Saturday, January 23, 2021
If you're unfamiliar with the Darién Gap, you're not alone. I did not know about it until just this evening when I watched this PBS Newshour report from August: What migrants face as they journey through the deadly Darien Gap. It's a largely uninhabited area of mountains, forests, and water that straddles Colombia and Panama. Migrants from around the world (Haiti, Cameroon, Bangladesh were all featured in the report below) travel to Brazil and Ecuador and, from there, make their way north to the U.S. and Canada. This requires passage through the Darién Gap, which as the clip shows, is incredibly dangerous.
The clip is just under 11 minutes long. It would be a really interesting addition to discussion about migration to the U.S. as it shows (a) non-desert travels and (b) migration from outside the Northern Triangle countries.
Oddly enough, I found out about this story from the journalist--Nadja Drost--on twitter. She reported today that a Bangladeshi food delivery man and asylum seeker recognized her from this report. He showed her the report, saved on his phone, which he has shared with family and friends to explain the realities of his journey to America.
Friday, January 22, 2021
With the drastic increases in border enforcement that began in earnest in the early 1990s, the death toll of migrants in the U.S./Mexico border region has grown as well. ImmigrationProf has regularly blogged about death on the border.
Dr. Kate Spradley, an anthropologist at Texas State University, writes for the Daily Beast about her team’s mission: examining and identifying migrant skeletons found in mass graves in Texas:
"Nothing can convey the reality of the situation in the same way as watching the new documentary Missing in Brooks County, which tells the story of the Roman family searching for their son Homero. Homero was deported to Mexico after a traffic stop, to a country he hadn’t visited in over two decades. He then attempted the dangerous journey back across the border to reunite with his family. Homero’s whereabouts are unknown since 2015 when he went missing in Brooks County. His family in Houston grieves his absence to this day. His disappearance is but one of thousands of unsolved cases that have built up over the decades.
Although federal policy impacts migration, there is no federal policy regarding death investigation and identification; rather, it relies on state and local policy. California has a regional medical examiner system, New Mexico a state system, and Arizona has a medical examiner’s office close to the border."
Saturday, January 16, 2021
Check out this immigration video on the story of Walter Cruz-Zavala, which is described as follows by RogueMark Studios:
"We teamed up . . . with immigration defense attorney Raha Jorjani to share the story of her client, Walter Cruz-Zavala. Raha has been fighting for Walter’s release from ICE for the past 3.5 years. They’ve won his case twice, but Walter still remains detained. This story demonstrates the gross injustice and inhumanity of the American legal system, but Walter keeps fighting for redemption."
Wednesday, January 13, 2021
President Trump visited the U.S./Mexico border in McAllen, Texas yesterday and gave remarks. Here are the remarks in full.
The President reviewed some of his immigration achievements, including extension of the border wall. He emphasized that "It’s steel. It’s concrete inside the steel. And then it’s rebar — a lot of heavy rebar inside the concrete. And it’s as strong as you’re going to get and strong as you can have. "
However, the President did not ignore the recent events in the Capitol. Early in his remarks, he said
"Before we begin, I’d like to say that free speech is under assault like never before. The 25th Amendment is of zero risk to me but will come back to haunt Joe Biden and the Biden administration. As the expression goes: Be careful what you wish for. The impeachment hoax is a continuation of the greatest and most vicious witch hunt in the history of our country, and it is causing tremendous anger and division and pain — far greater than most people will ever understand, which is very dangerous for the USA, especially at this very tender time.
And now I’d like to briefly address the events of last week. Millions of our citizens watched on Wednesday as a mob stormed the Capitol and trashed the halls of government. As I have consistently said throughout my administration, we believe in respecting America’s history and traditions, not tearing them down. We believe in the rule of law, not in violence or rioting."
The President went on to discuss various immigration enforcement measures and touted removals:
"We’ve arrested nearly 500,000 illegal aliens with criminal records — some with very serious criminal records of the type you don’t want to know about, like murder.
We removed nearly 20,000 gang members from the United States, including 4,500 members of MS-13 — probably the worst gang of them all. Through the landmark reforms we’ve put into place, we have ended the immigration chaos and reestablished American sovereignty. Our most important reform was ending catch and release — not easy to do; you’re dealing with Congress . . . ."
