Thursday, June 30, 2016

Immigration Article of the Day: Promoting the Recognition and Protection of the Rights of All Migrants Using a Soft-Law International Migrants Bill of Rights by Ian M. Kysel


Promoting the Recognition and Protection of the Rights of All Migrants Using a Soft-Law International Migrants Bill of Rights by Ian M. Kysel, Journal on Migration and Human Security, 2016

Abstract:  he rights and movement of people crossing international borders remain inadequately governed and incompletely protected by a fragmented patchwork of institutions and norms. In recent years, debates regarding migration law and practice globally have been focused on subcategories of migrants, such as refugees, or on particular migration contexts, such as migration as a result of crisis or climate change. In response, a transnational initiative housed at the Georgetown University Law Center has drafted a soft-law bill of rights — the International Migrants Bill of Rights (IMBR) — that seeks to elaborate the law protecting all migrants, regardless of the cause of their movement across an international border. The bill draws its content from human rights, refugee, and labor law, among other areas, and is drafted to be a comprehensive and declarative tool that articulates a core set of rights to protect migrants and to apply in the migration context. This article articulates how such a tool could be used to promote the recognition and protection of the rights of all migrants, in law and in practice. It argues that a soft-law bill of rights could be leveraged to fill significant gaps and promote an improved normative and institutional infrastructure that better protects all migrants worldwide. The paper begins with a brief overview of the gap that a soft-law bill of rights can address, as well as the history and content of the bill of rights and IMBR Initiative. The author then describes, specifically, how making use of a soft-law bill of rights stands to improve the recognition and protection of fundamental rights that protect all migrants — and how soft law can help fill specific protection gaps. 


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

Whoops! USCIS Tweets Wrong Date For Declaration of Independence

Earlier today, the USCIS Español tweeted:


Of course, that's not quite right. The answer should be 1776.

It was a simple typo. "Human error" that the USCIS changed within an hour.

Unfortunately for the USCIS, conservative immigration hardliner Mark Krikorian noticed the typo before the government did. And he made a veritable mountain of the the molehill, stating: “It’s a disturbing sign of the lack of familiarity with American history itself.”

Or, you know, it's the sign of a careless typist. One or the other.


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

Refugees Welcome in Canada

Here is the perfect antidote to my earlier post about anti-refugee sentiment in Idaho. The NYT has a truly lovely article Refugees Encounter a Foreign Word: Welcome.

The article discusses how, in Canada, "ordinary citizens.. can band together in small groups and personally resettle — essentially adopt — a refugee family." And they're doing just that. So much so that the Canadian government is having trouble keeping up!

“I can’t provide refugees fast enough for all the Canadians who want to sponsor them,” John McCallum, the country’s immigration minister, said in an interview.

The program is not without challenges, as the article points out. But ultimately it's about the willingness of individuals to stand up and provide real help to those in need. It is, in short, inspiring.


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

Horrific News out of Idaho

If you missed this article from the Washington Post last week, you might count yourself lucky. It's a tough read.

A very young girl, age 5, was sexually assaulted in a small farming town in Idaho. The perpetrators were juveniles. One was from the Sudan, the other Iraq.

Rumor spread that the incident was "carried out by a violent gang of young Syrian refugees who had taken over a low-income housing complex on the northern edge of town." City officials were accused of "manufacturing a cover-up that was designed to downplay a new crime wave that followed an influx of lawless Muslim refugees who had arrived via a federal resettlement program."

Those rumors spread locally via social media. They spread nationwide with the help of the conservative news aggregation website The Drudge Report, which ran the following headline "Syrian Refugees Rape Little Girl at Knifepoint in Idaho."

The prosecuting attorney assigned to the case called that headline "all false" - the child was not raped, there was no knife, and no Syrians were involved.

In fact, no Syrians have resettled in the affected town. Only 57 Syrians have resettled anywhere in Idaho since 2011.

But over 350 refugees, from the Sudan and Iraq, have resettled in the small town since 2011. And at least some residents are concerned that "ISIS is here; the Muslim Brotherhood is here." While others opine that "bringing in these people from other countries — if they don’t abide by our rules, they need to get the hell back to their country.”


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

Celebrating Independence Day with Naturalization Ceremonies


The July 4 Independence Day weekend is almost here!

On July 4, we celebrate our nation’s 240th birthday and the day the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence in 1776.

USCIS marks Independence Day with naturalization ceremonies across the country. This year, we will welcome more than 7,000 new citizens during nearly 100 naturalization ceremonies between June 30 and July 4. A list of highlighted ceremonies is below.


