Saturday, April 30, 2022
As we have reported on this blog, Professor Michael Olivas passed away last week. His eulogy and funeral Mass will be live on YouTube from the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi in Santa Fe, New Mexico later this morning at 11:30 a.m. MST. The eulogy will be at 11:30 and the mass follows at noon.
Senators relaunch bipartisan immigration discussions: "[W]e’ve never failed to fail when it comes to immigration"
Immigration reform has been discussed off-and-on for two decades or so. Recently, members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus discussed immigration policy with President Biden. No one is getting their hopes up too high but a few U.S. Senators last week engaged in preliminary discussions of reform.
Suzanne Monyak on Roll Call reports on the bipartisan group of senators who have initiated efforts to discuss reform of the U.S. immigration laws. Senate Judiciary Chairman Richard J. Durbin (D-IL), and members Senators Alex Padilla (D-CA), Thom Tillis (R-NC), and John Cornyn (R-Texas), met this week to discuss which immigration bills could garner 60 votes, the minimum needed to overcome a filibuster. The senators said they discussed changes for migrant farmworkers, workers caught in the visa backlog, and children who grew up on legal visas but “aged out” before visas became available.
According to the story, "some senators expressed encouragement that talks had restarted, after a similar series of bipartisan immigration talks broke down last year." Senator Cornyn described the conversation as a “very candid and useful discussion” where they talked about “the politics of this, and the challenges we’ve had in the past dealing with immigration.” “I’ve been here for a while now, and we’ve never failed to fail when it comes to immigration,” (bold added). Cornyn said. “So I’m hoping this time is different.”
Hope springs eternal.
Friday, April 29, 2022
TRAC, a research institute at Syracuse University, updated its ICE detention and alternatives to detention data yesterday, showing continued growth in the number of people monitored by SmartLINK. TRAC's press announcement is reproduced below and also available here.
According to new data available in TRAC's Quick Facts detention data tool, Immigration and Customs Enforcement is now monitoring 227,508 immigrants using 'alternatives to detention' (ATD) technology. The most common ATD technology used by ICE is SmartLINK, a smartphone app, with more than 172,000 people (or more than 75 percent of all people on ICE's ATD caseload) monitored by this technology.
At the end of April 2022, ICE held 19,502 immigrants in detention centers across the country. ICE's reported detention numbers have hovered around 20,000 since the beginning of the calendar year. These data come at a time when the Biden administration has also reportedly requested a reduction in the total number of detention beds funded by Congress from 34,000 to 25,000.
Highlights from data updated today in TRAC's Quick Fact tool show that:
- Immigration and Customs Enforcement held 19,502 in ICE detention according to data current as of April 24, 2022.
- 13,445 out of 19,502—or 68.9%—held in ICE detention have no criminal record, according to data current as of April 24, 2022. Many more have only minor offenses, including traffic violations.
- ICE relied on detention facilities in Texas to house the most people during FY 2022, according to data current as of April 18, 2022.
- ICE arrested 5,225 and CBP arrested 25,817 of the 31,042 people booked into detention by ICE during March 2022.
- Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Georgia held the largest number of ICE detainees so far in FY 2022, averaging 1,095 per day (as of April 2022).
- ICE Alternatives to Detention (ATD) programs are currently monitoring 227,508 families and single individuals, according to data current as of April 23, 2022.
- Harlingen's area office has highest number in ICE's Alternatives to Detention (ATD) monitoring programs, according to data current as of April 23, 2022.
– Austin K.
Earlier this week, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas testified before a congressional committee on the proposed end of Title 42 expulsions, border security, and immigration. One might put it differently, as follows, in the hearings, Mayorkas was grilled on those issues, which look to be a vulnerability of Democrats in the midterm elections. Specifically, Representative Chip Roy (R-TX) aggressively questioned the DHS Secretary over his border policies and showed photos of victims of trafficking and drug overdoses
Here is the testimony from the hearing.
Refugees International Report: Report Pushed into the Shadows: Mexico’s Reception of Haitian Migrants
This Refugees International report considers how Haitian migrants have been treated in Mexico. This passage is from the introduction:
"In 2019 and 2020, the U.S. and Mexican governments responded to the migration of asylum seekers, and especially caravans, with practices and policies designed to block and deter with force. When Haitians gathered in Del Rio, Texas, in mid-September 2021, even as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) ramped up expulsion flights of Haitians to Haiti, officials of Mexico’s National Migration Institute (INM) rounded up Haitians who crossed back from Texas into Ciudad Acuna. INM also targeted Haitians for enforcement elsewhere along its northern border and bussed and flew Haitians southward.
This report focuses predominantly on what happened next in Mexico, while also discussing U.S. border and asylum policies (which Refugees International has analyzed extensively elsewhere) and especially U.S. treatment of Haitian asylum seekers in the wake of the well-documented incidents at Del Rio.
