Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Angels in the Borderlands

Photo Chris Stone for Times of San Diego

Guest post by Marie Sutton, rising 3L at Chapman University Fowler School of Law

Larger-than-life Enrique Morones does not immediately conjure up the image of an angel, yet his organization, Border Angels, has been working to prevent avoidable deaths in the borderlands between Mexico and the United States for 31 years.

Meeting this sun-bronzed 60-year-old at Friendship Park on the western edge of the Mexico-U.S. border, his energy and commitment were palpable. He and his volunteers leave water bottles in the desert borderlands along migrant paths. Without Border Angels and other organizations making water available, dehydration would claim many more lives – more than the estimated 11,000 lives lost since 1994. I would like to think that no one, no matter their political viewpoint, would deny other human beings water to save their lives, but Enrique said that they had been finding some of their water bottles slashed in recent months. Perhaps those who follow in the footsteps of the Angels to slash the water bottles think that lack of water will act as a deterrent to would-be border crossers. Eleven thousand lives say otherwise.

The main cause of death among those who die crossing the borderlands is dehydration. Individuals who embark on the dangerous journey must do so from desperation coupled with hope in their hearts. However, hope alone will not sustain life in the desert. Water is essential and Border Angels are aptly named for providing this fundamental sustainer of life in the harsh border environment. How tragic that some people who themselves are kept alive by water would deprive others of this essential element of life despite knowing the all-too-frequent deathly consequences.

-posted by KitJ on behalf of Marie Sutton

May 31, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink

Immigration Article of the Day: Vetting Refugees: Is Our Screening Process Adequate, Humane, Culturally Appropriate? Sabrineh Ardalan


Vetting Refugees: Is Our Screening Process Adequate, Humane, Culturally Appropriate?

Sabrineh Ardalan , Federal Lawyer, May 2017


As President Trump acknowledged in his February 16, 2017, press conference, the United States has robust procedures in place to vet refugees and asylum seekers. Any changes to the asylum and refugee processing system should thus promote the rule of law, safeguard the consistent application of screening measures, and ensure the fair and equitable treatment of applications for protection, without regard to an individual’s country of origin. The March 6, 2017 Executive Order, “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States,” however, attempts to suspend the refugee resettlement program and reduce the number of refugees admitted to the United States in direct contravention of U.S. legal and moral obligations to protect those fleeing persecution and fearing return to torture. This article first provides a brief history of this country’s long-standing commitment to refugee protection. Next, it describes the legal standard applied in determining whether an individual is eligible for refugee protection, including bars to protection under U.S. law. The article then provides an overview of the extensive screening procedures already in place to address national security concerns. Finally, the article concludes with a discussion of challenges related to credibility and corroboration, including issues with trust, translation, trauma, time, resources, and other hurdles, all of which must be considered as part of any effort to change the system.


May 31, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigration Article of the Day: Weeping in the Playtime of Others: The Obama Administration’s Failed Reform of ICE Family Detention Practices By Dora Schriro

Weeping in the Playtime of Others: The Obama Administration’s Failed Reform of ICE Family Detention Practices By Dora Schriro

The United States has long struggled with the practice of detaining immigrant families and over time, most reform efforts have flagged, if not failed. This paper examines the impact of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA) through an exploration of the family residential center for persons in immigration custody. The paper provides an inside look at how policymakers, at various points in the Obama administration, sought to roll back the administration’s most infirm practices and the fate of those efforts. It begins with a brief history of family detention in the United States, continues with a summary of the reforms undertaken both early and late in the Obama administration, and examines the significant challenges the administration faced and the less progressive positions it adopted during its first and second terms.  The paper concludes with a discussion of reasons for the rapid reversal of the Obama administration’s previous reforms and provides recommendations to achieve a civil, civil system of immigration enforcement for families and all others, which means nothing less than the transformation of the immigrant detention system from a criminal to a civil paradigm. The need for such a transformation is all the more urgent in light of executive actions taken in the early days of the Trump administration. 

Download the PDF of the article


May 31, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

More Questions, Less Answers

Ramos, Photo via Linkedin

Guest post by Anna Fullerton, rising 2L at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law

I will never forget Honors Chemistry at 8 am with Professor Powell. This freshmen course led me to abandon my pipe dream of entering the medical field. I quickly realized that discovering cures for strange diseases and saving mankind would be made even more challenging by my inability to conceptualize things that cannot be physically touched, like atoms and infinite numbers. I channeled my energies into topics that made more sense to me, like psychology and human interaction and now law - intangible topics with no clear or “right” answers. In recent years, though, I have found increasing comfort in the unalterable, definiteness of science and math. People may not understand the result of a particular quadratic equation, but that does not change the fact that there is a discernable answer.