Monday, January 11, 2021
Sunday, January 10, 2021
CBS All Access has a new show streaming: Coyote. The show stars Michael Chiklis (The Comish, The Shield) as a Border Patrol agent turned people smuggler. Here's the trailer:
Rotten Tomatoes gives the show 43%. Variety describes the show as "Frustrating Border Patrol Fanfiction" that "has nothing new or interesting to say about the devastation of violence at the US/Mexico border." Brian Tallerico over at RogerEbert.com, on the other hand, gives the show more mixed reviews saying the show has "potential" despite "an unusually bumpy road in terms of quality."
Tuesday, January 5, 2021
Adding onto our series of "At the Movies in the Age of Coronavirus," is the 1987 classic that is enjoying a well-deserved surge in popularity: Moonstruck. If you haven't watched it recently, you really should. It has that special magical, loving, family-centered something special that we are all longing for in this moment.
This academy-award winning movie, which stars Cher and Nicholas Cage (with fabulous supporting performances by Danny Aiello and Olympia Dukakis), features Cher as an almost 40-year-old widow who falls in love with her fiance's younger brother. The film is also a great fit for ImmigrationProf Blog because it is also about the Italian-American immigrant experience in south Brooklyn in a time when the area was still recognizable as a thriving immigrant enclave.
The movie has gotten so popular over the past year that it was just re-released in November in full 4K digital restoration glory, with an enhanced soundtrack to make the film's Italian opera music pop.
Caity Weaver of the New York Times recently called for the Academy to give Cher a second Oscar for sustaining us with her enduring performance in Moonstruck. One of the reasons why the film is special, as Weaver quotes Cher saying in an interview, is that the cast "never felt like we were acting." They just "really, really got along. We just loved each other." You can feel it when you watch it.
Saturday, January 2, 2021
I know what you're thinking -- how could a Terminator film be for immprofs? Maybe, like me, you also swore never to watch another Terminator film after making it through the disaster that was Terminator Salvation (2 hours of my life that I'll never get back). But I'm serious. Terminator: Dark Fate is worth watching both as an immprof and for general entertainment. (Hey, Rotten Tomatoes gave it 70% which seems a little ungenerous to me but well exceeds the 33% Terminator Salvation earned).
Terminator: Dark Fate takes you into a maquiladora, which is super interesting. And Border Patrol plays a significant role. I won't say more to avoid spoilers. Speaking of which, if you don't want spoilers don't watch the trailer below, look at the film poster, or read the blurb on Amazon before streaming the film. Just close your eyes, press play, and sit back and enjoy the action.
Friday, January 1, 2021
Thursday, December 31, 2020
"Elon Musk, South Africa
Elon Musk emigrated to the U.S. in 1992 from South Africa. Although he could have emigrated to anywhere in the world, he chose America because of its vast amount of opportunities.
Elon Musk is now the owner of Tesla and SpaceX. He previously co-founded PayPal as well but sold it in 2002 to eBay for $1.2 billion dollars.
He is currently worth $11.6 billion dollars."
Wednesday, December 30, 2020
One way to round out 2020 on a positive note is to apply for citizenship. CUNY Citizenship Now and other nonprofit organizations are providing assistance remotely. From CUNY: "Our staff is available via phone, #Zoom or #WhatsApp for consultations and to help you fill out the forms. Our services are free. Call 646-664-9400, 9-5, M-F to make an appointment or text 929-334-3784." The New Americans Campaign has collected naturalization workshops all over the country. USCIS has a citizenship resource center on its website.
For more context on the process of applying for citizenship, see "I Hereby Declare, On Oath", the immiwonk blog's multi-part series on naturalization.
Part 1. Naturalization is the end of the beginning of many immigrant's American story. Over the years some people have asked us, “I want to know more about the U.S. immigration system, but where do I start?” To them we always make the same recommendation: start by attending a naturalization ceremony. Whatever your political orientation or attitude about immigration in general, there is no more moving, emotional, and pride-inducing event than watching a group of people from diverse national, religious, and ethnic backgrounds stand together in a room and join this 200 plus year old project in small (d) democracy that we Americans are embarked upon (rocky as it may be at times).
Part 2. Do all green card holders eventually become citizens? While U.S. law outlines a clear process for permanent residents (green card holders) to become U.S. citizens, it is not a requirement. You can live in the United States with a green card for your entire life as long as you follow the restrictions, don’t vote, always file your taxes, and don’t commit a serious crime. While the benefits of citizenship are many, there are also benefits to retaining a foreign citizenship while living in the United States, and not every country in the world is willing to let you maintain your foreign passport if you are also carrying a U.S. passport.
A Part 3 on the good moral character required to get your citizenship application approved will appear next week.
