Friday, March 17, 2023

Happy St. Patrick's Day

How a Senator from swing state Nevada views immigration


For decades, Congress has discussed immigration reform.  But to no avail.  Congressional action undoubtedly will require compromise.  The views of Democrats from swing states will be important to the final outcome.  NPR's Steve Inskeep talks to Democratic Senator Catherine Cortez Masto from the state of Nevada about immigration reform and her role as the Senate's first Latina.





Gretchen Wallacker


March 17, 2023 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigration Article of the Day: A Lack of Uniformity, Compounded, in Immigration Law by Jill E. Family

Faculty Photo

A Lack of Uniformity, Compounded, in Immigration Law by Jill E. Family, Notre Dame Law Review, Vol. 98


The Administrative Procedure Act is known for bringing standardization to federal agency behavior. The APA’s framework for adjudication, however, is lax and incomplete. It provides standards, but only meaningfully for formal adjudication, and Congress rarely requires agencies to follow the APA’s formal adjudication procedures. The APA, therefore, expressly allows for nonuniform adjudication in that it requires little of the informal adjudication that makes up the lion’s share of agency adjudication.This lack of uniformity in adjudication is prominent in immigration law. When federal agencies adjudicate whether to remove (deport) an individual from the United States, those agencies act pursuant to the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and not the APA. The INA establishes removal adjudication before an immigration judge. The lack of uniformity is compounded in immigration law, however, because most removals are achieved not through the INA’s immigration judge proced ures but rather through various diversions from immigration court. These diversions provide fewer procedural protections and deviate from the supposed standard of a hearing before an immigration judge. In practice, there are no centralized, uniform procedures for removal adjudication. The INA theoretically provides a substitute North Star in place of the APA, but in practice the INA’s immigration court procedures only apply to a minority of cases.This phenomenon in immigration law raises questions about the strength of the APA and the value of uniformity in administrative law. If the APA’s aim was to improve adjudication, it has failed in immigration law. The removal adjudication system is extremely dysfunctional. Removal adjudication does not have the constitutional-like, uniform standards it desperately needs.


March 17, 2023 in Current Affairs, Law Review Articles & Essays | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 16, 2023

Reviews of Citizenship History Books



Anna Law reviews for Law and Politics Book Review two books that analyze the evolution of the law of U.S. citizenship:



Law's bottom line:

"On balance, whether one is a specialist in the field of U.S. citizenship and immigration policy and law, or a newcomer hoping to learn more, there is something valuable and new for you. Both books deliver a textured understanding of the unsteady development of American citizenship, and will be fantastic additions to one’s syllabi or works cited pages."



March 16, 2023 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

We Must Do Better At The Border

Guest Blogger: Alondra Saldivar, law student, University of San Francisco:

At the border, the days go by fast and painstakingly slow. Time seems endless. People waiting for asylum feel like the days drag on, but it is easy to lose track of time. The border inspires many emotions in people: in some it's anger, in others sympathy, confusion, understanding – the list goes on.

For the longest time, I fell amongst those that were confused and sympathetic. I was unsure of what exactly went on at the border and had only heard about the difficulties that folks faced when attempting to reach the United States. In December 2018, I visited the border in Nogales, AZ for the first time. I encountered mostly male adults that had been recently deported and dropped off in Nogales, Sonora. Most were folks that had been living in the United States for decades and had been taken from their families. The hope was to petition to return if they had pending cases, go back to their home country, or at the very least find a way to contact their families.

In July 2019, I returned to the border and was met with families with babies and toddlers, seeking asylum to the United States. The “Remain in Mexico” program had started at the beginning of the year, and the effects of the policy were apparent. This policy meant that asylum seekers would be forced to wait for their immigration hearings in Mexico, instead of the United States as was the norm. Homeland Security, Migration Protection Protocols, January 24, 2019, The folks seeking asylum would be given a “Notice to Appear” for a hearing date, and sent back to wait. Id. There was no other information shared; this policy was an unprecedented action with no previous history to fall back on.