From the fall of 2021 through early 2022, Mexico implemented policy changes chaotically and in ways that reveal a disregard for Haitians, especially compared with other populations of displaced people in Mexico. First, in October 2021, the government announced a complicated asylum registration process that was difficult to access, was poorly explained, and required waiting in Tapachula, in southern Mexico, without means of support."
Click the link above th eread the report.
Thursday, April 28, 2022
As we posted on the blog previously, last month the world lost former U.S. Secretary of State Madeline Albright, the first woman to ever serve in this position.
On Wednesday, world leaders, family members, and friends came together to remember Albright in a service at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.
Albright was born in Prague in 1937 and her family escaped the Nazi occupation in 1939, fleeing first to London before later coming to as refugees to the United States, what she described in 2019 as "a land across the sea where freedom was cherished and whose ideals inspired people all over the world.".
As Reuters reports, President Biden spoke at the service, telling the audience:
"Her name is still synonymous with America as a force for good in the world . . . She loved to speak about America as the indispensable nation. . . . It was about gratitude for all this country made possible for her. It was a testament to her belief in the endless possibilities that only America could help unlock around the world."
Registration link: https://ucsd.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJUkdeutrTsvHNeXckqeS48TGml4XvbhFkhi
Professor Michael A. Olivas passed on April 22, 2022. Excerpts from his obituary appear below:
Michael led an extraordinary life; he was an impactful scholar, a beloved teacher and mentor, an "accidental" historian, a radio personality, a counselor to political leaders and deans, and a beloved friend.
After his early education in Santa Fe, Michael graduated magna cum laude from Pontifical College Josephinum and received his Masters and Ph.D. at Ohio State. He then went to Georgetown University Law Center and found a passion for the law. He became a law professor at the University of Houston where he taught for 38 years. He founded the Institute of Higher Education Law and Governance and served as President of the UH Downtown Campus. He served as president of the Association of American Law Schools, elected as a member of American Law Institute and a fellow of the American Bar Foundation. He was a member of the American Educational Research Association and the National Academy of Education. He was a long time Board member of the Mexican American Legal Defense & Education Fund.
In the legal academy, he founded the Latino Law Professor Association and served as a mentor to law professors all over the country. Professor Olivas single handedly mentored and recruited dozens of Latinos into the academy. He wrote 16 books including: No Undocumented Child Left Behind: Plyler v. Doe and the Education of Undocumented School Children; Perchance to DREAM: A Political and Legal History of the DREAM Act; Suing Alma Mater: Higher Education and the Court; and, The Law and Higher Education: Cases and Material on Colleges in Court. The legacy of his scholarship is lauded in a book, Law Professor and Accidental Historian, The Scholarship of Michael A. Olivas, which collected articles by professors around the country who wrote about the brilliance and prescience of his work in immigration, education and diversity.
Funeral services are on Saturday, April 30 at the Santa Fe St. Francis Cathedral with a rosary at 11:00, the Eulogy at 11:30 and the mass celebrated at noon. A livestream will take place here. In lieu of flowers, Dr. Reyes requests donations be made to MALDEF, 634 S. Spring St. 11th Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90014 or to student scholarship funds he established at the University Houston Law Center.
Last week, we lost an influential immigration scholar Professor Michael Olivas. Besides expressing condolences in a blog post, I followed up with a post about how Michael, a music lover like no other, had become the Rock N Roll Law Professor, with a syndicated radio show and all.
Through this post, I wanted to highlight that Professor Olivas was a true immigration scholar and highlight three of his many influential books. All cover issues at the intersection of immigration and Latina/o civil rights. Three of Michael's (many) remarkable books offer a sense of his stature as a scholar.
Perchance to DREAM is the first comprehensive history of the DREAM Act, which made its initial congressional appearance in 2001, and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the discretionary program established by President Obama in 2012. Both the DREAM Act and DACA involve the rights of immigrant students and their access to education. The book reviews in detail the history of the DREAM Act and DACA over the course of two decades.
No Undocumented Child Left Behind: Plyler v. Doe and the Education of Undocumented Schoolchildren (NYU Press, 2012)
Colored Men and Hombres Aqui: Hernandez v. Texas and the Emergence of Mexican American L:awyering (Arte Publico Press, 2006)
In this monograph, Michael Olivas collected a group of scholars to analyze Hernandez v. Texas (1954) an important civil rights case for Mexican Americans that has been overshadowed by the iconic Brown v. Board of Education. This collection of ten essays commemorated the 50th anniversary of an important but almost forgotten U.S. Supreme Court case, Hernández v. Texas. This landmark case, the first to be argued by Mexican American lawyers before the US Supreme Court, held that Mexican Americans were a discrete group for purposes of applying Equal Protection.
