Saturday, February 25, 2017

Border Wall Options from Der Postillon

Border walls are expensive. The German satirical website Der Postillon, however, has an option that Trump just might consider: the IKEA solution.


"The simple, Scandinavian designed border wall (with a 5 year guarantee) is primarily made of pressboard with a birch effect and can be assembled with the help of a hex key."


February 25, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, February 24, 2017

The Trump Administration's Inhumane Immigration Policies

Guest blogger: Nicole Martinez, University of San Francisco Law Student:

A 26-year-old woman was detained by ICE agents in a Texas hospital where she was awaiting treatment for a brain tumor. Her story begins in El Salvador where she claims an aunt of hers was trying to kill her. Contrary to her claim, a border patrol agent says that she told him she was crossing for work. Giving Sara the benefit of the doubt, her claim for asylum would be fear of death in El Salvador. While in a detention facility on February 10, Sara was complaining about headaches and collapsed leading to her placement in a hospital where they discovered her brain tumor. On February 23, ICE agents returned to the hospital to detain Sara in handcuffs and ankle restraints to move her back to the detention facility. Sara sits today in the detention facility with nosebleeds and sensations of her head exploding. Now, we must ask: To what extent do the current executive orders on immigration fail to see the humanity in people regardless of their race?

The current administration ignores the very basic meaning of humanity while attempting to claim these orders are for the benefit of Americans. The reality may be shocking to many, but immigrants pay taxes; immigrants pay rent; immigrants care for their families; immigrants raise their children to be good, honest, hardworking people; and immigrants do not take for granted their presence in our country. On top of that, immigrants do the labor that most Americans refuse to do and are paid below minimum wage to do it—thereby keeping the price of fruit low for consumers. To stereotype immigrants as hostile rapists and murderers, as terrorists, or even as scum of the earth is exactly what this administration has done and we are now living the consequence of such a negative and bigoted platform.

          Immigration attorneys and judges need to work together to help all those who are seeking asylum in the United States. This country is made up of immigrants, and to deny any person from entering and making a life here seems beyond comprehension. The Trump administration has further signaled they want to get rid of the so-called “catch and release” policy, where migrants caught in the states without permission would be released pending their court dates. Trump has even signaled he wants to send these migrants (regardless of where they are from) to Mexico. The first issue with this is Mexico would have to agree to this set up, which is unlikely given the tense relationship between Peña Nieto and Trump. The second issue is many of the Mexican immigrants that have left Mexico and are seeking asylum are afraid to return because of harm that could be done to them. To send these people back is to send them to their potential deaths by drug cartels or other sources of power disputes within the country and towns. The third issue is sending people from other countries to Mexico when they are not from Mexico; that essentially creates an issue of trafficking immigrants across borders because Trump doesn’t want their presence here. This policy is inherently problematic and potentially a case for the Supreme Court to decide on if Congress doesn’t start writing bills to prevent these types of abuses of power. Human trafficking is the trade of humans, most commonly for the purposes of sexual slavery, forced labor, or commercial sexual exploitation. Human trafficking is a crime against the person because of the violation of the victim's rights of movement through coercion. Forcing immigrants to go to Mexico and wait for their court date can easily be seen as coercion if the government refuses to provide a court date if they do not leave. This will be a slippery slope if it is ever put into action.

          Under the potential Trump administration immigration guidelines, Sara has no power to be released to the hospital and may die from her brain tumor. Sara could be sent to Mexico pending her trial without consideration that she is from El Salvador. Even scarier is the thought that Sara could end up staying in a detention facility—also known as a prison—until her court date and again, and could die from her brain tumor while in custody. Given the current move to build more private prisons, Trump has opened the door to further profit by detaining immigrants. We went from a system of mass incarceration—modern day slavery—to make profits off of inmates, to an even scarier thought of mass incarceration of immigrants to make profits off of their labor. There are children and families being detained, sleeping on the concrete floors, eating insufficient meals, and sitting behind bars. This is not the America we had in mind when immigrants flowed across the country in search for gold. Why do we now treat our immigrants as criminals instead of strong and brave people willing to leave what they know for something a little better?


February 24, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (3)

International Student Enrollment: Is It Time To Panic Now?

The number of international students flocking to U.S. institutions of higher education has been steadily increasing, year after year. The only real dip of note can be traced to 9/11. As I've blogged about before, I'm worried that there will be a "Trump effect" on international student enrollment in 2017-2018 that will have serious consequences for U.S. institutions of higher education that rely on foreign student dollars.

