Wednesday, May 15, 2024

National Immigration Forum -- The Biden Administration’s Proposed Rule on Asylum Bars & Other Measures: Explainer

The Biden Administration’s Proposed Rule on Asylum Bars & Other Measures: Explainer considers the operation and proposed impacts of the Biden administration's proposed asylum rules.  Among other things, the Explainer explains that 

"Some advocates raised concerns that the proposed rule and revised USCIS guidance could box out eligible asylum seekers from protection without access to proper due process. In regard to the public safety and national security bars, legal service providers have pointed out potential consequences that may impact domestic violence survivors, people forced into committing crimes (such as trafficking victims), asylum seekers wrongly accused of crimes as part of their persecution, and individuals escaping countries controlled by terrorist organizations. 

The new USCIS guidance has also raised questions for advocates and experts about its potential to return people to danger, given the complexity around internal relocation. These determinations often rely on information from reports or expert testimony on country conditions, an asylum seekers’ own evidence, and careful representation by an attorney. Those resources and information may not be available during the initial screening process when these criteria will now be applied. "


May 15, 2024 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Migration Policy Institute: A Century Later, Restrictive 1924 U.S. Immigration Law Has Reverberations in Immigration Debate

A Century Later, Restrictive 1924 U.S. Immigration Law Has Reverberations in Immigration Debate

By Muzaffar Chishti and Julia Gelatt

One hundred years ago this month, the 1924 Immigration Act marked a pivotal moment in U.S. history that dramatically limited immigration for decades. Because of the law, which was based on the racist “science” of eugenics, the United States prioritized immigration from Northern and Western Europe, limiting arrivals from Eastern and Southern Europe and barring virtually all immigration from Asia.

A century later, the law's legacy can still be felt in many areas. This article provides an overview of the 1924 Immigration Act and its lingering impact.





May 15, 2024 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

ICE Detention of Trans and Nonbinary People

From Immigration Justice Campaign

We recently filed a complaint with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) about the way Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) treats people who are transgender and nonbinary in detention. They have shown that they cannot safely detain trans and nonbinary people, and we are demanding that they stop doing it.  

Please contact DHS to help pressure them to follow through and take urgent action.

Many trans and nonbinary people are seeking safety in the United States precisely because of the violence and trauma they’ve experienced due to their gender identities. Often, they come asking for protection only to be locked in an ICE detention center where they are denied critical medical care, put into solitary confinement, misgendered, deadnamed, and assigned to inappropriate cells—for example, transgender women being locked up in an all-male facility. They face transphobic threats and harassment, including from staff members who are charged with their safety and wellbeing. ICE has a specific policy for the detention of trans individuals, but it is woefully inadequate. At Aurora, it is also not being followed.  

ICE does not have a policy for how best to accommodate the needs of nonbinary people in its custody. As long as ICE detains nonbinary people, it must create enforceable guidelines for staff to follow in all facilities across the country.  

We developed this complaint in collaboration with our partners the National Immigration Project and the Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network, and with five individuals who are detained at the Aurora Contract Detention Facility in Colorado. 

Some of the things these individuals told us include: 

  • A nonbinary and transgender individual who wants to start hormone treatment was told that if they started therapy, they would be placed into solitary confinement because the facility has no nonbinary or men’s transgender housing unit. When this individual sought housing in a dorm with other trans people, staff told them they had to have a “boy part” (meaning a penis) to be assigned there.
  • When the same person was asked by a guard why they were putting on boxers, they said, “Because I’m trans.” The guard said, “Why are you in the females’ dorm if you’re a trans?” and said they would not be permitted to wear boxers.
  • Trans women reported being placed in men’s dorms, or being given the choice between a men’s dorm and solitary confinement.
  • When a trans woman in solitary confinement experienced a skin rash, she took off her shirt to stop the burning. She asked the guards to let her take a shower, and they walked her to a shower block in another part of the facility with her shirt still off.
  • A guard made fun of three transgender women after confiscating all their personal hygiene products like toothbrushes and toothpaste and replacing them with menstrual pads and tampons. She told them something like, “If you were real women, you would need these things.”
  • The same guard told one of the women to “walk like a man” and threw away a pride flag from her room. 