In July of 2019, I saw families growing restless. Many were unable to get jobs in Mexico, and had neither a stable place to live nor consistent meals (except from the non profit organization that I was volunteering with, the Kino Border Initiative, that offered two meals a day). There was so much uncertainty about what their situation would lead to, as many would go to the port of entry and petition for asylum only to be turned away. The Kino Border Initiative then began sending families to the port of entry with folks that spoke English so that they could ensure the border officials were understanding what was going on. Eventually, there began a number system where families would receive a number and be told to wait until it was their turn for one of the steps of asylum the - credible fear interview. Once it was the families' turn, they were placed in a closet-sized “room” with a mattress on the floor and a folding table that had a griddle on it for them to use for food. The families could wait in that room anywhere between three nights to a week. After that interview, they were either returned for another waiting period, released into the United States for a hearing, or sent back to their countries of origin.

Since then, the policies that dictate what occurs at the border have only gotten more complicated and unclear. Title 42 showed up in March 2020, and “Remain in Mexico” went in and out of commission; there is overlap in how both policies make the legal opportunity to apply for asylum a problematic notion for folks that are in dire need of it. Tile 42, established as an emergency public health regulation to stop the spread of COVID-19, stated that refugees and those applying for asylum at the border could not be admitted to the United States. American Immigration Council, A Guide to Title 42 Expulsions at the Border, May 25, 2022, Title 42 gave border officials wide berth to expel folks, with almost no explanation. Id. These folks do not receive deportation orders, but their fingerprints are taken- how this information will be used in the future has yet to be seen. Id. Most recently, there is talk of a new policy that will effectively be an asylum ban. Reuters, Biden Administration Unveils Broad Asylum Restrictions at U.S-Mexico Border, February 22, 2023, If a migrant does not schedule an appointment at the point of entry, use a humanitarian visa, or seek and be denied application in countries they pass, they would be ineligible for asylum. Id. All of these policies pointedly ignore the folks that are actually living at the border, stuck there, with hardly any resources for making a living. The policies are making a mess of an already messy immigration system. There has been an ongoing conversation of comprehensive immigration reform, and crisis after crisis screams for it. The border crisis is just another symptom of a larger issue; there is no point in adding bandaids to an issue that needs to be fixed at its root. All these policies cause injury to people who are rightfully asking for asylum as stated in our laws. The more we deviate from laws in our books, the more court cases, injunctions, and reversals take place (as with “Remain in Mexico” and Title 42) the messier the issue gets.

It is time for policymakers, immigrant advocates, and the general public to once again start having difficult conversations of compromise, and work on setting about a comprehensive immigration reform - one that is centered on the humanity of all, informed by the reasons why people choose to migrate in the first place, and focused on creating a helpful and effective solution. Much of the language within the “Remain in Mexico” policy from DHS cited the idea that folks were faking asylum claims, purposefully not showing up to hearings, or not going through with applying for asylum. Homeland Security, Migration Protection Protocols, January 24, 2019, I believe the real issue is an overall lack of information; folks at the border, and the general public need to be educated.

The United States still clings tightly to its claim of being the “land of the free,” but if it wants this to remain the case then something needs to change. We must do better.


March 16, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (1)

From The Bookshelves: Does Skill Make Us Human?


Natasha N. Iskander, Professor of Urban Planning and Public Service at NYU's Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, is the author of Does Skill Make Us Human?: Migrant Workers in 21st-Century Qatar and Beyond (2021). Here's the overview:

Skill—specifically the distinction between the “skilled” and “unskilled”—is generally defined as a measure of ability and training, but Does Skill Make Us Human? shows instead that skill distinctions are used to limit freedom, narrow political rights, and even deny access to imagination and desire. Natasha Iskander takes readers into Qatar’s booming construction industry in the lead-up to the 2022 World Cup, and through her unprecedented look at the experiences of migrant workers, she reveals that skill functions as a marker of social difference powerful enough to structure all aspects of social and economic life.

Through unique access to construction sites in Doha, in-depth research, and interviews, Iskander explores how migrants are recruited, trained, and used. Despite their acquisition of advanced technical skills, workers are commonly described as unskilled and disparaged as “unproductive,” “poor quality,” or simply “bodies.” She demonstrates that skill categories adjudicate personhood, creating hierarchies that shape working conditions, labor recruitment, migration policy, the design of urban spaces, and the reach of global industries. Iskander also discusses how skill distinctions define industry responses to global warming, with employers recruiting migrants from climate-damaged places at lower wages and exposing these workers to Qatar’s extreme heat. She considers how the dehumanizing politics of skill might be undone through tactical solidarity and creative practices.

With implications for immigrant rights and migrant working conditions throughout the world, Does Skill Make Us Human? examines the factors that justify and amplify inequality.


