Friday, September 21, 2018

The President's Nevada Stump Speech

President Trump delivered a stump speech in Las Vegas last night. Here's the video (his remarks start at 39:20):

Don't feel like watching the whole thing? CNN has a rundown of the 35 most mind-blowing lines. Of interest to immprofs might be the following:

  • "The new platform of the Democrat Party is radical socialism and open borders."
  • "I won't allow the United States of America to become the next Venezuela. That's what they want to do."
  • "I'm not thrilled, but after the election, they're all telling me were getting our wall the way we want it, so let's see what happens. Let's see what happens. Let's see if they produce."
  • "I could knock it out, because I do that well. That's what I do well. I build. We could knock that wall out in one year if they gave us the funds."


September 21, 2018 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

From The Bookshelves: Melting Pot or Civil War?

Reihan Salam, photo by Larry D. Moore

Melting Pot or Civil War?: A Son of Immigrants Makes the Case Against Open Borders is a forthcoming book (Sept. 25 release date) by National Review executive editor Reihan Salam.

The Wall Street Journal has an excerpt from the book and it's quite the read.

Salam is a member of the second-generation, the child of immigrants from Bangladesh. Salam confronts the "ways that rapid demographic change has affected America’s political psyche."

Here is the first eye-popping paragraph: "we need to recognize that the immigration debate isn’t really about immigrants. In truth, it’s about the children of immigrants."

Salam notes that if the U.S. implemented a guest worker program for single individuals with high skill levels, something akin to programs in Singapore or Qatar, immigration wouldn't be a hot button issue. "But that’s not how America works," Salam writes. "If we welcome you in as part of the flock, we also welcome your offspring." 

So, if the immigration debate is about the children of immigrants, and fears that those children will outnumber the children of "natives," what should be done? Salam argues that "The key to averting a civil war over immigration is for the U.S. to do everything in its power to make sure that the children of natives and the children of immigrants alike are incorporated into a common national identity and, just as importantly, that they’re in a position to lead healthy and productive lives as adults. We need, in short, to make America a middle-class melting pot."

How does he propose doing this? He has three steps. First, "the key policy priority has to be integration, as opposed to opening our borders. This would mean, in the first place, an amnesty for the long-settled unauthorized immigrant population."

Second, "This amnesty must be contingent, however, on the adoption of a more selective, skills-based immigration system. The U.S. needs to give priority to the earning potential of applicants over their family ties, thus breaking with our current approach. Doing so will help to ensure that new arrivals are in a position to thrive in a changing U.S. labor market and that they can provide for their children without relying on programs meant to help the poorest of the American poor, not those who have chosen to make their homes here."

"Finally, and most important, we must invest the time and money it will take to ensure that all of America’s youth can grow up to lead decent lives. If that means higher taxes on the high-income professionals who have profited so mightily from immigrant labor, so be it."



September 21, 2018 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

New Music: Black Eyed Peas tackle gun violence, immigration in videos


A new video release by the group  The Black Eyed Peas is in the news.  In videos for their new song "Big Love," the group looks at gun violence at schools and immigration..  The videos were released today. Proceeds from the song will benefit the student-led March for Our Lives organization, calling for stricter gun laws, and Families Belong Together, which opposes the Trump administration policy of separating children from families in immigrant detention.


September 21, 2018 in Current Affairs, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Senator Feinstein (D-CA) faces attack on immigration, this time from the left


Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) has been in the news in recent weeks connection with the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearing.

Back in California, Senator Feinstein is running for reelection against Democrat )and California State Senator) Kevin De León.  Immigration is one of the issues that De León has focused on in his campaign.  As reported in the Los Angeles Times, released a campaign video online (see above) that

"recreates scenes from De León’s childhood, being raised by a single immigrant mother who worked as a housekeeper. It goes on to show how De León’s life would have changed had he lived in present-day America and been separated from his mother by officers from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The video includes two clips of Feinstein, one from 1994, where she says: `The illegal immigrants who come here and commit felonies, that’s not what this nation,' before it cuts off. The second clip, from 1993, begins mid-sentence, and includes her saying, `I say return them to their own country where that country may be.' The video then cuts to a clip of Trump referring to immigrants as rapists."