ICE is inflicting more trauma and harm on people who came to the United States fleeing persecution and torture based on their gender identities and expression. ICE has proven that they are not capable of safely detaining trans and nonbinary people. Please join our call for them to stop doing it.


May 14, 2024 | Permalink | Comments (0)

From The Bookshelves: Oye, a Novel by Mellissa Mogollon


I'm calling it. Oye, a Novel by Mellissa Mogollon is going to be this-year's immprof summer/beach/airplane read. It looks so fun!

Check out the pitch:

Structured as a series of one-sided phone calls from our spunky, sarcastic narrator, Luciana, to her older sister, Mari, this wildly inventive debut “jump-starts your heart in the same way it piques your ear” (Xochitl Gonzalez). As the baby of her large Colombian American family, Luciana is usually relegated to the sidelines. But now she finds herself as the only voice of reason in the face of an unexpected crisis: A hurricane is heading straight for Miami, and her eccentric grandmother, Abue, is refusing to evacuate. Abue is so one-of-a-kind she’s basically in her own universe, and while she often drives Luciana nuts, they’re the only ones who truly understand each other. So when Abue, normally glamorous and full of life, receives a shocking medical diagnosis during the storm, Luciana’s world is upended.

When Abue moves into Luciana’s bedroom, their complicated bond intensifies. Luciana would rather be skating or sneaking out to meet girls, but Abue’s wild demands and unpredictable antics are a welcome distraction for Luciana from her misguided mother, absent sister, and uncertain future. Forced to step into the role of caretaker, translator, and keeper of the devastating family secrets that Abue begins to share, Luciana suddenly finds herself center stage, facing down adulthood—and rising to the occasion.

As Luciana chronicles the events of her disrupted senior year of high school over the phone to Mari, Oye unfolds like the most fascinating and entertaining conversation you’ve ever eavesdropped on: a rollicking, heartfelt, and utterly unique novel that celebrates the beauty revealed and resilience required when rewriting your own story.


May 14, 2024 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 13, 2024

Martha's Vineyard Update

In September 2022, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis sent a group of migrants by plane from his state to Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts. We covered the story multiple times on this blog. (See here, here, here, here, and here.)

I've used the Martha's Vineyard story in different ways while teaching immigration-related courses. One way has been to show students the following twitter exchange and ask them to discuss the merits of U visas for the affected migrants.


More than a year-and-a-half later, there's now official news on the subject: some of the migrants have been found eligible for U visas. Because of the backlog in U visa applications, they won't get a visa in hand for some time. But they have been granted temporary work permits and protection from deportation.


May 13, 2024 in Current Affairs, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Biden administration Seeks Change to Flores agreement protecting migrant children

The request to a U.S. district judge, filed last Friday, comes weeks after the Health and Human Services Department published its own rule on safeguards, effective July 1, that Secretary Xavier Becerra said will set “clear standards for the care and treatment of unaccompanied (migrant) children.”

In a motion filed in California federal court, the U.S. government argued that the court supervision has outlived its purpose and new regulations are a better solution to ensure the safety of children.


May 13, 2024 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

From the Bookshelves: Handbook of Migration and Globalisation. Edited by Anna Triandafyllidou.  (Elgar:  2d edition 2024) 

Handbook of Migration and Globalisation

Handbook of Migration and Globalisation. Edited by Anna Triandafyllidou.  (Elgar:  2d edition 2024)  Handbooks on Globalisation series

This thoroughly revised and updated Handbook brings together an international range of contributors to highlight the deep interdependence between migration and globalisation, and explore the impact of economic, social, and political globalisation on international population flows. It provides an interdisciplinary perspective on a discussion that has been intensifying and diversifying over the past 25 years.

This title contains one or more Open Access chapters.

May 13, 2024 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, May 12, 2024

Celebrating Mother’s Day: Mamá, Ciudadana, y Votante

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Happy Mother's Day!  Laura Vazquez and Gary Sang on the Unidos US blog remind us that "it’s a time to celebrate the incredible women who have shaped our lives. It is also an opportunity to recognize and honor the journeys of immigrant mothers who have made the United States their home. Mothers who have become U.S. citizens enrich our nation in many ways, including through active civic engagement. Mamás are often motivated to apply for citizenship in hopes of positively shaping their children’s future."


