Sunday, January 31, 2016

University of California sponsors DREAM Loan Program to help undocumented students


University of California President Janet Napolitano

More than 3,000 undocumented undergraduate students will have access to a systemwide student loan program for the first time as the University of California implements the California DREAM Loan Program it sponsored, UC President Janet Napolitano announced last week.

The financial aid offices of UC’s nine undergraduate campuses will be reaching out to undocumented AB 540 undergraduates with offers of loan assistance through the program, now available for the 2015-2016 academic year. Under Assembly Bill 540, qualifying undocumented students are charged resident fees and exempted from out-of-state supplemental tuition.

“By reducing barriers and expanding access to higher education for undocumented students, the University of California is investing not only in the future of these students, but also in the future of our state and nation,” said Napolitano.

The DREAM loan program, proposed by Napolitano in 2014, was authorized that same year when the Legislature passed SB 1210, authored by state Sen. Ricardo Lara. Funding was not made available until this academic year.

The initial $5 million for the California DREAM Program, equally funded by the University of California and state general funds appropriated to UC, will be distributed according to need across campuses.

"The DREAM loan program will grow our college-educated workforce and make good on the promise that a college degree is possible for all hard-working, qualified California students regardless of their immigration status,” Lara said.

Under current law, undocumented students who graduate from a California high school and meet the California DREAM Act requirements are eligible for state and university aid.

Their undocumented status, however, disqualifies them from receiving federal aid, which severely limits their access to student loans.  In addition, they have difficulty accessing private loans.

“This new program will reduce that gap,” said Napolitano. “It will help even the playing field for undocumented students struggling to make ends meet.”

Some campuses have eased the financial burden on undocumented students with case-by-case loans from the institution, but the DREAM program provides assistance across the UC system.

Information for students seeking DREAM loans is available here.

January 31, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Welcome to America — Now Spy on Your Friends


Image courtesy of BuzzFeed

BuzzFeed has a troubling story about Muslim immigrants who seek to naturalize and become U.S. citizens.  When Muslim immigrants apply to become citizens, they often find the process delayed for years without explanation. Many ultimately are visited by the FBI and asked to spy on fellow Muslims.  It describes one case:

"An immigrant from Pakistan, he had spent the last seven years trying to get a green card, a process that had so far included a series of interviews, three encounters with the FBI, and unexplained bureaucratic delays. Maybe this meeting would bring some resolution?

But when the 37-year-old software programmer arrived at the Homeland Security offices in Dallas that day in August 2014, the conversation quickly swerved. One of the two agents placed a piece of paper on the table and told him to write down the names of all the people he knew who he thought were terrorists."

For immigrants pressured to become government informants, the process might begin with the Controlled Application Review and Resolution Program (CARRP). The program, overseen by immigration authorities, is designed to identify security risks among those who apply for visas, asylum, green cards, and naturalization. In November, BuzzFeed News revealed that the program is being used to vet refugees seeking asylum from Syria.

CARRP subjects not just “Known or Suspected Terrorists” but even “Non-Known or Suspected Terrorists” to intense scrutiny and potentially endless delays. Mere geography — hailing from “areas of known terrorist activity” — can qualify a person for this treatment. So can knowing someone, however tangentially, who is under surveillance; transferring money abroad; having ever worked for a foreign government; or even just having foreign language expertise. According to scholars and immigration lawyers, the population caught in CARRP’s crosshairs is overwhelmingly Muslim.  Between 2008 and 2012, the case files of over 19,000 people from 18 Muslim-majority countries were rerouted through that program.


January 31, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1)

Trump: "Ted Cruz is an Anchor Baby in Canada"


Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump called rival Texas Sen. Ted Cruz “an anchor baby in Canada,” offering a new twist to his attacks over the senator’s eligibility to run for president.   During a campaign rally in New Hampshire on Friday,  Trump moved from discussing immigration to Cruz’s citizenship.  For more on this story, click here.


