Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Cyprus Exiting Business of Selling EU Membership


Cyprus is an island in the Mediterranean Sea. It is the Southernmost and Easternmost member of the European Union.

Cypriot membership in the European Union has had its privileges--not the least of which being that Cyprus has had a profitable business selling citizenship to non-EU citizens interested in gaining visa-free travel throughout the EU. Cyprus charged north of 2.4 million U.S. dollars for citizenship in its nation.

Recently, however, Al Jazeera managed to get Cypriot officials on film using this citizenship-for-sale program to assist a fictional Chinese national with a criminal record. Oof. Not good.

And so for now, as the BBC reports, Cyprus has suspended its citizenship-selling business.


PS: I've been fascinated by citizenship-for-sale systems for some time. If you're interested, check out my article regarding citizenship based on real estate purchases or my article theorizing a citizenship market.

October 14, 2020 in Current Affairs, Law Review Articles & Essays | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 12, 2020

Immigration Article of the Day: Effect of Border Policy on Exposure and Vulnerability to Climate Change


Princeton University researchers Hélène Benveniste, Michael Oppenheimer, and Marc Fleurbaey have a new article of interest to immprofs: Effect of border policy on exposure and vulnerability to climate change, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

As describes the research, it:

suggests that restrictive border policies could increase many people's vulnerability to extreme climate conditions and weaken economic prosperity by limiting their ability to emigrate from countries that are facing worsening conditions due to climate change, such as drought, heat waves, and rising seas.
When allowed to move freely, however, both migrants and the developing countries from which they came are less vulnerable and better off financially[.]

Here is the researchers' own abstract:

Migration may be increasingly used as adaptation strategy to reduce populations’ exposure and vulnerability to climate change impacts. Conversely, either through lack of information about risks at destinations or as outcome of balancing those risks, people might move to locations where they are more exposed to climatic risk than at their origin locations. Climate damages, whose quantification informs understanding of societal exposure and vulnerability, are typically computed by integrated assessment models (IAMs). Yet migration is hardly included in commonly used IAMs. In this paper, we investigate how border policy, a key influence on international migration flows, affects exposure and vulnerability to climate change impacts. To this aim, we include international migration and remittance dynamics explicitly in a widely used IAM employing a gravity model and compare four scenarios of border policy. We then quantify effects of border policy on population distribution, income, exposure, and vulnerability and of CO2 emissions and temperature increase for the period 2015 to 2100 along five scenarios of future development and climate change. We find that most migrants tend to move to areas where they are less exposed and vulnerable than where they came from. Our results confirm that migration and remittances can positively contribute to climate change adaptation. Crucially, our findings imply that restrictive border policy can increase exposure and vulnerability, by trapping people in areas where they are more exposed and vulnerable than where they would otherwise migrate. These results suggest that the consequences of migration policy should play a greater part in deliberations about international climate policy.


October 12, 2020 in Law Review Articles & Essays | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Immigration Article of the Day: Undocumented Activism and Minor Politics: Inside the Cramped Political Spaces of Deportation Defense Campaigns by Austin Kocher and Angela Stusse

Undocumented Activism and Minor Politics: Inside the Cramped Political Spaces of Deportation Defense Campaigns by Austin Kocher and Angela Stusse, Antipode, 2020.

27ef868543abf9c4e16439c1aeb8f0bd.jpgNews from TRAC: Dr. Austin Kocher joins TRAC as New Faculty Fellow

Abstract: Undocumented activism is on the rise. In response to the expansion of immigrant policing, detention, and deportation, immigrant rights organizers have increasingly deployed a longstanding approach to anti-deportation activism called “deportation defense campaigns” (DDCs). DDCs seek to disrupt the deportation regime by preventing or delaying individual deportations and providing immigrants a path to temporary or permanent legalization on a case-by-case basis. Yet in the process, campaigns must address questions about when and how to challenge dominant discourses and institutions while also achieving short-term goals. We examine DDCs through Deleuze and Guattari’s notion of the “minor” to examine how campaigns navigate difficult decisions about when and how to employ tactics that are typically characterized as either disruptive or conformist. Indeed, we argue that disruption and conformism should be understood not as a static evaluative framework, but as strategies that condition, and are conditioned by, the contexts in which undocumented activism unfolds. Using ethnographic methods, we examine two DDCs to show how the campaigns strategically navigated the cramped political spaces of undocumented organizing in the months following the new Trump administration’s surge of anti-immigrant policies. We find that DDCs simultaneously draw upon and subvert dominant forms of citizenship and belonging in order to pressure ICE to exercise legal discretion and stop deportation. We conclude that DDCs unfold under historically and geographically specific conditions that not only shape what counts as disruptive and conformist, but may call into question any easy division between the two altogether.

September 30, 2020 in Law Review Articles & Essays | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 21, 2020

Submissions Deadline for the Yale Law Journal


Here is an email that I received over the weekend:

My name is Jenny Choi and I am the current Executive Editor for Articles & Essays at the Yale Law Journal.  We are writing to share with you that our deadline for Articles & Essays submissions is September 23, 2020 (this Wednesday), and to ask whether you (in your capacity as editors of your respective Law Professor blogs) would be able to publicize the date to fellow scholars and colleagues.  As always, we are eager to consider exciting legal scholarship across the nation, and would be grateful for your help in getting the word out.  Here is the tweet we put out about our Wednesday deadline.

Please let us know, and thank you!  We’re sending best wishes for your fall semester. 


