Tuesday, January 3, 2017

States of Incarceration

Sarah Lopez is a professor in the University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture. Her work focuses on architectural history within the context of migration.

Of late, Lopez has been examining the architecture of immigrant detention facilities in Texas. It's not an easy project. As Lopez told the Texas Observer, “Studying the architecture of detention is hard... Unless you’re incarcerated or detained, or a warden or a food provider or medical assistant, basically, they don’t want you there.”

Lopez and her UT students participated in a nationwide project of the Humanities Action Lab called States of Incarceration. For their part of this project, they:

mapped the locations of detention centers throughout the state and used Google Earth to create silhouettes of each building’s footprint. The researchers even gained hard-won access to one county-run detention center and built a 3-D model from sketches. Their work marks an important step forward in understanding the physical reality of a clandestine and growing carceral system that prefers to exist just out of reach of the American imagination.

Her class contribution to the exhibition is titled Spatial Stories of Migration and Detention.

Check out this drawing of the La Salle Detention Center by Katie Slusher:

Screen Shot 2017-01-03 at 8.13.17 AM

Her drawing is accompanying by these notes:

This layout is drafted from quick sketches and notations created during a tour of La Salle detention center. From an architectural point of view, the detainee living quarters, medical ward, segregation units, and outdoor space were particularly arresting. Aside from outdoor recreation time and voluntary work shifts (for which detainees earn 1 dollar per day), the remainder of a detainee’s average day is spent in a group cell. People with gang affiliations and/or individuals with disabilities are typically placed in smaller capacity or single occupancy rooms. The group cell has exposed bathrooms. Up to 48 men witness each-others’ every move throughout the day. The medical facilities within the detention center contain quarantine cells and a suicide watch room. The suicide watch room is particularly depressing, simply because such a room is necessary. Although used to detain migrants, La Salle has segregation units otherwise known as solitary confinement. Outdoor time for detainees in solitary is restricted to one of the three roof-less rooms extending off the segregation unit cellblock. The segregation unit is equal in size and quality of construction to the suicide watch room, and it is not unlikely that a person may be moved from one to the other.

For all detainees, time spent outside is limited to the federally mandated minimum of one hour per day. Massive barbed wire walls enclose the otherwise barren space.

An excellent project, and a great teaching resource for those of us who are geographically removed from immigration detention facilities.


January 3, 2017 in Current Affairs, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

At the Movies: Campito Kids


Sat tuned for "Campito Kids", a short film, is the story of a migrant family as they struggle to overcome cultural barriers and adjust to their ever-shifting lives. It is based on the filmmaker's experiences and years of observations.

Campito Kids by Antonio De Loera-Brust was shot entirely in Yolo County, California in migrant camps.


January 3, 2017 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Hungry Venezuelans flood Brazilian towns, as threat of mass migration looms


Marina Lopes and Nick Miroff in the Washington Post report on a migration in the Americas that has not received much attention.  They write: 

"Survival for Venezuelans . . . is becoming a matter of flight. About 10,000 Venezuelans are streaming into Brazil every month in search of food and medicine, authorities say, camping out on the streets and swamping government services in Amazon frontier towns ill-prepared to receive them.

Oil-rich Venezuela has been an immigrant destination for much of its history. Now it is a place to flee. Chronic food shortages, rampant violence and the erratic and often paranoid behavior of President Nicolás Maduro have turned the country’s border crossings and beaches into escape valves."


January 3, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Trump’s immigration policies will pick up where Obama’s left off


In a post on The Conversation, I analyze the Trump administration's likely approach to crime-based removals:  "In 2017, the Trump administration will likely continue and expand the Obama administration’s focus on removing immigrants convicted of crimes."  Click here to read more.


January 3, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

No surprises: Trump administration looking at a border wall and expanding immigrant detention


Photo courtesy of abcnews.go.com

Not surprisingly, the incoming Trump administration has building a wall on the US/Mexico border on the mind.  Reuters reports that in a request for documents and analysis, President-elect Donald Trump's transition team asked the Department of Homeland Security last month to assess all assets available for border wall and barrier construction.  The team also asked about the department's capacity for expanding immigrant detention and about an aerial surveillance program that was scaled back by the Obama administration but remains popular with immigration hardliners. And it asked whether federal workers have altered biographic information kept by the department about immigrants out of concern for their civil liberties.

The requests were made in a Dec. 5 meeting between Trump's transition team and Department of Homeland Security officials. The document offers a glimpse into the president-elect's strategy for securing the U.S. borders and reversing polices put in place by the Obama administration. 


