Thursday, May 23, 2019

The Takeaway and NPR on Pending Backlog in Immigration Courts

Although the border may be the center of attention for immigration, the fate of hundreds of thousands of migrants are decided on miles away from the U.S.-Mexico border. The WNYC Radiolab's Takeaway is reporting on the crisis in the immigration courts. For months, their senior reporter Beth Fertig has been sitting in on immigration courts in New York City, to see how proceedings are changing under the Trump Administration. Click below to hear this segment. An accompanying story by Fertig appears here.


"We hear so much about the border and these tent cities and these migrants coming, and all the lawsuits taking place right now," Beth Fertig said. "But the places where those cases will ultimately be decided will be in immigration court — which is this world that a lot of people don’t get to see. And these judges have the fate of all of the immigrants in their hands right now." The number of pending immigration cases has ballooned in recent years after the Trump administration implemented stricter asylum demands. These additions to the bench in New York City — the nation’s busiest immigration court — are part of a larger hiring wave across the country.

The Radiolab program comes the same week as NPR All Thing Considered interview with Jeffrey Chase, a former immigration judge, about how President Trump's new proposals to raise high-skilled immigration will affect immigration courts. The upshot: it will have no impact. Click below to listen.


UPDATE 5/24/2019: A TRAC report supplements these narrative accounts with quantitative data about the burgeoning immigration caseload and the inability of IJ hiring to keep pace.


May 23, 2019 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Halima Aden: From Refugee to "Sports Illustrated" Burkini Sensation


Here is a refugee who is breaking the mold.  Eugene S. Robinson reports in detail on model Halima Aden.  Aden is a 21-year-old former semi-finalist in the Miss Minnesota USA beauty pageant. She is Somali-American, immigrating to the United States as a child directly from a United Nations refugee camp in Kenya. Aden appears -- a first -- in the 2019 Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue in a hijab and full-coverage burkini because she is Muslim.

Samir Hussein/Getty Images



May 2, 2019 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, April 28, 2019

"My Sick Idea": President Trump on Sending Immigrants To Sanctuary Cities


Scott McDonald reports for Newsweek on President Trump's Saturday night rally ally in Green Bay Wisconsin, "mostly touting his work in office, calling out Democrats, name-shaming Democrats and spinning a rolodex of cliches often heard at his rallies." The president recalled his recent statement that he would start sending immigrants who overstayed their visits at holding facilities to the so-called sanctuary cities. “Last month alone, 100,000 illegal immigrants arrived at our borders, placing a massive strain on communities and schools and hospitals and public resources, like nobody has ever seen before,” Trump said to the crowd. “Now, we’re sending many of them through sanctuary cities, thank you very much.”  “I’m proud to tell you that was actually my sick idea,” the president said.  

Two weeks ago, President Trump said that, because detention facilities had become overcrowded, he would bus immigrant to "sanctuary cities," which limit assistance in federal immigration enforcement efforts.


April 28, 2019 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 19, 2019

NYC Mexican Restaurateurs Take the Lead on Immigration Activism


Photo from La Morada website

News from Eater NYC about  Mexican restaurateurs active in immigration causes.  Yajaira Saavedra, an owner of the Bronx’s Oaxacan restaurant La Morada (with mole on the menu!), says. “I’m very proud of my roots.” Her family’s restaurant serves Oaxacan dishes in a bright space that features the banner above:  “No deportaciones / No deportations.” A lending library offering free books to the community sits in the back, and the front door reads “Refugees Welcome.”

Saavedra, along with other Mexican restaurateurs around the city, like Daniel Ortiz De Montellano Luft of Casa Publica and Guillaume Guevara of Miscelanea, have been vocal advocates for Mexico and for their communities here in NYC. All three have spoken out on Trump’s immigration policies, and Guevara launched a line of pro-immigration goods like hats, pins, and stickers in his Mexican deli that benefits the American Civil Liberties Union. Luft and chef Fany Gerson (the two are married) have assisted their employees with immigration proceedings and paperwork.

Saavedra in particular is a striking example of a restaurateur-activist. She’s the daughter of Natalia Mendez, the chef-owner of La Morada, which is transparent about the immigration status of its proprietors. “We are an undocumented family-owned and operated Oaxaca Restaurant in the South Bronx,” its website reads in both English and Spanish. “Our goal is to preserve and share indigenous Mexican cuisine with our neighbors and friends.”

Earlier this year, Saavedra was taken into police custody; she claims she was targeted by the NYPD for being an undocumented immigrant activist.


April 19, 2019 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Colbert Unloads on Trump’s Immigration ‘Monster’ Stephen Miller


Stephen Colbert takes on White House Senior Advisor Stephen Miller on immigration.  For the Daily Beast's rundown, click here.



April 18, 2019 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Father & Son Separated at Border, Reunited Nearly 11 Months Later

Check out this short (3:40) story from CBS News.

