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Immigration Law

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In the Shadow of Article I: Applying a Dormant Commerce Clause Analysis to State Laws Regulating Aliens

Erin F. Delaney

State laws regulating aliens are increasing in number and scope. Yet the current doctrinal approaches to assessing the constitutionality of these laws fail to provide a predictable or desirable framework for distinguishing between permissible and impermissible state regulation of aliens. This Note, by analogizing to the Dormant Commerce Clause doctrine, aims to offer another approach to reviewing state laws regulating aliens—one that takes into consideration the state-to-state dimension of the national interests at stake in immigration law and policy, and that may provide a better means of addressing animus-based state laws.

Coded Codes: Discriminatory Intent, Modern Political Mobilization, and Local Immigration Ordinances

Sofía D. Martos

The extent to which some local immigration ordinances are motivated by national-origin or racial discrimination is difficult to discern because our current application of the Equal Protection Clause involves a narrow understanding of the evidence of discriminatory intent. In the last decade, cities and towns have become immigration policy laboratories as a result of sharp increases in local immigrant populations, fiscal constraints, lack of comprehensive federal immigration reform, and, in some instances, a new wave of discrimination against recent immigrants. Many local governments have pursued quality of life ordinances—such as maximum occupancy, parking, and nuisance regulations—as a means to regulate immigration. Quality of life ordinances are “coded codes”—ordinances that are facially neutral but that may target particular communities. They also evade judicial review because modern courts tend to examine discriminatory intent only through official documents such as city council minutes and give short shrift to extracameral evidence that reveals the motivations of decisionmakers. Quality of life ordinances therefore expose the failure of our current equal protection doctrine to recognize the evidentiary significance of political statements and mobilization outside official city chambers. This Note argues that a more rigorous application of the Arlington Heights six-factor discriminatory intent test, as well as the inclusion of extracameral evidence illuminating political mobilization and statutory diffusion, would revive the equal protection doctrine’s ability to identify discriminatory intent.

Adjudication by Fiat: The Need for Procedural Safeguards in Attorney General Review of Board of Immigration Appeals Decisions

Laura S. Trice

The Attorney General enjoys broad authority to certify to himself and review de novo decisions of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA). Though sparingly used, the certification power is controversial, in part because it permits the Attorney General to announce new rules and overturn longstanding precedent without meaningful process. Under current regulations, the Attorney General is not required to provide even basic procedural protections in certified cases, and he has issued decisions without giving the parties notice of the issues under review or an opportunity for briefing. This Note argues that review of BIA decisions without meaningful procedural safeguards implicates serious due process concerns, raises questions about the quality and accuracy of Attorney General decisions, and undermines the legitimacy and acceptability of immigration adjudication. To address these concerns, this Note proposes that the Attorney General promulgate regulations that require meaningful, adversarial participation by the parties and provide a transparent means of soliciting input from interested amici on issues of broad significance.

The Immigration Penalties of Criminal Convictions: Resurrecting Categorical Analysis in Immigration Law

