Tuesday, August 11, 2020
This essay presents, in lightly revised form, the Henry J. Miller Distinguished Lecture delivered at Georgia State University College of Law in Atlanta, November 21, 2019.
Large-scale migration flows have sparked controversy and polarization around the globe, with increasing intensity over the past half-dozen years. Public backlash in Europe and the US has led not only to bad immigration policy, but also – increasingly – to gains by authoritarian politicians like Hungary’s Viktor Orban, who exploit the issue to undermine democracy. America is far from immune. The stakes in national debates over immigration control policies are thus frighteningly high. Most Americans share genuine pride in our heritage as a nation of immigrants. This welcoming impulse coexists, however, with a concern about control, about risks to the rule of law, when migration flows seem to defy or overwhelm government regulation. Building a sustainable, humane immigration management system has to win the support of this large, conflicted, and often inattentive middle constituency – by visibly serving both the impulse to welcome and the impulse to control. The answer is not to cut overall migration; instead we must show seriousness about curbing unauthorized migration. We need taming, not hobbling, if we are to preserve the political space for generous legal migration laws.
The essay outlines the primary reform steps needed to serve these ends. They begin with a generous one-time legalization program, which would not only recognize the human claims of long-staying de facto residents but would also free up resources for a resolute enforcement program focused on new and recent violators. Legalization might also help restore healthier forms of cooperation on the part of state and local law enforcement officials, who have in recent years rebelled against cooperation when they see deportation imposed on long-standing and well-integrated residents. Modest revisions to legal migration provisions are also in order. Other enforcement initiatives would include mandating E-Verify use by all employers and launching a systematic government effort to locate and remove new visa overstayers promptly upon expiration of their permitted stay.
Asylum reform is also acutely needed, but the asylum system, by its nature, can pose the greatest challenges to achieving reasonable control. Mastering the current immigration court backlog is essential, with timely removals of unsuccessful applicants after full and fair hearings – ideally including counsel at government expense through public-defender-style offices. In time of large-scale arrivals, as in summer 2019, further novel strategies (more humane and realistic than the Trump administration’s “Remain in Mexico” policy) may be needed: for example, international aid programs to address root causes, regional solutions incorporating extraterritorial sites for adjudication and the sharing of resettlement responsibilities, and, as necessary, centralized asylum processing and housing facilities on US territory along the southwest border.
Monday, August 10, 2020
CALL FOR PAPERS
“New Voices in Immigration Law”
Association of American Law Schools · Section on Immigration Law
January 5-9, 2021 · Online
Submission Deadline: August 15, 2020
The Section on Immigration Law of the Association of American Law Schools invites papers and works in progress for its “New Voices in Immigration Law” session at the 2021 AALS conference, which will take place January 5-9, 2021 online. This session has not yet been scheduled. We will send updated information when he have it.
This session will be structured as a series of simultaneous works-in-progress discussions, rather than as a panel. Preselected commentators will lead small-group round-table discussions of papers.
Submissions may address any aspect of immigration and citizenship law. We also welcome papers that explore these topics from alternative disciplines or perspectives.
Please note that individuals presenting at the program are responsible for their own Annual Meeting registration fee and travel expenses.
Submission Guidelines: The deadline for submissions is August 15, 2020. Feel free to submit an abstract, a précis, or a work-in-progress. Priority will be given to individuals who have never presented an immigration law paper at the AALS Annual Meeting, works not yet published or submitted for publication, and junior scholars.
Please email submissions in Microsoft Word format to profkitjohnson at gmail.com (Subject: AALS 2021: New Voices in Immigration Law). In your email, please indicate how you meet our selection priorities. If you have participated in previous AALS panels, please indicated when and in what capacity.
Inquiries: Please direct any questions or inquiries to Kit Johnson (profkitjohnson at gmail.com).
