Fragile Immigration Legality Collapses in the Trump Era

People often think of immigration legality in black and white terms—immigrants are “documented” or “undocumented”; they are present “legally” or “illegally.” There has long been, however, a significant gray area of quasi-legality in the U.S. immigration system. This gray area expanded for decades due to diverging policies of the executive and legislative branches, which each play a role in the formation of immigration policy. The presidency of Donald Trump and its anti-immigration agenda exposed the vulnerability of this class of quasi-status immigrants who were long lawfully present in the country, but for whom Congress had not established a pathway to secure permanent legal status. This Article explains the rise of quasi-status immigration and how the Trump administration was able to exploit it. It also offers solutions for the Biden administration and Congress to help remedy the system.

Trump Administration’s Proposed Rule Attempts to Starve Out Asylum Seekers

The Trump administration is attacking the right to seek asylum in the United States. From separating asylum seekers from their children, to legally barring people from applying for protection and forcing them to remain in harsh conditions in Mexico, the administration has used every tactic it can think of to deny rights to refugees. Its most recent approach is a cruel attempt to starve out those who have lawfully applied for asylum in the U.S. by denying them the right to work while their case i

DACA Now More Than Ever Desperately Requires Legislative Fix

Two weeks ago, a federal appeals court ruled that the Donald J. Trump administration’s September 2017 rescission of the (DACA) program – which provides work permits and temporary protection from deportation to certain undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children – was unlawful. The court’s ruling is in line with decisions previously made by federal courts in California, New York, and Washington, D.C. These courts ruled that the administration had not adequately explained how the DAC

Americans, But Not Citizens: An Argument for Nationality-Based Asylum Protection

Since 2017 the Trump administration has been undoing immigration protections for hundreds of thousands of longtime U.S. residents, including those with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Temporary Protected Status (TPS). Many of the people affected by these changes have lived in the United States for decades and have become culturally American, even though they are not U.S. citizens. This article argues that those who are ethnically American and fear persecution on that basis should be able to seek asylum in the United States under the protected ground of “nationality.”

New US Policy Unjustly Targets Immigrants Who Receive Public Benefits

A typical misconception perpetuated by anti-immigrant groups is that newcomers to the U.S. drain public benefits from the government and drag down the economy. The Trump administration is validating this untruth with a new policy that targets legal immigrants who receive a variety of commonly-used public benefits. This harsh policy will force immigrants and their families to forego needed services that they are legally entitled to. The message of this policy is clear: immigrants are not welcome

‘OK, thanks, bye!’: No pretense of due process at immigration hearing

The idea that Trump administration could so carelessly and deviously separate children from their parents was difficult to believe until I saw it for myself. The Port Isabel Detention Center is located off a rural, desolate road 30 miles northeast of Brownsville, Texas. I spent several days there this month meeting with asylum-seekers who were separated from their children. While at Port Isabel, I witnessed firsthand the challenges detainees face in making their asylum claims and reuniting with

The U.S. Turns Its Back on Domestic Violence Victims | Blog: Think Immigration

This week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions decided in the case Matter of A-B- that victims of domestic violence no longer qualify for asylum protection in the United States. Since taking office, Sessions has used his position to rewrite U.S. immigration and asylum law. The little-known, and historically cautiously-used, power of the Attorney General to select immigration cases and issue his own decisions is especially dangerous in the hands of Sessions, a man who by his own words clearly wants to

Trump Administration’s Family Separation Policy Violates International Law

In April U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a “zero tolerance” policy for illegal entry at the southwest border of the United States. He directed U.S. Attorney’s Offices at the border to prosecute, to the extent possible, all cases of persons crossing the border without authorization. He stated that the policy was made with the purpose of “deterring first-time improper entrants.” Since May the policy has led to hundreds of children being separated from their parents at the border as

Immigrants With Fragile Statuses Suffer in Trump Era

This week, the Trump administration announced it would end Temporary Protected Status (TPS) — a humanitarian legal protection for nationals from certain countries to remain and work in the U.S.— for roughly 200,000 El Salvadoran immigrants who have been living in the U.S. for more than 15 years. Since President Donald J. Trump took office, his administration has been targeting immigrants previously legally authorized to stay in the country and those considered a low-priority for removal.

