Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Quiz Quiz Quiz Quiz

Who doesn't love a quiz? And this one even counts as work!

WaPo asks: Worried about immigrants overwhelming the U.S.? With five questions, you can find out just why it is that you're so worried!

Not to brag or anything, but here's my score:

Screenshot 2024-02-20 at 5.39.35 PM

In all seriousness, this might be a fun assignment for students to complete before the first day of class. Or I could see it being a great kickoff for a CLE or community talk.


February 20, 2024 in Current Affairs, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 15, 2024

Teaching Break

Teaching any law school class, much less an immigration course, is about getting students to make persuasive arguments. On that front, I highly recommend the following video.

For those of you who teach Torts in addition to immigration... a heads up that this youtuber (who, full disclosure, is my husband) also has a number of videos breaking down Torts-specific concepts.


February 15, 2024 in Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

WaPo Charts Immigration

You need to start with a little LMFAO and Lil Jon.

Now, substitute "charts" for "shots." Just sing "charts, charts, charts, charts charts."

Okay, you're now in the right frame of mind to check out this WaPo article--Trump vs. Biden on immigration: 12 charts comparing U.S. border security.

Unsurprisingly, nearly every chart shows wildly disparate figures between the two presidents--with Trump having low numbers and Biden having soaring figures (illegal crossings, parole). Biden's only "lower" numbers than Trump relate to interior enforcement.

The one chart that actually surprised me is the one showing that Biden's actual refugee admissions have been lagging far behind his admission cap.


February 13, 2024 in Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Marriage Fraud Clip

Here's a super short TikTok clip to include in your class on marriage fraud.

@ericandmani Well… 🥲🤣 #couple #mixedcouple #srilanka ♬ original sound - Eric & Mani


February 6, 2024 in Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 9, 2024

Video at Civil Procedure-Immigration Intersection

I know I'm not the only immprof whose 1L course is Civil Procedure. This post is for all y'all.

A student turned me onto this video from Vox, released about 7 months ago, called Why Texas judges have so much power right now. It's a well done (and blessedly short) piece explaining how federal judges in Texas are assigned cases. Short answer: the state's 4 federal districts are further subdivided into even smaller local districts, some of which only have 1 judge, such that filing in a particular sub-district means getting a specific judge.

The substantive law that this video uses to explain this Civ Pro concept is the Texas lawsuit to prevent the Biden Administration from ending Remain in Mexico. (With a nod to the mifeprestone litigation, too.) In addition to discussing judge-shopping, the video discusses the concept of nationwide injunctions and how one federal judge can effectively control/set policy for the entire country.


January 9, 2024 in Film & Television, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, December 29, 2023

The E.U.'s New Pact on Migration and Asylum

Last week, the European Parliament and Council agreed to the New Pact on Migration and Asylum, first proposed in September 2020. The Pact covers "five key proposals", which are: 

  1. Screening Regulation: Creating uniform rules concerning the identification of non-EU nationals upon their arrival, thus increasing the security within the Schengen area.
  2. Eurodac Regulation: Developing a common database gathering more accurate and complete data to detect unauthorised movements.
  3. Asylum Procedures Regulation: Making asylum, return and border procedures quicker and more effective.
  4. Asylum Migration Management Regulation: Establishing a new solidarity mechanism amongst Member States to balance the current system, where a few countries are responsible for the vast majority of asylum applications, and clear rules on responsibility for asylum applications.
  5. Crisis and Force majeure Regulation: Ensuring that the EU is prepared in the future to face situations of crisis, including instrumentalisation of migrants.

This webpage includes the above proposals, a visual timeline of the changes, and identifies additional "outcomes" already delivered to date.


December 29, 2023 in Current Affairs, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

What We Saw at the Border

Another day, another cool webinar. Check out the below recording--What We Saw at the Border--from the American Immigration Council. A great way to get caught up on the ever-changing border from folks who are there in person.


December 12, 2023 in Current Affairs, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, December 11, 2023

Immigration Enforcement Mechanisms at the U.S. Southwest Border: The Only Constant is Change

I had the good fortune to catch this ABA webinar when it aired last week -- Immigration Enforcement Mechanisms at the U.S. Southwest Border: The Only Constant is Change. It's now on Youtube:

Highly recommend.

