This Paper argues that in the wake of the Supreme Court’s 2018 decision, Murphy v. NCAA —a case completely unrelated to immigration—there is now a single best answer to the constitutional question presented in the ongoing sanctuary jurisdiction cases. The answer is that the Trump Administration’s withholding of federal grants is indeed unconstitutional, but this is because Section 1373, the statute on which the Executive’s actions are predicated, is itself unconstitutional. Specifically, this Paper argues that the expansion of the anti-commandeering doctrine under Murphy provides a tool by which the federal appellate courts can invalidate Section 1373 as an impermissible federal regulation of state and local governments. By adopting this approach, courts can surpass the comparatively surface-level questions about the Executive’s power to enforce a particular federal statute, and instead address the more central issue: the existence of Section 1373.
This argument proceeds in the following stages. Part I provides a background for each of the central concepts in this analysis. These include (1) an explanation of the anti-commandeering doctrine in its pre- and post-Murphy forms, (2) a description of Section 1373, (3) a working definition of “sanctuary jurisdictions,” and (4) a brief overview of the sanctuary jurisdiction cases decided to date. Part II argues that, in light of the Supreme Court’s decision in Murphy, there is no question that Section 1373 is subject to anti-commandeering claims. Part III then argues that, as a matter of doctrine, Section 1373 should fail to withstand such claims because it does not qualify for any exceptions to the anti-commandeering rule. Finally, Part IV argues that, aside from Supreme Court precedent, there are a series of independent, normative reasons to strike down Section 1373. This Paper concludes that Section 1373 should be held unconstitutional in its challenge before the higher federal courts, including the Supreme Court of the United States if necessary, and that such a ruling is the most desirable method of resolving the sanctuary jurisdiction cases.
Amidst growing reports of abuses and rights violations in immigration detention, the Trump administration has sought to expand the use of immigration detention to facilitate its deportation policy. This study offers the first comprehensive empirical analysis of U.S. immigration detention at the national level. Drawing on administrative records and geocoded data pertaining to all noncitizens who were detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in fiscal year 2015, we examine who the detainees are, where they were held, and what happened to them.
We find that detention outcomes vary significantly across facility operator types (private versus non-private) and facility locations (within or outside of major urban areas). Specifically, our multivariate regression analyses show that confinement in privately operated facilities is associated with significantly longer detention and a higher number of grievances. We find a similar pattern of results for confinement in facilities located outside of major urban areas. On the other hand, confinement in privately operated facilities, and confinement in facilities located outside of major urban areas, respectively, are associated with lower risks of inter-facility transfers. These findings provide an important foundation for ongoing public discourse and policy discussions on the expanded use of detention as an immigration enforcement strategy.
Every year, tens of thousands of noncitizens in removal proceedings are held and processed through an expanding web of immigration detention facilities across the United States. The use of immigration detention is expected to dramatically increase under the Trump administration’s mass deportation policy. I argue that this civil confinement system may serve a critical socio-legal function that has escaped the attention of policymakers, scholars, and the public alike. Using extensive original data on long-term immigrant detainees, I explore how immigration detention might function as a site of legal socialization that helps to promote or reinforce widespread legal cynicism among immigrant detainees. This legal cynicism is characterized by the belief that the legal system is punitive despite its purported administrative function, legal rules are inscrutable by design, and legal outcomes are arbitrary.
The crisis in immigration court adjudication is well-documented. This Article contends that critiques of immigration adjudication are incomplete and understated because they have failed to account for the following reality: the vast majority of persons ordered removed never step foot inside a courtroom. In addition, even when cases are filed with the immigration courts, a substantial number result in removal orders without adjudication of the merits of the case. Removal in what this Article calls the “shadows of immigration court” have far eclipsed standard removal proceedings. The Article provides a descriptive account of five types of removal orders that comprise immigration court’s shadows: (1) expedited removal at the border, (2) reinstatement of prior removal orders, (3) administrative removal of non-lawful permanent residents with aggravated felony convictions, (4) stipulated removal orders following waivers of the right to a court hearing, and (5) in absentia orders for failure to appear in immigration court. The Article identifies several concerns that apply to mainstream immigration court proceedings and asserts that those critiques are amplified in such shadow proceedings. It concludes by arguing for more sustained inclusion of shadow proceedings in reform proposals directed at improving immigration adjudication.
Part I of this Article observes that, surprisingly, the Constitution provides little guidance on many of the basic issues in immigration law, such as which governmental institutions have the authority to create the rules regarding who may come to the United States, the limits on governmental power to exclude or remove noncitizens (if any), and the degree to which noncitizens within the United States are protected by the U.S. Constitution (if at all). Part I then describes how the Declaration of Independence explicitly and implicitly addresses some of these questions.
Part II explains how the Declaration’s espousal of universal rights, as well as its special solicitude for immigrants, has led the Supreme Court to conclude that the Constitution protects noncitizens from laws seeking to regulate their conduct. Part II focuses on the Supreme Court’s groundbreaking decision in Yick Wo v. Hopkins, in which the Court held for the first time that the Constitution applies to noncitizens living in the United States—a decision based, in part, on the universalist philosophy of the Declaration of Independence. A few years later, the Court extended Yick Wo’s rationale to provide constitutional protection even to those noncitizens found illegally in the United States. Yet during the same time period, the Court declined to adopt this expansive view of the Constitution when it came to determining noncitizens’ rights to enter and remain in the United States.