September 20, 2018 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Removal Defense Skills Workshop (El Paso) October 6, 2018

El Paso by Eric E. Johnson

I already have plans for October 6 (see you at SALT maybe?) but I would otherwise be standing in line for this amazing CLE: a Removal Defense Skills Workshop. It's being offered by the Immigration Justice Campaign, which is a joint initiative of AILA and the American Immigration Council, started in early 2017 to mobilize more attorneys to fight for due process for non-citizens, with a special focus on detainees.

The CLE is "aimed at teaching newer removal practitioners how to be 'fearless lawyers' in immigration court. There are three sections, on bond, pleadings, and contested hearings. We have 6 expert faculty, and a student:faculty ratio of 4:1. There are mock hearings with debriefs afterwards." As a professor of immigration law and trial advocacy I coudln't be more excited.

Here's hoping it's offered again soon (might I suggest in Dallas?). I'm in!


September 20, 2018 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Beat Goes On: Attorney General Reviews More BIA Rulings


Under fire from the President, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has once again exercised his authority to review a BIA decision.  So far, he has been more active than any Attorney General in recent memory in reviewing BIA rulings.  In Matter of S-O-G- & F-D-B-, the Attorney General concluded that

(1) Consistent with Matter of Castro-Tum, 27 I&N Dec. 271 (A.G. 2018), immigration judges have no inherent authority to terminate or dismiss removal proceedings.
(2) Immigration judges may dismiss or terminate removal proceedings only under the circumstances expressly identified in the regulations, see 8 C.F.R. § 1239.2(c), (f), or where the Department of Homeland Security fails to sustain the charges of removability against a respondent, see 8 C.F.R. § 1240.12(c).
(3) An immigration judge’s general authority to “take any other action consistent with applicable law and regulations as may be appropriate,” 8 C.F.R. § 1240.1(a)(1)(iv), does not provide any additional authority to terminate or dismiss removal proceedings beyond those authorities expressly set out in the relevant regulations.
(4) To avoid confusion, immigration judges and the Board should recognize and maintain the distinction between a dismissal under 8 C.F.R. § 1239.2(c) and a termination under 8 C.F.R. § 1239.2(f).

In another matter issued yesterday, Matter of M-G-G-, the Attorney General "referred the decision of the Board of Immigration Appeals to himself for review of issues relating to the authority to hold bond hearings for certain aliens screened for expedited removal proceedings, ordering that the case be stayed during the pendency of his review." 

Tal Kopan on CNN reports on the AG's latest immigration actions.


September 20, 2018 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

How Midwestern Suffragists Used Anti-Immigrant Fervor to Help Gain the Vote


Here is an interesting historical tidbit that I did not know. A recent essay on Zocalo Public Squareby Sara Egge on the roots of the suffrage movement showcases how suffragists used nativist arguments, as far back as 1914, to create the political leverage that ultimately won women the right to vote in South Dakota. Renowned suffragist Anna Howard Shaw was instrumental in this campaign. She spoke at rallies, presenting “undeniable truths” that American women were “more deserving” than “ignorant male immigrant neighbors,” mostly German immigrants at the time.  the concluding paragraph:

"While Shaw’s speech was meant for an audience living in an important historical moment and place, it also resonates today. Suffragists had no qualms about using nativism to open democracy to women. They were willing to skewer immigrants in their decades-long quest for political equality. Shaw’s remarks also remind us how many assumptions Americans have made—in 1914 and today—about the rights and responsibilities that accompany citizenship."


September 19, 2018 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

From The Bookshelves: Dear America

Dear America

Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen is the new autobiography by Pulitzer-prize winning journalist and America's most famous undocumented migrant Jose Antonio Vargas.

Jose describes the book as about:

...homelessness, not in a traditional sense, but in the unsettled, unmoored psychological state that undocumented immigrants like myself find ourselves in. This book is about lying and being forced to lie to get by; about passing as an American and as a contributing citizen; about families, keeping them together, and having to make new ones when you can’t. This book is about constantly hiding from the government and, in the process, hiding from ourselves. This book is about what it means to not have a home.

