Friday, August 7, 2020
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?
Wednesday, August 5, 2020
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
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.
Monday, August 3, 2020
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.
Thursday, July 30, 2020
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.
Monday, July 27, 2020
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.
Thursday, July 16, 2020
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
Wednesday, July 1, 2020
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:
Sweet. Students are sure to love these given the many requests I get for flowcharts each semester.
Friday, June 26, 2020
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!
Wednesday, April 29, 2020
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.
Thursday, April 9, 2020
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.
Sunday, March 29, 2020
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!
Friday, March 27, 2020
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:
Thursday, February 27, 2020
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%
Wednesday, February 26, 2020
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.
Friday, February 7, 2020
Today I learned about two great resources that map immigration detention facilities. First, Freedom for Immigrants has an interactive map identifying current detention facilities. As a bonus, their mapping system can also track communities covered by 287g agreements and identify ICE field offices.
Another resource is the Global Detention Project, which maps immigration detention worldwide.
Big ups to Dr. Carl Lindskoog (Raritan Valley Community College) for introducing me to these sites!
Friday, January 31, 2020
On August 13, 2010, Congress pass PL 111-230. Section 402(b) of this law reads as follows:
You can give your students the above segment or give them this version, with the key language highlighted:
Here's the question: Does the above language require H1B employers to pay a fee when a future employee is seeking entry into the U.S. via a port of entry for the first time? Or does it extend to employees who hire individuals who are changing their status in the U.S., say from an F-1 to an H1B.
It's a great opportunity to talk about INA 101(a)(13), everyone's favorite statutory provision!
Indeed, this would be a good hypo to utilize after discussion of Rosenberg v. Fleuti.
This question of statutory interpretation is currently being litigated in ITServe Alliance, Inc. et al. v. Cuccinelli. Forbes has excellent coverage of the suit. How much is at stake? Something like $350 MILLION dollars.
Wednesday, January 22, 2020
For many years now, I've been teaching the meaning of conviction under INA 101(a)(48) with the same analogy. I talk about the McDonald's test. As in, is this a conviction that you're legally required to say that you have when you apply for a job to work at McDonald's? Do you have to check the "yes, I have a felony" box?
I don't use a visual aid, but I was mentally referencing something like this:
And then I talk about how the answer is different for immigration purposes. Deferred adjudication might mean you don't have to check the McDonald's box but it doesn't mean that immigration won't come after you.
This has worked like a charm. Or so I thought.
I finally had a student approach me -- one who did not grow up in the United States. This student came to me in office hours to ask for the cite to the McDonald's (SCOTUS ___) test so that they could better understand INA 101(a)(48). Never having worked in the United States, this student didn't understand the concept of disclosing criminal convictions to a prospective employer.
Once I understood this problem, I took a different approach: Had this student seen Marvel's Ant Man? Yes, the student had. Phew. I could then talk about how "Baskin Robins always finds out." And then it clicked.
SO.... going forward. I am going to use the above photo. And I'm going to use this 1 minute and 16 second clip from Ant Man.
I'm hopeful this will level the playing field for non-USC-born students who may have been struggling with my McDonald's example.
Thursday, January 16, 2020
AP visits immigration courts across US, finds nonstop chaos is a must read and, really, a must assign as well.
The article offers vignettes from immigration courtrooms all around the country. Each rings familiar to anyone who has spent time in immigration court, and each paints a vivid picture for students who likely have little to no experience with that unique environment. Take these paragraphs, for example:
There’s so much chaos it’s hard to keep track. At times, an interpreter is missing, or stumbles over dialects or local slang. Video systems fail.
And there are papers everywhere -- except, sometimes, where they are supposed to be.
There are other good articles about immigration court out there -- see, for example, the 2014 WaPo piece In a crowded immigration court, seven minutes to decide a family’s future, which I've assigned to students in the past.
What makes the AP piece so great and my new go-to, it the breadth of it. The snapshots from all over the US are all eerily repetitive: overburdened courtrooms, IJs crumpling under the crushing demands of performance metrics, poor technology, poor facilities, unrepresented migrants, unforgiving laws. That is a depressingly accurate portrait of our current system.
Tuesday, January 7, 2020
Ludacris is an American rap star known for hits like Rollout:
Or you might recognize him from his acting gigs -- he plays Tej Parker in The Fast and the Furious franchise.
Now immprofs have one more reason to recognize his name. The BBC reports that Ludacris, his mom, and his two daughters all recently became citizens of the African nation of Gabon. (His wife was already a Gabonese citizen). Here's another great addition to any classroom discussion about dual citizenship.
Sunday, January 5, 2020
Back in April, I wrote about discussing border militias in the classroom. One of the issues I discussed was showing this April 2019 video of a border militia rounding up migrants.
I write this evening with an update. As WaPo reports, the leader of that roundup has pled guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm. He hopes to receive time served (9 months) though he faces a maximum of 10 years in prison.
It's an interesting tidbit to bring to any class on the topic. I often talk about 18 U.S.C. § 1001 as being a fallback federal conviction, but felon in possession is certainly up there as well.