Sunday, June 19, 2022

Chinese Laundry Exhibit at Yosemite National Park

We spent our first summer vacation at Yosemite National Park. It was my third visit to the park and much is the same. The scenery in Yosemite Valley remains spectacular: granite rock faces, rushing water falls, popping wildflowers. The unexpected treasure was Mariposa Grove and nearby Wawona, at the south entrance to the park: majestic giant sequoias, scarred from wildfire and yet with leaves reaching for the sky and glistening with afternoon sunlight. Ranger Connie Lau, who was until recently a high school teacher, took us on a walk that prompted us to observe and connect with the natural world. She asked us about our roots before describing the expansive root system that holds steady these giants, the protective devices that keep us healthy such as nutrition and hydration, and what makes us stand tall.  Her last question to the group was about legacy, taking note that the oldest of the sequoias had been dated 3,000 years and that the grove had lived through generations of parkgoers and national affairs. She recommended we consider those who built the paths we walked on... and provided the services that made possible our visits through the decades. That led her to recommend the Chinese laundry exhibit, adjacent to the Wawona Hotel, a few short miles from the Mariposa Grove. 

Drawing on research from Park Ranger Yenyen Chan (who had interned at NPS while a Yale undergraduate), this in-depth feature from the Sierra Club explains that the exhibit opened in October 2021 to commemorate the 130th anniversary of the park and the workers who contributed to and sustained it. The Gold Rush fueled interest in the Sierras and Yosemite Valley. In order to accommodate the visitors, Yosemite built two stagecoach roads and employed Chinese immigrant workers who had grown disillusioned with gold prospecting after the imposition of taxes on foreign miners. In the 1870s, 300 immigrants worked to build roads by carving and blasting a path to the Wawona hotel. In 1882, 250 Chinese workers worked alongside other laborers to build a 56-mile road from Crocker’s Station to Tioga Pass, at 9,945 feet. The Chinese were paid $1.20 per day, while the European American workers made $1.50 per day.

Rangers discovered the humble brown structure and cast aside relics of the Chinese laundry workers who cleaned and pressed clothing and hotel linens for the Wawona Hotel before the structure fell into disuse. This is the site of the new exhibit. Displays showcase historic photographs, artwork, and artifacts found in the park over a century ago. There is a 1915 photo of the beloved backcountry cook Tie Sing with Stephen T. Mather and the Mather Mountain Party as well. There are some interactive activities for visitors, asking them about their experiences with migration or to explain the hardest job they've ever done on a slip of cloth to be hung on a clothes line. The most moving to me was an activity inspired by the tradition of Chinese laundries in America, which would enclose a small piece of paper with Chinese calligraphy into finished pieces of laundry. Visitors are asked to write a note of encouragement to the Chinese laundry workers. The visitors before us wrote notes of thank you for their contributions and their sacrifices. My family, born of Chinese immigrants to the US post-1965, added to their thanks and included an apology for the Chinese Exclusion Act and discrimination that would follow notwithstanding their contributions. We also included assurances that their legacy would be remembered through exhibits such as this one and the small but growing contingent of Chinese American rangers committed to telling their stories.



Yosemite National Park (2)

Yosemite National Park (3)

Yosemite National Park

June 19, 2022 in Data and Research, Food and Drinks, Photos, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 3, 2022

Visiting Newly-Opened Angel Island Immigration Museum

A visit to the Angel Island Immigration Station is now enhanced by the newly-opened Immigration Museum. While the historic immigration station focuses on Chinese immigration during the time period 1880-1940, the new immigration museum brings immigration history up to date, from 1940-modern day. The new museum is located within the renovated hospital adjacent to the original station, and it fittingly begins with discussion of how gatekeeping figures into entry, public health inspections, and quarantines. The rest of the immigration museum depicts other dimensions of immigration exclusion, tracing change - or the lack thereof) -over time and across different immigration groups.

The exhibits are engaging and informative, with multimedia video and audio displays, original artifacts, and meeting spaces for community events. There is some interaction, such as the separate doors to the museum labeled "European" and "non-European"; a guide told us there was a third door for "Chinese" that is not reproduced. Inside the building, one exhibit begins with the Chinese Exclusion Act and then continues with Asiatic Barred Zones that impeded entry from Japanese and Korean immigrants before mentioning the Hart Cellar Act of 1965 that eliminated national origin quotas and ending in a display of 140 candles to "light the darkness" since Chinese Exclusion. There are pointed references to continuities between immigration detention of the Chinese, Japanese and Korean immigrants, and Central American immigrants in modern detention, including the practice of family separation. Another exhibit highlights the changing origins of refugees. Not to dwell only on the dark side of immigration history, there are displays celebrating contributions of immigrants to the U.S. -- to small businesses, technology, and more generally. 

While I've been studying immigration history for a long time and first visited Angel Island as a child, I learned a lot from the new museum. If you cannot make it to Angel Island in-person, the website has an impressive virtual gallery that includes 3D tours of some of the exhibits.





June 3, 2022 in Data and Research, Film & Television, Photos | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 4, 2022

Honoring Dolores Huerta's Legacy Photoessay by David Bacon


Dolores Huerta and other farmworkers who marched for 20 days to Sacramento wore wooden crosses to show their status as peregrinos

This photo © by David Bacon.  This is one of a number of photographs taken from a larger body of images in the David Bacon Archive in the Special Collections of the Green Library at Stanford University.  For a full selection of photos click here.

Check out this photoessay in The Nation (April 2, 2022) by award winning photographer David Bacon.