Alina Das

For over a century, noncitizens in the United States have faced adverse immigration
consequences if convicted of certain types of offenses in criminal court. Many criminal
convictions carry severe immigration penalties, including deportation, detention,
and the denial of statuses like asylum and U.S. citizenship. The Supreme
Court recently recognized that these penalties are so intimately tied to criminal
court adjudications that criminal defense attorneys have a duty to advise noncitizen
defendants of the immigration consequences of a conviction before the entry of a
guilty plea in criminal court. Yet there is little clarity about how to determine
whether a particular conviction triggers an immigration penalty. Historically, courts
and immigration officials have applied a categorical analysis to assess the immigration
consequences of a criminal conviction. Under a categorical analysis, a court or
immigration official determines the penalties based on an examination of the statutory
definition of the offense, not the factual circumstances of the crime. However,
several recent Supreme Court, federal court, and agency decisions have ignored this
longstanding analysis and have instead examined these issues through the lens of
Taylor v. United States, a criminal sentencing case that adopts a categorical analysis
in a different context. Distinguishing Taylor and its criminal sentencing rationales,
these decisions have invented a new approach to assessing past criminal
convictions in the immigration context. That approach now permits a circumstance-specific inquiry into facts beyond the criminal court’s findings in some immigration
cases. Under these recent decisions, the immigration consequences of a criminal
conviction no longer turn on the criminal court adjudication alone, but may also be
determined by facts that were not proven or pleaded in the criminal court proceeding.
This Article argues that this shift in approach is based on a fundamental
misunderstanding of the origins of categorical analysis in immigration law and its
independent rationales, including its promotion of notice and an opportunity to be
heard, uniformity, predictability, efficiency, and judicial review in the administrative
agency context. This Article further argues that, because of this flaw in the
current debate, courts have failed to consider the negative impact of the erosion of
categorical analysis on the functioning of the current immigration and criminal justice
systems. The rationales for categorical analysis apply with even greater force
today than they did when categorical analysis was first articulated nearly a century
ago. Rather than erode categorical analysis, courts and the agency should require
its robust application in light of its longstanding rationales and modern-day
implications.

Life Without Parole: An Immigration Framework Applied to Potentially Indefinite Detention at Guantanamo Bay

Laura J. Arandes

The Supreme Court ruled in Boumediene v. Bush that detainees at Guantanamo
Bay have the right to challenge their detention in habeas corpus proceedings and
that the courts hearing these claims must have some ability to provide “conditional
release.” However, in Kiyemba v. Obama, the United States Court of Appeals for
the District of Columbia ruled that if a detainee cannot be released to his country of
origin or another country abroad, a court sitting in habeas cannot grant the
detainee release into the United States. The court based its determination on the
assumption that the plaintiffs’ request for release implicated “admission,” generally
considered within the purview of the political branches and inappropriate for judicial
review. This Note argues that “parole,” a more flexible mechanism for release
into the United States, is not limited by the admission precedents requiring extreme
deference. This Note then surveys cases in which the judiciary has granted parole as
a remedy, and argues that courts have done so primarily in cases of executive misconduct.
Thus, courts confronting requests for domestic release from executive
detention without a legal basis should consider parole as a remedy distinct from
admission—one that serves a valuable purpose in maintaining a meaningful check
on the Executive.

Adapting to 287(g) Enforcement: Rethinking Suppression and Termination Doctrines in Removal Proceedings in Light of State and Local Enforcement of Immigration Law

Carmen Gloria Iguina

Two legal doctrines govern the suppression of evidence and termination of removal proceedings following constitutional or regulatory violations in immigration enforcement. The Lopez-Mendoza doctrine governs suppression of evidence obtained in violation of constitutional rights. The Accardi doctrine governs suppression of evidence and termination of removal proceedings following violations of regulatory rights. However, the expanding involvement of state and local law enforcement agencies in immigration enforcement, particularly through 287(g) agreements, calls into question the applicability of these two doctrines. This Note analyzes the Lopez-Mendoza and Accardi doctrines in light of the new enforcement context presented by 287(g) agreements; it concludes that reexamination of the Lopez-Mendoza doctrine is required and that full application of the Accardi doctrine is warranted in the 287(g) context.

Dangerousness on the Loose: Constitutional Limits to Immigration Detention as Domestic Crime Control

Frances M. Kreimer

The United States immigration detention regime that was reborn in the 1980s is not only unprecedented in scale, but also in rationale. Whereas immigration detention had historically been justified primarily as a means of ensuring immigration compliance, with a secondary purpose of protecting national security, today’s system increasingly functions in collaboration with criminal law enforcement systems to incapacitate allegedly dangerous individuals for the purpose of preventing potential domestic crime. Regardless of the validity of judicial deference when immigration detention truly serves to aid in the removal process, this Note argues that such deference cannot legitimately be extended to the newly ascendant crime control function of immigration detention. At minimum, Due Process requires immigration detention procedural safeguards that are parallel to those in other preventive detention contexts, in which the government bears the burden of individually demonstrating a need for confinement.