I have been thinking about this as we have met with immigration and border enforcement officials this week. As inquiring (and perhaps over-zealous) law students, we did not waste the opportunity to ask the “tough” questions. We wanted to know who border patrol is really stopping at our borders, what ICE had to say about the reported deaths in their detention centers, and what to make of the videos and reports of CBP turning away asylum seekers at the border. Then Friday, we had the opportunity to speak with Nicole Ramos, an immigration attorney who lives in Tijuana, which borders San Diego. She is one of the few attorneys who accompanies and presents asylum seekers to CBP at the border.

In true bureaucratic fashion, many stories and claims from the various groups were not only inconsistent, but were in direct conflict with one another. When asked about whether or not CBP ever turns away people seeking asylum at the borders, CBP insisted that they never had and never would turn people away. (After all, it is against international law to refuse entry to any person seeking asylum). However, as we spoke to Ms. Ramos, we heard story after story of CBP agents turning her clients away at the border. And not just any border, but at the exact same port of entry we had visited the day before. She regaled stories of damning videos and tape recordings that show CBP doing the exact acts that they claimed never happened.

So, what do we make of this? On the one hand, recordings can be misleading and personal anecdotes are not conclusive evidence of anything. But at the same time, Ms. Ramos had specific numbers of how many aslyees are attempting to receive asylum in the U.S., including ones that she has personally accompanied, and the percentages of those who are then turned away by CBP. All of this contradictory information makes one wonder, how do we move forward in a society where all of the stories we hear are in direct conflict with one another? This brings me back to where we started; suddenly nostalgic for problems that could be solved and conclusive answers could be found, no matter how complicated.

-posted by KitJ for Anna Fullerton

May 30, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Indefensible, an Immigrant Defense Project Podcast


Immigrant-defense-project-logo-275Episode 1: Land of the Free, but Only for Some

Podcasts are the rage.  I find them addicting indeed.  And here is one for you immigration geeks.

Indefensible is a podcast series brought to you by the Immigrant Defense Project. Over five episodes, producer Will Coley will bring you stories from people who are standing up and holding out; fighting to be with their families. They say they’re here to stay.  


Stories of people resisting deportation

Over the past twenty years, more than 4.5 million people have been deported from the United States, almost eight times more than in the previous 20 years. Extremely harsh immigration laws took the hallmarks of the War on Crime — mandatory sentencing, hyper-policing, and mass imprisonment — and extended these punitive measures to target immigrants. Detention and deportation became mandatory for a wide range of past criminal offenses, and immigrants were stripped of many basic rights, including the right to a fair day in court. (Read more about the 1996 laws here.) The climate of fear fueled by the War on Terror has justified the massive diversion of federal funding to police, imprison and exile immigrants has created the world’s largest detention and deportation system.

President Donald Trump has heightened the threat to human rights and fairness including his plans to vastly expand immigration police force and further limit the due process rights of immigrants. The new administration has effectively named all immigrants as a threat worthy of deportation, while particularly demonizing those who are arrested or convicted of a wide range of criminal offenses.

This podcast showcases the stories of people who are directly facing this reality. But they’re not sitting back. Instead many are standing up and speaking out.


May 30, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1)

J. Reinhardt: "The government forces us to participate in ripping apart a family"


In a short published decision out of the Ninth Circuit, Judge Stephen Reinhardt writes a powerful concurrence in a decision denying a stay of removal, Ortiz v. Sessions, No. 17-16014 (9th Cir. May 30, 2017). The entirety of the concurrence (minus the footnotes) is pasted below, with my emphasis.  Judge Reinhardt explains that the court must deny the request for a stay because of the lack of legal authority upon which to grant it, but more importantly, his concurrence contains a strong critique of this Administration's effective elimination of meaningful discretion from the immigration system and is a solid illustration of what is emerging as a pillar of the federal government's immigration enforcement strategy:  the denial of stays and execution of previously issued removal orders. 

"We are compelled to deny Mr. Magana Ortiz’s request for a stay of removal because we do not have the authority to grant it. We are not, however, compelled to find the government’s action in this case fair or just.

