Wednesday, May 8, 2019

"Myths vs. Facts" Document from EOIR: A Teaching Goldmine


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.


May 8, 2019 in Current Affairs, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (2)

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans

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)

May 1, 2019 in Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 29, 2019

"Take a Small Step": A Lesson for Law Students


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
close in,
the step
you don’t want to take.

Start with
the ground
you know,
the pale ground
beneath your feet,
your own
way to begin
the conversation.

Start with your own
give up on other
people’s questions,
don’t let them
smother something

To hear
another’s voice,
your own voice,
wait until
that voice
becomes an
private ear
that can
really listen
to another.

Start right now
take a small step
you can call your own
don’t follow
someone else’s
heroics, be humble
and focused,
start close in,
don’t mistake
that other
for your own.

Start close in,
don’t take
the second step
or the third,
start with the first
close in,
the step
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!


April 29, 2019 in Books, Current Affairs, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 22, 2019

Teaching About Border Militias

Photo by Marco Hazard

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.


April 22, 2019 in Current Affairs, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Father & Son Separated at Border, Reunited Nearly 11 Months Later

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.


April 16, 2019 in Current Affairs, Film & Television, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

El Paso Detained Docket: "The Bye-Bye Place"

9360790984_37cabbf2d3_oThe 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.


April 3, 2019 in Current Affairs, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 1, 2019

"It's a big, fat con job": Trump on Asylum Seekers

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.


April 1, 2019 in Current Affairs, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Immigration Simulations: Looking Beyond Traditional Casebooks in Teaching Immigration Law


Guest Post by Immprof Regina Jefferies:

Despite the whiplash-inducing speed, frequency, and breadth of changes to immigration law over the last two years, administrative policy moves, field office procedural and substantive idiosyncrasies, the complex relationship between state and Federal authority, and the highly discretionary character of immigration enforcement far predate the current Administration (See Motomura, 2014). Teaching the practice and theory of immigration law thus poses numerous difficulties, particularly if approached as "knowledge transfer." Law and policy often change at the drop of a hat, as do the mechanisms and procedures lawyers have at their disposal to advocate on behalf of clients.

In light of this reality, Immigration Simulations: Bridge to Practice provides students with scenarios based upon real experiences and legal materials, while encouraging students to think critically and creatively in identifying and solving problems. The book is written as a novel and guided by directed questions and assignments, immersing students in the stories of real-life clients to provide a birds-eye view of the lawyering skills and substantive law involved in the practice of immigration law. The text follows two primary real-life client stories, designed to provide the experience of working a case from beginning to end. Several shorter, real-life client scenarios highlight particularly challenging aspects of substantive and procedural immigration practice as it stood at the beginning of 2018. As students bring a variety of prior knowledge, learning approaches, and even conceptions of learning to the classroom (Biggs, 1993), Immigration Simulations aids in priming student engagement, linking to self-identified prior knowledge, and sets the stage for open and critical discussion.

Students develop strategies and advise clients on potential courses of action in a diverse range of situations, using real case documents. The book encourages the development of critical thinking skills by inviting students to examine concepts and material in a wider context, and to test their understandings and think creatively about how to apply that knowledge in different scenarios (Ledoux & McHenry, 2004). Rather than working with a set of predetermined facts extracted from a legal opinion, students learn to cut through the noise and identify information to frame and develop cases. Not only do students demonstrate a deeper understanding of the material, they leave equipped to apply their knowledge and skills outside the classroom.

-KitJ posted on behalf of Regina Jefferies

March 31, 2019 in Books, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

California's AG Releases Report on Immigration Detention

Xavier Becerra via Twitter

Yesterday, California's Attorney General, Xavier Becerra, released a report on immigration detention in California.

The report comes out of a law passed in June 2017 charging the California Department of Justice with reviewing civil immigration detention and reporting back to the Legislature, Governor, and the public about those findings.

Officials from the California DOJ visited all 10 civil immigration detention facilities in the state--public and private. They engaged in a "comprehensive review" of three of those facilities, including a center for minors.

The report found common issues among the facilities:

  • Restrictions on liberty
  • Language barriers
  • Issues with access to medical and mental health care
  • Obstacles to Contacting Family and Other Support Systems
  • Barriers to Adequate Representation

I just finished covering immigration detention in my Crimmigration course. But I am flagging this report to use next year!


February 27, 2019 in Current Affairs, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Detained Migrants Being Force Fed

Photo by... me!

Four migrant detainees at the El Paso Processing Center are being force fed, the BBC reports.

The migrants, men from India and Cuba, undertook a hunger strike in protest of conditions at the facility. They allege that guards verbally abuse the detainees.

