Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Thoughts on the President and Immigration Law by Cristina Rodríguez and Adam Cox

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This article is part of a Just Security series in conversation with the new book, The President and Immigration Law, by Cristina Rodríguez and Adam Cox. The series brings together voices on immigration policy and reform to comment on the book and to chart a path toward an improved immigration system. Articles in the series can be found here. 

Lucas Guttentag authored this article, which concludes:

"Having demonstrated the power of the presidency, the book’s epilogue invites readers to think more creatively about how presidential power should progress beyond setting negative enforcement policies and instead – or in addition – exercise discretion positively to grant legal protection and benefits to noncitizens. That is a largely unexamined area that urgently needs deeper exploration — and that I hope these insightful authors will pursue next."


October 20, 2020 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 19, 2020

OECD: COVID-19 crisis puts migration and progress on integration at risk


OECD stands for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. It's an intergovernmental organization dedicated to economic progress and world trade.

Today, the OECD released its International Migration Outlook 2020. The tome is 369 pages long. Yikes.

Let's talk about a big takeaway: COVID-19 has had "a major impact on migration flows," with 2020 projected to be a "historical low for international migration in the OCED area." (Executive Summary, p. 11).

Check out these infographics!



October 19, 2020 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Supreme Court Takes Up Border Wall Funding, Migration Protection Protocols Cases


The Supreme Court is filling up its immigration docket for the 2020 Term.   Last week, the Court decided to take up the Trump administration's decision to leave undocumented immigrants out of the Census 2020 count for purposes of congressional districting.

October 19, 2020 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigrant of the Day: Julio Urias, pitcher, Los Angeles Dodgers

Celebrating the History of ICE 2003-2020



I ran across this "Celebrating the History of ICE 2003-2020" on the Department of Homeland Security website.  It makes for interesting reading.  In listing the highlights of 2012, there is no express mention of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy.


October 19, 2020 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Commentary: Racism in immigration asylum decisions


Gabriela Q. Kahrl (and here) in the Baltimore Sun writes that "racism . . . extends to Black people seeking to immigrate to the United States."  She explains that

"Legal immigration for people deemed Black and brown is exponentially harder than for people who are white. The U.S. immigration system detains and denies immigration applications of Black people at higher rates, according to an analysis by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. It bans them entirely through the Trump-ordered and Supreme Court-sanctioned Muslim ban that targets African countries, including Sudan, Nigeria, Tanzania, Eritrea, Somalia and Chad (still in effect).

Black immigrants are more likely to be deported because they are more likely to have encounters with law enforcement and end up charged and prosecuted for crimes which lead to deportation. Racism is endemic to the immigration system, just as it is to the criminal justice system."


October 19, 2020 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Special Report: USCIS Could Prevent Hundreds of Thousands of Would-Be Citizens from Voting in November’s Elections



The Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) and Boundless Immigration have released a special report entitled “Denying the Right to Vote: Politicization of the Naturalization Process as a Novel Form of Voter Suppression,” which details how U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (USCIS) willful mismanagement of the naturalization process in 2020 has already prevented tens of thousands of would be voters from participating in November’s upcoming elections. The report releases new data demonstrating that would-be citizens are highly motivated to vote -- particularly in several closely watched states for the upcoming Presidential election. It also details specific policies that USCIS can implement immediately to ensure that tens of thousands of naturalization applicants are able to become citizens in time to vote. 

This report provides a summary analysis of the ways that federal officials have consciously sought to politicize the naturalization process during the 2020 election year in what appears to be a novel form of voter suppression. The report also examines the potential impact of this novel form of voter suppression in closely watched states in the upcoming presidential election, and details immediate steps that federal officials can take to mitigate these harms, allowing tens of thousands of additional U.S. residents to become citizens in time to obtain the right to vote.


October 19, 2020 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, October 18, 2020

America's Forgotten: An "Illegal Immigration" Film Generating Controversy



America's Forgotten is a controversial film released on the eve of the 2020 election that looks at "illegal immigration."  Expect President Trump and Vice President Pence to mention the film in the closing weeks of the campaign.

Paul Bond for Newsweek describes the film as "a documentary that explores death, torture and hardship surrounding illegal immigration in the U.S., a topic so sensitive that the film contains the following disclaimer: `Due to the possible political backlash all credits have been voluntarily withheld by the crew of this film.'"