April 4, 2022 in Current Affairs, Photos | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, February 11, 2022

Photo Exhibit: Davis Bacon, MORE THAN A WALL/MAS QUE UN MURO


Photo courtesy of David Bacon.  All rights reserved.

If you happen to be in the Bay Area, here is a photo exhibit well worth seeing.  David Bacon, is an activist, photographer, and social commentator.


Border Communities and their Social Justice Movements
Photographs by David Bacon

78 Photographs, 6 Text Panels
All captions and text in the show are bilingual English/Spanish

San Francisco Public Library, Jewett Gallery
Main Library, 100 Larkin St., Civic Center
February 12 to May 22, 2022

Show opens Saturday, February 12, 1pm
Panel Discussion:  The Media, Art and the Border


February 11, 2022 in Current Affairs, Photos | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, November 14, 2021

A Navy medic and photographer uses art to reflect on his time in Afghanistan

After twenty years of war in Afghanistan, I feel that I should know more about the country.  This NPR report focuses on Chief Petty Officer Joshua Ives' 15,000 photographs that he took in Afghanistan. Take a look at some of the images from his mixed-media project.

I do not have copyright permission to post any of the pictures on this blog or I would.  They offer an interesting bird's eye view of Afghanistan.


November 14, 2021 in Current Affairs, Photos | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 5, 2021

National Geographic: "A hunger crisis forces Guatemalans to choose: migration or death"

For years, there have been a steady stream of migrants from Guatemala, and all of Central America, to the United States.   Civil wars, violence, poverty, and more have contributed to the migration.

In the first dispatch from a new series on migration in the Americas ("A hunger crisis forces Guatemalans to choose: migration or death" (July 26, 2021),  National Geographic looks at how hunger is forcing migrants to flee Guatemala.

The story is worth a read.  And, as always, National Geographic has great pictures!


August 5, 2021 in Current Affairs, Photos | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, April 3, 2021

Another Border Wall Video For Your Class

I've been using the Telegraph's video of drug smugglers climbing the border wall with their bare hands for some years now. It's a great conversation starter in thinking about whether walls prevent or deter migration. This week, another dramatic border wall video came to light, featuring smugglers dropping two young girls over the wall:

Border Patrol has released a photo showing the two very young girls in USBP custody, sharing a snack with USBP Agent Gloria Chavez, both hale and hearty.


The girls, just 5 and 3 years old, came from Ecuador to join their mother in the United States.


April 3, 2021 in Current Affairs, Photos | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 22, 2021

Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) Shares Photographs of Child Detention Center

Head over to Axios to see photos shared (but not taken) by Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) of the crowded conditions facing child migrants in a Border Patrol tent camp in Donna, Texas. You'll see lots of those emergency blankets made out of mylar, along with grey sleeping pads on the floor.

Apparently USBP has set up "pods" in soft-sided tents. Each is supposed to hold 260 migrants, but, over the weekend, one held more than 400.

Sharing of these photos is particularly important in light of reporter complaints about access to detention facilities.


March 22, 2021 in Photos | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

"Encounters at the Border"

In a Harvard Magazine, Lydialyle Gibson highlights the work of photographer Morgan Smith, who has spent a decade documenting life along the U.S.-Mexico border. Smith’s work provides a glimpse into the unique experience of life on the border, from migrant families camped out awaiting asylum hearings to Mexican soldiers guarding the border wall. "I think it’s hard for Americans to imagine what it’s like … to come from a very poor area in, say, Honduras, which is one of the most dangerous countries in the world, and travel thousands of miles to Juárez, another dangerous place, where you know nobody, not really being sure what’s going to happen to you," Smith said of the families he photographed. "It’s pretty heroic." 

Click the link above and check out the pictures.


February 10, 2021 in Current Affairs, Photos | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Immigration Headlines of the Year


This week, the ImmigrationProf blog has been celebrating some milestones of 2020.  I thought that the headlines below deserved a post all of their own.  In some ways, the headlines exemplify the bluntness and harshness of the 2020.  Both include a reference to Stephen Miller, senior Trump advisor and immigration guru.

Vanity Fair sure grabs attention with this one:  "STEPHEN MILLER RACES TO F--K OVER IMMIGRANTS ON HIS WAY OUT THE DOOR. "  Caps in the original.

Another great one from Vanity Fair


December 24, 2020 in Current Affairs, Photos | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 21, 2020

Top 10 Immigration Stories of 2020

2020 is coming to an end and it is a good time for reflection.  I reviewed the blog postings for the entire year to identify the Top 10 Immigration Stories of 2020, an amazing, momentous,  and memorable year.  2020 was an historic year, marked by a global pandemic, economic turmoil, mass protests of police killings of African Americans, and more. 

On a celebratory note, July saw the addition of  Professor Ingrid V. Eagly, to the ImmigrationProf Blog! 


Here are my top immigration stories for 2020:


1.  President Donald J. Trump again was the Immigration Story of the year. 

Like it or not, he kept immigration in the headlines with his administration's effort at every turn to restrict immigration and facilitate removals.  Think of the many things that he brought us in the immigration realm in 2020.

I tried to pull a few remarkable Trump immigration measures that have been largely forgotten in the dizzying array of initiatives that will be studied by scholars for decades, if not centuries:

December asylum regulations that arguably mark the "death" asylum in the United States.

New immigration billboards. ICE billboards.  This is truly hard to believe.


Declaration of November 1 as a "National Day of Remembrance for Those Killed by Illegal Aliens."  This is another incredible announcement.

The continuation of family separation and the inability to reunite families.  See here.  This is no less than tragic and we should all wonder what kind of country we live in.