May 12, 2024 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

A flyer in her name told migrants to vote for Biden. But she says she didn't write it

NPR logo

Gabriella Zavala runs a small organization that helps asylum-seekers in Matamoros, Mexico. Her life was turned upside down one day in April after the Heritage Foundation's Oversight Project shared images on social media of a flyer with her name on it telling migrants to vote for Biden. Viral photos of the flyer were filmed in portable toilets at a migrant camp in Mexico, and they sparked a firestorm in Congress.  NPR's reporting suggests the flyer is not what it purports to be.

Here is a description of the flyer:

"BREAKING - Flyers distributed at NGO in Mexico encouraging illegals to vote for President Biden," read the first post in a 10-part thread on X, formerly known as Twitter, posted at 9:03 p.m. U.S. Central time by the Heritage Foundation's Oversight Project.

The Heritage Foundation's investigative arm shared an image of the flyer and a video of copies hanging inside portable toilets at a Matamoros migrant camp. Within 12 hours, members of Congress would raise the flyer in hearings with Biden administration officials and use it to justify more restrictive voting laws.


May 12, 2024 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

From the Bookshelves: Encyclopedia of Citizenship Studies, Elgar (2024).  Edited by Marisol García Cabeza and Thomas Faist 

Cover Encyclopedia of Citizenship Studies

Encyclopedia of Citizenship Studies, Elgar (2024).  Encyclopedias in the Social Sciences series.  Edited by Marisol García Cabeza and Thomas Faist 

This Encyclopedia presents a comprehensive collection of entries addressing the normative claims and definitions of the critical concepts, principles, and approaches that make up the field of citizenship studies.

Part I: The History of A Concept

May 12, 2024 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0)

Amnesty International: USA: CBP One – A blessing or a trap?


Image from U.S. Department of Homeland Security website

Amnesty International in a new report examines the human rights issues associated with the use of CBP One – a mobile application launched by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on October 28, 2020.  The report concludes that the mandatory use of the app as the sole means of seeking asylum in the United States is a violation of international human rights and refugee law.

The report, USA: CBP One – A blessing or a trap?, documents the human rights concerns associated with the mobile app and sheds light on the implications of the Circumvention of Lawful Pathways Final Rule (or asylum ban) introduced by the Biden administration in May 2023.

Hat tip to Nolan Rappaport.


May 12, 2024 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, May 11, 2024

New Database of Commissary Pricing

Attention immprofs who are researching/writing on issues related to immigration detention.  The Appeal, a nonprofit news organization, has created the first national database of prison commissary lists. They've written up some of their findings in a piece called Locked In, Priced Out: How Prison Commissary Price-Gouging Preys on the Incarcerated.

Given that immigration detention facilities routinely outsource commissary services (see here and here), this database may be rich for future research.


May 11, 2024 in Data and Research | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, May 10, 2024

Kelly Wong’s Seat at the Table

Guest blogger: Michaela Rose, Masters in Migration Studies student, University of San Francisco:

Making history as the first non-citizen to serve on an elections commission in the United States, Kelly Wong, an immigrant originally from Hong Kong, China, was unanimously appointed into her new position as an elections commissioner in San Francisco this past February. She will now oversee voter registrations, vote-by-mail ballots, voting locations and election observations for the city. This groundbreaking appointment comes after California voters approved a measure to eliminate the citizenship requirement to sit on San Francisco boards back in 2020. Her new position has made a strong statement for both immigrant rights activists, immigrants, and our democratic process as a whole throughout this country. How will her appointment better represent the immigrant community living in San Francisco county? And do immigrants such as Wong deserve a seat at the table when it comes to our democratic processes in this country?

Despite condemnation and, quite frankly, borderline xenophobic rhetoric from right-wing senators such as Eric Schmitt (R-MO) in his interview about the appointment on Fox News, this selection opens the door for increasing representation and influence of immigrant voices in this country. Wong’s background in working in migrant rights groups, including her work with Chinese for Affirmative Action, displays her track record of pushing the government for rightful resources and representation of those people who call America their home, yet did not have the luck of being born within our country's walls. In a city heavily made of immigrants themselves, it seems about time the local government takes steps to center immigrant voices throughout our democratic process, as the decisions being made by both the city of San Francisco and California as a whole, heavily impact their everyday lives just as much as any US citizen.

