Thursday, November 30, 2023

Safe?: A Capstone Video For Your Immigration Course

Today was my last class of the semester. In addition to answer questions about the format of the upcoming exam, and clarifying points of substantive doctrine, we watched the documentary Safe? from immprof Lynn Marcus (Arizona).

Kevin told y'all about Safe? back in August. Here it is on Vimeo:

The movie (minus credits) takes only 19 minutes of class time. And it made a WONDERFUL capstone for the semester. Things we were able to discuss:

  • Asylum. We asked: How could an individual who was forced to join the Guatemalan military and watched his father tortured lose his asylum case? Now, this question isn't answered by the movie. But it gave us a chance to talk about the 5 protected grounds, make an educated guess about eliminating three (race, religion, nationality), identify potential problem with one (political opinion, Elias-Zacarias review), and remember the 5th ground (PSG, which we didn't discuss).
  • U Visas. We reviewed the grounds, how it allows for derivative beneficiaries, and how it's one of 2 nonimmigrant visas that can lead to LPR status.
  • Criminal Records. I don't cover much in the way of consequences for noncitizens with criminal convictions in my podium immigration course because I teach an entire course on Crimmigration. We talked about criminal records as (a) not always an indicator of danger to the community and (b) as a segue to...
  • Prosecutorial Discretion. This comes up multiple times in the movie. Particularly helpful is how the topic comes up across administrations--from the problems of Obama's "felons, not families" to Trump's hard line attitude.We reviewed common issues regarding equities, and the particular focus many administrations place on children with disabilities. We also talked about the benefits of taking a job working for the federal government (pension, medical, dental) and how one can "bore from within."
  • Relationships with opposing counsel. We talked about how to have a good relationship with opposing counsel (if you can) and how it can benefit your client.  
  • Precarity and time. We talked about how long the couple featured in the movie fought for immigration status in the U.S. -- 23 years! There's a wonderful segment of film from the wife talking about all of the family's dreams and when they thought they were realized (U visa grant) vs. when they were actually realized (LPR grant).
  • Employment Authorization. The film gave us a chance to review the principle that it's not illegal to work in the U.S. without authorization, it's illegal to hire someone who doesn't have an EAD.
  • Citizenship. We could review the principle of jus soli--kids of noncitzens born in the U.S. are U.S. citizens at birth.

I can't recommend this beauty enough. Just a really fabulous teaching tool.


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