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September 12, 2017

What Do Dreamers Do Now?

By Rose Cuison Villazor

[Cross-posted from the New York Times]

DAVIS, CALIF. - On Tuesday Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the White House's plan to rescind protections for young immigrants who arrived in the United States illegally as children, but with a six-month grace period to let Congress respond. The program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, grants those who qualify for the program a reprieve from deportation, which they must renew every two years.

The White House claims that DACA, which President Barack Obama announced in 2012 and which has broad bipartisan support, is illegal, but deferred action is a widely accepted legal principle. Over the last five years, DACA has become a core part of America's immigration landscape: DACA has been granted to more than 800,000 immigrants, allowing them to attend school, work and contribute to their communities. Its repeal would upend the lives not only of these "Dreamers," as participants are called, but also of their families, co-workers and employers.

The announcement leaves the Dreamers with countless questions. While authorities have said they won't prioritize DACA participants after the program ends, how easily could that change? Will Congress come through with a replacement? The announcement says that information provided in DACA applications would not be proactively shared, with some exceptions - but does that leave open the possibility that information may be shared upon request from enforcement agencies?

At least two things are clear, however. First, the government must continue to treat current DACA recipients as people with deferred action, who should not be removed unless they violate the terms of DACA. Officials say that some recipients will be allowed to keep their status and even renew; the government should make this clear and apply it to all current DACA participants. The Department of Homeland Security has its own standard operating procedures that specify the process of how one's particular DACA approval may be rescinded. The government must continue to comply with its own guidelines and not revoke a person's deferral arbitrarily.

Second, and most important, is what the government does with the information Dreamers gave it as part of their application - information that amounts to an admission of their having entered the country illegally, albeit without their knowledge, since they were children at the time. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, which administers DACA, should delete all their information.Every weekday, get thought-provoking commentary from Op-Ed columnists, the Times editorial board and contributing writers from around the world.

Applicants gave that information with the assurance that it would not be shared with Immigration and Customs Enforcement or Customs and Border Enforcement, the agencies that otherwise would be charged with deporting them. As the Citizenship and Immigration Services' own guidance states, "information provided in this request is protected from disclosure to ICE or C.B.P.," unless the applicant commits a crime or poses a national security threat.

Dreamers divulged information to the government, expecting that their information would not be shared. The information includes not only potentially incriminating information like date of initial entry and length of stay in the United States, but also details like their names, addresses, school information and Social Security numbers - precisely what the government needs to locate and detain them quickly.

As Zachary Price of the University of California Hastings College of the Law has argued, using such information would constitute entrapment. Courts have thrown out convictions of defendants who were prosecuted based on actions, statements or information they provided when they were assured that their conduct would not lead to adverse action. Dreamers facing deportation could apply the same logic here. Absent that information, it would be much harder, though not impossible, to deport them. Allowing the government to use their information would be, to quote the Supreme Court in a leading entrapment case, "shocking to the universal sense of justice."

This is information that Dreamers would not have given the government without such nondisclosure assurances. They thought they could trust the government. In fact, in some cases lawyers advised clients who were considering applying not to, precisely, they said, because the government couldn't be trusted.

Allowing the government to use the information obtained through DACA to find these individuals and remove them would not only be heartless, but would set a dangerous precedent. Even if Congress, sometime in the future, were to enact a legislative equivalent of DACA, what are the chances that undocumented immigrants would once again put their faith in a government database?

In an interview President Trump gave days after his inauguration, he said that he was looking at the DACA program with a "big heart." Seven months later, many are heartbroken about the loss of a program that has brought thousands of Americans a sense of belonging despite their lack of "papers." But as in so many cases under this still-young administration, the expansive cruelty of the executive branch may yet be tempered by the powers and wisdom of America's legal system.

April 21, 2017

My Testimony before the Assembly Higher Education Committee

Earlier this week, I testified before the California Assembly Higher Education Committee on April 18 in support of Assembly Bill 856, which seeks to diversity faculty and athletic coaches at California universities. These were my remarks.

***

Thank you, Chair and Members.

My name is Rose Cuison Villazor and I am a Professor of Law at UC Davis.