Jenny Choi

Executive Editor, Articles & Essays

Yale Law Journal, Volume 130 


September 21, 2020 in Current Affairs, Law Review Articles & Essays | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Immigration Article of the Day: Inalienable Citizenship by Cassandra Burke Robertson and Irina Manta


Irina manta

In honor of citizenship day, I'm highlighting the third in a series of articles on the topic by Cassandra Robertson and Irina Manta

Inalienable Citizenship, North Carolina Law Review, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN:


Over the last decade, citizenship in the United States has become increasingly precarious. Denaturalization cases increased under President Obama and skyrocketed under President Trump. No number of years spent in the United States protects individuals against sudden accusations that they procured citizenship fraudulently or were never eligible for citizenship to begin with. Moreover, the government has challenged the citizenship status even of some individuals—largely from ethnic and religious minority communities—that the government had previously recognized as citizens for decades.

If the U.S. justice system is committed to the values of reliance and finality, how can it permit citizenship to be challenged without any time limit? American courts currently do not recognize a statute of limitations for civil denaturalization or apply the traditional doctrines of equitable estoppel or laches to this context. This state of affairs is partly based on judicial misunderstanding of the property-like features of citizenship and of the punitive nature of removing it. We argue that this must change. Denaturalization and citizenship denial undermine the foundation of our democratic system by tolerating second-class citizenship and promoting chilling effects against free speech and political participation. The time has come for the legislative and judicial branches to recognize that delayed citizenship challenges violate constitutional due-process protections. Security of citizenship is an essential bedrock of our constitutional order.


September 17, 2020 in Law Review Articles & Essays | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Essays on racism in administrative law focusing on immigration

The Yale JREG's Symposium on Racism in Administrative Law continues to present fascinating essays on the intersection of race, immigration, and the administrative state. Recent additions include:

  • Stella Burch Elias and immprof editor Kit Johnson's new essay Hire American: Race-Based Exclusion in Employment-Based Immigratio argues "despite their importance to the U.S. economy, foreign-born workers, and in particular immigrants of color, have long been viewed in the United States with suspicion and distaste. This long-standing animus has shaped the legal structures controlling employment-based migration since the very beginning of U.S. immigration law." 
  • Bijal Shah puts forward a research agenda for a critical theory of administrative law. Critiquing current approaches, she writes "These approaches to administrative law diminish or ignore the importance of evaluating the wisdom of policies—of segregationtiered access to fundamental rights for citizens, and the exclusion of noncitizens, to name just a few—and privilege anodyne analyses about which governmental entity (e.g., state or federal, elected or unelected) gets to make those decisions."
  • Rebecca Bratspie pens an in-depth essay about the immigrant whose name appears in INS v. Chadha, one of the most famous cases in both immigration and administrative law. She writes "Most casebooks include virtually no information about Jagdish Rai Chadha or about how he found himself in the situation that gave rise to this case. When he appeared before United States courts to defend himself against deportation, there was literally nowhere for him to go because Mr. Chadha was stateless. He had no nationality. A racist, colonial system of citizenship had expelled and disowned him.  When professors ignore that reality in favor of bicameralism and presentment they miss an opportunity to interrogate the erasure of issues of race in the administrative law setting. Chadha brings to life Ian Haney Lopez’s assertion that “law not only constructs race, race constructs law.”

These essays complement symposium essays previously highlighted on immigrationprof blog.


August 4, 2020 in Law Review Articles & Essays | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, July 18, 2020

The Total Shafting of Au Pairs


Do you like kids? How about international travel? If so, consider coming to the U.S. as an au pair. Get the kids off to school and then enjoy your time stateside -- explore the city! Travel on your days off!

If only.

As the NYT reports, au pairs signed up for the opportunity to explore the U.S. and have instead been trapped by the pandemic in a 24-7 existence with their employers -- and those kids.

The article is horrifying. Imagine, as one interviewee described, being stuck for every meal with a family that's into clean living. We are in the middle of a pandemic, people. Sugar, salt, and fat are necessary to SURVIVE.

Of course, it's not enough that these young women are stuck in their current Groundhog Day like existence far from their own families, missing the promised life of adventure. No, the U.S. has to further indicate it's disdain for their work by declaring au pairs a risk to the labor market and suspending their future entry.

As if there were Americans willing to live full-time in the household dedicated to clean living. Ew.

If you feel like getting even more outraged about the plight of au pair's, check out Prof. Janie Chuang's 2013 article: The U.S. Au Pair Program: Labor Exploitation and the Myth of Cultural Exchange. Spoiler: Chuang concludes that the entire au pair program was created "to provide flexible, in-home childcare for upper-middle-class families at below-market prices."


July 18, 2020 in Current Affairs, Law Review Articles & Essays | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 18, 2020

CAP Report analyzes impacts of looming Supreme Court decision DACA

There is growing media coverage of mounting tension as immigrant communities wait for the DACA decision, which will decide whether President Trump's rescission of the DACA program can go forward. A CAP report details the impacts of  the looming Supreme Court decision and analyzes policy pathways that will flow from the court's opinion.

Assuming the court does not itself invalidate DACA protections or bar the administration from continuing to accept and process renewals, the report notes that there are still a number of questions regarding how the Trump administration and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will react to a decision that permits them to end DACA:

  • Will USCIS adjudicate all renewal applications currently pending? As of March 31, 48,390 DACA recipients had pending renewal applications.
  • Will USCIS open a window for individuals with near-term expirations to apply to renew their DACA while Congress debates permanent protections, similar to what it did in September 2017?

The report concludes: "Except in the most extreme scenario, the Trump administration will still have the power to issue automatic extensions for DACA recipients whose protections are set to expire over the course of the next year." This continuing ability represents a form of prosecutorial discretion that preceded DACA. 


