• January 31, 2017
    Guest Post

    by Pratheepan Gulasekaram, Professor of Law at Santa Clara University School of Law and Co-Author of “The New Immigration Federalism” (Cambridge Press)

    This past week, Donald Trump issued several executive orders limiting immigration and foreboding greater enforcement. The headlines for the past few days have been dominated by his “Muslim ban,” a clumsy, crude and cruel attempt to block any immigration from seven majority-Muslim nations, a complete ban on all refugees for four months, and an indefinite ban on Syrian refugees. Also garnering significant attention is his order reinvigorating wall-building at the U.S.-Mexico border. That order, along with his directive to massively increase enforcement officers may or may not materialize, as they will likely require massive budget appropriations that Congress may balk at. Comparatively less attention has been paid to the orders that will likely begin to reap consequences over the next several months, like the ones re-arranging enforcement priorities and dramatically expanding expedited removal processes (both, likely at the expense of due process standards and other individual liberties). Here, I want to focus on another aspect of his orders that has received comparatively less attention: Trump’s attempt to coerce state and local jurisdictions into aiding with interior enforcement.

    At first blush, Donald Trump’s executive order on interior immigration enforcement reads like a death-knell to cities that maintain so-called “sanctuary” policies on immigration. It imperils state and local governments and law enforcement agencies with loss of federal funds unless they comply with a particular provision of federal immigration law. Despite his order’s menacing language, Trump’s defunding threat rings hollow.

  • January 30, 2017
    Guest Post

    by Robert Landicho,  Associate, Vinson & Elkins LLP and ACS Houston Lawyer Chapter Board Member; Peggy Li, Associate Director of Student Chapters, American Constitution Society for Law and Policy; Melissa Freeling, Volunteer, International Refugee Assistance, Project Berkeley Law Chapter and 2019 J.D. Candidate, University of California, Berkeley School of Law.

    With contributions by Becca Heller, Director, International Refugee Assistance Project; Henrike Dessaules, Communications Manager, International Refugee Assistance Project

    On International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Jan. 27th, 2017, President Trump signed an executive order barring entry for all refugees to the United States for 120 days, suspending entry for Syrian refugees indefinitely and banning all visa holders from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen for 90 days.

    This ban faces challenges under due process, equal protection, international law, and immigration law (see the Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus filed against Trump, DHS, and Customs and Border Protection); and  damages the United States’ already declining reputation in the region. But more fundamentally, Trump’s executive order irresponsibly endangers families that are legitimately seeking (or have already been granted) refuge from conflict or persecution. When families apply for refugee status, they are already thoroughly vetted through a series of interviews involving USCIS, the FBI, DHS, DOD and other government agencies, which can take years to complete. Not only is the premise of the executive order not grounded in facts or reality (i.e., there is no evidence that the executive order will succeed in achieving its stated aims)—this overbroad and unnecessary action completely disregards the many lives it irrevocably alters.

  • January 30, 2017
    Guest Post

    by Margaret Hu, Associate Professor of Law, Washington and Lee University School of Law

    On Jan. 25, 2017, The Economist reported that United States had been downgraded from a “full democracy” to a “flawed democracy.” Coincidentally, on the same day, President Trump issued two executive orders titled, “Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements” and “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States.” The former states that it was “the policy of the executive branch to . . . secure the southern border of the United States through the immediate construction of a physical wall” between United States and Mexico. The latter threatens the loss of federal funding for “sanctuary” jurisdictions, those state and local governments refusing to cooperate with the federal government in the detention and deportation of undocumented immigrants. Immediate protests erupted across the nation.

    Two days later, on Jan. 27, 2017, President Trump issued another Executive Order on immigration policy, titled, “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.” The most recent Executive Order on immigration bars the admission of all refugees to the United States for four months and excludes immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. For Syria, the suspension of immigration is indefinite. For the remainder of the countries, the suspension, for now, is stated as temporary. The Executive Order asserts that immigration from those countries is “detrimental to the interests of the United States” and suspends immigration from those countries for ninety days while visa protocols are scrutinized. The tumult has been immediate, with persons from those countries, already rigorously screened and approved for entry in this country, suddenly finding themselves detained at airports and fearing a return to their home countries where they could be placed in harm’s way.

  • January 30, 2017
    Guest Post

    *This piece originally appeared in the Detroit Legal News.  

    by Gary Maveal, Professor of Law, University of Detroit Mercy School of Law

    The president’s nominee to head the nation’s Environmental Protection Agency is a staunch opponent of its work. Should this disqualify Scott Pruitt from consideration as the next EPA Administrator? I submit that it clearly does.

    The Role to Fill

    Founded under President Nixon in 1970, the EPA was borne of a national movement insisting that a federal agency was needed to defend the nation’s lands, air and water from degradation. Citizens recognized that pollution ignored the bounds of state lines – and that individual states lacked the resources or political will to confront polluting industries.  

    The design of most federal statutes authorizes the EPA to set national standards for polluting activities which are then implemented by the states. In this way, the EPA avoids the “race to the bottom” by states competing by offering varying (i.e., higher) allowable levels of emissions or discharges.

    The role of EPA administrator is a challenging one, overseeing a dizzying array of complex federal statutes protecting the air, water and endangered species.  EPA rules regulate toxins from arsenic to zinc. In addition, the agency oversees a variety of public education and grant programs to inform and study environmental issues across the nation. The administrator must be proficient in assessing scientific data from public and private sources.  

  • January 25, 2017
    Guest Post

    *This post originally appeared in the Herald Times of Bloomington, Indiana.

    by Dawn Johnsen, Walter W. Foskett Professor of Constitutional law at the Maurer School of Law at Indiana University, and her husband, John Hamilton, Mayor of Bloomington, IN

    What do patriots do when they believe their country is headed in a dangerous direction?

    We sound alarms, mobilize and work hard toward a better course. Last Saturday, patriots peacefully and forcefully took to the streets with women’s marches to say “we are here and we are dedicated to action.” Busloads of Bloomingtonians in our state and national capitals joined in solidarity with millions around the country and the world.

    After an election with unprecedented interventions by a foreign power and the FBI, with false facts, and a victor with millions fewer votes nationwide, we have inaugurated our new president. Power transferred peacefully and our 240 year-old democracy continues.

    Some urge us all to wish for a successful presidency, on behalf of the nation. And to give the new administration the benefit of the doubt. Is that right?

    To wish for a successful presidency sounds patriotic, but is wrong when the president supports terrible changes in the country. Economic policy. Foreign policy. Health care. Environmental protection. Public education. Civil rights. Reproductive rights. Religious rights. The Supreme Court. All these and more are in the cross-hairs of President Trump’s administration, which seeks to take our communities, country and planet backwards from hard-fought progress.