Archives for November 2015

At USC, Law Students Provide Immigration Legal Advice

Legal assistance for asylum seekers arriving at the U.S. border has been an issue, whether that means trained volunteers or lawyers. How about a legal clinic staffed by law students looking for experience? The University of Southern California student newspaper reports that “… in January, the year-round USC clinic — the only one of its kind among Southern California law schools — will mark its 15th year of offering representation to asylum clients… since 2001, the clinic has taken on more than 170 clients. Approximately 120 of them, one-third of whom identify as LGBT, have received either asylum, withholding of removal or protection under the Convention Against Torture.”
While the Immigration Clinic clients receive life-saving legal representation, its students receive valuable experience.

‘Border Kids’ Immigration Influx Is Once Again On The Rise

AP photo used in Tampa Bay Times report on 12/22/14 shows "Young detainees sleep in a holding cell on June 18, 2014, at a U.S. Customs and Border Protection processing facility in Brownsville,Texas."

AP photo used in Tampa Bay Times report on 12/22/14 shows “Young detainees sleep in a holding cell on June 18, 2014, at a U.S. Customs and Border Protection processing facility in Brownsville,Texas.”

A Texas newspaper reports that the number of unaccompanied children being apprehended at the southern United States border – I’ve dubbed them “border kids” – is once again on the increase. Reporter Dylan Baddor at the Mount Pleasant Daily Tribune writes that in the Border Patrol’s Big Bend sector of Texas, “the number of unaccompanied children apprehended trying to enter the country during that period averaged 24 between 2010 and 2014. This year agents tallied 319.”

Statewide, says the report, 7,390 unaccompanied children were caught crossing in those two months, and 85 percent increase over the same period last year. The newspaper quotes Marc Rosenblum, a deputy director at the Migration Policy Institute in Washington D.C., saying that“… we’re clearly seeing a significant uptick.”
The Border Kids crisis became a national focus last year and prompted the Obama Administration to fast-track the cases, sometimes moving them to the “front of the line” in a backed-up immigration court system. Current estimates are that more than 450,000 cases are backlogged in the courts, which are actual civil procedures held as part of the U.S. Justice Department.
See the Daily Tribune story here:

California Columnist: Lawsuit Likely If Parent-Trigger School Index Nixed

Since its passage in 2010, California’s “parent trigger” charter school movement has been the subject of litigation, perhaps most notably in the landmark “Palm Lane Elementary School” case in Anaheim. The “trigger” laws allow parents to demand reform at failing schools, including converting the school to a charter school. The California move triggered a handful of other states to take up similar provisions.
Now, says Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters, Golden State lawmakers are considering dropping one part of that parent trigger legislation, the so-called Academic Performance Index, or “API.” The standardized testing program was passed before the parent trigger, but was eventually linked to the controversial charter school efforts. Walters says removing the API will likely mean yet another lawsuit.


He writes that “… Gloria Romero, the former Democratic state senator who wrote the parent trigger law, says that if the API disappears, the Legislature should be duty-bound to provide a new performance measure for parents. However, the staff recommendation before the state school board is to eliminate the API and “identify the obsolete and outdated references to the API that need to be removed” as part of its repeal, implying that the parent trigger law should also die.”
If the API is repealed without a replacement measure for parent trigger, Romero tells Walters, a lawsuit would be the next step, which would not be unusual. He notes that “… school reform and civil rights groups have often sued, usually successfully, in their battles with the establishment over accountability and other flashpoint issues.”

Silver Trial Headed For Closing Arguments Monday

The federal criminal trial of former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is expected to enter the closing arguments stage on Monday, with his defense team opting to call no witnesses. They did grab headlines with a motion asking the judge to dismiss the case – which is actually a routine step in such trials. While a criminal trial, the Silver case is being closely watched by the civil trial bar, in part because lots of the case rests on his referral arrangement with an asbestos litigation firm.

That firm has said that Silver was “of counsel” for many years but performed no legal work while receiving more than $3 million in referral fees. The government contends that the then-Speaker steered government contracts to a clinic that helped with the referrals.

See a good Wall Street Journal recap here: Defense Won’t Call Any Witnesses in Trial of Sheldon Silver

U.S. Family Detention Centers: Still There, Still Debated

As events in Paris rivet the U.S. media on the massive immigration crisis in Europe, it’s worth noting that we still have

Photo from LA Times Report, 10/23/15, "Immigrant family detention centers are prison-like, critics say, despite order to improve"

Photo from LA Times Report, 10/23/15, “Immigrant family detention centers are prison-like, critics say, despite order to improve”

450,000 pending cases in the United States immigration court system and our “family detention” centers have been ruled illegal by a federal judge, who has ordered them closed. The federal government has responded by trying to license them through state agencies.

The Los Angeles Times reminds us that “… this summer, U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee in Los Angeles castigated federal officials, finding they had failed to meet conditions for detaining immigrant children established by a 1997 court settlement, Flores vs. Meese. The judge prohibited the administration from holding children at centers not licensed to care for them and from holding families unless they posed a flight risk or a threat to national security…”
Find the rest of that story and related reporting about the situation here: