Thursday, February 25, 2016

Open Seat on the Board of Immigration Appeals

The Board of Immigration Appeals is looking for a new member. According to the USAJobs listing, the prospective Board member should be a U.S. citizen, a licensed attorney with at least 7 years experience, and:

  • Comprehensive knowledge of the field of immigration law, including the Immigration and Nationality Act, regulations, and administrative and judicial case law, or the proven ability to become fully knowledgeable about a complex field of the law and to apply that knowledge to specific cases;
  • Excellent analytical, decision-making, and writing abilities;
  • Proven ability to manage cases; and
  • Proven ability or potential to serve as an effective and collegial decision-maker while dealing with a large caseload.

That sounds like you!

In all seriousness, this is an amazing opportunity for an immprof out there to have a key role in shaping the interpretation of immigration law. And shaping it in a way that sticks, thanks to Chevron deference.

Applications are due by March 18. So dust off that resume, start writing your supplemental statement, gather your most recent performance evaluation, and line up some letters of recommendation. You got this.


February 25, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Rise of Anti-Migrant Protests in Europe


A shelter intended to house migrants was set on fire this week in Eastern Germany. As the BBC reports, onlookers cheered the blaze and tried to interfere with firefighters looking to put it out.

Earlier this week, a crowd tried to block a bus carrying migrants in Germany. (Sounds a lot like some US anti-migration protesters.) The German government denounced the protesters actions as "deeply shameful."

German police are also looking into the fact that pamphlets have been distributed urging "absolute resistance" against "foreigner invasion." Under Germany's law of Volksverhetzung, "incitement to hatred" is a crime, for which there is no free-speech defense.

The Financial Times reports that the displeasure with Germany's current handling of the migrant crisis in Europe has been a boon to the populist party Alternative für Deutschland, "whose opposition to Ms Merkel’s open-door refugee policy has won it an ever-expanding army of followers." Specifically, the AfD wants to "reintroduce border controls and bring in a strict Australian-style points-based system for migrants."


February 25, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Symposium on "Childhood Arrivals and Their American Dreams"

The UC Davis School of Law Journal of Juvenile Law & Policy will be holding a Symposium on "Childhood Arrivals and Their American Dreams" on Friday, March 4.

Record numbers of women and children are arriving from Latin American countries seeking asylum to escape from the violence in their home communities. Millions of refuges are trying to escape the war torn areas of Africa and the Middle East. The world as a whole is struggling to meet the demand for assistance. What happens to the children caught up in this turmoil? This symposium addresses the impact of the refugee crises on children who make it to the United States.

We begin by analyzing the scope of the refugee crises around the world and their impact in the United States. Next, we discuss the state of human trafficking of childhood arrivals to this country, with a focus on California problems. We then spend the afternoon discussing the rights of these children once they arrive, and the many challenges they face from the criminal justice and immigration systems.




Welcome Remarks

Justice Cruz Reynoso, UC Davis School of Law

Opening Remarks

Professor Jasmine E. Harris, UC Davis School of Law

9:30a.m. Panel 1
"Scope of the Refugee Crises"

Brian Soucek (moderator), UC Davis School of Law
Kate Jastram, UC Berkeley School of Law
Carrie Rosenbaum, Golden Gate University
Rachel Prandini, Immigrant Legal Resource Center


10:45a.m. Panel 2
"Trafficking of Children"

Rose Cuison Villazor (moderator), UC Davis School of Law
Maggy Krell, Deputy Attorney General, State of California, Human Trafficking Coordinator
Gena Castro Rodriguez, San Francisco District Attorney's Office
Deborah Ortiz, Opening Doors, Inc.


Keynote Address

Ariana Flores, Unaccompanied Minor Service Specialist, Oakland Unified School District 
Introduced by Kevin R. Johnson, Dean, UC Davis School of Law


1:15p.m. Panel 3
"Ensuring Their Rights in the United States"

Kristina McKibben (moderator), McKibben Law, Inc., California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation
Annie Lai, UC Irvine School of Law
Karen Musalo, Center for Gender and Refugee Studies, UC Hastings School of Law
Rachel Ray, UC Davis Immigration Law Clinic & UC Davis Undocumented Legal Services Center


2:30p.m. Panel 4
"Legal Challenges Yet to Overcome"

Jack Chin (moderator), UC Davis School of Law
Holly Cooper, UC Davis School of Law
Michael Sorgen, La Raza Centro
Kevin Lapp, Loyola Law School
Jennifer Chacon, UC Irvine School of Law 

3:45p.m.  Reception


February 24, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Latino Celebs to GOP: 'There's No Coming Back From This'

Benjamin Bratt, Ivonne Coll, America Ferrera, Dolores Huerta, George Lopez, Aubrey Plaza, Zoe Saldana, Carlos Santana, and other celebrity Latina/os have released an open letter calling on Latino communities to stand up to the anti-immigrant fear-mongering of the 2016 GOP presidential candidates.