The AP News wrote a retrospective piece on the rush to naturalize as an unintended consequence of Trump's election and the anticipation of exclusionary policies.
And my book and TEDx talk (A New Way to Think About American Citizenship) on Pursuing Citizenship similarly present portraits of the naturalization process based on the first-person experiences of immigrants seeking to become citizens. (Thanks for the shout-out @immiwonk and for including it on the year-end review of immigration books, immigrationprof!)
Sunday, December 27, 2020
IMDB describes the film And Breathe Normally, streaming on Netflix, as follows: "Two women's lives will intersect while trapped in circumstances unforeseen. Between a struggling Icelandic mother and an asylum seeker from Guinea-Bissau, a delicate bond will form as both strategize to get their lives back on track."
Candice Frederick of the New York Times says this about the film:
"The boy’s query — `Why do they have to live in cages?' — lies at the core of this quiet Icelandic film, now streaming on Netflix, in which Lara, a border control officer, learns what it means to be at the mercy of the law after she and her son, Eldar, are evicted and forced to sleep in their car.
At work, where Lara has the power to reject or deny entry for migrants, she declines passage to Adja (Babetida Sadjo), a woman from Guinea who is traveling with her daughter and sister. The decision leads Lara to confront her privilege when she later finds she must accept help from someone she least expects: Adja, now living in a refugee center, who sneaks in Lara and Eldar so that they can have a warm bed."
Hat tip to Jay Krishnan!
Saturday, December 26, 2020
Needless to say, 2020 has been a tough year. In my closing posts of the year, I will try to list a few stories that brought some relief from the hard times.
Major League Baseball had s shortened but eventful season. In an amazing season, with a global pandemic and all, the Los Angeles Dodgers won their first World Series in decades. And, as always, there was an immigration story to tell. I could tell about Mexican immigrant Julio Urias closing the series with a save and how that meant much to him because Dodger star Fernando Valenzuela had opened the door to many Mexican ballplayers. As Mike Digiovanna put it in the Los Angeles Times,
"In his mind, Urías wasn’t just helping the Dodgers win their first World Series since 1988. He was carrying on the legacy of Fernando Valenzuela, the Navojoa, Mexico native who, as a 20-year-old left-hander in 1981, sparked the Fernandomania craze and pitched the Dodgers to a championship.
`Ever since I signed, since my debut, we all know which team is most popular among Mexican and Latino people, and it’s because of what Fernando was able to do,' Urías said. `The Dodgers are famous in Mexico, and you’re familiar with what it means to put that blue on. I’m very blessed to be part of the organization.'"
That is an amazing story in itself but the immigration story that I want to tell is this: one of the Dodger owners, Alan Smolinisky, is the son of immigrants who came to the United States from Argentina with four dollars in his pocket. In this commentary in TIME, Smolinisky explains:
"Dad embraced America, which meant he naturally fell in love with baseball. His beloved Dodgers, who played just a few miles from the garment district in their new stadium, became part of his life. He’d attend games and sing the “Star Spangled Banner” and “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”. He learned English by permanently tuning his radio to Vin Scully’s Dodger broadcast, which was delivered in the legendary commentator’s warm, unhurried style.
With the support of my mother . . . , Dad worked his way up from sweeping floors to the head of a department. He and Mom used their savings so Dad could start a garment business that eventually would bring 30 years of success and allow him to hire and mentor new immigrants. With guidance and encouragement from Dad, many of those immigrants went on to start their own businesses, something that brought him great joy throughout his life. . . .
I arrived at Dodger Stadium with my son for my first game as an owner, 38 years after Dad took me to my first game in that same sanctuary. We arrived early. My boy wore a Clayton Kershaw jersey, I wore Fernando Valenzuela—two legendary Dodger south-paws. We watched batting practice and grabbed peanuts and dogs before lineups were announced.
When called upon to stand for the great American tradition, we rose and removed our Dodger hats placing them firmly over our hearts for the “Star Spangled Banner.” I gazed out at our country’s flag and thought of everything it represented: freedom, opportunity, hope (and, of course, baseball). In no other country on earth would my family’s story be possible."
Thursday, December 24, 2020
Here is Part 2 of the best immigration books of 2020. Click here for Part 1.
Baby Jails: The Fight to End the Incarceration of Refugee Children in America by Philip G. Schrag (2020).