Many critics of this appointment have argued that a non-citizen should not be put in a role that gives them any overview of how our elections process works. Especially a non-citizen from Wong’s country of origin, China, as it is a large economic challenger to the United States. However, this argument cannot be upheld without addressing the xenophobic undertones it uses to push a more anti-immigrant viewpoint to US citizens. Having someone like Wong in a position like this will not corrupt the integrity of our political process as many are suggesting. In contrast, her track record in immigrant advocacy and devotion to bringing more voter participation and representation among immigrants living in our city will allow more people living here to actively participate in our democratic process, giving them more say in their own lives and interlacing them more strongly into the community as a whole. Wouldn’t this create an even more fair and democratic way of life? Many people on the political right tend to critique immigrants in ways that attack their disconnectivity to the ‘American way of life,’ portraying immigrants as free-loaders who come to the United States only to take from those who are already citizens and not integrate into the communities that exist here. However, this appointment would do nothing but help the integration of immigrants into the democratic system, allowing them a voice and advocacy, and uplifting normally marginalized groups of individuals.

When speaking with KQED after her confirmation, Wong emphasized her commitment to bridging the gap between the U.S. political process and immigrants, stating “I am deeply committed to ensuring that everyone, regardless of immigration status, has a seat at the table in shaping the future of our city” (Dahlstrom-Eckman, 2024). This type of mentality, advocacy, and leadership is needed in roles such as this, as representation truly does matter in governmental positions of power. Her commitment to making voting and political engagement more accessible to people of immigrant backgrounds through voter outreach and education is admirable and necessary. Our community as a whole would benefit greatly from working with and encouraging immigrant communities to make their voices heard within spaces like school board meetings and city councils. Immigrants deserve to have their opinions valued and considered in spaces like this, as they are just as San Franciscan as someone who was born here.

Reference: Dahlstrom-Eckman, 2024. “San Francisco Appoints First Noncitizen to Serve on Elections Commission” Found online at:


May 10, 2024 | Permalink | Comments (0)

New TRAC Data: Nearly 1.3 Million Asylum Cases Now Pending in Immigration Court

As of April 2024, TRAC at Syracuse University reveals that the immigration court system is experiencing unprecedented levels, with nearly 1.3 million immigrants filing asylum applications amidst a total backlog of 3.6 million cases.

This year has seen a significant influx of over 1.3 million new cases, challenging immigration judges who have managed to complete 517,675 cases so far. Despite the judges' efforts to pace with the growing backlog, they are set to complete a record number of cases by year-end.

However, only 35.7% of cases result in removal or voluntary departure orders, and notably, just 13.9% of those ordered deported in April, including unaccompanied children, had legal representation. This data underscores the critical issues facing the immigration court system and the urgent need for legal support for immigrants. 

See TRAC's announcement with updated immigration court data here:
  • Immigration Courts recorded receiving 1,305,443 new cases so far in FY 2024 as of April 2024. This compares with 517,675 cases that the court completed during this period.
  • According to court records, only 0.38% of FY 2024 new cases sought deportation orders based on any alleged criminal activity of the immigrant, apart from possible illegal entry.
  • At the end of April 2024, 3,596,317 active cases were pending before the Immigration Court.
  • At the end of April 2024, out of the total backlog of 3,596,317 cases, 1,278,654 immigrants have already filed formal asylum applications and are now waiting for asylum hearings or decisions in Immigration Court.
  • Miami-Dade County, FL, has the most residents with pending Immigration Court deportation cases (as of the end of April 2024).
  • So far this fiscal year (through April 2024), immigration judges have issued removal and voluntary departure orders in 35.7% of completed cases, totaling 170,165 deportation orders.
  • Among Immigration Court cases completed in April 2024, immigrants in Colorado had the highest proportion ordered removed. Vermont residents had the lowest proportion ordered removed.
  • So far in FY 2024 (through April 2024), immigrants from Honduras top list of nationalities with largest number ordered deported.
  • Only 13.9% of immigrants, including unaccompanied children, had an attorney to assist them in Immigration Court cases when a removal order was issued in April 2024.
  • Immigration judges have held 15,548 bond hearings so far in FY 2024 (through April 2024). Of these 4,644 were granted bond.