MS-13 as a Terrorist Organization: Risks for Central American Asylum Seekers

In its first year, the Trump Administration has used aggressive rhetoric in a crusade against the transnational gang MS‑13. In April, Attorney General Jeff Sessions called MS‑13 “one of the most violent gangs in the history of our country” and said that the gang “could qualify” as a terrorist organization. Since then, the administration has put its fight against MS‑13 at the front and center of its agenda.

Immigrants Accused of Crimes Presumed Guilty

JURIST Guest Columnist Jillian Blake, an attorney at Blake & Wilson Immigration Law, PLLC, discusses the violation of basic judicial and human rights principle regarding to the creation of the Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement office... In late April the Trump Administration announced the creation of VOICE, or the Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement office, which it claims will assist Americans who are victims of crimes perpetrated by immigrants. President Trump has stated that this o

Protection for Families: New Standards Developing in Asylum Law

Fear of persecution based on one’s family ties has long been considered a basis for asylum in the United States. Recently, however, the scope of that protection has come under dispute and, as a result, may be expanding. This Essay argues for a more expansive interpretation of these asylum claims, recognizing family-based persecution even when persecutors have multiple motives for targeting their victim.

Getting to Group Under U.S. Asylum Law

In February 2014, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA or the Board) issued two new precedential decisions, Matter of M-E-V-G- and Matter of W-G-R-, clarifying the legal requirements for PSG asylum. This Essay argues that the BIA’s decisions further confuse this already complex area of law and the standards established in the decisions exclude particular social groups already recognized under U.S. law. The complications and contradictions in these and other BIA decisions carry the risk of exclu

Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and Race-Based Statelessness in the Americas

This Article examines the crisis of “race-based statelessness” in the Dominican Republic, which denies citizenship to hundreds of thousands of people, based on racial and ethnic prejudice. In September 2013, the Dominican Constitutional Court upheld a constitutional amendment to revoke the citizenship rights of persons born in Dominican territory to undocumented immigrants, who are primarily black and of Haitian origin. This Article describes the illegality of the Dominican constitutional amendm

Finding Justice for Genocide in Guatemala

One year ago this month, Efrain Rios Montt, leader of Guatemala from 1982-1983, was found guilty of genocide in a Guatemalan court for crimes committed during the country’s bloody civil war. Only ten days later, however, the verdict was overturned and the case was set to be heard again in April 2014. While many in the international community initially applauded Guatemala’s justice system for being able to convict a powerful figure of such a serious crime, sentiment quickly changed as the verdict

Should Domestic Courts Prosecute Genocide? Examining the Trial of Efraín Ríos Montt

In 2013, in a highly publicized case, Efraín Ríos Montt, the de facto leader of Guatemala from 1982-1983, was ordered to stand trial for genocide in Guatemala for the deaths of at least 1771 Ixil Mayan people during the most violent period of the country’s thirty-six-year-long civil war. The trial was historic; Ríos Montt became the first former head of state to be tried for genocide in his home country. This Article, using the Ríos Montt trial as a case study, asks: should domestic courts prosecute genocide?

The Arab Spring's Four Seasons: International Protections and the Sovereignty Problem

In December 2010, public demonstrations erupted throughout the Middle East against autocratic regimes, igniting a regional political transformation known as the Arab Spring. Depending on events, modern international criminal and humanitarian law provided certain protections to vulnerable populations. However, international law did not provide a uniform degree of protection to civilians and combatants who faced similar circumstances. This Article argues for a uniform standard of protections for all populations affected by armed conflict, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.

Syria After the Chemical Weapons 'Red Line'

This week, the Syrian Arab Republic accedes to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). With weapons inspectors already in country beginning their work to destroy President Bashar al-Assad’s chemical arsenal, Syria’s ascension to the CWC is a victory for diplomacy, the campaign against chemical weapons, and international law. Last week, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the body monitoring compliance with the CWC and currently working to dismantle Syria’s weapons, wa
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