January 3, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 2, 2017

Mali Returns Deportees To France


This week, Mali returned two deportees to France for failure to establish that they were, in fact, Malian.

The deportees, flown to the capitol city of Bamako, did not travel on Malian passports but European travel permits (fancily called "laissez-passer").

Mali has an agreement with the EU under which Mali is supposed to assist in "identifying irregular Malian migrants in Europe and providing them with the documents needed to return to their country of origin." In return, Mali has received significant financial benefits in the neighborhood of $150 million.

Mali has warned airlines not to let people using traveling under European travel permits to fly to Mali.


January 2, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

My father came here illegally. But in many ways he was a red-blooded American


Pulitzer Prize winning reporter Hector Becerra of the Los Angeles Times tells about his father, who came to the United States from Mexico without authorization "but in many ways . . . was a red-blooded American."

Becerra writes:

"My father was like so many immigrants of his generation from Mexico: Coming north, without proper papers, looking for work and a better life for their families. Over the years, my father and people like him were demonized by those who felt they were ruining California and praised by others who believed their work ethic and labor were a boon to the state."


January 2, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1)

Immigration at the AALS

Huyen Pham, chair of Immigration Law Section of the Association of American Law Schools, and the entire section leadership has put together many immigration-related events at AALS annual meeting in San Francisco this week
The Immigration Section program is on Thursday, January 5, 1:30-3:15 p.m.  It is  entitled, Asylum from Persecution by Non-State Actors:  Upholding and Updating Refugee Protection.  Moderated by Jennifer Moore, the panel features presentations by Susan Akram, Shalini Ray, and Shana Tabak.  The Immigration section business meeting will be held immediately after the panel discussion.
Other immigration-themed programs include:  
Wednesday, January 4
8:30 - 10:15 a.m. AALS Discussion Group
The Central American Refugee Crisis: A Discussion of the Current Response and Evaluation of U.S. Legal Obligations under Domestic and International Law
10:30 am - 12:15 pm Admiralty and Maritime Law, Co-Sponsored by Immigration Law, Insurance Law, International Human Rights, International Law and National Security Law 
For Those in Peril on the Sea: Maritime Law, Criminal Law, and Human Rights in the Migrant and Refugee Crisis
1:00 pm - 5:00 pm Immigration Law Field Trip to Angel Island Museum
Angel Island Museum, Angel Island, San Francisco
Thursday, January 5:
8:30 am - 10:15 am AALS Hot Topic Program
Federal Power Over Immigration
8:30 am - 10:15 am Labor Relations and Employment Law, Co-Sponsored by Immigration Law, Business Associations, and Contracts
Classifying Workers in the "Sharing" and "Gig” Economy
6:30 pm – 9 pm AALS Law and Film Series – The Feature Film Selection: La Jaula de Oro/ The Golden Dream (Sponsored by William S. Hein, Co., Inc.) 
Friday, January 6:
1:30 pm - 3:15 pm AALS Academy Program
Does Anyone’s Law Matter at the Border? Shootings, Searches, Walls, and the U.S. Constitution
1:30 pm - 3:15 pm Law and Mental Disability, Co-Sponsored by Criminal Justice, Immigration Law, Disability Law, Law and the Social Sciences, and Law, Medicine and Health Care
Competence Revisited: The Changing Role of Mental Capacity in Criminal and Immigration Proceedings


January 2, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, January 1, 2017

90 Day Fiancé

Last night, Kathy Griffin and Anderson Cooper talked about their favorite shows to binge watch on New Years Day, when they're inevitably recovering from their evening amusing us masses with their uniquely wonderful New Year's Eve countdown show on CNN.

Here's Kathy's description of TLC's 90 Day Fiancé:

"So what it is it's where you have 90 days to bring someone from another country... and then you have 90 days to marry them or else they don't get their citizenship. ... It's called a K1 visa. And there's a lot of couples that, I'm going to be honest, you're not even pulling for, at all. Like the whole time you're like go back to your country no matter how horrible it seemed."

Okay, so her law isn't quite right. But it could be interesting. Here's the official promo:

Hm. I think I'll take a hard pass. But maybe it's just the thing for your NYE recovery efforts.


January 1, 2017 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy New Year!

Iraqi Interpreter's Seven-Year Visa Journey

Mohammed Aqrawi served as an interpreter for U.S. armed forces in Iraq, translating Arabic and Kurdish into English. He survived 27 IED attacks and 11 car bombs during his time as a translator.

Despite his record of service, Aqrawi spent some seven years in immigration limbo. He applied for a special immigrant visa in 2009, and only just received final approval this month. He landed in his new home, Minnesota, on Christmas.


