Monday, April 6, 2020

From The Bookshelves: Marcelo Hernandez Castillo’s Children of the Land


Here's another book to add to your quarantine reading list: Children of the Land, a memoir by Marcelo Hernandez Castillo.

Castillo is one of the founders of Undocupoets, whose mission is "to promote the work of undocumented poets and raise consciousness about the structural barriers that they face in the literary community." His book of poetry, Cenzontle, is also available on Amazon.

In Children of the Land, Castillo takes a different approach. As he told the WSJ, “With poetry, I could really distance myself, and with prose I couldn’t.”

Here's the Amazon summary:

When Marcelo Hernandez Castillo was five years old and his family was preparing to cross the border between Mexico and the United States, he suffered temporary, stress-induced blindness. Castillo regained his vision, but quickly understood that he had to move into a threshold of invisibility before settling in California with his parents and siblings. Thus began a new life of hiding in plain sight and of paying extraordinarily careful attention at all times for fear of being truly seen. Before Castillo was one of the most celebrated poets of a generation, he was a boy who perfected his English in the hopes that he might never seem extraordinary.

With beauty, grace, and honesty, Castillo recounts his and his family’s encounters with a system that treats them as criminals for seeking safe, ordinary lives. He writes of the Sunday afternoon when he opened the door to an ICE officer who had one hand on his holster, of the hours he spent making a fake social security card so that he could work to support his family, of his father’s deportation and the decade that he spent waiting to return to his wife and children only to be denied reentry, and of his mother’s heartbreaking decision to leave her children and grandchildren so that she could be reunited with her estranged husband and retire from a life of hard labor.

Children of the Land distills the trauma of displacement, illuminates the human lives behind the headlines and serves as a stunning meditation on what it means to be a man and a citizen.


April 6, 2020 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0)

Message from the Department of Homeland Security: Thank a Truck Driver and a CBP Officer


A message from the Department of Homeland Security (April 3):

"Are your grocery store shelves full? Thank a truck driver and a CBP officer! In just a week of restrictions on nonessential travel, CBP reported a 13% increase in commercial traffic across our borders, while travel plummeted.

DHS is keeping our vital supply chains open."


April 6, 2020 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Five migrants test positive for COVID-19 in ICE detention centers in Pennsylvania


Pike County Correctional Facility



York County Prison

Jeff Gammage for the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that at least five immigrants held in two ICE detention centers in Pennsylvania have tested positive for COVID-19. Immigration advocates and attorneys have argued that the detention centers are ripe for outbreaks, and that the people confined there — few of whom have been convicted of criminal offenses — must be released to family members for their safety and that of the staff.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials in Philadelphia said four people held at the Pike County Correctional Facility have tested positive for the virusl they are from Mexico (2), the Dominican Republic, and Guatemala. In addition, a Mexican national at the York County Prison tested positive.



April 6, 2020 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

U.S. Passport Agencies Prioritizing Passports for Life-or-Death Emergencies: All other passport services are either on hold or subject to “significant delays.”


Here is some news on obtaining passports.

this article

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. State Department announced on April 3 that it is focusing in-person passport services on those who need a passport for a life-or-death emergency for immediate international travel within 72 hours.

“While you can still apply in person for a U.S. passport at some acceptance facilities and renew through the mail, you should expect significant delays receiving your passport and your citizenship evidence documents,” the State Department said in an April 3 statement.

A list of the facilities still handling regular passport issuance was not provided.  One possibility is to contact the National Passport Information Center to find out what services each individual facility is offering.

The State Department is asking applicants to consider waiting to apply for passports other than those needed for life-or-death emergencies until passport agencies resume normal operations.

All other expedited passport processing services are not currently available. This new policy went into effect on March 20, 2020.

Life-or-death emergencies include serious illnesses, injuries, or deaths in your immediate family—i.e., a parent, child, spouse, sibling, aunt or uncle. The situation must require you to travel outside the United States in three days time.


April 6, 2020 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Prince Harry Is Living in the U.S.—How Will That Affect His Taxes and Immigration Status?


Samir HusseinGetty Images

Ftare much media attention, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have now transitioned to their new arrangement, after officially stepping back from their working royal roles on April 1.  Their new life together is beginning in Los Angeles, Meghan's hometown. Meghan and little Archie are both U.S. citizens.  But, for Prince Harry, it is a little more complicated.

Prince's financial situation and more could soon change drastically—if, that is, he and his family plan to settle in America for the long haul. Here, the tax and immigration hurdles that Prince Harry will have to overcome, should he choose to stay.  This article for Town and Country looks at the issues.