CALL FOR PAPERS
“Outsourced Borders and Invisible Walls”
Association of American Law Schools · Section on Immigration Law
January 5-9, 2021· Online
Submission Deadline: August 15, 2020
The Section on Immigration Law of the Association of American Law Schools invites papers for presentation at its principal session during the 2021 AALS Annual Meeting, which will take place January 5-9, 2021 online. This session has not yet been scheduled. We will send updated information when we have it. Please note that individuals presenting at the program are responsible for their own Annual Meeting registration fee and travel expenses
The Session theme is: “Outsourced Borders and Invisible Walls.”
This panel explores the many ways that the U.S. government relies on outsourced borders and invisible walls in its immigration policy. In recent years, the U.S. has outsourced many of its immigration enforcement functions. The federal government has delegated power and responsibility for immigration enforcement to state and local governments, to private actors, and to foreign governments. In its operation of and within detention facilities that are privately owned and maintained, its formal and informal collaboration with Mexican border agents and police, in its reliance on private contractors for building a border wall, and more, the U.S. government extensively leverages other entities and governments in its immigration enforcement efforts.
At the same time, the government has constructed a number of invisible barriers to immigration. In recent years, the White House has leveraged its control of administrative agencies to promote new barriers to immigration. Agencies and actors formally charged with protecting immigrants and workers have been repurposed to bolster immigration enforcement efforts. The resulting barriers block access to opportunities to immigrate legally under existing law and complicate individuals’ efforts to regularize their immigration status.
This panel will assess these outsourced borders and invisible walls, unpack the history behind them, and discuss the impact that these developments have had on democratic accountability and on the rights of migrants and long-term U.S. residents, including citizens.
Submission Guidelines: The deadline for submissions is August 15, 2020. We welcome submissions at any stage of development, although preference may be given to more fully developed papers over abstracts and paper proposals. Priority also will be given to individuals who have not recently presented a paper at the AALS Annual Meeting. Decisions will be made by September 30, 2020.
Please email submissions in Microsoft Word format to Jennifer M. Chacón (chacon at law.ucla.edu) with the subject “AALS Submission.” In your email, please indicate whether you have previously presented your work at an AALS Annual Meeting, and if so, when and in what capacity.
Inquiries: Please direct any questions or inquiries to Jennifer M. Chacón (chacon at law.ucla.edu) and Kit Johnson (profkitjohnson at gmail.com).
This Article addresses a long-established debate in political theory — under which circumstances is it legitimate to force people to be free? Focusing on recent cases in Europe—handshaking, gender-mixed swimming lessons, and burkini ban — the Article reveals two types of moral hypocrisy. First, there is an increasing appeal to the notion of “forcing people to be free.” This seems counter-intuitive and the antithesis of freedom, yet it is often justified based on conformity with the “general will” and the avoidance of self-imposed “harm.” The Article shows the dangerous use of the concepts of the general will and harm and claims that they are employed to legitimize the submission of the minority to the majority culture. Second, the Article indicates the double standard of European policies. While religious symbols and ways of life of the majority are first culturalized and then universalized, symbols and ways of life of the minority, even when seen as cultural, are often religionalized and politicized. This legal façade enables the majority group to frame social reality as a direct conflict between universal morality and religious fundamentalism.
From the Bookshelves: Hatemonger: Stephen Miller, Donald Trump, and the White Nationalist Agenda by Jean Guerrero
Interested in the background and mindset behind the mastermind of the Trump administration's immigration policies? If so, here is a book for you.
Hatemonger: Stephen Miller, Donald Trump, and the White Nationalist Agenda by Jean Guerrero is available tomorrow. The publisher describes the book as follows:
"Stephen Miller is one of the most influential advisors in the White House. He has crafted Donald Trump’s speeches, designed immigration policies that ban Muslims and separate families, and outlasted such Trump stalwarts as Steve Bannon and Jeff Sessions. But he’s remained an enigma.
Until now. Emmy- and PEN-winning investigative journalist and author Jean Guerrero charts the thirty-four-year-old’s astonishing rise to power, drawing from more than one hundred interviews with his family, friends, adversaries and government officials.
