Saturday, January 23, 2021

Crossing the Darién Gap

If you're unfamiliar with the Darién Gap, you're not alone. I did not know about it until just this evening when I watched this PBS Newshour report from August: What migrants face as they journey through the deadly Darien Gap. It's a largely uninhabited area of mountains, forests, and water that straddles Colombia and Panama. Migrants from around the world (Haiti, Cameroon, Bangladesh were all featured in the report below) travel to Brazil and Ecuador and, from there, make their way north to the U.S. and Canada. This requires passage through the Darién Gap, which as the clip shows, is incredibly dangerous.

The clip is just under 11 minutes long. It would be a really interesting addition to discussion about migration to the U.S. as it shows (a) non-desert travels and (b) migration from outside the Northern Triangle countries.

Oddly enough, I found out about this story from the journalist--Nadja Drost--on twitter. She reported today that a Bangladeshi food delivery man and asylum seeker recognized her from this report. He showed her the report, saved on his phone, which he has shared with family and friends to explain the realities of his journey to America.


January 23, 2021 in Current Affairs, Film & Television, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, December 19, 2020

NY's Protect Our Courts Act

André Koehne, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

On December 14, 2020, NY's Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law the Protect Our Courts Act.

The law amends the state's civil rights law, stating:

A person duly and in good faith attending a court proceeding in which such person is a party or potential witness, or a family or household member is a party or potential witness, is privileged from civil arrest while going to, remaining at, and returning from, the place of such court proceeding, unless such civil arrest is supported by a judicial warrant or judicial order authorizing such civil arrest.

The text of the law does not refer in any manner to ICE, but it's clearly directed at that agency's activities. What it does is prohibit courthouse arrests by ICE without a judicial warrant authorizing the arrest. In addition, the law makes ICE liable for false imprisonment and contempt if an arrest is carried out in violation of this new law.

The Protect Our Courts Act also amends the state's judiciary law. Most significantly, by stating that

any representative of a law enforcement agency who, while acting in an official capacity, enters a New York state courthouse intending to observe an individual or take an individual into custody shall identify himself or herself to uniformed court personnel and state his or her specific law enforcement purpose and the proposed enforcement action to be taken; any such representative who has a warrant or order concerning such intended arrest shall provide a copy of such warrant or order to such court personnel;

In addition, the law contemplates review of any warrant by a judge or court attorney and no courtroom arrests absent "extraordinary circumstances."


December 19, 2020 in Current Affairs, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

ProPublica is Tracking the Trump Administration's "Midnight Regulations"


Independent news outlet ProPublica has an amazing resource that may not yet by on the radar of immprofs. They are tracking every one of the Trump administration's current efforts to pass "midnight regulations" between election day and the inauguration of Joe Biden.

You can look through every pending regulation or you narrow the search by topic. Immigration is one of the topics. ProPublica color-codes the rules by the stage in the process it is in: White House Reviewing Proposal (red), Proposed Rule (orange), White HOuse Reviewing Final Rule (yellow), and Rule Finalized (green).

The immigration rules that have been finalized are:

  • Lowering Wages for Immigrant Farm workers
  • Narrowing Eligibility for High-Skilled Work Visas by Tightening Educational Requirements
  • Requiring Some Visitors to the U.S. to Post Bond So They Leave When Their Visas Expire
  • Restricting High-Skilled Immigrant Work Visas by Raising Wage Minimums for Visa Holders
  • Radically Narrowing the Grounds for Asylum Eligibility

The immigration rules where the White House is reviewing the final rule are:

  • Making It Harder for Asylum-Seekers to Compile Their Applications -- and Easier for Judges to Cherry-Pick Evidence
  • Preventing Judges From Using Discretion to Close Immigration Cases

Outstanding proposed rules include:

  • Barring Work Permits for Immigrants With Deportation Orders
  • Fording Deportation Hearings for Some Immigrants Who Have Pending Applications for Legal Status
  • Making It Harder for Immigrants to Reopen Their Cases


December 15, 2020 in Current Affairs, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 12, 2020

§ 1473.7 Motions to Vacate a Conviction or Sentence in California

Immigrant Legal Resource Center | ILRC logo

This new one-pager on § 1473.7 motions explains the basics of this new vehicle for vacating a conviction or sentence in California. Individuals who were not properly advised of the immigration consequences of their plea can qualify to have the conviction or sentence vacated.