Edited and with an introduction by Michael Olivas, Colored Men and Hombres Aquí is the first full-length book on this case. This volume contains the papers presented at the Hernández at 50 conference that took place in 2004 at the University of Houston Law Center and also contains source materials, trial briefs, and a chronology of the case.
As noted on this blog, the treatment of persons fleeing Ukraine is not the same as how nations have treated other groups on refugees. Consistent with that observation, Laura E. Alexander, Jane Hong, Karen Hooge Michalka, and Mary Luis A. Romero for the Conversation contend that "race and religion have always played a role in who gets refuge in the US." The authors note that
"[t]he different treatment of Ukrainian versus Central American, African, Haitian and other asylum seekers has prompted criticism that the administration is enforcing immigration policies in racist ways, favoring white, European, mostly Christian refugees over other groups.
This issue is not new. As scholars of religion, race, immigration, and racial and religious politics in the United States, we study both historical and current immigration policy. We argue that U.S. refugee and asylum policy has long been racially and religiously discriminatory in practice."
Check out the article above for details.
Immigration Article of the Day: "How Much Time Am I Looking At?": Plea Bargains, Harsh Punishments, and Low Trial Rates in Southwest Border Districts by Walter I. Gonçalves, Jr.
The Immigration Article of the Day is "How Much Time Am I Looking At?": Plea Bargains, Harsh Punishments, and Low Trial Rates in Southwest Border Districts by Walter I. Gonçalves, Jr., published in the American Criminal Law Review.
Here is the abstract:
Scholarship on the American trial penalty, vast and diverse, analyzes it in connection with plea bargaining’s dominance, its growth starting in the last third of the nineteenth century, and present-day racial disparities at sentencing. The overcriminalization and quick processing of people of color in southwest border districts cannot be understood without an analysis of how trial sanctions impact illegal entry and drug trafficking in these busy jurisdictions. Professor Ronald Wright wrote about the role of prosecutorial power and plea bargaining in the federal system, but he passed over how and why immigration crimes became widespread. Any discussion of prosecutors and plea bargaining requires an understanding of how they manage illegal entrants and drug couriers—the most prevalent defendants in federal court.
This Article analyzes the reasons for increasing plea rates and trial penalties in the southwest and how they helped enable the proliferation of fast-track programs. The plea-bargaining machine used racial stereotypes and stigmatizations of Latinx and African American populations to justify few trials and process as many migrants and drug couriers as possible. This paper provides practical advice for criminal defense lawyers when representing clients at the plea and sentencing stage of a case. It also unites a discussion of implicit bias to explain why judges disfavor racial minorities.
Lalo Alcaraz Satirizes Contrast Between U.S. Policy Towards Ukrainian Migrants And Others Fleeing Violence
Yesterday, I reminded you about the genius of Lalo Alcaraz, editorial cartoonist. Today, Alcaraz shows once again his ability to scathingly criticize U.S. immigration policy in just one art frame:
The Biden administration's attempt to phase out the Trump administration's Title 42 expulsion order has proven to be incredibly controversial. It is part of larger set of questions surrounding the ability of President Biden to roll back President Trump's immigration policies, including the rescission of the "Remain in Mexico" policy argued yesterday in the Supreme Court. Just as Donald Trump ran for office on a tough on immigration platform, Joe Biden campaigned on a more moderate approach to immigration.
BuzzFeed News (Adolfpo Flores & Hamed Aleaziz) reports that a federal judge yesterday temporarily blocked the Biden administration from ending President Trump's use of Title 42 to quickly expel immigrants from the country. The temporary restraining order, which stops the administration from implementing a gradual ending of the policy known as Title 42, was issued by U.S. District Judge Robert Summerhays of the Western District of Louisiana. President Trump appointed Judge Summerhays. The court will hold a hearing on a preliminary injunction on May 13.
There appears to be substantial political support for the Title 42 expulsion order even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have determined that it no longer is necessary to protect the public health. Thus, although the original order was justified on public health grounds, many want to keep it in place as a tool of border control. The push to maintain the Title 42 expulsion order has increased with fears of a border "surge" with its lifting, which provoked the Department of Homeland Security to release a "DHS Plan for Southwest Border Security and Preparedness." In hearings before Congress this week, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas was grilled on border security, Title 42, and immigration control generally.
Wednesday, April 27, 2022
Gage Skidmore Please attribute to Gage Skidmore if used elsewhere., CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Careful readers of this blog might recall seeing Lalo's name pop up over the years:
- 2014: He's a writer of the TV cartoon comedy Bordertown!
- 2018: His heartbreaking cartoon El Cuarto De Julio.
- 2018: Another heartbreaking cartoon about child detention.
- 2019: ANOTHER heartbreaking cartoon about child detention.