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

Must-See Photos of CBP's "Ice Box" Cells at Border

A district court judge in Tucson, AZ unsealed hundreds of photos from Customs and Border Protection related to "las hieleras" -- freezing holding cells used on migrants apprehended by CBP along the US-Mexico border. This article on Fusion contains several of the photos, which show dysfunctional water fountains, located immediately above squalid toilets.  The photos were released as part of a lawsuit brought by the American Immigration Council, the National Immigration Law Center, the ACLU of Arizona, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, and Morrison & Foerster LLP.  The article quotes Mary Kenney, senior staff attorney at the American Immigration Council, explaining that they expect more images to be released.

According to the article, the lawsuit brings attention to the testimony of one mother who was placed in a cell: "Carmen was apprehended by Border Patrol crossing the river with her five-month-old daughter Lily. She was placed into a cell with no dry clothes or blankets for her or the baby. Carmen requested something to keep the baby warm since it was so cold in the cell and all she had was wet clothing. The agents refused. By morning Lily was turning blue."

More information about the lawsuit, Doe v. Johnson, No. 15-00250 (D. Ariz. filed June 8, 2015) is available on this American Immigration Council page.  AIC also has a related FAQ/backgrounder on las hieleras.



June 30, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Ninth Circuit to Hear Oral Argument in Juvenile Immigrant Right to Counsel Case

 David Rogers on Politico previews a Ninth Circuit case to be argued next week.  As he puts it, "A landmark child migrant case" comes before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit next week in Seattle, where a three judge panel will hear oral arguments as to the right of juveniles to counsel in removal proceedings.

The case was brought against then-Attorney General Eric Holder in July 2014 by the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project and the American Civil Liberties Union.  The Obama administration has aggressively defended the fairness of the current system and downplaying the legal harm to the children.  

The panel of judges who will hear arguments in the case are two Republicans appointees — Andrew Kleinfeld and Milan Smith-- and one Democrat, Margaret McKeown.

The case is J. F.M. v. Loretta Lynch .  It is an I Interlocutory appeal by the government and cross-appeal by plaintiffs, alien juveniles, in plaintiffs' lawsuit claiming that all juveniles in immigration proceedings should be given representation at taxpayer expense.


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

Nothing Donald Trump Says on Immigration Holds Up


Sally Kohn for Time debunks Donald Trump's core claims against immigrants, claims that we have heard through U.S. history.  Read her commentary in Time for quick talking points on the claims that:

1.  Immigrants Steal Jobs.

2.  Immigrants Drain Public Benefits.

3.  Immigrants Don't Assimilate.


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

President Obama Goes to Canada for the North America Leaders' Summit, Talks Immigration, Immigrants, Refugees


President Obama, speaking Wednesday in Canada, offered a lengthy and passionate rebuttal to what he described as Donald Trump’s “anti-immigration sentiment.” At a summit with the leaders of the United States, Canada and Mexico.  Read more on the President's speech here.

In his remarks, President Obama succinctly outlined the history of anti-immigrant sentiment against generations of immigrants to the United States, from the Irish to the Poles to those from Mexico today.  Watch some of the videos of the President's speech on the White House blog.  For the entire speech, see


One can only wonder how a President Donald Trump would be received on the world stage as the leader of the free world.





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

DHS News: The Ombudsman's Annual Report to Congress

By statute, the Office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman of the Department of Homeland Security submits an Annual Report to Congress by June 30 of each year. The Ombudsman’s Annual Report must provide a summary of the most pervasive and serious problems encountered by individuals and employers applying for immigration benefits with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The Annual Report also reviews past recommendations to improve USCIS programs and services.

In the agency's press release, it states that Annual Report highlights include:

