SCOTUS should grant cert in Castro. Judicial review of Trump’s immigration detention regime depends on it


60 miles outside Philadelphia, on a bucolic country road in Berks County, PA, sits a brick building with a fenced-in yard fronting a line of trees. To look at it, you would never guess this place is the epicenter of the coming battles over judicial review of immigration detention in the United States.

Today the Supreme Court is conferencing to decide whether to grant a writ of certiorari in the case of Castro v. Department of Homeland Security.

Of the two dozen families who are the plaintiffs in Castro, about half have been released. But 14 families remain at Berks. They fled gender-based violence and threats to their lives in their home countries and sought asylum in the United States. After deeply flawed credible fear interviews and rubber-stamp affirmations by an immigration judge, they have languished in legal limbo for the past year and a half.

The Third Circuit decided that these families had no access to habeas corpus, the ability to seek judicial review of one’s detention – a basic right dating back to English common law. The Third Circuit’s reasoning was that these families had entered “surreptitiously” and were apprehended “near the border,” ergo they had no constitutional right to challenge their detention.

That’s plainly wrong. Even Guantánamo detainees, as law professor Steve Vladeck has pointed out over at Just Security, have been given more right to judicial review than the Berks families.

Vladeck called the ruling “deeply troubling” and pointed out that “it is now so much more important for the Supreme Court to grant certiorari in Castro–and reverse the Third Circuit. Reasonable minds may well disagree about the limits of immigration law, and the extent to which the Executive Order (and other U.S. immigration policies) run afoul of the Constitution. But the courts have to be the institution to settle those disputes; under Castro, the Executive Branch’s actions could theoretically be immune from such review… .”

Over at the Insightful Immigration Blog, David Isaacson writes:

The purpose of the Suspension Clause is to ensure that the government can be held to account in court when it detains someone, whether that someone is a suspected terrorist or a woman fleeing persecution with her child. The Third Circuit panel in Castro denied the petitioners in the case that Constitutionally guaranteed ability to demonstrate that they were being held pursuant to an erroneous application or interpretation of the law. We can hope, however, that … the Supreme Court on certiorari, may restore it to them.

Signing on as amici in Castro are no less eminent legal scholars than Chemerinsky, who literally wrote the book on constitutional law; the American Bar Association; and IntLawGrrls’ own editor Jaya Ramji-Nogales and contributors Lindsay M. Harris and Sarah Paoletti, who conclude: “Particularly given that the procedural and substantive protections provided to asylum claimants are consistently flouted or ignored, safeguarding Petitioners’ access to habeas corpus is of exceptional importance.”

Since last fall, I’ve been working with the Berks families and their attorneys as a legal advocate. Berks may be fine for a short-term stay but to be stuck there for 600 days is a living nightmare. This week NBC published an in-depth investigative article on the facility. If you haven’t read it yet, please do.

I’d really like to let the families speak for themselves, but cameras aren’t allowed in Berks, nor is access to social media.

Here’s America’s sweetheart Tom Hanks recently discussing the Castro plaintiffs with lead attorney Lee Gelernt of the ACLU. The card made for him by the Berks kids says simply, “We want to be free.”

Finally, please watch this 9-year-old girl who was detained in Berks but freed in December after “only” a year. This is her heartfelt message on behalf of the families who still remain:

For the sake not only of the Castro plaintiffs, but all those who are and will be caught up in Trump’s expanded detention regime, let’s hope SCOTUS is listening.

Day One of the Apocalypse, . . . er, Resistance


Official posters for the Women’s March on Washington, available for download here.

We awoke this morning deluged with news of the inauguration, impossible to avoid and perhaps even harder to comprehend.  For many of us, a feeling of nausea mounting since November has given way this morning to full-blown morning sickness, but without any bundle of joy at the end of it.  As I grapple to deal with the impending apocalypse, I try to remind myself of my dear friend and IntLawGrrl Beth Van Schaack’s framing — that this is day one of the resistance, not the apocalypse.

Here at IntLawGrrls we will begin this resistance by bringing you thoughts and images from women protesting the inauguration of he-who-shall-not-be-named, both today and tomorrow at the Women’s March on DC and around the country, and hopefully around the world.  In contrast to the joyful posts surrounding the 2008 US Presidential election, this is a dark dawn, but one that we will not take sitting down.

