Immigration


FIRRP Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project logoWhen the planning for this Friday’s educational seminar on unaccompanied minors in federal custody occurred, would anyone have guessed the topic would grip the nation?

Attorneys have been invited to attend the immigration CLE by the American Immigration Lawyers Association and the Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project. Space for the Phoenix event is limited to 180 people. As the Florence Project says, “Please share this with your colleagues at your law firms and with other attorneys who may be interested in helping detained immigrant children.”

The cost to attend is $75 until July 22, and all proceeds benefit the Florence Project. You can register and pay online here (be sure to indicate “CLE” on the “purpose” line). Questions? Contact the Project’s most excellent Pro Bono Program Director, Tally Kingsnorth, at tkingsnorth@firrp.org.

Here is more information about the event, to be held at the Fragomen law firm, 3003 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85012, from 9:00 a.m. to noon. Reception is at Suite 1200, but the seminar will be in the basement auditorium.

Please note that parking for this CLE will NOT be validated and will be at your own expense. Seating is limited to first come, first served.

The training will begin with a discussion of the current UAC situation along the Mexico–U.S. border, ORR custody, and background on children in removal proceedings. Next, the instructors will briefly cover the mechanics of an SIJ case for minors in removal proceedings (Note: the Florence Project presented on SIJS last year and will be scheduling another more intensive CLE on this topic later in the fall). Finally, the presenters will review U visas, T visas, and asylum claims for children.

Instructor Bios: This CLE opportunity will be led by Laura Belous and Golden McCarthy. Before joining the Florence Project’s staff (for a second time), Laura worked as a Staff Attorney with the Pima County Office of Children’s Counsel and represented over 450 children in dependency proceedings. Previously, she was the Mental Health Equal Justice Works Fellow with the Florence Project and represented clients with serious mental illnesses in Eloy, Florence, and Phoenix for two years. Golden spent four years as an ESL teacher and then director of an adult education program in Brooklyn, New York. While in law school, Golden was President of CUNY Law Moot Court and a Fellow for the Center on Latino and Latina Rights and Equality (CLORE) under the directive of the Honorable Jenny Rivera. She also participated in the Economic Justice Project and the Immigrant and Refugee Rights Clinic at CUNY Law.

This CLE may qualify for three hours of CLE credit.

Cinco de Mayo history 1901 poster

A 1901 poster honoring the celebration of Cinco de Mayo

Happy Cinco de Mayo. This holiday is noteworthy for a variety of reasons. But I appreciate its power to remind us of history—and to spur history-making in the present day.

First of all, be sure you understand that this is not “Mexico’s Independence Day—the most important national holiday in Mexico, celebrated on September 16.” Instead, it marks the Battle of Puebla: “During the French-Mexican War, a poorly supplied and outnumbered Mexican army under General Ignacio Zaragoza defeats a French army attempting to capture Puebla de Los Angeles, a small town in east-central Mexico.”

Charge of the Mexican Cavalry at the Battle of Puebla (image via Wikipedia)

Charge of the Mexican Cavalry at the Battle of Puebla (image via Wikipedia)

The Battle of Puebla may have been significant for two reasons:

“First, although considerably outnumbered, the Mexicans defeated a much better-equipped French army. ‘This battle was significant in that the 4,000 Mexican soldiers were greatly outnumbered by the well-equipped French army of 8,000 that had not been defeated for almost 50 years.’ Second, since the Battle of Puebla, no country in the Americas has subsequently been invaded by any other European military force.”

So while you consider the significance of the holiday, recall contemporary events. For example, it was only four short years ago when the Phoenix Suns put the occasion to an entirely different use—protesting the enactment of the Arizona immigration law dubbed SB1070. They did that by donning jerseys with the name Los Suns. Controversial, that.

I leave to others a discussion of the political power of the sports jersey (also used to great effect recently in the scandal regarding the LA Clippers owner).

However you celebrate Cinco de Mayo, recall that the goals of freedom and collective action have been a part of the day’s spirit since 1862.

Los Suns jersey worn by Steve Nash of the Phoenix Suns in 2010

Los Suns jersey worn by Steve Nash of the Phoenix Suns in 2010

Pima County Bar Association logo

Law Day events continue across Arizona and the nation. Today, I share news of what is happening this weekend in Tucson.

There, the Pima County Bar Association is offering free consultations with lawyers. Surely, you or someone you know could benefit from a conversation about legal issues.

The “Meet a Lawyer” legal clinic will be held on Saturday, May 3, at the Tucson Mall, from 10:00 am to 2:30 pm. There, you and others can have your legal questions answered for free.

As the PCBA says:

“Attorneys will be available to assist individuals one-on-one, for brief, 15-minute intervals. Legal help is on a first-come, first-serve basis. Attorneys will cover a variety of legal topics, yet we cannot guarantee that all legal areas or questions can be addressed throughout the event. Helpful legal resources & handouts will also be available.”

