Cornell University Panel on Trump’s Immigration Executive Actions

Cornell University Panel on Trump’s Immigration Executive Actions

On Friday, September 8, I moderated a panel at Cornell Law School analyzing President Trump’s immigration executive actions. The panelists were three eminent constitutional law scholars: Michael Dorf from Cornell, Ilya Somin from George Mason, and Eric Posner from the University of Chicago. The panel discussed both the travel ban and DACA rescission litigation and the Ninth Circuit’s September 7 decision. It also provides a good primer on plenary power and executive power generally. Toward the end, I asked the panelists for their predictions on how the Supreme Court might rule in the travel ban case. Oral arguments in that case will be held in October.

Over 200 people attended in person, and many more watched via livestream. A video of the panel discussion is at The panel discussion begins at about minute 6:30, after the introduction by law school dean Eduardo Penalver.

Toronto Star: Fearing Trump, a U.S. campus calls for sanctuary

Toronto Star: Fearing Trump, a U.S. campus calls for sanctuary

More than 2,000 Cornell University students and professors have signed a petition asking the university to declare itself a sanctuary for undocumented students. I spoke to Marina Jimenez of the Toronto Star about the petition.

The entire article is available here on the Toronto Star website. A transcript is included below.

Fearing Trump, a U.S. campus calls for sanctuary

Maria Jimenez, Toronto Star | January 2, 2017

ITHACA, N.Y.—In a time of fear and uncertainty, college campuses and cities across the U.S. are vowing to fight back if president-elect Donald Trump tries to deport students and law-abiding community members who lack legal status.

At Cornell University, in Ithaca, N.Y., more than 2,000 students and professors signed a petition asking the university to join other institutions and declare itself a sanctuary, or safe haven, for undocumented students.

“I am frightened,” said one literature student, who asked not to be identified for fear she could be deported. “But I am also encouraged to see people mobilizing and organizing and preparing for Trump to carry out his threat to deport millions of illegals.”

As many as 740,000 children and teenagers — including this woman in her 20s — were given temporary amnesty four years ago when President Barack Obama passed the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

Now these “DREAMers” — named after an earlier version of the act which was not passed — fear they, or their parents, will be targeted if they come out of the shadows.

“My parents brought me from Mexico to Los Angeles when I was 8. They worked hard and paid taxes and put me and my two siblings through college,” said the Cornell student, who attended a recent campus rally. “I registered in DACA, and gave authorities my fingerprints. The threat is serious now that I could be deported. It is stressful not knowing when this could happen.”

Trump, who takes office Jan. 20, has said that during his first 100 days he plans to “cancel every unconstitutional executive action, memorandum and order issued by President Obama.” The president-elect has not listed the specific actions he plans to cancel to back up his hyperbole, but his campaign website singled out the amnesty law, which was passed by executive action in 2012.

DACA granted applicants who arrived in the U.S. before their 16th birthday, and who have lived there continuously since 2007, a chance to legally get a job with a two-year guarantee they would not be deported. It was never designed to be a permanent solution, rather to buy time until other immigration reforms could be passed.

Under a Trump presidency, those expected reforms are almost certainly dead.

Hunter Rawlings, Cornell’s interim president, reaffirmed in a recent statement that the university “stands with every Cornellian”. But he stopped short of calling Cornell a sanctuary campus.

The sanctuary movement sprang to life in the 1980s, when some U.S. cities pledged to protect undocumented residents by not prosecuting them for breaking federal immigration law. Dozens of U.S. cities have since declared themselves sanctuaries, including New York City, San Francisco, Chicago, New Orleans, Oakland and Seattle. What this actually means in practice can vary. Some cities bar police from asking about people’s immigration status. Others won’t detain people, on the request of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, if they are accused of minor offences.

Sanctuary declarations are not legally binding, say experts.

“You can call yourself a sanctuary university, but it doesn’t have a legal meaning,” says Stephen Yale-Loehr, a Cornell law professor who specializes in immigration.

University officials cannot legally block federal immigration agents from entering public spaces on campus if they have a warrant — although they can choose not to volunteer information that might lead to an arrest.

Cornell doesn’t track the immigration status of students when they register or apply for financial aid, according an official. Yale-Loehr estimates there are about 50 to 100 Cornell students who are undocumented or are covered under DACA.

Yale-Loehr does not believe federal agents will knock on students’ doors any time soon, even under Trump. He predicts they will prioritize undocumented immigrants who have committed crimes.

