Mapping immigration law

Immigration Courts 2

Every day the nation’s 250 or so immigration judges enter one of the 58 immigration courts and make life or death decisions. These courts are typically housed in mundane office buildings. From the outside there is little suggesting that inside those walls lives are being altered in significant, often irreversible, ways. The federal government’s most recent statistical report about the immigration courts’ workload indicates just how important these sites are to many people. According to the Justice Department (the parent agency to the immigration courts), in fiscal year 2014, the immigration [...]

Defining crimmigration law: Part III

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A working conceptualization of crimmigration law, at least as it plays out in the United States, must start with the radical changes to substantive law that I’ve described in parts I and II of this series of essays on defining crimmigration law. But it can’t end there. As an emergent area of law, crimmigration law is highly functional. Consequently, one of its lasting—and, frankly, devastating—impacts, enforcement, merits as much attention as the substantive law previously discussed. Indeed, I give enforcement methods special attention in Part III of my book Crimmigration Law. Crimmigration [...]

Defining crimmigration law: Part II

Federal criminal prosecutions

Last week I began constructing a working definition of “crimmigration law.” For all its currency in recent years, the reality is that the phrase largely goes undefined—as if we’re supposed to know it when we see it. In the six years that I’ve been writing about crimmigration law, I have been as guilty of doing this as anyone so I’m certainly not pointing fingers. Instead, I’m trying to bring some theoretical coherence to doctrine that evolves rapidly across jurisdictions. As I wrote last week, one major aspect of crimmigration law as I see it is the frequency with which criminal [...]

Defining crimmigration law: Part 1

Immigration Court Prosecutions

Criminal law and immigration law both have long lineages and robust bodies of authority defining their contours. In recent years, many people, including me, have argued that the boundary between the two has become increasingly blurred into the crimmigration phenomenon. Coined by legal scholar Juliet Stumpf in 2006, crimmigration has quickly developed as a distinct line of inquiry in multiple disciplines—sociology, criminology, political science, and, of course, law. Despite the growing body of case law and scholarly commentary, few of us who regularly use the term crimmigration have [...]

Crimmigration Law Talks in San Antonio & Austin This Week

Willacy County Processing Center

I didn’t invent the term “crimmigration.” That credit goes to Professor Juliet Stumpf of Lewis & Clark University. Her groundbreaking article The Crimmigration Crisis, published in the American University Law Review, put a name to the merging of criminal and immigration norms that have become so prominent in the decade since then. To call Stumpf prescient would be an understatement. When The Crimmigration Crisis appeared in 2006, I was a new attorney practicing in the South Texas city in which I was born and raised, McAllen. Only a handful of miles from the border, McAllen and the rest [...]

Immigration imprisonment continues to be good for the bottom line, but bad for everything else

Immigration imprisonment is no stranger to the push and pull of vested interests. From private prison corporations that build lock-up facilities to food service vendors, the modern immigration imprisonment regime relies heavily on third parties to provide routine functions. As I write in Naturalizing Immigration Imprisonment (forthcoming in the California Law Review), “Having locked itself into the policy choice of using imprisonment to enforce immigration law, the federal government—perhaps inadvertently—created a body of third parties dependent on that policy choice.” Part of what [...]

Not Dangerous, But Too Poor to Get Out of Detention

By Andrea Saenz 2015 has been a particularly active year for news about criminal justice reform, including reforming bail. In July, New York City announced a bail reform plan intended to free more people who would sit in jail on bail they can’t afford and put them on supervised release programs. Legislators, advocates, and even judges around the country have supported reforms, acknowledging that thousands of people are locked up in pre-trial detention daily merely because they cannot afford the bail set by a judge, and that this system disproportionately affects poor people of color (see [...]

9 Cir takes strong stance on right to effective assistance of counsel

In a well-reasoned and crisply written decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit bolstered the Sixth Amendment right to counsel for migrant defendants recently. In United States v. Rodriguez-Vega, No. 13-56415, slip op. (9th Cir. Aug. 14, 2015), a three-judge panel held that a defendant who was provided less-than-clear advice about the immigration consequences of conviction was denied the effective assistance of counsel that the Sixth Amendment guarantees. This case involves a twenty-two year-old lawful permanent resident who was convicted of misdemeanor attempted [...]