You can download a flier here.

And here is a snapshot of the legal areas and when they will be represented at the clinic:

Pima County Bar Association Law Day will provide free legal advice on many topics.

Pima County Bar Association Law Day will provide free legal advice on many topics.

More information is available at the PCBA website or by calling 520-623-8258.

And be sure to tweet something about #LawDay – let’s get the term trending on Twitter, at least in Arizona!

Project Always logo - fights human trafficking and youth homelessnessA unique opportunity presents itself to attorneys this Friday and Saturday—the free chance to learn about human trafficking and perhaps to get some credit doing it.

The April 25-26 event will be staged by Project Always, a nonprofit law firm. Here is how they describe themselves:

“Project ALWAYS is a nonprofit law firm committed to providing free legal services and system reform advocacy to empower homeless children and youth and survivors of sex trafficking. Working through referrals from our social service partners, we help clients lift the legal barriers that stand in the way of opportunity, security, and self-sufficiency.”

At the site, you can read more about the Arizona firm, including its founding by attorney January Contreras and its leadership by former Judge Barbara Mundell. The Project also receives support from the Hickey Family Foundation and the Project’s fiscal sponsor, the Arizona Foundation for Legal Services and Education.

Barbara Mundell, founding board chair of Project Always

Barbara Mundell, founding board chair of Project Always

The training is titled Human Trafficking 101, and it covers immigration, criminal and civil remedies available to survivors of trafficking.

As the organizers say, the training includes “an in-depth overview of the legal issues facing victims of human trafficking, including criminal victim witness advocacy issues, immigration benefits, and civil remedies. Participants don’t have any registration fees, but must agree to take on one trafficking pro bono caseRegister online here under “News and Events,” or contact January Contreras at january@projectalways.org.

When:

Friday, April 25 & Saturday, April 26th 8:30 am – 5:00 pm

Where:

CopperPoint Tower

3030 N. 3rd St.

8th Floor Auditorium

Phoenix, AZ 85012

Register:

Online, by end of business Monday, April 21

pro bono gavelFans of lawyers and the service they provide (count me in) always look forward to Law Day. Traditionally close to early May, Law Day helps cement the important connection between members of the public, attorneys, judges and the rule of law.

Searching for “law day” in my blog leads to a surprising number of hits over the years. Clearly, I am taken by the pro bono value attorneys provide (here is last year’s post). And this year is no exception.

Like last year, the State Bar of Arizona’s approach will be to offer free legal advice clinics, in the Valley and in Tucson. The clinics will cover a wide variety of legal topics, including landlord and tenant; bankruptcy and foreclosure; immigration; and divorce, child support and paternity.

Volunteer lawyers will conduct the 90-minute “information sessions.”

State Bar of Arizona SBA_Logo_Color“Guests can participate in one or more sessions at one of the five partner locations.”

The events will be held on Saturday, April 26. Please spread the word and share this post with anyone you think might benefit from some free legal advice.

All the detail, including times and specific locations, can be found here.

Later this week I will share another Law Day event, hosted by an independent legal organization. The more the merrier.

A compelling and charming film comes to Scottsdale on Sunday, Feb. 23.

A compelling and charming film comes to Scottsdale on Sunday, Feb. 23.

This Sunday in Scottsdale, the film Road to Eden will be shown at the Harkins Camelview. If your Sunday afternoon is still free, I urge you to see it. If it’s not, then break your other appointments and go.

When I sat down to write about it, I was just going to view the eight-minute preview available on the film’s website. But I was so taken by that clip, I decided to stay up way too late last night to view the entire film (which writer/director Doug Passon had provided to me in advance).

So I may be sleepy this morning, but that is entirely overborne by the pleasure and excitement I took away from the film.

Not knowing what to expect in a film made by someone whose day job is attorney (Doug works in the Federal Public Defender’s Office in Phoenix), I was surprised but intrigued to see the movie is an exploration of the Jewish holiday called Sukkot. Here is part of the film’s description:

“Road to Eden is a feature-length documentary film that captures the essence of Judaism’s most profound teachings about our connection to the earth, the fragility of existence, and our dream of a world perfected.”
“The spine of the film is the inspirational journey of Dan Nichols, a tour de force of modern Jewish music, who took his show on the road for the Jewish festival of Sukkot in October 2011. Dan and his incredible band Eighteen loaded into an RV and wandered through the Deep South. Each day of Sukkot brought a new town, a unique celebration, and uplifting, sometimes heartbreaking Sukkot stories.”

Before you make assumptions, this is not a movie made just for a Jewish audience. The messages it explores—about community, and ardor for a life fully lived, and about ever becoming a fuller self—are compelling ones for any viewer.

In addition, Doug told me, “Although the movie is rooted in Jewish thought, the themes of the film are universal and particularly relevant to the legal community, with a heavy emphasis on immigrant rights and social justice.”