For those wanting to learn even more about 1473.7 motions and other types of post-conviction relief, check out this amazing guide by the Immigrant Legal Resource Center and Californians for Safety and Justice.


October 12, 2020 in Immigration Law Clinics, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

The Collateral Consequences Resource Center Releases a New Report on Restoring Rights and Opportunities after Arrest or Conviction

Today the Collateral Consequences Resource Center released a new report, The Many Roads to Reintegration: A 50-State Report on Laws Restoring Rights and Opportunities after Arrest or Conviction. The report is by Margaret Love and David Schlussel, with an introduction by Professor Gabriel J. Chin. This wonderful new resource provides a comprehensive review of the landscape of laws across the country aimed and restoring rights and opportunities after arrest or conviction. As the authors note, they are "heartened by the progress that has been made toward neutralizing the effect of a criminal record since the present reform effort got underway in a serious fashion less than a decade ago, especially in the last two years."

The report focuses on loss of civil rights, dissemination of damaging record information, and loss of opportunities and benefits. It does not focus on a fourth type of consequence, namely limits on personal freedom including immigration consequences of convictions. Yet, it does include a thorough national discussion of post-conviction record relief, including executive pardons, that will be useful to crim-imm practitioners.

For additional resources on immigration consequences, see


September 8, 2020 in Immigration Law Clinics, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Philosophical Frameworks for Evaluating Immigration Law and Policy: a Video by Prof. Maureen Sweeney

Prof. Maureen Sweeney (Maryland) has created a short video (6:38) about the philosophical frameworks for evaluating immigration law and policy. I'm honored to say that the video draws from my 2014 article Theories of Immigration Law.

My favorite part comes at the end (5:49) when Prof. Sweeney gives listeners homework:

"You can do this little analytical experiment at home. You can find some piece of immigration advocacy or justification or even an attack on an immigration policy and see if you can identify which one or more of these frameworks is at issue and is being used. And then find arguments against that position, whatever it is, in the same framework. And then, as step 2, find some arguments for or against the policy in one of the other frameworks."

An excellent exercise!

I have to say that I was over the moon when Prof. Sweeney shared this video with me. As I've talked about on the blog before, she is has been a virtual guest lecturer in my immigration and crimmigration classes for years -- no one explains the categorical and modified categorical approaches with more clarity. So I'm thrilled to be a part of her classroom in a small way as well.


August 22, 2020 in Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 7, 2020

Teaching with Immigration Nation: Family Separation/Client Trauma


Immigration Nation, now streaming on Netflix, offers a treasure trove of film to use in the classroom. Here is just one possibility using Episode 1 (Installing Fear).

Try playing 29:24-28:26, 8:20-7:25, and 5:25-2:00. These are countdown numbers, which are easier to find on Netflix than the minute markers when they appear. Though you'd be looking at roughly minutes 71-72, 92-93, and 95-98. This will give you approximately 5 minutes of film.

You'll be introduced to the gentleman in the foreground of the photo on the right and his young daughter in the middle-back of the photo. The two talk about family separation.

Dad (interview 1, crying): "When I was at ICE, they told me that they were going to separate us forever. She was going to stay here. I don't know in whose hands."

Dad (interview 2): Discusses how his daughter saw her mother murdered, how he took her to a psychologist who told him "You must always be close to her."

Reunion, Daughter (interview 1): Recounting how officials said "That I would never get to see you again, that they are going to move me from home to home. I told them I would see you again but they just told me that I would never see you again, and I cried."

These segments put a human face on the issue of family separation. It's impossible not to be moved by the two. Also, what kind of monster tells a kid that she'll never see her dad again?

The segments also offer real insight into how people process trauma differently. The dad is sobbing, his pain obvious and visible. The daughter has a thousand yard stare. She's crying, but it's like the tears are just running out of her while she stares into the far distance and tries to shut it out.