December 31, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

American University -- Country Conditions in Central America and Asylum Decision-Making: Public Forum


As part of a Central American Migration Research Initiative, American University's Center for Latin American & Latino Studies is convening a workshop, Country Conditions in Central America and Asylum Decision-Making, to share insights across disciplinary perspectives in order to enhance scholarship and better inform lawyers and other practitioners working with Central American asylum seekers. With support from the National Science Foundation, the workshop seeks to connect social scientists with expertise on conditions driving migration from Central America with legal scholars and practitioners engaged in innovative thinking around ways to bridge the gap between complex forms of persecution in Central America and protections offered under U.S. immigration law.

 Public Forum: The opening workshop sessions (see forum flyer attached) on January 12, from 9:00 a.m. to 2:45 p.m., are open to the public. An introductory panel will discuss challenges to deeper cross-disciplinary collaboration on asylum representation. Late morning and early afternoon panels on country conditions in the Northern Triangle will present field research on a wide range of relevant issues, including gangs and insecurity; state and community responses to violence; state capacity; returned migrants and reintegration; family violence; gender-based violence; forced recruitment; and religion and political opinion-based persecution.

Please note that space is limited and that available lunch vouchers will be distributed to guests who RSVP on a first-come, first-served basis.

9:00am – 9:15am Welcome and Introductions

9:15am – 10:45am Challenges to Deeper Cross-Disciplinary Collaboration on Asylum Representation Lenni Benson, New York Law School; Elizabeth Keyes, University of Baltimore Law School; Kimberly Gauderman, University of New Mexico; Cristina Muñiz de la Peña, Terra Firma; Blaine Bookey, UC Hastings Center for Gender & Refugee Studies; Ian Philabaum, Innovation Law Lab Moderator: Jayesh Rathod, American University

11:00am – 12:15pm Country Conditions in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras: The State of Research (Part 1) José Miguel Cruz, Florida International University; Alex Segovia, INCIDE; Ricardo Barrientos, Instituto Centroamericano de Estudios Fiscales; Mauricio Gaborit, Universidad Ceontramericana “José Simeón Cañas” Moderator: Clare Seelke, Congressional Research Service

12:15pm – 1:30pm Lunch Presentation - A Flawed System: Structural Challenges Facing Central American Asylum Seekers Stephen Manning, Immigrant Law Group PC

1:30pm – 2:45pm Country Conditions in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras: The State of Research (Part 2) Elizabeth Kennedy, San Diego State University; Steven Dudley, American University; Cecilia Menjívar, University of Kansas; Robert Brenneman, St. Michael’s College Moderator: Eric Hershberg, American University 


December 31, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

From the Bookshelves: Contesting Immigration Policy in Court: Legal Activism and Its Radiating Effects in the United States and France by Leila Kawar


Contesting Immigration Policy in Court: Legal Activism and Its Radiating Effects in the United States and France (Cambridge Studies in Law and Society) by Leila Kawar (Cambridge University Press, 2015).

What difference does law make in immigration policymaking? Since the 1970s, networks of progressive attorneys in both the US and France have attempted to use litigation to assert rights for non-citizens. Yet judicial engagement - while numerically voluminous - remains doctrinally curtailed. This study offers new insights into the constitutive role of law in immigration policymaking by focusing on the legal frames, narratives, and performances forged through action in court. Challenging the conventional wisdom that 'cause litigation' has little long-term impact on policymaking unless it produces broad rights-protective principles, this book shows that legal contestation can have important radiating effects on policy by reshaping how political actors approach immigration issues. Based on extensive fieldwork in the United States and France, this book explores the paths by which litigation has effected policy change in two paradigmatically different national contexts.

In a review of the book, Michael T. Light (Purdue) observes that,

"As Professor Kawar points out, she is not the first to address this question. A considerable amount research has investigated the efficacy of shaping migration policy through legal interventions. That is, can the courts be a useful venue for constraining restrictionist immigration policies? In Professor Kawar’s assessment, the conventional wisdom resulting from this body of work is that the law has little impact on immigration policy matters (p. 153). In CONTESTING IMMIGRATION POLICY IN COURT, Professor Kawar makes a compelling and provocative argument for why this view is premature, or at the very least, incomplete. Her main thesis is that prior research in this area has focused too narrowly on official case dispositions and the degree to which these legal rules limit immigration policies. As a result, “we neglect to consider how the process of contesting immigration policy in court may constitute the very terms of immigration politics” (p. 10). This book seeks to address this oversight. "


December 31, 2016 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, December 30, 2016

Black Immigrants, Double Discrimination, and Trump

"Although less than 8 percent of the noncitizen population in the United States is black, more than 20 percent of immigrants in deportation proceedings on criminal grounds are black," notes P.R. Lockhart, writing for Mother Jones in Black Immigrants Brace for Dual Hardships Under Trump. That disparity results from the fact that black immigrants in the U.S., like African Americans, are more likely to have criminal convictions.