May 18, 2020 in Current Affairs, Law Review Articles & Essays | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, May 15, 2020

The Parallels Between Second-Amendment Sanctuary Cities and Immigration Sanctuary Cities


Second Thoughts is a blog from the Center for Firearms Law at Duke University. Now why on earth am I pointing immprofs to Second Amendment posts? The answer lies in sanctuary movements, which, apparently, are not just for immigration anymore. Gun enthusiasts are getting in on the sanctuary action.

Check out Immprof Deep Gulasekaram's contribution: Local Immigration Non-enforcement and Local Gun Deregulation. He explains how "[t]he primary difference between immigrant and firearms sanctuaries is the particularities of the superior level of government. In the immigration context, sanctuary city ordinances were created almost universally to resist federal efforts, whereas the second amendment sanctuary movement is predicated on resistance to state regulation."

Immprof Rick Su is another contributor. His piece The Two Sides of Sanctuary discusses how "immigration and Second Amendment sanctuaries may simply be two sides of the same local government coin."

I, for one, had never heard of Second Amendment sanctuaries. This despite living in Oklahoma where, hand to God, a local political ad includes the below image of the politician pulling her own gun out of her own glove compartment while talking about fighting for Second Amendment rights.


All those writing and teaching about sanctuary -- pretty much all you immprofs out there -- will find this series of articles super enlightening.


May 15, 2020 in Current Affairs, Law Review Articles & Essays | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, May 10, 2020

The New Passport Poor by Atossa Araxia Abrahamian

Atossa Araxia Abrahamian's essay in the The New York Review of Books provides a thoughtful analysis on the value of a passport and the different roles in plays in different societies. In places like the US, passports enable travel and mobility. In more strict regimes, they limit movement.  Case in point: a German can visit 177 countries visa-free; an American, 173; an Afghan, just twenty-four.

Passports, in other words, were invented not to let us roam freely, but to keep us in place—and in check. They represent the borders and boundaries countries draw around themselves, and the lines they draw around people, too.

The article traces history and evolving thought in the development of passports. It reminds me of John Toroey's The Invention of hte Passport: Surveillance, Citizenship and State (Cambridge 2000, 2018) and the socio-legal works detailing the importance of the driver's licenses and municipal identification cards or matrículas consulares as a substitute identity document in America (see e.g. Els de Graauw and Monica Varsanyi).

May 10, 2020 in Books, Law Review Articles & Essays | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Trump Warns Sanctuary Jurisdictions May Not Get Funding to Fight Coronavirus

President Trump says he'd "want certain things" from states before giving them coronavirus-related funding (including bail out funds) from the feds. What does he want? "Sanctuary city adjustments." (See 1:04-1:22 in the first clip below).

Here's another, similar, statement from a different briefing today:

I'll take this opportune moment to plug a short piece of mine: The Mythology of Sanctuary Cities. It's a brief piece that tackles common myths about sanctuary cities, some of which Trump perpetuates in both of the clips above (sanctuary cities are lawless; sanctuary cities are not entitled to federal tax dollars).


April 28, 2020 in Current Affairs, Law Review Articles & Essays | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 27, 2020

Spring 2020 AILA Law Journal issue online

The Spring 2020 AILA Law Journal is online. A write-up with a summary of individual pieces by Danielle Pollen is here.

In briefer form: the Spring 2020 edition includes five articles by a diverse group of immigration practitioners and scholars, including: a piece arguing against Chevron deference in asylum and withholding of removal cases, an article on vicarious trauma and ethical obligations for attorneys representing immigrant clients, an overview of the tax consequences of expatriating from the United States, a critique of the president’s call for a border wall, and a compilation of survey data illustrating how immigration attorneys rate some of the most popular immigration case management systems.

The submission deadline for the Fall 2020 edition is June 1; submission details here.


April 27, 2020 in Law Review Articles & Essays | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 3, 2020

The Intersection of Immigration & Patent Law


Prawf (but not immprof) Saurabh Vishnubhakat (TAMU) has a fascinating piece over at the Yale Journal on Regulation entitled Immigration, Patents, and Judicial Review of Agency Action.

Saurabh notes the connections between the recently-decided SCOTUS case of Guerrero-Lasprilla v. Barr (the SCOTUS case about 8 USC § 1252(a)(2)(D)) and Thryv v. Click-to-Call Technologies, a patent law case still pending before the Court.

What, you may ask, could possibly connect an immigration case and a patent case?

Both turn on "an emerging debate within the Court over the continuing vitality of administrative law’s presumption in favor of judicial review over agency actions," Saurabh notes. And that debate, which is really about separation of powers, "may now have opened up a new line of argument in the reviewability of immigration disputes, patent disputes, and beyond."


April 3, 2020 in Current Affairs, Law Review Articles & Essays | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

New Study on Assimilation Rates of Immigrants

Leah Boustan (Princeton--Economics) and Ran Abramitzky (Stanford--Economics) have a new study out: Do Immigrants Assimilate More Slowly Today Than in the Past?

Short answer: no.

Here's the abstract for their paper, published in the American Economic Review:

Using millions of historical census records and modern birth certificates, we document that immigrants assimilated into US society at similar rates in the past and present. We measure cultural assimilation as immigrants giving their children less foreign names after spending more time in the United States, and show that immigrants erase about one-half of the naming gap with natives after 20 years both historically and today. Immigrants from poorer countries choose more foreign names upon first arrival in both periods but are among the fastest to shift toward native-sounding names. We find substantial cultural assimilation for immigrants of all education levels.

I'm fascinating by the breath of the study and it's focus on naming. The two talked about their work on NPR today. It was a terrific listen.


March 3, 2020 in Current Affairs, Law Review Articles & Essays | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Decolonizing Indigenous Migration by Kristen Carpenter and Angela Riley

The University of Colorado's Citizenship and Equality Colloquium hosted Professor Kristen Carpenter, CU Law Professor on February 12.