March 16, 2023 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigration Article of the Day: The End of California’s Anti-Asian Alien Land Law: A Case Study in Reparations and Transitional Justice by Jack Chin and Anna Ratner

Gabriel Jack Chin

The End of California’s Anti-Asian Alien Land Law: A Case Study in Reparations and Transitional Justice by Jack Chin and Anna Ratner, 20 Asian American Law Journal 17 (2022)


For nearly a century, California law embodied a rabid anti-Asian policy, which included school segregation, discriminatory law enforcement, a prohibition on marriage with Whites, denial of voting rights, and imposition of many other hardships. The Alien Land Law was a California innovation, copied in over a dozen other states. The Alien Land Law, targeting Japanese but applying to Chinese, Koreans, South Asians, and others, denied the right to own land to noncitizens who were racially ineligible to naturalize, that is, who were not White or Black. After World War II, California’s policy abruptly reversed. Years before Brown v. Board of Education, California courts became leaders in ending Jim Crow. In 1951, the California legislature voluntarily voted to pay reparations to people whose land had been escheated under the Alien Land Law. This article describes the enactment and effect of the reparations laws. It also describes the surprisingly benevolent treatment by courts of lawsuit s undoing the secret trusts and other arrangements for land ownership intended to evade the Alien Land Law. But ultimately, the Alien Land Law precedent may be melancholy. California has not paid reparations to other groups who also have conclusive claims of mistreatment. Reparations in part were driven by geopolitical concerns arising from the Cold War and the hot war in Korea. In addition, anti-Asian immigration policy had succeeded in halting Japanese and other Asian immigration to the United States. Accordingly, one explanation for this remarkable act was that there was room for generosity to a handful of landowners with no concern that the overall racial arrangement might be compromised.


March 16, 2023 in Current Affairs, Law Review Articles & Essays | Permalink | Comments (0)

Stream a Lecture by Tom Saenz, President and CEO of MALDEF: Status Report on Latino Civil Rights after 20 Years as Nation’s Largest Minority Group

Thomas Saenz


March 16, 2023 in Conferences and Call for Papers, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Pájaro Valley: Neglect as a Policy Decision

Guest blogger: Sequoyah Hilton, Masters in Migration Studies Student, University of San Francisco:

My mother is the vice principal of Pájaro Valley Middle School in Monterey County, California. This school, located in the valley of the same name, is predominantly attended by students from farmworker families in the nearby strawberry fields. Over the weekend, an atmospheric river with heavy rainfall hit the valley, causing the levee to breach and flood the entire area. My mother called me on Saturday, saying her school was going to be closed for the next two weeks, but realistically they were planning for a closure lasting through the school year. Through the weekend, she and the other office staff were working frantically to quickly find another place for her students to fit in the school district. This is not the first time this year the school has been issued closures due to storm flooding, but the levee breaching has made the damage significantly worse. When I asked, she made it clear remote learning is not an option being considered by administrators. “The national guard has completely cordoned off the area”, she said, and many students evacuated from their homes are living in shelters. Having a place to go for the day would be important for keeping a semblance of stability while the national guard and other first responding agencies tried to deal with the damage. As I write this on Wednesday, March 15, it is the first day that the students are merging with Lakeview Middle School, and because of the damage, average twenty minute commutes  are turning into two-hour drives. . Many students have lost everything in the flooding, leading staff to try to at least source them school uniforms and backpacks. 

In this piece, I reflect on the current flooding affecting Pájaro Valley in rural California, and how this current situation and levee breaching is the result of a federal choice of neglect. This is not the first instance of how a great environmental risk was known by local and federal government agencies and not acted upon. Extensive research was conducted on the levee and its dire need of repairs in the past. However, the safety and infrastructural needs of this largely undocumented migrant working community was ignored, which is currently proving to come at great cost to their stability and livelihoods. 

This flooding has made national headlines. The New York times article on the disaster writes about it narratively– giving the event a novel air of dramatic unknowing on an unsuspecting community:

It began as a trickle, seeping through a 74-year old earthen levee in Northern California, dribs and drabs of the Pajaro River, swollen with rain yet again on Friday night. Then pools bubble up beyond the levee walls, spreading toward darkened fields of strawberries and lettuce. Four miles downstream, the farmworker community of Pajaro slept (Arango & Hubler 2023).

