Thursday, December 6, 2018
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.
Monday, November 19, 2018
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!
Friday, November 16, 2018
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!
Saturday, November 3, 2018
Friday, November 2, 2018
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.
Sunday, October 28, 2018
Photo via http://www.danniaskini.com
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"?
Wednesday, October 24, 2018
Laura Murray-Tjan, former Boston College immprof and now director of the Federal Immigration Appeals Project, has written a piece for Cognoscenti titled What It's Like To Be An Immigration Lawyer In The Trump Era.
This article would make great reading for students in an immigration clinic or students in a podium immigration class.
Laura talks about the realities of practicing immigration law today "with the Trump administration throwing ninja stars in all directions" leaving lawyers guessing about what will come next. Because of these rapid changes, she notes that her advice has a shorter shelf life. At the same time, in order to actually get her clients' work done, she cannot "fall victim to the onslaught of news" about potential changes in immigration. When changes come to pass, sometimes the only solution is to sue over those new laws. Last but not least, as hard as it is, "we must manage our emotions."
Thursday, October 11, 2018
Let's be real. Nothing appeals to students more than reality TV. I asked my 1Ls at the beginning of the year about their hobbies, a solid 50% said theirs was reality T.V., "but don't tell anyone."
Let's harness that guilty pleasure for learning.
Yesterday, IJ Ellington ordered Joe Giudice, the husband of Real Wives of New Jersey star Teresa Giudice, to be deported when he is released from prison next year.
What's he in prison for? Bankruptcy fraud and failure to pay 200K in taxes.
Joe Giudice came to the U.S. as an infant. He's an LPR who never became a USC and is now facing the consequences of his criminal conviction.
At the moment, it appears Teresa and her four daughters will not relocate to Italy after the deportation.
Now this is a story bound to get students talking.
Saturday, October 6, 2018
I'm reporting from Penn State Law in University Park, PA, this year's home for the Society of American Law Teachers (SALT) conference.
Yesterday, I had the privilege of speaking on a panel with Mariela Olivares (Howard) and Kristina Campbell (UDC) about "Bringing Humanity into the Classroom: Using Experiential Techniques in Doctrinal Courses to Prepare the Well-Rounded Lawyer in an Era of Social Change."
Our launching point for conversation was a comment from Deborah Merritt (Ohio State) during the opening panel of the day: "Should we and can we teaching students empathy?" Questions that Debbie responded to with a resounding yes. We agree. But students don't need to know that's what we are doing!
I spoke in praise of field trips - taking students out of the classroom to get a different perspective on the material. I spoke about touring county jail with Criminal Law students (and hopefully Crimmigration students this Spring!), the port of entry with Immigration students, and sites along the U.S.-Mexico border in San Diego with students on the one-week Hofstra summer program (coming again this May!).
Mariela spoke about creating opportunities for students to engage in outside-the-classroom activity - creating time for students to go on solo forays to immigration court. She shared the sorts of questions that she asks students to contemplate, including: How many people had lawyers? Did it seem to matter? What was the quality of the lawyers? How you do you think the experience was for pro se individuals? What did "due process" look like? What would you wish to change and why? What aspects struck you positively and why? She also spoke about her numerous in-class exercises prompting students to think about litigation objectives and the students' own assumptions about controversial material.
Kristina spoke about Service Learning at UDC and how to bring the experience of working in family detention facilities into the classroom for those unable to participate in such an intense off-site program. She gives students facts, an NTA, and questions for credible/reasonable fear interviews. The exercise gives students a flavor of what it's like to help at a family detention facility.
I'm thoroughly inspired to try new things in my classes next year!
Thursday, October 4, 2018
I spoke with someone a while back who was worried about President Trump's determination to deport all noncitizens with criminal convictions. A relative of this person had a drug conviction -- an old one, but a conviction nonetheless. And the person I was speaking with was worried about their family member being deported because that would mean returning to the Philippines which, since 2016, has been engaged in a war on drugs that Human Rights Watch believes has resulted "in the killing of more than 12,000 drug suspects."