Professor Carpenter presented a co-authored paper (with Angela Riley) titled “Decolonizing Indigenous Migration” that shifts the paradigm on border enforcement against indigeneous persons migrating across the US-Mexico and US-Canada border. She describes language translation problems that lead to curtailed process and tragic deaths for native speakers in detention in a system prepared only for Spanish. She describes the closing gates for Tohono Oodham tribal members whose reservations in Arizona are being split by the wall and surveilled by militarized ICE presence. The solutions cannot be found in immigration law alone, given its embedded settler-colonial assumptions about land ownership and rights. Instead, she turns to a human rights framework and the 2018 Global Compact on Migration for new ideas on how to better acknowledge the claims of indigenous people.

CU Geography Professor Joe Bryan provided commentary drawing on his research and experiences working in Oaxaca, Mexico and many parts of Central America. 

Speaker Bios:

Kristen Carpenter is the Council Tree Professor of Law and Director of the American Indian Law Program at the University of Colorado Law School. Professor Carpenter also serves on the United Nations Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as its member from North America. She was a founding member of the campus-wide Center for Native American and Indigenous Studies at CU-Boulder. In 2016 she was the Oneida Indian Nation Visiting Professor of Law at Harvard Law School.

Joe Bryan is a Professor in the Geography Department at CU. His work focuses on the politics of indigeneity in the Americas, with particular attention to questions of land, territory, and rights. His current project focuses on the contemporary politics of indigeneity in Oaxaca, Mexico. It involves a critical engagement with the concept of territory that works through research on community radio projects across Oaxaca.  This work is broadly informed by his longer involvement with indigenous rights, as both an advocate and a researcher, in Ecuador, Chile, Honduras, Nicaragua, and the western United States. Much of that work further engages with the diversity of mapping practices used to advocate for recognition of indigenous land rights


Citizenship and Equality Spring 2020

February 13, 2020 in Conferences and Call for Papers, Law Review Articles & Essays | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Counterintuitive results on Climate change and US-Mexico Migration

The University of Colorado's Citizenship and Equality Colloquium hosted its first speaker in the Spring 2020 Series.

Professor Fernando Riosmena, CU Associate Professor in Geography and Director of the IBS Population Center, presented a published paper on Climate Change and US-Mexico Migration. The paper presented an empirical analysis of the popular proposition that climate change induces forced migration from the global south. It finds that -with very few exceptions- the vast majority of climate migrants will likely move to other domestic locations, in keeping with most scholarly accounts and counter to media and activist portrayals.  Using rural Mexico as a case study, the paper additionally specifies the conditions of vulnerability that sometimes do lead to increased migration in the face of climate variability.

Professor Riosmena was joined by Professor Phaeda Pezzullo of the CU College of Media, Communication, and Information for a discussion of the implications of these findings for immigration policy and law. They noted the divergent scholarly and popular perceptions and the ways that the legal frame of climate migration or climate refugee could be deployed most effectively among climate activists and immigration activists seeking to inform policy.

Speaker Bios:

Fernando Riosmena is an Associate Professor at the Population Program and the Geography Department at the University of Colorado at Boulder, and Associate Director of the University of Colorado Population Center. His research aims at improving understanding of the theories, drivers, empirical measurement, and analytical strategies to analyze spatial mobility, with a particular focus on the social, economic, policy, and environmental factors likely influencing international migration between Mexico and the United States. In addition, Riosmena also does research assessing the patterns and explanations of the chronic health status Latin American immigrants arrive with, how this health status changes over time, and how and why it differs between immigrants and their U.S.-born descendants.

Phaedra C. Pezzullo (PhD, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; BS and BA, University of Massachusetts Amherst) is an Associate Professor at the University of Colorado Boulder in the College of Media, Communication & Information. Her first book, Toxic Tourism: Rhetorics of Travel, Pollution, and Environmental Justice (University of Alabama Press, 2007), won four awards. She also has coauthored the award-winning Environmental Communication and the Public Sphere (Sage, 2016, 2018) and coedited Environmental Justice and Environmentalism: The Social Justice Challenge to the Environmental Movement (MIT Press, 2007). She is coeditor of the new University of California Press book series: Environmental Communication, Power, and Culture. Committed to public engagement, Pezzullo has a multi-decade record of environmental justice advocacy, including: supporting Warren County, North Carolina’s clean up effort of the first landfill called “environmental racism”; helping write the Principles of Working Together at the Second National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit; and currently is helping the Sierra Club design Affinity Groups. She is a founding co-director of the CU Boulder Just Transition Collaborative and a co-director of Inside the Greenhouse.

The speaker series is sponsored by the CU Immigration and Citizenship Law Program. A full list of the Citizenship and Equality Colloquium speakers for Spring 2020 is posted here.

Citizenship and Equality Spring 2020


February 6, 2020 in Current Affairs, Law Review Articles & Essays | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 16, 2019

Top 10 Immigration Stories of 2019


2019 had many big immigration stories.  The big news at the ImmigrationProf blog was the addition of a new superstar blogger.  Welcome Professor Ming Hsu Chen to the ImmigrationProf Blog!

If one is looking simply at changes to U.S. immigration law and policy, the biggest immigration news story of 2019 (like 2017 and 2018) unquestionably was President Donald Trump.  He probably has been the biggest immigration news story since his inauguration in January 2017.  For better or worse, no modern U.S. President has made immigration the priority that Trump has day in and day out.  President Trump is a virtually endless source of immigration comments, insults, tweets, and policy initiatives.   Law professors are indebted to the President for providing fodder for law review articles for many years to come. 

In addition to President Trump, here are my Top 10 Immigration News Stories from 2019, followed with some awards. 