So why was WaPo covering Alcaraz this week? Because Alcaraz was recently honored at the Library of Congress with the Herblock Prize for "excellence in editorial cartooning." Alcaraz is the first Latino to be awarded this honor. The judges who chose Alcaraz complimented his "powerful versatility" and his "courage and unapologetic focus on... civil rights issues."
I look forward to years more of Alcaraz' searing illustrated political commentary.
Official White House Photo
Earlier this year, the backlog of cases in the immigration courts hit more than 1.6 million.
Hamed Aleaziz for Buzzfeed News reports on the Biden administration's approach to reducing the backlog. According to an internal memo, the immigration courts will put on hold removal cases of certain immigrants who may gain legal status outside of the immigration court system. The approach "falls in line with efforts at [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] to reshape the role of immigration enforcement in the US by focusing on what it considers more serious targets. Biden officials issued a memo to [trial attorneys] earlier this month authorizing them to consider dismissing certain cases involving immigrants who did not cross the border recently and are not public safety threats."
The internal memo to immigration judges details how the Executive Office for Immigration Review may put on hold certain removal cases involving immigrants, including those who have applications pending with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services for immigration benefits such as a lawful permanent resident status through a family member.
Official White House Photo
The Trump administration took a very different approach to reducing the backlog of cases. Attorney General Jeff Sessions placed quotas on the number of cases they should complete annually, ended their authority to close others, restricted asylum, and reinstituted thousands of previously closed cases. Many immigration judges retired or resigned, claiming Trump administration interference in how they judged cases.
Earlier this year, Representative Zoe Lofgren introduced in the House a bill that would make the immigration courts more independent.
Should pro-immigrant advocates pursue federally funded counsel for all immigrants facing deportation? For most pro-immigrant advocates and scholars, the answer is self-evident: more lawyers for immigrants would mean more justice for immigrants, and thus, the federal government should fund such lawyers. Moreover, federally funded counsel for immigrants would improve due process and fairness, as well as making immigration enforcement more efficient. This Article argues the opposite: federally funded counsel is the wrong goal. The majority of expulsions of immigrants now happen outside immigration courts—and thus are impervious to immigration lawyering. Even for those who make it before an immigration judge, factors including geography, random judicial assignment, and the limited forms of deportation relief mean that most people represented by immigration lawyers are still ordered deported. Gideon v. Wainwright’s guarantee of counsel in the criminal realm co-existed for nearly sixty years with the development of mass incarceration. Likewise, expanding federally funded counsel for immigrants could coexist with a vastly expanded deportation infrastructure without contradiction. In fact, federally funded counsel would provide cover for continued deportations, and the restrictions that would likely come with such funding would make it harder for attorneys to effectively challenge the growth of the mass deportation regime. Instead of investing in a strategy that risks normalizing expanded enforcement, pro-immigrant advocates and scholars must choose battles that aim at dismantling immigration enforcement. This means putting aside efforts that seek to add lawyers as one more mandated player in immigration court.
Tuesday, April 26, 2022
After years of attrition and lost funding, refugee resettlement agencies are hard pressed to meet the needs of those fleeing persecution in many parts of the world. Private citizens are stepping into the void with citizen-led resettlement efforts in Canada and the U.S.
One prominent example, the Sponsor Circle program, is featured in a New Yorker article about the emergency response to the arrival of Afghani and Ukrainean refugees. This American program is modelled on a citizen-led resettlement effort in Canada. Group of five or more adults can work together to establish network of ordinary americans -- e.g. pastors, professors, military veterans -- ready to welcome newcomers. They meet airplanes at U.S. bases, find apartments or host families in their own houses, facilitate applications for schools and health services, assist with obtaining legal documents such as asylum applications, provide job-hunting support, and help buffer the countless day-to-day adjustments to living in a new land. All told, Sponsor Circle volunteers commit to background checks, developing a welcome plan, fundraising $2,275 per refugee, and providing three months minimum of assistance. The model is successful precisely because it cultivates these kinds of local bonds that researchers show facilitate immigrant integation.
In the midst of several global migration crisis, interest in starting these programs has proliferated to dozens of other countries. For example, the U.S. has Sponsor Circles for Afghani refugees and more will house the 100,000 Ukrainean refugees President Biden has pledged to admit through Uniting for Ukraine. In the U.K., two hundred thousand people and organizations have expressed interest in housing Ukrainians displaced by Russian invasion through Circle Health and other Sponsor Circles.
Of course, citizen-led efforts are not the only way to respond to refugee resettlement and these efforts can be challenging given the lack of comprehensive skills in well-meaning and yet decentralized, amateur networks. The history of refugee resettlement efforts includes waves of voluntarism and government refugee resettlement offices, with the balance of resettlement shifting toward the professionalized efforts of government offices since the 1980 Refugee Act. That history and recent sagas of the private sponsorship system are retold in the article.