At the time, I thought about the prospects of this relative applying for asylum, withholding of removal, or CAT. And I thought about how one might go about gathering evidence to support such a case.
In late September, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte himself provided significant evidence in support of these claims. As the NYT rerports, Duterte spoke to members of his government and challenged his military to overthrow him if not satisfied with his leadership. Then, and here's the kicker, Duterte said "I told the military, what is my fault? Did I steal even one peso? ... My only sin is the extrajudicial killings."
I don't know about you, but I spend some time exploring in class the idea of how to prove what the government did or did not intend to do vis-a-vis persecution. Proof like that sure doesn't get easier than a presidential statement. Something to keep in mind when you come to this material.
Tuesday, September 18, 2018
New American Economy is a self-described "a bipartisan research and advocacy organization fighting for smart federal, state, and local immigration policies that help grow our economy and create jobs for all Americans."
The group recently released a Cities Index, evaluating "immigrant integration by measuring local policies and socioeconomic outcomes across the 100 largest cities in the United States."
It's a fascinating tool. I found out that my current hometown (broad defined), Oklahoma City, is pretty low down - 89th out of 100 on the integration scale. Dallas, to the south, wasn't a whole lot higher at #87. (Not one North Dakota city makes the list.) Heck, folks in Miami were surprised to find themselves out-performed by St. Petersberg.
It's an interesting tool to play around with, with data points that students might enjoy exploring.
Tuesday, September 11, 2018
As I've mentioned before, I like using the documentary Well Founded Fear when teaching asylum. I give my students clips from the film and ask them to gauge the veracity of the applicants.
One of the clips that I use involves an asylum officer describing an individual coming to him with a "textbook Falun Gong" case who turns out to be a Catholic priest (with a genuine as opposed to fraudulent asylum claim). Given the emphasis in the movie about the falsity of Falun Gong cases, I've often wondered about legitimate cases.
Imagine, therefore, my surprise to see this interview by HONY:
“My grandmother was the first in our family to discover it. One day she joined a meditation in the park. She was taking so many medications at the time, but she threw them all away and never took another trip to the hospital. That was before the crackdown. At one time were one hundred million followers of Falun Gong in China. It’s a peaceful religion. But the following grew too big. Our teacher seemed like a threat to the government. They said crazy things on state media. They called it a cult. They said we’re terrorists and that we kill our parents. They began to arrest us. They even harvested our organs. I know it sounds crazy, but you can Google it. We tried to resist. We practiced inside our home. We secretly handed out fliers to push back against the propaganda. But they caught me on camera. Everywhere there are cameras. They followed me to my home. They shoved me in their car. For eight months I was in detention. The first thing they did was take a sample of my blood. For hours every day they put us in a room and forced us to watch television about how to be a good citizen. If anyone looked away, the whole group was punished. Eventually my family bribed the court with huge money and they let me go. But for three years I had to write a letter every month saying that I am a guilty person. When my probation ended, I left the country.”
This could be an excellent addition to your discussion of Well Founded Fear or be used as an asylum real-o-thetical on its own.
Monday, September 10, 2018
A Chinese man working as a motorcycle trader in Kenya, Liu Jiaqi, was caught on camera saying the African country "smells bad" and its people are "poor, foolish and black". He went on to say that "all the Kenyans" are "like a monkey," including the nation's president. Unfortunately for him, this racist rant went viral.
As the BBC reports, Kenyan authorities announced on Twitter that Liu Jiaqi had been "arrested due to his RACISM remarks" and "has been DEPORTED."
I think it's nice to include some comparative law when talking about deportability grounds. It's an opportunity to say "we've talked about what behavior in the United States may trigger deportation; other countries around the world may have different ideas regarding deportability." This Kenyan example is a good one.
My all time favorite comparative example, and one I end on every year, is the removal of Omar Borkan Al Gala from Saudi Arabia. The man was just too hot!
Saturday, August 18, 2018
I don't just love charts. I ♥ charts. So imagine my thrill to come across this set of charts about migration to Europe created by the BBC. Check it out - migrants to Europe by year:
You can really see how much of a drop there has been since the highs of 2015. Lower numbers of migrants has meant lower numbers of migrant deaths:
Other charts include information on where migrants are coming from (Syria leads the back) and where they are heading to (Germany leads the pack).
