Monday, September 16, 2019
If you teach a unit on the life of undocumented citizens, consider using clips from season three of the hit Netflix show Thirteen Reasons Why. The timeline surrounding Tony Padilla (played by Christian Navarro) is super on point.
Check out episode 6 of season 3. I'd run 32:12-33:45. Tony is bringing his boyfriend home to meet the family but he finds an empty house. There's food cooking on the stove, the TV is on, but no one is there. Then a neighbor shows up and explains: "La Migra."
Follow this up with 50:47-51:33. Here's the dialogue:
Tony: My family got deported at the end of the summer.
Clay: Why didn't you come to me?
Tony: And say what, Clay? You can't save the world.
Clay: You can try to save your friends. I should've been there for you. Like you were there for me with Hannah.
Tony: I, there's a lot of shame involved, you know.
Clay: No, I don't know.
Tony: Maybe that's why I didn't come to you.
Clay: I love you man.
Tony: Love you too.
The concept of shame and deportation is very real. Like many of you, I ask my students to write about their family's immigration history. Nothing huge. Just a page. To center them on the course material.
One semester, a student wrote that a relative had been deported "for reasons I never wanted to ask." Perhaps the reason they didn't want to ask is tied up in the concept of shame that this television show captures.
Definitely good fodder for classroom conversation.
Monday, September 9, 2019
If you're teaching Korematsu, consider starting with Sarah Kay's 14th Amendment.
It's more spoken word than song, but it's a powerful introduction to the topic of internment.
And for any immprofs out there who also dabble in Con Law -- check out the entire album: 27, featuring songs about every amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Sunday, September 8, 2019
On Friday, I submitted my application for tenure. My word, that was a process. Having taught at two different institutions for over 10 years, it felt a bit like filing backdated taxes in multiple jurisdictions, one of them overseas.
One of my tenure requirements involved writing a statement about my teaching. It was an opportunity to talk about my teaching philosophy and different teaching techniques that I employ.
Readers know that I love to play music in class. But I'm not sure I ever told you who inspired me to to that: immprof Jayesh Rathod (American U.).
Here's what I told my tenure reviewers, in the context of experimenting in the classroom:
When I started teaching, I would occasionally play a song during class. My first course was Immigration Law, and when we discussed terrorism exclusions, I played M.I.A.’s Paper Planes. M.I.A. has a unique immigrant history: She was born in London, moved as an infant to Sri Lanka where her father was a founder of the separatist militant organization called the Tamil Tigers, spent much of her childhood in hiding (avoiding the Sri Lankan army), and eventually returned to London as a child refugee. Her song, Paper Planes, is about her experience with being denied a visa to perform in the United States “due to her politically charged lyrics.” The song is, in her words, about “appearing really threatening to society. But not being so. Because, by the time you’ve finished working a 20-hour shift, you’re so tired you [just] want to get home to the family. I don’t think immigrants are that threatening to society at all. They’re just happy they’ve survived some war somewhere.”
In 2010, I attended a conference for immigration law teachers where I met Jayesh Rathod of American University Washington College of Law. He presented on the idea of playing music before every class. He discussed a two-fold benefit: (1) the opportunity to connect coursework to musical themes in an effort to advance learning, and (2) the opportunity to connect with students through music. Jayesh discussed empirical studies about the benefits of music. Ever since that conference, I play music during the minutes before class starts—when students are turning on their laptops and getting seated. I choose music that connects to our course material and create an on-line playlist for the semester. For example, in Civil Procedure I, when I cover what is needed in a complaint to satisfy the Supreme Court decisions of Twombly and Iqbal, I play “Summer Nights” from the movie Grease. The Supreme Court’s decisions center the idea that plaintiffs cannot begin a lawsuit by stating mere legal conclusions, they must present more: factual allegations that support inferences of misconduct. Thus, the refrain of Summer Nights is particularly apt: “Tell me more, tell me more.”
Students have responded favorably to the music over the years. Students love to think up songs on their own and come to me with their recommendations. I even receive occasional e-mails from former students letting me know about a new song they heard on the radio and how I might incorporate it into class.