This concept -- that clients will present trauma differently -- is one that I've been trying to emphasize for years. I use John Oliver's discussion of visas for war translators and talk about how "flat" one interviewee is when talking about his father's murder and his brother's kidnapping.

Of course, you can also refer back to these same 5 minutes of film when you're teaching asylum. What information is missing from the story that would need to be established before this family might be eligible for asylum?


August 7, 2020 in Film & Television, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Your Playlist: Rhianna

American Oxygen by Rhianna might be a great way to start or end the semester. Check out these lyrics:

Oh say can you see, this is the American Dream
Young girl, hustlin'
On the other side of the ocean
You can be anything at all
In America, America
I say, can't you see
Just close your eyes and breathe

Breathe out, breathe in
American oxygen
Every breath I breathe
Chasin' this American Dream
We sweat for a nickel and a dime
Turn it into an empire
Breathe in, this feeling
American, American oxygen

The video is far more dark than those lyrics suggest. One might ask -- at the start or end of the semester -- whether this is really is a country where "You can be anything at all" anymore.


August 5, 2020 in Music, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 3, 2020

New Podcast: Immigration Review


Looking for a new podcast to enhance the productivity of your commute? Sidenote: Is anyone still commuting?

Regardless, check out Immigration Review Podcast, a weekly show by Kevin A. Gregg, a partner at Kurzban's firm. Here's the official description:

Every Monday, the Immigration Review podcast discusses the latest published opinions from the U.S. Supreme Court, Board of Immigration Appeals, and all U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals. Kevin discusses some cases in depth, provides holdings for others, and always gives practice pointers and insights, rummaging through the week’s decisions so you don’t have to. Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts, and never miss a case!

There are 14 episodes in the bank to get you started.


August 3, 2020 in Current Affairs, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Online Teaching Tools: Films on Learning Legal Interviewing

How to incorporate engaging remote activities is something we are all seeking this fall.

One terrific teaching tool worth calling attention to is the “Learning Legal Interviewing and Language Access Film Project” (“Learning”) by Professor Lindsay Harris of UDC David A. Clarke School of Law and Professor Laila Hlass of Tulane University School of Law.

“Learning” is a set of two dramatized videos for use in experiential education settings. One features clinical students interviewing a teenage asylum seeker and the second features a student interview of a U visa applicant. The videos work with any class teaching interviewing skills, but especially well in immigration law related courses. I have used the films in my class and they raise a range of important issues, including building rapport with clients, trauma-informed lawyering, working with an interpreter, and much, much more. The films could be provided as asynchronous course content to discuss later as a class, or included during an online session.

More information and a link to the videos is available here.


July 30, 2020 in Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 27, 2020

Last Week Tonight Sheds Light on Uighur's Plight in China

John Oliver tackles this issue of China's treatment of its Uighur (pronounced wee-grr) population in this week's episode of Last Week Tonight.

It's a stunning segment, perfect for discussing asylum. Immprofs who teach Criminal Law might also find the moments from 6:45-10:17 interesting, as they delve into the concept of predicting/preventing crime.

There is footage from Uighur camps, with folks singing "If you're happy and you know it say 'yes, sir!'" (It's as horrifying as it sounds.) There's exposure of international corporations who benefit from forced labor by Uighurs (Nike, VW). And there's a snippet from John Bolton's book with insight I'd not heard about previously. Check out this statement: "Trump said that Xi should go ahead with building the [Uighur concentration] camps, which Trump thought was exactly the right thing to do." Holy hell.


July 27, 2020 in Film & Television, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Pandemic Challenges Refugees in US

In a recent article, WaPo explores the hardships facing refugees in the United States during the COVID pandemic. Recently resettled refugees have been hit hard by the pandemic-induced economic downturn. They are struggling to find or keep work. Many struggle with food insecurity. And unlike Americans with an established tax record, they don't qualify for stimulus payments.

Professor Michaela Hynie (York University) notes that the problems facing refugees extend beyond the economic. Traditionally, case workers help refugees get used to their new lives stateside. Yet these workers, like so many, have halted in-person meetings. "How do you explain to somebody how to use the transportation system, for example, or a toilet, when you can’t show them?” Hynie told WaPo.