April 5, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Facing coronavirus pandemic, Trump suspends immigration laws and showcases vision for locked-down border


© Go Nakamura/Reuters A migrant child who is seeking asylum in the United States wears a protective mask as he stands in line for food in a migrant camp in Matamoros, Mexico.

Arelis Hernández and Nick Miroff for the Washington Post report that President Trump has used emergency powers during the coronavirus pandemic to implement the kind of strict enforcement regime at the U.S./Mexico border he has long wanted, suspending laws that protect minors and asylum seekers so that the U.S. government can immediately deport them or turn them away. Citing the threat of “mass, uncontrolled cross-border movement,” the president has shelved safeguards intended to protect trafficking victims and persecuted groups, implementing an expulsion order that sends migrants of all ages back to Mexico in an average of 96 minutes.

U.S. Border Patrol agents do not perform medical checks when they encounter people crossing into the country. Homeland Security officials say the measures are necessary to protect U.S. agents, health-care workers and the general public from the coronavirus. Tightening controls at the border and preventing potentially infected populations from streaming into the United States minimizes the number of detainees in U.S. immigration jails and border holding cells.


April 5, 2020 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

At the Movies in the Age of Coronavirus: Superbad (2007)

MV5BMTc0NjIyMjA2OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMzIxNDE1MQ@@._V1_UX182_CR0 0 182 268_AL_


Too much time on your hands?  For a more modern -- or at least more modern than Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982) and Breakfast Club (1985), look at high school life, here is a film for you.  But it probably is not a movie for the family.  Superbad (2007) tells the story of two co-dependent high school seniors who are forced to deal with separation anxiety as they navigate through a variety of memorable events, characters, and wild parties. Writers: Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg Stars: Michael Cera, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, and Seth Rogen. |

If you watch Superbad, look for the scenes with McLovin.



April 5, 2020 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, April 4, 2020

After Fleeing Crisis, Venezuelan Migrants Now Struggle In Coronavirus Lockdown


John Otis for NPR reports on the COVID-19 in Colombia, which is experiencing much migration from neighboring Venezuela:

"Of the nearly 5 million Venezuelans who have fled their country in recent years, about 1.7 million have settled in Colombia. Many of them are undocumented migrants who get by working odd jobs. It's a hand-to-mouth with the worst off sleeping in the streets.

That makes them especially vulnerable to both COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, as well as to the economic shutdown, says Daniel Pagés, president of the Association of Venezuelans Living in Colombia.

`It's a very difficult situation,' Pagés says. `Imagine if you only had money for your food or your lodging for one day' and there was no work the next day.

Colombia has registered more than 1,160 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 19 deaths. It has closed land and sea borders and grounded nearly all flights. But due to a lack of testing, it's unclear how many Venezuelans in the country may be infected."


April 4, 2020 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigrant Worker Safety Net


The National Day Labored Organizing Network  (NDLON) has launched the Immigrant Worker Safety Net Fund and has distributed funds to 27 highly impacted groups in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and California, helping 460 families to date! The need remains great.

With no access to healthcare, sick leave, remote work options, or help from the federal government’s stimulus package, thousands of day laborers and low-wage workers have no choice but to continue to risk their lives as they seek work at day laborer corners.  The Immigrant Worker Safety Net Fund serves as a lifeline for those most at risk in our communities.

Activist artist Ernesto Yerena’s artwork, see above, supports the struggle for increased labor and immigrant rights.


Take Action and share on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram with hashtags:




April 4, 2020 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1)

Some Undocumented Domestic Workers Slip Through Holes In Coronavirus Safety Net


The federal relief package will not benefit taxpaying undocumented people, such as the nannies who care for children, the home aides who care for the elderly and the mostly women who clean homes. Suwannar Kawila / EyeEm/Getty Images/EyeE

Marisa Peñaloza for NPR reports that, even before the coronavirus pandemic, the millions of mostly women of color, mostly immigrant and often undocumented domestic workers in the U.S. had little job security. But now the current health crisis has this workforce reeling. The U.S. Senate unanimously voted on a third economic relief package last week. Altogether the federal relief fund is about $6 trillion. Families will get direct cash payouts, but this package will not benefit taxpaying undocumented people, such as the nannies who care for children, the home aides who care for the elderly and the mostly women who clean homes. "It's a real shame that the federal government is offering relief and that we are excluded," says Ingrid Vaca, an undocumented home cleaning worker, in her native Spanish. "We become invisible even though we contribute so much to this country."