May 10, 2024 in Data and Research | Permalink | Comments (0)

Father Dionysius Mintoff: A Beacon of Hope for Migrants and Asylum Seekers in Malta

Guest blogger: Eric Asare, Masters in Migration Studies Program student, University of San Francisco:

In the summer of 2018, after visiting some countries in Europe (Netherlands, Germany, Iceland, France, Italy), a friend suggested to me, he said “Eric, there is small island south of Sicily, it is just as beautiful as Sicily, you can visit since you still have a week of holiday remaining.” I checked it out online and I fell in love with it right away. From its ancient architecture to it beautiful turquoise blue waters, its history, I bought a ticket the next day to see this small island in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea between Italy, Tunisia, and Libya. I landed in Malta the next day and just like what any tourist would do, I looked for the most exciting places to see in the country. I was blown away by its crystal-clear blue seas and stunning medieval churches and its history (from Phoenician, Carthaginian, Roman, Ottoman and French rule to British rule and the crucial role it played during the first and second world wars)

As I was visiting the sites I had penned down, I noticed something similar to what I witnessed in Italy, hundreds of migrants at some spots waiting to be picked up for jobs. Most of these migrants worked in the construction industry, agriculture, care industry, hotels and restaurants. Because of Malta’s location in the Central Mediterranean, it receives thousands of migrants fleeing civil unrest, poverty, and climate induced crisis from the Middle East, North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa. It was not entirely different from what I witnessed in Italy, but this felt a bit different because of the small size of the country (land 320 km² and population of just over 520,000). I saw hundreds of asylums seekers from the MENA region (Middle East and North Africa) and from Sub-Saharan Africa in detention camps and then released to open centres where they can continue their asylum application process. Because of my interest in the issue of migration, I decided to find out more about the situation of asylum seekers in Malta who are usually rescued at sea by the Armed Forces of Malta and other NGOs rescue ships. I noticed that except for women and obvious minors, all asylum-seekers disembarked in Malta were automatically and systematically detained upon arrival for several months after they have been pre-screened by the Police and Health Authorities at an Initial Reception Centre (IRC) in Marsa not far from where my hotel was.

Witnessing the large numbers of migrants stationed at this particular round about looking for jobs in the morning, I approached them and struck conversations with them. Most of them were migrants from the MENA region and Sub-Saharan Africa. I spoke with some migrants from Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Sudan, Eritrea, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Ghana etc. They told me if I wanted to witness more about the asylum seekers and their conditions, I should visit the detention centres and also the open centres. They mentioned specifically to visit Hal-Far open centre and to visit an NGO near the open centre that helps rejected asylum seekers. I visited one of the detention centres in SAFI, but I was not allowed in because it was a security zone. I continued to the Open centre (Hal-Far Open Centre) the migrants suggested and I saw hundreds of asylum seekers crammed into containers stuck on top of another container. Here migrants are free to go in and out but are supposed to register their presence at least three times a week or lose their monthly stipends and possibly their place at the centre. The open centre can host 2,400 asylum seekers when full. The conditions in the centre are deplorable, aside the poor hygienic conditions and over-crowding, the inadequately insulated containers become extremely hot in the summer (temperature can rise to as high as 38 degrees Celsius) and extremely cold in the winter. Aside the deplorable conditions asylum seekers face in the open centre, it is also located in very remote area of the country, leaving asylum seekers isolated from the society. 