I am reminded this morning of an NY Times op-ed, from December, by Australian doctor Lisa Pryor, Dear America, Why Did You Let Us Down?  Pryor laments the loss of America’s “poetry of democracy that was grand and uplifting.”  I want to say to her and others around the world who mourn that loss that this beautiful, diverse, and democratic America is still here.  Indeed, most Americans voted for Hillary Clinton.  And from the inside, America has never looked like a shining picture of democracy, but rather a place of ongoing contestation and struggle to promote ideals of equality and justice.  Those of us who believe dearly in those ideals are still here, and we will fight, day in and day out, to protect that beautiful

In Philadelphia alone, I know of three inauguration events today focused on immigration: a panel discussion at Temple University on sanctuary campuses; an open house at Puentes de Salud, an organization providing health care for immigrants, at which lawyers from Friends of Farmworkers will be available to answer questions relating to immigration status; and a protest at the Liberty Bell, the birthplace of our democracy, organized by the New Sanctuary Movement and other immigrant community groups.  This is just a small snapshot of the beginning of the resistance.

What does that mean for our international sisters?  We ask you to raise your voices with ours, and stand in solidarity with us.  It’s a bleak forecast in terms of state-based victoriagarcia-respeta-1-1international law for the next four years.  Many of us in the United States are turning to municipalities and local governments to uphold fundamental rights, and we will seek transnational connections at the substate level.  You can leverage international law on our behalf, making arguments based on law, policy, and deeper morality about the actions and stances of the new administration.  I still remember how heartening it was to see the number of Iraq war protests around the world as we marched in New York City in 2003. Most importantly of all, don’t give up hope for the future of America.  We haven’t, and we are counting on your support to get us through the next four years to a brighter dawn.

Nuevo libro para abogados hispano- y angloparlantes/New Book for Lawyers Who Speak Both Spanish and English

(English version follows)

Tres mujeres y profesoras de derecho: S.I. Strong de la Universidad de Missouri (Estados Unidos), Katia Fach Gómez de la Universidad de Zaragoza (España) y Laura Carballo Piñeiro de la Universidad de Santiago de Compostela (España) tenemos el honor de presentar el libro Derecho comparado para abogados anglo- e hispanoparlantes: Culturas jurídicas, términos jurídicos y prácticas jurídicas/ Comparative Law for Spanish-English Speaking Lawyers: Legal Cultures, Legal Terms and Legal Practices  (Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd., 2016). Este trabajo supone una plasmación por escrito de algunas de las características más relevantes de nuestras carreras profesionales: trayectorias académicas y de práctica de la abogacía internacional desarrolladas en español e inglés, y en estrecho contacto con las comunidades jurídicas latinoamericana, europea y estadounidense. En consonancia con ello, la obra que hemos elaborado permite que abogados y estudiantes de derecho que hablan inglés y español adquieran fluidez jurídica en un segundo idioma. Realizar dicho esfuerzo es extremadamente importante no sólo para abogados especializados en derecho internacional, sino también para abogados dedicados al derecho nacional pero que tratan con clientes cuya lengua materna es un idioma extranjero.

La forma en que “Derecho comparado para abogados anglo- e hispanoparlantes” involucra a abogados y estudiantes de derecho en la práctica jurídica bilingüe es única por diversos motivos. En primer lugar, y dado que la mayoría de los abogados bilingües trabajan con otros abogados y con clientes que cuentan con unos orígenes legales y culturales muy variados, el libro no se limita a analizar unas jurisdicciones concretas. Por el contrario, el libro ofrece información sobre diversos países hispanoparlantes (fundamentalmente, España y México) y angloparlantes (fundamentalmente, Estados Unidos y Reino Unido). En segundo lugar, la monografía contextualiza la información, no sólo ubicando el nuevo vocabulario y los principios legales en el contexto lingüístico apropiado –el libro es completamente bilingüe-, sino también ofreciendo abundantes comparaciones con la legislación y la práctica de otras jurisdicciones. En tercer lugar, este tipo de análisis permite que los abogados y estudiantes de derecho aprecien las diferencias existentes en las culturas jurídicas, empresariales y sociales relevantes. Ello ayuda a los lectores a no incurrir en ofensas que puedan derivarse de problemas de comunicación involuntarios. El libro también explica por qué existen dichas diferencias y cuál es su fundamento en un contexto jurídico determinado.