Despite attempts by local flood management to sandbag the levee, it breached anyway, and hundreds of residents are living in the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds in Watsonville (which is already at maximum capacity) (Arango & Hubler, 2023). Many climate specialists and state officials acknowledge the widespread outdatedness of flood management infrastructure. Jeffery Mount, a researcher for the Public Policy Institute of California, claimed the majority of this infrastructure is over a half a century old, and claims that as much attention needs to be given to flood preparation as drought preparedness (Arango & Hubler, 2023). The lack of infrastructural maintenance is infamous and passively known in any part of the United States, but with the massive environmental devastation facing all of California this winter, its consequences are revealing themselves violently. 

This inaction -- this selective blindness to glaring infrastructural needs on a statewide level -- is not merely an accidental forgetting, a simple absence of a choice, or even a case of mistaken priorities. This neglect of policy and funding is a violent decision, and due to the reality it has created for the community of Pajaro Valley should be treated as a policy choice. In this way, accountability can be more justly applied to the policymakers and agencies responsible for the outcomes we see today. As time passes from the initial levee breaching, more critical information is being released about governmental organizations and their knowledge about the Pajaro levees inadequacy. A local paper, Lookout Santa Cruz, published an article claiming that “officials had known for decades that the Pajaro River levee [built in 1949]…was vulnerable but never prioritized repairs…because they believed it did not make financial sense to protect the low-income areas” as found in interviews and official reports from the US Army Corps of Engineers as early as the 1960s (Rust, 2023). Essentially, the implicated groups, including federal Congress, the federal government Corps of Engineers and others concluded that repairs were not worth benefit-cost ratios in ‘lower-income areas’. The lack of upkeep and the inadequacy of the levee to handle the rainfall can thus be designated as intentional. This assessment of worthwhileness was a determining factor in the severity of the disaster we see today. So much of the displacement and loss was directly linked to a decision by government researchers not to act, not to fund, and to leave the community neglected in the face of known danger. 

Additionally, given the vulnerable status of many families as being undocumented, many are being denied the typical avenues of disaster aid and relief. Cal Matters writes about the unequal access to emergency aid, stressing that “undocumented workers…are, by law, ineligible for federally funded programs such as unemployment or aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency” (Hepler et al, 2023). With many of these marginalized residents losing their jobs and losing their homes, they deserve the help from the state whose economy runs on their labor. This is especially vital as March is the time of year they typically harvest strawberries, raspberries and other crops. Mutual aid funds by farmworker justice organizations, such as Campesina Womb Justice, seem to be the primary drivers of aid and assistance to these communities in the immediate aftermath (@Campesinawombjustice, Instagram ). Aware of the government’s demonstrable failures to the residents of Pajaro, many of these grassroot organizations are taking it upon themselves to fundraise and gather supplies needed in the area right now. At the state level, Los Angeles Assemblymember Miguel Santiago is cosponsoring a Senate Bill to provide unemployment benefits to undocumented Californians (Hepler et. al, 2023). In the future this will be absolutely necessary, but for now, there is a lack of official aid that is available to the majority of the affected population. 

Despite the nation’s utter dependence on the fruits of these families' labors, they are still disadvantaged in the face of disaster that could have been prevented, or at least significantly reduced if prior government action had been taken. Even though this information about the neglect and its impact is only gaining attention in the face of environmental and community devastation, I hope we all share a collective outrage over what has happened in the PajaroValley and the effect on its residents, and that they are provided the reparative government action they deserve.

Works Cited

Arango, Time & Hubler, Shawn. (2023, March 14). “California Levee Failures Mount as Storms Continue Relentless Drive” New York Times.

CampesinaWombJustice. (2023). @Campesinawombjustice, instagram.

Hepler, Lauren, Foy, Nicole & Fry, Wendy. (2023, March 15).As emergency aid flows to flooded-out Californians, will thousands be left out?, CalMatters,

Rust, Susanna. (2023, March 13). “Before disastrous flood, officials knew Pajaro River levee could fail but took no action”. Santa Cruz Lookout,


March 15, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

US Border Patrol: Where horses are treated better than Children

Guest blogger: Duun O'Hara, Masters in Migration Studies Student, University of San Francisco:

It was a sunny, chilly morning in Tucson, Arizona as we drove an hour south to Nogales. Road-trip music was playing, we put our sunglasses on, and felt a mixture of emotions as we got closer to the US-Mexico Border. Many things crossed our minds as we pulled up to one of the guards at the security checkpoint.