Radicalized as a teenager, Miller relished provocation at his high school in liberal Santa Monica, California. He clashed with administrators and antagonized dark-skinned classmates with invectives against bilingualism and multiculturalism. At Duke University, he cloaked racist and classist ideas in the language of patriotism and heritage to get them airtime amid controversies. On Capitol Hill, he served Tea Party congresswoman Michele Bachmann and nativist Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions.
Recruited to Trump’s campaign, Miller met his idol. Having dreamed of Trump’s presidency before he even announced his decision to run, Miller became his senior policy advisor and speechwriter. Together, they stoked dystopian fears about the Democrats, `Deep State' and `American Carnage,' painting migrants and their supporters as an existential threat to America. Through backroom machinations and sheer force of will, Miller survived dozens of resignations and encouraged Trump’s harshest impulses, in conflict with the president’s own family. While Trump railed against illegal immigration, Miller crusaded against legal immigration. He targeted refugees, asylum seekers and their children, engineering an ethical crisis for a nation that once saw itself as the conscience of the world. Miller rallied support for this agenda, even as federal judges tried to stop it, by courting the white rage that found violent expression in tragedies from El Paso to Charlottesville.
Hatemonger unveils the man driving some of the most divisive confrontations over what it means to be American––and what America will become.'
Vanity Fair published an excerpt of the book. I found this paragraph from the excerpt revealing and not surprising:
"Stephen Miller was into mobster movies. Growing up, the walls of his bedroom were decorated with framed posters of Casino and Goodfellas—two of his favorite films. The characters in the Martin Scorsese films are largely amoral, but they live by a code. In Goodfellas, Robert De Niro’s character summed it up, “Never rat on your friends, and always keep your mouth shut.” Miller occasionally styled himself after De Niro’s characters in those films. He wore a golden pinkie ring and slicked back his hair, polo shirts and button-downs with nice pants and a jacket—so he looked like a mobster."
Sunday, August 9, 2020
CNN reports that former President George W. Bush will release a book of 43 portraits of immigrants in conjunction with an exhibition on the value of American immigration at the George W. Bush Presidential Center that will feature the paintings. The book will be titled "Out of Many, One" and will be published in March, 2021.
Kirkus released a statement saying that
"Bush’s Out of Many, One: Portraits of America’s Immigrants will contain his portraits of immigrants along with their personal stories. The book will coincide with an exhibition of Bush’s portraits at his presidential center in Dallas.
`While I recognize that immigration can be an emotional issue, I reject the premise that it is a partisan issue,' Bush writes in the introduction to the book. `It is perhaps the most American of issues, and it should be one that unites us.…My hope is that this book will help focus our collective attention on the positive impacts that immigrants are making on our country.'”
On August 5, 2020, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) decided Matter of Nivelo Cardenas, 28 I&N Dec. 68 (BIA 2020), holding that “where an alien who has been personally served with a notice to appear advising him of the requirement to notify the Immigration Court of his correct address fails to do so and is ordered removed in absentia for failure to appear for the scheduled hearing, reopening of the proceedings to rescind his order of removal based on a lack of proper notice is not warranted under section 240(b)(5)(C)(ii) of the Act.”
In the case on review, the respondent listed his street address as the town of “Patcbogue,” New York. Notice was sent to the court at that address and returned to the immigration court stamped “ATTEMPTED, NOT KNOWN.” The respondent’s correct address was in the town of “Patchogue,” New York. The respondent never received the notice that was sent to the wrong address. He was ordered deported in absentia, without ever appearing in immigration court.
The respondent later filed a motion to reopen arguing that he did not receive notice of the hearing. The immigration judge rejected the motion, and the BIA affirmed. Even though it was undisputed that he did not receive the notice of the hearing, the BIA found that “he was on notice that he had a duty to correct his address information . . .”
The lack of an adequate system for providing notice of hearings is a serious problem in immigration court. In Nivelo Cardenas, the respondent received a notice to appear, but it did not contain the time and date of the hearing. At oral argument in Pereira v. Sessions, 138 S. Ct. 2105 (2018), we learned this is normal. Counsel for the government revealed that “almost 100 percent” of notices to appear issued over the preceding three years had omitted the date and time of the court hearing.