Time has an excerpt from the book and is is riveting. It describes the moment when Jose appeared on Fox News alongside a woman whose son was killed by an undocumented individual.

The woman, Laura Wilkerson, told Jose "It's up to you to get in line and become an American citizen." Jose responded "there is no line for be to get in the back of." But Wilkerson didn't listen, she repeated that Jose needed to get in line. At which point Jose writes: "I wanted to scream, over and over again: THERE IS NO LINE! THERE IS NO LINE! THERE IS NO LINE!"

Jose will be doing a book tour. Here is a list of the dates and locations.


September 19, 2018 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0)

Iowa Struck Again by Tragic Death: The Death of Champion Golfer from Spain

Just weeks ago, Iowa experienced tragedy and controversy in the wake of the discovery of the body of Mollie Tibbetts, who allegedly was killed by an undocumented immigrant.   Shortly after the discovery, President Trump sought to capitalize politically on the tragic death.

Tragedy has hit Iowa again.  ESPN reports that a 22-year-old man has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of Iowa State golfer Celia Barquin Arozamena, the 2018 Big 12 champion and the school's female athlete of the year. Born in Spain, Barquin Arozamena, 22, was found dead earlier this week at a golf course in Ames, Iowa. Ames police on Monday night announced that Collin Daniel Richards has been charged following an investigation by several law enforcement agencies. Richards made his initial appearance at the Story County Courthouse in Nevada, Iowa, at 9 a.m. Tuesday; bond was set at $5 million during a brief hearing.

Safety understandably now is the focus of discussion after the latest death.  


September 19, 2018 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Index of American Cities by Welcomeness to Migrants


New American Economy is a self-described "a bipartisan research and advocacy organization fighting for smart federal, state, and local immigration policies that help grow our economy and create jobs for all Americans."

The group recently released a Cities Index, evaluating "immigrant integration by measuring local policies and socioeconomic outcomes across the 100 largest cities in the United States."

It's a fascinating tool. I found out that my current hometown (broad defined), Oklahoma City, is pretty low down - 89th out of 100 on the integration scale. Dallas, to the south, wasn't a whole lot higher at #87. (Not one North Dakota city makes the list.) Heck, folks in Miami were surprised to find themselves out-performed by St. Petersberg.

It's an interesting tool to play around with, with data points that students might enjoy exploring.


September 18, 2018 in Current Affairs, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigration Article of the Day: Weaponizing Misery: The 20-Year Attack on Asylum by Kari E. Hong


Weaponizing Misery: The 20-Year Attack on Asylum by Kari E. Hong, Lewis & Clark Law Review, Vol. 22, No. 541, 2018


The Trump Administration is attacking asylum seekers—both in words and in deeds. In Attorney General Sessions’s speech against “dirty immigration lawyers”, for whom he blames for the rampant “fraud and abuse” in the system, the Attorney General highlighted policy initiatives undertaken by the Trump Administration to deter, delay, and deny asylum applicants who are seeking protections. This Article identifies the Trump administration’s new policies and practices and criticizes those that impose irrational or unnecessary burdens on asylum seekers.

More salient, however, is that the Trump Administration’s attack on asylum is not a break from past practices. To the contrary, for over 20 years, the preceding three administrations have imposed significant burdens on asylum seekers, because they either caved to irrational political pressures or lacked the political will to protect those who need more.

Change is needed and concrete policy reforms exist. But the precondition to reform is the recognition that many newly-arriving immigrants who are poor and persecuted, ironically, are the unique guardians of the American values that our country holds dear. Those who gave up everything for freedom, anti-corruption principles, or a refusal to abet a repressive regime hold and transmit the core democratic principles our country needs to thrive. Through policy initiatives that have been weaponizing misery, we have been deterring and denying legitimate asylum claims. We continue to do so at the detriment of our own country’s future.


September 18, 2018 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Reaction to Trump's Reduction of Refugee Numbers to 30,000

From the Quaker lobby:

The Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) has long opposed the Trump Administration’s low refugee admissions goals. The White House announced late yesterday that it is committed to resettling only 30,000 for FY2019—the lowest in the resettlement program’s history.