Side note: At my school's holiday get-together last week, I remarked that Covid has been a game-changer for me in terms of staying up-to-date on immigration law. I'm so grateful that we've moved to a world where webinars and Zooms are the norm. Streamed conferences and talks have really broadened my academic world.

A hearty thanks to the ABA for this particular program.


December 11, 2023 in Current Affairs, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 30, 2023

Safe?: A Capstone Video For Your Immigration Course

Today was my last class of the semester. In addition to answer questions about the format of the upcoming exam, and clarifying points of substantive doctrine, we watched the documentary Safe? from immprof Lynn Marcus (Arizona).

Kevin told y'all about Safe? back in August. Here it is on Vimeo:

The movie (minus credits) takes only 19 minutes of class time. And it made a WONDERFUL capstone for the semester. Things we were able to discuss:

  • Asylum. We asked: How could an individual who was forced to join the Guatemalan military and watched his father tortured lose his asylum case? Now, this question isn't answered by the movie. But it gave us a chance to talk about the 5 protected grounds, make an educated guess about eliminating three (race, religion, nationality), identify potential problem with one (political opinion, Elias-Zacarias review), and remember the 5th ground (PSG, which we didn't discuss).
  • U Visas. We reviewed the grounds, how it allows for derivative beneficiaries, and how it's one of 2 nonimmigrant visas that can lead to LPR status.
  • Criminal Records. I don't cover much in the way of consequences for noncitizens with criminal convictions in my podium immigration course because I teach an entire course on Crimmigration. We talked about criminal records as (a) not always an indicator of danger to the community and (b) as a segue to...
  • Prosecutorial Discretion. This comes up multiple times in the movie. Particularly helpful is how the topic comes up across administrations--from the problems of Obama's "felons, not families" to Trump's hard line attitude.We reviewed common issues regarding equities, and the particular focus many administrations place on children with disabilities. We also talked about the benefits of taking a job working for the federal government (pension, medical, dental) and how one can "bore from within."
  • Relationships with opposing counsel. We talked about how to have a good relationship with opposing counsel (if you can) and how it can benefit your client.  
  • Precarity and time. We talked about how long the couple featured in the movie fought for immigration status in the U.S. -- 23 years! There's a wonderful segment of film from the wife talking about all of the family's dreams and when they thought they were realized (U visa grant) vs. when they were actually realized (LPR grant).
  • Employment Authorization. The film gave us a chance to review the principle that it's not illegal to work in the U.S. without authorization, it's illegal to hire someone who doesn't have an EAD.
  • Citizenship. We could review the principle of jus soli--kids of noncitzens born in the U.S. are U.S. citizens at birth.

I can't recommend this beauty enough. Just a really fabulous teaching tool.


November 30, 2023 in Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, November 26, 2023

Citizenship Real-o-thetical

Bookmark this post, y'all. You're going to want it when you next teach citizenship.

Imagine a 61-year old doctor in Northern Virginia. He applies to renew his U.S. passport by mail, something he's done several times before. Only this time, the State Department informs him that he is ineligible to receive a passport because, they've determined, he's not a U.S. citizen at all. Why not? The doctor was born in the United States. He received a U.S. birth certificate. But his dad was a diplomat at the time of his birth, making dad and child not "subject to the jurisdiction" of the U.S. at birth within the meaning of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. constitution.

The Washington Post has the full story.

The State Department encouraged the doctor, Siavash Sobhani, to apply for lawful permanent residence. He has, but, of course, that's not yet been adjudicated.

In the meantime, the doctor has questions: "Can he still legally practice medicine? Will the money he has earned over his career count toward his Social Security benefits if his Social Security number changes? Will he get to attend his son’s destination wedding next year?"


November 26, 2023 in Current Affairs, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 3, 2023

Asylum Real-o-thetical: German Homeschoolers

For years, I've been using the following real-o-thetical to teach asylum law and, particularly, PSG analysis: Parents "flee" Germany with their five kids in tow because they, devout evangelical Christians, want to home-school their children, something that has been illegal in Germany since 1918. Homeschooling in Germany is punishable with financial penalties and legal consequences including the potential loss of custody of home-schooled children.

As I said, this is a real-o-thetical. That means, it's based on a real case.

The parents came to the US in 2008. In 2010, an IJ granted them asylum. The BIA reversed. The 6th Circuit sided with the BIA, and SCOTUS declined cert. Thereafter, following political pressure, DHS granted the family “indefinite deferred status."