Profundizar en la comprensión a través de barreras nacionales, sociales y culturales es un objetivo esencial de un mundo cada vez más pluralizado. Derecho comparado para abogados anglo- e hispanoparlantes es una herramienta muy útil para aquellos que trabajan cruzando fronteras lingüísticas. Como este libro de 700 páginas demuestra, no hay que temer a las diferencias, sino que hemos de alegrarnos de que la diversidad jurídica y lingüística exista.


unnamedThree law professors – S.I. Strong of the University of Missouri, Katia Fach Gómez of the University of Zaragoza and Laura Carballo Piñeiro of the University of Santiago de Compostela – have the honor of presenting their new book, Comparative Law for Spanish-English Speaking Lawyers: Legal Cultures, Legal Terms and Legal Practices / Derecho comparado para abogados anglo- e hispanoparlantes: Culturas jurídicas, términos jurídicos y prácticas jurídicas (Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd., 2016).  This work reflects some of the characteristics that are most relevant to our professional careers as academics and practitioners working in both English and Spanish, and involving jurisdictions in Latin America, Europe and the United States.  Consistent with that, the book that we have written helps lawyers and law students who speak Spanish and English become legally fluent in their second language.  This effort is extremely important not only for specialists in international law, but also for domestic lawyers whose clients speak different languages.


Comparative Law for Spanish-English Speaking Lawyers: Legal Cultures, Legal Terms and Legal Practices / Derecho comparado para abogados anglo- e hispanoparlantes” introduces lawyers and law students to bilingual legal practice in several ways.  First, the book does not focus solely on single jurisdictions, since most bilingual lawyers work with clients and co-counsel from a variety of legal and cultural backgrounds.  Instead, the book offers information on several English-speaking nations (primarily the U.S. and the U.K.) and Spanish-speaking countries (primarily Spain, Mexico and Argentina).  Second, the text seeks to contextualize the information, not only by placing the new vocabulary and legal principles in the appropriate linguistic setting (the book is entirely bilingual) but by providing extensive comparisons to the law and practice of other jurisdictions.  Third, the discussion helps lawyers and law students appreciate differences in the relevant legal, business and social cultures, thereby helping them avoid giving offense through any inadvertent miscommunications, and explains why those differences arose and why they make sense in that particular legal environment.


Increasing understanding across national, social and cultural lines is an important goal in our increasingly pluralistic world, and Comparative Law for Spanish-English Speaking Lawyers provides a useful tool for those who work across linguistic lines.  As this 700+ page text shows, legal and linguistic differences need not be feared but can instead be celebrated.


Standing Rock goes to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

image001The Indian tribes protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) took the Standing Rock movement to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) on Friday, 2 December 2016. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, and Yankton Sioux Tribe, with Earthjustice and the American Indian Law Clinic – UC Boulder, submitted a Request for Precautionary Measures Pursuant to Article 25 of the IACHR Rules of Procedure Concerning Serious and Urgent Risks of Irreparable Harm Arising Out of Construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline to the IACHR. (Petition links at Stand with Standing Rock website)

The Commission has the authority to,

on its own initiative or at the request of a party, request that a State adopt precautionary measures. Such measures, whether related to a petition or not, shall concern serious and urgent situations presenting a risk of irreparable harm to persons …

The United States is a member of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

The petition makes three central claims:

  • the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers should not grant an easement across federal lands;
  • the United States failed to adequately consult and to prepare an adequate assessment of environmental and social impacts of the pipeline, required under both U.S. and international law; and
  • the United States has failed to protect peaceful protestors.

Continue reading

Call for Papers: Transnational Criminal Law in America

  • What are the most pressing transnational criminal law issues facing the Americas today and how are these issues evolving and shifting?
  • Should greater emphasis be placed on regional responses to transnational criminal law and how should such regional responses be structured?
  • What assumptions underlie the current legal regimes addressing transnational crime and do they adequately reflect the reality of transnational criminality today?

Interested in answering these questions, or those similar to it? The University of Windsor (curated by Professor Sara Wharton) invites you to submit a your answers! Individuals chosen will have the opportunity to present their ideas at the Transnational Criminal Law in the Americas Conference May 4-5, 2017 at the University of Windsor Ontario, Canada.

Those interested in presenting at the conference are invited to apply by email to no later than January 20, 2017.

Applications should include:

  • an abstract of 300 words maximum
  • your name(s), affiliation(s) and contact information
  • a short biography

For more information click here!

