Saturday, January 15, 2022
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees offers simple explanations of refugees, internally displaced people, and stateless people. Their animated videos can be used to in an introductory classroom or even for children. The video above, Who is a Refugee, explains the journey of refugees from a conflict-ridden home country to a more stable host country and the legal obligation to accept refugees who would be persecuted on return to their country. Beyond the initial migration, it explains that some refugees will be able to return to their home country, if conditions stabilize, while others will choose to integrate and remain in their host country. It describes the trauma and other challenges a refugee faces and examples of how a host country can assist with learning the host language, training for work, and learning customs in a community.
This video explains the asylum-seeking process, including the kinds of proof required, considerations for the adjudicator, and the difficulties an asylum seeker may face while waiting for a determination. For example, it describes housing challenges, work permits, and the uncertainty of not knowing what outcome will be reached. The simple and yet accurate description may be useful to an asylum seeker or volunteer without legal training.
Finally, this video, Who Helps Refugees?, explains ways that individuals and organizations can assist with integration, from donation to practical assistance and friendship.
Because the videos are not country-specific, the spare explanations can be used in many settings. There are many other short videos available from other organization with more personal stories and specific country histories, including TEDx talks here, here, and here.
Wednesday, December 29, 2021
One generalization about immigrants that is often true is that they come from different places and therefore speak different languages.
Those who come to the US as adults lack the same opportunities to learn English that their children have in K-12 public schools, where civil rights laws since Lau v. Nichols require that educational access not be denied on the basis of language.
A happy news story from pandemic times is that the provision of educational software and computers to English language learners during remote learning benefitted parents as well as children. Linking, Empowering, and Advancing Families (LEAF) is a partnership between metro schools and community groups in Nashville, Tennessee that offered such classes. As word got around, classes filled and overflow interest channeleed into other classes. The convenience of home computing or even learning on a smart phone while on-the-go expanded the reach of the program. As a result students began to learn practical vocabulary for ordering food at a restaurant, shopping, and working. Teachers are able to encourage them in their learning.
Wednesday, December 15, 2021
Harry Houdini, the most famous "escape artist" in America, was born in Hungary. He came to the U.S. with his family at the tender age of four. When he was eight, his father became a U.S. citizen. This was in 1882 and, while I don't know the historical laws on the books at that time, I'm guessing that's when Harry also became a U.S. citizen.
I've got Harry on the brain this week after seeing the below thread from one of my Twitter favorites, the indomitable Jennifer Mendelsohn (she of #resistance genealogy). Apparently Harry lied on his WWI draft registration, attesting that he was born in the United States. Ooof. As Jennifer points out later in the thread, Harry repeated this untruth on "at least five notarized passport applications."
On his WWI draft registration, Harry Houdini both— GET VACCINATED! (((Jennifer Mendelsohn))) (@CleverTitleTK) December 14, 2021
a) lied about being native born
and b) said his middle name was "Handcuff." 😂 pic.twitter.com/C32Aki9VrO
This is DEFINITELY going to be a real-o-thetical in a future class.
Wednesday, November 24, 2021
Monday, October 18, 2021
The National Parks have been trying to expand the reach of their resources to invite more cultures. One initiative that may help is the creation of a new exhibit at Yosemite. The cornerstone of the exhibit is a restoration of a Chinese laundry. The building is dedicated to telling the story of Chinese immigrant workers in Yosemite National Park using text and photos on the walls. Parts of the history that will be highlighted are workers who built major roads, including Tioga Road, north of Yosemite Valley; the contributions of Tie Sing, a cook, to the establishment of Yosemite National Park and the National Park Service; the history of Ah You, who served as head chef of the Wawona Hotel in California for 47 years; and the contributions of Chinese who worked in Yosemite’s hotels.
Sabrina Diaz, who was chief of interpretation and education at Yosemite National Park and initiated the idea of restoring the building (after learning that it was being used for storage), explained to NBC News it is the last remaining laundry building from Yosemite’s early days.