I visited the NGO, the asylum seekers asked that I visit close the open centre that houses the asylum seekers. That is where I met this incredible Franciscan Frier (Father Dionysius Mintoff), who drastically changed my views on social justice, immigrant rights, human right, and hospitality. The now 93-year-old Franciscan frier, has dedicated his life for the promotion of peace globally and the last twenty-two years to advocating for the welfare of migrants and asylum seekers in Malta and around the world. Fr. Dionysius's leadership is rooted in his faith (religious values), and personal experiences, particularly his firsthand experience of the second World War. Inspired by his experience and an appeal made by Pope John XXIII, he established the Peace Laboratory in Malta in 1971, to open a space that advocates for peace education in Malta. The location of the centre is very symbolic as it is situated at Hal Far, once a site of intense air combat during the second world war because it was part of the British airfield. In an interview with the UNHCR, Father Mintoff said “Ħal Far was a hub and centre of war. It saw thousands of soldiers and sailors coming from the entire Commonwealth,” He continued we “Transformed this space from a place of war to a place peace.”  This centre serves as a beacon for peace education, emphasizing the importance of fostering understanding and cooperation among people of diverse backgrounds, religion, nationality, race, and political ideologies.

Decades later in 2002, Father Mintoff transformed the centre into a shelter for asylum seekers who began to come to the island in large numbers through the central mediterranean from Libya. In that same interview, he recalls what led to the transformation of the centre in a place of shelter for asylum seekers. Father Mintoff remembers the night, he heard loud screams coming from the army barracks situated just across the road from the Peace Lab. The next morning, He inquired of the cause of the commotion and was informed by the guards that several individuals, from a number of African countries, had arrived in Malta on a boat in search of asylum. He said “There was a lot of panic that spread around Malta after this. The Maltese thought that these individuals would spread disease, take their jobs and most of all take over our [Roman Catholic] religion”. Since then, the Peace Lab has offered shelter to refugees and migrants. With the residents at the centre coming from different countries and different religious view, Father Mintoff put up a mosque and an additional prayer room in addition to the Church at the centre, so that the asylum seekers majority of whom are Muslims can have a place of prayer for themselves and feel at home at the centre.

I call Fr. Dionysius a transformative leader because of his unwavering dedication, compassion, inclusivity, empathy and commitment to serving the marginalised and vulnerable in society. His ability to adapt and evolve with changing societal needs, as seen in the transformation of the Peace Lab into a sanctuary for migrants, showcases his visionary leadership. The centre now provides essential support such as shelter, food, clothing, English language lessons, job placement assistance, and integration programs for migrants and asylum seekers from Africa and the Middle East. Another important program he used to run was a Radio Program (Connect Africa) to educate the Maltese about Africa’s history, and culture as most Maltese had no idea about the continent except the negatively skewed narrative about the continent being riddled with disease, poverty, and wars. He believes for Maltese and the asylum to be able to integrate, they need to learn about each other to be able to understand and accommodate each other. Father Dionysius is an incredible as person and I strive to emulate his dedication to serving the marginalized and his commitment to fostering a sense of belonging and acceptance for all. Fr. Dionysius inspires me to lead with integrity, humility, and a steadfast belief in the inherent dignity and worth of every individual regardless of religion, race, nationality, political persuasion etc. His tireless effort in serving the poor and marginalised in society is what convinced me to volunteer for the centre for five years. A short normal holiday in Malta turned into a stay of five years helping my brothers who are less fortunate. In those five year I have learnt invaluable lessons. His legacy reminds me of these verses in the scriptures in Hebrews 13:2 which says, “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” And Matthew 25:42-24 which says, “For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’”

In April 2022, Pope Francis made a historic visit to Malta, where he visited the Peace Lab and met with asylum seekers. This visit was a significant moment for the migrants, as they were thrust into the global spotlight, with their stories and challenges taking center stage in the media. The Pope's visit had a profound impact, helping to reduce the socio-political tension surrounding migrants in Malta. By listening to their stories firsthand, Pope Francis brought attention to the humanity and dignity of asylum seekers, challenging negative narratives and fostering a sense of compassion and understanding. His tireless work and dedication to migrants has not gone unnoticed as he has won several awards, but he told me what really gets him excited is when he sees the residents happy and living together peacefully despite their different nationalities, race, and religion. Father Mintoff's commitment to social justice and inclusivity serves as a shining example. In a world where xenophobia and intolerance are all too common, Father Mintoff's unwavering voice stands out as a beacon of hope. Consistently speaking out against discrimination of any form, reminds us that all people, regardless of their background or circumstances, deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. As leaders grapple with complex issues surrounding migration and integration, Father Mintoff's example serves as a guiding light.