In a recent study of in absentia removal, Steven Shafer and I argue that the U.S. immigration court should learn from other court systems that have designed innovative programs to remind people about their court dates. For example, county programs in Arizona and Colorado have slashed in absentia rates in half after unrepresented individuals were called by telephone to remind them about their upcoming misdemeanor court hearings.
As Sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, Joe Arpaio often was called "America's Toughest Sheriff." He also was known for his devotion to immigration enforcement.
The election results for Arpaio's latest run for office are in. Arpaio lost the Republican primary race for Maricopa County Sheriff to his former deputy, Jerry Sheridan.
Arpaio, 88, was previously Maricopa County Sheriff for 24 years before losing his post in 2016.
Arpaio was known for his immigration stops, in which sheriffs would target detain Latino residents on suspicion of immigration law violations. A court found the Maricopa County Sheriffs Office engaged in unlawful racial profiling and enjoined the practice. Arpaio later was convicted of criminal contempt for violating that court order. President Trump pardoned Arpai.
So long, Joe Arpaio.
From the Hill:
By Eric Cohen and Melissa Rodgers of the Immigrant Legal Resource Center:
For decades, naturalization has had bipartisan consensus, with both Democrats and Republicans promoting naturalization and paying homage to the many important contributions that naturalized citizens have made to our society, our economy, and our democracy. Naturalization has become an extremely arduous process, including extensive residency requirements, and a more thorough knowledge of U.S. history and government than most individuals born in the U.S. possess. Securing citizenship shows a deep commitment to the United States.
From its beginning, the Trump administration not only eschewed this bipartisan consensus, but it has also done its best to slow down further and complicate the naturalization process, turning U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) into a de facto enforcement agency. Now, by finalizing an unprecedented rise in naturalization fees and ending a waiver program eliminating those fees for qualifying low-income immigrants, the Trump administration has instituted what amounts to the United States' first-ever wealth test for citizenship, making it next to impossible for millions of lower-income immigrants ever to become full participants in our democracy.
The Trump administration tried to justify its new Fee Rule by claiming that USCIS needed to raise fees for naturalization, work permits, green cards, and asylum applications due to an unprecedented increase in the number of new applications for these benefits. Many advocates, including the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, pointed out that the administration has relied on bad math and faulty revenue modeling to arrive at this conclusion. The administration failed to address this issue, and it has also undercut its rationale by asking for a USCIS bailout from Congress based on a COVID-related decrease in applications. The administration cannot have it both ways.
The Dig podcast interviews Kelly Lytle Hernández about her book Migra! A History of the U.S. Border Patrol. The book, which is well-worth reading to understand the modern border enforcement machinery, is abstracted below:
Political awareness of the tensions in U.S.-Mexico relations is rising in the twenty-first century; the American history of its treatment of illegal immigrants represents a massive failure of the promises of the American dream. This is the untold history of the United States Border Patrol from its beginnings in 1924 as a small peripheral outfit to its emergence as a large professional police force that continuously draws intense scrutiny and denunciations from political activism groups. To tell this story, MacArthur "Genius" Fellow Kelly Lytle Hernández dug through a gold mine of lost and unseen records and bits of biography stored in garages, closets, an abandoned factory, and in U.S. and Mexican archives. Focusing on the daily challenges of policing the Mexican border and bringing to light unexpected partners and forgotten dynamics, Migra! reveals how the U.S. Border Patrol translated the mandate for comprehensive migration control into a project of policing immigrants and undocumented “aliens” in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands.
Professor Hernandez starts talking about ten minutes into the podcast.
Saturday, August 8, 2020
ICE and DOJ Announce Indictments from Largest Single-State Worksite Enforcement Action in Nation’s History
Last August, Immigration and Customs Enforcement conducted workplace raids at food processing plants in Morton, Mississippi. 680 people reportedly were arrested. The raids happened to be on the first day of school and many of those arrested were not at home when their children came home from school.