We should not forget the President's frequent creative use of "alternative facts."  For example, the President said most asylum seekers don’t show up for their court hearings. A study showed that 99% do.





2.    President-Elect Joe Biden Wins the 2020 Election and  Promises a Sea-Change in Immigration Policy and Enforcement.

The election of Joe Biden as President promises big changes in immigration policy.  I, for one, am glad that "help is on the way."  The question is just how much change will the nation see.  Will President Biden repeat President Obama's "deporter in chief" approach?  How hard will the Abolish ICE activists push the Biden administration?

There already are signs of change on the horizon.  See Biden Announces Intention to Nominate Alejandro Mayorkas as Homeland Security SecretaryNBC News reports that President-elect Joe Biden has announced that Alejandro Mayorkas will be his nominee for Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).  Mayorkas previously served as Deputy Secretary of DHS in the Obama administration.


3. COVID affected the entire world, including immigration.  In 2020, COVID immigration stories just kept coming.

Global Migration On Pause for Coronavirus

President Trump did not allow the pandemic "opportunity" to pass without finding a way to restrict migration.  See, for example, March 2020 Presidential Proclamation—Suspension of Entry as Immigrants and Nonimmigrants of Certain Additional Persons Who Pose a Risk of Transmitting 2019 Novel Coronavirus.

At about the same time (March 1, 2020), President Trump called  coronavirus criticism Democrats' "new hoax" and linked it to immigration.

The Impact of COVID-19 on Noncitizens and Across the U.S. Immigration System

The Hotspots in Hiding:  COVID-19 and Immigrant Detention

Latinos as "Essential" Workers

Latino USA:  Immigrants in ICE Detention Face The Threat Of COVID-19


Sadly, the pandemic led by a spike in hate crimes directed at Asian Americans.  President Trump linked COVID-19 to the Chinese in racist references to the "Chinese virus" and "Kung flu."

Anti-Asian Hate Crimes Increase during Pandemic

California study tracks hate crimes against Asian Americans amid COVID-19 outbreak

The Other Problematic Outbreak:  As the coronavirus spreads across the globe, so too does racism

Calling COVID-19 a ‘Chinese virus’ is wrong and dangerous – the pandemic is global



Of course, the pandemic has affected teaching with remote instruction taking over, Teaching Online: Reflections on Week One, and immigration services, A Sign of the Times:  A drive-thru naturalization ceremony.




4.  Immigration Decisions in the Supreme Court, 2019 Term

The Supreme Court decided two major immigration decisions, both of which were issued in the waning days of the 2020 Term. 

The long-awaited decision in Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of the University of California surprised some Court watchers.  The Court, in an majority opinion by Chief Justice John Roberts, held that the the Trump administration's attempt to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy was arbitrary and capricious in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act.   The plurality rejected an Equal Protection claim that the rescission was a product of anti-Latinx animus.  After the Court's decision rejecting the rescission, the Department of Homeland Security refused to accept new DACA applications.  A federal court ordered the Trump administration to reinstate DACA in full and to once again accept new applications. DHS is complying with the court order.

The Court also decided an important case involving the judicial review of an expedited removal decision.  Department of Homeland Security v. Thuraissigiam raised the issue of the constitutionality of expedited removal of a Sri Lankan asylum applicant apprehended shortly after he entered the United States.  Recall that the Trump administration has sought to expand expedited removal, which increased the importance of the case.  

A 5-4 Court, in an opinion by Justice Alito, held that, as applied to the case before it, the expedited removal statute did not violate the provision of the U.S. Constitution barring the suspension of habeas corpus.  Thuraissigiam was apprehended about 25 yards from the U.S./Mexico border after entering the United States without inspection. The majority held that, because it applies to challenges to detention and Thuraissigiam sought review of his asylum claim rather than release from custody, the Suspension Clause did not apply to this case and that the 1996 immigration reforms barred judicial review of the Thuraissigiam's asylum claim.  The Court also rejected the arguments that Thuraissigiam's due process rights had been violated by the lack of a court hearing on his asylum claims.  In so doing, the majority invoked extreme plenary power cases, including Knauff and MezeiBesides reinvigorated the plenary power doctrine, the decision puts into question the bright line rule that noncitizens apprehended in the United States possess the full panoply of Due Process rights. For criticism of the Court's decision, see here.



5.  U.S. Refugee Admissions at Forty Year Low (and here)

The administration cut refugee admissions to 15,000, the lowest since the passage of the Refugee Act of 1980.




6.   Immigration Court Backlog FY 2021 Begins with Largest Immigration Court Backlog on Record

TRAC Immigration reported that Fiscal Year 2021 began with the largest number of immigration court cases in its active backlog to date; in October, 1,273,885 immigration cases were pending. 918,673 or 72 percent of the cases involved nationals from Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and El Salvador. Over four out of every ten immigrants waiting to have their cases heard were from Guatemala and Honduras. Mexicans had fallen to third place, followed by Salvadorans. 


7.  DHS Busts Up BLM Protests 

Summer saw protests across the country as the nation mourned the mourn the loss of George Floyd.  RIP: George Floyd  In an incredible step stomping on fundamental notions of federalism, President Trump used Department of Homeland Security Officers to bring "law and order" to cities seeing Black Lives Matter protests.  See

Trump’s "Paramilitary Units" Trained at the Border for the Assaults on Portland Moms

WTF is Happening in Portland?