Namrata Singh Gujral made America's Forgotten.  As described by Newsweek, she "is an actor-director who mostly makes narrative, campy Bollywood films that perform well in India, and also made 1 a Minute, a documentary about surviving cancer that stars Olivia Newton-John, Jaclyn Smith, Melissa Etheridge, Kelly McGillis and other famous survivors."

Fox News, not surprisingly, positively features the film.


October 18, 2020 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Trump's and Biden's Plans on Immigration

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Elena Moore for NPR outlines the immigration positions of President Trump and Joe Biden.  No big surprise.  Nor is there a plan on the table for big changes in immigration law and enforcement.

Key priorities

Joe Biden

  • Do away with restrictions to immigration put in place during the Trump administration and stop construction of Trump's border wall.
  • Provide a "road map to citizenship" for people living in the United States illegally.
  • Expand resources to immigrants already residing in the United States.
  • Read more about Biden's plans below.

Donald Trump

For details, click here.



October 18, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Ramped-up ICE arrests amid Covid outbreaks show 'irresponsible disregard,' Hispanic Caucus says



In a letter to Homeland Security Acting Secretary Chad Wolf, 22 members of the caucus raised concerns over the arrests by Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) of more than 200 immigrants in California, North Carolina, and Illinois over the last few weeks.

They also criticized the apprehension of more than 170 immigrants this month in Philadelphia, Denver, Seattle, New York, Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, which are all sanctuary cities that limit cooperation with federal immigration enforcement agencies.


October 18, 2020 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Endless Waits At An Immigrant Camp On The Mexico Border Are Pushing Desperate People To Make Tough Choices


Migrants affected by the Trump administration's inhumane "remain in Mexico" policy Photo: Karen Romero Siu / AFSC

Adolfo Flores for BuzzFeed writes about the growing desperation of Central American asylum seekers waiting in Mexico for hearings under the U.S. Migrant Protection Protocols.  Hew writes:

"`People are getting more and more desperate,' Fernando told BuzzFeed News. `What the US has done has only blocked legal immigration. The people who wanted to go through the process and attend court hearings, a good portion of them have crossed illegally.'

That desperation has forced some to pay smugglers to get them into the US, a route immigrant families generally avoided because they couldn’t afford it and of how dangerously remote the routes are in order to avoid being caught by Border Patrol agents. Others have been sending their kids across alone, not a new practice but complicated by a new coronavirus policy that puts them at risk of being quickly expelled from the US. Some immigrants have been paying criminal organizations that control the flow of people and drugs across the border just for permission to cross the Rio Grande on their own. Many will be caught and immediately sent back."

The MPP policy has been criticized.  Earlier this year, the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) released a report detailing its impacts. The report, called Dismantling Asylum: A year into the Migrant Protection Protocols, details the many barriers that this policy creates for migrants attempting to exercise their right to seek asylum in the United States. 


October 18, 2020 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, October 17, 2020

A Story of Two Lawyers

Guest blogger: law student, University of San Francisco:

This is a story of immigration -- though not to America, but to Iran. This is a story of a twenty-four-year old boy from Afghanistan. For this article, I will call him Sam.

I met Sam in 2018 when I went to visit my family in Iran. Aside from his height, his wrinkled face and tired eyes suggested that he was at least a worn thirty-five year old man with a family. Sam worked for my aunt as a butler. Always in good spirits, Sam joked with the family just like one of us. On one of my last nights in Iran, I sat with my cousin and Sam as Sam told us about his life.

He was the youngest of seven children. His father worked in Tehran, Iran as a butler to a wealthy family along with a few of his older brothers while he, his sisters, and mother lived in the outskirts of Kabul, Afghanistan. While he told us his stories and memories, Sam sighed, leaned against the wall, slid his back down to the ground, and crossed his arms. When Sam was seven years old, he remembered hiding in caves in the mountains outside his town while bombs exploded nearby. There was little to eat in the cave, and it was hard to see at times. Sam and his family spent days hiding in the mountains.