January 31, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

State Challenges to Federal Enforcement of Immigration Law: Historical Precedents and Pending Litigation in Texas v. United States: A Concise History

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Profit Motive for Recent ICE Raids

Women and children first: legality of ICE raids in southern states scrutinized
the guardian

Southern Poverty Law Center says sweeps are targeting solely women and children as a ‘family unit’ brings in $600 for private owners of detention centers compared with $150 for housing a male. Read the full story.


January 30, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 29, 2016

Errors by ICE Lead to Wrongful Detention of Houston Chef for Over 2 Months


This Houston Press article reports on the horrific experience of Houston chef David Rodriguez, a lawful permanent resident who was wrongfully detained by ICE for 78 days over the holidays after returning from a trip to Belize with his wife for their honeymoon.  Rodriguez is the head chef at the Tout Suite Cafe in Houston, TX.  The article reports that when he arrived in Miami, CBP officials flagged him for a prior conviction that officials determined was a "crime involving moral turpitude,"  (CIMT) thereby making him subject to deportation.  (Side note:  a single CIMT doesn't actually make a lawful permanent resident deportable unless committed within 5 years of admission and involving a sentence of a year or more, which wouldn't apply if Rodriguez obtained LPR status at age 12.  It is possible, however, that CBP officials applied the less generous grounds of inadmissibility to Rodriguez because he was an "arriving alien," in which case a single CIMT not falling with the petty offense exception might have validly triggered the enforcement action, or that CBP officials incorrectly believed his prior conviction was an "aggravated felony," which would have led to similar results).  

The problem is -- as Chef Rodriguez's immigration lawyer ultimately found -- the prior conviction wasn't a CIMT, or any kind of deportable (or inadmissible) offense at all. But it took over 2 months to convince a judge to make that determination, after he had spent both Thanksgiving and Christmas in an immigration jail.  

Chef Rodriguez's case highlights ongoing concerns that advocates and scholars have over the risk of error when low-level officials make complicated immigration determinations (including when a prior conviction is or is not a removable offense), as well as the profound effect that access to counsel and immigration detention have on people's ability to raise their legal claims in the immigration context.  


January 29, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Son of Immigrants gets perfect score on AP Calculus exam -- 1 of 12 in the world to do so


Cedrick Argueta, left. Photo courtesy of the Los Angeles Times

Here is a feel-good immigration story that, surprisingly enough, did not come up in the Republican debate last night. 

A Los Angeles high school student, Cedrick Argueta, the son of a Salvadoran maintenance worker and a Filipina nurse, earned a perfect score on his Advanced Placement Calculus exam. Of the 302,531 students to take the test, he was one of only 12 in the world to earn every single point.

Cedrick is the son of Lilian and Marcos Argueta, both of whom came to the United States as young adults.  Lilian immigrated from the Philippines; Marcos came from El Salvador. Lilian, a licensed vocational nurse, works two jobs at nursing homes. Marcos, who never attended high school, is a maintenance worker at one of the nursing homes.

Lilian Argueta said that she always told Cedrick and his younger sister to finish their homework and to “read, read, read,” but that they knew she’d be proud of them whether or not they got straight A’s.


January 29, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Five Books on the Economic Impacts of Immigration

Republican Presidential Candidates Debate Immigration


In the final debate before the Iowa Caucuses next week, the Republican candidates for President (minus Donald Trump) sparred on terrorism, ISIS, immigration, and a variety of other topics.  With respect to immigration, there was nothing too surprising or new at the debate.  For a Voice of America report, click here.  Among the topics covered were whether Marco Rubio flip flopped on "amnesty," whether Ted Cruz once supported comprehensive immigration reform, , and who would be the best candidate to keep terrorists out of the United States. Jeb Bush was able to hawk his book on immigration reform, which he co-authored with recently-appointed Arizona Supreme Court Justice Clint BolickChris Christie said a Washington outsider was needed to address immigration.  In a glaring nonsequitur, Ben Carson responded to a question from Dulce Candy, an immigrant from Mexico who later served in the U.S. military and now is a businessperson, by emphasizing that the nation needs to keep terrorists out of the United States.

The immigration portion of the debate is included in the above video clip.


January 29, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Detained Central American Mothers Send Letter to President Obama


Seven women picked up and detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement in early January in widely publicized raids have made a direct and personal plea to President Barack Obama to allow their release while they pursue ongoing appeals of their deportation orders.