U.S.Immigration Officers Were Deployed at Black Lives Matter Protests 





President Donald Trump, then-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and then- chief strategist Steve Bannon in the Oval Office of the White House. | AP Photo/Alex Brandon




8.   Steve Bannon, three others charged with fraud in border wall fundraising campaign. 

We later learned that the Border Patrol considered accepting a donation from We Build the Wall, the fraudulent front for Bannon's scheme.  Leaked documents undermined the Trump administration’s attempts to distance itself following Bannon's arrest.

Sad to say, but this story made be laugh.  Bannon was arrested on his yacht.  Can you imagine the reaction if this indictment occurred in any other administration?  Big news!  But only a blip on the radar scheme in the Trump years.




9.  "Racist Conspiracy Theory"? Controversy Over Republican Claim that Kamala Harris is Not Eligible to Be President

Need more be said.


10.  New Citizenship Test (and here) and here.

The more rigorous test no doubt was designed to reduce the number of naturalized citizens (and voters).


Honorable Mentions



Photo courtesy of the National Archives Foundation

1.  40 years of the Refugee Act of 1980 -- The Refugee Act of 1980:  A Forlorn Anniversary 

2020 saw the 40th anniversary of the Refugee Act of 1980, a humanitarian law limited in its application by the Trump administration.


BrexitPhoto courtesy of Don Roth

2.  Brexit Becomes A Reality  The United Kingdom implements Brexit.


3.  First Latino DACA recipient wins RhodesA feel good story for 2020 -- and we needed one

Rhodes winner Santiago Potes is pictured with elementary school teacher Marina Esteva, who he describes as "one of the biggest blessings that I've had in my life so far."  It gives me goosebumps to think how big a difference this dedicated teacher made to a young person's life.


December 21, 2020 in Current Affairs, Film & Television, Photos | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, October 24, 2020

NYT Visits Refugee Camp on US Border in Matamoros

The NYT coverage of the refugee camp on the U.S./Mexico border in Matamoros is a must read. It shows the real impact of MPP on those who have sought asylum in the United States yet have been told to wait in Mexico while their cases are processed. They're living in tents, without electricity or plumbing or schooling. Many have been there for an entire year. 

The article includes stunning photos of camp life.


October 24, 2020 in Current Affairs, Photos | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Family History

I recently cleaned out my grandfather's basement where I found a treasure trove of historical family documents. Here are the naturalization certificates for my great-grandparents. Feel free to use them in your powerpoints if you need an example of a naturalization certificate.



Interesting that Polyn (who I've always known as Paula) naturalized 11 years after her husband. I don't know why and, unfortunately, there's no one left to ask. But I've still got an entire box of records to go through so I may learn more yet! 


September 1, 2020 in Photos | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Lingering Ghosts by Sam Ivin

Time waiting for asylum: 8 months
(c) Sam Ivin

Sam Ivin is a photographic artist. His series Lingering Ghosts (an exhibition and a photo book with a clever passport-style cover) should be of interest to immprofs. Here's the formal description:

What does it mean to be an asylum seeker in the UK? This was the starting point of Ivin’s research, which began at a drop-in centre in Cardiff, Wales and continued all over England. It seeks to raise questions about how the UK’s migration system treats those who arrive in our country seeking safety.

The result is a book made up of hand scratched portraits, where the eyes have been erased: once arrived in the UK, these people find themselves in a state of limbo, having to await news of their application for asylum for months or even years. They become Lingering Ghosts. These physically scratched portraits attempt to convey the the cruel loss of self, and the frustration that befalls them as they wait to learn their fate.

Ivin’s work offers a contemplative take, away from the glaring lights of the media. His modified portraits simply and powerfully give a view on an issue that is often underreported: the plight of those waiting for asylum.

Despite being represented without their eyes, these people do have an identity and we recognise them as fathers, mothers, sons and daughters – human beings, after all.

Ivin's powerful works feel especially important today given recent developments in U.S. asylum law.


June 25, 2020 in Photos | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Goal Click Refugees

Jordan-UNICEF-Maram-B5-comp © Goal Click/UNHCR/UNICEF

Goal Click Refugees is a worldwide storytelling project that documents the "experiences of refugees and asylum-seekers across the globe through the lens of football." Participants receive disposable cameras, which they use to chronicle their lives.

The series includes photos from such far flung locales as the US, UK, Jordan, Australia, and Kenya.

The subject of the photo to the right is Maram in the Zaatari camp of Jordan, who writes: "Because I am a girl, I can be the person that changes how the community perceives girls’ football and breaks the wall of shame.”

The project also introduced me to Rooklyn International Football Association, which serves "asylee, immigrant and refugee youth in NYC through soccer instruction." Love.

To see the entire series, follow the link above. Or, on twitter, check out #GoalClickRefugees.


June 24, 2020 in Photos | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Refugee of the Day: Adut Akech, Model, South Sudan

Model Adut Akech is a Vogue cover model.  She stars on the September 2019 Forces for Change Vogue cover with 14 other inspirational women. 

Akech was forced to flee her native South Sudan and lived in a refugee camp in Kenya before resettling in Australia. She got her modelling break at 16 when she was booked to walk exclusively for Saint Laurent: now, she has closed Chanel couture shows, fronted campaigns for Valentino, Fendi, Missoni, and Miu Miu, and starred on the covers of multiple international editions of Vogue.


February 12, 2020 in Current Affairs, Photos | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Photos of the year

CNN's spotlight on 2019 through photos includes a number of immigration-related images -- from migrants in the back of a refrigerated truck in Europe to the infamous photo of Oscar Alberto Martínez and daughter Angie Valeria dead on the banks of the Rio Grande.

