Monday, October 31, 2016
The Center for Applied Legal Studies (CALS) at Georgetown Law announces that it is now accepting applications for its annual fellowship program in clinical legal education. CALS will offer one lawyer a two‑year teaching fellowship (July 2017‑June 2019), providing a unique opportunity to learn how to teach law in a clinical setting.
At CALS, the two fellows and faculty members work as colleagues, sharing responsibilities for designing and teaching classes, supervising law students in their representation of clients, selecting and grading students, administering the clinic, and all other matters. In addition, the fellow will undertake independent legal scholarship, conducting the research and writing to produce a law review article of publishable quality.
This fellowship is particularly suitable for lawyers with some degree of practice experience who now want to embark upon careers in law teaching. Most of our previous fellows are now teaching law or have done so for substantial portions of their careers.
Since 1995, CALS has specialized in immigration law, specifically in asylum practice, and our docket focuses on presenting asylum claims in immigration court. Applicants with experience in U.S. immigration law will therefore be given preference. The fellow must be a member of a bar at the start of the fellowship period.
The fellow will receive full tuition and fees in the LL.M. program at Georgetown University, and a stipend of at least $53,500 in each of the two years. On successful completion of the requirements, the Fellow will be granted the degree of Master of Laws (Advocacy) with distinction.
Recent holders of this fellowship include Mary Brittingham (1995-1997), Andrea Goodman (1996-1998), Michele Pistone (1997-99), Rebecca Story (1998-2000), Virgil Wiebe (1999-2001), Anna Marie Gallagher (2000-02), Regina Germain (2001-2003), Dina Francesca Haynes (2002-2004), Diane Uchimiya (2003-2005), Jaya Ramji-Nogales (2004-2006), Denise Gilman (2005-2007), Susan Benesch (2006-2008), Kate Aschenbrenner (2007-2009), Anjum Gupta (2008-2010), Alice Clapman (2009-2011) Geoffrey Heeren (2010-2012), Heidi Altman (2011-2013), Laila Hlass (2012-2014), Lindsay Harris (2013-2015) and Jean C. Han. The current fellows are Pooja R. Dadhania and Rebecca L. Feldmann. The faculty members directing CALS are Andrew Schoenholtz and Philip Schrag.
To apply, send a resume, an official or unofficial law school transcript, a writing sample, and a detailed statement of interest (approximately 5 pages). The materials must arrive by December 1, 2016. The statement should address: a) why you are interested in this fellowship; b) what you can contribute to the Clinic; c) your experience with asylum and other immigration cases; d) your professional or career goals for the next five or ten years; e) your reactions to the Clinic's goals and teaching methods as described on its website; and f) anything else that you consider pertinent. Address your application to Directors, Center for Applied Legal Studies, Georgetown Law, 600 New Jersey Avenue, NW, Suite 332, Washington, D.C. 20001, or electronically to email@example.com.
Kelefa Sanneh in the October 31 New Yorker offers a balanced summary over the U.S. debates over immigration. I have some quibbles, including treating pundit Ann Coulter as if she were as scholarly a commentator on immigration as philosopher Joseph Carens.
Thank goodness that Election Day 2016 is approaching. We have seen a meanness in the air. And it won't end soon.
Yesterday, Donald Trump in New Mexico warned his supporters that Hillary Clinton "wants to let people just pour in," saying without evidence that hundreds of millions of people could enter the US under a Clinton presidency. And speaking just nine days before Election Day, the Republican nominee also bemoaned criticism of waterboarding and appeared to once again call for bringing back the since-banned technique for use in the fight against ISIS.
Happy Halloween! As Americans celebrate Halloween today with parades, parties, trick-or-treating, and other festivities, we should acknowledge that immigrants brought this festive holiday to the United States. Halloween originated as an ancient Celtic festival and was popularized in the United States by Irish immigrants who arrived in the 1800s.
Last year ImmigrationProf blogger Kit Johnson posted on 6 Tasteful Halloween Costumes You Can Wear To Your U.S. Citizenship Naturalization Ceremony. Given all the clown incidents across the country, I am not sure if "Killer Clown" still makes the grade.
From the Bookshelves: Citizenship, Alienage, and the Modern Constitutional State: A Gendered History by Helen Irving
To have a nationality is a human right. But between the nineteenth and mid-twentieth centuries, virtually every country in the world adopted laws that stripped citizenship from women who married foreign men. Despite the resulting hardships and even statelessness experienced by married women, it took until 1957 for the international community to condemn the practice, with the adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Nationality of Married Women. Citizenship, Alienage, and the Modern Constitutional State tells the important yet neglected story of marital denaturalization from a comparative perspective. Examining denaturalization laws and their impact on women around the world, with a focus on Australia, Britain, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand and the United States, it advances a concept of citizenship as profoundly personal and existential. In doing so, it sheds light on both a specific chapter of legal history and the theory of citizenship in general.