A year after the raids, U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst, joined by Acting Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Matt Albence, ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) New Orleans Acting Special Agent in Charge Gilbert Trill, and U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector General Special Agent in Charge Rafiq Ahmad announced indictments against four individuals who were managers, supervisors, or human resources personnel at the plants, which allegedly employed undocumented immigrants, subject to the raids.
Friday, August 7, 2020
The Dialogue: Leadership for the Americas:
NEW REPORT: Migrants, Remittances, and Covid-19. Remittance Behavior and Economic and Health Vulnerabilities
This report from the Migration, Remittances and Development Program examines how the Covid-19 pandemic will impact immigrants from Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) with a focus on those residing in the United States, Spain, Italy and Canada. It considers how the pandemic has affected unemployment among immigrants as well as their unique risk of exposure to health vulnerabilities and financial shocks. It also estimates the expected decline in remittances from the United States to the LAC as a result of these and related factors. To conclude, the report outlines recommendations for host countries to better mitigate the pandemic's negative financial impacts on both immigrants and countries that are impacted by a decline in remittances.
• Latin American and Caribbean migrants are mostly concentrated in countries considered the "hot spots" of the Covid-19 pandemic. Migrant workers are uniquely vulnerable to economic and health impacts of the pandemic especially due to their limited access of the host countries' public assistance.
• Over three million migrants in the United States will become unemployed due to the pandemic. Migrants have limited options to switch occupations due to retail and service industries being largely shutdown. The negative financial consequences of migrants' contracting Covid-19 are compounded by migrants' low access to health insurance or public assistance to buffer sudden loss of income or unexpected expenses.
• Authors estimate a 16 percent decline in remittances from the United States to Latin American and Caribbean remittance receiving countries from 2019. Estimates suggest that due to unemployment alone, remittances in 2020 will decline by over 10 billion dollars compared to 2019.
• Migrants in the United States are at higher risk of being impacted by the pandemic's consequences. Unemployment data indicates that, compared to their counterparts born in the United States, immigrants have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic's impact on unemployment, especially those working in transportation, utilities, leisure and hospitality.
From Southeast Asia Resource Action Center:
|Elaine Sanchez Wilson
Southeast Asia Resource Action Center
Marketing & IT Manager
Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta
(404) 585-8446 Ext. 104
Organizing Director at AARW
Vietnamese Anti-Deportation Network
Asian Prisoner Support Committee
Southeast Asian Freedom Network
NBC News reports that a 72-year-old Canadian man who had tested positive for the coronavirus died yesterday in Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody.
More than twice as many immigrants have died in the custody of Immigration and Customs and Enforcement this fiscal year than last after two detainees died this week. That brought this year's total to 17, compared with eight deaths last year.
The noncitizen had been detained at a facility in Farmville, Virginia operated by Immigration Centers of America. According to a story in BuzzFeed News, the Farmville detention center "has the second-highest number of positive COVID-19 tests among immigrant detainees at 290. He had tested positive for COVID-19 before his death, according to a source with knowledge of the matter."
"[He] entered ICE custody April 15 following his release from the Rivers Federal Correctional Institute in Winton, North Carolina, after serving more than 13 years of a 26-year prison sentence. He was convicted in March 2007 for health care fraud and distributing a controlled substance. An immigration judge ordered his removal May 12."
Immigration Nation, now streaming on Netflix, offers a treasure trove of film to use in the classroom. Here is just one possibility using Episode 1 (Installing Fear).
Try playing 29:24-28:26, 8:20-7:25, and 5:25-2:00. These are countdown numbers, which are easier to find on Netflix than the minute markers when they appear. Though you'd be looking at roughly minutes 71-72, 92-93, and 95-98. This will give you approximately 5 minutes of film.
You'll be introduced to the gentleman in the foreground of the photo on the right and his young daughter in the middle-back of the photo. The two talk about family separation.
Dad (interview 1, crying): "When I was at ICE, they told me that they were going to separate us forever. She was going to stay here. I don't know in whose hands."
Dad (interview 2): Discusses how his daughter saw her mother murdered, how he took her to a psychologist who told him "You must always be close to her."
