Thursday, March 31, 2016

The H-1B Visa Program: A Primer on the Program and Its Impact on Jobs, Wages, and the Economy

Today, the American Immigration Council released The H-1B Visa Program: A Primer on the Program and Its Impact on Jobs, Wages, and the Economy.  Each year, on April 1, U.S. employers seeking highly skilled foreign professionals submit their applications for the pool of H-1B visas. With a limit of 65,000 visas available for new hires—and 20,000 additional visas for foreign professionals who graduate with a Master’s or Doctorate from a U.S. university—in recent years, demand for H-1B visas has outstripped the supply, and the cap has been reached quickly. This fact sheet provides an overview of the H-1B visa category and petition process, addresses the myths perpetuated about the H-1B visa category, and highlights the key contributions H-1B workers make to the U.S. economy.

To view a blog post on the fact sheet, see Is It Time to Change the H-1B Visa Cap? (


Annual cap


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

Mexico: Asylum Elusive for Migrant Children -- Major Obstacles for Central American Asylum Seekers


Central American children fleeing serious threats face formidable obstacles in applying for asylum in Mexico, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today.

The 151-page report, “Closed Doors: Mexico’s Failure to Protect Central American Refugee and Migrant Children,” documents wide discrepancies between Mexican law and practice. By law, Mexico offers protection to those who face risks to their lives or safety if returned to their countries of origin. But less than 1 percent of children who are apprehended by Mexican immigration authorities are recognized as refugees, according to Mexican government data.

“On paper, Mexican law appears to provide every protection for children who have fled their home countries in fear of their lives,” said Michael Bochenek, senior children’s rights counsel at Human Rights Watch. “But only a handful actually receive asylum, reflecting that even though Central American children and adults face serious threats, the government is not giving adequate consideration to their claims.”

Human Rights Watch interviewed 61 children and more than 100 adults who had traveled to Mexico from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. Human Rights Watch also interviewed Mexican government officials; representatives of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the UN refugee agency; and representatives of nongovernmental organizations; and reviewed case files and data collected by Mexico’s immigration and refugee protection agencies.
These findings come at a time when the number of undocumented children apprehended by Mexican authorities has been sharply increasing. Mexican immigration authorities apprehended more than 35,000 children in 2015, nearly 55 percent more than in 2014, and 270 percent more than in 2013.

These increases are in part a reflection of surging United States government financial support for immigration enforcement by Mexico starting in mid-2014, when record numbers of Central Americans, including unaccompanied children and families with children, began to arrive in the US.

Gang violence has plagued Central America’s “Northern Triangle” countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras for more than a decade, and gangs in these three countries often target children.

Many of the children Human Rights Watch interviewed said that they were pressured to join gangs, often under threat of harm or death to themselves or to family members. Girls face particular risk of sexual violence and assault by gang members. Other children gave accounts of being held for ransom or targeted for extortion.

Gabriel R., a 15-year-old from the Honduran department of Cortés, told Human Rights Watch: “I was in school, in the ninth grade. One day the gang came up to me near the school where I was studying. They told me that I needed to join the gang. They gave me three days. If I didn’t join them, they’d kill me.” He left for Mexico on his own in May 2015, before the three days were up.

But when the children flee to Mexico, immigration agents frequently do not inform them of their right to seek asylum or screen them to determine whether they may have viable refugee claims, Human Rights Watch found.
Children who apply for asylum are not guaranteed legal or other assistance unless they are fortunate enough to be represented by one of the handful of nongovernmental organizations that provide legal assistance to asylum seekers. Asylum processes are not designed with children in mind and are frequently confusing to them.

Children who wish to apply for asylum also face the threat of prolonged detention. Several children told Human Rights Watch that immigration agents warned them that merely applying for asylum would result in protracted detention. Human Rights Watch also spoke with several children and parents who decided not to apply or who withdrew applications, accepting returns to their home countries despite the risks because they did not want to remain locked up.