So here is my big, fat, public thank you to Jayesh! I am extremely grateful for that 2010 immprof conference in Chicago. Your presentation inspired me -- as did the CD you shared after the conference. I'll be playing The Perfect Nanny by Louis Prima and Gia Maione tomorrow before we discuss Matter of Marion Graham. Still the best song choice!
Tuesday, September 3, 2019
Marriage fraud is a really rich topic for class conversation. Here's how I approach the subject.
I start off by acknowledging the very real benefits of marrying a USC. We look at the DHS Yearbook of Immigration Statistics, Table 6. And we talk about the numbers of quota-exempt spouses. We consider these stats in light of the current visa bulletin and discuss how long an individual might otherwise have to wait for an immigrant visa or whether they would even fit within an allowable category.
We then discuss the Immigration Marriage Fraud Amendments (IMFA) and the concept of "conditional residency." We spend time talking about the limitations of the IMFA. Problems 5 and 6 in Chapter 3 of Legomsky & Thronson (p. 367 of the 7th edition) do a great job of sussing out some limitations of the statute. And that textbook's discussion of the faulty statistics that sparked the creation of the IMFA is truly illuminating.
At the same time, marriage fraud is real--even if we doubt the numbers the led to the IMFA's enactment. So, how can we accurately tell that story?
I like to throw actress Nicole Byer under the bus. As I wrote about three years ago, Nicole (of Nailed It! fame) went on Conan and publicly admitted to marriage fraud. I play that interview in its entirety, which isn't very long. And we talk about the consequences she faced in telling this story (none) and the consequences for her former husband (denaturalization).
Another great resource is this June 2019 story about a marriage fraud ring in Houston. Why is that story so juicy? Well, for one, it involves a large number of people--as much as 150 migrants paying $70,000 each for marriage. But, more to the teaching point, how was this scheme found out? Was it the IMFA? No! As the Houston Chronicle explains:
[F]ederal agents noticed a pattern. Immigration petitions from Houston were arriving in the same type of envelope with a nearly identical cover letter filled out in a similar cursive script. Every one of 30 petitions had been mailed from the same Houston post office[.]
If you have other ideas for teaching marriage fraud, let me know. I'd love to hear them.
Wednesday, August 28, 2019
I am one of those lucky immprofs who also gets to teach Civil Procedure. Woot. Woot. (That's an unironic woot for those unsure, a burst of genuine enthusiasm).
It's the start of the semester and I'm teaching my students about how to initiate a federal law suit -- with a complaint. And we're reading the complaint biggies from SCOTUS including those two modern (at least post-my-law-school-graduation) pleading Goliaths: Twombly and Iqbal.
I'm scanning around the internet, looking for a photo of Iqbal when I stumble upon an article by Professor Shirin Sinnar (Stanford): The Lost Story of Iqbal, 105 Georgetown Law Journal 379 (2017).
Readers, let me tell you, this article is the bomb.
Sinnar uncovers the story of the man behind the lawsuit. A man summarily described by SCOTUS as "a citizen of Pakistan and a Muslim" who, following 9/11, "was arrested in the United States on criminal charges and detained by federal officials."
Sinnar interviews Iqbal both in Pakistan and over Skype from the United States. She details his immigrant story, his detention story, and his post-deportation story. Each is utterly compelling.
For those immprofs who don't teach Civ Pro... don't tune this post out. Know that all of your students will have read Iqbal. So the case (and Sinnar's details that aren't apparent on the face of the case) can be a reference point when you're discussing issues of detention (criminal and civil) as well as national security/terrorism.
If nothing else, the piece has that photo I was searching for.
Friday, August 23, 2019
Careful readers know that I love poetry. It's a medium that manages to convey volumes of emotion in short bursts of words.
If you are a child of a refugee, you do not
sleep easily when they are crossing the sea
on small rafts and you know they can't swim.
My father couldn't swim either. He swam through
sorrow, through, and made it to the other side
on a ship, pitching his old clothes overboard
at landing, then tried to be happy, make a new life.
