Liberal imprisonment

The United States is no stranger to incarceration. We lock up millions of people every year, with a disproportionate impact on communities of color. Imprisonment is such a core feature of life in the contemporary United States that it’s hard to imagine a time before confinement became fetishized: regarded with awe, thought to have magical powers capable of curing countless ills, real and perceived. But of course such a time did exist. Hyperincarceration, to borrow Loïc Wacquant’s insightful term, is a relatively new phenomenon—one traceable to the final thirty years or so of the twentieth [...]

End immigration detention, but don’t create a back door to confinement

The New York Times is correct. Immigration detention is vast, punitive, cruel, harmful, traumatic, expensive, and immoral. The United States needs to stop confining migrants for having done nothing more than violate immigration law requirements. Detention’s demise, however, shouldn’t lead to the construction of an alternative regime of surveillance and control, as the Times’ implies. The Times’ editorial last week calling for an end to immigration detention hinged on its simple characterization of a regime that it described succinctly and aptly as “indefensible.” For this the Times’ [...]

Crimmigration’s Social Foundations: Anti-Latino Attitudes Linked to Support for Discriminatory Policing


By Justin T. Pickett Immigration enforcement is a salient social and political issue in the contemporary United States. The extant evidence suggests that a key reason that many members of the public support harsh anti-immigration policies, such as building a border fence or denying emergency healthcare to illegal immigrants, is that they believe illegal immigrants hurt the U.S. by committing crimes, taking away jobs from Americans, and weakening American cultural values. At the same time, immigration enforcement is increasingly occurring through the criminal justice system, and involves [...]

CCA earns $36 million from family detention

The nation’s largest private prison contractor, Corrections Corporation of America, is heavily invested in all manner of detention at the state and federal level. Last year it added to its long running and extensive relationship with the federal government a sizeable contract to detain migrants traveling in family units. In a press release issued last week, CCA reported that this newest feature of its detention business is reaping substantial financial rewards. The company received $36.0 million in revenue from the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas during the first quarter [...]

Wash. Supreme Court: Padilla is retroactive; admonishment imposes on attorney duty to advise about immigration consequences

Continuing the inevitable development of right-to-counsel case law in the states courts, the Washington Supreme Court held last week that the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark opinion in Padilla v. Kentucky, 559 U.S. 356 (2010), applies no matter when the conviction was entered. In re Tsai, No. 88770-5, slip op. (Wash. May 7, 2005). A divided Washington Supreme Court—five justices in the majority, four in dissent—concluded that Padilla was not a new rule of constitutional law, thus it applies retroactively. This case involved two separate claims that were consolidated at the state supreme court [...]

7 Cir: Time in immigration detention can lead to reduced criminal sentence; cites me

In an interesting twist to the old story of civil and criminal immigration law enforcement overlap, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit recently concluded that time spent in civil immigration detention can be considered when determining a sentence for a federal immigration crime. United States v. Estrada-Mederos, No. 14-2417, slip op. (7th Cir. April 29, 2015). The Seventh Circuit held that a sentencing judge could view the time spent under ICE’s custody as the basis for granting a convicted migrant a downward departure from the sentencing range for illegal reentry. This case [...]

Cardozo clinic defeats aggravated felony charges after years of litigation

By Katie Tinto, Assistant Clinical Professor of Law, Cardozo School of Law On February 2, 2015, an immigration judge in New York City terminated removal proceedings after finding that the government failed to meet its burden of proof that a lawful permanent resident (hereinafter, “Mr. P”) was removable on the grounds of either an aggravated felony theft offense or an aggravated felony fraud offense. Matter of P-F-M- (NYC Immigr. Ct. Feb. 2, 2015). The Kathryn O. Greenberg Immigration Justice Clinic of Cardozo School of Law (IJC) represented Mr. P for over three years, but for Mr. P, a [...]

Colorado’s human smuggling crime

As the United States Supreme Court has repeatedly reiterated since the late nineteenth century, immigration law is an area of federal dominance. The power “to forbid the entrance of foreigners . . . or to admit them only in such cases and upon such conditions as it may see fit to prescribe[,]”[1] the Court wrote in 1892, “is vested in the national government.”[2] More recently, the Court explained in 2012 that the federal government has “broad, undoubted power over the subject of immigration.”[3] Despite the federal government’s expansive reach in immigration law, the states nonetheless [...]