Mexican law provides that unaccompanied children should be transferred to the custody of Mexico’s child protection system and should be detained only in exceptional circumstances. Nevertheless, detention of migrant children is the rule.
Even children lucky enough to land in shelters run by the country’s child protection agency experience a form of detention. They do not attend local schools and have few contacts with the community. Unless they need specialized medical care, they remain within the four walls of the shelter for the duration of their stay.

Under international standards, children should not be detained as a means of immigration control; instead, countries should “expeditiously and completely cease the detention of children on the basis of their immigration status,” as the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has stated. Mexico has an obligation to provide these children with appropriate care and protection in suitable settings.

Mexico has a right to control its borders, but migrant children should not be held in detention. Mexico can provide appropriate care and protection to unaccompanied and separated children in a variety of ways, whether by housing children with families or in state or privately run facilities. While some may need to be housed in closed facilities, locking children up in prison-like settings does not meet international standards, Human Rights Watch said.

Mexico should ensure that children have effective access to refugee recognition procedures, including appropriate legal and other assistance. The government should also expand the capacity of its refugee agency, including by establishing a presence across Mexico’s southern border.

The US government, which has pressured Mexico to interdict Central Americans, should provide additional funding and support to improve and expand Mexico’s capacity to process asylum claims and to provide social support for asylum seekers and refugees. The US government should link funding of Mexican entities engaged in immigration and border control to their demonstrated compliance with national and international human rights standards.

The US government should also expand its Central American Minors Program to allow children to apply from Mexico and other countries where they have sought safety, and to allow applications based on a relationship to extended family members, not only parents, in the US.

“Putting children in a position in which they think they have to choose between months in detention or being returned to danger violates common decency as well as Mexican and international law,” Bochenek said. “Both Mexico and the US should work to provide appropriate care and a reasonable opportunity to apply for protection for children fleeing danger in Central America.”


March 31, 2016 in Current Affairs, Immigration Law Clinics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigration Article of the Day: Sensors, Cameras, and the New 'Normal' in Clandestine Migration: How Undocumented Migrants Experience Surveillance at the U.S.-Mexico Border by Bryce Clayton Newell et al.

Sensors, Cameras, and the New 'Normal' in Clandestine Migration: How Undocumented Migrants Experience Surveillance at the U.S.-Mexico Border by Bryce Clayton Newell (Tilburg University - Tilburg Institute for Law, Technology, and Society (TILT)), Ricardo Gomez (University of Washington - The Information School), Verónica E. Guajardo (University of Washington - The Information School), March 18, 2016, Surveillance & Society, Forthcoming

Abstract: This paper presents findings from an exploratory qualitative study of the experiences and perceptions of undocumented (irregular) migrants to the United States with various forms of surveillance in the borderlands between the U.S. and Mexico. Based on fieldwork conducted primarily in a migrant shelter in Nogales, Mexico, we find that migrants generally have a fairly sophisticated understanding about U.S. Border Patrol surveillance and technology use and that they consciously engage in forms of resistance or avoidance. Heightened levels of border surveillance may be deterring a minority of migrants from attempting immediate future crossings, but most interviewees were undeterred in their desire to enter the U.S., preferring to find ways to avoid government surveillance. Furthermore, migrants exhibit a general lack of trust in the “promise” of technology (including body-worn cameras and the Transborder Immigrant Tool) to improve their circumstances and increase their safety during clandestine border-crossing — often due to fears that technology use makes them vulnerable to state surveillance, tracking, and arrest.


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

Presidential Proclamation -- Cesar Chavez Day, 2016



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As a child of migrant workers who struggled just to get by, César Chávez knew the importance of having an economy that works for everyone and devoted his life to ensuring our Nation upheld the values upon which it was founded.  On his birthday, we celebrate a man who reminded us -- above all else -- that we all share a common humanity, each of us having our own value and contributing to the same destiny, and we carry forward his legacy by echoing his peaceful and eloquent calls for a more just and equal society.