“Quakers have long advocated that we must welcome refugees. It is our moral responsibility and opportunity to care for and protect one another,” said Diane Randall, Executive Secretary for FCNL. “Children and their families are among those refugees who are desperate for security and freedom; the people of the United States have the ability to open our hearts and our communities to help. We will faithfully work to reverse course.”

In 2017, the White House set the refugee admissions goal at 45,000—the lowest since the program’s inception in 1980. Due to a series of refugee bans and increases in bureaucratic barriers, the U.S. is not even on track to resettle half that number this year. Instead of committing to catching up, the administration opted to set an even lower goal for FY 2019. The number was also set without any meaningful consultation with Congress as required by law.

An estimated 65 million people are displaced worldwide—an unprecedented 22.5 million of whom are refugees fleeing to other countries. Additionally, between 75 and 80 percent of refugees and internally displaced people are women and children.

“In light of the worst global refugee crisis in history, this low refugee admissions goal is another tone-deaf demonstration of our nation’s failure to fulfill our faithful responsibility to welcome the stranger,” explained Hannah Graf Evans, FCNL’s Legislative Representative for Immigration and Refugee Policy. “Our nation has historically led the way when it comes to permanent refugee resettlement, and we have the capacity right now to do far more than we actually are.”

FCNL calls on Congress and the White House to work to remedy root causes of violent conflict that drive people from their homes instead of preventing those seeking safety, security, and peace from finding it here in the United States.

For more information, please visit

From the Center for American Progress:

Washington, D.C. — In response to the Trump administration’s announcement that the fiscal year 2019 refugee admission cap will be 30,000, an all-time low, Kelly Magsamen, vice president for National Security and International Policy at the Center for American Progress, issued the following statement:

The announcement tonight by the Trump administration that it will reduce the number of refugees allowed to enter the United States to 30,000—the lowest level in the history of the refugee program—is not just immoral and shameful but also bad for U.S. national security and prosperity.

American refugee programs have been an important tool of our foreign policy and have contributed to our global reputation and security. They have also allowed us to rally others to do more. Refugees go through intensive vetting, contribute every day to the American economy and enrich our society. Through this cynical move meant to stoke his base for short term gain, President Donald Trump has once again made sure that America will be seen as retreating not leading, with long-term consequences for US national security.

Tom Jawetz, vice president of Immigration Policy at the Center for American Progress, added:

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo implored us to judge this administration’s commitment to humanitarian protection not only by its decision to set the lowest refugee admissions target in history, but also by its treatment of asylum seekers and people permitted to live and work in this country with Temporary Protected Status (TPS). This was a none too subtle reminder of the Trump administration’s methodical dismantling of our asylum system and its decision to end TPS for more than 300,000 people—even over the objections of seasoned State Department personnel, who warned that these decisions would endanger returnees and undermine U.S. security.

Only a few months ago, this administration took more than 2,600 children from their parents—many of whom were coerced into forfeiting their right to request asylum and tricked into returning to their country of origin without their child. Still today, hundreds of kids remain separated from their parents, some perhaps permanently orphaned. Secretary Pompeo framed his remarks yesterday as a request that the administration be judged on the totality of its record regarding the treatment of the most vulnerable people seeking protection. As ugly as the shamefully low refugee admissions target is, things only look worse when put into perspective.


September 18, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

El Salvador: Civil War, Natural Disasters, and Gang Violence Drive Migration

Migration from El Salvador long has been a phenomenon in the United States. Cecilia Menjívar and Andrea Gómez Cervantes for Migration Information Source look at the drivers of migration from that Central American country.


September 18, 2018 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Secretary Pompeo Delivers Remarks on Refugee Policy


Here are the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's remarks on the latest refugee admissions numbers:

"The United States anticipates processing up to 310,000 refugees and asylum seekers in Fiscal Year 2019. We propose resettling up to 30,000 refugees under the new refugee ceiling, as well as processing more than 280,000 asylum seekers. They will join the over 800,000 asylum seekers who are already inside the United States and who are awaiting adjudication of their claims. These expansive figures continue the United States’ longstanding record of the most generous nation in the world when it comes to protection-based immigration and assistance."