This shot by Loren Elliott for Reuters of the overcrowding at McAllen is also dramatic:



January 1, 2020 in Photos | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Top 10 Immigration Stories of the Decade




Many "best of the  decade" lists (see, e.g., TV shows; novels; movies) are appearing in newspapers and the blogosphere.  Here is a quick stab at the top ten immigration stories from 2010-2019.  My focus was on the stories on topics and issues that have had long term impacts on U.S. immigration law and policy. 

If readers think that I missed something, please post a comment.


1.  Topping our annual list of immigration news stories for consecutive years, President Donald J. Trump made immigration a signature issue of his successful 2016 presidential campaign and, as Presiden5t, took a series of bold (including many unprecedented) immigration measures, from the Muslim ban to the Return to Mexico policy. Trump unquestionably is the modern U.S. president who has pursued the most aggressive immigration enforcement measures.



2.  DACA:  In 2012, President Obama announced his innovative Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, which provided limited relief to hundreds of thousands of young immigrants brought to the United States as children.  Symbolizing the efforts to secure justice for immigrants, the DACA policy has been at the center of a resurgence of immigration activism.

In 2017, President Trump attempted to rescind DACA.  The Supreme Court is currently considering the lawfulness of the rescission.  Expect fireworks to follow whatever the ultimate outcome of the case, with a decision expected by the end of June 2020.

3.  Deportation Records:  Before DACA, the Obama administration removed record numbers (here and here) -- in the neighborhood of 400,000 a year from 2009-2012 -- of noncitizens from the United States. The removal records led some critics to refer to President Obama as the "Deporter-in-Chief."  A demonstrated commitment to immigration enforcement was thought to be a way to convince Republicans in Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform. 

The end result:  mass removals and no immigration reform

4.  Arizona v. United States (2012):  During President Obama's first term, several states passed laws designed to facilitate immigration enforcement and encorage "self-deportation" by undocumented immigrants.  In its most significant immigration decision in years, the Supreme Court in Arizona v. United States invalidated three of four provisions of one of those laws, Arizona’s S.B. 1070, on federal preemption grounds.  The Court made clear that the U.S. government had exclusive authority to admit and remove noncitizens and that the states could not interfere with those functions.  Federal courts also invalidated significant portions of the immigration enforcement laws of Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina

5.  The Rise of Sanctuary Cities:  In response to the Trump administration aggressive immigration enforcement measures, a number of cities declared themselves to be "sanctuaries" for immigrants.  Sanctuary cities drew the ire of the Trump administration, which sought to strip these jurisdictions of federal funding

In an amazing turnaround from the days of the anti-immigrant milestone Proposition 187 in the 1990s, the California legislature declared itself to be a sanctuary state and refused to assist in federal immigration enforcement except as required by federal law.

6.  Family Separation Policy:  To deter Central Americans, including many women and children fleeing rampant gang and other violence, from coming to the United States, the Trump administration adopted a policy of separating parents and children in immigrant detention.  The family separation policy provoked mass protests and bipartisan resistance.  Pictures like the one above galvanized the nation in oppposition to the policy. 

Ultimately, President Trump ended family separation.  But his administration was slow to reunite families.  The family separation policy is often criticized by the 2020 Democratic candidates for President.



Photo courtesy of Don Roth

7. BREXIT:  The United Kingdom Exits the European Union

Brexit has had reverberations the world over.  With immigration and immigrants a major -- if not the primary -- concern,  voters in the United Kingdom in 2016 voted to leave the European Union.  Free migration within the EU had been one of the hallmarks of the regional arrangement.  The Brexit campaign was hotly contested but the aye votes carried the day

As it turned out, exiting the EU was easier said than done.  The British government continues to try to work out the details of leaving the EU.

8.  Central American MigrationFleeing widespread and uncontrolled violence in their home countries, Central American asylum seekers continued to come to the United States over the decade.   President Obama responded with, among other things, family detention.  President Trump responded by deriding the "caravan", implementing a Return to Mexico policy, mass detention, narrowing asylum eligibility, family separation, and more.


9.  The Failure of Comprehensive Immigration Reform:  The last truly comprehensive immigration reform proposal failed in Congress in 2013.  Immigration reform and the DREAM Act have been discussed in Congress for more than a decade.  A majority of Americans believe that there are major deficiencies in the U.S. immigration laws.  Still, the nation awaits Congress pass immigration reform.



Pew Research Center

10.  The Stability of the Undocumented Immigrant Population in the United States:  Despite increased removal efforts and immigration enforcement,  a relatively stable population of about 10-11 million undocumented immigrants have lived in the United States from 2010-19.  Although it has declined a bit and the composition has changed somewhat over time, the nation has had millions of undocumented residents for many years.


December 29, 2019 in Current Affairs, Photos | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 16, 2019

Top 10 Immigration Stories of 2019

2019 had many big immigration stories.  The big news at the ImmigrationProf blog was the addition of a new superstar blogger.  Welcome Professor Ming Hsu Chen to the ImmigrationProf Blog!

If one is looking simply at changes to U.S. immigration law and policy, the biggest immigration news story of 2019 (like 2017 and 2018) unquestionably was President Donald Trump.  He probably has been the biggest immigration news story since his inauguration in January 2017.  For better or worse, no modern U.S. President has made immigration the priority that Trump has day in and day out.  President Trump is a virtually endless source of immigration comments, insults, tweets, and policy initiatives.   Law professors are indebted to the President for providing fodder for law review articles for many years to come. 

In addition to President Trump, here are my Top 10 Immigration News Stories from 2019, followed with some awards. 