César Chávez demonstrated that true courage is revealed when the outlook is darkest, the resistance is strongest, and we still find it within ourselves to stand up for what we believe in.  In the face of extraordinary adversity and opposition, he stood up for the inherent dignity of every person, no matter their race, color, creed, or sexual orientation, and for the idea that when workers are treated fairly, we give meaning to our founding ideals.  Guided by his faith in his convictions, he fasted, marched, and rallied millions to "La Causa" to expand opportunity and demand a voice for workers everywhere.  Together with Dolores Huerta, he founded the United Farm Workers, and through boycotts and protests, he ushered in a new era of respect for America's laborers and farm workers.

Today, we honor César Chávez by continuing to fight for what he believed in, including a living wage for workers and their right to unionize and provide for their family.  Workers should have a safe workplace and the comfort of knowing that if they work hard, they can feed their family, earn decent benefits, and gain the skills they need to move up and get ahead.  We will also keep up our efforts to reform our Nation's broken immigration system so more people can contribute to our country's success.  And as we strive for well-deserved policies for America's workers, like a higher minimum wage and paid leave, we are reminded that the movement César Chávez led was sustained by a generation of organizers who spoke out and fought for a better, fairer America -- and it is now upon us to do the same in our time.

Our Nation's progress has always been driven by the belief that extraordinary things happen when we come together around a common cause, and through decades of organizing and serving others, César Chávez embodied this ideal.  On César Chávez Day, let us unite to reach for the America he knew was possible -- one in which hard work is rewarded, prosperity is shared, and equal opportunity is the right of all our people.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim March 31, 2016, as César Chávez Day.  I call upon all Americans to observe this day with appropriate service, community, and education programs to honor César Chávez's enduring legacy. 

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirtieth day of March, in the year of our Lord two thousand sixteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and fortieth.




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

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Border Patrol Officer Union Endorses Donald Trump

Joe Davidson in the Washington Post reports that the union representing Border Patrol agents has endorsed businessman Donald Trump for the Republican presidential nomination. “Mr. Trump will take on special interests and embrace the ideas of rank-and-file Border Patrol agents rather than listening to the management yes-men who say whatever they are programmed to say. This is a refreshing change that we have not seen before — and may never see again,” the National Border Patrol Council said in a statement posted today,

The endorsement statement ends with the following:

Unlike his opponents, Donald Trump is not a career politician, he is an outsider who has created thousands of jobs, pledged to bring about aggressive pro-American change, and who is completely independent of special interests. We don't need a person who has the perfect Washington-approved tone, and certainly NOT another establishment politician in the W.H. Indeed, the fact that people are more upset about Mr. Trump’s tone than about the destruction wrought by open borders tells us everything we need to know about the corruption in Washington.

We need a person in the White House who doesn't fear the media, who doesn't embrace political correctness, who doesn't need the money, who is familiar with success, who won't bow to foreign dictators, who is pro-military and values law enforcement, and who is angry for America and NOT subservient to the interests of other nations. Donald Trump is such a man.

Mr. Trump is as bold and outspoken as other world leaders who put their country's interests ahead of all else. Americans deserve to benefit for once instead of always paying and apologizing. Our current political establishment has bled this country dry, sees their power evaporating, and isn't listening to voters who do all the heavy lifting. Trump is opposed by the established powers specifically because they know he is the only candidate who actually threatens the established powers that have betrayed this country.

You can judge a man by his opponents: all the people responsible for the problems plaguing America today are opposing Mr. Trump. It is those without political power – the workers, the law enforcement officers, the everyday families and community members – who are supporting Mr. Trump.

Mr. Trump will take on special interests and embrace the ideas of rank-and-file Border Patrol agents rather than listening to the management yes-men who say whatever they are programmed to say. This is a refreshing change that we have not seen before – and may never see again.

Mr. Trump is correct when he says immigration wouldn’t be at the forefront of this presidential campaign if months ago he hadn’t made some bold and necessary statements. And when the withering media storm ensued he did not back down one iota. That tells you the measure of a man. When the so-called experts said he was too brash and outspoken, and that he would fade away, they were proven wrong. We are confident they will be proven wrong again in November when he becomes President of the United States.