Robert O'Malley and Stephen Pomper on Politico note that the 30,000 refugees "is the lowest number in the history of the nearly 40-year-old resettlement program. In so doing, he answered the depressing question experts have been asking for the past several weeks: Would the administration stay put at the record-low level it set for itself in 2018 — 45,000 refugees — or seek to plumb new depths in the coming year?"

Julie Hirschfeld Davis in the New York Times reports that "[t]he number represents the lowest ceiling a president has placed on the refugee program since its creation in 1980, and a reduction of a third from the 45,000-person limit that Mr. Trump set for 2018."



September 18, 2018 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 17, 2018

Music Break - Make America Great Again


The controversial Russian band "Pussy Riot" provides a scathing social criticism of the Trump administration's immigration policies in this video.

UPDATE (Sept. 2919):  The band made the news this week when it was reported that a member, Pyotr Verzilov. may have been poisoned. Verzilov is in the hospital in Germany. 




September 17, 2018 in Current Affairs, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Lauren Gilbert: Trump doesn’t need a wall — he has Jeff Sessions


Professor Lauren Gilbert on The Hill opines that "[t]he Trump administration has systematically dismantled the right to seek asylum and turned the process at our southern border into a dystopian gauntlet that few can survive." Check it out.



September 16, 2018 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

From the Bookshelves: Send Them Back by Irwin P. Stotzky


Send Them Back by Irwin P. Stotzky (2018)

Send Them Back tells part of the story of a remarkable attempt, which spanned four decades, to bring the rule of law to refugees from the troubled nation of Haiti. It discusses several of the cases that civil rights lawyers, working directly with Haitians and other activists, filed and litigated for Haitian refugees, and the legal, social, and political aspects of such litigation. The litigation fostered structural legal changes, policies meant to cure the inequities in the treatment of refugees, and a determined political opposition to unfair and illegal immigration decisions. 



September 16, 2018 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, September 15, 2018

This American Life: "Let Me Count the Ways" - On the Small and Technical Ways Immigrants are Being Targeted

NPR's This American Life has recorded a series entitled, "Let Me Count the Ways," which is covering the "quiet bureaucratic war" that is targeting immigrants in the U.S. under the Trump Administration. The series includes coverage by Julia Preston, Nadia Reiman and Zoe Chance covering topics such as asylum procedures, the use of group hearings in criminal immigration prosecutions for illegal entry and re-entry, and refugee admissions.  It looks like a great lineup of topics.


September 15, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Topic Magazine's Anonymous Interview with USCIS Asylum Officer: "When I Say I'm Complicit, This Is What I Mean"

Seth Freed Wessler at Topic Magazine has published an interview with a USCIS asylum officer, who spoke anonymously about the culture at the USCIS asylum office, fears of what additional changes could come, the trauma experienced by asylum seekers as well as asylum officers hearing their stories and the officer's thoughts on what it means to be complicit with the policies of the current Administration.  Here's one excerpt from the interview:

"OK, I’m going to tell you, in a very specific example: when the kids got separated from their parents. I am going to tell you about that. I was interviewing moms in detention who were separated from their children. Officials took their children away from them. All that they wanted from me was to know where their kids were. They would ask me, 'Where are my children?'

 But I was told not to tell them where their kids were. I was told not to tell them. When I say I’m complicit, this is what I mean. All I wanted to do was give them information about where their children were. Think about this: I am sitting with a woman who has no idea what’s happening, who has been separated from her children. All she wanted was her kid. And all that I was allowed to share was a 1-800 number that ICE gave us, a 1-800 number for them to call. The 1-800 number was from some office, the document came from ICE, but I heard that it didn’t always work.

This hateful, harmful agenda that the president and Sessions have created—being inside of that, it makes me feel complicit.

I’ve talked with other USCIS staff who say they were not given that same instruction, to withhold that information, and as a result, they said they did tell parents they met with where their children had been taken. How do you account for that difference?

This was a major policy—taking children from parents—and there was no clear way of dealing with it in the government. I was told one thing, and whoever that was was told something else."


September 15, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Lessons About the Future of Immigration Law from the Rise and Fall of DACA


Here is a link to a paper about the implications of the rise and fall(?) of DACA.  It will be published in an immigration symposium in the UC Davis Law Review.


September 15, 2018 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)