Open Letter & Signers (in English and Spanish)

An Open Letter to the Latino Community:

In this year’s 2016 Republican presidential primary, the candidates crossed a line. In trying to win the nomination, every one of the leading candidates dug themselves into a deep hole pandering to the anti-immigrant base of the Republican Party that idolizes Donald Trump.

There’s no coming back from this. We’ve seen clearly that all the leading Republican candidates have sided with the far-right at the expense of the Latino community. They’re capitalizing on negative stereotypes and inaccurate information about our community in order to win votes from the GOP base.

Of course, this downward spiral began with Trump. From accusing Mexicans of being rapists to kicking Jorge Ramos out of his press conference, Trump has spent the entirety of his presidential  bid stoking unfounded anti-immigrant fears and deeply offending our communities.

We must not, though, let Trump’s xenophobia overshadow the extreme policies being pushed by every single one of the GOP’s leading presidential candidates. Latinos should understand that Donald Trump embodies the true face of the entire Republican Party. Sadly, he speaks for the GOP’s anti-immigrant, anti-Latino agenda.

Candidates – including supposed “moderates” like Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio – used dangerous, divisive rhetoric and proposed harmful policies in their efforts to win over Trump’s radical supporters. Jeb Bush’s unapologetic use of the term “anchor babies” aligns with his belief that undocumented immigrants here in the U.S. should not have a path to citizenship. His statement that “we should not have a multicultural society” is indefensible. Marco Rubio said that “we must secure our border, the physical border, with a wall, absolutely.” He’s ruled out any path to citizenship or legal status during his term(s) as president if elected. Chris Christie suggested that immigrants should be tracked like FedEx packages.

The candidates cannot come back from these hardline stances. Trump is certainly an outlier for his racist remarks. But the rest of the Republican presidential candidates went off the deep end with him.

Our communities have the power to decide who wins in the 2016 election. We hope that power is used to vote for candidates who support our community, share our values, and will fight for working families. Neither Trump nor any of his fellow Republican candidates meet that standard.

Even if the eventual Republican nominee backtracks on his or her anti-immigrant sentiments, we must not forget that we’ve now seen that in the face of bigotry, the Republican candidates have chosen to turn their backs on our community. The current slate of GOP candidates has proven to us that they’ve joined and embraced the party of Trump.

Carta Abierta para la Comunidad Latina:

En este año 2016, los candidatos Republicanos a las primarias presidenciales, cruzaron una línea.   Al tratar de ganar la nominación, cada uno de los principales candidatos cayeron en un agujero muy profundo que cavaron ellos mismos aprovechándose de la base antiinmigrante del Partido Republicano que idolatra a Donald Trump.  

No hay marcha atrás a esto.  Hemos visto claramente que todos los candidatos líderes Republicanos se han puesto del lado de la extrema derecha, a expensas de la comunidad latina.  Se están aprovechando de los estereotipos negativos y la información inexacta de nuestra comunidad con el fin de ganar votos para la base del Partido Republicano.

Por supuesto, este espiral descendente comenzó con Trump. De acusar a los mexicanos de ser violadores a sacar a Jorge Ramos fuera de su conferencia de prensa, Trump se ha pasado la totalidad de su candidatura presidencial avivando temores antiinmigrantes infundados y a ofender profundamente a nuestras comunidades.  

No debemos, sin embargo, dejar que la xenofobia de Trump desvíe la atención con las políticas extremas, empujando a cada uno de los candidatos presidenciales de la base del Partido Republicano.  Los latinos debemos entender que Donald Trump es la representación de la verdadera cara de todo el Partido Republicano.  Tristemente, él habla por la agenda de la base del Partido Republicano antiinmigrante, anti-latino.  

Los candidatos – incluyendo los supuestos “moderados” como Jeb Bush y Marco Rubio – utilizaron  propuestas peligrosas, retóricas divisivas y políticas dañinas en sus esfuerzos para ganarse a los partidarios radicales de Trump. Jeb Bush utilizó sin complejos el término “bebés ancla” que se alinea con sus creencias sobre los inmigrantes indocumentados quienes no deberían tener camino a la ciudadanía aquí en los Estados Unidos.  Su afirmación de que “no hay que tener una sociedad multicultural” es indefendible.  Marco Rubio dijo que “hay que asegurar nuestra frontera con un muro, absolutamente.” Él descartó cualquier vía a la ciudadanía o estado legal durante su mandato (s) como presidente si fuera elegido.  Chris Christie sugirió que los inmigrantes deben ser rastreados como paquetes de FedEx.

