1. Federal Judge Blocks Move to End DACA
A federal judge in New York ordered the government to continue Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Judge Garaufis granted a temporary injunction stating that he found no sound reason for the Trump Administration's revocation of the Obama-era program. Judge Garaufis’ order requires the Administration to continue processing DACA applications and renewals. The order follows another federal judge’s ruling to halt the end of the program. In January, Judge William Alsup ordered the Administration to renew aspects of the program and continue accepting renewals (not new applications like Judge Garaufis).
2. 9th Circuit Shuts Due Process Door on Honduran Teen Challenging BIA and IJ Decisions
A 9th Circuit three-judge panel denied C.J.L.G’s petition for review of a BIA decision holding that neither the Due Process Clause nor the INA creates a categorical right to court-appointed counsel at the government expense for alien minors. The panel applied the Mathews v. Eldridge, 424 U.S. 319 (1976), three-part test and found that he failed to show a necessity for counsel to safeguard his due process right to a full and fair hearing.
Read the opinion here.
3. SCOTUS Grants Certiorari on the Constitutionality of SEC ALJ Appointments – Possible Repercussions for Immigration Judges
The Supreme Court granted a writ of certiorari in Raymond J. Lucia Co., Inc. v. SEC, No. 17 130, which raises a constitutional issue regarding the appointment of U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) administrative law judges (ALJ). The issue before the court is whether administrative law judges of the SEC are officers of the United States within the meaning of the Appointments Clause. Though this case regards SEC ALJs, the decision may have repercussions for other administrative law judges, including immigration judges.
Read more about the case on SCOTUS Blog.
4. High Court Decides to Hear Two New Immigration Cases This Term
The U.S. Supreme Court decided this week that it will hear two new immigration cases this term:
Stay tuned as we find out more. Meanwhile, Jennings v. Sessions has yet to be determined.
5. U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith Rules in Favor of Iraqi Detainees
Immigration authorities are lashing out at a federal judge in Detroit over his decision to grant bond hearings to hundreds of Iraqi detainees who are locked up in detention centers or jails, awaiting deportation.
In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith concluded the detainees deserve the right to seek freedom while their cases wind their way through the courts and that locking them up indefinitely with no hearing is unconstitutional.
6. 7th Circuit Clarifies an Illinois Law Categorization of Aggravated Felony Under INA Rodriguez-Contreras v. Sessions
After being convicted of a felony under Illinois Law, Plaintiff served thirty months in prison and upon release was processed for immigration detention. The question was whether the “state statute categorically fit within the ‘generic’ federal definition of a corresponding aggregated felony,” making the Plaintiff removable. The 7th Circuit found that the state statute defined a firearm as overly broad when compared against the INA standards, concluding that the violation which Plaintiff is not an aggravated felony under INA and does not foreclose his ability to receive discretionary relief from removal.
7. Federal Judge of Illinois Issued a Nationwide Injunction Against the Administration’s Rules Requiring Sanctuary Cities to Cooperate with Immigration Officials in Order to Receive Certain Types of Public Funding
The Administration included two additions to the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program including alerting federal agents before it released arrestees with suspected immigration violations and allow for increased access of federal immigration officials to police departments and jails. The city of Chicago sued the Department of Justice in August after it announced new conditions for Byrne Memorial applicants, which goes to municipalities for support in law enforcement. Judge Leinenweber granted Chicago’s motion for injuction, indicating some hesitation to make a national injunction but finding this necessary given the scope of the conditions and the impact on all state and local municipalities. Judge Leinenweber pointed to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in IRAP v. Trump where the Court allowed for a nationwide preliminary injunction nationally largely because it would impact all parties similarly situated as the plaintiffs. Read more here.
8. States Sue Trump Administration Over Records Request
In June, ten attorney generals filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request regarding the allegation that the Administration is issuing detainers to local law enforcement agencies requiring them to hold suspects beyond their ordinary release regardless of whether individuals have been convicted of crimes, possible enforcement actions in schools, hospitals, places of worship, worksites, and courthouses, and the circumstances regarding the detention of young people granted DACA. As a result, nine states and the District of Columbia have sued the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in a Massachusetts federal court, claiming that DHS has failed to respond to their records request.