Suporme court 

1.  Immigration in the Supreme Court

A wide array of immigration cases continue to make their way to the Supreme Court.  The biggest immigration case of the 2019 Term will decide the future of President Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy.  In November, the Court heard oral arguments in three consolidated DACA cases in which the lower courts enjoined the Trump administration’s attempted rescission of DACA.  See the Argument Recap in DACA Cases.   A ruling in the case is expected at the end of the Term in June.  I predict a 5-4 vote.  Expect fireworks whatever the outcome.  Stay tuned!

The high Court has before it a full array of immigration issues, including the availability of damages for cross-border shootings, judicial review of a variety of immigration decisions, federal versus state power over immigration, the legality of expedited removal, and more.  For an overview of the Supreme Court's 2019 Term immigration docket, see Immigration in the Supreme Court, 2019 Term: DACA, Judicial Review, Federalism, Etc.

In a blockbuster decision at the end of the last Term in June, the Supreme Court by a 5-4 vote held that the Department of Commerce had provided unconvincing reasoning for adding a question on U.S. citizenship to the 2020 Census.  The Trump administration had made the addition of a citizenship question a high priority.   Joining the liberal justices, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority.  For an explanation of why he sided with the liberals, see Department of Commerce v. New York: Why the Supreme Court asked for an explanation of the 2020 census citizenship question.  Many Court watchers were surprised by the outcome of the Census case.  To add to the surprises, the Trump administration announced a few weeks after the decision that it was throwing in the towel on the citizenship question; consequently, the 2020 Census will not have a citizenship question.



Chad Wolf

2.  Turnover in DHS Leadership

2019 saw a game of musical chairs in the office of the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.  In April, Kirstjen Nielsen, rumored to be on the outs with President Trump, stepped down.  See Former Department of Homeland Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen Explains Resignation.  Next, the Acting DHS Secretary, Kevin McAleenan, resigned.  See Breaking News: Acting DHS Secretary McAleenan Resigns. He was replaced by another Acting Secretary, Chad Wolf, who at least for now remains in the position.



3.  William Barr Replaces Jeff Sessions as Attorney General

Who is the smiling man in the picture above?  He is the current Attorney General of the United States,  Judging from the picture, the current administration makes him happy.

In February, William Barr was sworn in as Attorney General.  He replaced Jeff Sessions, who had made enforcement of the U.S. immigration laws a high priority.  President Trump had reportedly lost confidence in Sessions.  Barr previously served as Attorney General under President George W. Bush.

The Attorney General, of course, heads the Department of Justice, which houses the Executive Office of Immigration Review (the home of the immigration courts and Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA)). 

Like Attorney General Sessions, Barr has intervened in cases before the BIA to narrow relief for removal.  See, e.g., L-E-A-, 27 I. & N. Dec. 581 (AG July 29, 2019) (narrowing "membership in a particular social group" for purposes of asylum).  Put simply, do not expect any slowing down of immigration enforcement under Attorney General Barr.  



Judge Dolly Gee

4.  Flores Settlement

The Flores settlement, agreed to by the U.S. government under President Clinton in 1997, governs the detention of migrant children and generally bars minors from lengthy and indefinite immigrant detention. The settlement made the news regularly in 2019. A short and sweet summary of the Flores settlement can be found at The Conversation: A Short Explanation of the Flores Settlement and Its Possible Demise. 


Throughout 2019, President Trump continued his effort to abrogate the Flores settlement. He has sought to detain migrant children, and all other migrants, indefinitely while their cases move forward in the immigration courts.  Judge Dolly Gee, who is monitoring the Flores settlement, rejected the latest effort to end the settlement.  See Federal Court Rejects Trump Administration's Effort to End Flores Settlement; Ninth Circuit Rejects Trump Administration's Latest Challenge to Flores Settlement, Holds that Soap, Toothbrushes, and Toothpaste Cannot Be Denied Migrants.


The bottom line:  The Flores settlement remains in place and no doubt will be in the news in 2020 as the Trump administration continues to utilize detention in its immigration enforcement efforts. 


5.  Public Charge and Other Trump Immigration Policy Initiatives

The Trump administration continued to press forward with new immigration enforcement efforts.  There are literally too many to list all of the Trump immigration initiatives.  But here are a few.

The Trump administration proposed a new, stricter approach to the public charge exclusion under the immigration laws.  The proposed rule has been criticized for making it too tough on immigrants of low- and moderate-incomes to come, or stay in, the United States.  The Ninth Circuit -- and later the Fourth Circuit -- stayed a nationwide injunction barring implementation of the proposed rule.  See Ninth Circuit Stays Injunction of Trump Public Charge Rule; The Nationwide Injunction in the Public Charge Case; Breaking news: public charge rule enjoined.

The Trump administration's  Remain  in Mexico policy, a novel approach that makes asylum-seekers wait in Mexico for their claims to be decided, remains in place and is controversial as ever.  

This year, the administration entered into agreements with El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras in an attempt to  better manage the flow of asylum seekers to the United States and deny relief to migrants who failed to seek asylum in countries on their way to the United States.  See DHS FACT SHEET: DHS AGREEMENTS WITH GUATEMALA, HONDURAS, AND EL SALVADOR.

Departing from the practice during the Obama administration, the Trump administration has used immigration raids as an immigration enforcement tool.  During the summer, the President threatened to direct Immigration & Customes Enforcement to conduct mass immigration raids in cities across the country.  The threat struck fear in communities from coast to coast.  In August, the Trump administration on the first day of school conducted immigration raids at food processing plants in Mississippi.  Many children came home from school unable to find their parents.  See ICE Raids in Mississippi, 680 Arrested.