Los candidatos no pueden regresar de estas posturas de línea dura.  Trump es sin duda un caso aparte por sus comentarios racistas.  Pero el resto de los candidatos presidenciales Republicanos se molestaron profundamente con él.

Nuestras comunidades tienen el poder de decidir quién va a ganar la elección del 2016.  Esperamos que este poder sea usado para votar por candidatos que apoyen a nuestra comunidad, compartan nuestros valores, y que pelearán por las familias que trabajan.  Ni Trump ni ninguno de sus compañeros candidatos Republicanos cumplen esas normas.

Incluso si el candidato republicano eventualmente da marcha atrás a sus sentimientos antiinmigrantes, no debemos olvidarnos que ya hemos visto el rostro de la intolerancia, los candidatos republicanos han optado por dar la espalda a nuestra comunidad.  La actual lista de candidatos de la Base Republicana nos ha demostrado que se han unido y han abrazado el partido de Trump.

Yancey Arias
Esteban Benito
Benjamin Bratt
Peter Bratt
Raúl Castillo
Ivonne Coll
Wilson Cruz
Giselle Fernandez
America Ferrera
Mike Gomez
Lisa Guerrero
Dolores Huerta
Eva LaRue
George Lopez
Rick Najera
José-Luis Orozco
Aubrey Plaza
Steven Michael Quezada
Judy Reyes
Zoe Saldana
Miguel Sandoval
Carlos Santana
Lauren Velez


February 24, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Undocumented Immigrants Pay $11.6 Billion in State and Local Taxes; Contributions Would Substantially Increase Under Reform

Undocumented immigrants contribute more than $11.6 billion to state and local coffers each year and pay an average 8 percent of their incomes in state and local taxes according to a newly updated 50-state study by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP). ITEP’s analysis also finds that the combined state and local tax contributions of the nation’s 11 million undocumented immigrants’ would increase by more than $800 million under full implementation of the administration’s 2012 and 2014 executive actions and by more than $2.1 billion under comprehensive immigration reform.

The report, Undocumented Immigrants’ State and Local Tax Contributions, provides state-by-state and national estimates on undocumented immigrants,’ current state and local tax contributions, including a breakdown of sales and excise, personal income, and property taxes. The report further provides estimates for each state showing how much larger these tax contributions would be if all undocumented immigrants were granted legal status under a comprehensive immigration reform and if President Obama’s 2012 and 2014 executive actions were upheld. The report’s key findings:

• Undocumented immigrants contribute significantly to state and local governments, collectively paying an estimated $11.6 billion in state and local taxes.

• Undocumented immigrants’ nationwide average effective state and local tax rate (the share of income they pay in state and local taxes) is an estimated 8 percent. (The top 1 percent of taxpayers nationwide pay an average effective tax rate of just 5.4 percent.)

• Granting legal status to all 11 million undocumented immigrants as part of a comprehensive immigration reform and allowing them to work in the United States legally would increase their state and local tax contributions by an estimated $2.1 billion a year. Their effective tax rate would increase from 8 to 8.6 percent.

• The state and local tax contributions of the 5 million undocumented immigrants who could be directly impacted by President Obama’s 2012 and 2014 executive actions would increase by an estimated $805 million if the actions are upheld. State and local revenue gains from the executive actions are smaller than gains from granting legal status to all undocumented immigrants because the actions (if upheld) would only affect about 46 percent of the undocumented population and the actions do not grant a full pathway to lawful permanent residence.

While this report focuses on the consequences of immigration reform on state and local-level taxes, its findings mirror those at the federal level. Full immigration reform at the federal level would decrease the deficit and generate more than $450 billion in additional federal revenue over the next decade, according to a 2010 report from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office. And the president’s executive actions are estimated to have positive effects on labor market growth and productivity, as well as wages and economic growth according to both the Council of Economic Advisers and the Center for American Progress.

To view the full report or to find state-specific data, go here.


February 24, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigration Article of the Day: Policing the Immigrant Identity by Katie Tinto


Policing the Immigrant Identity by Katie Tinto Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law February 13, 2016 Florida Law Review, Vol. 68, 2016 Cardozo Legal Studies Research Paper No. 477

