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What is Donald Trump’s Position on Immigration?

shutterstock_264609119Why do we ask?  And why particularly of Donald Trump and not Hillary Clinton?  While the devil is always in the details, it is clear that Secretary Clinton has a more favorable view of immigration and has laid out a fairly clear strategy for how she would reform the current system.

But the question of what Mr. Trump would prioritize on immigration, should he be elected to hold the highest office in our nation, remains unclear.  First he called for massive, yet “humane” and “nice” deportation of the estimated 11+ million undocumented individuals in this country.  He has also repeatedly reaffirmed that a wall must be built along the southern border.  He has noted that he wants people (who are deported) to come back legally because “they want to be legalized.” The candidate has also said that in the wall, there will be a “tremendous beautiful wide open door.” (Donald Trump on mass deportation).

Recently however, reports have Mr. Trump possibly “softening” his stance on immigration noting that “to take a person who has been here for 15-20 years and to throw them out is a very, very hard thing.”  The outline of a plan appears to have similarities to proposals made by former presidential candidate Jeb Bush, who Mr. Trump previously criticized as “weak on immigration.” Yet there does not yet seem to be any clear and definitive proposals of what his immigration policy would look like in actuality.

Continue reading ‘What is Donald Trump’s Position on Immigration?’ »



“Apurar, cielos, pretendo,

Por qué me tratáis así,

qué delito cometí

contra vosotros naciendo.

Aunque si nací, ya entiendo

qué delito he cometido;

bastante causa ha tenido

vuestra justicia y rigor,

Pues el delito mayor

del hombre es haber nacido.” ~ by Pedro Calderón de la Barca

Outrage is the only word that comes to mind to describe the Obama Administration’s recent admission that they are aggressively pursuing enforcement against families and children. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has launched a 30-day “surge” of arrests focused on mothers and children who have been ordered removed by an immigration judge. It was also reported that the operation would cover minors who have entered the country without a guardian and since turned 18 years of age.

Continue reading ‘Outrage’ »

What Happened Yesterday

DSC_0673 (Medium)It was early Monday morning in Los Angeles and all along the West Coast of the United States, people were just waking up. Cars were jamming the freeways, lines were forming at coffee shops and TVs were tuned to the morning news. Meanwhile, in Washington D.C., the five men and three women who currently sit on the U.S. Supreme Court were hearing oral arguments in what is likely to be a seminal case involving immigration policy and more broadly, the president’s executive authority. The case seeks to resolve the controversy around the immigration initiatives President Obama announced in November 2014. For many who anxiously await the Supreme Court’s decision, a resolution as to whether the expanded DACA and DAPA initiatives may proceed is a life-changing matter.

United States v. Texas traveled to the Supreme Court on a politically charged highway along which advocates and opponents threw many punches. The road was lengthy, and as the case made its way to the Supreme Court, many speculated as to its fate. Significantly, this past February, the Court lost Justice Antonin Scalia. As one of the most conservative justices on the court, his passing could have an impact on the result of the case.

I had the privilege of sitting in the courtroom and listened first-hand as Solicitor General of the United States Donald B. Verrilli, Jr., representing the Obama Administration, and Scott A. Keller, Solicitor General of Texas, delivered their arguments. Certain intervenors were permitted to make statements, including Tom Saenz at MALDEF, who forcefully represented the voices of three undocumented mothers, but the crux of the case was presented and argued by the parties’ respective attorneys.

Continue reading ‘What Happened Yesterday’ »

The End Nears for this Politically Charged Game of Chess

shutterstock_375052336On Monday, April 18, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the controversial case, United States v. Texas, to determine the fate of more than 3 million undocumented individuals. The lawsuit, filed by Texas and 25 other states shortly after the administration announced the expansion of DACA (DACA+) and DAPA in November 2014, blocked implementation of the programs which have been held hostage ever since.