Suporme court 

1.  Immigration in the Supreme Court

A wide array of immigration cases continue to make their way to the Supreme Court.  The biggest immigration case of the 2019 Term will decide the future of President Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy.  In November, the Court heard oral arguments in three consolidated DACA cases in which the lower courts enjoined the Trump administration’s attempted rescission of DACA.  See the Argument Recap in DACA Cases.   A ruling in the case is expected at the end of the Term in June.  I predict a 5-4 vote.  Expect fireworks whatever the outcome.  Stay tuned!

The high Court has before it a full array of immigration issues, including the availability of damages for cross-border shootings, judicial review of a variety of immigration decisions, federal versus state power over immigration, the legality of expedited removal, and more.  For an overview of the Supreme Court's 2019 Term immigration docket, see Immigration in the Supreme Court, 2019 Term: DACA, Judicial Review, Federalism, Etc.


In a blockbuster decision at the end of the last Term in June, the Supreme Court by a 5-4 vote held that the Department of Commerce had provided unconvincing reasoning for adding a question on U.S. citizenship to the 2020 Census.  The Trump administration had made the addition of a citizenship question a high priority.   Joining the liberal justices, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority.  For an explanation of why he sided with the liberals, see Department of Commerce v. New York: Why the Supreme Court asked for an explanation of the 2020 census citizenship question.  Many Court watchers were surprised by the outcome of the Census case.  To add to the surprises, the Trump administration announced a few weeks after the decision that it was throwing in the towel on the citizenship question; consequently, the 2020 Census will not have a citizenship question.



President Donald Trump, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, and Vice President Michael Pence.  Photo courtesy of Ron Sachs-Pool/Getty Images



Chad Wolf


2.  Turnover in DHS Leadership

2019 saw a game of musical chairs in the office of the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.  In April, Kirstjen Nielsen, rumored to be on the outs with President Trump, stepped down.  See Former Department of Homeland Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen Explains Resignation.  Next, the Acting DHS Secretary, Kevin McAleenan, resigned.  See Breaking News: Acting DHS Secretary McAleenan Resigns. He was replaced by another Acting Secretary, Chad Wolf, who at least for now remains in the position.



3.  William Barr Replaces Jeff Sessions as Attorney General

Who is the smiling man in the picture above?  He is the current Attorney General of the United States,  Judging from the picture, the current administration makes him happy.

In February, William Barr was sworn in as Attorney General.  He replaced Jeff Sessions, who had made enforcement of the U.S. immigration laws a high priority.  President Trump had reportedly lost confidence in Sessions.  Barr previously served as Attorney General under President George W. Bush.

The Attorney General, of course, heads the Department of Justice, which houses the Executive Office of Immigration Review (the home of the immigration courts and Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA)). 

Like Attorney General Sessions, Barr has intervened in cases before the BIA to narrow relief for removal.  See, e.g., L-E-A-, 27 I. & N. Dec. 581 (AG July 29, 2019) (narrowing "membership in a particular social group" for purposes of asylum).  Put simply, do not expect any slowing down of immigration enforcement under Attorney General Barr.  



Judge Dolly Gee

4.  Flores Settlement

The Flores settlement, agreed to by the U.S. government under President Clinton in 1997, governs the detention of migrant children and generally bars minors from lengthy and indefinite immigrant detention. The settlement made the news regularly in 2019. A short and sweet summary of the Flores settlement can be found at The Conversation: A Short Explanation of the Flores Settlement and Its Possible Demise. 


Throughout 2019, President Trump continued his effort to abrogate the Flores settlement. He has sought to detain migrant children, and all other migrants, indefinitely while their cases move forward in the immigration courts.  Judge Dolly Gee, who is monitoring the Flores settlement, rejected the latest effort to end the settlement.  See Federal Court Rejects Trump Administration's Effort to End Flores Settlement; Ninth Circuit Rejects Trump Administration's Latest Challenge to Flores Settlement, Holds that Soap, Toothbrushes, and Toothpaste Cannot Be Denied Migrants.


The bottom line:  The Flores settlement remains in place and no doubt will be in the news in 2020 as the Trump administration continues to utilize detention in its immigration enforcement efforts. 


5.  Public Charge and Other Trump Immigration Policy Initiatives

The Trump administration continued to press forward with new immigration enforcement efforts.  There are literally too many to list all of the Trump immigration initiatives.  But here are a few.

The Trump administration proposed a new, stricter approach to the public charge exclusion under the immigration laws.  The proposed rule has been criticized for making it too tough on immigrants of low- and moderate-incomes to come, or stay in, the United States.  The Ninth Circuit -- and later the Fourth Circuit -- stayed a nationwide injunction barring implementation of the proposed rule.  See Ninth Circuit Stays Injunction of Trump Public Charge Rule; The Nationwide Injunction in the Public Charge Case; Breaking news: public charge rule enjoined.

The Trump administration's  Remain  in Mexico policy, a novel approach that makes asylum-seekers wait in Mexico for their claims to be decided, remains in place and is controversial as ever.  

This year, the administration entered into agreements with El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras in an attempt to  better manage the flow of asylum seekers to the United States and deny relief to migrants who failed to seek asylum in countries on their way to the United States.  See DHS FACT SHEET: DHS AGREEMENTS WITH GUATEMALA, HONDURAS, AND EL SALVADOR.



Photo courtesy of Clarion Ledger

Departing from the practice during the Obama administration, the Trump administration has used immigration raids as an immigration enforcement tool.  During the summer, the President threatened to direct Immigration & Customes Enforcement to conduct mass immigration raids in cities across the country.  The threat struck fear in communities from coast to coast.  In August, the Trump administration on the first day of school conducted immigration raids at food processing plants in Mississippi.  Many children came home from school unable to find their parents.  See ICE Raids in Mississippi, 680 Arrested.