Abstract: Information concerning an immigrant’s “identity” is critical evidence used by the government against an individual in a deportation proceeding. Today, the government collects immigration-related identity evidence in a variety of ways: a local police officer conducts a traffic stop and obtains a driver’s name and date of birth, fingerprints taken at booking link to previously acquired biographical information, and a search of a national database reveals a person’s country of origin. Data suggests that in an increasing number of cases, immigrant identity evidence is collected by the police following an unlawful search and seizure in violation of the Fourth Amendment. In immigration proceedings, the exclusionary rule serves to suppress evidence obtained in egregious violation of the Fourth Amendment. Under current doctrine, when the suppression of identity evidence is at issue, courts make a factual inquiry as to whether the police collected the identity evidence for an investigative purpose, which would warrant suppression, or for an administrative purpose, which would not. Yet despite this purpose-based standard, the policing underlying the collection of immigrant identity evidence has received almost no judicial or scholarly scrutiny. This Article undertakes this needed examination and reveals that, in today’s world of immigration policing, due to the expanding role of local law enforcement in federal immigration enforcement, the expansion of government databases, and the growth of immigration-related offenses, the collection of immigrant identity evidence is often investigative in its underlying purpose. Consequently, in the immigration context, current exclusionary rule doctrine often wrongly shields evidence from suppression that the rule normatively intends to suppress, and unwittingly undermines the animating function of the exclusionary rule — the deterrence of unconstitutional police misconduct. In light of this analysis, the Article concludes by offering specific reforms to exclusionary rule doctrine governing the suppression of immigrant identity evidence. These proposals also support broader doctrinal reforms to the application of the exclusionary rule to all identity evidence in both criminal and civil courts.


February 24, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

From the Bookshelves: Crossing the Line: A Marriage Across Borders by Linda Valdez


Crossing the Line: A Marriage Across Borders  by Linda Valdez

Not a typical immigration story, Crossing the Line is told by a middle-class American woman who falls in love with the son of an impoverished family from rural Mexico—a man who crosses the border illegally to be with her.

Married in 1988, Linda and Sixto Valdez learn to love each other’s very different families and cultures, raising their child to walk proudly in both worlds.

Revealing the tragedies and ultimately the triumphs that emerge when two families living on different sides of the border come together, Crossing the Line cuts through the fears and preconceptions that fuel the continuing political turmoil over immigration. It is a story America needs to hear. 

A finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing in 2003, Linda Valdez is a columnist and editorial writer at the Arizona Republic/ She has written extensively about immigration and border issues. Her commentary opposing Arizona’s infamous anti-immigration laws earned her the Scripps Howard Walker Stone Award for editorial writing in 2011.


February 24, 2016 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Samantha Bee on Syrian Refugees

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Moral High Ground in Today's Politics

From Ozy

Perhaps in the oddest twist of all, the issue of how to deal with ISIS and refugees presents an opportunity for Democrats to claim a biblical base. In a September speech at Liberty University, an evangelical college, Bernie Sanders quoted Matthew 7:12 (“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you”) and has said that he wouldn’t turn his back on refugees. Hillary Clinton, who has argued against carpet bombing and denying migrants, cites her Methodist faith as a major influence in her views toward aiding the neediest in society. Alan Abramowitz says he isn’t sure if Democrats would refer explicitly to the Bible, “but you’ve already seen some attempt to appeal to this aspect of the Christian message of brotherhood.” Read more....


February 23, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Crimmigration Law Lecture Series



Christopher Lasch and César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández have announced the Crimmigration Law Lecture Series at the University of Denver.  The series begins the series next week on March 3 with talks by Kevin Johnson, Yolanda Vázquez, and Linus Chan. We will also be joined by José Padilla, the petitioner in Padilla v. Kentucky. On April 19, Jennifer Chacón and Mariela Olivares will join us. Next fall, Ingrid Eagly, Annie Lai, and Tanya Golash-Boza have already confirmed their participation. You can read more about the lecture series here.  

All events are free and open to the public. Some, we hope, will even be livestreamed (more on that via Twitter in the coming days).



February 23, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

How U.S. Immigration Law Fueled A Chinese Restaurant Boom


Photo courtesy of NPR

In a time when immigration is a serious topic of national debate, it is good to run across a story or two on the subject on the lighter side..  Maria Godoy on NPR reports on how some openings in the Chinese exclusion laws made the proliferation of Chinese restaurants in the United States possible.  An important exception to the exclusions laws allowed some Chinese business owners in the United States to obtain special merchant visas that allowed them to travel to China, and bring back employees. Only a few types of businesses qualified for this status. In 1915, a federal court added restaurants to that list. A restaurant boom was born.  The number of Chinese restaurants in the U.S. doubles from 1910 to 1920, and doubles again from 1920 to 1930.  In New York City, the number of Chinese eateries quadrupled between 1910 and 1920.