I wonder if this would be a good classroom exercise -- thinking of something that a refugee would need to know about the United States and working to explain it. Off the top of my head:

  • How to access public transportation
  • How to open & use a checking account
  • How to obtain a driver's license
  • How to use a microwave/dishwasher/fridge/washer/dryer


July 16, 2020 in Current Affairs, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Flowcharts, Flowcharts, Flowcharts

Immprof Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia (Penn State) led me to ILRC's flow charts on penalties for crimes involving moral turpitude. Check out this inadmissibility CIMT visualization:

Screen Shot 2020-07-01 at 9.48.35 AM

Sweet. Students are sure to love these given the many requests I get for flowcharts each semester.


July 1, 2020 in Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 26, 2020

Curating Social Media


Law students are generally pretty savvy about their online presence. They've grown up with Facebook (launched in 2004 when many 1Ls were five or six), Twitter (launched in 2006 when many 1Ls were seven or eight), and Instagram (launched in 2010 when many 1Ls were eleven or twelve).

Still, law students may not yet have thought about how their online lives might affect their professional opportunities. And immprofs themselves might be regretting their own forays into online social networks.

Students and immprofs alike might, accordingly, appreciate some direction about how to curate their online history.

Facebook recently made it extremely easy to eliminate old posts by date or even associated people. This Washington Post article has a good write-up of the new tools. As for Twitter, TweetDelete is an app that makes it easy to delete tweets by date or specific text. Finally, Instagram posts can also be deleted or archived.

Think of it as online Spring cleaning, in early summer!


June 26, 2020 in Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

PANDEMIC vs. FIRST: A Legislative Tit for Tat

Screen Shot 2020-04-29 at 7.41.50 PM

Y'all know that I love a good legislative exercise. I use fashion model legislation in my podium immigration course and marijuana legislation in my crimmigration course.

Recent legislative proposals from Rep. Matt Gaetz (PANDEMIC) and Sen. Booker (FIRST) offer another exciting opportunity for legislative analysis in the classroom.

Sen. Booker's proposal came first (pun originally unintended, but I'm thoughtfully keeping it in). It's FIRST or the Federal Immigrant Release for Safety and Security Together Act. What's he hoping to accomplish? "To require the release of most aliens detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement during a national emergency related to a communicable disease."

As for Rep. Gaetz, he's got a different agenda. PANDEMIC stands for Protect American Nationals During Emergencies by Mitigating the Immigration Crisis Act. His goal? He wants to remove all noncitizens in detention during a "national emergency related to a communicable disease," except for any "alien against whom charges for a crime of violence are pending."

The two proposals work nicely read together. You could assign them both to get students used to reading proposed legislation. You could assign just one (say PANDEMIC which is only 3 pages compared to FIRST's 14) and utilize it to discuss policy or to review law (what would it mean to allow removal of all noncitizens during a pandemic "Notwithstanding any other provision of law"?). Lots of exciting possibilities here.


April 29, 2020 in Current Affairs, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Clip For Your Critical Race Theory Class

With President Donald Trump, you've got your pick of excellent clips for use in your Critical Race Theory class. Let me suggest one more (0:07-0:16):

Reporter: Seattle police have reported a surge in calls about domestic violence. A number of groups have raised concerns...

President: About Mexican violence?

Reporter: Domestic violence.


April 9, 2020 in Current Affairs, Film & Television, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Teaching Online: Reflections on Week One

Screen Shot 2020-03-26 at 2.15.49 PM

I've only got 4 online classes under my belt, but I thought I'd share some preliminary thoughts.

Pre-releasing Hypos. I've made one significant change to my teaching approach: I am pre-releasing all hypotheticals that I plan to go over in class. So, this past Friday, I released all the hypos that I plan to use this coming Thursday and Friday. The idea is to allow students time to prepare responses ahead of time and therefore be ready to pipe up with their answers when we meet virtually.

I realize that some teachers have been doing this for a long time. I haven't because I've often been tinkering with new hypos up until the moment before class. And when we do practice multiple choice questions, for example, I think there's value to doing them in class under timed conditions.