There is no greater physical or economic threat to Americans today than our open border. And there is no greater political threat than the control of Washington by special interests. In view of these threats, the National Border Patrol Council endorses Donald J. Trump for President – and asks the American people to support Mr. Trump in his mission to finally secure the border of the United States of America, before it is too late.






March 30, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Celebrating the Work of Bill Hing: Rebellious Lawyering Conference, May 19 and 20, 2016, UC Hastings College of the Law

Rebellious lawyering

The work of our fellow blogger Bill Hing will be celeberated at this conference in May at UC Hastings.


March 30, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigration Article of the Day: Danger and Dignity: Immigrant Day Laborers and Occupational Risk by Jayesh Rathod


Danger and Dignity: Immigrant Day Laborers and Occupational Risk by Jayesh Rathod, American University - Washington College of Law March 21, 2016 Seton Hall Law Review, Vol. 46, No. 3, 2016

Abstract: The plight of immigrant workers in the United States has captured significant scholarly attention in recent years. Despite the prevalence of discourses regarding this population, one set of issues has received relatively little attention: immigrant workers’ exposure to unhealthy and unsafe working conditions, and their corresponding susceptibility to workplace injuries and illnesses. Researchers have consistently found that immigrant workers suffer disproportionately from occupational injuries and fatalities, even when controlling for industry and occupation. Why, then, are foreign-born workers at greater risk for workplace injuries and fatalities, when compared with their native-born counterparts?

This Article seeks to develop answers to that question with the aid of empirical research and to build upon a growing interdisciplinary literature. This Article presents findings from a qualitative research study designed to explore the factors that shape occupational risks for immigrants. The study, conducted over several months in 2014, centered on in-depth interviews of eighty-four immigrant day laborers seeking employment in different parts of Northern Virginia. The workers’ responses present a complex picture of the immigrant worker experience, reflecting persistent dangers alongside powerful expressions of worker dignity: while the Virginia day laborers continue to encounter significant occupational risks, many comfortably asserted their rights, complicating standard narratives of immigrant worker subordination and vulnerability.

The results of the study also point to ongoing economic insecurities, and regulatory failures relating to the provision of training, use of protective equipment, and oversight of smaller worksites. The findings also signal the need for a more holistic approach to workplace regulation that concomitantly examines a range of workplace concerns, including wage violations, hostile work environments, and health and safety risks. Finally, the day laborers’ experiences reveal that worker centers are well positioned to insulate immigrant workers from workplace risks, by promoting transparency and accountability in the employer-employee relationship.


March 30, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Immigration Article of the Day: Prosecutorial Power at its Zenith: The Power to Protect Liberty by Peter Markowitz


Prosecutorial Discretion Power at its Zenith: The Power to Protect Liberty by Peter L. Markowitz, Yeshiva University - Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, February 17, 2016, Boston University Law Review, Forthcoming


Abstract:  On November 20, 2015, President Obama, frustrated by congressional inaction on immigration, announced an ambitious and potentially transformative prosecutorial discretion policy to forego the deportations of millions of low priority undocumented immigrants. That announcement immediately sparked legal challenges, which have quickly wound their way to the Supreme Court, and nationwide debate about the limits of the President’s prosecutorial discretion authority. President Obama’s actions are part of a larger trend whereby modern presidents have increasingly used robust assertions of prosecutorial discretion powers to achieve policy goals that they could not realize through legislation.