The lawsuit alleges that DACA+ and DAPA violate the “Take Care Clause” of the Constitution which requires that the president “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” In addition, the states argue that DAPA and DACA+ violate the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) as arbitrary and capricious initiatives that are contrary to our immigration laws, and that the government did not comply with the procedural requirements of the APA before announcing these initiatives.

The so-called “standing” upon which Texas and the 25 other states brought the lawsuit was that these federal initiatives would unduly burden the states by requiring them to issue and subsidize driver’s licenses – $130 per license for Texas.

Continue reading ‘The End Nears for this Politically Charged Game of Chess’ »

New Opportunities to Move Forward in 2016

shutterstock_332894387The American people are frustrated by the inability of Congress to take action and tackle the challenging, yet not insurmountable, task of reforming our immigration system and bringing it into the new century. That shouldn’t be too much to ask now that we are already well over a decade into the 21st century.

The Administration attempted to alleviate this frustration in November of 2014 by announcing plans to keep families together, ensure our communities are secure, and enable employers to keep the talent they need to remain competitive.  Though many of these actions are still pending implementation by DHS, the litigation brought by Texas and other states has delayed implementation of President Obama’s signature initiative which would grant a reprieve from deportation to many undocumented individuals who have extensive, long-term ties to the United States.

Continue reading ‘New Opportunities to Move Forward in 2016’ »

Can the Innocence of a Child Soften the Hearts of Anti-Immigrants?

Image: Sophie Cruz/First Focus

Image: Sophie Cruz/First Focus

Sophie Cruz became an instant celebrity when she approached Pope Francis’s motorcade to hand him a letter begging him to help her keep her parents in the United States.  Her message was simple, coming from a five-year-old, yet it carried more power and conviction than any of the hateful rhetoric that has been dominating the airwaves. Sophie Cruz wants to stop living with the fear that her undocumented parents may, at any time, be taken from her and deported.  You see, Sophie is a full-fledged U.S. citizen, a right guaranteed by the 14th Amendment of the Constitution to all who are born in the United States.   Her parents, however, are undocumented immigrants living in the confines of the underground world that our current immigration system has created.  They are unable to legalize their status, yet work hard and contribute to their communities.  Sophie’s father, Raul, came to the United States ten years ago and works long hours at a factory to provide for Sophie and the rest of his family.  Like many aspiring Americans, they are struggling to make ends meet, stuck in the purgatory of our unworkable immigration laws. Sophie’s parents represent our country, they represent the opportunity for a better America, and the future that Sophie herself dreams of.

But what is Sophie asking for?

Continue reading ‘Can the Innocence of a Child Soften the Hearts of Anti-Immigrants?’ »

When Our Government Operates in Its Own Flawed Reality, the Most Vulnerable Suffer

shutterstock_244072684On July 24, a federal court in California ruled that the Obama Administration’s policy of detaining mothers and children violated the 1997 Flores Agreement. In a 25-page ruling, Judge Dolly Gee noted she found it “astonishing” that immigration authorities had adopted a policy requiring such an expensive infrastructure without more evidence that it would be compliant with the agreement.

What is more astonishing is the government’s argument that detention was necessary as a deterrent for migrants – a policy reflecting complete disregard and understanding of the despair felt by those who flee for their lives and the lives of their loved ones.  Judge Gee disagreed and ordered the government to comply with the Flores Agreement.

The government now has filed an appeal to the July ruling, and while it is still unclear what legal arguments the government will set forth in their appeal, Secretary Johnson made it clear that the government disagrees “with portions of the legal reasoning in the decision.”  Let’s look at some of the government’s past arguments.

Continue reading ‘When Our Government Operates in Its Own Flawed Reality, the Most Vulnerable Suffer’ »

GOP Candidates are Wrong When Talking About Immigration

GOPBrazen incendiary rhetoric, ignorance of the facts, and bias fueled anti-immigrant sentiment are polluting the immigration conversation.