Even still, Sam persisted in his education. Originally hoping to become a doctor, Sam’s university entrance exam landed him admission to the University of Kabul to study law. Sam studied very hard in university. When Sam graduated from the University of Kabul with a law degree, there was a problem: what could he do with a law degree in Afghanistan? Three weeks after his graduation in Kabul, Sam's choices were few and the most logical was to move to Tehran like his father and become a butler. “If I go back to Afghanistan now, what can I do? The Taliban will not let me be a lawyer. They will come after me. I’ll be screwed.”  When I revisited Iran in 2019, I told Sam about my plans to study law at the University of San Francisco School of Law. At the breakfast table while looking me directly in the eye and raising a finger to the sky, Sam said to me, his optimistic voice shielding a hint of melancholy, “Remember to study very hard in law school, Yalda. Because it is ghānün.” The word Sam used in Farsi, “ghānün,” means “law,” which is also the same word as “pillar” or “canon” in English.

His voice still rings in my head as clearly as the day I first heard it: “Study hard . . . because it is the ghānün.” As a law student, it is easy to forget that the law, as Sam indicated, is a tool used to propel society forward. The law is an instrument that touches everyone, everywhere. The law is the pillar aimed to hold society upright; the law is the tool that dares to challenge accepted norms; the law is the rule used to set standards of justice.

The foundations of American society are built on law’s sturdy and steady beams, yet the existence and applications of laws in different countries can be severely scrutinized at best. As a U.S. citizen, growing up in American society can feel so comfortable because the law is a guaranteed safety-net: I can sue a store manager for negligence when I slip on the floor, I can sue for damages for employment discrimination, I have the freedom of speech, and I have the right to counsel in criminal proceedings. Learning Sam’s story and sharing it convinces me that even access to the law is restricted for some people. The rights and privileges I am endowed by virtue of being born within certain politically defined boundaries seldom weighed on me prior to hearing Sam’s story. Sam’s words were another reminder to respect my parent’s sacrifice, struggle, and immigration to America: for a better life. As the daughter of immigrants, I consider it a luxury to go to school unbothered by the disruptions Sam was subject to growing up. It is a privilege to study law. It is a privilege to be a woman and continue seeking a higher education for myself. To hold myself out as relating to my parents’ struggle or Sam’s struggle would undermine their experiences -- so I deliberately choose to honor their pasts by studying hard.


October 17, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Second Presidential Debate Topics Announced, but Health Care and Immigration Aren't Among Them

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Katherine Fung for Newsweek reports that, for next week's final presidential debate, moderator Kristen Welker has released the topics she has chosen for President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

The topics:

1.  fighting COVID-19

2.  American families

3.  race in America

4.  climate change

5.  national security

6.  leadership

Left off the list are two key issues of concern to voters: health care and immigration.


October 17, 2020 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Mexican Immigrants in the United States

In this Spotlight ("Mexican Immigrants in the United States"), Jie Zong and Jeanne Batalova for the Migration Policy Institute report some important findings:

"After four decades of strong growth, the Mexican immigrant population in the United States hit a turning point in 2010. While the overall number of immigrants in the country increased every year between 2010 and 2017, the number of Mexicans first flattened out and then started a slow decline in 2014. Between 2016 and 2017, the Mexican immigrant population shrunk by about 300,000, from 11.6 million to 11.3 million. Nonetheless, Mexicans are still the largest foreign-born group in the country, accounting for 25 percent of the 44.5 million immigrants as of 2017." (bold added).  


Figure 1. Mexican Immigrant Population in the United States, 1980–2017 SPT-MexicanImmigrants2018-F1-700x300


Figure 2. Top States of Residence for Mexicans in the United States, 2012–16

Click the link above for tons of information.


October 17, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

James H. Binger Center Annual Immigration Law Forum


Critical Conversations: Racial Justice and the Immigrant Rights Movement by University of Minnesota Law School's James H. Binger Center for New America

Date And Time:  Thursday, November 12, 2020, 7:00 AM – 3:00 PM PST, Add to Calendar

Location:  Online Event

The Binger Center’s Annual Immigration Law Forum brings together lawyers, students, advocates and community members to learn from each other and develop tools to continue the struggle to protect human rights, basic dignity and the rule of law.