There is a lot packed into those few minutes. Jose (the father) was pressured to sign documents in English that he didn't understand, resulting in his deportation. His 10-year-old son remained in the U.S., first in federal care and then with a relative. It took nearly 11 months for the two to reunite. They are here in the U.S. and still pursuing asylum.

Lee Gelernt (ACLU) makes an appearance and puts this story into perspective: We don't know how many families were separated at the border; the government wants 2 years to sort out the mess.


April 16, 2019 in Current Affairs, Film & Television, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 15, 2019

At the Movies: Marcos Doesn't Live Here Anymore


Marcos Doesn't Live Here Anymore examines the national issue of immigration with the help of two unforgettable protagonists, demonstrating the human cost of deportation. Elizabeth Perez, a decorated United States Marine veteran and national immigration activist living in Cleveland, tirelessly works to reunite her family after her husband Marcos, an undocumented soccer referee from Mexico, is deported. Meanwhile, Marcos is in Mexico coping with his loneliness, grappling with the urge to cross the border illegally to see his family and the temptation to give up and move on without his wife and children. With the unfiltered intimacy that is a signature of his work, Sutherland weaves a parallel-action love story that takes us inside a world often lived in the shadows, on both sides of the border. In the end, Elizabeth's efforts to return her husband hit a legal brick wall, and she is forced to plan for the unthinkable alternative: leaving the United States to live in exile in Mexico and keep her family together. After seven years, Elizabeth, Marcos, and their children are finally reunited in Mexico, but without any sense of how to live together as a family. Ultimately, the love story ends with Marcos and Elizabeth wondering if their relationship will ever recover from the trauma of Marcos's deportation.

Click here for more on the film.


April 15, 2019 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Samantha Bee Takes on "DHS Purge"


April 11, 2019 in Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Sen. Mitt Romney: Asylum is "Magic Word"

As Kevin noted earlier this week, President Trump recently made the following comments: "The system is full. Can't take you anymore. Whether it's asylum, whether it's anything you want, illegal immigration, can't take you anymore. We can't take you. Our country is full."

Senator Mitty Romney (R-UT) appeared on NBC's Meet the Press this morning to talk about those comments.

Interestingly, Romney began by echoing some of the president's comments from last month when  Trump accused asylum seekers and their lawyers of perpetrating "a big fat con job." Romney said that migrants on the Southern border "say the magic word... asylum." The phrase, "magic word," implies that these are individuals without valid claims to relief in the U.S. but rather some stolen password to force the doors open.

Romney went on to  note that this "magic word" has allowed some 125,000 to enter our country, "overwhelming our system."

Romney also commented on the politics of the border, noting: my opinion, the Democrats are making a huge error by making border security an issue and saying it's a partisan issue. Look, this is an American issue. We can't have millions upon millions of people flooding into our country without a border that's secure, without ICE making sure the people that are here illegally are sent back. This is a winning issue I think for Republicans. But more importantly, it's a winning issue for Americans to say, "We have to have the sovereignty of our nation." I think the president has tapped into something which the people feel very deeply.

You can watch Romney's comments in full here. The immigration talk stops at 4:56 when they move onto discussing healthcare:


April 7, 2019 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Asylum for Sale? NBC News Series

A woman throws stones at the welcome sign for the UNHCR refugee camp in Dadaab, Kenya.Sally Hayden

NBC News partnered with 100Reporters and Journalists for Transparency to produce a three-part series on alleged corruption in refugee resettlements. This exclusive reporting is part of a seven-month investigation which found reports of UN staff members exploiting refugees desperate for a safe home in a new country.

Here is the second installment:  Asylum for sale: Whistleblowers say U.N. refugee agency does not always address corruption.

Click here to read the first story.

Stay tuned for Part III.


April 7, 2019 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, April 5, 2019

A Video from Freedom University


Check out this video from Freedom University.  In the film, undocumented students invite us into their lives and into the underground classrooms of Freedom University. Students wanted to create a film to thank supporters around the world, and to reach undocumented youth in Georgia who may not know about the resources and communities available to support them.

Freedom University is a modern-day freedom school based in Atlanta, Georgia.  It provides rigorous college preparation classes, college and scholarship application assistance, and movement leadership training for undocumented students banned from equal access to public higher education in Georgia.


April 5, 2019 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Migrants Held Under El Paso's Bridge of the Americas

There are so many migrants seeking asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border that the CBP in El Paso has taken to housing spillover underneath the Bridge of the Americas on a gravel parking lot.


April 4, 2019 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 29, 2019

Full Frontal With Samantha Bee: Immigrants in the Military


Samantha Bee talks with immigration professor Margaret Stock in this look at immigrants in the military.  Funny but scary.


March 29, 2019 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 25, 2019

Immigrant of the Day: Tacko Fall (Senegal), college student and basketball player



Basketball is now an international game.  And the NCAA tournament has featured some excellent players from all over the world.  One of them played in the epic game between Duke, the number one seed in the entire tournament, and the University of Central Florida.  After an amazing last five minutes of play, Duke won the game by the thinnest of margins, 77-76.