Part III argues that granting noncitizens constitutional protection from laws regulating their conduct is of little practical value when they have no such protection from laws restricting their ability to enter or remain in the United States. To give just one example, granting noncitizens the constitutional right of free speech means little when noncitizens may be deported for that same speech. Furthermore, as a matter of constitutional theory, it is hard to reconcile the universalist view of the Constitution’s scope with a membership approach that excludes noncitizens from that protection when it comes to laws selecting them for admission. If the Declaration’s universalist philosophy is to be taken seriously, the government’s selection process must be cabined by the same constitutional restraints that apply to laws that regulate the lives of citizens and noncitizens alike.
The Article concludes by noting how the plenary power doctrine is slowly eroding, albeit without ever being explicitly disavowed by the Court or the executive branch. Professor Hiroshi Motomura has observed that courts often strive to avoid interpreting federal immigration laws in ways that conflict with the Constitution, even though Congress is mostly free from constitutional constraints when legislating rules of admission. He labels these constitutional influences “phantom norms.” This Article argues that the Declaration’s universalism and its inherent embrace of the right to immigrate are phantom norms that also appear to be influencing the development of immigration law.
Claudia, a Mexican American with family roots in the United States since the mid-1800s, walked out of a grocery store, happily chatting with her three young children in Spanish as they walked toward her car. Before arriving at her car, she was stopped by government officials and asked for proof of citizenship. Speaking to the officers in accent-free English, she explained that she is in fact a United States citizen, offering her driver’s license as proof. After rejecting her driver’s license, the officers requested another form of identification as proof that she was in the United States legally. Eventually, Claudia gave the officers something that satisfied them, and they allowed her to continue with her children to her car. After the event, Claudia wondered what she might do in the future to avoid being stereotyped as an “undocumented Mexican.”
After struggling to provide for her children in her native country of Mexico, Esperanza lost one of her children to starvation. Devastated, she determined to leave her children in the care of family and seek work in Los Angeles. Pursuing what she believed to be a legitimate job offer, Esperanza was instead trafficked into a U.S. sweatshop. Separated from her children and unable to send any earnings home, Esperanza was cruelly abused by her traffickers. She recalls one trafficker asserting: “Dogs have more rights than you in this country. You are here illegally. And nobody can trust you. If you go to the police they might put you in jail because you have no papers . . . and if you do something I will call to the INS and they send you back, and not only send you back, they might put you in jail.”
Early in the morning of July 15, 2010, protestors began to assemble outside the Sandra Day O’Connor U.S. Courthouse on the sun-baked streets of downtown Phoenix. Nearly 400 individuals gathered, armed with megaphones, sunscreen, and a firm sense of resolve, to demonstrate their support or, more likely, opposition to Arizona’s immigration law known as S.B. 1070.
Senate Bill 1070, the Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act, was signed into law by Arizona Governor Janice Brewer on April 23, 2010. The newly-enacted law, which added provisions to the Arizona law concerning the employment, law enforcement, and documentation of immigrants, has been labeled by pundits as “the nation’s toughest bill on illegal immigration.” The demonstration on July 15, one of dozens to occur throughout the nation that summer, was fueled by the first day of preliminary injunction hearings held by U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton, who was presiding over the seven lawsuits challenging S.B. 1070.
As states enact immigration-related laws requiring local law enforcement officers to identify and detain undocumented immigrants, the Fourth Amendment rights of aliens are becoming critically important. In United States v. Verdugo-Urquidez, a divided Supreme Court suggested that aliens in the United States do not have Fourth Amendment rights unless they have established “substantial connections” to the United States. Lower courts have relied on Verdugo’s holding to categorically deny Fourth Amendment rights to certain classes of undocumented immigrants. Commentators have criticized the “substantial connections” test as an isolated misinterpretation of Court precedent regarding the rights of aliens within the United States.
This Article, however, takes a new approach. It analyzes Verdugo in the context of the Supreme Court’s treatment of aliens’ constitutional rights both inside and outside the United States. In doing so, this Article identifies the Supreme Court’s evolving approach to membership and highlights Verdugo’s pivotal role in the development of that approach. This Article suggests that the Court’s increasing extension of membership rights to aliens outside the United States and denial of membership rights to aliens within the United States is evidence of an emerging “post-territorial” approach to membership that rejects territorial presence as an accurate measure of membership. Rather, the post-territorial approach looks to more substantive indicators of membership, including community ties and mutuality of obligation, to afford rights. Ultimately, this Article examines Verdugo’s progeny through a post-territorial lens and concludes that lower courts that categorically deny certain classes of undocumented immigrants Fourth Amendment rights violate Verdugo’s post-territorial mandate by failing to evaluate the claimant’s substantive indicators of membership.
Over the past decade, the tragedy of child soldiers has attracted increased attention. Much of the world, including the United States, has recognized the toll that this practice takes on the youth of our time and has dedicated itself to preventing the further use of child soldiers. In December of 2002, the United States became a party to the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict (“Optional Protocol”) and joined forty-four other states in the fight against the use of child soldiers. As a party to this protocol, the United States has committed itself to taking “all feasible measures to . . . accord to [persons within its jurisdiction recruited or used contrary to the protocol] all appropriate assistance for their physical and psychological recovery and their social reintegration.”
Despite this commitment, child soldiers are often denied asylum in the United States because of acts they were forced to commit while serving in foreign armed forces. The United Nations’ Committee on the Rights of the Child addressed this issue in its first review of the United States’ compliance with the Optional Protocol, in which it criticized the United States’ asylum law as applied to former child soldiers. The United States’ asylum law currently includes several potential obstacles for former child soldiers seeking asylum, two of the most prevalent of which are the “persecution of others” bar and the “material support” bar. If the United States is to come into compliance with the Optional Protocol, something must be done to provide greater protection under asylum law to former child soldiers.