There are clear dangers in allowing a president to wield excessive prosecutorial discretion power. Taken to an extreme, in the context of the vast modern administrative state, a president could significantly undermine the will of Congress across a wide array of subject areas and, thereby, upset the separation of powers enshrined in the Constitution. This legitimate concern has led some to argue that a president should not be permitted to exercise prosecutorial discretion categorically or based on her own normative view of the public interest. Categorical normative prosecutorial discretion policies pose the greatest risk of infringing on Congress’ primary policy making role; however, excising normative judgments and agency wide policies is entirely unworkable. The core purposes of prosecutorial discretion — justice, mercy and societal utility — all necessarily require the President to make independent judgments about the wisdom of prosecution. Limiting prosecutorial discretion to case-by-case determinations would be at odds with historic and modern practice and would significantly undermine the institutional design goals of transparency, uniformity and accountability.

This Article suggests a new way to think about the boundaries of the President’s prosecutorial discretion authority. Specifically, I propose that the nature of prosecutorial discretion power is dependent on the context of enforcement and that the power is at its zenith when a president exercises her discretion to protect physical liberty. It is in the liberty deprivation context where historical precedent, the Constitution’s structural bias against liberty deprivation and the textual sources of prosecutorial discretion powers all militate in favor of robust presidential powers as a necessary check against excessively punitive statutory schemes.


March 29, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Hard Line Immigration Stand Less Popular with Young Republicans?


The New York Times reports that young Republicans are much more likely to have favorable views of immigration and to support a path to citizenship for immigrants in the United States unlawfully than are older Republican voters, according to a survey published on Tuesday by the Public Religion Research Institute, a nonpartisan research group. The divide could mean trouble in the general election for two leading Republican candidates, Donald J. Trump and Senator Ted Cruz, who have called for mass deportations.

In the survey, 63 percent of Republicans under 30 said they supported giving those immigrants a chance to become citizens if they met certain requirements. Only 20 percent of young Republicans said they would identify and deport them. By contrast, about a third — 34 percent — of Republicans age 65 and over favored deportation, and less than half — 47 percent — said they supported a pathway to citizenship for those immigrants.


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

Why Latinos and Muslim Americans should support Trump


Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has said some pretty offensive things about Latinos and Muslims.  Nonetheless, Dean Obeidallah on CNN argues that Latinos and Muslim Americans should support Trump for the Republican nomination because fear of his candidacy will increase the naturalization rates of Latino and Muslim immigrants as well as increase voter registration and voting. 


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

State of Texas Files Brief in United States v. Texas


Yesterday, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a merits brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in United States v. Texas.  Texas led a coalition representing 26 states in challenging President Obama's expanded deferred action program announced in November 2014.                                                                                                         

“The Obama Administration has consistently demonstrated disregard for the rule of law in asserting that it has the legal authority to unilaterally change the immigration policy of the United States,” said Attorney General Paxton. “Rewriting national immigration law requires the full and careful consideration of Congress, not the political will and assertion of one person. As the president himself said numerous times, he alone does not have the authority to grant millions of unauthorized aliens a host of benefits, including work authorization.” 

Joining Texas in the lawsuit are: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

 Click here to view the brief.  Here is the introduction to the brief:

"The Executive Branch unilaterally created a program—known as DAPA—that contravenes Congress’s complex statutory framework for determining when an alien may lawfully enter, remain in, and work in the country. DAPA would deem over four million unlawfully present aliens as “lawfully present” and eligible for work authorization. Pet. App. 413a. And “lawful presence” is an immigration classification established by Congress that is necessary for valuable benefits, such as Medicare and Social Security.

The Executive does not dispute that DAPA would be one of the largest changes in immigration policy in our Nation’s history. The President himself described DAPA as “an action to change the law.” Pet. App. 384a. Yet the Executive claims it may effect this change without even conventional notice-and-comment procedure.

Far from interfering with the Executive’s removal discretion, the preliminary injunction of DAPA does not require the Executive to remove any alien. And this lawsuit has never challenged the Executive’s separate memorandum establishing three categories of aliens prioritized for removal. Pet. App. 420a-29a.  This case is about an unprecedented, sweeping assertion of Executive power.

This case is not about the wisdom of particular immigration policies; legislators have disagreed on whether immigration statutes should be amended. But when Congress has established certain conduct as unlawful, the separation of powers does not permit the Executive to unilaterally declare that conduct lawful."


