Immigration detention, mass incarceration: A conversation with Michelle Alexander & Silky Shah

Advocates and academics routinely discuss mass incarceration. It’s hard not to. The United States counts roughly 2.2 million people in prisons or jails. That’s about 1 out of every 110 adults. Of course, people of color experience incarceration much more frequently than white men or women. As percentages of the country’s population, the incarceration rates for black men and women in particular vastly overshadow Latina/o men and women. Both are well above their white counterparts. As sobering as these reports are, they exclude the nation’s large and expanding civil immigration detention [...]

Illegal Entry Convictions Interrupt Continuous Physical Presence

By Sarah Flinn The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) recently affirmed an immigration judge’s decision to deny an application for cancellation of removal due to a break in the necessary ten year continuous physical presence requirement. Matter of Velasquez-Cruz, 26 I&N Dec. 458 (BIA 2014). The migrant in this case, Ms. Rosa Isela Velasquez-Cruz, was apprehended in the United States twice within just a few days. Subsequent to apprehensions on August 9, 2004 and August 11, 2004, Ms. Velasquez-Cruz pled guilty to illegal entry in violation of section 275(a)(1) of the Immigration and [...]

Immigration and Public Health

By Polly J. Price As we have seen with the recent Ebola outbreak in West Africa, the overall health of a population is a key component in the emergence and spread of contagious disease. But sovereign boundaries and distinctions between citizens and non-citizens undermine public health in the United States. State and local public health departments serve as the primary defense against the spread of contagious disease. But these public health agencies—already under-resourced because public funding is politically tenuous—must work within a system in which citizens and non-citizens are [...]

Silva-Trevino is dead

Without fanfare and with only the stroke of a pen, Attorney General Eric Holder made an enormous contribution to the rule of law last Friday when he vacated Matter of Silva-Trevino, 24 I&N Dec. 687 (A.G. 2008), a much criticized decision by Attorney General Michael Mukasey about the proper means of analyzing the crimes involving moral turpitude basis of inadmissibility. Matter of Silva-Trevino, A013-014-303 (A.G. April 10, 2015) (read the informal order as originally distributed here; read the formal decision here). Building off multiple Supreme Court decisions and even longer federal [...]

CT Supreme Court: Padilla isn’t retroactive

In a much anticipated case, the Connecticut Supreme Court held this week that Padilla v. Kentucky, 559 U.S. 356 (2010), does not apply retroactively to state convictions. Thiersaint v. Commissioner of Correction, No. SC 19134, slip op. (Conn. April 14, 2015). In Padilla, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel requires criminal defense attorneys to advise noncitizen clients about the immigration consequences of conviction. This week’s Connecticut decision makes it less likely that migrants who were denied such advice prior to March 31, [...]

Race, immigration, & imprisonment in the United States

The United States’ sordid history with race-based policing is too well known to need recounting. Often forgotten, though, is that race-based policing continues to receive the Supreme Court’s blessing when it comes to immigration law. In a pair of decisions from the mid-1970s, the Court allowed immigration officials to explicitly consider whether someone looks Mexican in gauging their legality (see here). Today, almost everyone confined due to a suspected or confirmed immigration law violation is a person of color—overwhelmingly Latino. In a lecture I have about two weeks ago, I explained [...]

BIA Broadens Mental State Analysis for Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude

By Alex Sheppard In January, the Board of Immigration Appeals found the offense of “deadly conduct” in violation of section 22.05(a) of the Texas Penal Code to be categorically a crime involving moral turpitude. Matter of Hernandez, 26 I&N Dec. 464 (BIA 2015). Under § 22.05(a), the BIA in Matter of Hernandez found a mens rea requirement of recklessness coupled with an actus reus of no actual physical harm to categorically constitute a CIMT. Id. at 467. Hernandez is a native and citizen of Mexico who entered the United States at an unknown date and place. On June 11, 2002, he was [...]

Worrying immigration court statistics about detention & representation in FY 2014

Last week, the Justice Department released statistics about the workload of the nation’s immigration court system in fiscal year 2014. U.S. Dep’t of Justice, Executive Office for Immigration Review, FY 2014 Statistical Yearbook (March 2015). There’s a wealth of interesting data to mine in this report, released annually, but I’m going to highlight a few strands of particular relevance to crimmigrationistas: the role of detention and representation in immigration court proceedings. Reflecting its role in immigration law enforcement generally, detention played a significant role in the [...]