My students got so excited about the problem they scoured the interwebs for an update. And, shockingly, there is a very recent one!

Last month, ICE gave the family (now with 7 kids, 2 USCs) a one-year reprieve on deportation.

As you might imagine, public support for homeschoolers has only gotten stronger since the family arrived in 2008. (If you missed it, WaPo, just this week, has a fascinating deep dive on the "explosive" growth of "largely unregulated" homeschooling in America -- up 51% in the past six school years.) Something like 100,000 people signed a petition in support of the family and the director of the Home School Legal Defense Association commented that ICE's reprieve was the "direct result of your calls, your petition signatures, and your outreach to Congress on this issue."

A TN rep has introduced a private bill to get the German family LPR status.


November 3, 2023 in Current Affairs, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (2)

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Poetry Break: What They Did Yesterday Afternoon by Warsan Shire

Poetry, at its best, cuts through the darkness to make sense of an insensible world.

One of my favorite living poets is Warsan Shire. As I've mentioned on here before, I routinely use her piece Home as my introduction to refugee and asylum law. I believe that poem compels the reader/listener to see the harsh realities of forced migration.

In 2015, I highlighted a different Warsan Shire poem: What They Did Yesterday Afternoon. Then, I was writing about the 2015 Paris attacks, although the poem itself was written by Shire about the UK's 2011 "August riots." 

In 2015, I offered you only a portion of Shire's poem. Today, I bring you the whole. 

Perhaps her words will speak to your heart, as they did mine today.


What They Did Yesterday Afternoon

by Warsan Shire

they set my aunts house on fire
i cried the way women on tv do
folding at the middle
like a five pound note.
i called the boy who use to love me
tried to ‘okay’ my voice
i said hello
he said warsan, what’s wrong, what’s happened?

i’ve been praying,
and these are what my prayers look like;
dear god
i come from two countries
one is thirsty
the other is on fire
both need water.

later that night
i held an atlas in my lap
ran my fingers across the whole world
and whispered
where does it hurt?

it answered



October 11, 2023 in Current Affairs, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 29, 2023

The Unusual History of 18 USC 922(g)(5), Criminalizing Noncitizen Posession of a Firearm

Under 18 USC § 922(g)(5), it is a crime for undocumented migrants or nonimmigrants to be in possession of a firearm. Here's the formal statutory language:

"(g) It shall be unlawful for any person—... (5) who, being an alien— (A) is illegally or unlawfully in the United States; or (B) except as provided in subsection (y)(2), has been admitted to the United States under a nonimmigrant visa (as that term is defined in section 101(a)(26) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(26)))... to ship or transport in interstate or foreign commerce, or possess in or affecting commerce, any firearm or ammunition; or to receive any firearm or ammunition which has been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce."

I cover this statutory provision in my Crimmigration course, exploring it through the SCOTUS case of Rehaif.

This week, I learned for the first time about the history of this statutory provision, courtesy of former Federal Public Defendant and current law professor Brandon E. Beck (Texas Tech).

The provision dates to the 1968 Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act. As explored by William J. Vizzard in his article The Gun Control Act of 1968, 18 St. Louis U. Pub. L. Rev. 79 (1999), Senator Thomas Dodd (D-CT) was a significant driver of the passage of this act. He'd be working on federal gun control laws for years in advance of this legislation.

But the specific inclusion of a law restricting non-citizens from possessing firearms came from Senator Russell Long (D-LA) who proposed Title VII as a late addition to the omnibus bill. As Vizzard writes:

"At the last minute, the Senate inserted Title VII into its version of the Omnibus Act by voice vote. Proposed by Senator Russell Long (D-LA) and considered without hearings, the bill suffered from poor drafting which would bedevil its enforcers and confound the courts. Title VII addressed simple firearm possession for the first time at the federal level. The bill included a finding that strongly implied such intent, and Senator Long's statements on the Senate floor likewise support such an interpretation. Apparently, a bill intended to significantly alter federal policy became law with little analysis largely as a political favor to improve its author's image as tough on crime."

So, why the beef with noncitizens?

The answer, according to Beck, might just be Lee Harvey Oswald. Oswald assassinated President John F. Kennedy in 1963. Four years before that fateful event, Harvey presented himself at the American Embassy in Russia in order to "dissolve his American citizenship." Oswald was not allowed to renounce his citizenship, but it's clear he intended to.