But something inside him was always paddling home,
clinging to anything that floated--a story, a food, or face.
They are the bravest people on earth right now,
don't dare look down on them. Each mind a universe
swirling as many details as yours, as much love
for a humble place. Now the shirt is torn,
the sea too wide for comfort, and nowhere
to receive a letter for a long time.
And if we can reach out a hand, we better.
I start teaching asylum with Home by Warsan Shire. I like using that poem because it's from the perspective of the asylum seeker themselves. Her youtube reading of the poem brings tears to my eyes every time. The emotional impact of that work is undeniable.
Here, Mediterranean Blue offers something different. It captures the ongoing struggles of refugees, decades later, after resettlement. It's a poem that puts you a little off center. You'd think that finding refuge would be a miracle cure where all else that follows would be golden. This poem indicates something different. I think it might be a good end to an asylum course/segment. It says - look, we could do more than just offer a place to leave. We could be a hand to hold when the longing for the past is overwhelming.
Wednesday, August 21, 2019
I found myself re-watching all four Hunger Games movies with one of my kiddos this summer. We were on the last movie -- Mockingjay Part 2 -- when it hit me. This scene between Katniss and Gale in District 2 is the perfect vehicle for teaching Matter of A-C-M (BIA 2018).
Matter of A-C-M is all about when and how an individual provides "material support" to a terrorist organization. The respondent in that case performed "cooking and cleaning for the guerillas under the threat of death." If you're unfamiliar with the decision, you might read "under the threat of death" and think there's no way that this woman was found to have provided material support to a terrorist organization. You would be wrong.
Gale, it appears, would agree with the BIA. Play 3:55-4:34. For an even briefer cut check out 4:25 to 4:34. HG enthusiasts who want a longer cut can go from 3:55 to 4:40.
For the record, I have no idea what language those subtitles are. It was the only online clip I could locate of this scene.
Here's the key language from Gale: "Even if those civilians are just mopping floors, they're helping the enemy. And if they have to die, I can live with that. No one who supports the capitol is innocent."
Wednesday, July 24, 2019
It's time to update your investor visa slides and/or class notes. Today, DHS issued a final rule: EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program Modernization. It goes into effect November 21, 2019.
Investment minimums are increasing. For "targeted employment area" (TEA) investments, the minimum required is rising from $500K to $900K. For all other investments, the minimum required is rising from $1 million to $1.8 million.
TEA designations now controlled by DHS. "the final rule eliminates the ability of a state to designate certain geographic and political subdivisions as high unemployment areas; instead, DHS will make such designations directly, using standards described in more detail elsewhere in this final rule."
Sunday, July 14, 2019
Check out this interactive feature from the BBC that puts you in the shoes of a migrant coming to America.
Here is the set up:
Your name is Maria and you live in El Salvador. You're 25 with two children. It's not safe where you live - gangs control the neighbourhoods. Your husband is in one gang and he hurts you. A neighbour was recently killed by her partner and you fear for your life. You decide to flee to the US. Taking your children will be dangerous.
Your first choice -- to take the kids with you or not?
Maria, you find out, has lots of choices. None are good.
This might be a good, short assignment before a segment on asylum.
Monday, July 8, 2019
Once again, HONY impresses with an interview hitting on key issues regarding U.S. immigration law. Flag this one for use in your class about nonimmigrant visas. Great classroom conversation fodder!
I came from India in 2011 to get my Masters, and ended up working for a major tech company in San Francisco. It was a lucrative job, but there was always a looming cloud of uncertainty. Half of the people in my department were international workers-- mostly Indian and Chinese. All of us were on visas, so our future in America depended upon keeping our employment. I don’t think the managers intended to push us harder. But the international workers were more afraid, so we took more abuse. It just became part of the culture. We were given extra work, and the only way to keep up was to kill yourself every day. I just couldn’t do it. Eventually I burned out and moved to Vancouver. Canada was very welcoming. My wife and I have residency already. I’ve started my own business. I have all the clients I need. But most importantly I have a home. And I’m not talking about a brick structure. I mean a place that I’m allowed to be. Because once I had that, all my other problems seemed smaller. I could start thinking long term. Because no matter what happens, at least I know I’ll be here.