The women and their children, representing 33 people in 12 families, were picked up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement in raids over New Year’s weekend. The families obtained temporary stays of their deportation orders with the help of attorneys from the CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Project based at the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas.

Some of the 121 people ICE picked up were brought to the Dilley facility for processing The majority have been deported to their home countries. But the 12 families who received stays remain in detention, some at Dilley and others at the Berks Family Residential Center in Leesport, Pennsylvania.

Despite the fact that all of these women and children appeared at their hearings and consistently abided by the conditions of their release, DHS refuses to release them from custody while the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) considers their legal claims.

Now in their fourth week in detention, the women expressed their frustrations in a handwritten letter to President Obama, pleading with him to release them from detention and allow their children to return to their schools while their legal appeals proceed.

"Why did you choose us to…frighten other Central American families, with no regard for the suffering it causes us and our children?” they ask.

The women say that by trying to make an example of them, the U.S. government has made them more vulnerable. They note further that by seeking asylum they are following the law, but that their due process rights have been violated: “We complied with everything that was asked of us, but it was the system that failed us," they continue.

In asking the President to hear their pleas, the women said that some in their group are “sick with depression and in psychological crisis.” Protesting their unjust treatment, the women asserted, "We are not criminals who you have to keep locked up. We have not committed any crime and it is unjust that our children, at such an early age, know what it's like to be in a jail under guard 24 hours, when at this moment they should be in school living life with dignity like every child deserves to."

The CARA Pro Bono Project continues to provide legal assistance to families held at the Dilley facility, while advocating for an end to family detention.

View the text of the letters in English and Spanish.


January 28, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Undocumented Immigrants Denied Bottled Water in Flint, Michigan

From Fusion:

While the state government mobilizes a massive response to the water crisis in Flint, handing out bottled water and filters to residents affected by lead-contaminated tap water, undocumented residents here feel left out.

In interviews with Fusion, a half dozen undocumented people said that either they’ve been turned away from free water or are worried that they’ll be deported if they try to get help. Some who don’t speak English only learned about the problems with the water in the last few days, and have been drinking contaminated tap water for months.

Officials at some fire stations—where the National Guard is distributing free bottled water and filters—have asked residents for a form of identification. Immigrants in Michigan without legal status are unable to receive drivers licenses or state IDs.

“I went to ask for water from the fire station, and they asked for my social security number, so I left,” said Estella Arias, an undocumented immigrant from Mexico. “I feel bad that I can’t get the help… I don’t want to expose my kids to lead.”

State officials say that as of Friday night, they are no longer turning anyone away for lack of identification, and were only asking in the first place in order to track where their resources are going.

But undocumented people here say that policy is not being implemented across the board. Officials at some fire stations simply hand anyone who walks in a case of water, while others demand identification. Read more...


January 28, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Throwback Thursday: Jennifer Moore

Throwback photos of Prof. Moore are hard to find. But I did locate this one!

Simple Justice: Humanitarian Law as a Defense Against Deportation, 4 Harv. Hum. Rts. J. 11 (1991), was immmprof Jennifer Moore's very first law review article. It was published in 1991, just as Moore was starting her first post with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in West Africa.

You may know Moore's work today, especially as she is a co-author of the first textbook on refugee law: Refugee Law and Policy (with immprofs Karen Musalo and Richard Boswell).

Her 1991 article looks at the relationship between refugee law and humanitarian law. She argues that immigration judges should use the Geneva Conventions as well as the Refugee Convention in determining relief from deportation for individuals fleeing persecution in the context of civil war violence characterized by widespread attacks on civilians. While such individuals cannot obtain refugee status, Moore argues they should have a "humanitarian law defense" to deportation.


January 28, 2016 in Law Review Articles & Essays | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigration Rights Groups Sue Federal Agencies Over Deportation Policies by Nicole Zanardi


Several immigrant-rights groups filed a lawsuit on January 19 against ten federal agencies, including the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency. The groups allege that ICE and the nine other agencies, among them the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), and the Department of Justice (DOJ), practice unlawfully secretive policies within the administration’s current deportation program, the Priority Enforcement Program (“PEP”).