When we first pulled into Border Patrol in Nogales, I was not sure what to expect considering it was my first-time seeing Border Patrol officers, trucks, vans, and barbed wire fences. Seeing the militarism up close was something I can only describe as other-worldly.

We parked the car in the “Visitors Parking Lot,” and got out of the car, not sure what we were going to encounter. Officer Walen escorted us to their conference room, and told us to all take a seat. I immediately broke out into a full sweat, and felt immediate discomfort.

When I looked around the room, there were ladders pinned up against the wall as some sort of decoration, along with a van’s windshield that looked like it was cracked from some debris. Mounted on the wall, was also what looked like a rusted bear trap, with the American flag. As my eyes continued to scan the room, there was a presentation that the officers wanted to show us. This was when my stomach began to turn.

On the front slide, there was a scenic photo of an officer facing the mountainous Arizona/Mexico desert. Officer Walen began the presentation, and said, “Here is what my office looks like every day. I am so lucky to be able to work outside in the great outdoors rather than at a desk all day.” As if millions of people have not gone missing, died and risked their lives in that exact space where he called his “office.”

He then proceeded to explain the technology they use to catch migrants crossing the border. Helicopters, camera towers, search towers with officers, cameras that are heat sensitive that can pick up migrant movement in the desert. The list seemed to go on forever.

At that moment, all I could do was keep staring at the loaded gun and taser on each Border Patrol officer in the room. Was that necessary? To have a loaded gun on you in a conference room with a bunch of Master’s students? No one felt safe in their presence.

As the officer continued to speak, I thought “wow, things could not get any worse,” and then Officer Walen invited five more fully armed agents into the room with us. I began to shift in my seat, and realized I sweat through my whole shirt. But when I looked up, I couldn’t help but gasp a little as I looked closely at the officers to enter the room.

These Border Patrol officers were a part of the MMP, the Missing Migrant Program. All five of them were Latino. Their motto, on the front page of the presentation, was “Prevent - Locate - Identify - Reunite.” As I read this over and over again, this made me sicker to my stomach. All of these statements in the motto are contradictory to the things they actually practice.

The head officer began by explaining their program and their jobs. They spoke about themselves as if they were heroes. The officers explained to us that it is not their job to search not rescue migrants. They will only rescue if the migrant calls Border Patrol to turn themselves in.

The MMP works directly with Aguilas del Desierto, the NGO we conducted a search and rescue with early the next day. This relationship put us in a very delicate position as we all sat quietly and respectfully in that conference room that day.

At the end of the presentation, the officers decided to show a video of a dead person they found in the desert. I could not stomach watching the video, so I quickly turned my face away as they forced us to sit through the video of this person dying. The most grotesque part of this, was that I believe they showed this video as a warning to say to us, “this is what happens when you do not follow the law, and wait your turn.”

 It is at this point that I felt the fire through my toes ignite. I felt my face turn red and hot, and I could no longer even look at the officers in the face or I might say something out of anger.

The officers of the MMP made us go around and ask them questions. To them, migrants were only crossing for economic reasons. For some reason, they could not understand as to why these people would cross the desert, endure so much pain, for “just” economic reasons.

The head Latino Border Patrol agent shared his own ex-wife was deported right in front of him, and still looked us all in the face, and said, “90% of these asylum seekers fabricate their situations.” It was at this point that I felt my body fully shut down. I lost feeling in my feet, and the only thing I could focus on was not losing my self-control. This particular officer continued to repeat, “they are all crossing the border illegally, and just claiming asylum even though it is only for economic reasons.”

When it was my turn to ask a question, all I could muster up was to say, “I am all set, I have no questions.” I knew at this moment, we should have never met with Border Patrol. There was never going to be an understanding of our side. Because I realized, there are no sides to take in this. There is only one side, and it is humanity. It is human rights.

Border Patrol produces this propaganda to convince themselves that they are “protecting America.” In this mission, they are committing mass human rights violations and committing war crimes at the border. It is one thing to study and research Border Patrol, but it is a whole other beast to confront it.

To commit to the job, there is this narrative that they are heroes, protecting the country from drugs, drug mules and trafficking. This was the sort of brainwashing they continued to repeat to us in their slideshow, and their tour of the facility.

— “Protect and Serve” —

To end the tour, we ended by the horses in pens outside, overlooking the man-made border between US-Mexico. They explained that these stallions are used to traverse areas of the desert in which they cannot via vans, four wheelers, or on foot. The officers explained that these stallions eat up to 5 times a day, and are well taken care of so they can be in great shape.