Reunion, Daughter (interview 1): Recounting how officials said "That I would never get to see you again, that they are going to move me from home to home. I told them I would see you again but they just told me that I would never see you again, and I cried."
These segments put a human face on the issue of family separation. It's impossible not to be moved by the two. Also, what kind of monster tells a kid that she'll never see her dad again?
The segments also offer real insight into how people process trauma differently. The dad is sobbing, his pain obvious and visible. The daughter has a thousand yard stare. She's crying, but it's like the tears are just running out of her while she stares into the far distance and tries to shut it out.
This concept -- that clients will present trauma differently -- is one that I've been trying to emphasize for years. I use John Oliver's discussion of visas for war translators and talk about how "flat" one interviewee is when talking about his father's murder and his brother's kidnapping.
Of course, you can also refer back to these same 5 minutes of film when you're teaching asylum. What information is missing from the story that would need to be established before this family might be eligible for asylum?
The American Immigration Council released new data on the U.S. immigrant population and their contributions. The Immigrants in the United States fact sheet includes data on population size, occupation, and tax contributions, as well as data on undocumented immigrants and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients.
The Council’s fact sheet, Immigrants in the United States, shows that 14% of the nation’s residents are foreign-born, over half of whom are naturalized citizens. Nearly 75% of all immigrants, who come from diverse backgrounds across the globe, report speaking English well or very well. Immigrants make up significant shares of the U.S. workforce in a range of industries, accounting for over a third of all farming, fishing, and forestry workers—as well as nearly 25% of those working in computer and math sciences. The highest number of immigrants work in the health care and social service industry, with over 4 million immigrants providing these services.
The fact sheet also reveals that immigrants in the United States made up 17% of the state’s labor force in 2018 and contributed $308.6 billion in federal taxes and $150 billion in state and local taxes. As consumers, immigrants spent $1.2 trillion on the United States’ economy in 2018. Immigrant entrepreneurs in the United States accounted for 21% of all self-employed U.S. residents and generated $84.3 billion in business revenue in 2018.
As of 2019, the United States was home to 643,560 active DACA recipients, and 49% of DACA-eligible immigrants in the nation had applied for DACA. Recipients of DACA and those meeting the eligibility requirements for DACA paid an estimated $1.7 billion in combined state and local taxes in 2018.
Undocumented immigrants comprised 3% of the United States’ total population and 5% of the nation’s workforce in 2016. Undocumented immigrants in the United States paid an estimated $20.1 billion in federal taxes and $11.8 billion in combined state and local taxes in 2018.
Immigration Article of the Day: The DACA Decision and Requiring Agencies to Turn 'Square Corners': Reading Reliance Interests into Immigration Law by Peter Margulies
The DACA Decision and Requiring Agencies to Turn 'Square Corners': Reading Reliance Interests into Immigration Law by Peter Margulies, Cato Supreme Court Review 2019-2020 (Forthcoming)
In holding that the Trump administration's rescission of President Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program impermissibly cut corners, the Supreme Court prompted a robust debate on the interaction of administrative and immigration law. Chief Justice Roberts's opinion for the Court in Dep't of Homeland Security v. Regents of the Univ. of California centered on the reliance interests of DACA recipients, who study, work, care for their families, and serve in the military. This Article locates Regents in a tradition of executive branch stewardship over intending Americans that dates back to the Founding Era.
Stewardship requires consistency and equitable balancing, including synergy between expectations and the public interest. In Regents, Chief Justice Roberts found consistency lacking in the differences between DHS's 2017 and 2018 explanations for ending DACA. Applying administrative law's Chenery doctrine, Chief Justice Roberts considered only the 2017 version and found that DHS had not fulfilled its "responsibility" to expressly deliberate about DACA recipients' expectations and alternatives to an outright rescission. Chief Justice Roberts's skepticism about agency rationales echoed his view in the 2019 census case that the Commerce Department's rationale for asking a citizenship question was "pretextual." Requiring more careful deliberation from DHS in Regents, Chief Justice Roberts cited DACA recipients' contributions to American economic and social well-being.