•       Humanitarian: Despite efforts by USCIS to address the increasing number of asylum requests, applicants are experiencing longer delays.  The Special Immigrant Juvenile program as well as in-country refugee/parole processing in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras offer critical protections for vulnerable youth.  The Ombudsman has issued formal recommendations to USCIS pertaining to the SIJ program and a U visa parole process for persons placed on the U visa waiting list.  The Ombudsman continues to be concerned with inconsistent processing of provisional waivers and will monitor implementation of new policy pertaining to the applicable “extreme hardship” standard.
•       Interagency, Customer Service, and Process Integrity:  In this Annual Report, the Ombudsman delves into the background checks and security screening process and continues to focus on the proper delivery of USCIS notices and documents, prolonged processing times, and efforts in implementing Transformation.  The Ombudsman also encourages USCIS and the U.S. Department of State to resolve issues pertaining to consular returns.
•       Business and Employment: In this year’s Annual Report, the Ombudsman reviews issues involving the mobility of beneficiaries of employment-based petitions; the integrity of immigrant investor petitions; challenges faced by employees and employers in the H-2 programs; and delays in obtaining employment authorization documents. 
•       Families and Children: The Ombudsman observed a 68 percent increase in requests for case assistance involving naturalization applications.  The Annual Report notes that military personnel are experiencing longer delays in the processing of their naturalization applications.  In March 2015, USCIS began making changes to the fee waiver form and process, culminating in a proposed rule that would, among other things, expand fee waiver eligibility for naturalization applicants.  In the coming year, the Ombudsman will monitor the implementation of the new naturalization fee waiver, as well as processing delays of petitions to remove the condition on permanent resident status.

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

EU to Britain: No Access to Single Market Without Migration


It sounds like this Brexit stuff is going to be complicated.  European Union leaders spelled out stark conditions for a new relationship with a departing Britain yesterday, warning that if British business wants to keep access to Europe's single market, the country must accept European workers too, write Angela Charlton and Lorne Cook for Associated Press.  The leaders produced no clear overhaul for their shaken union after an unusual and emotionally charged summit, but agreed they must make it more relevant to citizens and keep it from disintegrating after Britain’s unprecedented vote to leave. The 27 remaining presidents, chancellors and prime ministers said they’re “absolutely determined to remain united,” EU Council President Donald Tusk said. They met without British Prime Minister David Cameron, who left Brussels on Tuesday night without any clear divorce plan, fending off pressure for a quick exit and punting the complex departure negotiations to his successor. In Britain, nominations opened Wednesday for a new Conservative leader to replace him after his devastating political miscalculation in calling last week’s referendum.


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

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Deportation Machine Obama Built for President Trump

Big Immigration Cases in the 2016 Term


The 2015 Term of the Supreme Court just ended.  Next Term. the Supreme Court will review two potentially significant immigration cases.  Both implicate significant doctrinal issues of immigration law that have perplexed the courts for many years.  The Solicitor General sought review of adverse lower court decisions in both cases.

The cases are:

Jennings v. Rodriguez, No. 15-1204

Issue(s): (1) Whether aliens seeking admission to the United States who are subject to mandatory detention under 8 U.S.C. § 1225(b) must be afforded bond hearings, with the possibility of release into the United States, if detention lasts six months; (2) whether criminal or terrorist aliens who are subject to mandatory detention under Section 1226(c) must be afforded bond hearings, with the possibility of release, if detention lasts six months; and (3) whether, in bond hearings for aliens detained for six months under Sections 1225(b), 1226(c), or 1226(a), the alien is entitled to release unless the government demonstrates by clear and convincing evidence that the alien is a flight risk or a danger to the community, whether the length of the alien’s detention must be weighed in favor of release, and whether new bond hearings must be afforded automatically every six months.    

This immigration detention case will give the Court the chance to address immigrant detention, which has skyrocketed since 1996 immigration reforms.  The Obama administration has employed detention as an immigration enforcement tool and some immigrants have been held in detention indefinitely pending removal.  Because some nations have refused to accept some immigrants subject to removal, some immigrants have been indefinitely detained.  The circuits are split and the Supreme Court has decided a number of immigrant detention cases (Zadvydas v. Davis (2001) and Demore v. Kim (2003) in somewhat inconsistent fashion in the post-1996 era.  Indefinite detention without bond possibilities are unheard of with respect to criminal defendants.  The lower courts have reached different conclusions on immigrant detention issues.


Lynch v. Morales-Santana, No. 15-1191

Issue(s): (1) Whether Congress’s decision to impose a different physical-presence requirement on unwed citizen mothers of foreign-born children than on other citizen parents of foreign-born children through 8 U.S.C. 1401 and 1409 (1958) violates the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection; and (2) whether the court of appeals erred in conferring U.S. citizenship on respondent, in the absence of any express statutory authority to do so.    The Second Circuit agreed with Morales-Santana that the gender distinctions in the derivative citizenship provisions was unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court has been sharply divided on the lawfulness of gender distinctions in the laws granting citizenship to children.  See, for example, Flores-Villar v. United States (2011) and Nguyen v. INS (2001).  Besides the issue of gender stereotypes, Morales-Santana implicates the venerable plenary power doctrine , which historically has shielded the immigration laws from judicial review.  Although there have been "cracks" in the doctrine, it remains largely intact.