Yenyen Chan, a Yosemite Park ranger who has conducted extensive research on the history of Chinese in Yosemit, told NBC Asian America in 2018 that Sing played an important role in cooking meals for a two-week wilderness expedition in 1915 that was intended to convince business and cultural leaders of the importance of a national park system.
A more extensive description of the exhibit and a video about its recreation appear on the NPS website.
Wednesday, October 6, 2021
WaPo's multimedia story The child migrant smugglers of Northern Mexico is definitely worth a read. And look.
The article tells the story of teenage people smugglers operating on the U.S.-Mexico border. Teenagers are particularly suited to this work, the article explains, because the DOJ doesn’t prosecute Mexican minors for smuggling. All bets are off for the 18+ crowd.
The article focuses on one teen in particular and the choices seasoned smugglers like him must make when they age-out of the migrant-trafficking side of cartel business. I won't offer spoilers, but it's intense.
The article includes photos and videos that would be really compelling additions to class.
And there's even a link to a rap song that could be used before your discussion of people smuggling:
Tuesday, October 5, 2021
If you haven't had the chance to read Sunday's poetry break, This Matter by Haymanot, I highly recommend it.
I write now with a quick follow up to offer an idea about how to incorporate this particular poem into your class.
In 2014, WaPo published this story: In a crowded immigration court, seven minutes to decide a family’s future. The article does a good job of humanizing the incredible time pressures facing immigration judges -- pressures that have only increased as the backlog of cases grows ever larger and immigration judges now have performance metrics to hit. (BTW, if you want an even more recent article than WaPo's 2014, check out this AP one from 2020.)
You could assign one of these newspaper articles alongside Haymanot's poem. Instead of offering facts and figures like the news articles, Haymanot's poem humanizes the same story, from the perspective of the migrant whose future is being decided within these constraints. The news articles are removed, detached. The poem is an explosion of emotion and feeling.
Tuesday, September 28, 2021
UC Hastings' Center for Gender and Refugee Studies will be hosting a webinar: Best Practices for Haitian TPS Applications.
This webinar will provide an in depth understanding of legal issues that commonly arise with TPS applications with the Haitian community, such as dual nationality, firm resettlement, and other potential bars. The panel of immigration lawyers will offer best practices for addressing these legal obstacles based on their extensive experience working with Haitian TPS applicants. This webinar is highly recommended for legal practitioners working on Haitian TPS cases..
Date and Time: October 1, 2021, 12:00pm-1:30pm PDT/3:00-4:30 pm EDT
RSVP here. Attendees may submit questions in advance of the webinar; RSVP for the webinar will remain open until one hour before the start time.
Clarel Cyriaque, Esq.
Peterson St. Philippe, Managing Attorney, Catholic Charities Legal Services, Archdiocese of Miami, Inc.
Cassandra Suprin, Family Defense Program Director, Americans for Immigrant Justice
Christine Lin, Director of Training and Technical Assistance, Center for Gender & Refugee Studies
Gabrielle Apollon, Supervising Attorney and Co-Director, NYU Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, Haiti Mining Justice & International Accountability Project
1.5 General California MCLE credit; pending approval for 1.5 General Florida MCLE Credit
This training will be recorded and the recording and materials will be emailed to everyone who registers for the webinar.
Wednesday, September 22, 2021
Kari Hong, formerly of Boston College Las School and now of the Florence Project, spoke at yesterday's contribution to the Abolish ICE? online conference. (Reminder: The conference continues this morning and tomorrow afternoon.)
One of the last questions of the conference, put to all panelists, was a call for proposals to change to the immigration system, whether small or large.
Kari's response was a list of seven possible changes:
- Universal representation in immigration proceedings
- Eliminate expedited removal
- Restructure immigration courts to make them independent.
- Place asylum officers at the border.
- Legalize DACA and all frontline workers.
- Abolish detention.
- Repeal IIRIRA.
It struck me that this was a wonderful list of possible law review topics. Some have been explored before (universal representation, legalize DACA). Others have not (repeal IIRIRA). But any one of these proposals on their own would make a wonderful law review article. I know that students sometimes get stuck trying to come up with topics, here's a ready-made list!