Jonathan Jayes-Green, a founder and coordinator of the UndocuBlack Network, a group that advocates for the black undocumented community, told Lockhart: "I think our communities were already in a state of emergency under a Democratic president... so as we think about the next administration, our community has gone into a sort of crisis control."


December 30, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

California Driver's License Law Accessed by Over 800,000 Undocumented Immigrants

In recent years, a number of states have enacted laws making undocumented immigrants eligible for driver's licenses.  The San Jose Mercury News reports that "Two years after the implementation of [California's] AB 60 on Jan. 1, 2015, an estimated 806,000 undocumented residents have received driver’s licenses, according to Department of Motor Vehicles statistics this month. About 14,000 of these licenses were issued in November alone, the DMV said."  To qualify for a driver’s license under AB 60, applicants must prove their identity and residency in California; pass the written exam and a driving test; submit thumbprints and show proof of insurance, among other requirements. AB 60 licenses are marked with the words, “federal limits apply.” They have language on them indicating that the card is for driving purposes only and may not be used for identification.


December 30, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Will State and Local Law Enforcement Support Trump's Immigration Plans?

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Washington Post's Most Memorable Photos of 2016: Migrants and Refugees

Two of the Washington Post's Most Memorable Photos of 2016 involve immigration:


“It’s a stark reminder that the migrants lost in the Mediterranean are not the only ones who face death to escape war, tyranny and economic despair. Along the southwestern border of the United States an ocean of arid land claims lives as surely as the sea between Europe and Africa. Often just as anonymously and leaving families forever wondering about missing loved ones. Ricky Carioti captured the discovery of a skull in a way akin to a macabre Renaissance painting, disturbing and troubling, a reminder that death awaits.” — Mark Miller


“I had seen many heartbreaking images of refugees crammed in boats, dying, trying to escape the horrors happening in Syria — but none moved me quite the way this photo did. The photo of Eritrean refugees swimming to a rescue boat off the coast of Libya made the crisis very real for me. Photographer Emilio Morenatti captured their desperation and struggle as they swam for their lives. At that moment, it felt as if they were swimming to me.” — Dee Swann


December 28, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1)

Seantor Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas): Fix Immigration. It’s What Voters Want.


In an op/ed in the New York Times, Sentor Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) plays on populist themes in arguing that the Trump administration should reduce legal and undocumented immigration:

"No doubt automation and globalization have also affected wages, but mass immigration accelerates these trends with surplus labor, which of course decreases wages. Little wonder, then, that these Americans voted for the candidate who promised higher wages and less immigration instead of all the candidates — Republicans and Democrats alike — who promised essentially more of the same on immigration."



December 28, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)


We are pleased to introduce our newest educational resource: E4FC's ITIN Guide.




The purpose of this guide is to provide information, updates, and answers to frequently asked questions about the Internal Revenue Service’s Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).


This guide is for individuals who are not eligible to obtain a SSN and, therefore, are eligible to apply for an ITIN. DACA recipients will also find this guide useful because it includes information specific to DACA recipients who obtained an ITIN in the past and/or are determining whether they might need to renew or obtain one in the future.


For anyone who does not have a SSN, the ITIN is essential to earning a living as an independent contractor or entrepreneur. A separate guide discussing these possibilities is currently being written by E4FC and will be released in January.


It is important to understand the role of ITINs given the implications of potential changes to immigration policy and programs with the new administration. We encourage you to stay informed and connect with us to get the latest updates.

Special thanks to everyone who contributed to making this guide: Iliana G. Perez, the National Immigration Law Center, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus and the Immigrant Legal Resource Center. 


December 28, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

A lot depends on Trump's definition of ‘criminal’ and ‘immigrant’


This story considers questions raised by Donald Trump's pledge to deport "criminal immigrants." Carrie Rosenbaum, among others, is quoted in the story:  “Most immigrants are NOT criminals, but they've been painted out to be criminals in the public imagination through racism and fear,” Rosenbaum said via email. “Most immigrants deported as ‘criminals’ are not criminals in the way most people think of criminals.”

Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post debunks many of the myths about immigration floating around among Trump and his supporters. She specifically observes that "Contrary to President-elect Donald Trump’s rhetoric, the focus has been on violent criminals. (`“In fiscal year 2015, 91 percent of people removed from inside the U.S. were previously convicted of a crime.')"


December 28, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)