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

New IJs All Former Trial Attorneys

Los Illegals: Seminal Chicano Punk Band's Bassist Slams Non-Confrontational Artists and Activists


Colorlines reports on Los Illegals, which "picked its band name in part as a big middle finger to the xenophobic bias plaguing Chicanos in East Los Angeles. As the historic band's bassist Jesus Velo explained in a new interview, the group's name pissed off many Latinos—but not for the obvious reasons."  "So Los Illegals are [hybrid]–'Los' [in Spanish] and 'Illegals' in English, which the Mexicans gave us shit for," Velo told Remezcla. "'What's with this? You don't like saying it all in Spanish.' It was like, give us like a fucking break!"


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

"Reality Check" on Brexit & Immigration


BBC News's "Reality Check Team" offers cogent analysis of the Brexit Leave campaign, comparing the pre-election promises and post-election pronouncements on immigration.

The Leave campaign platform emphasized the idea that the UK could better control immigration if it left the EU. And that immigration was overstretching the country's social services. As the Reality Check team notes:

Responding to the latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures, which showed that overall net migration stands at 333,000, MEP Nigel Farage said: "Mass immigration is still hopelessly out of control and set to get worse if we remain inside the EU."
Though Mr Farage was not part of the official Vote Leave campaign but campaigned in favour of leaving the EU, similar claims were later echoed by Vote Leave campaigner Gisela Stuart.
She said voting to remain meant there would be "no control" over migration from the EU, "no matter how great the pressure on schools, hospitals and housing becomes or how much wages in our poorest communities are pushed down".
Similarly, leading pro-Leave campaigner and Tory leader front runner Boris Johnson said that the only solution to the scale of immigration which the UK was facing, was to leave the EU.
He claimed a vote to stay in the union would mean people "kissing goodbye permanently to control of immigration".
The Leave campaign also repeatedly linked EU migration with pressure on public services.
On the 20 May, Vote Leave produced a document which it claimed outlined the pressure that migration from the European Union would put on the NHS - a 28% to 57% increase in demand for accident and emergency services.

That last bit, the BBC Reality Check Team disputes, noting: "As we discovered, an increasing population would put additional demand on A&E but the extent of that increase had not been demonstrated."

But the Leave politicos now appear to be backtracking. Some Leave campaigners are positing that "the UK's decision to leave the EU would not guarantee a significant decrease in immigration levels." And, as I noted on Monday, Leave politician Boris Johnson now claims that the exit vote wasn't about immigration at all.

Johnson is not the only one to switch the message.

[S]peaking to the BBC's Newsnight programme on Saturday, MEP Daniel Hannan insisted the public had not been misled over how much control the country would have over immigration post-Brexit.
In a heated exchange with Evan Davis, he said: "We never said there was going to be some radical decline ... we want a measure of control".
"Frankly, if people watching think that they have voted and there is now going to be zero immigration from the EU, they are going to be disappointed."


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

Rinku Sen, More Shattered Families and US v. Texas

From the Bookshelves: John Lennon vs. The U.S.A.: The Inside Story of the Most Bitterly Contested and Influential Deportation Case in United States History by Leon Wildes


John Lennon vs. The U.S.A.: The Inside Story of the Most Bitterly Contested and Influential Deportation Case in United States History by Leon Wildes.  TO BE RELEASED IN AUGUST 2016.

At a time when the hottest issue in US immigration law is the proposed action by President Obama to protect from deportation as many as 5 million illegals in the United States, the 1972 John Lennon deportation case takes on special relevance today, notwithstanding the passage of forty years since he was placed in deportation proceedings.

For the first time, noted New York immigration attorney Leon Wildes tells the incredible story of this landmark case – John Lennon vs. The U.S.A. -- that set up a battle of wills between John Lennon, Yoko Ono, and President Richard Nixon. Although Wildes did not even know who John Lennon and Yoko Ono were when he was originally retained by them, he developed a close relationship with them both during the eventual five-year period while he represented them and thereafter. This is their incredible story.



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

Human Trafficker Gets 15 Years In Prison For Forced Labor

Human trafficking is not simply a sex trafficking problem in the United States.  It is a general labor market problem.

 Adam Lidgett of Law 360 reports that the ringleader of a human trafficking organization was sentenced to just more than 15 years in prison for luring Guatemalan minors to the United States under false pretenses and forcing them to work on egg farms in Ohio. Here is the U.S. Department of Justice press release about the case.