When I taught my immigration law students about nonimmigrant visas for international students, I shared with them this image.

International Students in the U.S

I asked them what they foresaw in the coming year. My American students generally thought that the allure of the United States would continue to draw high numbers of international students. But my international students (about half the class) thought the opposite. They predicted a dramatic decrease.

One international student in particular had an observation that I found quite astute. She noted that the U.S. may have seen a dip in enrollment post 9/11 as a result of students being afraid for their own safety in this country. But now, students are afraid that they are simply unwelcome in this country. That's a much higher barrier to overcome in making the decision to travel abroad for education.

So, is it time to panic now?


February 24, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

From the Bookshelves: Mestizos Come Home! Making and Claiming Mexican American Identity By: Robert Con Davis-Undiano


Mestizos Come Home!

Making and Claiming Mexican American Identity

By Robert Con Davis-Undiano

Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano has described U.S. and Latin American culture as continually hobbled by amnesia—unable, or unwilling, to remember the influence of mestizos and indigenous populations. In Mestizos Come Home! author Robert Con Davis-Undiano documents the great awakening of Mexican American and Latino culture since the 1960s that has challenged this omission in collective memory. He maps a new awareness of the United States as intrinsically connected to the broader context of the Americas. At once native and new to the American Southwest, Mexican Americans have “come home” in a profound sense: they have reasserted their right to claim that land and U.S. culture as their own.

Mestizos Come Home! explores key areas of change that Mexican Americans have brought to the United States. These areas include the recognition of mestizo identity, especially its historical development across the nineteenth and twentieth centuries; the re-emergence of indigenous relationships to land; and the promotion of Mesoamerican conceptions of the human body. Clarifying and bridging critical gaps in cultural history, Davis-Undiano considers important artifacts from the past and present, connecting the casta (caste) paintings of eighteenth-century Mexico to modern-day artists including John Valadez, Alma López, and Luis A. Jiménez Jr. He also examines such community celebrations as Day of the Dead, Cinco de Mayo, and lowrider car culture as examples of mestizo influence on mainstream American culture. Woven throughout is the search for meaning and understanding of mestizo identity.

A large-scale landmark account of Mexican American culture, Mestizos Come Home! shows that mestizos are essential to U.S. national culture. As an argument for social justice and a renewal of America’s democratic ideals, this book marks a historical cultural homecoming.


February 24, 2017 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Attorney General Reauthorizes Use of Private Prisons


The Huffington Post reports that Attorney General Jeff Sessions yesterday withdrew an Obama-era Justice Department memo aimed at reducing and ultimately ending the Justice Department’s use of private prisons.

In a one-page memo to the acting head of the Bureau of Prisons, Sessions wrote that the August 2016 memo by former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates “changed long-standing policy and practice, and impaired the Bureau’s ability to meet the future needs of the federal correctional system.”


Photo courtesy of NBC Nightly News

In originally deciding to move away from private prisons, Yates wrote that “Private prisons served an important role during a difficult period, but time has shown that they compare poorly to our own Bureau facilities. They simply do not provide the same level of correctional services, programs, and resources; they do not save substantially on costs; and as noted in a recent report by the Department’s Office of Inspector General, they do not maintain the same level of safety and security.”

The announcement followed the release of a report issued by the Justice Department’s Inspector General that found privately run prisons “incurred more safety and security incidents per capita than comparable BOP institutions.


February 24, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Importance of Criminal Defense Attorneys Understanding Immigration Law

Guest blogger: Marshal Arnwine, University of San Francisco Law Student:

Imagine that you are a zealous criminal defense attorney pursuing justice for all of your clients, but one day, you have a client whose citizenship status is unknown to you. Is it your duty to find out how your client’s citizenship may affect their case?  What should this attorney do?

In Padilla v. Kentucky, 559 U.S. 356 (2010), the Supreme Court held that criminal defense attorneys must advise noncitizen clients about the deportation risks of a guilty plea. Before this case, far too often non-citizens who faced criminal charges were represented by attorneys who did not understand the immigration consequences of certain outcomes such as guilty and “no contest” pleas. A zealous criminal defense attorney may be offering good advice on how to reduce a criminal sentence, but that advice may lead to an unfavorable outcome for their client that is far worse than a longer sentence. These unfavorable outcomes sometimes lead to their client being removed from the United States.