Born in Senegal,  Tacko Fall (and here) plays college basketball for the UCF. At 7 ft 6 inches, he is one of the tallest living people in the world.  In the game against Duke, Fall had a huge impact and helped UCF almost pull off what would have been a huge upset.


March 25, 2019 in Film & Television, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

George W. Bush: Immigration is a "Blessing and a Strength"

Former president George W. Bush spoke at a naturalization ceremony this week where he exhorted listeners to "never forget that immigration is a blessing and a strength."


March 20, 2019 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

At the Movies: Saint Judy (2019)



SAINT JUDY tells the true story of Los Angeles immigration attorney Judy Wood, who single-handedly changed the United States law of asylum and saved countless lives in the process.

In a landmark case, one of her first as an immigration lawyer, Judy Wood represented an Afghan woman who fled her home country after being persecuted by the Taliban for opening a school for girls. After a tenacious battle both in and out of court, Judy's efforts culminated in arguments before the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit where she fought to include women as a protected class.

The Cast Includes:

LEEM LUBANY as Asefa Ashwari
COMMON as Benjamin Adebayo
with ALFRED MOLINA as Ray Hernandez
and ALFRE WOODARD as Judge Benton

Showing now at theaters across the United States.


March 5, 2019 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Now on Netflix: Black Earth Rising

Black Earth Rising is an 8 episode series now streaming on Netflix. The Netflix description is concise if a bit bland: "Adopted by a human rights attorney after the Rwandan genocide, legal investigator Kate Ashby confronts her past when she takes on war crimes cases."

Here is the official trailer to give you a taste:

For immprofs, let me recommend a clip that would be particularly useful in class. Episode 3 ("A Ghost in Name") from 20:00 to 22:50. These brief minutes involve a child's memory of a particular massacre, beautifully illustrated in a haunting cartoon. It offers a way to bring genocide into perspective in a manner that might connect for our students.


March 5, 2019 in Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 4, 2019

Immigrant Activist Arrested by ICE


Claudio Rojas, an outspoken immigration rights activist, was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement last week, days before a new documentary on his work was set to show at the Miami International Film Festival. Read the full story

Claudio Rojas is one of the stars in "The Infiltrators."  As a detainee in 2012, he was the inside man on a larger plan. He eventually won his own release, in part because of a headline-grabbing hunger strike. But Rojas won’t be able to catch the film’s South Florida debut, because last week, he was once again arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Rojas’s attorney doesn’t think the timing of his latest detention is a coincidence.


March 4, 2019 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 28, 2019

21 Savage: A "martyr of conscience"?


ImmigrationProf previously blogged about 21 Savage's immigration problems. An article by Jon Caramanica in the New York Times sheds light on the possible reason for the arrest and detention.

A week before the Grammy Awards, 21 Savage was arrested in Atlanta and placed in removal proceedings by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which said he was an “unlawfully present United Kingdom national” and charged him with overstaying his visa. He was released a week later on $100,000 bond. 21 Savage — birth name She’yaa bin Abraham-Joseph — was born in London.

Dina LaPolt, 21 Savage's general counsel, and Charles Kuck, his immigration attorney — suggest that political motivations may have been at play:

"Three days before 21 Savage’s arrest on Feb. 3, LaPolt was already putting an action plan in motion. `We had heard that they were looking at him,' she said. 

In late January, 21 Savage performed a new version of his single `A Lot' on `The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,' with lyrics that touched on the issue of children being separated from their parents at the United States border, a controversial Trump administration tactic to discourage illegal immigration.

`There was scuttlebutt after the Jimmy Fallon show' coming from `some very high levels in Washington,' LaPolt added. What she heard suggested that 21 Savage had ruffled feathers."


February 28, 2019 in Current Affairs, Film & Television, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, February 25, 2019

International Organization for Migration: Migration scored with film audiences in 2018




Viewers around the world watched the Academy Awards last night.  The IOM highlights the issues of migration raised by many of the movies nominated for Oscars this year.  Migration scored with film audiences in 2018 as films like “Roma,” “Capernaum,” “Cold War,” “Lifeboat,” and “Bohemian Rhapsody” all which touched on themes of human mobility and were recognized for Oscar nominations.

Three of the five artists nominated in the category Best Director were migrants born abroad: from Greece (Yorgos Lanthimos, nominated for directing “The Favourite”), from México (Alfonso Cuarón, for “Roma”) and from Poland (Pawel Pawlikowski for “Cold War”). The Oscar went to Mr. Cuarón for his drama about the life of a Mexican migrant, a woman who journeys from rural México's capital during the 1960s.

Other reminders of migration abounded during the Oscar ceremonies. For example, an actor whose family migrated to the U.S. from Egypt (Rami Malek) won the Best Actor Award playing a rock star who emigrated from Zanzibar to the U.K. to reinvent himself as the singer known as Freddy Mercury in the biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody.”


February 25, 2019 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)