La Raza Centro Legal


I am packing and moving and totally forgot about this piece of award I received a month ago. Thank you La Raza Centro Legal for the honor and for inviting me to a wonderful evening of food and drinks.

Check them out. They do wonderful work and as always, I’m not worthy of this.

One day, when I don’t need to think about how to afford law school and how to pay the bills, I may look back and embrace it all.

“How to Stop Your Deportation”

This “How to Stop Deportation” guide released by Asian Law Caucus, Educators for Fair Consideration, and The New Immigrant Youth Alliance spread like wildfire yesterday to the point that I was accused of “vetting it” everywhere. I ended up having it emailed to me more than twice through South Asian networks, which pleases me quite a bit.

It’s the most complete guide on battling a deportation through advocacy that I’ve personally seen, but I’m probably also biased in my assessment. I think the crux of the guide is to exhaust all legal remedies before going public with your case, which makes a lot of sense. However, I think there’s a lot that could have been added to the legal section with regards to how removal proceedings work and more specific delaying tactics to employ beyond just a listing of legal avenues that one has during deportation. This is obviously not supposed to be an exhaustive guide and simply a starting point.

Another useful toolkit recently released by Duane Morris LLP, Maggio + Kattar and Penn State gives more information about private bills and deferred action.

I hope that together, both manuals can help demystify at least the post removal order part of deportation proceedings.

Update: The American Immigration Lawyers Association just announced “AILA Dream Defenders” unit on the heels of the guide but provided no further details. It looks like providing assistance to undocumented youth who qualify for the DREAM Act is quite popular and increasingly institutionalized.

I wish organizations with millions of dollars would rather focus their energy and interest in helping people who actually need pro-bono assistance. How about working with immigration courts to provide pro-bono assistance to a majority of people who may have criminal drug convictions but still don’t have any sort of legal representation?

Or is that just not popular and not backed with foundation money?

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Should States and Localities Be Able To Opt Out of Secure Communities?

2_12_11 Immigrant Protest Against Secure Commu...

Image by openmediaboston via Flickr

Paging immigration and constitutional law experts.

The spread of the non-opt-out federal Secure Communities program raises a compelling constitutional question: Does the federal government have the right to coerce state and local officials to participate in Secure Communities?

That’s essentially what DHS is telling local and state officials right now.

Immigration is an area of federal pre-emption. Crime fighting is historically a state and local initiative. Basically, under Secure Communities programs, local and state officials are supposed to run all arrest-related fingerprints through a U.S. immigration database, identify the ones without legal status and hold them till ICE can place them in removal proceedings. Reports suggest that most of the people deported under Secure Communities were non-criminal aliens that were never convicted of a crime.

Congress cannot impose a federal regulatory scheme on states that force state officials to implement federal law (Printz v. United States). How is Secure Communities not a federal regulatory scheme to manage immigrant populations in jails and prisons that requires not just compliance, but implementation of a program?

I’m sure local and state jurisdictions are unlikely to protest the legality of the program because they receive lots of money from DHS for implementation of the program. And most professional immigration reform advocates don’t really care about Secure Communities and detention practices. The ones who do care enough don’t really understand the law and probably don’t have an interest in spending any time on this. I do hope someone can answer my question beyond just arguing that Secure Communities requires only compliance and not implementation, and hence it is legal.

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USCIS Grants De-Facto Deferred Action For Same-Sex Bi-National Couples

LGBT Families for Immigration Reform

Image by ep_jhu via Flickr

Update: USCIS is no longer going to deny green card applications (I-130s) filed by married same-sex binational couples. They will hold them in abeyance till a decision can be reached on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Not that holding in abeyance does not mean processing.

But it does create a case of defacto deferred action. Now what the hell do I mean by defacto deferred action? It’s not deferred action in law but deferred action in fact — usually, pending applicants for green cards are eligible for work authorization at absolutely no cost. Eligibility for work authorization confers social security numbers to applicants and hence, drivers’ licenses, and other necessary identity documents. If you are filing an I-130, you may as well file the application for work authorization at no additional cost, until USCIS tries to fill this loophole created by prosecutorial discretion.

However, here are some caveats. It is unclear whether this is a true shift in policy and whether it creates permission to stay. Visa overstayers may still risk a 10-year bar if they stay in this country without authorization. Yes, I know this creates a permission to work and not permission to live scenario — welcome to my life. Those who entered without proper documents may still be subject to removal proceedings and deportations. And most importantly, the policy only applies to married couples and not merely partners. And if you are an unmarried undocumented adult child of a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident like me, it is unclear whether your same-sex marriage to a U.S. citizen or legal resident would benefit or doom you.

As always, my advice is to get a good immigration lawyer if you are part of a same-sex binational marriage.

Also, I’m glad to report I’ve a paid fellowship this summer from the San Francisco Chapter of the National Lawyers’ Guild to work at the National Center for Lesbian Rights on LGBT Immigration issues.

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Moron of the Week – Professor Gerald Uelmen

A new feature that fits my personality quite well.

(George W. Bush, Sarah Palin and other Dan-Quayle type personalities are thoroughly exempt or else they would be on this list every week)

(408) 554-5729

The crown goes to Santa Clara University Professor Gerald Uelmen (a criminal lawyer by specialization) for standing in California Supreme Court justices and arguing that if the court overturned Prop 8, they should admit that outlawing same-sex marriage discrimination on May 15, 2008 was also an improper revision of the Constitution.

Even non-law school students would be able to tell Uelmen that the courts held discrimination based on “sexual orientation” to strict scrutiny standards and invalidated Prop. 22 on grounds that limiting marriage to a man and woman served no compelling straight state interest and furthermore, violated equal protection. How is that an ‘improper revision’ of the Constitution? It is a READING of the Constitution.

He also believed the week before the election that Prop 8 would nullify existing marriages contrary to what other state officials like Jerry Brown have repeatedly asserted: Prop 8 is NOT retroactive.

Justice Werdegar simply ignored the comment at the forum. Future Santa Clara law school standards ignore it at the risk of a substandard education if Professor Uelmen is a true representation of the faculty.

Close runner-up only because we have grown accustomed to hearing ridiculous things from the religious establishment.

Nominate your own!