The government’s insistence on expelling a good man from the country in which he has lived for the past 28 years deprives his children of their right to be with their father, his wife of her right to be with her husband, and our country of a productive and responsible member of our community. Magana Ortiz, who first entered the United States at 15, is now 43 years old, and during his almost three decades here has raised a family and built a successful life. All of his children, ages 12, 14, and 20, were born in this country and are American citizens, as is his wife.  His eldest daughter currently attends the University of Hawaii, and he is paying for her education.

Since coming to the United States, Magana Ortiz has become a respected businessman in Hawaii and well established in the coffee farming industry. He has worked with the United States Department of Agriculture in researching the pests afflicting Hawaii’s coffee crop, and agreed to let the government use his farm, without charge, to conduct a five-year study. In his time in this country Magana Ortiz has built a house, started his own company, and paid his taxes. Although he apparently has two convictions for driving under the influence, the latest of them occurred fourteen years ago, and he has no history of any other crimes. Indeed, even the government conceded during the immigration proceedings that there was no question as to Magana Ortiz’s good moral character.

After his immigration case concluded with a decision to remove Magana Ortiz because of his 1989 illegal entry into the United States, he filed for a stay of removal in September 2014. That stay was granted, allowing him to remain with his family and pursue available routes to legal status. On November 2, 2016, Magana Ortiz filed for an additional stay of removal. Without any explanation, the government on March 21, 2017 reversed its position, and ordered him to report for removal the next month. A subsequent application for a stay was similarly denied, and on May 10, 2017, Magana Ortiz went to the district court, where he filed an emergency request for a stay of removal for a period of nine months. That request was denied, and on May 17, 2017, he appealed to this court to intervene.

Magana Ortiz now asks us to stay his imminent removal. Because we are without authority to do so, he will be returned to Mexico, after having spent 28 years successfully building a life and family in this country. He will also be subject to a ten-year bar against his return, likely forcing him to spend a decade deprived of his wife, children, and community.

This was not the necessary result. Magana Ortiz is currently attempting to obtain legal status on the basis of his wife’s and children’s citizenship, a process that is well underway. It has been over a year since his wife, Brenda, submitted her application to have Magana Ortiz deemed her immediate relative. This August, his eldest daughter, Victoria, will turn 21, and will also be able to file an application for her father. All Magana Ortiz asked for in requesting a stay was to remain in this country, his home of almost three decades, while pursuing such routes to legal status. It was fully within the government’s power to once more grant his reasonable request. Instead, it has ordered him deported immediately.

In doing so, the government forces us to participate in ripping apart a family. Three United States citizen children will now have to choose between their father and their country. If they leave their homeland with their father, the children would be forced to move to a nation with which they have no connection. All three children were born in the United States; none has ever lived in Mexico or learned Spanish. Moving with their father would uproot their lives, interrupt their educations, and deprive them of the opportunities afforded by growing up in this country. If they remain in the United States, however, the children would not only lose a parent, but might also be deprived of their home, their opportunity for higher education, and their financial support.  Subjecting vulnerable children to a choice between expulsion to a foreign land or losing the care and support of their father is not how this nation should treat its citizens.

President Trump has claimed that his immigration policies would target the “bad hombres.” The government’s decision to remove Magana Ortiz shows that even the “good hombres” are not safe. Magana Ortiz is by all accounts a pillar of his community and a devoted father and husband. It is difficult to see how the government’s decision to expel him is consistent with the President’s promise of an immigration system with “a lot of heart.” I find no such compassion in the government’s choice to deport Magana Ortiz."




May 30, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Ninth Circuit En Banc on "Habitual Drunkard"


Judge Susan Graber

The Ninth Circuit today decided en banc Ledezcma-Cocino v. Sessions.  Here is the court's summary of the decision:

The en banc court. in an opinion by Judge Susan Graber, denied Ledezma-Cosino’s petition for review of the Board of Immigration Appeals’ decision concluding that he was ineligible for cancellation of removal on the ground that he failed to establish good moral character because, during the requisite period, he had been a “habitual drunkard.”

In Part A, the en banc court held that substantial evidence supported the agency’s finding that Ledezma-Cosino was a “habitual drunkard.”  In so concluding, the en banc court noted that the ordinary meaning of the term refers to a person who regularly drinks alcoholic beverages to excess, and noted evidence of Ledezma-Cosino’s more-than-ten-year history of alcohol abuse, conviction for driving under the influence, and his daughter’s testimony that his liver failed from drinking.