In November, news reports made the rounds that senior White House aide Stephen Miller had promoted white supremacist, anti-immigrant articles in emails to Breitbart.  Miller has been said to be the architect of the Trump administration's immigration policies. 

In April, there were rumors that President Trump was considering the possibility of completely closing the US/Mexico border.  Business interests raised concerns.  Such a measure would dramatically affect trade as well as migration between the two neighboring nations.  In the end, the President never followed through on the threat to close the border.  See Trump backs off threat to close the U.S.-Mexico border.

The state of California continues to resist the Trump administration's immigration enforcement efforts.  In April, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit rejected most of the administration's challenges to California's sanctuary laws, which sought to distance the state from federal immigration enforcement.  President Trump and others in his administration continue to rail against the public safety risks caused by sanctuary cities.  See Ninth Circuit Rejects Bulk of Trump Administration's Challenge to California "Sanctuary" Laws.



6.  Immigration Court Backlog Hits One Million

In September 2019, the backlog of cases in the U.S. immigration courts' surpassed one million.  The enormous backlog affects every noncitizen with a hearing in the immigration courts, their attorneys, and the immigration judges.  The Trump administration's aggressive enforcement efforts contributed to the rapid growth of the backlog.   Noncitizens seeking relief from removal can expect long -- years in some insttances -- waits for a hearing. 



7.  President Trump Lowers Refugee Admissions

It has been said that  the world is experiencing a global refugee crisis.  Still, President Trump again decreased the number of refugee admissions.  See Presidential Determination on Refugee Admissions for Fiscal Year 2020; Trump administration sets lowest cap on refugee admissions in four decades. Again.  On November 1, President Trump released the Presidential Determination on Refugee Admissions for Fiscal Year 2020.  It provides for "[t]he admission of up to 18,000 refugees to the United States during Fiscal Year 2020 . . . ."  (emphasis added).  Criticism followed the announcement.  In 2016, President Obama had capped refugee admissions at 85,000.

8.  Immigrants and Impeachment

As the nation well knows, Congress has been considering the impeachment of President Trump.   Over the last few months, Democrats and Republicans have regularly and literally been screaming at each other about impeachment.  In stark contrast, several key immigrant witnesses in the impeachment hearings kept their heads for the good of the nation.


In hearings on the impeachment  in November, immigrants played a vital role Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch is the child of immigrants who fled the Soviet Union and later the Nazi occupation of Europe. Born in Canada, she grew up in Connecticut and became a naturalized U.S. citizen.  Born in Ukraine when it was part of the USSR, Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman and his family fled to the United States. He joined the U.S. Army, earning numerous commendations including a Purple Heart for wounds suffered in combat in Iraq. Vindman is the Director for European Affairs on the National Security Council (NSC).  Fiona Hill, who until recently served in a senior position on the NSC, opened her testimony by describing herself as “American by choice.” Born in a hardscrabble coal mining town in Northern England, Hill came to the United States, attended Harvard, and became a citizen.  All of the immigrant witnesses left enduring competent impressions and important testimony.




9.  The Retirement of Professor Michael Olivas

One of the leading immigration scholars of his generation, Michael Olivas of the University of Houston Law Center, has retired from law teaching.   Here is a Guest Post: Celebrating Michael Olivas's Retirement

At the January 2019 annual meeting, the Association of American Law Schools honored Olivas with a lifetime achievement award.  See Immigration Law Values Program, Michael Olivas Honored

In 2010, Olivas was the ImmigrationProf blog's Outstanding Immigration Professor of the Year.   A mentor to countless law professors, myself included, Olivas is an esteemed immigration scholar (as well as a renouwned scholar in higher education, civil rights, and other areas) . For a review of his body of work, see Law Professor and Accidental Historian:  The Scholarship of Michael A. Olivas (Ediberto Roman ed., 2017).

Be on the lookout next June for Olivas' latest book on the DREAM Act and DACA.




10.  25th Anniversary of Proposition 187

Contrary to popular belief, California, which produced two Republic Presidents in the twentieth centiry (Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan), was not always a sanctuary state and liberal haven.  Far from it.  In 1994, California voters passed the anti-immigrant milestone known as Proposition 187, which would have barred undocumented children from the public schools and stripped undocumented immigrants of virtually all non-emergency public benefits.  A federal court enjoined most of the initiative from going into effect.  Nonetheless, Proposition 187 prodded Congress in 1996 to pass two major pieces of tough immigration reform and and to eliminate immigrant eligibility for major public benefits program in welfare reform.

Times have changed and, in response to the Trump administration's immigration initiatives, California has declared itself to be a sanctuary state.  By spurring naturalization and increasing Latinx voter turnout, Proposition 187 contributed to the political transformation of the state and the ascendancy to dominance of the Democratic Party.  For analysis of Proposition 187 and its legacy, see

UC Davis Law Review Symposium: The 25th Anniversary of Proposition 187: Challenges and Opportunities for Immigrant Integration and Political Identity in California  Be on the lookout for the symposium issue from this conference, which will be available in spring 2020.

DACA, Proposition 187, and the legacy of the Trump immigration enforcement revolution

25 Years After The Passage of California's Proposition 187: The Beginning of the Political Transformation of California


Honorable Mention

There are many other big immigration stories in 2019.  Here are a few worthy of note

1.  An Immigrant "Invasion": Words Used by Members of Congress as well as the President and the El Paso Shooter (August):  A sniper, who in an online rant had railed about the "Hispanic invasion," targeted -- and killed -- Latinx people at a shopping center in El Paso. 