In November, news reports made the rounds that senior White House aide Stephen Miller had promoted white supremacist, anti-immigrant articles in emails to Breitbart.  Miller has been said to be the architect of the Trump administration's immigration policies. 

In April, there were rumors that President Trump was considering the possibility of completely closing the US/Mexico border.  Business interests raised concerns.  Such a measure would dramatically affect trade as well as migration between the two neighboring nations.  In the end, the President never followed through on the threat to close the border.  See Trump backs off threat to close the U.S.-Mexico border.

The state of California continues to resist the Trump administration's immigration enforcement efforts.  In April, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit rejected most of the administration's challenges to California's sanctuary laws, which sought to distance the state from federal immigration enforcement.  President Trump and others in his administration continue to rail against the public safety risks caused by sanctuary cities.  See Ninth Circuit Rejects Bulk of Trump Administration's Challenge to California "Sanctuary" Laws.



6.  Immigration Court Backlog Hits One Million

In September 2019, the backlog of cases in the U.S. immigration courts' surpassed one million.  The enormous backlog affects every noncitizen with a hearing in the immigration courts, their attorneys, and the immigration judges.  The Trump administration's aggressive enforcement efforts contributed to the rapid growth of the backlog.   Noncitizens seeking relief from removal can expect long -- years in some insttances -- waits for a hearing. 



7.  President Trump Lowers Refugee Admissions

It has been said that  the world is experiencing a global refugee crisis.  Still, President Trump again decreased the number of refugee admissions.  See Presidential Determination on Refugee Admissions for Fiscal Year 2020; Trump administration sets lowest cap on refugee admissions in four decades. Again.  On November 1, President Trump released the Presidential Determination on Refugee Admissions for Fiscal Year 2020.  It provides for "[t]he admission of up to 18,000 refugees to the United States during Fiscal Year 2020 . . . ."  (emphasis added).  Criticism followed the announcement.  In 2016, President Obama had capped refugee admissions at 85,000.



Marie Yovanovitch


Fiona Hill

8.  Immigrants and Impeachment

As the nation well knows, Congress has been considering the impeachment of President Trump.   Over the last few months, Democrats and Republicans have regularly and literally been screaming at each other about impeachment.  In stark contrast, several key immigrant witnesses in the impeachment hearings kept their heads for the good of the nation.


In hearings on the impeachment  in November, immigrants played a vital role Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch is the child of immigrants who fled the Soviet Union and later the Nazi occupation of Europe. Born in Canada, she grew up in Connecticut and became a naturalized U.S. citizen.  Born in Ukraine when it was part of the USSR, Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman and his family fled to the United States. He joined the U.S. Army, earning numerous commendations including a Purple Heart for wounds suffered in combat in Iraq. Vindman is the Director for European Affairs on the National Security Council (NSC).  Fiona Hill, who until recently served in a senior position on the NSC, opened her testimony by describing herself as “American by choice.” Born in a hardscrabble coal mining town in Northern England, Hill came to the United States, attended Harvard, and became a citizen.  All of the immigrant witnesses left enduring competent impressions and important testimony.




9.  The Retirement of Professor Michael Olivas

One of the leading immigration scholars of his generation, Michael Olivas of the University of Houston Law Center, has retired from law teaching.   Here is a Guest Post: Celebrating Michael Olivas's Retirement

At the January 2019 annual meeting, the Association of American Law Schools honored Olivas with a lifetime achievement award.  See Immigration Law Values Program, Michael Olivas Honored

In 2010, Olivas was the ImmigrationProf blog's Outstanding Immigration Professor of the Year.   A mentor to countless law professors, myself included, Olivas is an esteemed immigration scholar (as well as a renouwned scholar in higher education, civil rights, and other areas) . For a review of his body of work, see Law Professor and Accidental Historian:  The Scholarship of Michael A. Olivas (Ediberto Roman ed., 2017).

Be on the lookout next June for Olivas' latest book on the DREAM Act and DACA.




Photo courtesy of the Los Angeles Times

10.  25th Anniversary of Proposition 187

Contrary to popular belief, California, which produced two Republic Presidents in the twentieth centiry (Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan), was not always a sanctuary state and liberal haven.  Far from it.  In 1994, California voters passed the anti-immigrant milestone known as Proposition 187, which would have barred undocumented children from the public schools and stripped undocumented immigrants of virtually all non-emergency public benefits.  A federal court enjoined most of the initiative from going into effect.  Nonetheless, Proposition 187 prodded Congress in 1996 to pass two major pieces of tough immigration reform and and to eliminate immigrant eligibility for major public benefits program in welfare reform.

Times have changed and, in response to the Trump administration's immigration initiatives, California has declared itself to be a sanctuary state.  By spurring naturalization and increasing Latinx voter turnout, Proposition 187 contributed to the political transformation of the state and the ascendancy to dominance of the Democratic Party.  For analysis of Proposition 187 and its legacy, see

UC Davis Law Review Symposium: The 25th Anniversary of Proposition 187: Challenges and Opportunities for Immigrant Integration and Political Identity in California  Be on the lookout for the symposium issue from this conference, which will be available in spring 2020.

DACA, Proposition 187, and the legacy of the Trump immigration enforcement revolution

25 Years After The Passage of California's Proposition 187: The Beginning of the Political Transformation of California


Honorable Mention

There are many other big immigration stories in 2019.  Here are a few worthy of note:

El paso

1.  An Immigrant "Invasion": Words Used by Members of Congress as well as the President and the El Paso Shooter (August):  A sniper, who in an online rant had railed about the "Hispanic invasion," targeted -- and killed -- Latinx people at a shopping center in El Paso. 