Helen Irving is a Professor at the University of Sydney Faculty of Law and a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia, and of the Australian Academy of Law. She has published widely on constitutional law, history, citizenship, most recently with a particular focus on gender. Her 2008 book, Gender and the Constitution, was published by Cambridge University Press.
“Be aware brother, be aware sister” is the song that Rokia Traoré has written specially for the Aware Migrants Project.
Malian singer Rokia Traoré has released a new single – “Be Aware Brother, Be Aware Sister" - as part of the "Aware Migrants" campaign launched by International Organization for Migration and the Italian Ministry of Interior.
The campaign uses the voices of some of the tens of thousands of young West African migrants who leave home to try to find a better life in Libya and Europe to tell their stories and relate their experiences to family and friends left behind. Their testimony aims to inform others – through social media and other channels - about some of the risks and dangers that face them if they also decide to opt for irregular migration and set off across the Sahara.
"For many years, I’ve been meeting migrants who, at the end of my concerts, would tell me about tremendous suffering they faced during their journeys, and would ask me to warn their brothers and sisters back home about how hard and dangerous this type of experience was," says Rokia Traoré.
"There are not enough words, there are not enough notes, to tell the tragedies these people were forced to face. My song is only a small contribution, which should be combined with many other initiatives, to highlight how crucial it is to give a response to this humanitarian emergency. My contribution is a hymn to life."
In “Be Aware Brother, Be Aware Sister," Traoré combines English, French, Arabic and several African languages to warn young people to “Be Aware” before they make a decision that could change their life forever – or end it.
“Our research shows that many migrants still leave their country of origin without a specific destination in mind. Many suffer violence and abuse in Libya at the hands of smugglers and local militias. As a result, many decide to continue their journey to Europe with the smugglers. And many – an estimated 3,453 in 2016 – drown in the Mediterranean between Libya and Italy,” says IOM Rome spokesperson Flavio Di Giacomo.
Listen to “Be Aware Brother, Be Aware Sister” and learn more about the Aware Migrants campaign here.
Sunday, October 30, 2016
Stuart Anderson of Forbes focuses on the truly global nature of the 2016 World Series. This World Series has players born in at least 13 different countries. The leading country of origin for players on 2016 Opening Day rosters (and disabled lists) was the Dominican Republic (82 players), followed by Venezuela (63) Cuba (28), Mexico (12), Japan (8), South Korea (8), Canada (6), Panama (4), Colombia (3), Curacao (3), Brazil (2) and Taiwan (2).
Today, approximately 26 percent of major league baseball players are foreign-born, a more than five-fold increase from the 1940s.
In the World Series, the Chicago Cubs have 6 foreign-born players and the Cleveland Indians have 5 foreign-born, players on their rosters.
Check out this video of George H. W. Bush and Ronald Reagan discussing immigration during a Texas Republican primary debate in 1980. It is going viral. California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom first shared the video on Facebook back in February, but it's making the rounds once more for how it stands in contrast to the rhetoric we've heard from Donald Trump and other Republicans this election cycle.
The video starts with an audience member asking the Republican candidates whether children of undocumented immigrants should be allowed to attend Texas public schools. Bush answered by saying that the kids should get "whatever it is that society is giving to their neighbors" and that undocumented immigrants are "really honorable, decent, family-loving people," even if they are in violation of the law. "The answer to your question is much more fundamental than whether they attend Houston schools, it seems to me," Bush added. "If they're living here, I don't want to see a whole thing of 6- and 8-year-old kids being made, one totally uneducated and made to feel that they're living outside the law. Let's address ourselves through the fundamentals." He ended by saying, "These are good people, strong people."
Reagan followed up on Bush's comments, saying, "Rather than talking about putting up a fence, why don't we work out some recognition of our mutual problems, make it possible for them to come here legally with a work permit, and then while they're working and earning here, they pay taxes here."
Immigration and the presidential campaign. We’ll look at realities, proposals and the future face of the country.