The image of these horses alongside the image in my head of the babies and children in el hielera, who were detained just 12 hours before our visit still haunt me to this day. The contrast in my head, of domesticated animals being treated better than human beings, then children, replays in my head as I search for an explanation as to what higher being could ever allow this to be reality. Like a scene from a dystopian novel, this clip replays vividly throughout my mind. The combination of the horses, the officers, the conference rooms with Chipotle was all quite ironic, considering the officers want to eat Mexican food, but their job is to commit war crimes against Mexican and Central Americans trying to seek asylum. 


March 15, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Crisis Prompts Record Emigration from Nicaragua

Location of Nicaragua


Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Rapid emigration from Nicaragua has become a challenge for countries across the Americas. Hundreds of thousands of Nicaraguans have fled, primarily heading to Costa Rica or the U.S. border.  The exodus has been driven by the increasing authoritarianism of President Daniel Ortega. Get a broader perspective with this Migration Policy Institute article,


March 15, 2023 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1)

Frequently Requested Statistics on Immigrants and Immigration in the United States

I sometimes am frustrated that so many Americans have little understanding of the basic facts of immigration and immigrants.   I will suggest to them the Migration Policy Institute report "Frequ1ently Requested Statistics on Immigrants and Immigration in the United States."  Filled with facts on the topics, the report tells us things like

How many immigrants reside in the United States?

How have the number and share of immigrants changed over time?

Where are most immigrants from originally?


March 15, 2023 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigration Article of the Day: Essentializing Cultures in U.S. Asylum Law by Jaclyn Kelley-Wilmer & Estelle McKee

headshot of Estelle Mckee

Essentializing Cultures in U.S. Asylum Law by Jaclyn Kelley-Wilmer & Estelle McKee, Brooklyn Law Review, Forthcoming


Asylum applicants must tell a story about their home country or culture that reduces and problematizes the culture. The requirements of asylum law demand that an applicant show why they will suffer persecution in their home country and that their government will not protect them from it. This legal framework prompts applicants to present a narrative in which their home culture plays the role of the ultimate antagonist, the force that propels the applicant’s persecutors to single them out for harm and renders their government passive –or even complicit—in the face of it.

Such a narrative necessarily reduces the applicant’s culture to its most negative and threatening features, eliminating complexity and flattening contours of positivity and joy. This essentialization of culture reinforces racism, stereotypes, and the narrative of Western moral superiority. And it harms all participants in the asylum system: applicants, advocates, and adjudicators. And once such a narra tive succeeds in persuading an adjudicator to grant asylum, its constricted depiction of the applicant’s culture becomes the predominant story of that culture. Case law validates and amplifies the essentialized story. New asylum applications replicate it.

The cultural concept of “machismo” exemplifies this cultural essentialization. In this piece, we trace the development of this concept as it ascends through agency and federal-court case law to become the predominant narrative for Central American asylum claims based on the persecution of women applicants. We closely examine these harms through a lens of racial and social justice to unpack the colonial context of essentialization and challenge its utility. Lastly, we turn to detailed solutions that can potentially mitigate this phenomenon.


March 15, 2023 in Current Affairs, Law Review Articles & Essays | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Immigration Article of the Day: Punitive Legal Immigration by Pedro Gerson

Pedro Gerson

Punitive Legal Immigration by Pedro Gerson, Kentucky Law Journal, Forthcoming


The American immigration system is plagued with rules and regulations that deeply interfere with migrants’ lives and freedoms. Depending on their status, people that migrate lawfully may face restrictions or prohibitions on employment, travel, and even family separation. Moreover, certain kinds of legal immigrants may never acquire the entire bundle of rights of citizens even if they eventually attain citizenship. These are what I call the collateral consequences of legal immigration.

Much like in the criminal contexts, these collateral consequences have tremendous effects on the lives of those bearing them as well as their communities and the economy at large. Academic literature on immigration has largely ignored these costs. However, the collateral consequences of immigration affect such fundamental interests that it is time for a reassessment.

This paper is the first one to describe the collateral consequences of legal immigration and what gives rise to them. It then explores whether they should be conceived as administrative burdens, Pigouvian taxes, or punishment. This paper concludes that collateral consequences are best understood as punishment because neither the tax nor the burden framework accurately capture what these costs do nor how they are experienced. This theoretical discussion serves to establish the normative need to eliminate the collateral consequences of legal immigration. The paper concludes with some regulatory and legislative fixes to achieve this goal.


