• June 10, 2014

    by Charles Withers

    Last Friday, the Obama administration announced that it will provide lawyers for children facing deportation. According to Attorney General Eric Holder, the step will “protect the rights of the most vulnerable members of society.” Kirk Semple at The New York Times explains how the policy will affect immigration reform.

    In 2011, families of former marines at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina sued an electronics plant for poisoning their water. Yesterday, the Supreme Court in a 7-to-2 decision ruled in favor of the electronics plant, saying that the families had missed a deadline to file suit. Sam Hananel at The Associated Press has the story.  

    Writing for The New York Times, David E. Sanger and Nicole Perlroth note the steps being taken by Google and other internet companies to protect their systems from the National Security Agency. 

    At The New Republic, Simon Lazarus breaks down Bond v. United States and how ”neo-isolationists” have “chosen a route to victory through the Supreme Court—not Congress, state legislators, or voters.”

  • June 3, 2014

    by Paul Guequierre

    Immigrant families in California garnered a victory recently, when U.S. District Court Judge for the Northern District of California Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers granted a preliminary injunction in the case of Preap v. Holder

    The case, brought by Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Asian Law Caucus, the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California and Keker & Van Nest LLP Partner Jon B. Streeter, seeks to halt the federal government’s ongoing practice of holding undocumented immigrants, often for minor infractions, for months as they begin the deportation proceedings. In most cases the immigrants do not pose a flight risk, have ties to their communities and are raising families.

    Holding these immigrants without bond denies them the ability to mount their defense in deportation cases. The practice also rips families apart, leaving children with one less parent and often leaving family members to raise children without the detainee’s income. The rule of law is quite literally hurting children and families.

    Streeter said, “This case has the power to stop the federal government’s outrageous process of holding people without bond. We are now one step closer to ensuring those who aspire to be citizens are treated fairly before the law.”

    Judge Rogers’ injunction comes at a critical time in the fight for comprehensive immigration reform. Last summer the Senate passed a bipartisan immigration reform bill. House leaders, including Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), however, refuse to allow the bill to come up for a vote, insisting they would only consider piecemeal actions instead of the Senate bill. Meanwhile, 11 million otherwise law-abiding undocumented immigrants in the United States are denied the chance at a path toward citizenship.

    Without comprehensive immigration reform, our nation’s immigrants face ongoing risk of arrest and detention for simply being who they are in the country they call home. They depend on victories like the one issued by Judge Rogers, not to get by, but to get through another day.

  • May 30, 2014

    Acclaimed writer, poet and professor Maya Angelou died Wednesday at the age of 86. In a life that inspired many influential figures of the twentieth century including Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, Angelou eloquently merged the lines between artist and civil rights activist. Adam Serwer at MSNBC celebrates the legacy of an American hero. 
    Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has signed a bill that would close many of the state’s remaining abortion clinics. Writing for Salon, Katie McDonough comments on what the legislation could mean for women throughout the region.
    Alicia A. Caldwell at The Associated Press notes the Obama administration’s decision to delay a review of the nation’s deportation policy until the summer in an attempt to pressure Congress to act on immigration reform.
    On Tuesday, the Supreme Court ruled that Florida’s IQ requirements were too strict in assessing whether or not a prisoner was mentally competent enough to be executed. At The New York Times, Adam Liptak breaks down Hall v. Florida
  • May 7, 2014

    As controversy continues to surround Oklahoma’s botched execution of Clayton Lockett, a “bipartisan panel of legal experts have urged sweeping changes in what it calls the ‘deeply flawed’ administration of capital punishment.” Erik Eckholm at The New York Times reports on the panel’s proposal for execution by single-dose injections. At The Week, Andrew Cohen explains why either John Paul Stevens or Sandra Day O’Connor should lead Oklahoma’s  investigation.
    Writing for The New York Times, Justin Gillis reports on a new study which shows “with water growing scarcer in dry regions, torrential rains increasing in wet regions, and heat waves becoming more common and more severe…the effects of human-induced climate change are being felt in every corner of the United States.”
    As the Supreme Court nears the end of its term, many will be focusing on the justices’ ruling in high stakes securities class action and software patent cases. Lawrence Hurley at Reuters has the story.
    At The Life of the Law, Katherine Thompson writes to President Obama about immigration law and the struggles facing same-sex couples—and he writes back. 



  • April 25, 2014

    by Charles Withers

    In this year’s State of the Union address, President Obama called on Republicans and Democrats alike to “fix our broken immigration system.” Now, ten months since the Senate passed comprehensive immigration reform, it remains unlikely that the House of Representatives will follow suit. Meanwhile, amid Congress’ cantankerous political environment, immigration reformers are urging the president to use his executive authority to reduce deportations. In a memo released Monday, The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organization called on the White House to address the “urgent needs of workers and immigrant communities” and to “stop sweeping individuals into the deportation pipeline.” While the AFL-CIO’s recommendations speak to a growing demand for federal involvement, many are looking instead to state governments for meaningful immigration reform.

    ACS and the Center for American Progress recently hosted a panel of immigration experts to discuss U.S. immigration policy and how state and local efforts are addressing the needs of undocumented persons. Some panelists suggested that a narrow focus on the federal courts and legislatures ultimately limits the overall effectiveness of immigration reform. 

    Moderated by CAP’s Vice President of Immigration Policy, Angela Maria Kelley, the discussion focused on key issues facing immigrant communities today, including onerous laws such as the infamous racial profiling law that Arizona enacted in 2010. Karthick Ramakrishnan, an associate professor of political science at UC Riverside who co-wrote an ACS Issue brief with fellow panelist Pratheepan Gulasekaram, refers to the bill’s architect, Kansas’ Secretary of State Kris Kobach, as a restrictionist issue entrepreneur -- someone who “offers restrictive laws as pre-packaged solutions in search of immigration problems.” Kobach’s blueprint for anti-immigration policy inspired similar “copycat” legislation which extended the law’s detrimental effects to Alabama, Indiana, Georgia, Utah and South Carolina. According to Ramakrishnan and Gulasekaram, issue entrepreneurs like Kobach “played a two level game very effectively,”  manipulating immigration reform at the national level and then using the diminished federal action to empower support for state-funded anti-immigrant policies.