshadowed by a related surge of unaccompanied minors. The ICE operation would target only adults and children who have already been ordered removed from the United States by an immigration judge, according to officials familiar with the undertaking, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because planning is ongoing and the operation has not been given final approval by DHS. The adults and children would be detained wherever they can be found and immediately deported. The number targeted is expected to be in the hundreds and possibly greater.

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

Refugee of the Day: Valentino Achak Deng (South Sudan)


 Valentino Achak Deng, Co-founder of the Valentino Achak Deng (VAD) Foundation

Valentino Deng was born in Marial Bai in present-day South Sudan. He fled in the late 1980s during the second Sudanese civil war, when his village was destroyed by the militia murahaleen. He was among thousands of displaced youth, known as the “Lost Boys” of Sudan. Deng spent nine years in Ethiopian and Kenyan refugee camps, where he worked for the UNHCR as a social advocate and reproductive health educator. In 2001, he was resettled to Atlanta, GA. Deng has toured the U.S. speaking about his life in South Sudan, his experience as a refugee, and his collaboration with author Dave Eggers on What Is the What, the novelized version of Deng’s life story.

Deng and Eggers founded the VAD Foundation in 2006 to help rebuild South Sudanese communities by increasing educational access. 





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

Five Biggest Immigration Whoppers in the GOP Debate


The Niskananen Center, a self-described libertarian think tank, has sought to correct the record from the last Republican debate in which the presidential candidates did not have many positive things to say about immigrants or refugees. Here are the top five misstatements by the GOP presidential hopefuls about immigrants and refugees.

1 – Sen. Rand Paul: “Every terrorist attack we’ve had since 9/11 has been legal immigration.”
2 – Sen. Ted Cruz: “One of the most troubling aspects of the Rubio-Schumer Gang of Eight Bill was that it gave President Obama blanket authority to admit refugees, including Syrian refugees without mandating any background checks whatsoever.”
3 – Sen. Rand Paul: “The one thing that might have stopped San Bernardino, might have stopped 9/11, would have been stricter controls on those who came here. And Marco [Rubio]… steadfastly opposed any new border security requirements for refugees or students” in his 2013 immigration bill.
4 – Sen. Ted Cruz: “Do you know how many aliens Bill Clinton deported? 12 million. Do you know how many illegal aliens, George W. Bush deported? 10 million.”
5 – Ben Carson: Refugee camps are “really quite nice.”
Click the link in the first sentence of this post for explanations of the incorrect statements and the truth.

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

Fellowship Opportunity at University of Minnesota Center for New Americans

Immigrant-inclusive State and Local Policies Move Ahead in 2014-15

Affordable Care Act Information for Immigrant Families

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Russians Are Coming

A whopping 71% of Russians believe that the United States is a "negative force in the world." Nevertheless, the number of Russians seeking to emigrate to the United States is at an all time high.

Russian participation in the U.S. visa lottery peaked this year. And a total of 56 Russian "millionaires" gained entry as EB5 investors, while 3,582 others (presumably non-millionaires) settled permanently stateside.

Immigration lawyer Marina Fooksman told Bloomberg Businessweek that Russians are "looking for an exit strategy."

The movement is "part of a border exodus of Russians, especially from academia, high tech, banking, and the law," Bloomberg reports.


December 23, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

DHS releases end of fiscal year 2015 statistics


 The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) yesterday released its end of Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 statistics which reflect the Department’s immigration enforcement efforts that prioritize convicted criminals and threats to public safety, border security, and national security.

Overall, the Department apprehended 406,595 individuals nationwide and conducted a total of 462,463 removals and returns. The U.S. Border Patrol reported 337,117 apprehensions nationwide, compared to 486,651 in FY 2014. At the same time, ICE removed or returned 235,413 individuals in FY 2015, with 86 percent of these individuals considered a “top priority” (Priority One) – those considered border security or public safety threats.

The number of convicted criminals removed from the interior continued to increase, as 91 percent of ICE’s FY 2015 interior removals and returns were individuals who were previously convicted of a crime, compared to 86 percent in FY 2014, and just 67 percent in FY 2011.

Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson made the following statement concerning these numbers:

“Last year’s removal and return statistics are characterized primarily by three things: first, last year’s removal numbers reflect this Department’s increased focus on prioritizing convicted criminals and threats to public safety, border security and national security. Second, the removal numbers were driven by the dramatic decrease in those apprehended at the border in FY 2015 – 337,117 – the second lowest apprehension number since 1972, reflecting a lower level of attempted illegal migration at our borders. Third, to improve the transparency of our efforts, for the second year in a row, we are releasing the immigration statistics of CBP and ICE together, rather than piecemeal, to provide a single, clear snapshot of our overall immigration enforcement picture.

FY 2015 was a year of transition, during which our new policies focusing on public safety were being implemented. In FY 2016 and beyond, I want to focus even more interior enforcement resources on removing convicted criminals. To that end, we are renewing and rebuilding ICE’s ties with state and local law enforcement. A year ago, we ended the controversial Secure Communities Program, and replaced it with the Priority Enforcement Program. Of the 25 largest jurisdictions that had placed restrictions on their own cooperation with ICE, 16 are now working with us again for the good of public safety.

In FY 2016, we will be challenged again by a variety of factors driving illegal migration to the U.S., mostly from Central America, and we are redoubling our border security efforts now to meet that challenge.” 

In reviewing the data,  Immigration Impact concludes that DHS is seeking to prioritize the noncitizens targeted for removal along the lines of the new -- and narrower and more focused -- removal priorities announced in November 2014.


December 23, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

A million refugees and migrants flee to Europe in 2015


 Persecution, conflict and poverty have forced an unprecedented one million people to flee to Europe in 2015, according to estimates by the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR and the International Organization for Migration, IOM.

As of 21 December, some 972,500 had crossed the Mediterranean Sea, according to UNHCR figures. In addition, IOM estimates that over 34,000 have crossed from Turkey into Bulgaria and Greece by land.

The number of people displaced by war and conflict is the highest seen in Western and Central Europe since the 1990s, when several conflicts broke out in the former Yugoslavia.

One-in-every-two of those crossing the Mediterranean this year half a million people were Syrians escaping the war in their country. Afghans accounted for 20 per cent and Iraqis for seven per cent.


December 23, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)