March 14, 2023 in Current Affairs, Law Review Articles & Essays | Permalink | Comments (0)

Submit proposals for WIPs and Incubators at the Emerging Immigration Scholars Conference

The steering committee for the 2023 Emerging Immigration Scholars Conference is now accepting proposals for works-in-progress or incubator ideas.    
 The 2023 Conference will take place June 15 and 16, 2023, at the George Washington University Law School in Washington, D.C. If you wish to be considered for a works-in-progress or incubator session, please submit your proposal to Historically, "emerging" has been interpreted to include scholars with 10 years or less of experience in academia; however, we aim to be more inclusive this year, as this is the first gathering since before the pandemic.
The organizers are also seeking discussants who will read and comment on the works-in-progress or incubator ideas. 
If you want to propose a work-in-progress:
• Please put “ImmProf WIP [Lastname]” as the subject line• Please submit an abstract of no more than one page, with a title.
If you want to propose an incubator:• Please put “Incubator [Lastname]” as the subject line• Please submit a description of no more than one paragraph, with a title.
If you would be willing to be a discussant:• Please email us by April 10 with a list of your areas of expertise.
  Possibility of virtual attendance for limited sessions:• We aim to hold this year’s conference entirely in person. However, we might offer virtual options for certain sessions if there are many people who can only attend virtually. If you believe you would only be able to attend or present virtually, please add “VIRTUAL” to your email subject line (i.e., “ImmProf WIP [Lastname] – VIRTUAL.”)
The deadline for submissions is Monday, April 10. We anticipate notifying accepted WIP or incubator proposals by April 24. Final papers will be due on June 1, 2023. Further information about the conference schedule and registration is forthcoming.
 Please feel free to email or contact any member of the conference steering committee directly with questions or concerns.
Cori Alonso-Yoder, George Washington University Law SchoolKate Evans, Duke University School of LawPedro Gerson, California Western School of LawAnnie Lai, University of California, Irvine School of LawTania Valdez, George Washington University Law SchoolPaulina Vera, George Washington University Law School

March 14, 2023 in Conferences and Call for Papers | Permalink | Comments (0)

New Research from TRAC: Immigration Judges Overturn Negative Credible Fear Findings in 25% of Cases

A new research report finds that, on average, slightly over 25 percent of IJ decisions over the last 25 years have found that migrants had established having a credible fear of persecution or torture after an asylum officer initially denied the claim. 

The report examines over 100,000 credible fear cases have been heard by Immigration Judges. These cases determine whether the migrant has a credible fear of persecution or torture if returned to their home country. Given their critical nature, these cases receive priority on the Court’s docket and go to the head of the line. There they are speedily decided. On average, these decisions are made within ten days. Last month in February 2023, cases took an average of just five days.

The number of credible fear cases has generally been rising. It wasn’t until FY 2010 that cases climbed above 1,000 per year. In FY 2014, cases jumped to over 6,000 and they rose above 12,000 during FY 2019. This rise in large part reflects the increasing number of persons seeking asylum in this country, particularly along the US-Mexico border.

Nationality is a significant determinant in asylum decisions, so it is not surprising that IJs’ credible fear decisions also vary by country.

For example, Court records during the Biden years show Armenians, although relatively small in number (47) had the highest rate of establishing credible fear in their hearings before an Immigration Judge. Their rate was 70 percent. This was followed by individuals from Cameroon (68%), and Syria (65%). Nationalities with the least success in establishing credible fear during FY 2021 – February 2023 were migrants from Brazil (16%), Costa Rica (16%), and the Dominican Republic (19%).

See the whole report here:


March 14, 2023 in Data and Research | Permalink | Comments (0)

Why the US northern border is experiencing record migration

There is not much discussion in the news of migration at the U.S. northern border with Canada.  The focus of attention generally has been the U.S./Mexico border.  That is the case even though, as CNN reports, cross border traffic on the northern frontier is on the rise.  The report makes the Canadian asylum process idyllic compared to that of the United States. For example:

"`I also believe I’ll have a better quality of life in Canada, and I have some family there,' said Giovanna before walking up to the invisible line in the ice that’s guarded by Canadian authorities at a makeshift post. CNN is not using her last name because of threats she says were made against her in Colombia.