2.  News from the US/Mexico Border: JURY ACQUITS NO MORE DEATHS VOLUNTEER OF FELONY HARBORING CHARGES (November):  The Trump administration loses a criminal prosecution of a humanitarian worker seeking to save migrant lives.  One can only wonder whether there were better types of cases for the U.S. government to prosecute.




3.  Death on the Border: NPR report: When Migrants Die, Many Bodies Remain Unidentified:  This is not really a news story.  In fact, deaths have been a fact of life for decades along the US/Mexico border.  I include it here lest we forget that migrantse regularly are dying while trying to make it to the United States.  This is a tragic impact of the nation's immigration enforcement policies that seems to not have penetrated the nation's consciousness.



4. Inaugural Issue of AILA Law Journal (Apr. 28):  The new American Immigration Lawyers Association Journal focuses on cutting edge immigration law issues.



 5.  Fox Apologizes for Graphic: "Trump Cuts U.S. Aid to 3 Mexican Countries" (Apr. 4):  No this is not a late April Fool's Day joke.  You can't make this stuff up.  The show "Fox & Friends" reported news of President Trump's plans to reduce millions of dollars in aid to three Central American countries for not doing enough to stem the stream of migrants to the United States.  As one commentator talked about the president “going full-court press on Mexico” and the co-host spoke of “cutting payments, aid payments, to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras,” a caption read "Trump Cuts U.S. Aid to 3 Mexican countries.”  This, of course, is a sad reflection on the state of education in the United States.


Immigration Article of the Year


The Interior Structure of Immigration Enforcement by Eisha Jain, 167 University of Pennsylvania Law Review 1463 (2019).  This article is a deep dive into immigration enforcement, going well beyond removals. It calls for restructuring immigration enforcement to consider the full impact of enforcement in light of the impacts of the immigrants present in the United States.



K-Sue Park

Honorable Mention: Self-Deportation Nation by K-Sue Park, 132 Harvard Law Review 1878 (2019).  Besides writing an incredible article, Professor Park should be praised for convincing the editors of the venerable Harvard Law Review to publish an immigration article.  The article analyzes the long history of self deportation policies in the United States.



Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia

Honorable Mention: Immigration Litigation in the Time of Trump by Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia.  How did Shoba keep up with all the challenges to Trump’s immigration policies?


Book of the Year


Ghosts of Gold Mountain: On the Chinese Immigrants Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad by Gordon H. Chang (2019).  A groundbreaking history of the Chinese workers who built the Transcontinental Railroad, helping to forge modern America only to disappear into the shadows of history. I loved reading this book while vacationing in the Sierras, not far from where the Chinese workers once toiled on the railroad.  




Honorable Mention: America for Americans: A History of Xenophobia in the United States by Erika Lee (2019).  The time is perfect for reading a book on the history of xenophobia in the United States.  Will a supplement and pocket part be necessary?



Honorable MentionMigrating to Prison: America’s Obsession with Locking Up Immigrants by César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández (2019).  After the events of the last few years, the entire nation should be considering the morality and policy-sense of mass immigrant detention.  Cesar Garcia's book offers critical analysis on "America's Obsession" with immigrant detention.







Immigrant Sportsman of the Year

José de Jesús Rodríguez Martínez, a professional golfer, currently plays on the PGA Tour.  He grew up in poverty in Irapuato, Mexico. At age 12, he dropped out of school and began caddying full-time at Club de Golf Santa Margarita. At age 15, Rodríguez crossed the Rio Grande and entered the United States. He worked in the United States for a decade, mostly as part of the maintenance crew at a country club in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Rodriguez then became a pro golfer.  See ‘The most unbelievable story in golf’: A treacherous border crossing was just the beginning of José de Jesús Rodríguez’s journey to the PGA Tour.  The Golf Channel is working on a documentary about Jose Rodriguez.


Photo of the Year

I could not resist ending the year without recognizing this photograph:



The photo was posted on March 3, 2019 in the post A Sign of the Times: Arkansas church sign -- ‘heaven has strict immigration laws, hell has open borders'.  

In April, the photo that showed the world the cruelty of the Trump administration's family separation policy, was honored with the World Photo of the Year Award.  See "Crying Girl on the Border" Wins World Photo of the Year Award.  This photo helped fuel the public outcry against family separation and led to the policy's demise.



John Moore/Getty Images/World Press Photo


Film Landmark




2019 marked the 35th anniversary of the classic refugee film El Norte.  The film tells the powerful story of a young Guatemalan brother and ister who fled the war-torn nation and journeyed to the United States.  It is a true classic.  Sadly, El Norte remains topical today as Central Americans continue to come to the United States seeking asylum from violence in their homelands.






December 16, 2019 in Current Affairs, Film & Television, Law Review Articles & Essays, Photos, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Judicial Business: Statistics and Reports


There is a plethora of interesting statistical data available from the U.S. courts website. I'll admit that I was ignorant of this fabulous data set until recently. I learned about this resource from reading the footnotes from Ingrid Eagly's forthcoming paper The Movement to Decriminalize Border Crossing.

Data from this website was incredibly useful to me today. I covered the topic of crimmigration. While I teach a standalone crimmigration course, I include in my podium immigration course brief (one-class) coverage of 1325/1326/1324 and employment issues.

For example, the website includes this excellent chart about what crimes defendants are charged with in federal court:


As you can see, immigration crimes have been popular for a good five years, but they are now the most commonly charged crimes. As the website details:

The biggest numeric growth was in filings for defendants charged with immigration offenses, which increased by 7,478 (up 37 percent) to 27,916 filings and accounted for 32 percent of total criminal filings, making this the largest category of defendants prosecuted in the district courts. Defendants charged with improper reentry by an alien climbed 40 percent to 23,250, and those charged with improper entry by an alien rose 48 percent to 254. Immigration filings in the five southwestern border districts increased 39 percent to 21,781 and equaled 78 percent of national immigration defendant filings (up from 77 percent in 2017). Filings grew 66 percent in the Southern District of California, 65 percent in the Western District of Texas, 27 percent in the District of Arizona, 24 percent in the District of New Mexico, and 17 percent in the Southern District of Texas.

