Results tagged “immigration law”

December 13, 2012

By Associate Professor Kevin LappLapp_SJ.jpg

On December 6, 2012, California Attorney General Kamala Harris declared that local law enforcement agencies in the state are free to decide whether they will comply with immigration detainers issued by the federal government. This was a big announcement for at least two reasons: (1) immigration detainers are a key component of immigration enforcement programs such as Secure Communities, which ostensibly target for deportation non-citizens who have committed serious crimes, and (2) California is the nation's most populous state, with the largest non-citizen population and the nation's largest criminal justice system.

An immigration detainer is a piece of paper from immigration officials purporting to command a jailor to hold a specific individual for up to 48 hours after the individual would otherwise have been released. The purpose behind the extra detention is to allow Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to evaluate the detainee's immigration status or take the individual into custody itself. Since 2009, the United States has issued approximately 250,000 immigration detainers a year.

State and local law enforcement officials across the country regularly comply with immigration detainers, holding individuals at their own cost until ICE takes them into custody or releases the hold. Some believe that compliance is mandatory, as a glance at the form would suggest. Near the top, it states in bold and all caps, "MAINTAIN CUSTODY OF ALIEN FOR A PERIOD NOT TO EXCEED 48 HOURS." Later, the form quotes from a regulation, 8 C.F.R. 287.7, that the law enforcement agency "shall maintain custody of an alien" once DHS issues a detainer.

But there has been a growing trend against compliance. Santa Clara and San Francisco County (as well as Chicago, Washington, D.C. and New York City) have chosen not to honor at least some immigration detainers. These localities have taken AG Harris's position that the detainers are requests, not commands. They have also objected to the fact that the states and localities must bear the cost of the extended detention, often for individuals arrested for petty offenses who pose no risk to the community.

In the last two months, Los Angeles County has gone from an area of total compliance to limited compliance. In October, Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck said that his department (the nation's second largest) would soon refuse to honor certain immigration detainers. Chief Beck made it clear that his decision was a reaction to the federal government's heavy-handed approach toward non-citizens, which despite claims to the contrary, targets both dangerous criminals and those suspected of petty offenses. In California, for example, more than half of the people deported pursuant to Secure Communities since 2009 had no criminal history or only misdemeanor convictions. Chief Beck also linked this concern to public safety, asserting that "we need to build trust in [Hispanic] communities and we need to build cooperation." Beck's plan is to refuse immigration detainers for those arrested for certain non-violent misdemeanors (the plan must be approved by a civilian board before it goes into effect).

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October 30, 2012

Lapp_SJ.jpgBy Associate Professor Kevin Lapp

Moncrieffe v. Holder, argued in mid-October before the United States Supreme Court, involves a non-citizen who pled guilty in Georgia state court to misdemeanor possession with intent to distribute 1.3 grams of marijuana (about half the weight of a penny) with no evidence that he received any money in exchange for drugs. Federal law likewise considers possession with intent to distribute such a small amount of marijuana without remuneration to be a misdemeanor offense. Knowing those two things, you'd probably puzzle at the notion that the government is seeking to classify Moncrieffe as an "aggravated felon" for purposes of deporting him. But in the Wonderland world of immigration law, that is just what is happening.

The issue in Moncrieffe v. Holder is whether Moncrieffe's state misdemeanor drug possession offense constitutes a "drug trafficking aggravated felony" under federal law. Longstanding precedent, and recent Supreme Court case law, says that courts should apply what is called the categorical approach to answer the question. That approach involves determining the minimum conduct that is necessarily established by the state conviction, and prohibits looking into anything behind the conviction, such as underlying facts or possible alternative offenses that could have been charged. If the minimum conduct of the state crime is necessarily equivalent to a felony under federal narcotics law, then even a state misdemeanor conviction becomes an "aggravated felony" for immigration purposes. If it is not necessarily a federal felony (because the state crime captures conduct that could be either a federal felony or misdemeanor), then the categorical approach says that it is not an aggravated felony.