2.  News from the US/Mexico Border: JURY ACQUITS NO MORE DEATHS VOLUNTEER OF FELONY HARBORING CHARGES (November):  The Trump administration loses a criminal prosecution of a humanitarian worker seeking to save migrant lives.  One can only wonder whether there were better types of cases for the U.S. government to prosecute.

3.  Death on the Border: NPR report: When Migrants Die, Many Bodies Remain Unidentified:  This is not really a news story.  In fact, deaths have been a fact of life for decades along the US/Mexico border.  I include it here lest we forget that migrantse regularly are dying while trying to make it to the United States.  This is a tragic impact of the nation's immigration enforcement policies that seems to not have penetrated the nation's consciousness.



4. Inaugural Issue of AILA Law Journal (Apr. 28):  The new American Immigration Lawyers Association Journal focuses on cutting edge immigration law issues.


 5.  Fox Apologizes for Graphic: "Trump Cuts U.S. Aid to 3 Mexican Countries" (Apr. 4):  No this is not a late April Fool's Day joke.  You can't make this stuff up.  The show "Fox & Friends" reported news of President Trump's plans to reduce millions of dollars in aid to three Central American countries for not doing enough to stem the stream of migrants to the United States.  As one commentator talked about the president “going full-court press on Mexico” and the co-host spoke of “cutting payments, aid payments, to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras,” a caption read "Trump Cuts U.S. Aid to 3 Mexican countries.”  This, of course, is a sad reflection on the state of education in the United States.


Immigration Article of the Year


The Interior Structure of Immigration Enforcement by Eisha Jain, 167 University of Pennsylvania Law Review 1463 (2019).  This article is a deep dive into immigration enforcement, going well beyond removals. It calls for restructuring immigration enforcement to consider the full impact of enforcement in light of the impacts of the immigrants present in the United States.



K-Sue Park

Honorable Mention: Self-Deportation Nation by K-Sue Park, 132 Harvard Law Review 1878 (2019).  Besides writing an incredible article, Professor Park should be praised for convincing the editors of the venerable Harvard Law Review to publish an immigration article.  The article analyzes the long history of self deportation policies in the United States.



Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia

Honorable Mention: Immigration Litigation in the Time of Trump by Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia.  How did Shoba keep up with all the challenges to Trump’s immigration policies?


Book of the Year


Ghosts of Gold Mountain: On the Chinese Immigrants Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad by Gordon H. Chang (2019).  A groundbreaking history of the Chinese workers who built the Transcontinental Railroad, helping to forge modern America only to disappear into the shadows of history. I loved reading this book while vacationing in the Sierras, not far from where the Chinese workers once toiled on the railroad.  




Honorable Mention: America for Americans: A History of Xenophobia in the United States by Erika Lee (2019).  The time is perfect for reading a book on the history of xenophobia in the United States.  Will a supplement and pocket part be necessary?



Honorable MentionMigrating to Prison: America’s Obsession with Locking Up Immigrants by César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández (2019).  After the events of the last few years, the entire nation should be considering the morality and policy-sense of mass immigrant detention.  Cesar Garcia's book offers critical analysis on "America's Obsession" with immigrant detention.






Immigrant Sportsman of the Year

José de Jesús Rodríguez Martínez, a professional golfer, currently plays on the PGA Tour.  He grew up in poverty in Irapuato, Mexico. At age 12, he dropped out of school and began caddying full-time at Club de Golf Santa Margarita. At age 15, Rodríguez crossed the Rio Grande and entered the United States. He worked in the United States for a decade, mostly as part of the maintenance crew at a country club in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Rodriguez then became a pro golfer.  See ‘The most unbelievable story in golf’: A treacherous border crossing was just the beginning of José de Jesús Rodríguez’s journey to the PGA Tour.  The Golf Channel is working on a documentary about Jose Rodriguez.


Photo of the Year

I could not resist ending the year without recognizing this photograph.  The photo was posted on March 3, 2019 in the post A Sign of the Times: Arkansas church sign -- ‘heaven has strict immigration laws, hell has open borders'.  

In April, the photo that showed the world the cruelty of the Trump administration's family separation policy, was honored with the World Photo of the Year Award.  See "Crying Girl on the Border" Wins World Photo of the Year Award.  This photo helped fuel the public outcry against family separation and led to the policy's demise.


Film Landmark




2019 marked the 35th anniversary of the classic refugee film El Norte.  The film tells the powerful story of a young Guatemalan brother and ister who fled the war-torn nation and journeyed to the United States.  It is a true classic.  Sadly, El Norte remains topical today as Central Americans continue to come to the United States seeking asylum from violence in their homelands.





December 16, 2019 in Current Affairs, Film & Television, Law Review Articles & Essays, Photos, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

El Sueño Americano | The American Dream: Photographs by Tom Kiefer

Tom Kiefer, a former janitor at a U.S. Customs and Border Protection facility in southern Arizona, collected and photographed belongings seized from migrants between 2003 and 2014, Makeda Easter writes in the Los Angeles Times. More than 100 of his photographs are now on display at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles. Yet one of the show’s biggest tragedies, according to Skirball curator Laura Mart, is that “we have no way of knowing really who these people are, who carried these things, what happened to them, and what they’re doing now.”  

Here is more about the exhibition "El Sueño Americano | The American Dream: Photographs by Tom Kiefer."



December 3, 2019 in Current Affairs, Photos | Permalink | Comments (0)