Friday, September 10, 2021
Real-o-thetical: Noun. An in-class "hypothetical" based, at least in part, on real events.
The travails of Michele Thiesen would make an outstanding Crimmigration Real-o-thetical. Here are the facts:
- Thiesen is a Canadian citizen.
- In 1994, she was convicted of burglary. She broke into a home she believed was empty, but the residents were present. She stole a VCR. (See California Penal Code § 459.)
- She had prior convictions (petty theft, drug charges, prostitution) which, at the time, meant she was sentenced to at least 25 years to life. She got 40 years to life. (See California Penal Code § 667)
- California changed it's three strikes law in 2012. If sentenced after 2012, Thiesen would have been sentenced to 25 years to life.
- Thiesen was a model prisoner, so much so that the prison guards wrote letters in support of her release.
- Thiesen sought and received re-sentencing of 25 years to life, making her eligible for parole, which she was granted.
- She was released from prison..... into the arms of ICE.
Questions I would ask students:
- What will happen to Thiesen?
- What will be the basis for removal? (Identify ALL possible grounds).
- Could Thiesen's 1994 counsel have avoided immigration consequences? If so, how?
- Did counsel in 1994 have an obligation to think about the immigration consequences of Thiesen's case?
- Would Thiesen be eligible for relief from deportation?
Note that, in reality, Theisen is planning to self-deport. At least that seems to be the gist of the WaPo coverage which talks about her attorney's work to expedite her return to Canada.
Also, the coverage of Thiesen's case omits any information about her immigration status or age at the time of her crimes though Thiesen's counsel provides some color commentary, telling WaPo that her client's (alcoholic) dad died when she was 17, she took up drugs to "self-medicate" and, well, "Once you’re hooked on heroin, it’s an expensive drug to support.”
I would provide students with some made-up facts on immigration status and age. Have her enter as an infant, teen, or adult, asking whether that does or should change any of our analysis. Have her enter lawfully. Have her overstay.
The real-o-thetical variations are, of course, endless. It's the human drama of Thiesen's case that will draw students in.
Thursday, July 1, 2021
Check out Illegal en Estyle by María del Pilar:
Yo no cruzo la frontera con mis tenis marca brinca me llevan al norte.
En avión sin bigotes en tour bus, no a pata.
How does she cross the border? Not by foot, but by plane. She's illegal, in style.
This song is the perfect accompaniment to a conversation about how more undocumented migrants today are visa overstayers as opposed to border crossers.
Tuesday, June 22, 2021
Banished, by MF DOOM (Daniel Dumile), a collaboration with Jneiro Jarel, opens with: “Villain got banished/Refused out the U.S., he ain’t even Spanish.” Other sweet lyrics: "No, not deported/ Be a little minute before things get sorted."
Over at Pitchfork, Noah Yoo has the skinny about DOOM, and his "Lifelong Struggle With the U.S. Immigration System."
This article is worth a READ. Seriously. Quick version:
DOOM came to the US on a B2 visa as an infant in 1971. His mom (an immigrant from Trinidad) filed a family-based petition for him when he was three. The petition was approved but was never followed up by a visa application, apparently because his mother didn't have the money to pursue it. In 1993, he pled guilty to misdemeanor third-degree assault, paid a fine and restitution, and served probation. In the course of his rap career, he went to Canada in 2004 and had trouble returning to the US. He said he thought he was a USC or LPR; he was neither. He sought registry. The government served an RFE and ultimately denied the application saying the request for evidence wasn't responded to. He left the country again on tour, and was deemed inadmissible upon his return in 2011 based upon: (i) not having a visa, (ii) CIMT, (iii) unlawful presence. He tried to enter again in 2012, and again was denied. In an interview with Q magazine in 2012, he said: “I’m done with the United States, it’s no big deal.” DOOM died in 2020.
Y'all, the exam just writes itself!
Sunday, June 13, 2021
Here's a tweet that really caught my eye. It's from FAIR (Federation for American Immigration Reform), an anti-immigration organization, if you're not yet aware.