Call for Papers: Critical Approaches to Irregular Migration Facilitation: Grounding the Theory and Praxis of Human Smuggling

The facilitation of irregular migration – labelled by the state as migrant, people or human smuggling – has been primarily articulated as a violent, exploitative practice under the control of transnational crime. It has also been tied to often problematic articulations of class, race, gender, informal forms of labour and sex work. Furthermore, the language of crisis, crime, violence and humanitarianism often associated with references to smuggling has reified specific geographic locations and their people as inherently dangerous and in need of surveillance and control. Amid this context, the explosive militarization of border control practices and stricter immigration criminalization policies have been articulated as the only effective measures to fight the alleged spread of smuggling, depicted as a global security threat under the control of networks of vast, dark reach. The migratory flows in the Mediterranean, the Horn and the North of Africa, the Pacific, the Middle East, the US Mexico Border and Central and South America; the punitive efforts to control human mobility and the narratives pertaining to transits and their facilitation are clear examples of this approach. More often than not unintended outcomes have ultimately outweighed national security and border protection policy. The vast border and immigration enforcement systems have prompted spiralling financial costs. Attempts to block or contain migration routes have only redirected unauthorized migration flows into more dangerous and remote routes, leading to the injury, death and disappearance of thousands of people on the move. Furthermore, border enforcement has played a role in the very reliance of migrants and refugees on often dubious facilitators of migration services or criminally-organized entities that engage in specific forms of violence.

Amid the panic caused by the overly-simplistic, fear-driven narratives of smuggling and those behind their facilitation, the social, economic, cultural, moral and affective significance of smuggling to and from the perspective of its actors (facilitators, clients, their families and communities) has remained vastly unexplored. To this date, narratives of tragedy, death, graphic violence, and transnational crime have continued to obscure the basic realization that the facilitation of irregular migration is ultimately a response to the lack of channels for legal entry and transit to which so many yet specific few are subjected.

Building on the experience at the European University Institute in Florence in the Spring of 2016, this second edition of the Smuggling Workshop seeks to continue the conversation towards empirically grounded smuggling research, a field often silenced by the onslaught of anecdotal evidence or technocratic-legalistic perspectives concerning the facilitation of irregular migration. This time around the workshop will have a particular focus on collectively building the theory and documenting the praxis of human smuggling, relying on the empirically documented perspectives of its actors. This workshop is a collective effort to comprehend the ways in which migrants, refugees, their families and communities along with those facilitating their transits perceive, talk about, and partake in the phenomenon. The workshop takes place at a critical time in migration studies, when despite the vast abundance of scholarship on the lives of migrants and refugees, grounded empirical work on the processes involving their journeys and the effects and affects in them interwoven is still scant and scattered across the disciplines.

A gathering of innovative and critical voices in smuggling from academic and policy circles, the workshop seeks to consolidate the creation of an interdisciplinary and global collective of professionals engaged in the empirical study of migration facilitation that integrates perspectives from the global north and south. With this goal in mind, we invite abstracts on the theme of irregular migration/human mobility facilitation for an international workshop to be held on April 6, 7 and 8, 2017 at the University of Texas at El Paso. We seek to bring together critical, empirical engagements on the facilitation and brokerage of irregular migration as witnessed locally, regionally and comparatively.

Some themes to consider include theoretical and empirical engagements with:

  1. The political economy of human smuggling/facilitation of irregular migration
  2. Trans-Local/trans-regional/global smuggling practices
  3. Comparative and historical perspectives on smuggling
  4. The converge of migration facilitation with other criminal/ized markets and/or practices
  5. Smuggling, trafficking and “modern day slavery”
  6. Etiology of violence and victimization in smuggling
  7. Philosophical, ethical and moral dimensions of smuggling
  8. Race, class and gender as manifested in smuggling practices and smuggling research
  9. Theory and methods in smuggling research and their implications and critiques
  10. Anti-smuggling law enforcement and prevention campaigns (risks, side-effects and consequences)
  11. Role of stakeholders in anti-people smuggling operations (IOM, UNODC, Frontex, CBP, ICE, etc.)
  12. Global migration governance and domestic law initiatives on anti-people smuggling measures


Building on the experience of the first workshop, selected contributions will be part of a series of proposals for special issues and/or edited collections on the facilitation of irregular migration. We look forward to receiving and considering submissions that encompass the complexity of migration facilitation across and within regions, regimes and time periods, and for selected participants to be engaged in the publication process.