Moreover, the fear of non-citizen gun-holders ramped up in 1968 when Jordanian citizen Sirhan Sirhan assassinated presidential candidate (and JFK brother) Robert F. Kennedy.  As Vizzard writes, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the 1968 Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act, inlcuding Sen. Long's Title VII, the day after RFK's assassination.

The legislative history gets a little complicated from there. Ultimately, Title VII of the Omnibus Act became part of the Gun Control Act of 1968.

Absolutely fascinating.


September 29, 2023 in Law Review Articles & Essays, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Israel to Join US Visa Waiver Program Nov. 30

I don't know about you, but I don't have the list of Visa Waiver Program countries memorized. On my morning commute today, I learned that the VWP program does not currently include Israel. But, as of November 30, it will. Apparently, Israel has wanted to be a part of the VWP program "for decades."

Here's the 4-minute NPR story that caught my attention:

Key sticking points apparently included:

  • US concerns about Israel giving passports to "new immigrants" including Russians. Israel will now have "stricter rules" for issuing passports.
  • US concerns that Israel treat all US passport holders the same, even if they are dual citizens of Iran, Iraq, Syria, or Lebanon... or even Palestinian-American. They now do.


September 27, 2023 in Current Affairs, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 18, 2023

Your Playlist: Informer by Snow

Have I got the jam for you. Informer by Snow is the best-selling reggae single in US history. Don't remember the 1992 mega hit? Give it a listen:

Yeah, you know it.

Ok. So you've got a Canadian singing reggae, which he got into after Jamaican immigrants moved to his childhood neighborhood. Is that the immigration angle? Nah.

This is an INA § 212 song.


The singer, Darrin Kenneth O'Brien -aka- Snow has a Canadian criminal record. He has a late-80s conviction related to beating a person with a crowbar during a bar brawl. He served 8 months of the 1 year sentence for that offense. He spent another 8 months in jail awaiting trial for attempted murder before being acquitted. He actually wrote Informer during that second stint behind bars.

As this TikTok-er, known for his musical deep-dives, explains, O'Brien was unable to get a visa to come to the U.S. to promote Informer or later musical endeavors.

@patrickhicks82 You better listen for me now #music #musicstory #musichistory #90smusic #hiphop #reggae #dancehall ♬ original sound - Patrick Hicks Music Stories

Have your students play around with 212 and figure out his inadmissibility. 


September 18, 2023 in Music, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 15, 2023

Emigration tale of a car turns to immigration story of a mechanic

This 2022 episode from Planet Money will 100% keep you entertained on your commute.

It's an emigration story about a car. Seriously. Podcaster Scott Gurian approached Planet Money with a story about a new-looking white Lexus SUV from New Jersey that he happened to stumble across in a mechanic's parking lot in Turkmenistan. When Gurian talked to the English-speaking (! yes ! in Turkmenistan!) mechanic, Oraz, he learned that a lot of damaged U.S. cars end up in overseas.

The podcast largely focuses on the Lexus itself: How did it end up in Turkmenistan? Who'd it belong to? And why did they get rid of this almost new car?

Those questions are answered. And they are interesting.

But the show also has an immigration twist. The mechanic, Oraz, applied for an won a diversity visa. Gurian, the podcaster, became his immigration sponsor. And Oraz, his wife, and three kids now live in NJ themselves. Oraz has a job in an auto body shop but dreams of getting into the damaged car market, selling and shipping cars to Turkmenistan.

A great diversity visa example for class, should you need one. A great way to go through the elements of INA § 203(c)(2) requirements of education/work experience.


September 15, 2023 in Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Teaching Client Responses to Trauma & Persuasive Storytelling

As I've blogged about before, I've been using this John Oliver clip to teach students about SIVs for wartime translators.

One of the key takeaways for me is how one translator appears on the program and talks with a very flat affect about the murder of his father and the kidnapping of his young brother. I've found this to be a good introduction to discussion of how client trauma presents in wildly different ways and in ways that students may not be expecting.

This year I offered an unexpected pairing to the above video:

Yes, that's acclaimed actress Bryce Dallas Howard crying on command while Conan O'Brien talks about shopping at Home Depot.

I asked my students to think about how they would expect someone to present when talking about their trauma. Why people might present differently -- everything from cultural norms to survival tactics.

