Life on the border

To grow up on the border is to grow up privileged. Not in the material sense. The Río Grande Valley of South Texas, where I was born and raised, remains one of the poorest regions of the United States. It is a privilege—or at least it was for me—because of the region’s binational, bicultural, and bilingual core. And yet that benefit is often threatened by national policies that see the border as a division rather than a bridge. The politics of fear and divisiveness frequently frame the border as the “thin edge of / barbwire,” as the great Chicana intellectual who also grew up in the Río Grande [...]

State crimmigration lawmaking


Immigration law, the standard refrain goes, is firmly in the hands of the federal government. In the language of judicial doctrine, the federal government has plenary power over immigration. As the Supreme Court put it in the late nineteenth century, “It is an accepted maxim of international law that every sovereign nation has the power, as inherent in sovereignty, and essential to self-preservation, to forbid the entrance of foreigners within its dominions, or to admit them only in such cases and upon such conditions as it may see fit to prescribe. In the United States this power is vested in [...]

Revisiting the exclusionary rule’s role in immigration proceedings

By Lindsay Adkin Thirty years ago in its landmark decision, INS v. Lopez-Mendoza, 468 U.S. 1032 (1984), the Supreme Court held that the exclusionary rule should not apply to removal proceedings. Applying a cost-benefit analysis, the Court concluded that whatever benefit exclusion offered in immigration proceedings was outweighed by the cost of allowing removable immigrants to remain in the United States. Whether or not that was a proper assessment in 1984, the state of immigration law today—especially the rise of crimmigration law—leads to the opposite conclusion: the exclusionary rule [...]

9 Cir: Clarifies difference between divisible & indivisible statutes

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit jumped into the minutia of crimmigration law with a recent decision on a critically important topic: how to distinguish between divisible and indivisible statutes. Rendon v. Holder, No. 10-72239, slip op. (9th Cir. Aug. 22, 2014). Judge Reinhardt issued the court’s opinion. This case involved an LPR who was convicted of second-degree burglary in California. The BIA found that his conviction, pursuant to Cal. Penal Code § 459, constituted an attempted theft offense type of aggravated felony under INA § 101(a)(43)(U). In relevant part, the [...]

Keep up-to-date on crimmigration developments

Crimmigration law is changing constantly and there is no source better than to keep on top of key developments. I update the blog twice weekly on Tuesday and Thursday mornings with original analyses of law and policy about the intersection of criminal law and immigration law. Everything is free and available from anywhere you can access the internet. To make sure you don't miss the latest updates, do like almost 400 others have already done and subscribe to email alerts by entering your email address in the box located on the top right of every page. You will only receive [...]

Offshore immigration detention

In a fascinating working paper, Michael Flynn tackles the question that is at the heart of much of modern immigration law enforcement throughout the world: why do governments rely so heavily on detention. Michael Flynn, How and Why Immigration Detention Crossed the Globe (April 2014). In an important twist on the still small body of research on immigration detention, however, he turns his attention to destination countries’ use of detention sites outside their territorial boundaries. The founder of the Geneva-based Global Detention Project, Flynn is a longtime observer of immigration law [...]

Challenging Colorado’s human smuggling crime

Organizations with long histories of defending migrants recently joined a critical challenge to Colorado’s human smuggling crime that is pending before the Colorado Supreme Court. The organizations argue that Colorado’s statute is preempted by federal law and thus unconstitutional. Brief for National Immigration Law Center et al. as Amici Curiae Supporting Petitioner, Fuentes-Espinoza v. People, 2014 WL 1190061 (Colo. 2014). Bernardino Fuentes-Espinoza was convicted of violating Colorado Revised Statute § 18-13-128 which punishes assisting migrants with entering remaining in, or traveling [...]

10 Cir: Sentence reduction doesn’t alter period actually confined for good moral character determination

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit held that the period of confinement actually served governs a determination of whether a migrant lacks good moral character even if a criminal court reduces the sentence to a period less than the time actually spent behind bars. Garcia-Mendoza v. Holder, No. 13-9531, slip op. (10th Cir. June 2, 2014). Judge Briscoe wrote the panel’s opinion. This case involved a man who overstayed a visa and, years later, was convicted of driving under the influence and leaving the scene of an accident. He spent 104 days in jail prior to his conviction, all of [...]