Preference will be given to work that draws on ethnographic research. Please submit a 250-300 word abstract to by November 15th, 2016. Participants will be notified of their acceptance by December 1st, 2016. Organizers will provide verification letters for participants requiring visas. Workshop papers are due by March 15th, 2016. Please be advised that as a condition of your acceptance, and given the working, creative and intensively collaborative nature of this second edition of the workshop, all participants must commit to submit their work by the deadline.


The workshop will be held at the University of Texas in El Paso, Texas (USA) from April 6-April 8, 2017.

Questions can be addressed to the organizers, Luigi Achilli at the European University Institute (, Antje Missbach at Monash University ( and Gabriella Sanchez at the University of Texas at El Paso (

Work On! Assistant/Associate Professor in Public International Law – Fletcher School, Tufts University

Apply to join the Fletcher School at Tufts University!

They are looking to create a diverse candidate pool for a faculty search for an Assistant/Associate Professor in Public International Law at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University. Please see the links below to apply, and information on the school located in Medford, Massachusetts, USA.

Information on Tufts Application     …..      Information on Tufts Application

También de este lado hay sueños

With protestthe arrival of the Democratic National Convention, protesters have converged on Philadelphia.  At least for the moment, the historic selection of the first female presidential candidate in U.S. history seems to have been overshadowed by yet another e-mail debacle.  The New York Times reported yesterday on backers of Bernie Sanders who surrounded City Hall, making their voices heard.  Today, another protest (pictured at left) marched past my front door, chanting, “Not one more deportation!” and asking the Democrats to be the anti-Trump party.  As one woman’s sign read, “También de este lado hay sueños” — there are also dreams on this side.  President Obama and his Homeland Security secretary, Jeh Johnson, have shamefully trampled on too many of those dreams.  Here’s hoping that Hillary Clinton continues to propound more humane immigration policies, and that immigrant voters can make their dreams count in the November election.

The crisis at the OAS

On May 23, 2016, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States (OAS) issued a press communique announcing that it was “going through a severe financial crisis that will have serious consequences on its ability to fulfill its mandate and carry out its basic functions.” It informed that “on July 31, 2016, the contracts of 40 percent of its personnel will expire, and at this time the Commission does not have the funds—or the expectation of receiving the funds—to be able to renew them.” The Commission also reported that it had suspended planned visits for 2016 and cancelled its July and October sessions.

The Commission requested the OAS Permanent Council to place the Commission’s financial crisis on its agenda.  On Wednesday May 25th, the regular meeting of the Permanent Council listened to the Commission’s report.

Mr. Cavallaro, the President of the Commission, listed the advances that the Commission had made in recent years, particularly in reducing the backlog of pending cases and warned that these advances and others would be threatened by the loss of funds.  The Commission’s budget is comprised of “regular funds,” which are from the Organization’s regular budget and “specific funds,” which are voluntary contributions from OAS Member States, Permanent Observers and other Institutions.  The principal contributors to the specific funds are the US and Mexico (US$ 2 and US$ 1 million respectively in 2015.    The specific funds have shrunk because some European Permanent Observer countries are shifting their funds to crises closer to home, such as the migration wave that flooded Europe in 2015 and is expected again this year.  In addition, some OAS Member States have been reducing or not paying their contributions.  Mr. Cavallaro called upon the Permanent Council to come up with a contingency plan for the short, medium and long term to solve the Commission’s financial problem.  He pointed that that compared with the Council of Europe, which allocates 41% of its budget to the European Court of Human Rights, the OAS, allocates only 6% of its budget to the Inter-American Commission.

This is not the Commission’s first financial crisis, but in the past the U.S., or some other countries have always come to the Commission’s rescue and pulled it out of the hole.  During today’s session of the Permanent Council three countries responded with a financial contribution: Panama, Costa Rica and Antigua & Barbuda.  Antigua and Barbuda, (as well as other Caribbean delegations) criticized the fact that the document that Mr. Cavallaro had distributed to the delegations on the financial crisis was only in Spanish.  No doubt it also did not escape the attention of the Caribbean nations that Mr. Cavallaro, a US national, prefers to speak in Spanish to the Permanent Council, rather than in English. Continue reading

On the Job! Attorney Advisor position at U.S. Foreign Claims Settlement Commission

The United States Foreign Claims Settlement Commission, an independent quasi-judicial agency in the U.S. government that determines the validity and monetary value of claims of U.S. nationals for losses caused by foreign governments, is searching for an attorney advisor. For more information on the position, visit