I'll be re-raising the Howard video when we watch clips from Well Founded Fear and hear the one asylum officer complain about how: "People are actually coached... They tell them, well, you really should cry in the interview. Not that that's really gonna help them. But they think if they cry that that's gonna get them a grant."

That comment, of course, begs this question: Will a failure to show any emotion when recounting a horrific story show lack of truthfulness? Should a lawyer anticipate that problem? How can they proactively address it?


September 13, 2023 in Film & Television, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

U.S. v. Minter: 2d Cir. follows 8th in finding no categorical match b/c of state definition of cocaine

Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit issued a decision in US v. Minter. It's a significant decision (with crimmigration implications) that follows the reasoning of the 8th Circuit's 2022 decision in Owen.

The issue presented in Minter was this: Was Minter’s 2014 conviction under New York Penal Law § 220.39(1) for the sale of cocaine was for a “serious drug offense” and therefore qualifies as a predicate offense for the purposes of a sentencing enhancement under the Armed Career Criminal Act (“ACCA”), 6 U.S.C. § 924(e)(1)?

How did the court approach this question? With everyone's favorite tool: The Categorical Approach.

The approach required the court to analyze the state law definition of cocaine. It's at that point that things get, well, science-y:

Unlike New York’s undefined use of the term “isomer,” the federal regulation further defines “isomer” to mean only “any optical or geometric isomer” of cocaine. Id. §1300.01(b). Isomers are “[c]hemical compounds that have the same composition but differ in the chemical arrangement of their constituents.” Merck Eprova AG v. Gnosis S.p.A, 760 F.3d 247, 252 (2d Cir. 2014). There are two broad types of isomers: stereoisomers—isomers in which the atoms are joined in the same order, but in a different spatial arrangement—and constitutional isomers, which are all other isomers, including what are termed “positional isomers.” See United States v. Phifer, 909 F.3d 372, 377-78 (11th Cir. 2018) (“Unlike in stereoisomers, the atoms in constitutional isomers 2 differ in how they are connected.”). The CSA includes only stereoisomers—optical and geometric—in its definition of cocaine, but includes certain constitutional isomers in its definitions of other drugs. See, e.g., 21 C.F.R. § 1308.11(d) (defining hallucinogens to include its “optical, positional, or geometric” isomers (emphasis added)).


In comparison, the New York definition of cocaine does not limit itself to optical or geometric isomers. That is so even though the New York schedules supply specific definitions of criminalized isomers of other types of drugs. See, e.g., N.Y. Public Health Law § 3306, Schedule I(d) (defining isomers of hallucinogenic substances “only” to “include[] the optical, position and geometric isomers”); see also id. § 3306, Schedule I(g) (same, for synthetic cannabinoids). Without such an express limitation, New York law criminalizes conduct—specifically conduct involving cocaine isomers other than optical or geometric isomers—that the CSA does not. The plain text of the two statutes thus compels the conclusion that New York's definition of cocaine is categorically broader than the federal definition.

In sum, New York’s definition of cocaine was found to be categorically broader than the relevant federal definition.


September 6, 2023 in Current Affairs, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

NPR: At The Mercy Of The Courts

A few days ago, I heard this compelling story on NPR called At The Mercy Of The Courts. It's an episode of Latino USA that (I just learned) first aired in 2020. It follows the asylum claim of a small family from Guatemala--Wendy, Elvis, and their daughter.

There's a lot of good material in here for class, but I thought I'd point out something perhaps less obvious than the substance (which includes, among other gems, agreeing to not appeal so as to bring an end to immigration detention). Check out the small segment from 43:21-43:37. These few seconds really capture the chaos of testifying and interpretation in immigration court.


September 5, 2023 in Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

The UK's Migrant Detention Barge

The United Kingdom has attempted a unique solution to housing asylum seekers: an off-shore barge called the Bibby Stockholm. The first 15 migrants came aboard just last week.

The barge has the capacity to hold 500 migrants. This short video from Sky News offers a look inside the facility. It would make an amazing comparative contribution to discussions of immigrant detention in the U.S.

Only a few days after opening, the Bibby Stockholm was forced to release its detainees to other facilities when legionella bacteria was discovered in the water system. There's no word yet on when they'll return, but the UK Health Minister has suggested it may be back in business in just a few days.


August 16, 2023 in Current Affairs, Film & Television, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)