May 10, 2024 | Permalink | Comments (0)

United States Sues Iowa Over Immigration Enforcement Law

Iowa and US Flag

Photo courtesy of State of Iowa website

Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Justice sued the state of Iowa alleging that the state's new immigration law criminalizing "illegal reentry" is unconstitutional.

In the lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa, the United States argues that the state law, which allows Iowa police to arrest undocumented immigrants who have previously been deported or barred from the United States, intrudes on the federal power to regulate immigration

The U.S. Department of Justice press release describes the action

"The Justice Department today filed suit against the State of Iowa to challenge Senate File 2340 (SF 2340) under the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause and Foreign Commerce Clause. The Constitution assigns the federal government to regulate immigration and manage our international borders. Pursuant to this authority, Congress has established a comprehensive immigration framework governing the entry of noncitizens into the U.S. and the removal of noncitizens from the country. Because SF 2340 is preempted by federal law and violates the United States Constitution, the Justice Department seeks a declaration that SF 2340 is invalid and an order preliminarily or permanently enjoining the state from enforcing the law.

. . . .    

As outlined in the complaint, Iowa’s law would create a new state crime for unlawful reentry, with charges ranging from an aggravated misdemeanor to a felony. Additionally, SF 2340 would require state judges to order removal from the United States. The Supreme Court, in Arizona v. United States, has previously confirmed that decisions relating to removal of noncitizens from the United States touch “on foreign relations and must be made with one voice.” SF 2340 impedes the federal government’s ability to enforce entry and removal provisions of federal law and interferes with its conduct of foreign relations."


May 10, 2024 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Biden Administration Proposes Asylum Rule


Official White House Photo

As Kit Johnson blogged late yesterday, the Biden administration yesterday proposed a rule that would allow border officers to more quickly reject asylum claims of  migrants. NPR states that "[t]his change is modest in scope but it illuminates the administration's larger strategy toward thousands of asylum seekers arriving at the southern border. U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas sat down with Morning Edition's Steve Inskeep to explain what his department is doing at the border. Listen to their conversation or read the interview here."

The DHS announced the proposed rule as follows:

"As part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s continued efforts to enhance the security of our border and deliver more timely consequences for those encountered who do not have a legal basis to remain in the United States, today the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that would allow statutory bars to asylum to be applied much earlier in the process. Even though the number of migrants who are subject to these bars is small, this rule would enable DHS to more quickly remove those who are subject to the bars and pose a risk to our national security or public safety."

Here is the Associated Press report on the proposed rule.


"Yesterday, the Biden administration proposed a new administrative rule further restricting access for individuals seeking asylum in the U.S.  

If adopted, the rule would allow asylum officers to apply extremely complicated legal standards during an asylum seeker's initial interview to determine eligibility — decisions previously reserved for immigration judges. At the interview stage, asylum seekers are tired, unsure of what is happening, stuck in detention, and unable to consult with an attorney who could explain the law to them and help them present their story. Federal courts have no power to review the results of these interviews to correct even basic legal errors. The legal standards at issue in this proposed rule relate to alleged crimes and support for terrorism.  

The Biden administration is also expanding its ability to use classified information during any stage of a person's immigration proceedings. These changes have the potential to be weaponized against Black, Hispanic, Muslim, and Asian migrants targeted by the administration.  

`For years, the far-right has tried to scare Americans into adopting cruel, anti-immigrant policies that place unfair restrictions on people seeking safety and a better life in the U.S.,”'said Sarah Rich, senior supervising attorney and interim senior policy counsel, Southern Poverty Law Center. `Unfortunately, this proposed rule from the Biden administration traffics in the same fearmongering and scare tactics at the expense of those who would benefit from our humanitarian efforts.' 

 `This new proposed rule will not decrease the number of people who look to our country as their best option to live in safety, security or prosperity. It also will not add order to the process or give asylum seekers a better opportunity to establish whether they meet the criteria to remain in the U.S. Instead, it is an abdication of the nation’s values and a diversion from the real threats we face from domestic white supremacists and anti-democratic authoritarians,' continued Rich.  

`The SPLC and the American people support modernizing our immigration laws to bring them in line with our welcoming values and to provide a pathway to citizenship. We continue to urge the federal government to adopt a just, humane and welcoming immigration framework that embraces these values and recognizes the vital role immigrants play in communities across the country, including the Deep South,' concluded Rich." 