Under United States immigration law, certain kinds of criminal convictions can lead to a non-citizen being deported. Some types of criminal offenses that can get non-citizens deported consist of the following: crimes of moral turpitude, aggravated felonies, controlled substances offenses, fire arms, and domestic violence to name a few.

For example, let’s imagine this hypothetical where it is important for a criminal defense attorney to understand immigration law. There is a non-citizen named Jane who came to the United States from Mexico with her parents when she was five years old and has lived as a lawful permanent resident immigrant ever since. Jane is now twenty years old and gets arrested for possessing cocaine. The prosecutor may charge Jane with drug possession for sale. Imagine that Jane’s criminal defense attorney does not inquire about Jane’s citizenship status. It is possible that Jane’s defense attorney will advise her to plead guilty instead to a simple possession of a controlled substance, which could make her eligible for a drug diversion program instead of jail time. Although the option she elected sounds like a great deal, a guilty plea for drug possession makes her deportable. What’s bad is that the defendant usually does not know that she just made herself deportable by accepting the plea until after the fact. Even worse, many criminal defense attorneys do not know until after the fact that they just made their client deportable. If Jane’s attorney would have understood the intersection of criminal and immigration law, the attorney would probably have advised her to fight the more serious charge or look for a safer alternate plea to avoid deportation.

I propose that there needs to be a full-time immigration specialist on staff at criminal defense attorneys offices, especially at public defender offices. This change has occurred in some smart public defender offices after the Padilla case. Considering the heavy case load that public defenders have, it would be well worth the investment to have someone who is an expert in immigration. The investment can help give non-citizens an opportunity to exercise the best options for their life. Often, non-citizens may prefer to stay in prison with a longer sentence than be forced to return to their home land where safety or economic strife may be a problem.  

The reality in most public defender offices help me make my case. How much time and effort can criminal defense attorneys put into inquiring about the immigration status of their client if they have approximately 300 cases to review a day? Under those circumstances, how can criminal defense attorneys step up and do more to protect non-citizens? I believe the first step would be to hire a full-time immigration lawyer to team up with criminal defense attorneys.

Even if criminal defense attorneys decide to hire an immigration specialist, I still believe that it would be important for every criminal defense lawyers to develop some competency regarding how to minimize the immigration ramifications of their case. If criminal defense attorneys are up to speed with basic immigration law, it will allow the dialogue between the immigration specialist and the defense attorney to be more efficient. I believe the strong relationship between the defense attorney and immigration specialist will allow the client to receive the best possible help in accepting a plea bargain or another option that will avert deportation.

I believe that all people deserve the proper justice. Not one person can do everything, but everyone can do something in the pursuit of justice. Criminal defense attorneys and immigration specialists coming together will be a great step in the right direction.


February 23, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (3)

"Honor Killings" and the Muslim Ban


Leti Volpp on The Hill offers arguments that the January 27, 2017 Executive Order was anti-Muslim based on its two references to "honor killings."  She explains:

"Why is this significant? Honor killings, defined by anthropologist Lila Abu-Lughod as `the killing of a woman by her relatives for violation of a sexual code in the name of restoring family honor,' are mistakenly thought to be a uniquely Muslim practice and specific to Muslim communities."


February 23, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Resistance to the Fugitive Slave Act Gives Sanctuary Cities a Model for Resistance

Lasch poster

Christopher N. Lasch on the History News Network offers a historically-based defense of "sanctuary cities""

"Lawsuits over the executive order that barred entry from seven predominately Muslim nations dominated the news in recent weeks. To less fanfare, local governments in San Francisco, Santa Clara County, and Massachusetts filed lawsuits hoping to see President Trump in court concerning another executive order—one that seeks to coerce local participation in immigration enforcement by starving the sanctuary cities of federal funding. Anti-sanctuary agitators regularly claim that sanctuary jurisdictions defy federal law, and some (most recently Karl Rove) go so far as to suggest that cities and counties that seek to disentangle themselves from federal immigration enforcement are morally and legally equivalent to the slaveholding South."