April 4, 2020 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

At the Movies in the Age of Coronavirus: Glory (1989)

MV5BODhlNjA5MDEtZDVhNS00ZmM3LTg1YzAtZGRjNjhjNTAzNzVkXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjUwMzI2NzU@._V1_UY268_CR1 0 182 268_AL_


Have some exctra time for classic movies?  Here is one with a bit of Civil War history (to think of another time in which the nation was, so to say, "divided").

Glory is a 1989 film starring Matthew Broderick, Denzel Washington, Cary Elwes, and Morgan Freeman. The screenplay was based on the personal letters of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw. The film is about the first African American unit of the Union Army.  The story is told from the point of view of Colonel Shaw, its white commanding officer.  Shaw leads the first all-black volunteer company, fighting prejudices from both his own Union Army, and the Confederates.


Colonel Robert Gould Shaw

Unlike some of the other films in the "At the Movies in the Age of Coronavirus" series, this is not a goofball comedy.  But it is uplifting and inspirational.  Denzel Washington and Morgan Freeman are memorable as soldiers in Shaw's company.


April 4, 2020 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 3, 2020

The Intersection of Immigration & Patent Law


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

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

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

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


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

How coronavirus threatens the seasonal farmworkers at the heart of the American food supply



Michael Haedicke for the Conversation writes about concerns with teh future food chain.  he writes that,

"for the most part, shortages of shelf-stable items like pasta, canned beans and peanut butter are temporary because the U.S. continues to produce enough food to meet demand – even if it sometimes takes a day or two to catch up.

To keep up that pace, the food system depends on several million seasonal agricultural workers, many of whom are undocumented immigrants from Mexico and other countries. These laborers pick grapes in California, tend dairy cows in Wisconsin and rake blueberries in Maine.

As a sociologist who studies agricultural issues, including farm labor, I believe that these workers face particular risks during the current pandemic that, if unaddressed, threaten keeping those grocery store shelves well stocked."


April 3, 2020 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Decline in ICE Detainees with Criminal Records Could Shape Agency's Response to COVID-19 Pandemic


The latest available data indicate that most civil immigrant detainees held by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) do not have a single criminal conviction. In March 2020, in fact, more than six out of ten (61.2%) had no conviction, not even for a minor petty offense. The latest detailed case-by-case records obtained and analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University also reveal that even among immigrant detainees who have a conviction, few of these convictions are for what ICE labels as serious crimes where individuals are thought to pose a threat to public safety. Just one in ten (10.7%) detainees, less than 6,000 detainees nationwide, have a serious criminal conviction on record as of July 2019-a five-year low. TRAC also found that the proportion of detainees with criminal records varies widely across ICE's nationwide network of detention facilities. See newly updated details here.

These findings continue trends and confirm results on ICE detention practices previously reported by TRAC in its two-part series published last November and December.

Clink the link above for details.


April 3, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

From relying on food to delivering it: Ohio National Guard Soldier shares story of becoming U.S. citizen


Photo By Senior Master Sgt. Beth Holliker | U.S. Army National Guard Soldier, Spc. Jacque Elama, assigned to the Ohio National Guard’s HHC 1-148th Infantry Regiment – 37th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, provides assistance to the Toledo Northwestern Ohio Food Bank, April 1, 2020.

We all need a positive story in the age of coronavirus.  Spc. Jacque Elama, born in a refugee camp in Africa’s Democratic Republic of Congo, is giving back to his community during the coronavirus pandemic as a member of the Ohio Army National Guard, writes Senior Master Sgt. Beth Holliker in a profile for DVIDS (Defense Visual Information Distribution Service).

When he was nine years old, Elama and his family arrived in the U.S., initially relying on community donations for support. In 2017, he joined the Ohio National Guard. “Today, I’m helping those in need and it’s personal to me,” he said. “My family was in need when we arrived in the U.S. and all kinds of people helped us. I finally have a way to pay it forward by helping those in need in my community.”


April 3, 2020 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

From the Bookshelves: Sand and Blood: America's Stealth War on the Mexico Border by John Carlos Frey

416DTim+AwL._SX320_BO1 204 203 200_

Sand and Blood: America's Stealth War on the Mexico by John Carlos Frey (2019).

A damning portrait of the U.S.-Mexico border, where militaristic fantasies are unleashed, violent technologies are tested, and immigrants are targeted.

Over the past three decades, U.S. immigration and border security policies have turned the southern states into conflict zones, spawned a network of immigrant detention centers, and unleashed an army of ICE agents into cities across the country.