Sunday, July 7, 2019
Here is an asylum realothetical for your class: Muslims in the Chinese province of Xinjiang also called Uyghurs or Uighurs.
Just a few months ago, Vox reported on the detention of hundreds of thousands of Muslim adults in massive "reeducation camps" or "vocational training centers" focused on "thought education." The state justifies the mass detentions on national security grounds -- a measure against "violent religious extremism."
This week, the BBC reported on China's system for the reeducation of Muslim children whose parents have been taken to reeducation camps. These kids are being sent to massive boarding schools.
It is significant, as the BBC states, that "the state has been growing its ability to care full-time for large numbers of children at precisely the same time as it has been building the detention camps."
Here are some numbers: "In just one year, 2017, the total number of children enrolled in kindergartens in Xinjiang increased by more than half a million. And Uighur and other Muslim minority children, government figures show, made up more than 90% of that increase."
Children live in these schools, where their native languages are banned. "Many of the schools bristle with full-coverage surveillance systems, perimeter alarms and 10,000 Volt electric fences[.]"
Adrian Zenz has published a report on this topic in the Journal of Political Risk: Break Their Roots: Evidence for China’s Parent-Child Separation Campaign in Xinjiang. He believes that what China is doing with Xinjiang Muslims "points to what we must call cultural genocide."
Tuesday, June 18, 2019
Professor Angela Mae Kupenda (Miss. College) has written an essay for the Institute of Law Teaching and Learning that may be of interest to our readers: As Easy as "1, 2, Buckle My Shoe" 10 Steps for Addressing Race Intentionally in Doctrinal Classes.
Prof. Kupenda notes that "In many, if not all, of our courses, racial inequalities either lurk right beneath the surface or are in plain view in the cases and topics we cover." She argues that "Failing to lead our students in these discussions on race results in our not providing them the best education possible."
So what are her 10 steps?
Step 1. Grow in awareness of oneself as a “raced” individual in America.
Step 2. Grow in awareness of oneself as a teacher and of one’s calling as a law professor.
Step 3. Open the door of your mind to consider the presence of race in the courses you teach and to consider the consequences of your failing to address race.
Step 4. Open the door of your mind to consider the context in which you teach. In other words, be open to the possibility that close mindedness may be prevalent at your school. Consider the institutional environment and the consequences of doing what you must do–addressing the racial issues in your courses.
Step 5. Pick up your tools. Set the stage. Prepare for the impromptu. Plan for the unplanned. Rehearse for the unrehearsed.
Step 6. An important tool in addressing race in your courses is to shift some of that work to the students. Figure out ways to share the responsibility in class for addressing race, in other words plan in advance for inevitable disagreement.
Step 7. Notice what is going on in the classroom AND within yourself.
Step 8. If you don’t lay them straight in a given class meeting, you still get another chance and more chances to have a positive impact on the lives of your students by helping them think more deeply about the law and race.
Step 9. Perform a critique of how you are doing in our courses with addressing race.
Step 10. Revise and plan again for the next class meeting, next semester, or even the next academic year.
Check out the essay for a more fulsome discussion of these steps.
Saturday, June 8, 2019
The 5th Biennial Emerging Immigration Scholars Conference kicked off with a panel on teaching & learning innovations in immigration law.
The panel was moderated by Pooja Dadhania, who just finished her first year of tenure track teaching at California Western and earned teacher of the year in that period! Way to go Pooja!
Kayleen Hartman (Loyola LA) spoke about: (1) Emily Robinson's bond project at Loyola LA , (2) Kayleen's own removal defense practicum, and (3) Kayleen's removal defense boot camp. It was amazing to hear about how both immprofs have been working to teach students to "fight from the back foot" in removal defense.
Liz Keyes (Baltimore) spoke about clinic design choices. She talked about focusing coursework on the unique needs of Baltimore's student population. In addition, she urged folks to recognize that "we as clinicians cannot solve the representation crisis" but instead must value our teaching -- training lawyers to go and do the work on their own.