Text: Amnesty isn't a solution. It's a crime against American citizens.
Obviously, this is nonsense. But it might just be a good teaching tool. It's eye-catching. And I could imagine a really robust conversation with students breaking it down. Particularly in light of other FAIR tweets such as this one:
Text: Total number of illegal aliens AND THEIR US BORN CHILDREN: 175,000. (emphasis mine).
After all, wouldn't a pathway to regularizing the status of noncitizen parents be a benefit to US citizen children, as opposed to a "crime" against them?
All in all, intriguing to think about using in a classroom discussion of historical amnesty programs and/or present-day proposals to bring undocumented migrants out of the shadows.
Thursday, June 10, 2021
SCOTUS issued an opinion in Borden v. United States today. SCOTUS concludes that a criminal offense with a mens rea of recklessness does not qualify as a “violent felony” under the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA).
It's one of those wonky SCOTUS plurality opinions. Justice Kagan announces the judgement of the court and gets three justices (Sotomayor, Kennedy, and Gorsuch) to sign onto her opinion, which focuses on the statutory phrase “against the person of another.” Justice Thomas concurs, agreeing in the judgment that Borden's conviction doesn't qualify as a violent felony, though he focuses on different statutory language: "use of physical force.” The dissenters are Justices Kavanaugh, Roberts, Alito, and Barrett.
Wonky alliances aside, this case will have implications for aggravated felonies based on crimes of violence under INA § 101(a)(43)(F), 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(43)(F). How? Well, the statute at issue in Borden defines "violent felony" nearly identically to the "crime of violence" lingo applicable to immigration cases. Here are the two provisions:
18 USC 924(e)(2)(B)(1): "the term “violent felony” means any crime... that... has as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person of another"
18 U.S.C. § 16 (cross referenced in INA § 101(a)(43)(F)): "the term “crime of violence” means... an offense that has as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person or property of another"
In Sessions v. Dimaya, 584 U.S. __ (2018), SCOTUS applied an ACCA case interpreting § 924(e)(2)(B) (Johnson) to its interpretation of 18 U.S.C. § 16 (as referenced in INA § 101(a)(43)(F)). So, accordingly, SCOTUS' interpretation of § 924(e)(2)(B) in this Borden decision will inform any future interpretation of 18 U.S.C. § 16.
Tuesday, June 8, 2021
The Army of the Dead, now streaming on Netflix, is a totally solid zombie flick. The first 14 minutes are genuinely fabulous -- totally worth watching on their own merit. The latter hour+ has some pretty wide plot holes but is nonetheless generally enjoyable.
But where's the immigration angle?, you may be asking.
Without spoilers, I can tell you that the zombies are corralled into one quarantine zone. And when our heroes enter that zone, they pass this sign:
It's a super bummer that no single screen shot captures the whole sign. It's panned over so requires more than one still. But it's a fun sign to see and think about as immigration law scholars. (If someone is a super good editor and can get me a .gif or .mp3 of that pan, beer's on me.)
Many of us teach about the border and the vagaries of constitutional rights in that particular locale. The ACLU has gone so far as to call the entire border + 100 miles inland a "constitution free zone" -- a bit of hyperbole though, as you know, less hyperbolic if we restrict our view to ports of entry themselves.
Anyhoo, pop culture enthusiasts might think about making an Army of the Dead reference during their next border-conlaw class. Not to mention the endless hypo possibilities: "Should the Government’s interest in preventing the entry of unwanted persons and effects from a zombie-infested zone be at the same 'zenith' as its interests at the international border, as discussed in Flores-Montano?"
Friday, June 4, 2021
For the past two days, I've been attending the National Immigration Project of National Lawyers Guild's 2021 Annual Pre-AILA Crimes & Immigration Seminar. (Thanks, Ming, for letting me know about it!)
The conference introduced me to a new way of teaching the categorical approach to removal based on criminal offenses. As I've mentioned before, I habitually outsource teaching of the categorical approach to my internet "guest speaker" Prof. Maureen Sweeney (Maryland), by using her wonderful youtube videos to introduce the subject.