Moncrieffe's state misdemeanor marijuana offense does not require proof of any minimum amount of marijuana, nor does it require proof of remuneration. As such, it criminalizes the social sharing of small amounts of marijuana as well as the distribution of larger amounts. Because the state crime encompasses conduct that would clearly be a federal misdemeanor, Moncrieffe argued that the categorical approach means that it is not necessarily equivalent to a federal felony and should not be considered an aggravated felony. The upshot is that he remains deportable, but has an opportunity to seek relief from deportation.

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October 25, 2012

KathleenKim.jpgBy Professor Kathleen Kim, Kevin Kish and Cindy Liou

This op-ed originally appeared in Pacific Standard.

This November, voters will consider Proposition 35, also known as the "CASE Act" for "Californians Against Sexual Exploitation." The name of the law is designed to draw automatic support: Who, after all, would be in favor of sexual exploitation? The initiative's supporters, who include concerned citizens and former Facebook executive, Chris Kelly, are committed to increasing fines and prison sentences for certain forms of sex trafficking, and their intentions are beyond reproach. Unfortunately, what the CASE Act actually does is to tinker inexpertly with California's comprehensive laws combating all forms of human trafficking, laws that have served as a model for states across the nation. For over a decade, we, the authors have collectively assisted hundreds of trafficking survivors assert their rights in criminal, civil and immigration actions. Our experience informs us that by taking a predominantly criminal enforcement approach and conflating human trafficking with sexual exploitation, the CASE Act, however unwittingly, will change our current anti-trafficking laws in ways that disempower the actual survivors of human trafficking.

When the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution was adopted in 1865, our nation made a simple promise of commanding power: "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude... shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction." That promise is still being tested. Every year, the State Department estimates that tens of thousands of men, women and children are trafficked to this country - and between the states - and put to work against their will. California is a major point of entry and a destination for traffickers and their victims, who are forced to work not only in the sex industry, but also in garment factories, agricultural fields, construction sites, hotels and restaurants, and as domestic servants in our neighbors' homes.

BloggingBallot.jpgSome contemporary trafficking cases involve conditions much like the chattel slavery abolished by the 13th Amendment, in which human beings were bought and sold as property. Still more cases involve psychological coercion, deception or fraud: depriving people of liberty by convincing them that harm could come to them or their loved ones if they stop working.

In 2005, a unique alliance of California legislators and advocates came together to confront this injustice and extend the promise of the 13th Amendment to the victims of modern forms of unfree labor. Social workers, lawyers and law enforcement officials - all of whom worked directly with human trafficking survivors - authored the California Trafficking Victims Protection Act, California's comprehensive anti-human trafficking law. The law criminalized human trafficking, but that was not its only aim: As important, it advanced the rights of human trafficking survivors through a victim-centered, human-rights framework by providing them with access to social services, a path to immigration relief under federal law, mandatory restitution and a robust civil cause of action. Prop 35 will roll back these protections.

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October 18, 2010

Kathleen KimIn Yusaf v. Tija, the California Court of Appeal upheld a lower court judgment holding an employer liable for violating the California Trafficking Victims Protection Act (a civil provision). Associate Professor Kathleen Kim authored this statutory provision. She also provided technical support to the plaintiffs in Yusaf and co-authored this amicus brief in the case.

Following is the summary of the argument in the amicus brief:

In 2000, the federal government passed the Trafficking Victims Protection Act ("TVPA"). TVPA §102(a), 22 U.S.C. §7101(a) (2000). The TVPA, as amended, was designed to eradicate human trafficking through the implementation of a three-part strategy involving (1) benefits and services to victims; (2) punishment of offenders; and (3) establishment of a mechanism to monitor and eliminate trafficking worldwide. Congress knew at the time it drafted the TVPA that in order to succeed in its goal of eradicating human trafficking the federal government needed to enlist the participation of both domestic state, and international, governments.

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