PEP was announced by President Obama on November 20, 2014 as the replacement of the highly criticized Secure Communities program (“S-Comm”). Plaintiffs contend in their complaint that PEP does not meet the minimum statutory requirements of transparency and accountability. Plaintiffs filed a FOIA request with defendants in March 2015 and, after getting no response, filed another one in August 2015. Plaintiffs finally received only a few documents, all either already public or old data, and ICE has yet to disclose a single document. Plaintiffs argue that the public’s right to agency documents and program policies is vital to millions of families. Transparency of PEP is the only way that people will be able to assert their rights and protect themselves from removal, as well as participate in significant conversations about immigration reform. Further, public access to information about PEP will allow state and local jurisdictions to make an informed decision about opting in or out of the PEP program.

PEP embodies many of the same policies that plagued S-Comm, which began in Texas in 2008 under the guide of George W. Bush, and ultimately led to its replacement. Plaintiffs seek to expose PEP as a mere continuation of the failed S-Comm. Like S-Comm, PEP dictates that local police send to DHS fingerprints taken from someone booked or jailed so that the agency can check the prints against its immigration databases. Theoretically under PEP, if the fingerprints match a record in a DHS database ICE will issue a request for notification of pending release. This is different from the detainer that was sought under S-Comm in such a situation. However, under PEP ICE can still easily request that a person be detained in the local jail under “special circumstances.” Such circumstances include: “the person has a final removal order” and “there is other sufficient probable cause to find that the person is a removable alien.” So, practically speaking, all immigrants who are most at risk for being deported will likely be detained and removed if picked up by local law enforcement. Further, the November 2014 memo indicates that ICE may seek to transfer into its custody anyone who is “otherwise determined to be a priority.” This includes anyone who entered the U.S. without inspection after January 1, 2014, and anyone who has been convicted of a “significant misdemeanor.” Thus, even though PEP outwardly claims to prioritize only those who are a threat to national security or have been convicted of certain aggravated felonies, in reality law enforcement agencies can transfer to ICE any immigrant who fits into the broad category of “priority,” including those who haven’t been convicted of a crime.

Clearly, S-Comm and PEP operate in much the same way, and the grave risk of removal posed to millions of undocumented immigrants continues under the new program due to the effective ICE presence at every local jail. Plaintiffs also raise the concern that, as with S-Comm, the detention requests by ICE under PEP do not comply with the 4th Amendment. The plaintiffs go on to point out incentivized racial profiling and a break down of trust between communities and law enforcement as serious issues with PEP that originated with S-Comm.

Emi MacLean, a staff attorney at National Day Laborer Organizing Network (one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit) argues that the increase in deportations facilitated by PEP cannot be justified by a partial grant of relief through the pending Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (“DAPA”), just as S-Comm used the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) program to justify its level of deportations. MacLean contends that the Obama administration should not tangle PEP and DAPA. Limited, partial relief to a select group of undocumented immigrants cannot justify the trend of mass deportation carried out by PEP, and DAPA should not rely on the existence of PEP to prevail as a program of relief. MacLean states: "It's not the case that some immigrants must suffer so that others can get relief. This logic is immoral and unnecessary for Obama to prevail in Texas v US.”

On January 21 more than 50 organizations, including those that filed the complaint on January 19, sent a letter to President Obama, asking him to “come clean” about PEP. The complaint, filed with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, can be found here.

Nicole Zanardi is a law student at UC Davis School of Law.


January 28, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Zika Travel Advisories Growing

Families in Fear: The Atlanta Immigration Raids


The federal government has engaged in an aggressive immigration raids in Atlanta and elsewhere that targeted women and children from Central America.  A report released today by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights (GLAHR) (Families in Fear: The Atlanta Immigration Raids) features stories from women swept up in the Atlanta home raids that began on Jan. 2. They show how Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has violated legal rights, subjected mothers and children to terrifying police encounters, and torn families apart. Although the report focuses on Atlanta, the investigation found similar problems with raids in other states.