1. Senate Begins Debate on Immigration and the Fate of "Dreamers"
On Monday, the Senate began an open-ended debate on immigration and the fate of Dreamers. Proposals will need 60 votes in order to succeed, but current plans seem unlikely to garner the required support. Some Republicans back Trump’s scheme, which includes a path to citizenship for Dreamers in exchange for billions allocated to border security and restrictions on legal immigration. Democrats adamantly oppose this plan but do not have the required votes for passage of their own plan, which would provide citizenship for Dreamers without border funding and changes to the legal immigration system. Trump’s support remains key, though his comments on immigration have ranged from sympathy toward Dreamers to racist disdain toward the immigrant community. The DACA program is set to end in March, but a federal court has ordered some protections to continue, reducing the likelihood that legislators will make compromises in an election year.
2. Forget the Wall, Trump's Plan Would Reshape U.S. Legal Immigration Dramatically
The Trump administration released its immigration proposal last week, which includes several important changes to the current immigration system. The most widely publicized of these changes were the request of $25 billion for increased border security and the establishment of a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers. However, other parts of his proposal hold the potential to have an even more transformative effect on the U.S. immigration system. These include restrictions on family-based migration and an end to the diversity visa lottery system. Trump’s proposed changes would limit family sponsorship to spouses and minor children, which would prevent U.S. citizens from immigrating their adult children, parents, and siblings. If adopted, these regulations would reduce the number of green cards granted yearly by an estimated 25% - 50%. The proposal also seeks to facilitate detainment and deportation by expanding the catalog of deportable criminal offenses and allowing for indefinite detainment of immigrants as they await deportation.
3. Congress Has Two Weeks to Fund the Government. They Have Three Working Days.
Following a three-day government shutdown last week, Democrats agreed to reopen under the condition of continued negotiations on immigration. Their new deadline is Febuary 8, but there is little indication of progress in these talks, and legislators are expected to pass another short-term spending agreement. Pressure builds as the Trump Administration has announced a complete end to the DACA program on March 5.
4. DOJ Wins First Case Revoking Citizenship of a Naturalized Citizen
The Justice Department announces court order to revoke naturalized citizenship—citing a fingerprint issue—the first revoked citizenship is of a citizen of India. Read more here.
5. Memo from Attorney General Jeff Sessions May Narrow Immigration Judge’s Ability to ‘Administratively Close’ Cases, Perhaps Increasing the Likelihood of Deportation
Administrative closures allow for immigration judges to close a case without making a determination as to someone’s legal status. Immigration judges have used administrative closures in the past to close cases that are not a high priority of deportation. Attorney General Sessions wants to review judge’s authority to close cases without final determinations. Administratively closed cases are now being reopened around the country, having the potential to backlog an already hampered immigration court system and increase deportation rates.
6. Temporary Protected Status to be Rescinded from Salvadorans in the United States
Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen announced the termination of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation for El Salvador. About 200,000 Salvadorans will lose their temporary protected status in the United States next year, and many attorneys are now scrambling to offer these immigrants a legal means to remain in the United States.
The Administration rescinded TPS from Haitians in November 2017, affecting approximately 59,000 Haitians living and working lawfully in the United States.
7. Federal District Court Judge, the Honorable William Alsup, says Trump Must Keep DACA Protections for Now
Federal District Court Judge William Alsup of San Francisco issued a nationwide injunction on January 9, 2018, ordering the Trump Administration to continue the DACA program until legal challenges are resolved. Judge Alsup indicated that current DACA recipients must be allowed to renew their status, but the government is not required to accept new applicants or to allow DACA recipients reentry after leaving the country. Immigration advocates have welcomed the decision but will continue working towards a permanent solution, in the form of a “clean” Dream Act. Such an act would contain protection for Dreamers without imposing other Republican-supported changes, such as an end to family sponsorship and the visa lottery program.
8. No Closer to DACA Deal, Republicans Push Plan B to Keep Government Open
As lawmakers continue negotiations for a spending deal, Republicans seek an extension to avoid a government shutdown. Democrats have stated they will not support any deal that does not include protections for Dreamers. However, Trump’s degrading comment about immigration from African countries has further polarized legislators, making an agreement on DACA more remote. Republicans hope to gain Democrat support by making concessions on other issues, including a delay on unpopular taxes and a reauthorization of CHIP, a children’s health program.