U.S. District Judge James G. Carr of the Northern District of Ohio sentenced Aroldo Castillo-Serrano to 188 months in prison and Ana Angelica Pedro-Juan, his co-defendant, to 10 years in prison. The two were accused of finding workers from Guatemala, some only 14 years old, and falsely promising them good jobs and an education in the U.S., the Justice Department said. “These defendants forced minors to work around the clock and live in inhumane conditions, while threatening them and their relatives,” Acting U.S. Attorney Carole S. Rendon said in a statement. “Today’s prison sentence underscores the severity of these human trafficking cases, but also should serve as a reminder that these cases happen all around us in plain sight.”

The Justice Department said Castillo-Serrano would lure the Guatemalan workers into the U.S. only to transport them to a dilapidated Marion, Ohio trailer park. The workers, eight minors and two adults, were forced to work physically demanding jobs at a farm for up to 12 hours a day for little pay. Some of the work included debeaking chickens and cleaning their coops, the Justice Department said. Castillo-Serrano would threaten the workers to make sure they were compliant.

Castillo-Serrano pled guilty in August to conspiracy to commit forced labor, forced labor, witness tampering and alien harboring, while Pedro-Juan pled guilty in December to conspiracy to commit forced labor. They are also forced to pay more than $67,000 in restitution to the victims of the fraud.

The case was brought in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio.


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

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

What Now for Immigrants and Immigrant Rights Advocates after U.S. v. Texas?

Julianne Hing writes for The Nation:

The Supreme Court’s one-sentence non-ruling in the most important immigration case of the year landed Thursday with an enormous impact. The 4–4 deadlock effectively killed President Obama’s deportation-deferral program for the rest of his presidency. In the immediate, the estimated 4 million undocumented immigrants who would have benefited from the initiative are returned to their precarious lives. In the short term, the Supreme Court’s result revives a longstanding debate about where immigration advocates ought to pivot—to return the focus to a full congressional overhaul of the system or keep pushing for more creative executive action to stop deportations.

The past eight years have shown that Latino and immigrant voting power, which helped propel Obama to victory and reelection, does not on its own determine immigration policy. Congress and the Republican Party, now the Party of Trump, have made a weapon out of doing nothing. That’s why, the Court’s ruling notwithstanding, congressional politics are still not at the top of all immigrant advocates’ priority list. They remain focused on demanding that Obama put a moratorium on deportations.
. . .
Hillary Clinton, acknowledging that, has even painted herself into the kinds of corners Obama did as a candidate to emphasize her sympathies. In February Clinton pledged to keep immigration as among her top priorities and, pressed by MSNBC’s Jose Diaz-Balart at a town hall, said she’d introduce comprehensive immigration-reform legislation in the first 100 days of her presidency. Immigration watchers have heard those promises before.

“We’ve heard that talk before, but let’s take it at face value,” Kica Matos, director of immigrant rights and racial justice at the Center for Constitutional Change Action, told me. “Ultimately our goal is to bring about comprehensive immigration reform.” Matos said that especially in the wake of the Supreme Court decision, the dozens of immigrant-rights groups she worked with across the country had arranged their political activities with that goal in mind. The main priority now, especially as DAPA winds its way back through the courts, will be to mobilize Latino and immigrant voters to head to the polls in November, Matos said. CCC Action plans to focus on three key battleground states—Colorado, Florida, and Nevada—which all have large immigrant and Latino populations. Matos said her group has also identified a handful of Senate races they want to affect outside of those battleground states: Republican Senators Mark Kirk of Illinois, Ron Johnson in Wisconsin, and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania. And the reality is, no matter how pro-immigrant Clinton may be as president, the future of comprehensive immigration reform depends on the composition of Congress.

CCC Action’s goal is to create the conditions for comprehensive immigration reform to be politically viable come 2017. But some of the changes that are necessary for that to occur sound like wishful thinking. They include not only a Clinton win in November but also a Democratic retaking of both houses of Congress, and still at least some of the Republican Party will have to do a 360 on immigration, “after they realize they need to get right with this issue unless they want their party to disintegrate completely,” Matos said. “I know these are a lot of variables to take into consideration, but we have been thinking through what it will take to win and at least if we are successful with civic engagement efforts and mobilizing voters, there is a possibility we will be able to bring about comprehensive immigration reform.”

These promises for the future can seem awfully far off. The immigrant-rights movement, with so much at stake, faces few easy options from here. Read more...


June 28, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)