Friday, August 10, 2018
The interwebs are atwitter with commentary about these remarks from Laura Ingraham:
Yes. She actually said that in "some parts of the country, it does seem like the America that we know and love doesn't exist anymore. Massive demographic changes have been foisted upon the American people. And they're changes that none of us ever voted for, and most of us don't like.... Much of this is related to both illegal and, in some cases, legal immigration that, of course, progressives love."
CNN called the segment out with this headline: "White anxiety finds a home at Fox."
It's an excellent clip for a class on race and migration. It might even pair well with discussion of Chae Chan Ping and the "vast hordes... crowding in upon us."
Sunday, July 29, 2018
This short (2:57) video from the BBC is a great addition to class discussion about the border. It features a border rancher who talks about the ease of crossing the U.S.-Mexico border on his ranch and the evidence he's collected of drug smugglers on his property. That evidence includes surreptitious video (included) as well as detritus in the form of "booties" worn by smugglers to thwart tracking efforts by Border Patrol.
In my own talks with Border Patrol agents, I've heard them discuss how migrants wrap their feet in carpet but this was the first time I'd seen carpet-bottomed booties.
Personally, I'd recommend playing only until 2:04 (stopping after "I was thrilled") which would focus discussion on the border, drug smuggling, and the wall. After 2:04, the featured rancher starts talking about the separation of migrant families at the border.
Sunday, July 22, 2018
When France won the world cup, Trevor Noah congratulated Africa. (See Kevin's post about the team here.) The French Ambassador wrote to Trevor to challenge this assertion. Trevor responds to that criticism in the clip below, thinking about what it means to be both African and French. It's a thought-provoking few minutes that might be good for those Critical Race profs out there - or those looking for a new way to tackle discussion of race, assimilation, and identity-hyphenation in their immigration courses.
Friday, July 6, 2018
Ever find yourself reading an INA-filled article/brief/case/blog on your computer with nary an INA supplement in sight? You'd like to look up the code on the internet but the easiest site, Cornell's Legal Information Institute, is keyed to the USC not the INA.
Messing Law Offices, P.L.C. has the answer for you: an INA to USC code converter. I've now got that baby bookmarked. Sweet.
Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Pro Publica has published this audio recording of children separated from their parents at the border. It's a hard listen. I can only just imagine playing the entire 7:47 in class and just having students absorb it.
As Pro Publica explains, the recording was made last week. It's of kids estimated to be between 4 and 10 who had been detained less than 24 hours, "so their distress at having been separated from their parents was still raw. Consulate officials tried to comfort them with snacks and toys. But the children were inconsolable."
The provenance of the recording is secret. An unidentified individual "devastated" by the scene recorded the sounds, gave the audio to civil rights attorney Jennifer Harbury, who in turn provided it to ProPublica.
Friday, June 15, 2018
Humans of New York recently interviewed this young man from Benin:
Here's what he had to say:
“I’m from a small country in Africa called Benin. I won the visa lottery to come here. I didn’t even know I was eligible. My brother entered my name and didn’t even tell me. I was studying to be a psychiatrist at the time. I assumed that I’d be able to continue with medical school. But when I arrived here, I found out that none of my credits would transfer. I had a choice: either go home and become a doctor, or start from the bottom. I didn’t speak any English. I didn’t have any money. But I knew if I could somehow make it here, my degree would be much more valuable. So I made the choice to stay. I began practicing English with my young nieces. The first thing I learned was: ‘I’m going to kick you.’ I got a job with a catering company and learned how to say ‘I’m here to deliver your food.’ I studied as many YouTube videos as I could during my free time. It’s been three years now. I’m almost finished with my bachelor’s degree. Just two classes left. At nights I work as a behavioral specialist in a mental health facility. I’m going to take the MCAT in September. My friends back home have all become doctors already, but I try not to think about them. I don’t want to lose my focus. I haven’t made it yet, but I’m making it.”
This kind of first-person story-telling might be a great addition to your discussion of the diversity visa.