February 23, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Commentary on Jason Cade's Return of the JRAD


Last October, the ImmigrationProf blog highlighted Jason Cade's article Return of the JRAD, which was published by NYU Law Review on Line. Cade has powerfully advocated for returning greater discretion to the courts and agencies in making and reviewing Executive Branch decisions to remove noncitizens from the United States. Return of the JRAD calls for a revival of a now-discarded procedural device of allowing courts sentencing noncitizen criminal defendants to make a “Judicial Recommendation Against Deportation” (JRAD) that would bar the Executive Branch from removing a noncitizen from the United States.  Congress eliminated the JRAD from the immigration laws in 1990. In calling for its comeback, Cade points to a ruling by respected federal district court judge Jack Weinstein. In United States v. Aguilar, the judge issued a sentencing order that, despite the fact that Congress abolished the JRAD a quarter century ago, resembled the old recommendations against deportation. The court thus went beyond the law on the books to advocate against the removal from the United States of a one-time, non-violent criminal offender with U.S. citizen children. 

The law review is publishing a number of responses to Cade's article.  Here is a draft of my response.  

Although one might dismiss Judge Weinstein’s recommendation in United States v. Aguilar as mere dicta, Jason Cade views the order as a much-needed sign of judicial resistance to the harsh criminal removal provisions of the immigration laws. He seeks to return discretionary authority to the courts to ensure greater proportionality and reasonableness to contemporary removal decisions.

Part I of my response expresses full agreement with Jason Cade’s conclusion in Return of the JRAD that the modern criminal removal system fails to protect against unfair removals of immigrants.

Part II adds a powerful justification to the call for the reform of the modern criminal removal system – namely, the serious concerns with the overwhelming modern racial disparities in removals, which directly flow directly from racial disparities in the operation of the modern criminal justice system in the United States. The contemporary criminal removal regime has disparate impacts on Latina/o immigrants, who today comprise the overwhelming majority of the persons deported from the United States. In fact, the modern removal system might accurately be characterized as a Latina/o removal system. The racial impacts of contemporary criminal removals alone warrant a wholesale reconsideration of criminal removals under current American immigration law.

Part III considers separation of powers concerns in the administration of the immigration laws. Jason Cade indirectly raises a critically important question concerning the branch of the federal government that is best equipped — constitutionally and politically — to curb the excesses of the modern criminal removal system. Fundamental separation of powers principles suggest that Congress should be the focus of reforms.  The challenging political question posed to reformers is how to convince Congress to dismantle the mandatory criminal removal regime that it built. As politicians frequently employ anti-immigrant themes for political gain, noncitizens with criminal convictions continue to be among the most reviled of all immigrants in American politics. Only through a political change of heart can Congress begin to restore discretion to removal decisions and better ensure that respect is afforded to the weighty human interests of immigrants, their families, and communities.


February 23, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigration Article of the Day: European Integration and the Governance Of Migration by Alexander Caviedes


European Integration and the Governance Of Migration by Alexander Caviedes, State University of New York (SUNY) at Fredonia - Department of Politics and International Affairs 2016 Journal of Contemporary European Research. 12(1): 552-565.

Abstract: This article traces the development of EU governance of migration, with an emphasis upon key moments of institutional reform such as the creation of the pillar of Justice and Home Affairs within 1992’s Treaty on European Union. The article identifies three periods with different governance patterns since the Maastricht Treaty, with increasing involvement of institutions such as the Court of Justice and the European Parliament. Together with the increased relevance of EU agencies such as Frontex, this has produced a style of governance that is neither predominantly intergovernmental nor supranational, though multilevel and experimental governance are not prominent either. The article also examines what modes of governance are present within the primary migration policy domains. Member states still enjoy considerable discretion in labour migration and family reunion, and the EU institutions have respected this. However, there has been greater supranational involvement in the areas of irregular migration and specifically asylum, whether through the involvement of EU agencies, or through legislation and court rulings that genuinely oblige countries to change their domestic rules. Institutional changes have continued to empower the Commission, with the potential for substantially greater participation and authority for the EU institutions.


February 23, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigration Clinic Position -- Rutgers Newark

EmptyThe Immigrant Rights Clinic at Rutgers Law School in Newark, New Jersey, is seeking to hire a full time Staff Attorney / Fellow to start sometime in the summer or fall of 2016. The start date is flexible. This is a one-year position, with the possibility of renewal for an additional year, contingent on obtaining funding. The fellow will work under the supervision of Professor Anju Gupta, Director of the Immigrant Rights Clinic.


 The fellow will work within the Immigrant Legal Services & Policy Project, an initiative funded by the Rutgers-Newark Chancellor’s Office, in collaboration with the American Friends Service Committee’s Immigrant Rights Program. The fellow will represent unaccompanied minors before the Newark Immigration Court or Newark Asylum Office or adults with children in the Newark Immigration Court’s priority docket and will train and support pro bono attorneys engaging in such representation. The fellow will also engage in outreach and education efforts around the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) programs and may represent individuals seeking these forms of relief, depending on the outcome of pending Supreme Court litigation. The fellow will recruit and supervise student volunteers and will build relationships with community partners.