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

No Way Out? Making Additional Migration Channels Work for Refugees


Close to half of the global refugee population, now 20 million, has been displaced for five years or more, many for more than 20 years. As the world buckles under the strain of relatively newer refugee crises in Syria, Nigeria, and elsewhere, the three ‘durable solutions’ to displacement traditionally advocated by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)—repatriation, resettlement, and local integration—have proven elusive for the vast majority of refugees. Just over one percent globally benefited from resettlement or returned to their countries of origin voluntarily in 2014.

Relieving the strain on the humanitarian system will require new and creative solutions that go beyond what is on the table. In recognition of the need for refugees to regain access to employment and economic opportunities, and to reduce the attraction of smuggling services, government and humanitarian communities alike have begun to explore how to increase opportunities for refugees to move legally beyond countries of first asylum.

A new report from Migration Policy Institute Europe, No Way Out? Making Additional Migration Channels Work for Refugees, examines concrete ways to use existing initiatives and programming to open additional legal migration pathways for refugees both within and beyond countries of first asylum. 

The report assesses the accessibility of existing labour, education, and family migration channels to refugees and explores the potential for expanding mobility opportunities via these channels. It goes on to discuss the need for refugees to have a stable legal status in a country of first asylum in order to access opportunities elsewhere, and considers the political and technical barriers that often make countries of first asylum reluctant to become ‘permanent’ hosts of refugee populations.

Some pathways will be more easily implemented than others. Those requiring long-term adaptation of processes, like recognition of qualifications, could take longer, whilst others—like the introduction of scholarship or private sponsorship programmes—might be more swiftly put into effect. International organizations such as UNHCR can play a role not just in moving the discussion forward, but also in identifying and sharing best practices and monitoring implementation.

Read the report online.




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

Monday, March 28, 2016

One Immigrant's Experience in Graphic Essay Form


This graphic essay by illustrator and author Juana Medina entitled, "A Decade in Immigration Purgatory:  My Struggle to Become an American Citizen," is worth checking out and could also serve as an effective teaching tool for immprofs.  It highlights some of the challenges associated with work limitations for student visa holders; detentions of valid visa holders at the border; and the high standards required for EB-1 visas.  The essay demonstrates the bureaucratic, legal and psychological difficulties presented by the immigration process for educated professionals while recognizing the even greater hardships faced by those less privileged.  As Medina notes:  "I am one of the lucky ones."  


March 28, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigration Article of the Day: When Immigrants Speak: The Precarious Status of Non-Citizen Speech Under the First Amendment by Michael Kagan


When Immigrants Speak: The Precarious Status of Non-Citizen Speech Under the First Amendment by Michael Kagan University of Nevada, Las Vegas, William S. Boyd School of Law March 17, 2016 Boston College Law Review, Vol. 57, 2016, Forthcoming

Abstract: The legal protection of free speech for immigrants in the United States is surprisingly limited, and it may be under more threat than is commonly understood. Although many unauthorized immigrants have become politically active in campaigning for immigration reform, their ability to speak out publicly may depend more on political discretion than on the Constitutional protections that we normally take for granted. Potential threats to immigrant free speech may be seen in three areas of law. First, a broad claim has been made by the Department of Justice that immigrants who have not been legally admitted to the country have no First Amendment protection at all. Second, the Supreme Court has approved broad prohibitions on non-citizens spending money on speech that is related to electoral campaigns. Third, the Court has indicated that the federal government might in its discretion act to deport immigrants because of their political activities. The Supreme Court should revisit these questions, because current case law is in tension with other principles of free speech law, especially the prohibition on identity-based speech restrictions as articulated in Citizens United v. FEC. As the Court explained there, the First Amendment protects the rights of marginalized people to have a voice, and does not allow the government to prefer some speakers over others based on their identity.