In Part B, the en banc court held that the term “habitual drunkard” was not unconstitutionally vague because it readily lends itself to an objective factual inquiry.  The en banc court also concluded that whatever uncertainty the term may raise in borderline cases, a person of ordinary intelligence would have notice that the term encompasses Ledezma-Cosino’s conduct.

In Part C, a plurality of the en banc court concluded that the statutory “habitual drunkard” provision does not violate equal protection.  Applying ordinary rational basis review, the plurality concluded that Congress reasonably could have concluded that, because persons who regularly drink alcoholic beverages to excess pose increased risks to themselves and to others, cancellation of removal was unwarranted.

Concurring, Judge Kozinski, joined by Judges Bea and Ikuta, disagreed that ordinary rational basis review applies to decisions to exclude aliens.  Under the plenary power doctrine, Judge Kozinski would overrule circuit precedent applying the domestic equal protection test to foreign relations.  Judge Kozinski would hold that the government’s burden is even lighter than rational basis in that the court should approve immigration laws that are facially legitimate without probing or testing possible justifications.  Judge Kozinski would deny the petition for review summarily under this facially legitimate standard.

Concurring, Judge Watford, joined by Judges McKeown and Clifton, agreed that the statutory classification is subject to rational basis review and noted that the question whether the volitional component of excessive drinking is weighty enough to warrant treating habitual drunkards as morally blameworthy for their conditions is a policy question for Congress.  Observing that the provision at issue is a conclusive presumption, Judge Watford noted that the Supreme Court has long held that conclusive presumptions survive rational basis review even when the presumption established is both over- and underinclusive.  In response to the suggestion that it is irrational to treat habitual drunkards as lacking good moral character while not treating those suffering other medical conditions as morally blameworthy, Judge Watford wrote that Congress could rationally conclude that habitual drunkards are not similarly situated to those suffering from other medical conditions. 

Dissenting, Chief Judge Thomas, joined by Judge Christen, observed that Ledezma-Cosino was a recovering alcoholic, diagnosed with the disease during the qualifying period for good moral character.  Analyzing the plain language of the statute, its structure, and its legislative history, Chief Judge Thomas concluded that the phrase “habitual drunkard” is not synonymous with “alcoholic,” and thus, a diagnosis of alcoholism is insufficient to trigger the “habitual drunkard” provision and render a petitioner categorically ineligible for cancellation of removal.  Chief Judge Thomas would construe the “habitual drunkard” provision to apply to one who habitually abuses alcohol and whose alcohol abuse causes harm to other persons or the community.  Accordingly, Chief Judge Thomas would grant the petition for review and remand to the BIA to reconsider the case under a proper construction of the law, and would not reach the constitutional questions raised in the case.


May 30, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Things Are Always Bigger in Texas! Texas Republican Called ICE on SB 4 Protesters, Threatened to Shoot Colleague


Texas' anti-sanctuary law has provoked controversy.  Indeed, a Texas Republican threatened to “put a bullet in one of his colleague’s heads” during a scuffle on the House floor over the state’s new anti-‘sanctuary cities’ law on the final day of the regular legislative session.

Representative Matt Rinaldi, R-Irving, made the comment to Representative Poncho Nevárez during a dispute that began when Rinaldi told two Hispanic lawmakers that he called Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on Senate Bill 4 protesters at the Texas Capitol.

Read more on this story in the Texas Observer here.  Thanks to Cappy White for the news tip.


May 30, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Cyrus Mehta on the Implications of International Refugee Assistance Project v. Trump

Breaking News: The Supreme Court decides Esquivel-Santana v. Sessions (Sexual Abuse of a Minor)


Breaking News!  The Supreme Court today decided Esquivel-Santana v. Sessions (Sexual Abuse of a Minor).  Watch the blog for an upcoming analysis by me on SCOTUSBlog. Here is the SCOTUSBlog page on the case, which includes links to an argument preview and analysis, briefs, and the lower court decision.

Justice Thomas wrote the opinion for the Supreme Court, which was joined by all of the other Justices except for Judge Gorsuch who did not participate in the decision or consideration of the case.