February 23, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Suits Challenging Confinement of Noncitizens Jump

The Lost Poetry of the Angel Island Detention Center


Angel Island win San Francisco Bay was once the home of many Chinese migrants seeking to enter the United States in the era of the infamous Chinese exclusion laws.  In "The Lost Poetry of the Angel Island Detention Center" in The New Yorker, Beenish Ahmed writes of the poetry written by the Chinese detainees on the walls of their barracks-like prison:  "What would-be immigrants couldn’t tell their interrogators they inscribed on the walls in the form of classical Chinese poetry—complete with parallel couplets, alternating rhymes, and tonal variations. "

Ahmed describes "[o]ne of the most enthralling poems [--] “Islanders” . . . set at a meeting of striking white workers in July, 1877. That gathering exploded into a bloody rampage across San Francisco’s Chinatown; over the course of a week, several rioters were shot and killed by police, and one Chinese person died in a washhouse that was set alight by the marauders.

They think of those people
who take away their jobs,
who speak a language

they cannot understand,
who live in tenements
and send their money home,
who eat dogs and rats
and spend their nights alone
in a haze of sweet smoke,

and they think of his words,
And no matter what happens,
the Chinese must go!


February 23, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

How Afghans became second-class asylum seekers

Immigration Article of the Day: Circles of Trust: A Proposal for Better Migrant Screening by Tom Ginsburg & Alberto Simpser

Ginsburg_tom 416

Circles of Trust: A Proposal for Better Migrant Screening by Tom Ginsburg (University of Chicago Law School) & Alberto Simpser (ITAM-CIE), February 9, 2017


Screening potential entrants is a major challenge to any system of immigration, and has become particularly salient in the Trump era. At bottom, the problem is one of information asymmetry, in which migrants hold private information as to their abilities and intentions. We propose a new approach that leverages information that refugees, migrants and guest workers have about each other. Potential applicants to enter the US from disfavored classes would have to apply as a small group, called a trust circle. Once inside the country, all members would be subject to periodic, onerous bureaucratic requirements, but these would be waived over time for trust circles that remain in good standing. However, if anyone within a trust circle became involved in hostile or criminal activities, every member of the trust group would summarily lose their privileges. Knowing this, potential migrants will only associate with others they know to be trustworthy, and would have incentives to expose others in the group who adopt bad behaviors post-entry.


February 23, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Environmental Consequences Of A Wall On The U.S.-Mexico Border


Leah Donnella of NPR reports on the environmental consequences of the "big, beautiful wall" that President Trump wants to build along the U.S./Mexico border.  On January 25, President Trump issued an executive order instructing construction to begin on a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Environmentalists and civil rights activists say the proposed wall on the southern border with Mexico is a threat to the environmental rights of the people who live on both sides of the border.


February 22, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

A nation of immigrants enters dark chapter


Raul A. Reyes on CNN paints a bleak picture of the Trump administration's recently unveiled removal policies.  As Reyes puts it, "The most important thing to know about Trump's deportation force is that they will be going after everyone they can. "  To elaborate: 

"Trump's immigration policies offer a troubling view of what lies ahead for immigrant families and their allies. For Latinos, this may mean a greater threat of racial profiling and the risk of being mistakenly caught up in enforcement actions. For all Americans, it marks a dark, disturbing chapter in our history as a nation of immigrants."


February 22, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Constitutional Collision with Colorado Anti-Sanctuary Bill

Cesar-garcia-hernandez-fullbody Chris-lasch-fullbody

César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández and Christopher N. Lasch on the CrImmigration blog write that the virulent tone of immigration debate that propelled Donald Trump to the presidency has come to Colorado. A Republican state legislator has proposed to bar cities or local governmental units from limiting their cooperation with ICE. And then he goes where even President Trump hasn’t dared: criminalizing the very act of voting in favor of limiting cooperation with ICE. "The proposal, House Bill 17-1134, titled the “Colorado Politician Accountability Act,” is a constitutional train wreck. If our students submitted this for a course, we would be ashamed of our work as teachers and alarmed at the author’s disregard for basic principles of our constitutional democracy."


February 22, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Fear and Silence in the Wake of the Feb. 20 DHS Memos Yxta Maya Murray


Fear and Silence in the Wake of the Feb. 20 DHS Memos by Yxta Maya Murray

President Trump’s threat to deport 11,000,000 undocumented immigrants from the United States puts people in terror.  Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary John Kelly’s February 20, 2017 memos, which promise an expanded use of expedited removal procedures and a “strengthen[ed]” deportation force, will only increase the paralysis that now grips millions of people in the country.  I write to describe, insofar as I am able, the quality of this fear, and how it relates to key democratic values:  This extreme anxiety touches upon the ability to protest, even the very capacity to read, learn, and speak. 