This year’s forum will engage lawyers and advocates in critical conversations about race. Sessions will address historical lineages and systemic racism in the immigration system with a focus on anti-Blackness, the identity questions that surround how the immigrant rights movement is defined and intersects with other movements, and how community partners across sectors can come together to support noncitizens and advance racial justice. This online virtual conference will be interactive and action-focused, with sessions throughout the day followed by breakout discussions.

The goal of the forum is to empower participants to re-ground their work to invoke long term systemic change and build networks with advocates across the country.

Sessions include:

An Ongoing Crisis: Tracing the Confluence of Systemic Racism in US Law and Policy

-A. Naomi Paik, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

-Nekima Levy Armstrong, Wayfinder Foundation

Whose Story Gets Told: Exploring the Power of Identity in Intersecting Movements

-Alfreda Daniels, Black Immigrant Collective

-Kevin Reese, Voices for Racial Justice

-Emilia Gonzalez Avalos, Navigate MN

Community Action for Racial Justice and Movement Lawyering

-Paromita Shah, Just Futures Law

-Hiroshi Motomura, UCLA

-Tiffany Wilson-Worsley, Northside Achievement Zone

Conversations on How to Move Forward Post 2020 Election

Nana Gyamfi, Black Alliance for Just Immigration

Michele Garnett McKenzie, The Advocates for Human Rights

Jaylani Hussein, CAIR


October 17, 2020 in Conferences and Call for Papers, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigration Article of the Day: Distancing Refugees by Geoffrey Heeren


Distancing Refugees by Geoffrey Heeren, Denver Law Review, Vol. 97, No. 4, 2020


Today, two systems exist for addressing the humanitarian claims of persons fleeing persecution. One system consists of refugees living in host countries, often in large camps, who ideally are then resettled in other countries or repatriated when it is safe to do so. The other system involves refugees arriving in a country and seeking asylum—a right with ancient religious roots. The first “encampment model” is fundamentally broken, as most refugees are housed in the developing or least developed world in terrible conditions for extended periods of time, with little or no realistic hope of resettlement elsewhere or repatriation. The developed world, which takes in only a tiny percentage of refugees worldwide, has tacitly acquiesced to this humanitarian catastrophe occurring outside its borders. Yet it has been forced in recent years to confront the worldwide refugee crisis as the number of persons traveling to wealthy countries to seek asylum has increased. Rather than respond with policies that address the roots of refugee flows, many developed nations have pursued a variety of strategies to interdict and otherwise distance asylum seekers.

Refugee distancing is a way to import the encampment model into the asylum systems of the developed world. This blurring of the lines between encampment and asylum is strikingly clear, for example, in the tent cities that have cropped up along the U.S.–Mexico border under the Trump Administration’s “Migrant Protection Protocol” (MPP), which requires asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their claims are adjudicated. The overreaching impact of such policies is to dismantle the normative force of asylum by creating physical, psychological, and legal distance between the public and the asylum seekers who make a moral claim on them.

This Article assesses refugee distancing policies—offering a history and analysis of their causes, as well as a commentary on their future. It contends that current policies may have unintended consequences, as did the U.S. government’s efforts to thwart asylum for Haitian and Central American claimants in the 1980s–1990s. These efforts led to legal precedent allowing for the extraterritorial reach of the Constitution and to a political movement that created new immigration benefits for many asylum applicants. The Article sketches out the legal challenges to one prominent refugee distancing policy, the MPP, and describes how a transnational legal process might contest refugee distancing over the long term.


October 17, 2020 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 16, 2020

Breaking News: SCOTUS To Consider Whether Undocumented Can Be Left Out Of Census Count

Today, SCOTUS set oral argument for a case that will decide if the Trump administration can leave undocumented individuals out of the official census count. Since the official census count will determine how congressional seats are apportioned, this is a high stakes issue. 

The Court will hear argument on Nov. 30.


October 16, 2020 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (2)

Immigration Article of the Day: Legally White, Socially Brown: Racialization of Middle Eastern Americans by Sahar Aziz


Legally White, Socially Brown: Racialization of Middle Eastern Americans by Sahar Aziz in Routledge Handbook on Islam and Race (ed. Zain Abdullah), Forthcoming


What are you – Black, White, Mexican? This is a frequent question posed to people of Middle Eastern and North African ancestry. For new immigrants, the question is confounding because these categories are not in their lexicon on identity. Instead, a person’s family name, tribe, neighborhood in a city, village, or clan situate them in their home country’s social hierarchies.