The facts of the case were relatively simple.  When Juan Esquivel-Quintana, a lawful permanent resident from Mexico, was 20 years old, he was convicted under California law for having consensual sex with his then-16-year-old girlfriend. An “aggravated felony” conviction generally requires mandatory removal of an immigrant from the United States and renders the immigrant ineligible for most forms of relief from removal. 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(43) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) defines an “aggravated felony” to include the “sexual abuse of a minor.” Claiming that Esquivel-Quintana’s conviction constituted an “aggravated felony,” the U.S. government initiated removal proceedings against him, and the immigration court ordered him removed from the United States. The Board of Immigration Appeals dismissed his appeal from the removal order. Applying the Supreme Court’s seminal 1984 decision in Chevron, U.S.A., Inc. v. National Resources Defense Council, Inc., the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit deferred to the BIA’s interpretation of “sexual abuse of a minor” and upheld the removal order.

As described by Justice Thomas, the question before the Court was “whether a conviction under a state statute criminalizing consensual sexual intercourse between a 21-year-old and a 17-year-old qualifies as sexual abuse of a minor under the INA.”  The Court’s conclusion was stated in straight-forward fashion:  “We hold that it does not.”

More to come.

UPDAT (12:40 p.s. PST:  Here is my analysis of the opinion on SCOTUSBlog.  The punchline:

"Esquivel-Quintana v. Sessions fits in neatly with the court’s recent immigration decisions, such as Mellouli v. Lynch in 2015 and Moncrieffe v. Holder in 2013, which also applied ordinary modes of statutory interpretation to the immigration laws. In a series of crime-based removal decisions, the court has engaged in close parsing of the language of the statutory provisions in question. This approach is no different than that employed by the court in other cases. Although not breaking new ground today, the court continues to move forward in applying ordinary analytical approaches to immigration law, which historically had been in certain respects “exceptional” in the amount of deference given to the Board of Immigration Appeals. Immigrants have prevailed more often than not in the court’s recent decisions as the U.S. government has pressed cases, like Esquivel-Quintana, which the court found to be unsupported by the immigration statute."



May 30, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Guru for Immigrant Activists

Esmeralda Bermudez of the Los Angeles Times reports on how immigrant rights activists are addressing the stresses of life under Trump.  "[F]ive months into the Trump presidency, they’ve never had their endurance so tested.

So, in need of relief themselves, they go to a longtime community organizer for help."


"In his workshops and webinars, Victor Narro of the UCLA Labor Center tells them to unplug, garden, hike, dance, volunteer, build altars at their cubicles and look at photos that bring them joy. They’re in it for the long haul, after all. President Trump still has nearly 200 more weeks in office."

Narro has organized immigrants for years, lately has dedicated himself to spreading the gospel of self-care to legions of overextended protesters, lawyers and outreach workers.



May 30, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

New Neighbours: Young Refugees from Across Europe Guest Edit


VICE is looking to move the conversation along, by focusing on integration. Its European editors discovered young contributors who've settled in their respective countries and asked them to write about anything on their minds – whether that's love, music or the virtue of football. 

The result is a collection of 16 articles that today we are publishing simultaneously in 12 languages and 14 European territories, in collaboration with UNHCR. Highlights include How to Be Fashionable on a Budget, All the Gaffes I Pulled Since Arriving to the UK and A Playlist of the Songs I Listened to While Trying to Get from Syria to Europe.


May 30, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 29, 2017

An Afternoon with San Diego Superior Court Judge Harry Elias


Guest post by Siobhan Barry, rising 2L at Hofstra University's Maurice A. Deane School of Law

In the old, dilapidated building that is the Superior Court in San Diego, one thing shines through -- the search for justice. Despite the outdated décor, cramped spacing, wooden benches, and books that look like they haven’t moved since the 1950s, this does not inhibit the ability of judges to do their job.

On Friday we met with the honorable Harry Elias. He spoke extensively about California Penal Code §1016.5. This statute requires the Court to advise non-citizens that by entering a plea of guilty to their criminal offense, immigration consequences may follow. There was an old policy in place stating that when negotiating cases, the Court should not take immigration consequences into account. However, now the new policy follows that immigration consequences do in fact come into play in decisions. Although Judge Elias pointed out issues with California law, it seems as if he was a strong advocate for ensuring people, despite legal status, be advised of all their rights.

Judge Elias used to head the Child Abuse Unit in 1985. He then worked for the D.A.’s office for 14 1/2 years, and has now been a judge for the past 27 years. What was most interesting about Judge Elias was his constant desire to be fair to both sides. He acknowledges that because he was a DA he might have some biases, but he always tries to be objective as possible. He stated that when issuing his decision he looks to see if he would be making the same decision if the person were “black, brown, yellow or red.” His honesty and integrity was extremely admirable.