U.S. immigration courts are also backlogged, and Trump would have to significantly increase spending if he wants to deport any large fraction of the estimated 11 million people living in the U.S. without legal status.

Still, the issue is a demoralizing one for the DREAMers, and their supporters. If Trump instructed federal agents to move in on campuses to deport undocumented students en masse, they could — although it would be unprecedented in modern American history.

“Cornell is a liberal bubble and we were blindsided by the Trump victory,” said Cody Moris, a 19-year-old Cornell student and member of the campus’ Amnesty International.

“It’s a real wake-up call. We need to mobilize.”



Flaws & Evolution of the U.S. Immigration Policy

Flaws & Evolution of the U.S. Immigration Policy

On Tuesday, September 27, I gave a talk entitled “Borders and Ballots” addressing the presidential candidates’ views on immigration. The article below covering the event was originally published in the Cornell Daily Sun.

Law Professor Addresses Flaws, Evolution of U.S. Immigration Policy

By Yongyu Chen
Cornell Daily Sun
September 30, 2016

Prof. Stephen Yale-Loehr ’77 JD ’81, immigration law, discussed the current state of immigration policy and how either a Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton presidency would change the issue’s evolution in Klarman Hall Tuesday.

Yale-Loehr asserted that immigration law is the the most complicated area of law in the United States.

“We are the largest immigration system in the world,” he said. “Over 10 million people come to the United States temporarily each year and over a million people immigrate permanently.”

Yale-Loehr explained that many factors — including the large numbers of immigrants, complicated categories of visas, and conflicting interests between the U.S. homeland security, state and labor departments — contribute to a system that is currently “broken.”

For example, he said, due to complicated bureaucratic processes, it can take 23 years for someone to petition for a green card for a sibling from the Philippines. Even after receiving the green card, it can take another three to five years for these immigrants to become citizens.

“Because it takes so long to get through the front door, legally, many people come through the back door, illegally,” he said.

Yale-Loehr added that processes, concerning illegal immigration, are similarly backlogged — despite due process, it takes on average 18 months to reach an immigration hearing.

He also discussed the potential immigration policies that presidential candidates Clinton and Trump would implement.

“Both of them are looking at the immigration issue,” Yale-Loehr said. “But one says [the issue is] half full; the other says it’s half empty.”

Trump aims to reduce both legal and illegal immigration, compelling employers to hire more U.S. workers, according to Yale-Loehr. He said the Republican nominee’s proposed policies aim to increase enforcement of immigration laws, repeal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, limit visas for foreign workers, institute “extreme vetting” against Muslims and require all employers to electronically verify the status of their workers.

However, Yale-Loehr noted that “at the national level, immigrants are not taking away jobs from Americans,” citing a report spearheaded by Prof. Francine Blau, economics.

The report outlines that while “immigrants are competing for jobs in the low-wage sector … immigration is not the primary reason [citizens who have not finished high school] cannot find jobs.”

On the other hand, Clinton’s policies — which include include increasing visas for workers, reducing backlogs, systemic reforms, and an increased numbers of “properly screened” refugees — reflect a “much more positive” view, according to Yale-Loehr.

He assured the audience that, either way, “it takes time to make changes in our immigration system. You don’t have to worry that these things are going to happen overnight. So don’t worry, nothing is really going to happen in 2017.”

The professor concluded by recalling that the United States’s motto — E Pluribus Unum or “one out of many” — reflects the country’s pride in its immigrant origins.

“Remember that the United States is a land of immigrants,” he said. “We always have been and, as far as I know, we always will be. The more that people learn about the benefits of immigration, the more that we can get over this rhetoric and go on to becoming a better country for all.”


Borders and Ballots: An expert’s view of the presidential election’s impact on immigration and international exchange

Borders and Ballots: An expert’s view of the presidential election’s impact on immigration and international exchange

On Tuesday, September 27, at 7:30 PM (the night after the first presidential debate), I will deliver a special lecture at Cornell University.

In the talk, entitled “Borders and Ballots: An expert’s view of the presidential election’s impact on immigration and international exchange“, we’ll analyze the immigration policy positions of both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. There will be opportunities for discussion and questions.

The lecture is being sponsored by The International Student and Scholars Office, the Vice Provost for International Affairs, the Dean of Students Office, and the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies. For more information, contact me or visit the event website.