Stella Burch Elias (Iowa) inspired us all with her work: (1) bringing practical skills and service to her immigration podium course and (2) creating an immigration symposium to meet the needs of the local immigration community. She also gave us the key to maintaining civility in a classroom that can become divided and divisive: "Remember, 10% of your grade is based on collegial participation."
Finally, Jill Family (Widener) spoke about (1) integrating policy developments into immigration law (in-class policy presentations, policy prompts), (2) her intersession course offering an introduction to immigration law practice, and (3) developing local relationships to give students more options. I super loved her emphasis that students can have any policy focus they want as long as it's supported with facts and reasons. There's no better lesson for law students.
Wednesday, May 8, 2019
The Executive Office for Immigration Review recently released a document called "Myths vs Facts About Immigration Proceedings." This document is a teaching goldmine for a podium immigration course, clinic, or specialized immigration class.
For example, the document says that one myth is that "Most aliens who claim a credible fear of persecution are asylum seekers." It refutes that myth with the following fact: "On average, at least half of aliens who make a credible fear claim and are subsequently placed in removal proceedings do not actually apply for asylum."
This pairing could be a jumping off point for discussion about why people don't seek asylum. Just two reasons might include the fact that the migrants are in detention and perhaps accept voluntary departure to get out, or they cannot get counsel to help them pursue an asylum claim due to the combined issues of being detained in a remote locale far from counsel and faced with complex law they don't understand.
Another idea would be to give each student one of the document's 18 myth/fact pairings and to ask them to independently research the topics raised. This could be an in class project, homework assignment, or writing prompt.
In short, this document is a super helpful teaching tool. I encourage you to download it before it disappears from the interwebs.
Wednesday, May 1, 2019
The Paul and Soros Fellowship for New Americans announces it's new class of fellows for 2019. The scholarship supports $90,000 tuition for graduate school in any number of fields. The selection process is focused on identifying the most promising New Americans who are poised to make significant contributions to the nation through their work and who exhibit creativity, originality, initiative and sustained accomplishment. With 1,800 applications for 30 slots, it has become known as the "Rhodes scholarship" for immigrants. This year's impressive group of 30 fellows includes:
- Countries of origin: China, Columbia, Haiti, India, Japan, Lebanon, Mexico, Mongolia, Paikstan, Peru, Russia, Somalia, South Korea, Sweden, Taiwan, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda, Ukraine, Vietnam
- 21 fellows speak 2 or more languages, 9 fellows speak 3 or more languages
- 20 women, 10 men
- 9 first generation college students
- 5 refugees or asylum-seekers
- Fields of study: Astrophysics, biomedical research, business, chemical science and engineering, computer science, creative writing, economics, history, law, math, mechanical engineering, medicine, music, physics, planetary science, public policy
- Graduate universities: MIT, Caltech, Stanford, University of Michigan, Carnegie Mellon, Princeton, Northwestern, Oregon Health and Science, Syracuse, UCSF, Stony Brook Univesrity, Columbia, University of Hawaii, Harvad, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
- Undergraduate universities: Yale, Brown, Princeton, MIT, Cornell, Georgetown, Columbia, Stanford, Macaulay at Lehman College, CUNY, Duke, Williams, University of Rochester, Loyola Marymount, UC Berkeley, UT El Paso, Harvard, Washington University in St. Louis
The fellows join a 20-year community of fellows with 620 past recipients including former U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, Olympic gymnast and doctor Amy Chow, computational biologist and Time person of the year 2015 Pardis Sabet (Ebola Fighters), US Ambassador to Uruguay Julissa Reynoso, and several award-winning poets, filmmakers, musicians and business entrepreneurs.
The new application is available and due by November 2019. The newly-expanded eligibility criteria has been broadened to include any immigrant, regardless of their immigration status, who has graduated high school and college in the United States. This includes undocumented immigrants who lack DACA protections (DACA recipients have been eligible since 2014). Applicants with refugee and asylum status will no longer have to wait to receive their green cards to apply. Thanks to the Soros alum and board of trustees for their expanding the criteria in this way!