That said, I'm really happy with this change and I will likely implement it going forward even when I return to in-person class-time.

The Zoom Waiting Room. I also have a further caution about the "waiting room" feature on Zoom. A few days ago, I noted that I'd inadvertently left the entire class in there. That's something I could learn to deal with. What I can't deal with is that every time a student loses their internet connection (which happens a lot), when they try to rejoin I have to notice that they're in the waiting room and let them out. That's one more distraction that I don't need while teaching.

The Zoom Chat. For my upper-level class, Crimmigration, the chat feature on Zoom has been fabulous. On Friday, we did a virtual tour of a detention facility and a virtual tour of a port of entry. They were filled with fabulous questions. And jokes (that were super on point). Somehow, even with just texts, the chat function created a real sense of community.

For a few semesters, I tried to get students to utilize a twitter hashtag during class (something like #KJS20Crimmigration). It was a tip I picked up at a SALT conference that sounded so promising, but it never worked with me. I couldn't get students to use it. I imagine that if the Twitter thing had worked it might feel like the successful chat function.


Here's wishing all my fellow immprofs great success in this new online world. We can do it!


March 29, 2020 in Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 27, 2020

Teaching Online

This week I ventured into the exciting world of online teaching. I am using Zoom to teach the last five weeks of Civil Procedure II and Crimmigration.

So far, so good.

The biggest hiccup came today, my second day of online teaching. Last night, I received a university-wide alert suggesting that teachers enable the Zoom feature called the "waiting room." The idea is to thwart would-be hackers who enter classes to engage in chicanery/hi-jinks/shenanigans. Great concept, but I started teaching to an empty virtual classroom because I'd left all of my actual students in the waiting room. Oops. I've decided to disable that "feature" and take my chances with pranksters.

Things could be worse:


March 27, 2020 in Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Proving Sexuality


When I teach students how to identify a particular social group, I talk a lot about sexuality. Matter of Toboso-Alfonso is my go to: Gay men in Cuba at the time shared a common immutable characteristic (being gay) that was defined with particularly (just gay men) and that group was socially distinct within Cuba (as evidenced by registries for and publicly-maintained files on gay men).

I have not, however, talked about how to prove that a given client is gay.

As this article from the BBC points out, that may not be as easy at it seems. Check out this compelling opening paragraph:

Angel fled Zimbabwe in fear of her life after police found her in bed with another woman five years ago. It's taken most of the time since then for her to convince the Home Office that she is gay and will be persecuted if she returns. But how do you prove something you spent your life trying to hide?

I strongly recommend reading the entire article. It delves into the types of questions Angel was asked during her seven-hour interview with an immigration official in the UK. It addresses the emotional toil of such testimony and the pressure to be convincing as well as truthful. Notably, the interviewer's notes are interspersed with the following comments:

**Applicant is crying**
**Applicant is still crying**
**Applicant still crying**

The article also includes some interesting statistics about LGBTQI asylum claims in the UK:

  • >1,500 people seek asylum in the UK on sexuality grounds every year
  • From 2015 to 2018 asylum denials for these claims jumped from 61% to 71%.
  • During that same time frame, appellate courts overturns of these denials rose from 32% to 38%


February 27, 2020 in Current Affairs, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Teaching Padilla

Students in my Crimmigration course are typically on their third read of Padilla v. Kentucky, 559 U.S. 356 (2010). It's a case they explored in Criminal Procedure. If they've already taken Immigration Law, they read it for that class. And now, they're seeing this old friend for a third time.

One way to make the case new again is to introduce them to Padilla himself. As it turns out, Padilla spoke at the University of Denver in 2016 and his remarks are available online. From 5:52 to 24:18, Padilla speaks about the facts of his arrest, his unsuccessful sting work with the feds to flesh out the buyers of all that pot, his state criminal trial, and his plea.

Playing this segment really humanizes Padilla and forces students to see the case in an entirely new light. Not every class will have the 20 minutes free to introduce students to the man behind the case, but for those who have the time, it is well worth it.


February 26, 2020 in Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)