There is no question Donald Trump is out to make a name for himself in the political arena. Having declared his candidacy for the presidency, Trump has embarked on a full-blown attack on immigrants – especially undocumented immigrants – perhaps forgetting at some point that his own ancestors were immigrants seeking a better life in the United States.

You see, although Donald Trump was born on June 14, 1946, in Queens, NY, his mother, Mary Anne MacLeod, was a Scottish immigrant. Trump’s paternal grandparents were German immigrants. Trump speaks little of his immigrant ancestry, yet engages in aggressive posturing against today’s immigrants.

Trump wants to build a wall on the southern border of the United States to keep “illegals” from invading our country. Trump implies that “illegal” immigrants to the United States enter only through the southern border and as such we need increased enforcement at such border.  Facts, however, show the contrary. Studies indicate there has been a significant decline in immigrants crossing the southern border and overall the undocumented immigrant population has fallen from an estimated high of 12.2 million undocumented immigrants in 2007 to roughly 11.2 million undocumented immigrants in the United States as of January 2012.

Continue reading ‘GOP Candidates are Wrong When Talking About Immigration’ »

Little By Little, We Tear Down the Walls of Family Detention

shutterstock_31206451In June of 2014, the first and most remote Family Detention Center opened in Artesia.  The move was a concerted effort by the Administration to deter the influx of mothers and children and unaccompanied minors from Central America fleeing violence, persecution and despair.  The Administration’s premise: “deterrence of future economic migration.”

The response from advocates was speedy, forceful and determined.  Hundreds of immigration lawyers, professors, interpreters, social workers, experts, and willing volunteers traveled to the isolated detention center and began the fight to end family detention.  Their efforts were successful and Artesia closed in December of 2014 just six months after it opened.

The Administration however was not about to end this practice.  It set up two more detention centers in Texas – Dilley and Karnes.  Some of the women and children previously interned at Artesia were transferred to one or the other facility.  Hundreds more were placed there. Advocates mobilized and efforts increased.  The battle had just begun.  The irrational and unreasonable obstacles the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) invented to prevent these women and children from having access to counsel demonstrated the absurd efforts the agency was willing to go through to keep this profitable machinery going.  Yes – there is profit in detention.  At the cost of approximately $350 per day, per person, being paid to the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the enterprise of family detention is very profitable.  So, from refusing entrance to women wearing underwire bras or limiting the ability of attorneys to bring in needed electronic devices, to refusing entrance to volunteers for no good reason, ICE tried to play every trick in the book – but advocates fought back and fought hard.

Meanwhile these women and children languished in prison, slowly breaking down when the hopes of freedom seemed bleak.  Bonds were initially set unreasonably high, ranging from $15,000 to $30,000 – until again advocates pushed the agency back, successfully quashing the agency’s argument that these mothers and children were a result of “organized influx” and that “reports and rumors of successful entries could encourage further mass migration attempts.”   The children were malnourished and the women depressed, living in this horrific place called a “Family Residential Center.”  One woman attempted suicide; others went on a hunger strike.

Study after study demonstrates the long term psychological harm these young children will suffer from continued detention.  In response to the loud, clear and powerful outcries from advocates, a statement from ICE appeared in the media earlier this week noting that:  “Family residential centers are an effective and humane alternative for maintaining family unity as families go through immigration proceedings or await return to their home countries.”  AILA’s President Victor Nieblas replied quickly, “In all my 19 years of experience as an immigration attorney, I have never heard a federal agency rewrite history to this extent.”  And that is precisely what the Administration and the Agency are doing: rewriting history to justify unconscionable action against asylum seekers, against victims of persecution, defenseless children and distressed mothers.