`Hello madam. How are you?' asked a Spanish-speaking Canadian officer on the other side. `You cannot enter Canada here,' he informed Giovanna. `If you do, we will arrest you. Understand? You decide.'

Giovanna responded by taking five steps into Canada where officers then informed her of her rights and processed her for unlawful entry, a process which usually ends with the defendant being released into Canada to petition for asylum."

The report further mentions that there appears to be Mexican and other migrants from the South traveling to Canada to enter the United States from the North.  

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons


March 14, 2023 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 13, 2023

From the Bookshelves: The Problem of Immigration in a Slaveholding Republic: Policing Mobility in the Nineteenth-Century United States by Kevin Kenny

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The Problem of Immigration in a Slaveholding Republic: Policing Mobility in the Nineteenth-Century United States by Kevin Kenny (Oxford University Press, April 2023)

Here is the publisher's abstract of what appears to be a very interesting book:

"A powerful analysis of how regulation of the movement of enslaved and free black people produced a national immigration policy in the period between the American Revolution and the end of Reconstruction.

Today the United States considers immigration a federal matter. Yet, despite America's reputation as a "nation of immigrants," the Constitution is silent on the admission, exclusion, and expulsion of foreigners. Before the Civil War, the federal government played virtually no role in regulating immigration, and states set their own terms for regulating the movement of immigrants, free blacks, and enslaved people. Insisting that it was their right and their obligation to protect the public health and safety, states passed their own laws prohibiting the arrival of foreign convicts, requiring shipmasters to post bonds or pay taxes for passengers who might become public charges, ordering the deportation of immigrant paupers, quarantining passengers who carried contagious diseases, excluding or expelling free blacks, and imprisoning black sailors. To the extent that these laws affected foreigners, they comprised the immigration policy of the United States.

Offering an original interpretation of nineteenth-century America, The Problem of Immigration in a Slaveholding Republic argues that the existence, abolition, and legacies of slavery were central to the emergence of a national immigration policy. In the century after the American Revolution, states controlled mobility within and across their borders and set their own rules for community membership. Throughout the antebellum era, defenders of slavery feared that, if Congress gained control over immigration, it could also regulate the movement of free black people and the interstate slave trade. The Civil War and the abolition of slavery removed the political and constitutional obstacles to a national immigration policy, which was first directed at Chinese immigrants. Admission remained the norm for Europeans, but Chinese laborers were excluded through techniques of registration, punishment, and deportation first used against free black people in the antebellum South. To justify these
measures, the Supreme Court ruled that immigration authority was inherent in national sovereignty and required no constitutional justification. The federal government continues to control admissions and exclusions today, while some states monitor and punish immigrants, and others offer sanctuary and refuse to act as agents of federal law enforcement.

By revealing the tangled origins of border control, incarceration, and deportation, distinguished historian Kevin Kenny sheds light on the history of race and belonging in America, as well as the ongoing tensions between state and federal authority over immigration."


March 13, 2023 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Storms Flood Many Farmworkers Homes Near Monterey, California



March 13, 2023 | Permalink | Comments (0)

125th Anniversary of birthright citizenship in SF birthplace of Wong Kim Ark

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Join SF community organizations and civic leaders on Saturday March 25 to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the Wong Kim Ark v. US, 169 U.S. 649 (1898) decision guaranteeing citizenship to those born in US without regard to race. There will be two-parts to the event: a 10:30 am PST gathering of local leaders and a 12pm panel discussion and reception featuring legal historians Charles McClain, Gabriel Jack Chin, Amanda Frost and 1990 Institute Director Susana Lin-Hedberg, who is seeking to have the Wong Kim Ark SF Chinatown birthplace added to the national historic registry. Ming Hsu Chen (yours truly) will be moderating. Both events will take place at the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association (827 Stockton St, Victory Memorial Hall), which providing legal backing for the original lawsuit in the 1800s. Register here (IN-PERSON).

Earlier in the week, Professor Sam Erman will present new research on the White supremacist origins of jus solis in international law as part of the Center for Race, Immigration, Citizenship, and Equality (RICE) Colloquium at UC Law SF (333 Golden Gate Ave.). Register here (HYBRID).

The events are co-sponsored by RICE, CCBA, Chinese Historical Society of America, the 1990 Institute, Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation, Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area, and the Northern California Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

More information on the events and participants here.


March 13, 2023 in Conferences and Call for Papers, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)