In my recent work on equal housing and poverty, I have been conducting interviews among homelessness advocates, tenants’-rights advocates, and teachers in Boyle Heights, a neighborhood in Los Angeles.  My current writing project focuses on the insecurities and instabilities created by gentrification and eviction.  In the past months, I have met with advocates in L.A. to get their thoughts on how dislocation affects the health and psyches of poor people and people of color.  But in almost all of my interviews, my subjects inevitably steered our conversation away from housing and toward Donald Trump and the suppressive emotional effects of his anti-immigrant speeches. 

Out of concern of alerting authorities, I am going to shield the identities of two out of three of my subjects, because of their close association with undocumented clients:[1]

When I interviewed the director of a shelter that serves Spanish-speaking people in Boyle Heights, I asked her about resistance and protest in the neighborhood.  How do people push back against poverty and insecure housing? I asked.  How do they fight for their rights?  She told me:  “People are afraid.  If you look at the marches, the protests, I think that . . .  people that won’t be directly affected are going out, and people who are going to be affected are not going out.  [What I mean is] undocumented people.  They’re worried about being spotted and identified.  People are in disagreement [with what’s happening,] but because they’re concerned about their well-being, they’re not going to go out and risk that.”[2]

When I interviewed an educator in Boyle Height, she told me that children were having trouble concentrating on their studies:  “The one thing I know about students is . . .  they are more successful when they know they don’t have to worry about a lot of other things.  . . . The more secure and stable any student is, the more they are able to focus on what the program is.  But, with what’s happening [with Trump], we don’t know what’s going to happen next week.  There’s a lot of mental anguish.  I don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow, and it’s hard to feel hopeful when you have that kind of instability.  We’re afraid of mass deportations.  And if our kids have a parent who’s undocumented, and they don’t know what to do either.”[3]

And when I interviewed tenants’-rights advocate Larry Gross, of the Coalition for Economic Survival, he told me that Latinx tenants often refused to object to sub-human living conditions.  He said;  “We’ve been trying to convince the Mayor [Eric Garcetti] and the Apartment Association to do a joint news conference putting out the word to landlords that they’d better not use threats of immigration [against our tenants].  We need [the authorities] to alleviate fears, [and to tell our tenants] that they still have a right to object to conditions and file complaints!  What’s going on [with Trump] will impact [housing conditions] significantly!  We’ll see more abuse, [and shady landlords will] further push undocumented tenants underground.  They will be more fearful, and so unable to deal with poor housing conditions!”[4]             These three advocates all describe a psychological recoiling that divests immigrants, and children of immigrants, of the equilibrium necessary to think, learn, protect themselves, and protest against the deep inequality that torments this nation.  This counts as a catastrophic loss for a country that prides itself on creating progress through education and the exercise of voice.

February 20’s memos from the DHS, which promise to delete immigrants from U.S. soil expeditiously, and in probable violation of many people’s due process rights, offer the daylight reality of the nightmare that had already relegated people to the shadows.  The voices that were muted in November may now become completely silenced, and with their absence will come also the vanishing of much-needed opposition and debate.


[1]    I will not name an educator, even though she works with children who may be covered by DACA.  John Kelly’s comments about the “proper processing” of unaccompanied children raises enough red flags to withhold her name.  See John Kelly, Implementing the President's Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements Policies, Feb. 20, 2017, at p. 10 (“[Un]accompanied alien children are provided special protections to ensure that they are properly processed and receive the appropriate care and placement when they are encountered by an immigration officer.  An unaccompanied alien child . . . [possesses] no parent or legal guardian in the United States. . . . Approximately 155,000 unaccompanied alien children have been apprehended at the southern border in the last three years. Most of these minors are from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, many of whom travel overland to the southern border with the assistance of a smuggler who is paid several thousand dollars by one or both parents, who reside illegally in the United States. With limited exceptions, upon apprehension, CBP or ICE must promptly determine if a child meets the definition of an ‘unaccompanied alien child.’”).

[2]    Interview with [name withheld], Feb. 8, 2017.

[3]    Interview with [name withheld], Jan. 30, 2017.

[4]    Interview with Larry Gross, Feb. 17, 2017.


