Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy New Year!

Iraqi Interpreter's Seven-Year Visa Journey

Mohammed Aqrawi served as an interpreter for U.S. armed forces in Iraq, translating Arabic and Kurdish into English. He survived 27 IED attacks and 11 car bombs during his time as a translator.

Despite his record of service, Aqrawi spent some seven years in immigration limbo. He applied for a special immigrant visa in 2009, and only just received final approval this month. He landed in his new home, Minnesota, on Christmas.


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

American University -- Country Conditions in Central America and Asylum Decision-Making: Public Forum


As part of a Central American Migration Research Initiative, American University's Center for Latin American & Latino Studies is convening a workshop, Country Conditions in Central America and Asylum Decision-Making, to share insights across disciplinary perspectives in order to enhance scholarship and better inform lawyers and other practitioners working with Central American asylum seekers. With support from the National Science Foundation, the workshop seeks to connect social scientists with expertise on conditions driving migration from Central America with legal scholars and practitioners engaged in innovative thinking around ways to bridge the gap between complex forms of persecution in Central America and protections offered under U.S. immigration law.

 Public Forum: The opening workshop sessions (see forum flyer attached) on January 12, from 9:00 a.m. to 2:45 p.m., are open to the public. An introductory panel will discuss challenges to deeper cross-disciplinary collaboration on asylum representation. Late morning and early afternoon panels on country conditions in the Northern Triangle will present field research on a wide range of relevant issues, including gangs and insecurity; state and community responses to violence; state capacity; returned migrants and reintegration; family violence; gender-based violence; forced recruitment; and religion and political opinion-based persecution.

Please note that space is limited and that available lunch vouchers will be distributed to guests who RSVP on a first-come, first-served basis.

9:00am – 9:15am Welcome and Introductions

9:15am – 10:45am Challenges to Deeper Cross-Disciplinary Collaboration on Asylum Representation Lenni Benson, New York Law School; Elizabeth Keyes, University of Baltimore Law School; Kimberly Gauderman, University of New Mexico; Cristina Muñiz de la Peña, Terra Firma; Blaine Bookey, UC Hastings Center for Gender & Refugee Studies; Ian Philabaum, Innovation Law Lab Moderator: Jayesh Rathod, American University

11:00am – 12:15pm Country Conditions in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras: The State of Research (Part 1) José Miguel Cruz, Florida International University; Alex Segovia, INCIDE; Ricardo Barrientos, Instituto Centroamericano de Estudios Fiscales; Mauricio Gaborit, Universidad Ceontramericana “José Simeón Cañas” Moderator: Clare Seelke, Congressional Research Service

12:15pm – 1:30pm Lunch Presentation - A Flawed System: Structural Challenges Facing Central American Asylum Seekers Stephen Manning, Immigrant Law Group PC

1:30pm – 2:45pm Country Conditions in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras: The State of Research (Part 2) Elizabeth Kennedy, San Diego State University; Steven Dudley, American University; Cecilia Menjívar, University of Kansas; Robert Brenneman, St. Michael’s College Moderator: Eric Hershberg, American University 


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

From the Bookshelves: Contesting Immigration Policy in Court: Legal Activism and Its Radiating Effects in the United States and France by Leila Kawar


Contesting Immigration Policy in Court: Legal Activism and Its Radiating Effects in the United States and France (Cambridge Studies in Law and Society) by Leila Kawar (Cambridge University Press, 2015).

What difference does law make in immigration policymaking? Since the 1970s, networks of progressive attorneys in both the US and France have attempted to use litigation to assert rights for non-citizens. Yet judicial engagement - while numerically voluminous - remains doctrinally curtailed. This study offers new insights into the constitutive role of law in immigration policymaking by focusing on the legal frames, narratives, and performances forged through action in court. Challenging the conventional wisdom that 'cause litigation' has little long-term impact on policymaking unless it produces broad rights-protective principles, this book shows that legal contestation can have important radiating effects on policy by reshaping how political actors approach immigration issues. Based on extensive fieldwork in the United States and France, this book explores the paths by which litigation has effected policy change in two paradigmatically different national contexts.