The NIPNLG approach, which I learned today may have originated from the ILRC, involves pictures of kittens. And who doesn't love cute pictures of kittens?
Here's the pitch: Imagine that the federal removal offense is a box. The first thing you need to do is identify the dimensions of that box. Now imagine that the state statute of conviction is a cat. You need to identify the dimensions of the cat. Finally, see if the cat will fit in the box.
If the cat is too big for the box, then the state statute is overbroad and cannot be the basis for removal. But if the kitten fits snugly within the box or has room to spare, then there is a categorical match and the noncitizen is removable.
Is this really any different from overlapping ovals, which has been my go-to for the past many years? No. But if kittens make students sit up and pay attention, and I think they will, I am definitely abandoning my ovals in favor of cats.
Sunday, May 16, 2021
U.S./Mexico border outside El Paso/Juarez; photo mine
CNN has done some really interesting reporting of late regarding smugglers working to get migrants across the U.S.-Mexico border. CNN corespondent Matt Rivers went to Mexico, interviewed polleros (smugglers), and, most interestingly, followed smugglers as they worked to get 2 migrants--a young man and woman from Ecuador--up and over the border wall and into the United States.
CNN's online article is filled with excellent still photography documenting the work of these Mexican smugglers. The online story also includes key details -- the thousands of dollars migrants spend on smugglers (as much as smugglers can charge), the likelihood of migrants making it to their final stateside destination without detection (low), and the ties smugglers have to Mexican cartels.
I also encourage you to watch Rivers' video reporting, which captures the smuggler's tools (a rebar ladder), shows the migrants and smugglers creeping up to the U.S. border, and records the migrants as they climb up and over the wall and run into the distance. These are some pretty powerful visuals that has the potential to really open the eyes of students thinking about border crossings.
Sunday, April 25, 2021
The website features an interactive map documenting over a thousand instances of retaliation against immigrant rights defenders by numerous U.S. government agencies and highlights the personal accounts of immigrant rights leaders who have been arrested, jailed, surveilled, and deported for their activism. It claims that, by abusing its immense power in an attempt to stamp out dissenting voices in immigrant communities, the government is trampling on the First Amendment right to speak truth to power.
This project is all the more salient to me this week as I watched docu-thriller The Infiltrators (Friday post) and learned more about how the movie's protagonist, Claudio Rojas, was deported in retaliation for his appearance in the film (Saturday post). It's moving to (quite literally) see the story of Claudio Rojas placed in the context of retaliatory actions taken against other immigration activists.
Friday, April 23, 2021
I don't know, is that heading too much? It's all I could think of as I watched The Infiltrators today. If you're unfamiliar with this film (I was), it follows the TRUE story of undocumented young people who intentionally get put into immigration detention (Broward in Florida) so that they can better report on the conditions of detainees and better advocate for their release. Like I said, balls of f$%*ing steel.
Check out the trailer:
I received access to the film with my registration/attendance at the UCLA Center for Immigration Law and Policy’s Immigration Policy in the Biden Administration: The First 100 Days and Beyond. Amazingly, one of the morning speakers, Claudio Rojas, is one of men who inspired the activists to infiltrate Broward. Rojas ends up a major protagonist in the film and appears to have been deported because of his participation in it. (See here & here.)
Anyhoo -- WATCH THIS FILM. You will not regret it. It's awe inspiring in a literal and not metaphorical sense. The utter fearlessness of these DREAMer activists is stunning. I bow before them.
And if you happened to miss today's segment of the UCLA conference, don't worry. The conference continues over the next two Fridays. And upcoming on April 30, you can catch a conversation with DHS Secretary Mayorkas. I'm in.
Tuesday, April 20, 2021
Yesterday, Ming wrote about the reported shift in agency language--from "alien" to "noncitizen". Today, we have access to a copy of the memo issued by Troy A. Miller regarding CBP Communications and Materials. It includes this handy chart:
A truly excellent resource for your inevitable first-day-of-immigration-law vocabulary lesson.