In America, however, they soon discover that race is the master category for identity formation. It does not take long for new immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa to learn that being White presents privilege, opportunity, and dignity, whereas being Black leads to a litany of subjugation, indignities, and inequities in the United States. Whatever confusion they may have about how to respond to the race question, their first application for work or school dictates the answer: “White” includes persons having origins in Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa. But their legal race does not always mirror their social, lived race.


October 16, 2020 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Holiday Gift Idea


Christmas is just 10 weeks away. Can you believe that? And I'll have to credit my teenage son for identifying this amazing gift for your favorite crimmprof.

So many of our awful crimmigration laws come the war on drugs -- César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández has written about this, among many other crimmprofs.

I like the idea of sporting a shirt that basically asks "what the hell was it all for?"


P.S. Feel free to shoot me an e-mail with your own gift ideas. I'd love to post more.

October 15, 2020 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigration Policy as the Power of Oppression

Guest blogger: Chauncey McNeill, law student, University of San Francisco

Much of American history has centered around newcomers to what we now call the United States of America. From the nascent stages of the country, most Americans saw immigrates as invaders. This is where fearmongering in American immigration policy began. Benjamin Franklin feared allowing German immigrants into America would turn Pennsylvania into a German colony. He said, “those who come hither are generally the most stupid of their own nation… [we] cannot address them either from the press or pulpit.” Franklin feared Germans could not assimilate into American society. This is much of the rhetoric we hear today around immigration. Some people fear Spanish will become our de facto national language the way Franklin feared German would become our de facto language. Our current immigration language is a product of xenophobia and racism. Fear around immigration as revolves around the perpetrator fearing they will receive the same treatment they gave out. Being a minority in America is dangerous for a person’s health.

Immigration started in America when Native Americans first came into contact with Europeans. These first interactions must have been extraordinary for Native Americans. The Europeans brought many tools for extracting wealth from the land but not cultivating food. This is evidenced by “The Starving Time” at Jamestown and Plymouth. As the Native Americans helped the ill-prepared Europeans, they were not aware they were planting the seeds of their own destruction. Europeans brought disease and genocide to the Native American population.  European immigration to America ended with a maimed and beaten Native population.

For much of early American history most of the colonist were British subjects. These people and their ancestors would later be called White Anglo-Saxon Protestants (WASPs). Nobody was truly American in the modern sense until the American Revolution. Almost immediately after the American Revolution there were efforts to stop non-western European immigration.

The fear of being replaced was on the mind of many lawmakers. Immigration was almost exclusively European, with a large percent of that being British or French. African and Asian immigration was nonexistence. Asian immigration did not substantially increase until gold was discovered in California. This was followed by the Chinese Exclusion Act. This blatantly racist policy resulted in Chinese immigration going to almost zero until it was repealed. Even today China along with Mexico, India and the Philippines face major visa backlogs. This is the modern-day version of race based immigration policies. These policies on their face are not racist but the effects are.

Just as attempts to slow, if not stop non-western European immigration failed, the attempts to slow Latinx and Black immigration will fail. Many WASPs saw JFK being elected President as the end of their era. Many contemporary people may have looked at President Obama’s election as the end of an era. President Obama is the child of an African visa student, a person our immigration system is/was trying to keep out. For some, President Obama is their fear come true--he represents Pennsylvania becoming a German colony. For others, President Obama represents hope and the perseverance of human nature.     

            The ultimate shock to the discriminatory conscience of immigration would be a Latinx President. Since the westward expansion of America, the country has been interacting with Mexico. Much of the interaction between our country and Mexicans comes in the form of labor. Latinx labor is the backbone of the American economy. Many people cross the border looking for work and a home. Many have been met with xenophobic sentiment coupled with eugenic practices in detention centers. This horrible treatment is a strategy to discourage Latinx immigration. This is treatment nobody should receive. Lawmakers and DHS official recognize this but dare not change it. They understood people are rightly upset and that there is a price to pay for transgressions. There is a real fear that the current majority will become the minority some day. The majority has wielded its power in some very discriminatory ways. For some people, they have become accustomed to wielding power of oppression. They worry that if others take over, they will use that power to oppress the prior majority.


October 15, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)