In a review of the book, Michael T. Light (Purdue) observes that,

"As Professor Kawar points out, she is not the first to address this question. A considerable amount research has investigated the efficacy of shaping migration policy through legal interventions. That is, can the courts be a useful venue for constraining restrictionist immigration policies? In Professor Kawar’s assessment, the conventional wisdom resulting from this body of work is that the law has little impact on immigration policy matters (p. 153). In CONTESTING IMMIGRATION POLICY IN COURT, Professor Kawar makes a compelling and provocative argument for why this view is premature, or at the very least, incomplete. Her main thesis is that prior research in this area has focused too narrowly on official case dispositions and the degree to which these legal rules limit immigration policies. As a result, “we neglect to consider how the process of contesting immigration policy in court may constitute the very terms of immigration politics” (p. 10). This book seeks to address this oversight. "


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

Friday, December 30, 2016

Black Immigrants, Double Discrimination, and Trump

"Although less than 8 percent of the noncitizen population in the United States is black, more than 20 percent of immigrants in deportation proceedings on criminal grounds are black," notes P.R. Lockhart, writing for Mother Jones in Black Immigrants Brace for Dual Hardships Under Trump. That disparity results from the fact that black immigrants in the U.S., like African Americans, are more likely to have criminal convictions.

Jonathan Jayes-Green, a founder and coordinator of the UndocuBlack Network, a group that advocates for the black undocumented community, told Lockhart: "I think our communities were already in a state of emergency under a Democratic president... so as we think about the next administration, our community has gone into a sort of crisis control."


December 30, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1)

Your Playlist: Hamilton Mixtape

Immigrants (We Get The Job Done) is a track on the new Hamilton Mixtape. It's inspired by a line in the Hamilton musical uttered by Daveed Diggs as the Marquis de Lafayette and Lin-Manuel Miranda as Alexander Hamilton during the number Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down).

The Mixtape song features verses by K'naan, Snow Tha Product, Riz MC, and Residente. It is equal measures hopeful, desperate, and angry.

Check out these K'naan lines: "Man, I was brave, sailing on graves / Don’t think I didn’t notice those tombstones disguised as waves."

And these from Snow Tha Product: "It’s a hard line when you’re an import / Baby boy, it's hard times / When you ain't sent for."

Or these from Riz MC: "Who these fugees what did they do for me / But contribute new dreams / Taxes and tools, swagger and food to eat."

Click here for the full lyrics. It's good to read them while listening to the music.


December 30, 2016 in Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

California Driver's License Law Accessed by Over 800,000 Undocumented Immigrants

In recent years, a number of states have enacted laws making undocumented immigrants eligible for driver's licenses.  The San Jose Mercury News reports that "Two years after the implementation of [California's] AB 60 on Jan. 1, 2015, an estimated 806,000 undocumented residents have received driver’s licenses, according to Department of Motor Vehicles statistics this month. About 14,000 of these licenses were issued in November alone, the DMV said."  To qualify for a driver’s license under AB 60, applicants must prove their identity and residency in California; pass the written exam and a driving test; submit thumbprints and show proof of insurance, among other requirements. AB 60 licenses are marked with the words, “federal limits apply.” They have language on them indicating that the card is for driving purposes only and may not be used for identification.


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

Will State and Local Law Enforcement Support Trump's Immigration Plans?

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Washington Post's Most Memorable Photos of 2016: Migrants and Refugees

Two of the Washington Post's Most Memorable Photos of 2016 involve immigration:


“It’s a stark reminder that the migrants lost in the Mediterranean are not the only ones who face death to escape war, tyranny and economic despair. Along the southwestern border of the United States an ocean of arid land claims lives as surely as the sea between Europe and Africa. Often just as anonymously and leaving families forever wondering about missing loved ones. Ricky Carioti captured the discovery of a skull in a way akin to a macabre Renaissance painting, disturbing and troubling, a reminder that death awaits.” — Mark Miller


“I had seen many heartbreaking images of refugees crammed in boats, dying, trying to escape the horrors happening in Syria — but none moved me quite the way this photo did. The photo of Eritrean refugees swimming to a rescue boat off the coast of Libya made the crisis very real for me. Photographer Emilio Morenatti captured their desperation and struggle as they swam for their lives. At that moment, it felt as if they were swimming to me.” — Dee Swann


December 28, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1)

Seantor Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas): Fix Immigration. It’s What Voters Want.