I also found this table instructive and used it in class, clipping it in this manner:

Screen Shot 2019-11-12 at 6.23.15 PM

There's a lot to unpack here. For example, you can see that immigration offenses account for a smidge over 32% of criminal cases, that over 97% of defendants are convicted, and that of those convicted, over 99% plea guilty.

Perhaps you'll find this data useful for your next article or your next class.


November 12, 2019 in Current Affairs, Law Review Articles & Essays, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 4, 2019

YLJ announces winners of student essay competition on immigration

Congratulations to Zak New (my co-author and recent graduate from Colorado Law School) and Elizabeth Montana (Uinversity of Miami) on winning the Yale Law Journal's student essay competition. Their essays will appear in a special issue focused on emerging issues in immigration law in the Yale Law Journal Forum in early 2020.

The two winning Essays are:

Elizabeth MontanoThe Rise and Fall of Administrative Closure in Immigration Courts

Elizabeth Montano’s Essay focuses on the laws surrounding immigration judges’ use of administrative closure, a case-management tool used to let individuals pursue more promising forms of relief. Elizabeth earned her J.D. summa cum laude from the University of Miami School of Law in May 2019. While at Miami Law, she served as the Editor-in-Chief of the University of Miami Law Review. In addition, she was a clinical student and a student fellow in the Immigration Clinic. Her clinical work earned her the 2018 CLEA Outstanding Clinical Student Award. Elizabeth was also one of ten recipients across the United States of the 2019 Law 360 Distinguished Legal Writing Award. Currently, Elizabeth works as an Associate Attorney at Kurzban, Kurzban, Tetzeli & Pratt, P.A., where she focuses on immigration-related litigation and deportation defense. She received her B.A. cum laude in Interpersonal and Organizational Communications from the University of Central Florida. Here are the abstracts:

Zachary R. NewEnding Citizenship for Service in Forever War

Zachary R. New’s Essay analyzes the recent policies that are causing a decline in U.S. citizenship for service, a tradition dating back to the Revolutionary War in which noncitizens earn their citizenship after serving in the U.S. military. Zachary earned his J.D. from the University of Colorado School of Law in 2019. While at Colorado Law, Zachary was a founding member and President of the Immigration Law and Policy Society. He spent a year volunteering for the Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network. Through the Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network, he traveled weekly to assist foreign nationals detained in Denver’s local ICE detention facility. His studies have focused primarily on immigration and naturalization. He has put those studies into practice, assisting foreign nationals with affirmative applications in corporate and family immigration, defending foreign nationals before the Executive Office for Immigration Review, and challenging agency decisions in federal court. Zachary now works at the Denver office of Joseph & Hall, P.C., where he focuses on corporate immigration and federal litigation.


October 4, 2019 in Law Review Articles & Essays | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Immigration Article of the Day: Is the Rescission of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Justified by the Results of Cost-Benefit Analysis by Carolina Arlota


Is the Rescission of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Justified by the Results of Cost-Benefit Analysis by Carolina Arlota, 29 Berkeley La Raza L.J. 93 (2019).


On September 5, 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the rescission of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (“DACA”). The program was created in 2012 and it has been evaluated as an overall success. Members of both political parties and business leaders have criticized its rescission. In light of this controversy, what are the benefits and costs associated with the rescission of DACA? This article argues that the Trump Administration’s rescission of DACA is not justified based on three different accounts of a cost-benefit analysis. First, it evaluates the manner in which the Trump Administration’s decision was made, targeting how it was implemented (namely, its procedural terms), and how it increased litigation, uncertainty, and the lack of uniformity within immigration law generally. Second, it assesses the costs and benefits of the policy decision, focusing on the substantive effects of the rescission. Third, it examines the rescission using the normative approach of cost-benefit analysis, arguing that this method should not discount moral considerations.

The research presented in this article is timely because it targets a currently controversial topic that is subject to intense media coverage and litigation. Moreover, this article may influence such litigation because it provides novel arguments against the rescission of DACA. For example, the principles of administrative law applied to immigration may require agencies to consider costs. This remains to be examined by the courts. Similarly, the framework of this research may provide additional arguments based on its findings. From a theoretical perspective, this paper fills a void in the literature, as studies on the cost-benefit analysis of the DACA rescission have not yet been published. In addition, the framework chosen for this research contributes to cost- benefit analysis literature addressing a contemporary example of public policy that was enacted without the normative use of economics and that disregarded the cost- benefit analysis as a methodological tool for maximizing overall well-being. Thisarticle also advances a trending topic concerning cost-benefit analysis, namely, the incorporation of moral dimensions into cost-benefit analysis, including rights-based considerations.

This article is organized as follows: Part II presents an overview of the policy changes from the enactment of DACA to its rescission. Part III discusses the reasons that the rescission of DACA is not justified by the results of a cost-benefit analysis, focusing on its procedural terms (i.e., the manner in which the rescission was decided and implemented). Part IV assesses the costs and benefits of the rescission based on its substantive terms, including its quantitative and qualitative effects. In Part V, the results of the normative approach to the cost-benefit analysis reveal the moral considerations involved in the rescission. Part VI concludes that the rescission of DACA is not justified by the results of the cost-benefit analysis developed in this article.


October 1, 2019 in Law Review Articles & Essays | Permalink | Comments (0)