In dissent, Justices Thomas and Kavanaugh asserted that the majority had required too much of DHS. Justice Kavanaugh argued that Chief Justice Roberts's reading of the Chenery doctrine was too broad. Justice Thomas argued that DACA was too large a program to fit within the Immigration and Nationality Act's carefully crafted framework. The Article assesses these cogent arguments, but ultimately concludes that Chief Justice Roberts was correct that DHS's 2017 explanation did not adequately weigh the reliance interests involved in the DACA rescission.
Thursday, August 6, 2020
From the Southern Poverty Law Center:
SPLC Files Class Action Lawsuit Targeting Arkansas Farm Labor Contractor Exploiting Migrant Workers
El Dorado, Ark. – Today, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of migrant workers who have faced rampant wage theft by a major farm labor contractor, Lowry Farms, Inc. The guest workers planted sugarcane on farms throughout Louisiana for little pay after leaving their homes and families and spending considerable amounts of money to work for Lowry Farms.
In addition to two named plaintiffs, Antonio-Benito v. Lowry Farms, Inc. was brought on behalf of around 2,000 Mexican migrant workers who planted sugarcane at the farm in Louisiana.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in the Western District of Arkansas, outlines Lowry Farms’ ongoing failure to comply with federal and state laws that led to the workers earning less than the minimum wage due to improper reimbursement for visa and transportation costs, the underreporting of hours worked, and shifting required business expenses onto the workers.
“Lowry Farms is using the guest worker program to exploit workers by grossly underpaying them and forcing them to work under conditions that verge on a modern form of indentured servitude,” said SPLC's Immigrant Justice Project Senior Supervising Attorney Anne Janet Hernandez Anderson, who is representing the workers. “This systematic failure to protect guest workers from the abuse the program enables and ignores must end.”
One of the workers spoke of his treatment saying, “We were treated like slaves; that’s what made me feel the worst. I felt pressured by the overall treatment we were receiving and the amount of work that was demanded of us.”
The plaintiffs are migrant workers who came to the United States on temporary H-2A visas. Their lawsuit seeks restitution of unpaid wages, an award of money damages and a court order requiring the defendants to comply with federal regulations governing the H-2A program.
For decades, the SPLC has fought for guest worker rights and against the exploitation of workers employed under the nation’s H-2 guest worker program, under which U.S. employers recruit more than 200,000 foreign workers each year to perform temporary labor in farming, forestry, seafood-processing, landscaping, tourism, construction and other labor-intensive industries.
A new report from the Hope Border Institute finds that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has not only failed to protect detainees from COVID-19, but also actively facilitated the spread of the virus by continuing unsafe practices. “For example, ICE continues to transfer detainees between facilities, greatly increasing the risk of contagion. Reports from detained migrants also indicate that COVID positive detainees have been removed and then returned to barracks and co-mingled with the general population while still sick,” writes Hannah Hollandbyrd, the lead author of the report.
Outside the detention facilities, the virus is causing havoc in the border region. California’s Imperial County, a largely Latino and low-income community along the U.S./Mexican border, has seen nearly triple the number of COVID cases per capita of Los Angeles County, the largest county in the nation. “There is no single reason for Imperial County’s plight, but inequalities loom large,” reports Elliot Spagat for the Associated Press. “Imperial is 85% percent Latino, with elevated rates of diabetes and obesity. Wind-blown dust contributes to asthma. Its 21% poverty rate is among California’s highest. Crowded, multigeneration households spread the virus quickly.”
Are you a Disney+ subscriber? If so, I highly recommend you check out the cartoon Phineas and Ferb. I've loved this show for a long time and even have a law review article that is named after (and significantly quotes) a bit.
One of the best characters is Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz who is often engaging in flashbacks to his horrendous childhood in Drusselstein. But then, one day, he boarded a ship to leave the country (albeit unknowingly): see 7:38-8:07.
As Doofenshmirtz says: "I was heading to a golden land of opportunity, a land with pioneering spirit which welcomed misfits like me. But, I ended up in America instead."
Hey, I had some tech savvy folks at work cut that clip down to just the America part. You can get it here.