1. Rohingya Refugee Crisis Update
The Rohingya Refugee Crisis continues as U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi claims that "major new emergency looms" with the arrival of the monsoon season in March and more than 100,000 refugees in Bangladesh living in areas prone to flooding or landslides. In addition, the crisis has dramatically affected Bangladesh through political impact and security challenges. Since opening up its border to Rohingya refugees, Bangladesh has been "unable to organize the international diplomatic support needed to decisively end the crisis." Also, the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) militant group has pledged to continue its insurgent campaign against what it calls “Burmese state-sponsored terrorism.” The ARSA attacks on Burmese army last year initiated the army’s indiscriminate “clearance operations." The Bangladeshi security establishment is concerned both that ARSA will try to recruit within camps, and that it will use the camps as a base for cross-border fighting.
On October 13th, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan urged Myanmar to ensure that the Rohingya people who have fled to neighboring countries in recent months will be able to return “home” in lieu of returning or remaining to live in refugee camps. Annan emphasized this request with an appeal to Myanmar’s government to “create conditions that will allow the refugees to return with dignity and with a sense of security.”
This appeal reflects the seemingly unsolvable, Kafka-esque circumstances imposed on many of the instances in which refugee camps or camp-like systems have been implemented in response to mass migration of refugees and asylum seekers. Refugee camps—as indicated by their architecture and underlying structures—were initially created and continue to be designed as short-term solutions. However, camps often remain and continue to operate decidedly past the “short-term” and into the “long-term” despite this inadequate structural foundation. One example is the Dadaab refugee complex in Kenya, which first opened in 1991 and is now entering into a highly contested closing process. In the case of the Rohingya, approximately 120,000 already live in camps outside of Rakhine’s capital due to earlier waves of flight in this long history of persecution.
The remaining policy question—which the former UN Secretary General attempts to address with his suggestion to the government of Myanmar—is how to ensure that the camps serve their essential humanitarian purpose without themselves becoming humanitarian crises. Or, how can the international community as a whole ensure that the camps do not become substitutes or even deterrents to finding more tenable solutions?
2. UK Plans Video Campaign to Deter African Migrants
Featuring testimonies from migrants filmed in Libya, the videos will be featured at events in east and west Africa as well as distributed online. The UK’s Home Office is undertaking these efforts as part of the government’s “official attempts to tackle migration from ‘source’ countries.” This campaign follows in the footsteps of previous deterrence efforts by Denmark and Norway.
It is doubtful, however, whether such efforts will have much actual effect on the would-be migrants’ decision to attempt a journey to the UK, indicating the move might be primarily geared toward appeasing voters. As noted by Jessica Hagen-Zanker, research fellow for migration at the Overseas Development Institute, “The information just does not filter through because people decide on the basis of what they hear from family and friends – people they trust – rather than foreign governments.”
3. Lebanese Government and Syrian Refugees
Recently, Heart for Lebanon’s Tom Atema claims that there are over 2.2 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon, which is significantly more than the 1.8 million the Lebanese government has reported. With many of the legal border crossings between Syria and Lebanon closed, many refugees are attempting to cross through the mountain ranges despite terrible weather conditions. As of January 18, the UN reported that at least 13 Syrians froze to death while crossing the mountains. The Lebanese military has been surveilling the borders and rescuing Syrians and bringing them to hospitals. Meanwhile, the United States under the Trump Administration has shown remarkably minimal efforts to take in refugees. Since Trump took office, the United States has taken in 44 refugees from the targeted countries of the travel ban. The same period last year, over 12,000 refugees were taken in.
4. Psychological Testing of Asylum Seekers’ Sexuality Rejected by European Court of Justice
Announced on January 25, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled that “psychological tests cannot be used to assess asylum applications from those facing persecution in their home countries due to their sexuality.” This case was referred to the ECJ after an unidentified man seeking refugee status brought the matter to Hungarian court in response to the rejection of his asylum application after a psychologist determined that “it was not possible to confirm the man’s assertion of his sexual orientation.”
In its judgment, the ECJ confirms that expert reports may be commissioned to properly assess an asylum application, but in this case “the impact of such an expert’s report on private life is disproportionate in relation to that objective.”
5. UN Plans to Move 10,000 Migrants from Libya in 2018
Backed by EU funds and resources—and, more specifically, the Italian government—the Libyan Coast Guard recently cracked down on boats smuggling refugees and migrants to Europe. As Libya is a main departure point for migrants seeking to reach Europe by boat, these efforts have resulted in overwhelming numbers of people being held in Libyan detention centers. In addition to the dismal conditions reported in these detention centers, reports and documentation of slave markets along the common migration routes have emerged. In response, the UN has begun implementing a plan to move up to 10,000 migrants from Libya in the next year. These efforts come in addition to existing plans by African and EU leaders as well as the IOM for the urgent evacuation and repatriation of tens of thousands of migrants.