What stuck out to me was his intense goal to be fair to the facts. For example, he only has 90 seconds to make a decision about a motion.. In that time, he does his best to hear both sides and welcomes either attorney to give him more information on the issue. In regards to his decisions being reversed he stated, “I have no qualms about getting reversed so long as I have enough confidence at the time of my decision.” Furthermore, “I learn what I did wrong and don’t make that decision again, even if I disagree with it.” Judge Elias was extremely respectable and truly wants his decisions to be fundamentally fair to both sides.

“When I’m the fact finder, if I’m not satisfied with the lawyers, I ask questions I know I need to ask. I don’t solely rely on the lawyers skills.” This is what the justice system needs. Someone who acknowledges they may have biases and tries their absolute best to seek justice. Even if he does not agree with a higher court reversing this decision, he learns and respects their decision. Although there may be election pressures, he never lets that stand in his way of issuing a decision. In a system where it is very easy to throw the bad guys in jail, he seems to genuinely care about what happens to these people and ultimately wants the best outcome for both sides.

-posted by KitJ on behalf of Siobhan Barry

May 29, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

US Citizen Detained by ICE: Guess her Ancestry?


The Trump administration has created a climate of fear in immigrant communities.  I have also found that U.S. citizen Latinos fear leaving the country.  One senior citizen, a Mexican-American born in the United States who has lived in the greater Los Angeles area for at least the last 50 years, recently told me that she no longer felt safe leaving the United States without bringing her birth certificate.  Her fears seem borne out by this story about a U.S. citizen:  Guadalupe Plascencia was arrested by Ontario police, jailed and then transferred to ICE custody, despite the fact she is a U.S. citizen.  Similarly, it has been reported that Latinos generally have been reluctant to report crimes, and reporting fewer domestic violence and sexual assault incidents than in the past.


May 29, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (1)

A Sign of the Times: Kids Craft Comics To Explore Immigration Fears


NPR has a story that reveals just how all-encompassing the climate of fear in immigrant communities is in today's America.

When Mexican-American artist Nora Litz first talked with her students about immigration — she was shocked to hear how scared they were.

"I felt I had to do something," she says. She was already teaching a children's writing workshop — but she decided to offer a specific weekend class for kids with parents in the country illegally — targeted at the Mexican population in downtown Philadelphia.

The class is called Illustrated Stories of Immigration a free, two-hour comics workshop led by artists and writers every Saturday.

In the class, students crafted stories about ICE taking away their family members in the night, of the proposed wall with Mexico, of having to move to an unknown place. Telling these stories is therapeutic. For many kids, their imaginations created happy endings and by the end of the class, they reported being less afraid, sleeping better than before, Litz says.


May 29, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Happy Memorial Day!



Happy Memorial Day!  This day gives us the opportunity to remember and honor the men and women who died in service to the United States. This Memorial Day, USCIS pays tribute to the military personnel, both native- and foreign-born, who have given their lives for this country. 

“Memorial Day” can be found in several places on the naturalization test? Prospective citizens may be asked to “Name two national U.S. holidays.” during the civics test. It is also one of the holidays that applicants may be asked to read or write as part of the English Test.

For Memorial Day, USCIS has highlighted information for learners and teachers that are related to Memorial Day.


May 29, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (35)

Sunday, May 28, 2017

A Morning At Federal Court

photo by Danielle Corbisiero

Guest post by Cecilia Anguiano, rising 3L at Lewis & Clark Law School.

The United States District Court for the Southern District of California is one of the busiest courts in the entire country. The court’s shared border with Mexico means the majority of the criminal cases are for drug and human trafficking. In total, around two-thirds of cases before this court are criminal.

On Friday, the Honorable Janis L. Sammartino’s courtroom had only a few attorneys present, “probably because we are going into Memorial Day weekend,” she stated.

The first person for sentencing this morning was a 19 year old legal permanent resident who pled guilty to smuggling several people in a car. He explained that it was a lapse in judgment after drinking at a bar. He thought he could make fast money since he had a baby girl on the way.

Judge Sammartino used sentencing guidelines to advise her and, as she put it, “for equity and sufficiency purposes, as well as to avoid sentencing disparities.” The guidelines work as a point system in which the criminal history of the defendant as well as the severity of the crime point to a recommended sentence. Judge Sammartino noted the guidelines help her make sentencing decisions because she was not a career prosecutor before coming to the bench. The Guidelines used to be mandatory where they would limit the judge in considering factors specific to the case.