I have been a law professor for eleven years and I have been teaching at UC Davis for five years. 

As the only Filipino American law professor in a public university and, indeed, the entire state of California, I come before you today in support of AB 856, which would increase faculty diversity at California public Universities and Colleges.

I have seen first hand the need to increase diversity amongst faculty at California schools.

According to the Association of American Colleges and Universities, "Faculty, along with staff, serve as an institution's front-line representatives, and in the academic realm, faculty are also the embodiment of authority on campus. Having a diverse faculty ensures that students see people of color in roles of authority and as role models or mentors. Faculty of color are also more likely than other faculty to include content related to diversity in their curricula and to utilize active learning and student-centered teaching techniques."

A diverse faculty helps close achievement gaps, improves campus climate, and creates new curriculum and research.

Having a faculty reflect the student population benefits students' growth and has a positive impact on their learning experience. 

Currently, in states where affirmative action has been banned, including California, universities have introduced new admissions and financial aid strategies based on socioeconomic status.

Similar initiatives can be applied to the hiring process at California schools.

I thank the author for bringing this measure forward and respectfully ask for your AYE vote.

June 17, 2016

Citizenship Victory for Aoki Center and Immigration Law Clinic


Our client Marianne Wilson Kuroda

The Aoki Center for the Critical Study of Race and Nation and the Immigration Law Clinic recently won a derivative citizenship case on behalf of their client, Marianne Wilson Kuroda, who is born, raised and continues to live in Japan.  Specifically, the Center and the Clinic argued that Mrs. Wilson Kuroda was born a U.S. citizen through her father, a U.S. citizen, based on Section 301(g) and 309(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). 

Section 301(g) recognizes that a person is a U.S. citizen at birth provided that:

[A] person born outside the geographical limits of the United States and its outlying possessions of parents one of whom is an alien, and the other a citizen of the United States who, prior to the birth of such person, was physically present in the United States or its outlying possessions for a period or periods totaling not less than five years, at least two of which were after attaining the age of fourteen years.

Because Mrs. Wilson Kuroda's parents -- an American man and a mixed-race Japanese, Swedish and German woman born in Japan -- could not marry under federal and military rules that prohibited their interracial marriage, Mrs. Wilson Kuroda was a child born out-of-wedlock.  Thus, she also had to meet the requirements of Section 309(b) of the INA, which provided that "the paternity of such child is established at any time while such child is under the age of twenty-one years by legitimation."  Her father, James Vaughn, was forced to return to the United States and sought to bring Mrs. Wilson Kuroda and her mother to immigrate the United States.  Because they were Japanese, they were racially inadmissible under immigration law and needed special legislation to allow them to enter the United States.  At the time of Mrs. Wilson Kuroda's birth in April 1949, Mr. Vaughn was a resident of Nevada.  Thus, for purposes of establishing legitimation, Nevada law applied. (In 1956, Mrs. Wilson Kuroda, then just a little girl, was at the center of a case titled Sweden v. Yamaguchi.)

The Center and the Clinic submitted evidence that Mrs. Wilson Kuroda's father legitimated her before she turned 21 years old.  Evidence submitted include letters that her father sent to Senator Pat McCarran acknowledging Mrs. Wilson Kuroda as his child.  These letters became the basis for a private bill that Senator McCarran introduced in June 1949 and that passed Congress in August 1950.  Unfortunately, Mrs. Wilson Kuroda's mother died on the same day that the bill became law.  Mrs. Wilson Kuroda and her father would never meet. 

However, the Center and the Clinic argued that Mr. Vaughn took sufficient steps under Nevada law to legitimate Mrs. Wilson Kuroda.  Thus, on January 5, 2016, with the assistance of the Center and the Clinic, Mrs. Wilson Kuroda filed an application for a U.S. passport at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo.  On June 6, 2016, the U.S. Embassy agreed and approved Mrs. Wilson Kuroda's application for a U.S. passport, essentially recognizing her as a U.S. citizen.

Professor Leticia Saucedo and I worked on the case with David Canela ('16), J.J. Mulligan ('15), Emily Wilson ('13), and Andrea Wu ('15).