6. Returnee Programs
Responding to surges in global migration and displacement, many governments are implementing returnee programs to address the recent increases in refugee and migrant populations or internally displaced persons within their borders. These programs—which vary from forced deportation to coerced or voluntary return—are largely designed to ensure the return of migrants to their countries or places of origin.
In one such incentive program announced last spring, the Austrian government pledged to give 1,000 euros to the first 1,000 refugees who signed up to voluntarily leave the country. Due to the success of this program, the government extended the offer to more refugees and the idea has gained traction across Europe. According to Karl-Heinz Groendbock, the spokesman for the Austrian Interior Ministry, refugees and migrants in Austria are faced with either “the voluntary option” or “the forced option.” To the government, it is cheaper to pay for plane tickets and 1,000-euro stipends than to use the resources necessary to detain and deport.
More recently, Israel has also implemented a returnee policy: thousands of African migrants who entered the country illegally have been given three months—until March—to leave with some cash or face indefinite imprisonment. Many of the approximately 40,000 African migrants currently in Israel arrived in the second half of the last decade. Before March, Israel’s immigration ministry is looking to hire 100 civilian “immigration inspectors” to carry out the duties of investigating, locating, detaining, and monitoring “illegal aliens and their employers.”
Independent organizations working in Israel including the Centre for Refugees and Migrants, Amnesty International Israel and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel have condemned this program as well as an associated deal with Rwanda in which Israel has allegedly agreed to pay the country $5,000 per person to accept migrants. However, both Rwanda and Uganda have publicly denied signing any such deals with Israel.
As of early January, Iraqi security forces were reportedly forcibly returning internally displaced civilians “from refugee camps to unsafe areas in the predominantly Sunni Anbar province, exposing them to death from booby-traps or acts of vigilantism.” Refugees and aid workers are attributing this action to Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s desire to ensure the timely election of his second term in office, as Iraqi citizens must be in their area of origin to vote. Aid workers are concerned by the circumstances of these forced returns, despite the expulsion of the Islamic State from Iraq.
Comparatively, in a preemptive effort, Rohingya leaders are calling upon the international community to ensure that those who fled to Bangladesh following Myanmar’s military crackdown will not be forced to return unless guarantees of security and restored citizenship are made.
7. Cambodian Deportation
Immigration and Customs Enforcement has repeatedly conducted raids that have resulted in civil rights organizations filing complaints against the ICE agency. Iraqi nationals in the metropolitan Detroit area were raided by ICE, which lead to the ACLU's nationwide preliminary injunction. Since early October, ICE has rounded up and detained over hundred Cambodian refugees and over 2,000 Cambodian refugees are at risk of this unlawful arrest. Asian American Advancing Justice, along with other civil rights organizations, filed a nationwide class action lawsuit challenging the unlawful arrests of Cambodian refugees. Lawyers for the Cambodian refugees argued that their clients would suffer "irreparable harm" if they were returned to Cambodia, a country they were forced to fled due to the Khmer Rouge regime and genocide in the late 1970's. "We think that the raids are part of this escalation of pressure on countries to take their nationals back and the people detained are sort of being used as a bargaining chip," says Jenny Zhao, a staff attorney with Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Asian Law Caucus.
8. Refugees in the Mediterranean
On January 16, 2018, Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades joined Jordan's King Abdullah II and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras for a meeting to address and jointly bolster security in the eastern Mediterranean. During the meeting, Abdullah stated that "we are shouldering an immense refugee burden and cannot be left alone as we undertake this humanitarian responsibility on behalf of the world." The leaders are asking European Union members to lend more assistance to Mediterranean countries which have endured the most of the influx of Syrian refugees. Within a week, more than 160 refugees were lost while attempting to cross the Mediterranean and the United nations refugee agency has called for more action. Othman Belbeisi, Chief of the International Organization for Migration's (IOM) Libya Mission states that “more has to be done to reduce irregular unsafe movements of people along the Central Mediterranean route."
9. Environmental Devastation from Rising Sea Levels and Land Erosion Causing Migration
Discussions around refugees have geared their focus on political instability and conflict, but climate change and environmental migrants are gaining more attention as researchers predict that a billion people will be forced from their homes due to climate change by 2050. Rising sea levels, coastal erosion, and disintegrating coastlines are just a few of the environmental changes forcing people to migrate. The issue of environmental refugee has gained attention of the New Zealand government. The government may introduce an experimental humanitarian visa category for people displaced by climate changes such as rising seas. Unfortunately, under the current convention and legal guidelines, environmental refugees do not meet the standards of 1951 Refugee Convention and do not qualify for asylum. Ultimately, without the legislation and legal framework specific to environmental migrants, these refugees will continue to be displaced without sufficient international support.