ICE had previously granted the majority of these women and children permission to remain in the United States under orders of supervision. Several of the women featured in the report were already wearing electronic ankle shackles that notified ICE of their location as they remained in the country. The raids also appear to have been conducted without warrants, which are required regardless of a person’s immigration status. When asked for copies of warrants or orders to enter a home, ICE agents ignored the requests, threatened residents or ordered them to “be quiet,” according to the report.

ICE agents used deceptive tactics to enter the women’s homes. These women also were denied their right to contact their lawyers until after they had been taken to the South Texas Family Detention Center in Dilley, Texas.


January 28, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Most Americans Support DAPA


Roberta Rampton of Reuters reports that most Americans voice support for a plan that would allow certain undocumented immigrants to remain in the United States.  However, support for the idea slips when President Barack Obama's name is attached to the question, according to a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll.

The poll shows 61 percent of Americans support the deferred action program when it is described in general terms without using Obama's name, including 42 percent of Republicans. Half of Republicans opposed the idea. But when the same plan was described as being an executive action taken by President Obama, support fell to 54 percent overall, with only 31 percent of Republicans supporting it and 62 percent opposing the measures.

For Democrats, 78 percent supported the plan when it was described without using Obama's name, and 80 percent supported it when the president's name was attached to it.


January 28, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 28: Data Protection Day



The International Organization of Migration today (January 28) marks Data Protection Day, as one of the first international organizations to have taken significant steps to ensure data security in recent years. IOM handles the personal data of hundreds of thousands of people on a regular basis.

For example, IOM’s Human Trafficking Database alone hosts data of more than 45,000 cases and personal data from around 5,000 to 6,000 victims of human trafficking are collected annually.

Registrations are also done in countries around the world, particularly for the Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM), which in 2015 registered over 200,000 people in the Democratic Republic of Congo and over 750,000 in South Sudan.

Aware of the importance of handling such data in a responsible way, respecting beneficiaries’ rights and bearing in mind IOM’s interests, the organization issued its Data Protection Principles in May 2009, which were further elaborated in its Data Protection Manual


January 28, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

From the Bookshelves: A Song in the Dark by June Davis


A Song in the Dark (paperback) by June Davis (2015)

This book of poems is a healing process for the author, June Davis. Living through many losses, her father died before she was two years old, her mom just after she migrated to the United States (she did not attend her funeral because of culture shock and fear of the unknown), and her only son on the night of December 25, 2006.

At the age of sixty-six, of course, there are many other losses. Early retirement is a loss of not much outside connections, but I have a choice: to enter the room of suffering and mourning or to enter the room of happiness, choose life, and be happy. Turn my lemons into lemonade. The joy of the Lord is your strength. Finding the courage and the strength to greet each day with daily exercise, eating the right foods, drinking plenty of water, not worrying, and feeding on the Word of God. Happiness is sure to become a way of life.

June M. Davis migrated from Jamaica to Los Angeles as a registered nurse. Throughout her career and raising a child alone due to her parents staying behind in their country, Davis has turned the events that shaped her as a woman and decided to write a book of poetry.



January 27, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

UK Refguees' Red Door Problem

Check out this photo from Reuters. What do you see?


According to refugees in Middlesbrough (in North East England), that red door gives notice to the community that asylum seekers live there. Why? Because the subcontractor that provides housing to asylum seekers on behalf of the government, Jomast, happened to paint nearly all of the doors to their units red. To be more precise, 155 out of 168 Jomast houses in Middlesbrough have a red door.

Migrants say this has left them vulnerable to all sorts of abuse.

Jomast says there "was never any policy to discriminate against asylum seekers," that the painting decision was "ill-judged," and they've committed to changing the doors soon.


January 27, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Pope Francis to Visit Mexico, Immigration Likely to be a Topic of Discussion


Pope Francis will soon be visiting Mexico and the visit already is making the news.  Expect immigration to be one of the topics he addresses on the trip. 

Pope Francis visits Mexico in February and is expected to deliver a homily addressing immigration. Hundreds of thousands of people will likely come to the border to hear him speak. Francis' will hold mass on February 17 in Ciudad Juarez.


January 27, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)