Position requirements:

A J.D. and membership in a bar of any state (NJ bar membership is a plus, though not required)

  • Experience in immigration law, particularly experience handling SIJS or asylum cases
  • Ability to work independently and as part of a team
  • Strong written and oral communication skills
  • Fluency in another language is a plus, though not required

This is a full time, 12-month position. The salary is $60,000 plus benefits through Rutgers University. Interested candidates should submit a resume, cover letter, writing sample, and list of references no later than March 15, 2016. To apply, go to:


February 23, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Migrant Flows in Europe Continue

Monday, February 22, 2016

Providing Counsel In Removal Proceedings Would Save Money and Prevent Family Separation

Guest blogger: Leandra Gamboa, first-year law student, University of San Francisco:

“Is the system broken? I would think so.” Chief District Judge Martha Vazquez comments on what she observes at the federal courthouse in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Overburdened justice systems across the nation seem to share this sentiment as they are forced to stretch resources to accommodate the overwhelming number of cases related to illegal entry crimes.
In an article published in the Albuquerque Journal, Judge Vazquez conveys, “It’s really a crisis point. Nobody should be operating a federal court system under these conditions.” She admits, at times, “we get the names of the people mixed up.” The crisis she refers to begins with the 300% increase in the number of felony cases filed in New Mexico’s three federal courthouses over the past decade – the majority involving immigration offenses. Federal prosecutors in Las Cruces are juggling caseloads more than seven times higher than the national average, with numbers increasing from 1,800 felony immigration cases filed in 2005. From fiscal year 2004 to 2005 figures show the New Mexico federal court system was the busiest in the nation, based on felony cases handled per judgeship. State District Judge James T. Martin laments, “We don’t practice law. We practice time management. For every 10 [immigrants] that we get rid of, 20 come in.” Deepening this concern is the fact that these numbers exhaust the state’s federal funding.

Due to the sheer volume of immigration cases filed in federal courts, the thousands of federal prisoners are housed in county facilities. The article reports that county jails in New Mexico can receive federal money for undocumented immigrants who stay in their detention centers for three or more days. The U.S. Marshals Service, the agency responsible for federal detainees until they are sentenced, handled a daily average of about 500 detainees in fiscal 1997 – as of October 2005, the average has spiked to over 2,400 detainees. At an average daily inmate cost of $48 to $56 per detainee the yearly costs to the state are topping $42 million.

The Federal Public Defender’s Office estimates that at least 70% of the cases the dozen lawyers are handling are immigration-related. In response, the office stopped defending most misdemeanor immigration cases in 2005. These cases are now handled by private, contract attorneys.

I worked for an attorney recruited for this program, criminal defense attorney, Margaret Strickland. Attorney Strickland is assigned six to eight criminal immigration cases every two weeks and occasionally receives new cases each week. What I observed while working for Attorney Strickland was that booking documents would often list inaccurate personal information making it difficult to locate certain individuals in one of three possible detention centers. Attorney-client communication was routinely problematic and the process was time consuming with little to no cooperation from prison staff or immigration enforcement agencies. Obstacles such as these make the job of providing quality representation difficult for defense attorneys already faced with the task of interpreting two complex bodies of law.

This is a policy put in place to help combat the immigration crisis in southern New Mexico but I think there is more to be learned by looking to the steps being taken in other parts of the country to alleviate some of the burden placed on federal court systems.

In 2013 New York City became the first community in the nation to make the controversial move to provide public defenders to represent every detained, indigent noncitizen in civil immigration court who faced deportation. After implementation, opponents of these policies asked how these resources could be devoted to undocumented aliens, including so-called criminal aliens, when the needs of many legal residents go unmet?

NERA Economic Consulting, in conjunction with the New York City Bar Association attempted to defuse, at least the financial concerns, in a published report suggesting that providing representation to indigent immigrants would pay for itself. The thirty-seven-page report estimates that it would cost $208 million for the federal government to provide legal representation for every indigent immigrant facing deportation. However, between $204 and $208 million would be saved through reduced spending on detention, transportation and other enforcement related costs.

The study estimates that public defenders would help reduce the total time immigrants spend in detention by nearly 1.1 million days per year. Because legal counsel is able to help identify possible forms of relief and secure dismissals or the release of their clients awaiting the outcome of their cases, the result would be a reduction in detention expenditures. For those who lacked legal recourse, a well-counseled client might accept deportation without raising objections or causing unnecessary delays, speeding the removal process and reducing the number of days spent in detention. The release of detainees would create other economic benefits, as these individuals would be able to go back to caring for dependents, return to their jobs and resume paying taxes. 

In the first six months of the New York “pilot” program, legal representation was provided to 190 immigrants facing deportation. Almost half of those cases are still pending, but administrators say that lawyers have identified forms of relief from deportation for about half of the clients and more than a quarter of the participants have won release from detention. This program has paved the way for public defenders offices in other parts of the country, including northern California.

