Research in Law

This is the first book devoted to the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act Amendments. It features contributions by scholars in law, political science, cultural studies, and economics that reflect the modern interdisciplinary approach to immigration studies. It places current-day immigration debates in context and provides historically informed policy suggestions.

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Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals in Review

Leraul, Daniel Jacob

While comprehensive immigration reform flounders in the United States Congress, the presidential decree known as DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) has now well passed its one year anniversary. Initiated in August 2012, DACA is an exercise in executive discretion that allows USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) to grant temporary lawful status to qualified immigrant youth. People under 31, who arrived in the US before they were 16, and have resided permanently in the US for the past five years are potentially eligible for DACA as long as they are studying or have completed at least a high school degree or equivalent. The relevance of this limited form of immigration relief is underscored by the stalled attempts at wider reform. The common understanding is that some aspect of immigration reform will either pass Congress this month or not at all until 2015 given the coming election year. President Obama has promised to put immigration reform back in the spotlight after the October government shutdown put all government business on hold. His meeting on November 7th with Senator John McCain, a prominent Republican leader on immigration reform and one of the “gang of eight” who drafted the Senate bill, seems to indicate movement in this direction.1 The political stars appear to be aligning in favor of some type of immigration reform. A recent poll by the Partnership for a New American Economy shows that 71% of those polled favor immigration reform and 54% would be less likely to support an elected representative who opposed reform.

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The Lost Brown V. Board of Education of Immigration Law

Chin, Gabriel J., Cindy Chiang, and Shirley S. Park

This Article proposes that in 1957, the Supreme Court came close to applying Brown v. Board of Education to immigration law. In Brown, the Supreme Court held that school segregation was unconstitutional. Ultimately, Brown came to be understood as prohibiting almost all racial classifications. Meanwhile, in a line of cases exemplified by Chae Chan Ping v. United States and Fong Yue Ting v. United States, the Supreme Court held that Congress enjoyed plenary power to discriminate on any ground, including race, in immigration law. These holdings have never been formally overruled. Immigration, then, is said to be an exception to the general rule of Brown and Bolling v. Sharpe. 

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Immigration and Civil Rights: Is the "New" Birmingham the Same as the "Old" Birmingham

Johnson, Kevin R.

Over the past few years, state legislatures have passed immigration enforcement laws at breakneck speed.1 As one commentator characterized it: Immigration law is undergoing an unprecedented upheaval. The states . . . have taken immigration matters into their own hands. In response to the widespread perception that the federal government cannot or will not control the border, state legislatures are now furiously enacting immigration-related laws . . . . These attempts to wrestle control of enforcement decisions from the federal government have cast into doubt the doctrinal core of immigration law: federal exclusivity.2

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Double Trouble: Double Jeaporday's Dual Sovereignty Exception and State Immigration Statutes

Schneider, Gregory S., and Gabriel J. Chin

On April 23, 2010, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed S.B. 1070 into law, igniting a national controversy about the law and immigration generally. Arizona’s new law regulated noncitizens and their movement in and through the state, but in this respect it was hardly unique. For example, Arizona already had a statute criminalizing transporting undocumented noncitizens, as did Colorado, Florida, Oklahoma, Missouri, South Carolina, and Utah. These laws all focus on making it a state crime to transport, conceal, harbor, or shield noncitizens whose presence is not authorized by federal law. These laws may be just the tip of the iceberg, because at least another seven states considered bills that contemplated similar legislative changes.

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A Legal Labyrinth: Issues Raised by Arizona Senate Bill 1070

Chin, Gabriel J., Carissa B. Hessick, Toni Massaro, et. al.

The summer of 2010 may prove to be an especially historic one for immigration policy in the United States. At long last there is evidence of federal engagement that may lead to significant reform. If significant national policy reform does emerge, then the Arizona legislature may be credited as a primary catalyst for such change.

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Illegal Entry as Crime, Deporation as Punishment: Immigration Status and the Criminal Process

Chin, Gabriel J.

This Article examines the position of noncitizens in the United States. For some noncitizens, particularly those without legal status, courts treat unlawful entry or removability as a quasi-crime, negatively affecting the case in ways similar to the effect of a prior criminal conviction. For other noncitizens, particularly but not exclusively those with legal status, the possibility of deportation is treated as a quasi-punishment, which sometimes mitigates other punishments or affects charging decisions if deportation or the overall package of sanctions would be too harsh. This Article proposes that it is consistent both with fairness to all individuals in the United States and with widely accepted principles of criminal justice to consider—carefully— immigration status in the criminal process.

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A War on Drugs or a War on Immigrants? Expanding the Definition of 'Drug Trafficking' in Determining Aggravated Felon Status for Non-Citizens

Yates, Jeff, Gabriel J. Chin, and Todd A. Collins

In this article we assess competing interpretations of the Immigration and Nationalization Act’s ‘aggravated felony’ provisions, specifically the determination of what state drug offenses properly constitute ‘aggravated felonies,’ thus subjecting non-citizens to deleterious collateral immigration consequences, including deportation. This issue is considered within the broader political and social context of the nation’s ‘war on drugs’ and wide-ranging trends in American immigration policy. We argue that state drug offenses should be analogous to the traditional federal characterizations of a felony (i.e. yielding more than a year of imprisonment) in order to be appropriately considered aggravated felonies. We conclude that interpretations of the aggravated felony provisions that allow offenses falling below this threshold to be considered aggravated felonies are misguided, lead to unwarranted collateral immigration consequences for non-citizens, and fit within a broader pattern of inordinate burden sharing in the war on drugs by historically disempowered groups.

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Everybody in the Tent: Lessons from the Grassroots About Labor Organizing, Immigrants, and Temporary Worker Policies

Saucedo, Leticia M.

In this article, I share perspectives of local residential construction workers and labor leaders collected from a series of interviews in Las Vegas, Nevada about obstacles to organizing immigrants. I conducted over 100 interviews between 2006 and 2008 that are the basis for a larger project on working conditions among immigrant workers in the residential construction industry in Las Vegas. In this article, I explore how immigrant workers and local organizers respond to questions about the difficulties in organizing immigrants. Their responses should provide some guidance to policy advocates and the labor movement as they formulate positions around comprehensive immigration reform proposals.

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