Immigration was the very first political issue for Donald Trump. From birtherism, to attacks on Mexicans, to “build the wall” and send 11 million home. For Hillary Clinton, it’s more a process issue. Keep families together. Tighten the border. Work through it. In less than two weeks now, voters will decide. It’s hard to avoid the immigration issue. It goes to how people picture this country. This hour On Point, immigration, and the choice on the table in the 2016 campaign. — Tom Ashbrook
Sheriff Tony Estrada, sheriff of Santa Cruz County in Arizona.
Alex Nowrasteh, immigration policy analyst at the Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity at the Cato Institue. Co-author, with Mark Kirkorian of the report, "Open Immigration: Yea and Nay." (@AlexNowrasteh)
Click the link at the top of this message to listen to the radio show.
Immigration Article of the Day: The U.S. Constitution and Birthright Citizenship in the Unincorporated Territories by Nicholas Doehler
The U.S. Constitution and Birthright Citizenship in the Unincorporated Territories by Nicholas Doehler, Independent October 4, 2016
Abstract: This article re-examines the status of non-citizen nationals of the United States. In the Insular Cases of the early 1900s the U.S. Supreme Court determined that the Constitution did not provide birthright citizenship for persons born in "unincorporated territories," which were territories they considered to be under the jurisdiction of but not part of the United States. Instead, persons born in those territories were deemed "non-citizen nationals" of the U.S. Since then Congress has legislated birthright citizenship for Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, but not for American Samoa. While arguments have been made that the territories have in fact been incorporated into the United States and therefore the Fourteenth Amendment's citizenship clause, which guarantees citizenship for all persons born in and subject to the jurisdiction of the U.S., applies, I argue from a different perspective. Birthright citizenship does not derive from the Fourteenth Amendment but from the original Constitution. While citizenship is not defined in the Constitution, courts have determined that as a sovereign state, the U.S. had citizens and the rules for citizenship were to be found in English common law regarding subjects. English common law recognizes all persons born under the sovereignty of the state to be English subjects, regardless of whether or not they were born in the realm. As a result, anyone born in any territory under U.S. jurisdiction should be considered a citizen.
Saturday, October 29, 2016
CNN reports that actress Lindsay Lohan has been helping Syrian refugees in Turkey. The actress is the brand ambassador for the blue caffeine lemonade Mintanine, which has partnered with her to aid refugees. The German company behind the drink, YNDA GmbH, said in a statement it has been working with Lohan since September. The "Mean Girls" star has been sharing images on social media of herself interacting with Syrian refugees and aid workers in Turkey.
Supreme Court Grants Review in Aggravated Felony, "Sexual Abuse of a Minor" Case; Court has Full Immigration Docket in 2016 Term
Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari in Esquivel-Quintana v. Lynch, another criminal immigration removal case. The Court has decided a number of these in recent years, including Mellouli v. Lynch (2015) (drug paraphernalia conviction) and Moncrieffe v. Holder (2013) (possession of a small amount of marijuana), in which the Court set aside removal orders because the U.S. government in seeking removal had violated the immigration statute.
A lawful permanent resident of the United States, Petitioner Juan Esquivel-Quintana was convicted for violating a California law that makes it a crime to have sexual relations with someone under the age of 18 when the age difference between the two people involved is more than three years. He had had consensual sex with his 16-year-old girlfriend when he was 20 and 21 years old. The U.S. government sought to remove Esquivel-Quintana from the United States on the ground that his conviction constituted the “aggravated felony” of “sexual abuse of a minor.” The lower courts agreed with the U.S. government.
The specific issue raised by the case is whether a conviction under one of the seven state statutes criminalizing consensual sexual intercourse between a 21-year-old and someone almost 18 constitutes an “aggravated felony” of “sexual abuse of a minor” under 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(43)(A) of the Immigration and Nationality Act – and therefore constitutes grounds for mandatory removal.
On Notice and Comment (Esquivel-Quintana v. Lynch: The Potential Sleeper Case of the Supreme Court Term), David Feder (and here) has claimed that Esquivel-Quintana could be the "sleeper case of the Supreme Court Term." The case raises issues about the rule of lenity applicable in the interpretation of the criminal laws and Chevron deference, a generally applicable administrative law doctrine that permeates virtually all of modern administrative law.
Jeffrey L. Fisher of the Stanford Law School Supreme Court Litigation Clinic is the Counsel of Record for the Petitioner. Professor Pamela S. Karlan and Jayashri Srikantiah (Immigrants' Rights Clinic) also was on the cert petition.