In what was described as a “historic move” occurring in August 2014, the San Francisco Public Defenders Office hired Francisco Ugarte, a full-time civil immigration attorney to help clients facing deportation. Ugarte is tasked with advising trial attorneys on the immigration consequences in cases involving criminal charges against noncitizens. Nearly 36% of San Francisco residents are foreign born and approximately 7% of the 23,000 clients served annually by the public defenders office are undocumented. No additional city funding is being used to pay for Ugarte’s position as it was created from one of its budgeted attorney positions.

A county with a similar demographic, Santa Clara became the third county in the Bay Area (after San Francisco and Alameda) to hire an in-house immigration expert. Sonoma County was soon to follow. Their reasoning echoed the notion that this decision will save taxpayers money in the long run, mainly by keeping families together instead of splitting them apart which, “can drive up social and economic costs such as foster care and welfare.” Another reason is to protect the county from potentially expensive lawsuits claiming inadequate legal representation. From a practical standpoint, supporters in Sonoma Country argue that, “nuances in federal law are not fully understood by criminal lawyers” and the decision is working to make the system as a whole more effective.

Judge Vasquez compares the atmosphere in the Las Cruces courthouse to traffic court, “It’s just a sea of guys in orange.” The chances that the immigration crisis will soon end are slim. For communities like this one faced with overburdened and overworked court systems, it may be time to consider the benefits of providing noncitizens with representation instead of depleting state resources to keep them detained in overcrowded facilities. Lenni Benson, a professor at New York Law School proposes, “You don’t have to be pro-immigrant rights, [y]ou can say, ‘I’m supporting indigent immigrants’ rights because it would make the system more efficient.’” 


February 22, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Naturalization Mega Workshop in San Francisco


SFPCI Naturalization Mega Workshop, Saturday, February 27, Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, San Francisco

The San Francisco Pathways to Citizenship Initiative is planning its third mega naturalization workshop in San Francisco at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium on February 27, 2016.

Over 1,000 people showed up to the May 2015 mega workshop and they are expecting around the same this time around. Needless to say, volunteers are needed.

 The mega workshop will be an all day affair. Volunteers will be expected to report in around 8:00 am and depending on how many participants show up, it is likely that the workshop will not end until 5:00 or 6:00 pm.

Anyone and everyone who wants to volunteer can volunteer. As usual, no prior naturalization knowledge necessary. All volunteer training will be provided prior to the day of the workshop.


February 22, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigration Article of the Day: The Procedural Fortress of US Immigration Law by Jill E. Family


The Procedural Fortress of US Immigration Law by Jill E. Family, Widener University - Commonwealth Law School December 2015 3 Birkbeck Law Review Volume 177, 2015

Abstract: Immigrants face many obstacles. This paper reveals a less obvious one: the procedural system designed to adjudicate immigration removal cases. In the United States, the procedural system itself has become a barrier for immigrants. A structure intended to provide procedural safeguards for immigrants has instead become an obstruction. Instead of facilitating fair and efficient process, the system is dysfunctional. It is collapsing under its own weight and is unable to adjudicate consistently in a fair and competent manner. This failed procedural system is a barrier to immigration that needs to be fixed. The failure to fix it, despite longstanding and well-known shortcomings, reveals that procedural fairness is not a policy priority in the United States.


February 22, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Trump Wins South Carolina Primary: Immigration Hard Line a Key to Victory


According to Fox News polls, some of Donald Trump's more controversial immigration views contributed to his victory in  the South Carolina Republican primary last night.   Fox News exit polls found that

Close to half of the state’s GOP voters who believe illegal immigrants should be deported turned out for Trump.

Those who are frustrated with the way the federal government operates overwhelmingly appeared to support Trump.

Trump’s proposed ban on Muslim immigration, appeared to reward him in South Carolina tonight, too. As much as 73 percent of the state’s GOP voters agree with that idea – and mostly decided to go for Trump.


February 21, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Jamiel Shaw Ad: Trump’s "Illegal Immigration" and "Sanctuary City" Propaganda by Nicole Zanardi


On February 13, presidential candidate Donald Trump, who last night won the Republican presidential primary in South Carolina, released a television ad that attacks "illegal" immigration. Trump uses on the 2008 shooting of 17-year-old Jamiel Shaw, a black high schools student, by an undocumented gang member to arouse anti-immigrant sentiment and develop support from the black population in South Carolina, where the ad was aired. “A wonderful young man, Jamiel Shaw Jr., whose father has become a friend of mine, was shot in the face for no reason by an illegal immigrant,” Trump said in a statement accompanying the ad. 