In an op/ed in the New York Times, Sentor Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) plays on populist themes in arguing that the Trump administration should reduce legal and undocumented immigration:

"No doubt automation and globalization have also affected wages, but mass immigration accelerates these trends with surplus labor, which of course decreases wages. Little wonder, then, that these Americans voted for the candidate who promised higher wages and less immigration instead of all the candidates — Republicans and Democrats alike — who promised essentially more of the same on immigration."



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


We are pleased to introduce our newest educational resource: E4FC's ITIN Guide.




The purpose of this guide is to provide information, updates, and answers to frequently asked questions about the Internal Revenue Service’s Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).


This guide is for individuals who are not eligible to obtain a SSN and, therefore, are eligible to apply for an ITIN. DACA recipients will also find this guide useful because it includes information specific to DACA recipients who obtained an ITIN in the past and/or are determining whether they might need to renew or obtain one in the future.


For anyone who does not have a SSN, the ITIN is essential to earning a living as an independent contractor or entrepreneur. A separate guide discussing these possibilities is currently being written by E4FC and will be released in January.


It is important to understand the role of ITINs given the implications of potential changes to immigration policy and programs with the new administration. We encourage you to stay informed and connect with us to get the latest updates.

Special thanks to everyone who contributed to making this guide: Iliana G. Perez, the National Immigration Law Center, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus and the Immigrant Legal Resource Center. 


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

A lot depends on Trump's definition of ‘criminal’ and ‘immigrant’


This story considers questions raised by Donald Trump's pledge to deport "criminal immigrants." Carrie Rosenbaum, among others, is quoted in the story:  “Most immigrants are NOT criminals, but they've been painted out to be criminals in the public imagination through racism and fear,” Rosenbaum said via email. “Most immigrants deported as ‘criminals’ are not criminals in the way most people think of criminals.”

Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post debunks many of the myths about immigration floating around among Trump and his supporters. She specifically observes that "Contrary to President-elect Donald Trump’s rhetoric, the focus has been on violent criminals. (`“In fiscal year 2015, 91 percent of people removed from inside the U.S. were previously convicted of a crime.')"


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

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Exodus on "Front Line": First-Person Accounts of Refugees



“Exodus,” a two-hour FRONTLINE special, tells the first-person stories of refugees and migrants fleeing war, persecution and hardship — drawing on footage filmed by the families themselves as they leave their homes on dangerous journeys in search of safety and refuge in Europe. “Exodus” premieres Tues., Dec. 27, 2016 at a special time — 9 p.m. EST/8 p.m. CST.

Meredith Blake for the Los Angeles Times reviews the show.


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

Student Fears of Increased Immigration Enforcement under President Trump


There is lots of discussion of what might happen in terms of immigration in a Trump administration. 

Donna St. George of the Washington Post reports on "growing efforts by school districts to reassure immigrant communities ahead of President-elect Donald Trump taking office in January. Many are scared that Trump — who put illegal immigration at the center of his campaign — will ramp up deportation efforts, already significant during the Obama administration."

In my small college town of Davis, California, students have expressed fear of immigration enforcement,  The school superintendent made a public statement emphasizing that the Davis schools were open to all.



Some universities have joined in the efforts to calm fears in immigrant communities.  The University of California on Nov. 30 announced that it will vigorously protect the privacy and civil rights of the undocumented members of the UC community and will direct its police departments not to undertake joint efforts with any government agencies to enforce federal immigration law.