The Supreme Court has a full immigration docket in the 2026 Term. The cases include:
1. Lynch v. Dimaya -- a constitutional challenge to a criminal removal provision
Issue(s): Whether 18 U.S.C. 16(b), as incorporated into the Immigration and Nationality Act's provisions governing an immigrant's removal from the United States, is unconstitutionally vague. In a rare move, the Ninth Circuit, in an opinion by Judge Stephen Reinhardt, stuck down a statute including the reference "crime of violence" as unconstitutionally vague. The Board of Immigration Appeals had found that burglary was a "crime of violence" for removal purposes. Dimaya was a lawful permanent resident from the Philippines who had lived in the United States since 1992.
2. Lynch v. Morales-Santana Argument November 9 -- gender discrimination in derivative citizenship laws
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, in an opinion by Judge Loheir, found that the gender distinction for citizenship was unconstitutional.
The Supreme Court has been seriously divided on the issue of gender distinctions in the citizenship laws in previous cases. See, e.g., Nguyen v. INS (2001); Miller v. Albright (1998). The Court deadlocked on the issue in 2011 in the case of Flores-Villar v. United States. Lynch v. Morales-Santana allows the Court to reconsider the issue, with a decision made more difficult with only eight Justices.
The Morales-Santana case implicates the venerable "plenary power" doctrine, which historically has barred the courts from judicial review of the substantive immigration decisions of the political branches of government. Garrett Epps in The Atlantic analyzes the potential importance of this case to the plenary power doctrine -- and to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's proposed ban on the admission of Muslims to the United States.
3. Jennings v. Rodriquez Argument November 30 -- the constitutionality of immigration detention without bond hearings
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.
The Ninth Circuit, in an opinion by Judge Kim McLane Wardlaw, affirmed the district court’s permanent injunction insofar as it required automatic bond hearings and required Immigration Judges to consider alternatives to detention. The panel also held that IJs must consider the length of detention and provide bond hearings every six months for class members detained longer than twelve months, but rejected the class’s request for additional procedural requirements.
In addition to the four cases involving interpretation and application of the immigration statutes, the Court earlier this month granted review in a border enforcement case raising complex constitutional and immunity issues. The case is Hernández v. Mesa involves the killing of an unarmed teenager on the U.S./Mexico border by a Border Patrol officer: The questions presented are:
- Whether a formalist or functionalist analysis governs the extraterritorial application of the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition on unjustified deadly force, as applied to a cross-border shooting of an unarmed Mexican citizen in an enclosed area controlled by the United States;
- Whether qualified immunity may be granted or denied based on facts – such as the victim’s legal status – unknown to the officer at the time of the incident; and
- Whether the claim in this case may be asserted under Bivens v. Six Unknown Federal Narcotics Agents.
Immigration Article of the Day: Originalism, Human Trafficking, and the Thirteenth Amendment by Chris Kozak
Originalism, Human Trafficking, and the Thirteenth Amendment by Chris Kozak,Michigan State University - Michigan State Law Review, October 6, 2016, XI Southern Journal of Policy & Justice, 2017, Forthcoming
Abstract: Human trafficking is often described as a form of “modern slavery” that violates the Thirteenth Amendment. Congress has passed an expansive scheme of civil and criminal human trafficking legislation on the premises that human trafficking is a “contemporary manifestation of slavery” and that the Thirteenth Amendment gives the U.S. Government power to eradicate it. But is this legally accurate?
This Article argues that it is. Moreover, it argues that an originalist analysis of the Thirteenth Amendment leads to this conclusion. While human trafficking is not slavery in an originalist sense — because traffickers do not own their victims — the original meaning of the Amendment’s prohibition on involuntary servitude reaches the condition of every person who is forced to work for another. In addition, unlike other human-rights guarantees in the Constitution, the Amendment has historically pierced the state-action barrier and constricted purely private conduct — and originalism does not require otherwise. Finally, an originalist understanding of the Amendment’s enforcement clause permits Congress not only to punish particular forms of involuntary servitude, but also to attack four historical “markers” of involuntary servitude, in the same way that Congress has always been able to act against the historical “badges and incidents” of slavery.
Friday, October 28, 2016
Immigration “Disaggregation” and the Mainstreaming of Immigration Law: Commentary on Matthew J. Lindsay, Disaggregating “Immigration Law”
In the Florida Law Review Forum, I have this commentary (Immigration “Disaggregation” and the Mainstreaming of Immigration Law) on Matthew J. Lindsay's article Disaggregating “Immigration Law.”