The report from the Los Angeles Police Department says that Shaw was walking home at 8:40PM when two Latino men jumped out of a car and approached him. They asked him what gang he belonged to, and when he did not respond they shot him. Pedro Espinoza, a 23-year-old undocumented immigrant from Mexico, was convicted of first-degree murder of Shaw. He was sentenced to death in 2012. Espinoza was released from Los Angeles County Jail the day before he killed Shaw, and the Shaw family blames in large part the “sanctuary city” policies followed by Los Angeles for Shaw’s death.

The ad, which gives a brief summary of the shooting before broadcasting general anti-immigrant and pro-Trump rhetoric through the voice of Jamiel Shaw’s father, seems to convey that 1) Espinoza embodies the criminal disposition that all or most undocumented immigrants bring with them to the United States 2) the shooting of Shaw was random, or at best possibly race-related, and 3) the sanctuary city policies of Los Angeles facilitated Shaw’s death and will continue to allow violence by undocumented immigrants. However, the ad is misleading, if not outright mistaken, on all three of these messages.

First, Espinoza’s life and immigration history cuts against the argument Trump attempts to make in his ad – that immigrants, including Espinoza, come into the United States illegally to commit crimes, and commit crimes at a higher rate than American citizens. In fact, the opposite is true. Espinoza was not someone who entered the United States a year or two before committing a crime. He did not re-enter the United States after being deported or held in prison. Rather, he came to the United States by the will of his parents when he was three years old and has remained in the country since he entered twenty years ago. He grew up in the United States - his involvement with gang activity originated here. His perceived need to inflict harm on another person developed while he was raised, went to school, and associated with people in the United States. Further, a study from the Immigrant Policy Center found that “incarceration rates among young men are lowest for immigrants,” according to the report. This holds true especially for the Mexicans, Salvadorans, and Guatemalans who make up the bulk of the undocumented population.” Thus, the generalization Trump attempts to make about Espinoza and all illegal immigrants is unsupported.

Second, though at the time of the trial the prosecution and many others maintained that the shooting was motivated by race, now many are altering that original conclusion. Much evidence exists that Shaw was targeted for gang related reasons, that his death was not a random act of racial hatred. At trial, the prosecution was successful in suppressing evidence that linked Shaw to a street gang. This evidence includes information from his cell phone, pictures, social media posts, and clothing that Shaw was wearing when he was killed. And, information from ear witness Chrystale Miles, who was on the phone with Shaw at the time of the shooting, indicates that there were gang references made in the conversation between Shaw and Espinoza. According to this evidence and other sources, Shaw was in fact a Blood gang member and the shooting was the result of a gang rivalry between Espinoza’s and Shaw’s neighborhoods.

Notably, gang expert Alex Alonso, along with Project Hope’s Najee Ali and LA Times reporter Annette Stark, all people who researched extensively into the circumstances surrounding the shooting, believe that Shaw’s murder was purely gang related - that he was shot because the shooter believed he was a member of the Rollin 20′’s Neighborhood Bloods, a Blood subset that was in great tension with 18th Street, the gang to which Espinoza belonged.

Third, the status of Los Angeles as a "sanctuary city" likely had less to do with Shaw’s death than proposed by the Shaw family and Trump. The term “sanctuary city” generally refers to cities in the United States that restrict the use of funds or resources to enforce the federal immigration laws. Under such laws and policies, police officers in some jurisdictions will not ask people they come into contact with about their immigration status. A sanctuary city also might decline to hold an arrested undocumented immigrant to be turned over to Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The Shaw family contends that Special Order 40 resulted in Espinoza being out on the street and able to kill Shaw. Special Order 40 is a police mandate implemented in 1979 by the Los Angeles Police Department. It prevents officers from questioning people for the sole purpose of determining their immigration status. The Shaw family reasons that under Special Order40, Espinoza was not questioned about his immigration status, but rather released from county jail despite his status, the day before he killed Shaw. However, this reasoning is misguided. Espinoza had been arrested by Culver City police and then later released by the Los Angeles County Jail. Those two jurisdictions are separate from the City of Los Angeles and therefore were not subject to Special Order 40. Although it is unclear why Espinoza was released despite his undocumented status, no formal sanctuary city policy provides an explanation.

In 2015, the Los Angeles Police Department announced changes it would make to its policies related to undocumented immigrants, largely in response to the killing of Kate Steinle by an undocumented immigrant in San Francisco. Under the changes, local officials will collaborate with ICE agents to identify immigrants suspected to be in the U.S. illegally and honor detainer notifications. 

While the facts surrounding the shooting of Jamiel Shaw are still not completely certain, it is very clear that Donald Trump’s ad encapsulating the event as an anti-illegal immigrant message is both unfounded and misleading.

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


February 21, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)