The 19 year old fell into a criminal category 1 and offense level 13 which recommended an 12-18 months sentence. Judge Sammartino used her discretion and considered the fact that he readily accepted responsibility, worked quickly with the prosecution through Fast-Track and didn’t have any previous criminal history which resulted in lowering his offense level.

Judge Sammartino sentenced him to 12 months and one day making him deportable. His one mistake will now cost him his life here in the United States and a strain on his relationship with his newborn that he has yet to see.

His story draws on the importance of LPRs pursuing their citizenship status. One mistake could mean derailment of every aspect of a person’s life.

-posted by KitJ on behalf of Cecilia Anguiano

May 28, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Oklahoma City Thunder Basketball Star in International Incident


World events have had an impact on one NBA professional basketball player.

ABC News reports that, after being detained in Romania and having his passport revoked by the Turkish government, Enes Kanter, who plays for the Oklahoma City Thunder, is back in the United States.  Kanter had been on a world tour for his Light Foundation, doing charity events to provide meals and clothes, and had already made stops in a number of countries. But after a flight from the Philippines to Bucharest, Romania, Kanter was detained by airport officials and told his Turkish passport had been "canceled."  Kanter announced the situation in a video on social media, saying the Turkish government revoked his passport because of his "political views." Kanter has been a harsh critic of current president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, calling him a "dictator" and the "Hitler of our century."

According to sources, the NBA worked with the State Department to get Kanter to London late on Saturday, with Oklahoma Senators Jim Inhofe and James Lankford making calls on his behalf. Kanter is a citizen of Turkey, but he is a lawful permanent resident in the United States.

Sports Illustrated reports that the Turkish government has issued a warrant for Kanter's arrest.

UPDATE (June 3, 2017):  Kanter, who later was the subject of an arrest warrant, later reported that the Turkish government had arrested his father.


May 28, 2017 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Law and Order Season Finale on the "American Dream/Sanctuary"



Last week, Law & Order: SVU had its season finale and it had a "ripped from the headlines" story line about hate crimes against Muslims, undocumented immigrants, "sanctuary cities," and more.  Here is a description:  "Three masked men break into a Syrian family’s restaurant, steal the money, kill the father, rape both of his adult daughters, then kill one of those daughters. Along the way, the criminals spray-paint “Muslims must die” on the refrigerators."  The episode can be watched online.

The episode had the NYPD detectives investigating a horrible rape/murder case with a family of Muslim victims.  In the course of the special two hour episode, the story line takes us through the modern immigration debates  immigration and the Big Apple's status as a "sanctuary city"; nonetheless, SVU detective Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) threatens an undocumented immigrant mother from El Salvador with removal unless she provides information.  In the end, the viewer has to decide whether justice has been done.



May 28, 2017 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigration Article of the Day: Naturalization by Liav Orgad


Naturalization by Liav Orgad in The Oxford Handbook of Citizenship (Edited by Ayelet Shachar, Rainer Baubock, Irene Bloemraad, and Maarten Vink), Forthcoming


This chapter explores legal and theoretical aspects of naturalization. The first section addresses the ultimate goal of naturalization—what function does it serve?—by presenting three goals: contract, political test, and nation-building. Each goal may lead to a different process of naturalization and raise different ethical questions. The literature does not systematically discuss which goals are legitimate, and which ones are illegitimate. The second section seeks to present three ways to assess the ethics of naturalization—drawing on conceptual and utilitarian grounds. Among the conceptual factors to be considered are the legitimacy of the goals of naturalization according to different conceptions of citizenship (liberalism, republicanism, cosmopolitanism, and communitarianism) and of nationhood (primordial, civic, and cultural). Among the utilitarian considerations are the efficiency of the naturalization criteria in achieving a legitimate goal. The third section moves on to examine three trends in naturalization policy in Western societies—legalization, devaluation, and liberalization (followed by a restrictive turn). It points out that naturalization has been internationalized in the direction of creating a right to citizenship; that citizenship is becoming a ‘commodity’ in the global economy market whose nature is increasingly influenced by economic factors; and that the process of liberalization in access to the status of citizenship is facing a restrictive turn—cultural considerations are becoming more central in naturalization decisions. The chapter concludes by offering new directions for the study of naturalization.


May 28, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)