"Road to eden" includes beautiful visual markers throughout that should be printed, framed and displayed.

“Road to Eden” includes beautiful visual markers throughout that should be printed, framed and displayed. (Here’s just one.)

Those last two elements come through strongly, especially as Dan Nichols and his bandmates travel through Alabama, which at the time had just enacted a harsh anti-immigration law (“the Arizona law on steroids,” as a Diane Sawyer describes it in a news clip). And the journey about Sukkot is masterfully capped by an extended discussion about Martin Luther King, Jr. As we hear from a fellow civil rights advocate, Rev. Samuel “Billy” Kyles, who stood next to King as he was shot in Memphis, viewers may be moved to explore their own choices and the public policies that guide us all. It is a deeply moving interview.

If you only view the movie to learn more about Sukkot, a below-the-radar holiday, it would be worth it. (The holiday requires construction of a temporary structure, largely open to the elements, recalling those who had been freed from slavery in Egypt but who had to wander before ever finding a permanent home.) Seeing the variety of creative ways people celebrate is marvelous. But it wasn’t until about 40 minutes in that I could see that all of us humans may be encapsulated in Sukkot—at least, all of us humans who are still questing and aiming to improve.

Here is Dan Nichols praising the Jewish kids camps that dot the country and that mean so much to those who attend:

“Who’s there? These living, breathing Sukkot, these children, who are in transition, who are not strong structures yet. They are still trying to figure out who they’re gonna be, what’s important to them, what they stand for.”

Open-eyed viewers may see a little of themselves in those summer camps.

The generational imperative is strong in the film, and it is emphasized finally in the civil rights advocate interview. Dan asks Reverend Kyles how he continues on, even in the face of heartbreak like the assassination of Dr. King. The answer: We still have a long way to go. But “these young people will find ways that we cannot imagine.”

Before I sign off, I must point out two additional strong elements of the film: The music (yes, it’s a band-on-the-road film) is fantastic, heartfelt, beautifully composed and sung. And the interstitial illustrations that pepper the film are remarkable, wisely chosen and perfectly evoke the path on a road to a better world. Animation was done by ZAZ Animation Studio, Israel.

The film is playing one time, as part of the Greater Phoenix Jewish Film Festival. Tickets are available for purchase on the Festival website, or you can buy tickets at the theatre right before the screening. Students are 1/2 price.

The film screens Sunday, Feb. 23, at 3:00 pm, at Harkins Camelview Theatre, 7001 E. Highland Ave., Scottsdale 85251. I hope to see you there.

More about the film is here.

inspection line at Ellis Island

Inspection line at Ellis Island

A hundred and twenty-two years may seem a rather unremarkable anniversary to note. But because it is thoughtful and well written, I point you to a blog post about the opening of Ellis Island on January 1, 1892.

That facility in New York was to witness—or block—the passage of millions of people. But more than a way-station, Ellis Island has become an iconic element in the American imagination. And like most icons, its reality is a complex blend of joy and heartbreak.

As others have pointed out, Ellis communicates important messages about the vagaries of immigration law and the response of a nation to those who seek to join.

Here’s how the blog post opens:

“On January 1, 1892, Ellis Island opened to process the millions of immigrants entering New York. Although certainly not only entry point for immigrants, it was the primary location where the immigrants needed to labor in American factories first experienced the country. Annie Moore, an Irish immigrant, was the first person to go through processing that morning, one of over 12 million who would enter the country from this point before the facility closed in 1954.”

 …

“In order to manage the enormous numbers, at the beginning of 1892, the federal government opened the processing facility at Ellis Island. Until 1890, the federal government played basically no role in immigration processing and the state of New York ran the precursor to Ellis Island. On the first day of the new facility’s opening, 700 immigrants passed through its gates; by the end of 1892, 450,000 had arrived and 1897, 1.5 million people. The peak year for Ellis Island was 1907, when slightly more than 1 million people were processed for entry at the site.”

“For immigrant labor, the experience of Ellis Island combined hope and dread. Here was the land of opportunity—if one could get in. Of course most did. But some did not. Immigrants, most of whom did not speak English, were often petrified at the process of medical checks and chalk marks on coats. If one member of the family received a special mark, would they be separated? Imagine the terror.”

Read the complete post here.

For insight onto a modern-day analogue to our attitude toward immigration, I suggest you read this essay by Arizona Attorney’s own Roxie Bacon. In her magazine column, she relates the story of the Somali people behind the movie “Captain Phillips.” Clearly, our complicated attitude toward immigration has barely shifted.

Barkhad Abdi (left) and Tom Hanks in Captain Phillips

Barkhad Abdi (left) and Tom Hanks in Captain Phillips

And more on Annie Moore is here.

Immigrant Annie Moore and her brothers depicted at the harbor of Cobh, Ireland

Immigrant Annie Moore and her brothers depicted at the harbor of Cobh, Ireland

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