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

South Texas College of Law Houston Student, Former Undocumented Immigrant Receives 'Law Student Pro Bono Award'


Maria Ivanez, left, and South Texas College of Law Houston President and Dean Donald J. Guter celebrate her recognition as the Texas Access to Justice (ATJ) Commission’s 2016 “Law Student Pro Bono Award” recipient at the State Bar of Texas’ recent New Lawyer Induction Ceremony in Austin.   Photo courtesy of Texas Lawyer

The Texas Lawyer reports on this pupbeat immigration story.  When she was a kid, law student Maria Ivañez was afraid of deportation.  Her family moved from Venezuela when Ivañez was a child, and for ten years, she lived as an undocumented immigrant. When it came time to graduate from high school, she needed her legal status to qualify for in-state college tuition at the University of Houston.

Then 18, Ivañez filed her immigration case alone because she could not afford a lawyer. As a law student at South Texas College of Law Houston, where she graduated this month, she made sure that other undocumented children would not go through that without representation.

Ivañez recently received the Law Student Pro Bono Award and a $2,000 stipend from the Texas Access to Justice Commission for her dedication and commitment to pro bono services for low-income and underserved people.

She took a course that required her to work in the school's Immigration Clinic, and then kept volunteering after her class ended.


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

Monday, December 26, 2016

Oral Argument Set in Esquivel-Quintana v. Lynch


Last week, the Supreme Court announced that oral argument in Esquivel-Quintana v. Lynch will be held on February 27.  That case presents the question whether a California conviction for consensual sexual intercourse with a 16-year-old, when the defendant was 20 and 21, constitutes "sexual abuse of a minor," and thus an “aggravated felony,” for purposes of immigration law. The conduct would not have been criminal in more than 40 states -- but was in California.   The case raises Chevron deference and other interesting issues. I will be doing a preview of the oral arguments for SCOTUSBlog and will cross-link it here.


December 26, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Naturalization (and Other) Fees Going Up!


USCIS announced that naturalization petition (N-400) fees went up to $640, from $595) on December 23.  Fees for other immigration petitions went up as well.  For details, click here and here.






December 26, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, December 25, 2016

You Say You're An American, But What If You Had To Prove It Or Be Deported?


Jaqueline Stevens (Northwestern)

This NPR story looks at U.S. citizens held in immigration detention.  It is unlawful for U.S. immigration authorities to hold Americans in detention.  However, an NPR analysis of government data shows that hundreds of American citizens each year find themselves in a situation where they have to prove their citizenship. From 2007 through July of last year, 693 U.S. citizens were held in local jails on federal detainers — in other words, at the request of immigration officials. And 818 more Americans were held in immigration detention centers during that same time frame, according to government data obtained by Northwestern University professor Jacqueline Stevens and analyzed by NPR.

To be sure, the numbers represent a tiny percentage of all the cases reviewed by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, but advocates say holding even a single U.S. citizen should not be tolerated.


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

Merry Christmas!

Wishing all of our dear readers a very Merry Christmas. I'll leave you with the greatest Christmas song of all time. It doesn't have anything to do with immigration but you'll be smiling by the end for sure.


December 25, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, December 24, 2016


In 2017, the WZB Berlin Social Science Research Center is establishing a new research group, “Global Citizenship Law: International Migration and Constitutional Identity,” which will be led by Professor Liav Orgad, connected to the Research Area Migration and Diversity (headed by Professor Ruud Koopmans) and in collaboration with the Center for Global Constitutionalism (headed by Professor Mattias Kumm).

The project, funded by a European Research Council Starting Grant, is jointly hosted by the WZB and the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies at the European University Institute (EUI) in Florence, providing the PhD candidate with a unique opportunity to benefit from Europe’s two leading research institutes in the fields of constitutional identity, citizenship theory, and international migration.

The doctoral degree will be awarded in cooperation with one of the Berlin Universities (typically, Free University of Berlin or Humboldt University of Berlin); the call is also open to PhD students at other universities in Germany or abroad who are willing to relocate to Berlin for the duration of the contract. The position is at 65% of the regular working hours (currently 25.35 hours per week), preferably starting on September 1, 2017, for the duration of four years. Salary level is E 13 TVöD (in accordance with German public service collective agreement).

For details, see Download PhD-1-WZB


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