In the words of Winston Churchill: “never, never, never give up.”  Volunteers, advocates, lawyers, experts have not given up and the walls of detention centers are coming down.  The Department of Homeland Security’s Secretary Jeh C. Johnson released a statement on June 24, 2015 in which the agency finally acknowledges that “…long-term detention is an inefficient use of our resources and should be discontinued” and that the agency will discontinue invoking general deterrence as a factor in custody determinations in all cases involving families.  That is a far cry from the agency’s initial position last year! The tide is turning, but the work is far from done.  We must continue to articulate our message to #EndFamilyDetention.  Secretary Johnson also announced the agency will  conduct interviews to determine if the families have a credible or reasonable fear of persecution, and offer “reasonable and realistic” bonds or other terms of release for those who demonstrate such fear.   These are concrete changes ICE must make in good faith.

We must remain vigilant; we must watch and make sure the changes Secretary Johnson has announced are actually implemented and followed through by ICE officers.  But these changes are not enough. We will not stop until we have put an end to family detention.  There is no justification, excuse, or reasonable argument to rationalize why children—accompanied or not accompanied by a parent—should be detained.

The war is ongoing, the battles are being won, the walls are coming down, and our mission is still clear: end family detention, once and for all.

Written by Annaluisa Padilla, AILA First Vice President


If you are an AILA member, paralegal, or translator, who wants to volunteer at a family detention center, please go to the CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Project page or feel free to contact Maheen Taqui at – we could really use your help.

To watch videos of the volunteers sharing their experiences, go to this playlist on AILA National’s YouTube page. To see all the blog posts about this issue select Family Detention as the category on the right side of this page.

From Leave It to Beaver to Modern Family

shutterstock_152193854The days when one spouse remained at home and the other went to work aren’t the norm any longer in our society.  Although there may still be some households where only one spouse works outside the home, in many cases having two working spouses is one of the requirements of the economic and societal reality within which we now live.

While the Cleavers exemplified the idealized middle-class suburban family of the mid-20th century, times have changed, and now Modern Family brings us the experiences of diverse family units.

Decades of changes within our own culture and values have led to the recognition of both spouses’ talents outside the home.  The traditional roles of domestic spouses and working spouses are no longer rigid models in a family and with two incomes the overall financial stability and security of many family units has improved.

Our country’s H-1B visa program however, lagged behind these realities until last week when the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) finally announced a visa rule revision that will allow spouses of some highly skilled immigrants to apply to work in the United States.  This rule recognizes the contributions spouses of foreign workers can also bring to our society and economy.

USCIS director Leon Rodriguez noted that “[spouses] are, in many cases, in their own right highly skilled workers,” and that “many families struggled financially when a spouse couldn’t work, and in some cases returned to their country.”

More importantly this rule revision will have a tremendous effect on immigrant women because a large number of the H-1B spouses are, in fact, women.  Women who may have completed advanced degrees in their home country and are well qualified to hold jobs in their own professions, but who until now have been barred from doing so. They have had to make a choice, either to pursue their own career or focus entirely on their spouse’s while he was employed on an H-1B visa.  The Administration’s willingness to recognize these inequities for immigrant women living in our society and the agency’s action in revising this arcane rule is another step forward in remedying the complex and outdated rules in our current immigration system.

The announcement and the impact the revision of the rule will have on many foreign workers and their families are welcomed, but this is only a limited remedy.  It is important to note that the new authorization doesn’t apply to the spouses of all H-1B visa holders. The regulations only cover those whose H-1B partners are seeking permanent legal residency and for whom the agency has already approved an employer petition to start the process.

Our immigration system remains a product of the past century and hinders our country’s ability to remain competitive in this global economy.  The efforts by this Administration to bring relief to companies seeking to keep or hire talent should be a catalyst for Congress to get to work on further reform of our immigration laws.

Competitiveness increases profits and strengthens our economy.  Research shows that immigrants complement American workers.   It is time to leave the Cleavers to our history and modernize our immigration laws to chart the economic future of our nation and the financial stability of our families.

Written by Annaluisa Padilla, AILA Second Vice President