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

Onion Article On Cuban Refugees Clinging to Air Force One Requires Snopes Debunking

Last week, The Onion ran this headline: Hundreds Of Cuban Refugees Clinging To Air Force One On Flight Back To U.S.. It was accompanied by this pic:


Inexplicably, some people thought this was real news. Internet-myth debunker Snopes had to step in to clarify that this was, in fact, "humor."


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

From the Bookshelves: The Illegal by Lawrence Hill

The Illegal by Lawrence Hill

Keita Ali is on the run.

Like every boy on the mountainous island of Zantoroland, running is all Keita’s ever wanted to do. In one of the poorest nations in the world, running means respect. Running means riches—until Keita is targeted for his father’s outspoken political views and discovers he must run for his family’s survival.

Keita escapes into Freedom State—a wealthy island nation that has elected a government bent on deporting the refugees living within its borders in the community of AfricTown. Keita can stay safe only if he keeps moving and eludes the officials who would deport him to his own country, where he would face almost certain death.

This is the new underground: a place where tens of thousands of people deemed to be “illegal” live below the radar of the police and government officials. As Keita surfaces from time to time to earn cash prizes by running local road races, he has to assess whether the people he meets are friends or enemies.

Keita’s very existence in Freedom State is illegal. As he trains in secret, eluding capture, the stakes keep getting higher. Soon, he is running not only for his life, but for his sister’s life, too.

Fast moving and compelling, The Illegal casts a satirical eye on people who have turned their backs on undocumented refugees and urges us to consider the plight of the faceless, the unseen and the forgotten.

The Illegal is published by HarperCollins in Canada and by  WW Norton & Co in the United States.

Click here for a review of The Illegal.


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

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Alabama Governor, Champion of HB 56, in Ethics Hot Water


The Governor of Alabama Robert Bentley, who signed into law Alabama's tough immigration enforcement law (HB 56), which the 11th Circuit invalidated in large part, finds himself in some ethics hot water.

Politico reports that the state auditor of Alabama on Friday filed an ethics violations report against Gov. Bentley, initiating a legal investigation into "misuse of state property" as well as the legality of his senior political adviser Rebekah Caldwell Mason's status as either a public official or a lobbyist.   Here is the report.

The ethics report questions how Mason is paid, whether Bentley and Mason are "using state property in furtherance of their personal relationship." As Bentley's senior political adviser, Mason is not currently on the state payroll and has not been since 2013, when she and her company RCM Communications did consulting work for the governor's 2014 reelection campaign.

The Governor needs to be truthful with people of our state, about the nature and the funding of Ms. Mason's employment with his office," the State Auditor stated. "This is not about his personal peccadillos, it is about the improper use of state funds and the right of the people to know who is paying the advisors to our public officials."

An audiotape has made the rounds.  "You know what, when I stand behind you and I put my arms around you, and I put my hands on your breasts, and I put my hands on you ... and pull you real close ... Hey, I love that too, putting my hands under you," Bentley was recorded saying to a woman, allegedly Mason, on the phone in one of the recordings cited by Collier. "I love you. I love to talk to you. I do. ... But baby, lemme tell you what we’re gonna have to do tonight: Start locking the door. ... If we’re gonna do what we did the other day, we’re gonna have to start locking the door.” 


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

At the Movies: Miss India America (2016)


In a new feature film, Miss India America, Lily Prasad is graduating from her Orange County high school at the top of her class. And she has a plan, "The Lily Plan”. She will become a brain surgeon like her father. Her sweet, lost boyfriend Karim will become a petroleum engineer. They’ll get married. Have kids. Live happily ever after. But the plan is thrown into confusion when KarimM becomes smitten by and runs off with the reigning Miss India National beauty queen. 

Not happy about losing at anything, Lily decides that she herself must become the new Miss India National! So talents must be learnt and the competition must be crushed! But Lily will discover you’re not always a winner when you win, and there’s maybe more to learn when you lose.  

A smart, witty, coming of age comedy feature film.

Hereis the Hollywood Reporter review.



March 27, 2016 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Happy Easter!

Here’s Where The 2016 Candidates Stand On Legal Immigration