As award-winning journalist John Carlos Frey reveals in this groundbreaking book, the war against immigrants has been escalating for decades, fueled by defense contractors and lobbyists seeking profits and politicians--Republicans and Democrats alike--who relied on racist fear-mongering to turn out votes. After 9/11, while Americans' attention was trained on the Middle East and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the War on Terror was ramping up on our own soil--aimed not at terrorists but at economic migrants, refugees, and families from South and Central America seeking jobs, safety, and freedom in the U.S.

But we are no safer. Instead, families are being ripped apart, undocumented people are living in fear, and thousands of migrants have died in detention or crossing the border.

Taking readers to the Border Patrol outposts, unmarked graves, detention centers, and halls of power, Sand and Blood is a frightening, essential story we must not ignore.

Mae Kuykendall reviews Sand and Blood for Jotwell.


April 3, 2020 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Leaked Border Patrol Memo Tells Agents to Send Migrants Back Immediately — Ignoring Asylum Law


A child’s hands are washed on March 20 at an encampment in Matamoros, Mexico, of more than 2,000 migrants seeking asylum in the U.S. as local authorities prepare to respond to the coronavirus outbreak. (Daniel Becerril/Reuters)

Dara Lind for ProPublica reports that for the first time since the enactment of the Refugee Act in 1980, people who come to the U.S. saying they fear persecution in their home countries are being turned away by Border Patrol officers without a chance to seek asylum in the United States.

The shift, confirmed in internal Border Patrol guidance obtained by ProPublica, is the upshot of the Trump administration’s  emergency action to largely shut down the U.S.-Mexico border over coronavirus fears. 

The Trump administration has created numerous obstacles over recent years for migrants to seek asylum in the United States. But it had not — until now — allowed Border Patrol agents to simply expel migrants with no process whatsoever for hearing their claims.


April 3, 2020 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

At the Movies in the Time of Coronavirus: Coming to America (1988)



Looking for light films to watch during the coronavirus stay at home order?  The next in our series is Coming to America (1988).  Directed by John Landis, the film stars Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall James Earl Jones. and John Amos.

Coming to America is a 1988 American romantic comedy film. Eddie Murphy plays Akeem Joffer, the crown prince of the fictional African nation of Zamunda, who travels to the United States in the hopes of finding a woman he can marry.  As described by IMDb, "An extremely pampered African Prince travels to Queens, New York, and goes undercover to find a wife that he can respect for her intelligence and will." 


April 3, 2020 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Protecting Against Coronavirus in a Migrant Camp

Check out this BBC video (3:38) about how migrants are trying to stave off coronavirus while packed into the Moria camp in Lesbos, Greece where 18,000 live in a facility meant for 3,000.


April 2, 2020 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Trump Administration Has Turned Immigration Court Into ‘Public Health Hazard’



Sam Brodey and Scott Bixby for the Daily Beast (April 2) report on what now is the subject of litigation -- the operation of the nation's immigration courts in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic:

"In a country ground to a standstill by the coronavirus pandemic, there is one place normalcy reigns: immigration courts.

Overburdened judges oversee packed proceedings; attorneys shuttle clients and paperwork from room to room, often with interpreters in tow; aspiring legal citizens, or at least residents, follow closely, sitting through hearings famously described as death-penalty cases held in a traffic court.

The courts, along with visa applications, detention hearings and other immigration related bureaucracy, are seemingly the lone part of the federal government still expected to function as if a global pandemic hasn’t upended nearly every facet of American life. But those tasked with keeping the machine running say that they have received little guidance about how to keep the system running in the era of social isolation, and even less protection despite fears that immigration proceedings put some of the most vulnerable people in the country in the impossible position of choosing between their health or their home.

The Trump administration has refused to allow immigration courts and visa hearings to comply with the same social isolation standards followed by nearly every other civil aspect of government, and has not allowed for previously scheduled hearings to be postponed. The administration has also issued little in the way of guidance for judges, immigration attorneys or immigrants, whose hearings—which often take years to schedule—directly conflict with stay-at-home orders across the county.

“The immigration court’s refusal to adopt policies that protect the health of respondents, lawyers, judges and immigration court staff during the current pandemic forces immigrant families and their lawyers to make an impossible decision: endanger public health or risk being deported,” said Nadia Dahab, senior litigation attorney at Innovation Law Lab, one of half a dozen immigrants-rights groups that on Friday filed an emergency order challenging the operation of immigration courts despite the crisis.

“We are in the middle of a global pandemic, but the immigration court system is continuing to operate as if it’s business as usual,” said Melissa Crow, senior supervising attorney with the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Immigrant Justice Project. `The government has turned the court system into a public health hazard.'"



April 2, 2020 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)