- MHC (PD Soros Fellow, Class of 2001)
Monday, April 29, 2019
Immprof Liz Keyes (Baltimore) gave us a tip about this article over at Medium: Laziness Does Not Exist. In the article, psychology professor Devon Price writes: "When a person fails to begin a project that they care about, it’s typically due to either a) anxiety about their attempts not being 'good enough' or b) confusion about what the first steps of the task are. Not laziness."
Liz writes: "I love this. It rings very, very true to my experience as a clinical law professor, where students are sometimes paralyzed by the immensity of the responsibility they are assuming. And the skill of identifying and taking the first step is not intrinsic. It can be taught, though, and it can be learned."
It's why Liz starts the semester giving students the poem Start Close In by David Whyte.
Start close in,
don’t take the second step
or the third,
start with the first
you don’t want to take.
the pale ground
beneath your feet,
way to begin
Start with your own
give up on other
don’t let them
your own voice,
Start right now
take a small step
you can call your own
heroics, be humble
start close in,
for your own.
Start close in,
the second step
or the third,
start with the first
you don’t want to take.
Y'all know how much I love poetry. This is a wonderful one. It's going on my office door. Thanks so much for sharing it with us, Liz!
Monday, April 22, 2019
I talk about border militias in two different classes: Immigration Law and Border Enforcement (Hofstra) and Crimmigration (OU).
In the Hofstra class, I use the film Crossing Arizona as a jumping off point for discussion. (See past posts on this movie here, here, and here.) A 2006 documentary, it has sometimes felt dated. That's no longer an issue, with this week's crazy news of a border militia detaining migrants (including children) and the subsequent arrest of one member of that militia by the FBI. (See Kevin's post on the developments here.)
You should download or bookmark the youtube video from this militia about their round up of migrants. It's remarkable.
I also recommend that you revisit this 2016 article, that we previously highlighted, from The Atlantic: Undercover with a Border Militia. It's an astounding first-hand account of a reporter embedding himself with a border militia. Again, more evidence that while no one is currently talking about "minutemen project" that was big in 2004-2006, the border militia movement is still going strong.
Tuesday, April 16, 2019
Check out this short (3:40) story from CBS News.
There is a lot packed into those few minutes. Jose (the father) was pressured to sign documents in English that he didn't understand, resulting in his deportation. His 10-year-old son remained in the U.S., first in federal care and then with a relative. It took nearly 11 months for the two to reunite. They are here in the U.S. and still pursuing asylum.
Lee Gelernt (ACLU) makes an appearance and puts this story into perspective: We don't know how many families were separated at the border; the government wants 2 years to sort out the mess.
Wednesday, April 3, 2019
The American Immigration Council and AILA have filed an administrative complaint calling out practices on the detained docket at the El Paso Service Processing Center. Migrants in this court "face some of the highest obstacles in the nation."
The complaint notes that this El Paso immigration court has the lowest asylum grant rate in the nation. (I honestly didn't know that - here I was thinking that "honor" belonged to Atlanta.)
Another problem highlighted in the complaint: "a culture of hostility and contempt towards immigrants." Just how does that manifest? One example: an immigration judge reportedly described the court as "the Bye-Bye Place," as in, "You know your client is going bye-bye, right?"
You could easily assign the first four pages of the 24-page report in your class about immigration court procedures or asylum. It would be eye-opening.
Monday, April 1, 2019
In a March 28 rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan, President Trump said:
You have people coming up, you know they're all met by the lawyers, the lawyers of... And they come out, they're all met by the lawyers. And they say, "Say the following phrase: 'I am very afraid for my life. I am afraid for my life.'" OK. And then I look at the guy, he looks like he just got out of the ring, he's the heavyweight champion of the world. He's afraid ... It's a big fat con job, folks. It's a big fat con job.
This isn't an April Fool's joke. The clip is below. And it's one to definitely include in your classroom discussion of asylum.