Immigration Federalism: A Reappraisal

Prathepan Gulasekaram, S. Karthick Ramakrishnan

This Article identifies how the current spate of state and local regulation is changing the way elected officials, scholars, courts, and the public think about the constitutional dimensions of immigration law and governmental responsibility for immigration enforcement. Reinvigorating the theoretical possibilities left open by the Supreme Court in its 1875 Chy Lung v. Freeman decision, state and local officials characterize their laws as unavoidable responses to the policy problems they face when they are squeezed between the challenges of unauthorized migration and the federal government’s failure to fix a broken system. In the October 2012 term, in Arizona v. United States, the Court addressed, but did not settle, the difficult empirical, theoretical, and constitutional questions necessitated by these enactments and their attendant justifications. Our empirical investigation, however, discovered that most state and local immigration laws are not organic policy responses to pressing demographic challenges. Instead, such laws are the product of a more nuanced and politicized process in which demographic concerns are neither necessary nor sufficient factors and in which federal inactivity and subfederal activity are related phenomena, fomented by the same actors. This Article focuses on the constitutional and theoretical implications of these processes: It presents an evidence-based theory of state and local policy proliferation; it cautions legal scholars to rethink functionalist accounts for the rise of such laws; and it advises courts to reassess their use of traditional federalism frameworks to evaluate these subfederal enactments.

Randomizing Immigration Enforcement: Exploring a New Fourth Amendment Regime

Cynthia Benin

This Note draws upon immigration law to analyze a new Fourth Amendment regime put forth by criminal law scholars Bernard Harcourt and Tracey Meares. In Randomization and the Fourth Amendment, Harcourt and Meares propose a model for reasonable searches and seizures that dispenses with individualized suspicion in favor of random, checkpoint-like stops. Randomization, the authors contend, will ensure that enforcement is evenhanded and will alleviate burdens that result from discriminatory targeting. This Note explores the possibility of randomization in immigration enforcement, a useful context to test the Harcourt-Meares model because it exemplifies the ills the authors seek to address. Though analysis demonstrates that randomization falls far short of its goals, its failures are instructive. Indeed, the lens of immigration enforcement illuminates essential conditions that must exist in order for randomization to be viable.

Criminal Justice for Noncitizens: An Analysis of Variation in Local Enforcement

Ingrid V. Eagly

The growing centrality of “criminal aliens” to American immigration enforcement is one of the most significant historical shifts in the federal immigration system. However, little is known about how this dramatic restructuring of federal immigration priorities affects local criminal justice systems. Do noncitizens experience the same type of criminal justice as citizens? This Article seeks to answer this question by offering the first empirical study of how local criminal process is organized around immigration enforcement and citizenship status. It accomplishes this task by analyzing the criminal justice systems of the three urban counties that prosecute the highest number of noncitizens: Los Angeles County, California; Harris County, Texas; and Maricopa County, Arizona.

Comparative review of law, procedure, and practice in these three counties reveals that immigration’s interaction with criminal law has a far more powerful impact on local criminal practice than previously understood. Across all three counties, the practical effects of the federal government’s reliance on arrests and convictions in making enforcement decisions are felt at every stage of the criminal process: Immigration status is part of routine booking at local jails, “immigration detainers” impede release on criminal bail, immigration officials encourage criminal prosecutors to secure plea agreements that guarantee removal, and noncitizens are sometimes deported before their criminal cases are completed. Yet, there is surprising variation in how these three counties have structured their criminal practices in light of the consistently deep connections between criminal process and immigration enforcement. As this Article develops, the three jurisdictions have adopted distinct models of noncitizen criminal justice—what I term alienage neutral, illegal-alien punishment, and immigration enforcement. Each model reflects significant agreement across county agencies about the appropriate role of noncitizen status in criminal case adjudication and of local involvement in deportation outcomes. These findings have important implications for the institutional design of both local criminal systems and federal immigration enforcement.