Wednesday, December 23, 2020
Immigration Books of the Year
Looking for a gift for an immigration buddy? (I know its late but oh well.). This year saw the publication of a number of great immigration books:
Check out Pursuing Citizenship in the Enforcement Era by the ImmigrationProf Blog's very own Ming Hsu Chen. The Stanford University Press synopsis: "Pursuing Citizenship in the Enforcement Era provides readers with the everyday perspectives of immigrants on what it is like to try to integrate into American society during a time when immigration policy is focused on enforcement and exclusion."
Perchance to Dream by Michael A. Olivas. Professor Olivas was 2010 Immigration Professor of the Year. As described by the publisher: "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 out of Congressional failure to enact comprehensive immigration reform."
See Part 2 tomorow.
Tuesday, December 22, 2020
Film of the Year (well, really a series)
The Nextflix series Immigration Nation exposes Trump administration's immigration cruelty. The U.S. government unsuccessfully sought to halt production of the series. If you have not already, please make sure to check out Immigration Nation when you are next browsing Netflix for shows to binge.
Monday, December 21, 2020
2020 is coming to an end and it is a good time for reflection. I reviewed the blog postings for the entire year to identify the Top 10 Immigration Stories of 2020, an amazing, momentous, and memorable year. 2020 was an historic year, marked by a global pandemic, economic turmoil, mass protests of police killings of African Americans, and more.
On a celebratory note, July saw the addition of Professor Ingrid V. Eagly, to the ImmigrationProf Blog!
Here are my top immigration stories for 2020:
1. President Donald J. Trump again was the Immigration Story of the year.
Like it or not, he kept immigration in the headlines with his administration's effort at every turn to restrict immigration and facilitate removals. Think of the many things that he brought us in the immigration realm in 2020.
I tried to pull a few remarkable Trump immigration measures that have been largely forgotten in the dizzying array of initiatives that will be studied by scholars for decades, if not centuries:
December asylum regulations that arguably mark the "death" asylum in the United States.
New immigration billboards. ICE billboards. This is truly hard to believe.
Declaration of November 1 as a "National Day of Remembrance for Those Killed by Illegal Aliens." This is another incredible announcement.
We should not forget the President's frequent creative use of "alternative facts." For example, the President said most asylum seekers don’t show up for their court hearings. A study showed that 99% do.
2. President-Elect Joe Biden Wins the 2020 Election and Promises a Sea-Change in Immigration Policy and Enforcement.
The election of Joe Biden as President promises big changes in immigration policy. I, for one, am glad that "help is on the way." The question is just how much change will the nation see. Will President Biden repeat President Obama's "deporter in chief" approach? How hard will the Abolish ICE activists push the Biden administration?
There already are signs of change on the horizon. See Biden Announces Intention to Nominate Alejandro Mayorkas as Homeland Security Secretary. NBC News reports that President-elect Joe Biden has announced that Alejandro Mayorkas will be his nominee for Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Mayorkas previously served as Deputy Secretary of DHS in the Obama administration.
3. COVID affected the entire world, including immigration. In 2020, COVID immigration stories just kept coming.
President Trump did not allow the pandemic "opportunity" to pass without finding a way to restrict migration. See, for example, March 2020 Presidential Proclamation—Suspension of Entry as Immigrants and Nonimmigrants of Certain Additional Persons Who Pose a Risk of Transmitting 2019 Novel Coronavirus.
At about the same time (March 1, 2020), President Trump called coronavirus criticism Democrats' "new hoax" and linked it to immigration.
Sadly, the pandemic led by a spike in hate crimes directed at Asian Americans. President Trump linked COVID-19 to the Chinese in racist references to the "Chinese virus" and "Kung flu."
Of course, the pandemic has affected teaching with remote instruction taking over, Teaching Online: Reflections on Week One, and immigration services, A Sign of the Times: A drive-thru naturalization ceremony.
The Supreme Court decided two major immigration decisions, both of which were issued in the waning days of the 2020 Term.
The long-awaited decision in Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of the University of California surprised some Court watchers. The Court, in an majority opinion by Chief Justice John Roberts, held that the the Trump administration's attempt to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy was arbitrary and capricious in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act. The plurality rejected an Equal Protection claim that the rescission was a product of anti-Latinx animus. After the Court's decision rejecting the rescission, the Department of Homeland Security refused to accept new DACA applications. A federal court ordered the Trump administration to reinstate DACA in full and to once again accept new applications. DHS is complying with the court order.
The Court also decided an important case involving the judicial review of an expedited removal decision. Department of Homeland Security v. Thuraissigiam raised the issue of the constitutionality of expedited removal of a Sri Lankan asylum applicant apprehended shortly after he entered the United States. Recall that the Trump administration has sought to expand expedited removal, which increased the importance of the case.