10. The Crisis Continues for Syrian Refugees
While news cycles have moved on to cover issues of natural disasters and political turmoil, millions of Syrian Refugees face hardship. Many Syrian Refugees have emigrated to developed countries and are working toward assimilating to local society. But many still live among fragile ceasefires and are displaced within Syria. In addition, marginalization and oppression occurs in the country as multitude of armed groups are active and in control. Recently, the Syrian Democratic Forces, US-backed Syrian forces, claim to have taken back Raqqa—"capital of ISIS". Migration fluctuation for domestic and international Syrian Refugees need to be closely monitored and sustainable financial support need to be provided by the international community.
IN THE COMMUNITY: ATTACKS ON IMMIGRANT COMMUNITIES OF COLOR
1. Federal Judge Releases Ravi Ragbir and Shames ICE
Prominent immigrant rights advocate, Ravi Ragbir, and Executive Director of the New Sanctuary Coalition, were detained by immigration officials on January 11, 2018, while reporting to Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) for a routine check-in. Federal U.S. District Court Judge Katherine B. Forrest released Ravi Ragbir, stating that it was both unconstitutional and cruel for authorities to “pluck him out of his life without a moment’s notice.” Though SIRR celebrates Ravi’s release, we still stand with families, friends, and neighbors who are plucked from their lives.
2. Recent Academic Press Related to Immigrants’ Rights:
- It’s still not too late to send a message to immigrants expressing your support. Check out the To Immigrants With Love campaign.
- Broken policing continues throughout the United States and is now actively and loudly being endorsed by politicial leaders. Read this story of a man who called 911 when an intruder was breaking into their home, then the same police officers from the suburb of Tukwila, Seattle, Washington called immigration federal authorities to detain him.
- Veterans who have served in U.S. branches of military continue to face deportation. “If it comes down to me being deported, I would rather leave this world in the country I gave my heart for,” Perez said. Read about one veteran’s story of serving two tours in Afghanistan and, as a result, has struggled with PTSD, but is now facing deportation to Mexico.
- Read how policy powerhouses continue to respond to federal authorities heightened criminalization of immigrant workers and families and how they are linking together the #MeToo movement and labor movement by sharing collective stories.
- Learn more about great organizations supporting immigrant leaders, UndocuBlack Network, and UnitedWeDream.
- Movement Lawyers in the Fight for Immigrant Rights.
- Deferred Action and the Discretionary State: Migration, Precarity and Resistance
- Fostering Legal Cynicism Through Immigration Detention
- The Promise of a Subject-Centered Approach to Understanding Immigration Noncompliance
- Jennifer M. Chacón, Kevin R. Johnson & Bill Ong hing, Immigration Law and Social Justice (2017).
3. ICE Targets Immigrants’ Rights Activist to Disrupt Rapid-Response Immigrant Networks
Prominent immigrant rights advocate, Ravi Ragbir, and Executive Director of the New Sanctuary Coalition, was detained by immigration officials on January 11, 2018, while reporting to Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) for a routine check-in. Two New York City officials, Council members Jumaane Williams (D-Brooklyn) and Ydanis Rodriguez (D-Manhattan) were arrested, along with 18 others, on Thursday in lower Manhattan as they protested the detention of Ravi. He is the third individual nationwide with connections to the immigrants’ rights movement to be detained in recent days.
4. Being Black and Immigrant: ‘Double Punishment’ and the Impact of Migration on Black Immigrants
Although only 7 percent of non-citizens in the United States are Black, they make up 20 percent of those facing deportation on criminal grounds. The Atlantic
5. 7-11’s Targeted in the DOH Security’s Staunch Attempt to Target Undocumented Employees
Federal immigration officials inspected nearly 100 7-Eleven stores across the country Wednesday morning, arresting 21 employees for being illegally present in the U.S. in what was the Trump administration’s largest immigration enforcement operation against an individual employer to date.
6. United State’s Broken Immigration Incarceration System and Trump’s America
For a comprehensive overview of the chaotic and broken immigration detention system, and the zeal to deport as many undocumented immigrants as possible, please see Julia Preston’s story and see the images captured by photographer, Kirsten Luce.
Last Updated Feb. 18, 2018