After the men missed their 9th consecutive meal, ICE initiated "hunger-strike protocols" and secured a court-order to permit force feeding.

These men are being fed by tubes inserted through their noses, through which nutrients are pumped into their stomachs. This is non-consensual feeding.

I wondered if there might be a video explaining this force feeding process. There is. Here is Yasiin Bey, better known as Mos Def, voluntarily undergoing the procedure. He did this back in 2013 to bring attention to the force feeding of detainees in Guantanamo Bay who were on a hunger strike. Warning, this video is not for the squeamish.


January 31, 2019 in Current Affairs, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Call For Papers: Emerging Immprofs @ BYU June 7 & 8


The Works in Progress (WIP) committee for the 2019 Emerging Immigration Scholars’ Conference is now accepting proposals for works-in-progress or incubator ideas. In addition to incubator workshops focused on a research idea, participants are invited to submit proposals for workshops to discuss a litigation or advocacy project that could benefit from group input.

The 2019 Conference will take place June 7 and 8, 2019, at Brigham Young University in beautiful Provo, Utah. If you wish to be considered for a works-in-progress or incubator session, please submit your proposal to Further, this year we are again seeking discussants who will read and comment on the works-in-progress or incubator ideas.

If you want to propose a work-in-progress by email: Please put “ImmProf WIP [Lastname]” as the subject line Please submit an abstract of no more than one page, with a title.

If you want to propose an incubator (for a scholarly or litigation/advocacy project) by email: Please put “Incubator [Lastname]” as the subject line Please submit a description of no more than one paragraph, with a title.

If you would be willing to be a discussant: Please email us by March 29 if you wish/are willing to serve as a discussant with a list of your areas of expertise.

The deadline for submissions is Friday, March 29 at 5pm (PT). We anticipate notifying accepted WIP or incubator proposals by April 14. Final papers will be due on May 17, 2019. We look forward to receiving your submissions!

Please feel free to contact any member of the WIP committee, or conference planning committee, with questions or concerns. More information will be coming soon about the conference and how to register.


The WIP Committee:
Lauren Aronson (, Louisiana State University Law Center
Kate Evans (, University of Idaho School of Law

Other Members of the Planning Committee:
Sabrina Balgamwalla, Wayne State University Law School
Pooja Dadhania, California Western School of Law
Kit Johnson, University of Oklahoma College of Law
Carolina Núñez, Brigham Young University Law School
Shalini Ray, University of Alabama School of Law


January 29, 2019 in Law Review Articles & Essays, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Hear from Ms. A-B- Herself in this HRW Video

This short (4-minute) video is an absolute must for your class on asylum. It's incredibly rare to be able to hear directly from a litigant at the center of a leading case. And in this video from Human Rights Watch, you get that opportunity to hear directly from the woman at the heart of Matter of A-B-.


January 23, 2019 in Current Affairs, Film & Television, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

The BBC's 7 Charts on the Wall

Thank you, BBC, for offering us "all you need to know about [the] US border in seven charts." I will be using each and every one when I reach the topic of The Wall later this semester.

Here's an oldie, but goodie:


Those wacky Canucks.


January 22, 2019 in Current Affairs, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (2)

Friday, January 11, 2019

Archive of Immigration Visual Aids

Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia (Penn State) has collected a number of immigration cartoons, charts, images, and memes. Here is a link to this helpful archive.



January 11, 2019 in Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Google's ESTA Problem


I teach students about the Visa Waiver Program. I don't, however, go into the fact that individuals hoping to travel to the US on the VWP must complete an Electronic System for Travel Authorization application or ESTA. I may change that going forward, and here's why.

The official ESTA application process costs $14. But according to this report from the BBC, Google ads for ESTA services have led would-be travelers to pay $80 for the same service.

Because of the BBC's investigation, Google is trying to prevent price-inflated ESTA services from popping up as ads in response to the "most common search terms," but the sites "will still appear in the search results."

Interestingly, the same problem exists with programs in Australia and Canada, and Google is working to resolve similar inflated-price advertisements.

I can see this leading to interesting class discussion.


December 6, 2018 in Current Affairs, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 19, 2018

The Try Guys - Learning Immigration With Hiroshi

I just stumbled across this video from The Try Guys, a group of comedic youtubers. About a year ago, they filmed an episode with immprof extraordinaire Hiroshi Motomura. The episode does a great job of laying out the difficulties inherent in seeking citizenship in the United States through, you won't believe this, hypotheticals (all of which would be excellent for class).

Keep this episode in mind for intro-to-immigration material. Maybe you've got a course that requires getting up-to-speed on immigration in advance. This might be a good clip to assign - perhaps paired with Virgil Webe's immigration hotel.