Professor Matthew Lindsay, in his latest article on immigration law, adds meaningfully to the existing body of scholarship. He analyzes a fundamental question that immigration law scholars have long prodded the courts to answer definitively: In a nation bound by a national constitution, what role, if any, does the U.S. Constitution play in the review of the immigration laws? Over the last two centuries, the Supreme Court has failed to decisively answer that all-important question. At the same time, the Court on a case-by-case basis has inched toward increasingly “normal” judicial review of most immigration decisions. Read more.
The story of Adam Crapser, a Korean-born man who was adopted by U.S. citizen parents at the age of 3, has surfaced in the news recently and in the past year to illustrate the harshness of the deportation laws affecting noncitizens - including lawful residents - with prior convictions. He was subjected to severe child abuse by his adoptive parents and later, by foster parents (who were later convicted for child abuse, including sexual abuse). As a younger adult, Crapser had troubles with the law that resulted in several criminal convictions.
This Slate article describes the denial of his application for Cancellation of Removal, a discretionary form of relief that would have allowed him to remain in the US. An April 2015 New York Times Magazine piece described his "Bizarre Deportation Odyssey." As the NYT Magazine article stated:
It’s a Kafkaesque episode: Crapser’s various crimes may have warranted the punishments he received, but deportation to a country in which he had barely lived? In fact, Crapser has company. No one knows exactly how many international adoptees in the United States don’t have U.S. citizenship; in some cases, adoptees don’t find out themselves until they apply for federal student loans, try to get a passport or register to vote. But at least three dozen other international adoptees have also faced deportation charges or have been deported to countries like Thailand, Brazil and South Korea.
On one hand, Crapser's case reflects exceptional details that have caused many on social media to denounce his pending deportation. The fact that he was adopted from his home country means that his ties to Korea are likely even weaker than those of many other immigrants who, despite coming to the US as babies and toddlers, face the reality of deportation. His brutal treatment by his adoptive and foster parents is heartwrenching. And his Korean citizenship serves as a reminder that while immigration enforcement has a hugely disproportionate effect on Latino/a immigrants, noncitizens of all countries are affected by the deportation laws.
But in other ways, Crapser's story is too familiar. He is one of many immigrants brought to the US as young children who still face deportation and detention. His rehabilitation story was heard (and he seems to have shown rehabilitation: His troubles with the law stopped. He became a business owner. He got married, had children, and was a stay-at-home father.) -- but ultimately, the Immigration Judge could choose to deny his Cancellation of Removal application. He could appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals, but unless he were to prevail there, he would likely not be able to pursue any further appeals in the federal circuit courts due to statutory restrictions on judicial review that prevent discretionary applications by noncitizens with criminal convictions from being reviewed.
Hopefully, the outrage over Crapser's immigration case will lead more people to question the legal framework leading to cases like his.
Portions of the job announcement are below (for the full posting, see here: Download POST CIJ LOP Program Associate October 2016)
The Vera Institute of Justice, founded in 1961, is an independent, non-partisan, nonprofit organization that combines expertise in research, technical assistance, and demonstration projects to assist leaders in government and civil society examine justice policy and practice, and improve the systems people rely on for justice and safety...
Vera’s Center on Immigration and Justice seeks a Program Associate to work in its New York office with its Immigration Court Helpdesk (ICH) and Legal Orientation Program (LOP).
The ICH is a program that serves non-detained respondents who are scheduled for Master Calendar hearings at five EOIR Immigration Courts. The goal of ICH is to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of immigration court proceedings by informing non-detained respondents appearing before the court about court practices and procedures, available legal options, and other relevant topics.
The LOP was created to inform detained immigrants about their rights, and the immigration court and detention processes. Vera staff work with federal government partners at EOIR and nonprofit legal service agencies to provide detained people at 35 sites nationwide with basic information about forms of relief from removal, how to represent themselves in immigration court, and how to get legal representation.
Vera staff is responsible for managing service provider networks, including monitoring compliance with subcontracts, providing technical assistance, and conducting program evaluation.
The Program Associate will work closely with the Program Director in carrying out the following duties:
- Provide technical assistance to program sites in the form of site visits, on-site training programs, conference calls, individual consultations, and other means as appropriate;
- Conduct site visits of program sites (expect to conduct 6-12 site visits a year) and draft site visit evaluations;
- Plan and execute peer-to-peer on-site training programs for new LOP providers;
- Facilitate regular check-in conference calls;
- Prepare and deliver webinars about best practices, immigration law, and detention;
- Continuously identify promising practices among program sites and devise ways to disseminate information about such practices to encourage implementation elsewhere;
- Coordinate development and review of legal orientation materials (in English and Spanish) and provide meaningful feedback;
- Assist in the preparation of quarterly and annual reports to government partners;
- Represent the Center in public speaking engagements and at professional meetings; and
- Assist on other projects as assigned.