A 5-4 Court, in an opinion by Justice Alito, held that, as applied to the case before it, the expedited removal statute did not violate the provision of the U.S. Constitution barring the suspension of habeas corpus. Thuraissigiam was apprehended about 25 yards from the U.S./Mexico border after entering the United States without inspection. The majority held that, because it applies to challenges to detention and Thuraissigiam sought review of his asylum claim rather than release from custody, the Suspension Clause did not apply to this case and that the 1996 immigration reforms barred judicial review of the Thuraissigiam's asylum claim. The Court also rejected the arguments that Thuraissigiam's due process rights had been violated by the lack of a court hearing on his asylum claims. In so doing, the majority invoked extreme plenary power cases, including Knauff and Mezei. Besides reinvigorated the plenary power doctrine, the decision puts into question the bright line rule that noncitizens apprehended in the United States possess the full panoply of Due Process rights. For criticism of the Court's decision, see here.
TRAC Immigration reported that Fiscal Year 2021 began with the largest number of immigration court cases in its active backlog to date; in October, 1,273,885 immigration cases were pending. 918,673 or 72 percent of the cases involved nationals from Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and El Salvador. Over four out of every ten immigrants waiting to have their cases heard were from Guatemala and Honduras. Mexicans had fallen to third place, followed by Salvadorans.
7. DHS Busts Up BLM Protests
Summer saw protests across the country as the nation mourned the mourn the loss of George Floyd. RIP: George Floyd In an incredible step stomping on fundamental notions of federalism, President Trump used Department of Homeland Security Officers to bring "law and order" to cities seeing Black Lives Matter protests. See
We later learned that the Border Patrol considered accepting a donation from We Build the Wall, the fraudulent front for Bannon's scheme. Leaked documents undermined the Trump administration’s attempts to distance itself following Bannon's arrest.
Sad to say, but this story made be laugh. Bannon was arrested on his yacht. Can you imagine the reaction if this indictment occurred in any other administration? Big news! But only a blip on the radar scheme in the Trump years.
Is Kamala Harris eligible for the office of Vice President? Here's my article, published by Newsweek, exploring the issues. Short answer: It depends! https://t.co/A2K08EBUYu— John Eastman (@DrJohnEastman) August 12, 2020
Need more be said.
The more rigorous test no doubt was designed to reduce the number of naturalized citizens (and voters).
2020 saw the 40th anniversary of the Refugee Act of 1980, a humanitarian law limited in its application by the Trump administration.
2. Brexit Becomes A Reality The United Kingdom implements Brexit.
Rhodes winner Santiago Potes is pictured with elementary school teacher Marina Esteva, who he describes as "one of the biggest blessings that I've had in my life so far." It gives me goosebumps to think how big a difference this dedicated teacher made to a young person's life.
Friday, December 18, 2020
Sesame Street has two new neighbors: Twin six-year-old Rohingya refugees named Noor and Aziz will be featured on the Sesame Workshop’s humanitarian program, Play to Learn, a project in partnership with the International Rescue Committee and BRAC "that brings play-based learning to children displaced by conflict," Adele Peters writes for Fast Company. The program began airing in Jordan and Lebanon earlier this year, as well as in refugee camps in Bangladesh, to help refugee children cope with trauma and anxiety and connect with adults about their fears. Sherrie Westin, president of social impact at Sesame Workshop, told Fast Company: "We’re at a stage now where we feel like we can have something that really resonates, that they’ve never experienced before. … Most of these children will have never seen characters like themselves in media or content."
Wednesday, December 16, 2020
George W. Bush has taken to painting ever since he departed the White House in 2008. His latest art celebrates immigrants, and he chose a painting depicting Lady Liberty (titled "Beacon of Hope, 2020") for his Christmas cards this year. The message inside the card reads:
May the light of the holiday season shine bright in your heart now and throughout the New Year."
The former President has criticized Trump's immigration policies and some see his Christmas painting as symbolic of those critiques. Famously, the statute of liberty in New York City's harbor sits atop a pedestal engraved with the phrase "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free." The line is from a poem by Emma Lazarus that was rewritten by Trump's Acting Director of the US Citizenship and Immigration Service Ken Cucinelli , who said it should be revised .to only include immigrants "who can stand on their own two feet" while announcing a rule that would make immigrants who used public benefits ineligible for a green card.