Kudos to Hiroshi for reaching out the young folk where they spend 99.99% of their time - on Youtube!


November 19, 2018 in Film & Television, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 16, 2018

Your Playlist: Chris George

Chris George is the Executive Director of Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services (IRIS) in New Haven, Connecticut. As their website touts, IRIS is a "non-sectarian, independent nonprofit refugee resettlement agency that has welcomed more than 5,000 refugees to Connecticut since 1982."

Chris is clearly passionate about his work, letting folks know that he's "got the best job in the world."

One of the things that Chris loves most about resettlement work is the obligation that agencies like his have to provide newly arrived refugees a culturally appropriate hot meal.

That obligation comes from a cooperative agreement that the U.S. Department of State has with national resettlement agencies. As the State Department explains on their website, this agreement requires that:

... all refugees are met at the airport upon arrival in the United States by someone from the sponsoring resettlement affiliate and/or a family member or friend. They are taken to their apartment, which has basic furnishings, appliances, climate-appropriate clothing, and some of the food typical of the refugee’s culture

National resettlement agencies incorporate this obligation into their agreements with local resettlement organizations like IRIS.

As Chris told the New Haven Independent, it's "the best federal government requirement of all time ... a great way of welcoming people ... with a meal that they're used to as soon as they arrive."

Chris is so passionate about this requirement, that he wrote a song about it. You can find it at 7:10-8:42 in the clip below:

Here are the lyrics:

In Praise of the Culturally Appropriate Hot Meal

Find an apartment. Make sure it’s furnished.
By federal law, to seal the deal,
within two hours of their arrival,
serve them a culturally appropriate hot meal.

You’ve got Republicans and you’ve got Democrats.
And their bickering is so unreal.
If only more things could be bipartisan,
like the culturally appropriate hot meal.

I’m not talking hamburgers. Hold the lasagna!
It’s not the time for ham or veal.
If you’re a refugee, we’re going to welcome you
with a culturally appropriate hot meal.

Arroz con pollo for the Cubans.
Halal, if you’re from Iraq.
The Congolese, they like variety.
Just make it culturally appropriate, and hot!

This song is guaranteed to make you smile. It will be a wonderful addition to your class on refugee resettlement!


November 16, 2018 in Music, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Law Professors: Don't Do this on Halloween

Wall Wall 2

Pictures originally posted on school's Facebook page.  

CNN reports on something that again proves that truth is stranger than fiction, leaving this blogger to ask "what were you thinking?" 

Incorporating Donald Trump's border wall into a Halloween costume by an elementary school teacher?  It can't be.

Well it happened at an elementary school in Middleton, Idaho.
Here is how the CNN report describes the events:
"Pictures, which were posted on the Middleton School District Facebook page but have since been deleted, showed the group dressed up as a wall with the phrase `Make America Great Again' on it. Another group in a second picture was dressed up with sombreros, carrying maracas and wearing fake black mustaches, which some parents called racist.
The pictures have now been replaced with an apology video from district Superintendent Josh Middleton, who called the costumes `clearly insensitive and inappropriate.'" (bold added).
You can't make this stuff up.

November 3, 2018 in Current Affairs, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 2, 2018

Immigrant of the Day: Mo Amer

Mohammad "Mo" Amer is a naturalized U.S. citizen. Born in Kuwait to Palestinian parents, Amer sought asylum in the U.S. during the first Gulf War. He was granted asylum, though it took many years to become a U.S. citizen.

His comedy includes bits about on his life as an English-speaking refugee in the U.S. and the hurdles he faced making his way to overseas gigs on an refugee travel document.

Here he is on Colbert last year:

And here's a preview for his Netflix show "the Vagabond."

Lots of great material for class, and just the humor break you need this week.


November 2, 2018 in Current Affairs, Film & Television, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, October 28, 2018

U.S. Trans Activist Seeks Asylum in Sweeden

Photo via

Danni Askini is a trans activist from the United States. She currently lives in Sweeden and is seeking asylum there, The Local reports.

Askini states that it is "too dangerous" to work as a trans activist in the United States. She has received death threats for speaking up on behalf of the trans community.

Her case presents an exceptional in-class real-o-thetical.

Have your students assume Sweedish asylum law is the same as U.S. law. Should she get asylum? On what grounds? Does she have a claim for political asylum? What about asylum based on membership in a particular social group? Which is a better avenue and why? What evidence could she point to for fear of persecution? What about the President's efforts to ban transgender individuals from the military? The CDC's ban on the word transgender? The administration's latest move to "narrowly defin[e] gender as a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth"?



October 28, 2018 in Current Affairs, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)