February 22, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigration Article of the Day: Regulating the Human Supply Chain by Jennifer Gordon


Regulating the Human Supply Chain by Jennifer Gordon, Fordham University School of LawIowa Law Review, Vol. 102, 2017


Over the past decade, the United States has experienced a stunning 65% decline in undocumented immigration. While politicians seem unaware of this change, firms that once relied on local undocumented workers as a low-wage labor force feel it acutely. Such companies have increasingly applied to sponsor temporary migrants from abroad (sometimes called “guest workers”) to fill empty jobs. In 2015, the number of migrant workers entering the United States on visas was nearly double that of undocumented arrivals — almost the inverse of just 10 years earlier. Yet notice of this dramatic shift, and examination of its implications for U.S. law and the regulation of employment in particular, has been absent from legal scholarship. This Article fills that gap, arguing that employers’ recruitment of would-be migrants from other countries, unlike their use of undocumented workers already in the United States, creates a transnational network of labor intermediaries — the “human supply chain” — whose operation undermines the rule of law in the workplace, benefiting U.S. companies by reducing labor costs while creating distributional harms for U.S. workers, and placing temporary migrant workers in situations of severe subordination. It identifies the human supply chain as a key structure of the global economy, a close analog to the more familiar product supply chains through which U.S. companies manufacture products abroad.

The Article highlights a stark governance deficit with regard to human supply chains, analyzing the causes and harmful effects of an effectively unregulated world market for human labor. Drawing on the author’s original research into innovative public, private, and hybrid approaches to the governance of human supply chains, the Article sets out and evaluates a range of potential interventions, ultimately proposing a new supply chain liability that realigns risk and responsibility for the harms that attend the global recruitment of low-wage workers.


February 22, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Secretary of DHS Issues Two Memoranda Implementing President Trump's Immigration Enforcement Executive Orders


Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security John F. Kelly has issued two orders implementing President Trump's immigration executive orders of January 25, 2017:

Implementing the President's Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvement Policies

Enforcement of the Immigration Laws to Serve the National Interest

Peter Margulies has a thoughtful analysis on LawFare of the Due Process questions raised the expansion of the use of "expedited removal" of noncitizens in the two memos.  He observes that

"Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary John Kelly has just sent two memos to the White House for review that could fundamentally reshape U.S. immigration enforcement and exacerbate tensions with Mexico. The memos lay the groundwork for reducing procedural safeguards on removal of noncitizens through expanded use of 'expedited removal' procedures."

Jill Family also criticizes the Trump administration's "due process sleight of hand" in expanding expedited removal.



February 21, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Supreme Court Argument Preview: Removal of an immigrant for “sexual abuse of a minor”


Over the last few years, the Supreme Court has decided a number of criminal-removal cases. Next week (February 27), the justices will hear oral argument in another one, Esquivel-Quintana v. Sessions, which stems from the government’s effort to remove a lawful permanent resident for a “sex crime.”  Here is my argument preview.  I conclude the preview as follows:

"In setting a series of records for numbers of removals during President Barack Obama’s first term, the government focused its removal effects on noncitizens convicted of crimes. President Donald Trump has issued an executive order that, if implemented, would expand crime-based removals. This case illustrates some of the complexities associated with reliance on state criminal convictions in federal removals, which can lead to a lack of uniformity in the application of the U.S. immigration laws. The disparities between the states in areas of criminal law frequently relied on for removal, such as state marijuana laws, are growing, and are likely to pose interpretive challenges in the future for the federal courts in criminal-removal cases. It remains to be seen whether the justices will focus on these issues during the oral argument next week."


February 21, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

From the Bookshelves: The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen


The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen

Viet Thanh Nguyen's The Sympathizer was one of the most widely and highly praised novels of 2015, the winner not only of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, but also the Center for Fiction Debut Novel Prize, the Edgar Award for Best First Novel, the ALA Carnegie Medal for Fiction, the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature, and the California Book Award for First Fiction. Nguyen's next fiction book, The Refugees, is a collection of perfectly formed stories written over a period of twenty years, exploring questions of immigration, identity, love, and family.

With the coruscating gaze that informed The Sympathizer, in The Refugees Viet Thanh Nguyen gives voice to lives led between two worlds, the adopted homeland and the country of birth. From a young Vietnamese refugee who suffers profound culture shock when he comes to live with two gay men in San Francisco, to a woman whose husband is suffering from dementia and starts to confuse her for a former lover, to a girl living in Ho Chi Minh City whose older half-sister comes back from America having seemingly accomplished everything she never will, the stories are a captivating testament to the dreams and hardships of immigration. The second piece of fiction by a major new voice in American letters, The Refugees is a beautifully written and sharply observed book about the aspirations of those who leave one country for another, and the relationships and desires for self-fulfillment that define our lives.

February 21, 2017 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)