- A JD degree;
- Working knowledge of Spanish;
- A desire to effectuate change in partnership with government;
- Strong writing, research, communication, and facilitation skills;
- Ability to manage work on multiple projects effectively and efficiently; to work collaboratively on a team and manage projects independently; and to successfully balance travel responsibilities with office-based responsibilities;
- Willingness to travel outside of New York City frequently;
- A valid driver’s license;
- Experience with “know your rights” and other community education initiatives strongly preferred;
- Legal, government, or policy work experience strongly preferred;
- Knowledge of immigration, criminal justice, or other justice areas strongly preferred;
- Experience representing detained immigrants and a demonstrated interest in program administration and public policy strongly preferred.
How to apply
Please submit cover letter, resume, list of three references, and a brief writing sample (5 pages or less). Online submission in PDF format is preferred.
A Human Shell Game? The Justice Department closed this troubled private prison. Immigration authorities are reopening it.
Matt Zapotosky of the Washington Post reports on an interesting immigrant detention twist. When the Justice Department announced two months ago that it wanted to end the use of private prisons, Cibola County Correctional Center was exactly the kind of facility that officials desired to shut down. After a history of questionable deaths and substandard medical care, the New Mexico facility lost its contract. In recent weeks, it was emptied of inmates. But the vacancies won’t last for long. As soon as this week, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is going to begin moving immigrant detainees into the facility under a new set of agreements with Corrections Corporation of America. The country’s immigration enforcement agency is expanding its use of for-profit prisons, even while another government agency says the facilities are less safe and effective than government-run prisons. The move illustrates the difficulties of ending the government’s reliance on private prisons and jails, especially as immigration authorities deal with an influx of detainees.
We have just finished principal photography on a fiction feature film that aims to humanize some aspects of the immigration debate now raging, especially around the separation of families. "Collisions" is an engaging and entertaining story that is part buddy film, part road movie, and part “reverse coming of age story”. We are raising money for post production - $30,000 gets us to a complete cut of the film!
Why are we making this film?
When I began work on the script, my wife was a third grade teacher, and a child in her class recently had her father taken away and deported. It took weeks of building trust to find out why this girl, previously bright and engaged in class, was suddenly listless and prone to anger or tears at the slightest provocation. I interviewed her as part of my research. Her sadness, but also her bravery, hit me in the gut in a way that no headline or statistic ever could.
Immigration recently became one of the hottest topics with Obama’s executive action to stop the deportation of parents with US citizen children. Unfortunately this action has been blocked by a recent Supreme Court decision. The debate will reach fever pitch when the film is released in 2017, as the newly elected president has to decide whether to revoke the executive action. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of families continue to be forcibly separated every year. This film can be a focal point for those trying to understand the real families affected.
When twelve-year-old Itan, straight-A-smart, comes home from school in San Francisco, she is stunned to find their furniture up-ended, and no trace of her mother Yoana. Child Protective Services dumps Itan and her six-year-old brother Neto with their estranged uncle Evencio, a big rig truck driver. Itan can't stand him. He's arrogant, unreliable, and probably criminal. After a desperate search, Itan locates Yoana in an immigration detention center in Arizona and convinces Evencio to take them there.
They are propelled onto the road in Evencio’s truck, through the maddening labyrinth of immigration detention. Itan fights to free her mother before she is deported. But her mother keeps slipping from her grasp, as she is transferred from prison to prison. Their journey takes them through the deserts of the southern border, to sprawling truck stops, border patrol offices and secret immigration prisons.
In the close quarters of Evencio's truck cab, Itan and Neto begin to bring a better man out of Evencio. But Evencio abandons them just when it seems they have a chance of stopping their mother's deportation. Are they now truly on their own? Or will Evencio come through and reunite the family?
Did you know that in 1943 famed photographer Ansel Adams documented life at the Manzanar War Relocation Camp? You can find them all in his book Born Free and Equal: The Story of Loyal Japanese Americans.
Assuming you don't have the spare $150 to drop on that out-of-print tome — and, FWIW, prices just go up from there into the thousands — you can find the collection digitized online via the Library of Congress.
Here, for example, is Manzanar from Guard Tower, view west (Sierra Nevada in background), Manzanar Relocation Center, California.
The collection is a powerful visual accompaniment to the Allegiance musical that I just told you to go and see on December 13.