May 10, 2024 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigration Article of the Day: Immigraft by Jayesh Rathod & Anne Schaufele

Immigraft by immprofs Jayesh Rathod (American) & Anne Schaufele (UDC), 2024:2 Wisconsin Law Review 465, is an essay that explores the "unjust (often illegal) charging and retention of fees/payments by US immigration agencies." LOVE the title, my friends. Very, very clever.

Check out the abstract:

Pursuing the American dream is a costly endeavor. From the initial journey to the United States, to navigating the complicated immigration system, to labor exploitation, to scams targeting recent arrivals, immigrants pay heavily into the formal and informal sectors. As explored in this Essay, however, their pay-out does not stop there: the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) also charges and retains funds in unjustified ways, resulting in tens of millions of dollars transferred from the pockets of vulnerable immigrants and their families to the sprawling immigration bureaucracy. This Essay introduces the term immigraft to capture this phenomenon, defined as the unjust transfer of funds from individuals to the state in the context of efforts to obtain immigration benefits or relief from the state.

This Essay highlights four examples of immigraft in the U.S. immigration system, describing how sub-agencies of DHS have illegally and/or unjustly retained funds in the context of biometric services fees, humanitarian parole applications filed by Afghan nationals, immigration bond for noncitizens in removal proceedings, and administrative appeals filed due to obvious agency mistakes. This Essay concludes by exploring theoretical implications of immigraft, including the normalization of extraction of value from noncitizens and its corrosive effect on the relationship among citizens, noncitizens, and the state. By way of a path forward, this Essay also offers practical recommendations to address immigraft through executive action and congressional oversight.


May 10, 2024 in Law Review Articles & Essays | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 9, 2024

Florida Sheriff Detained US Citizen for ICE

MIAMI — On May 15, 2024, at 10 a.m., lawyers for the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), ACLU and ACLU-FL will present arguments in support of their motion for partial summary judgment in Brown v. Ramsay, a federal lawsuit challenging the illegal detention of Peter Sean Brown, a U.S. citizen who was arrested and detained by the Monroe County, Fla. Sheriff’s Office at the request of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). 

In April 2018, Mr. Brown was held in Florida’s Monroe County jail on an ICE immigration detainer, which had incorrectly identified Mr. Brown as a deportable Jamaican immigrant. The controversial practice of complying with “ICE detainers” asks state and local law enforcement agencies to re-arrest and detain individuals identified by ICE for up to 48 hours after their state cases have ended. ICE regularly issues detainer requests for U.S. citizens, and its databases are riddled with errors – making the decision to comply with an ICE detainer request risky for any state or local law enforcement agency. 

Despite Mr. Brown’s pleas to county authorities that he was a U.S. citizen and had records showing that he was born in Philadelphia, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office turned him over to ICE. Localities around the country hold people at ICE’s request even though several courts have found the practice to have violated the constitution.

Sarah Rich, senior supervising attorney, SPLC
Cody Wofsy, deputy director of the Immigrants’ Rights Project, ACLU

Wednesday, May 15, 2024, at 10 a.m. ET

Wilkie D. Ferguson, Jr. United States Courthouse, Room 11-3 
400 North Miami Avenue 
Miami, Florida 


May 9, 2024 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Federal Register: Application of Certain Mandatory Bars in Fear Screenings (Proposed Rule)

Today, as previewed yesterday, DHS dropped a newly proposed rule in the Federal Register. Technically it is "unpublished" because it's officially set to "publish" on May 13.

The title of this rule is Application of Certain Mandatory Bars in Fear Screenings. Here is the summary

DHS proposes to allow asylum officers (“AOs”) to consider the potential applicability of certain bars to asylum and statutory withholding of removal during certain fear screenings. Specifically, under this proposed rule, AOs would be authorized to consider certain bars during credible and reasonable fear screenings, including credible fear screenings where the Circumvention of Lawful Pathways (“CLP”) rule applies. The proposed rule is intended to enhance operational flexibility and help DHS more swiftly remove certain noncitizens who are barred from asylum and statutory withholding of removal.


May 9, 2024 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)