By Lindsey Cherpes
New Editorial Boards
The California Western Law Review and International Law Journal are excited to announce their new editorial boards for 2019-2020!
Law Review: Samantha Sneen, Editor-in-Chief; Natalie Holtz, Executive Editor; Lindsey Cherpes, Executive Lead Articles Editor; Katherine Norton,
Executive Editor of Notes & Comments; Chelsea Staskiewicz,
Executive Director of Symposia & Outreach; Mollie Levy, Executive Director of Notes & Comments
International Law Journal: Rojina Haririparsa, Editor-in-Chief; Emily Ferman, Executive Editor; Mary Grace Jalandoni, Executive Lead Articles Editor; Carlos Gomez, Executive Editor of Notes & Comments; Sophia De La Rocha, Executive Director of Symposia & Outreach; Mollie Levy, Executive Director of Notes & Comments
Symposium: Border Myths
On Saturday, March 9, the journals hosted a symposium to explore myths surrounding America’s borders. The symposium, attended by about 150 people, featured a dynamic array of distinguished speakers. Meagan Nettles (ILJ’s Executive Director of Symposia & Outreach) and Janna Ferraro (Law Review’s Executive Director of Symposia & Outreach) coordinated the event, assisted by symposium committee members Ommar Chavez, Giovanni Dolleton, Elisa Pineda, Mark Simpliciano, and Amanda Thom.
The symposium opened with a keynote address given by Bardis Vakili, Senior Staff Attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union. His address opened by challenging the audience, when considering America’s borders, to “separate fact from fiction.” The address concluded by challenging the audience to consider the perspectives attached to why immigrants leave their home country: “When the going gets tough, the tough has to get going to survive.”
Following the keynote address, the first panel, moderated by Professor William Aceves, considered constitutional issues attached to border myths.
Honorable Mimi Tsankov appeared in her capacity as Grievance Chair of the National Association of Immigration Judges. Her discussion focused on criticisms of immigration court structure, specifically the current backlog of immigration waiting to be heard. Judge Tsankov believes the backlog of cases is “unreasonable and unrealistic,” which “punishes the provision of due process.” Judge Tsankov proposes installation of an Article I immigration court to function as a separate entity that would de-politicize funding and re-instill confidence in the system of fairness.
Next on the panel was Professor Reginald Oh, visiting from Cleveland Marshall College of Law. Professor Oh discussed the dehumanizing language often associated with immigrants, “likening them to animals, diseases and vermin.” Because of their status as being considered “less than human,” Professor Oh argues that immigrants should be considered a suspect class and subject to heightened scrutiny under the Equal Protection Clause.
Professor Carlo E. Zayas-Morales, Law School of the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico, deconstructed the myth of the plenary power doctrine, which on its face grants Congress virtually unlimited power over immigration policy. He noted that “up to this date, the plenary power doctrine is still good law.” However, new originalism is a proposed perspective that, while based on the language of the Constitution, is applied to modern circumstances. This analytical lens addresses the plenary power doctrine’s inherent long-term problems and offers encouragement that “the plenary power doctrine does not have to be perpetual.”
The next panel, moderated by Professor James Cooper, considered the economic issues involved in the issues surrounding our borders, encouraging the audience to “never leave untouched the economic piece.”
The first speaker was Mexican Ambassador Marcela Celorio Mancera, who discussed the changing Mexican presidential administration and its implications on the United States-Mexico-Canada-Agreement. She encouraged a perspective of carpe diem when considering the changing presidential authority in Mexico, encouraging all North Americans to live every day to its fullest. She explained, “You have to live with what you have and keep building and creating.”
Economics professor Lydia Zepeda, University of Wisconsin-Madison, presented an analysis of the costs of United States immigration policies. She challenged the audience to “follow the money if you really want to find out why we have the policies that we do.” Her discussion challenged the costs of border detention, proposing that Congress could, in fact, reduce costs.
Concluding the economic panel was Professor Lilia Velasquez, a California Western immigration law professor and a renowned immigration practitioner in San Diego. Professor Velasquez presented the nitty gritty truths of immigrants living in the United States, without status: “Even when I wear a suit, I still look undocumented. It’s the brown face that gives me away.”
The final panel, moderated by Professor Pooja Dadhania, discussed labeling and racial issues.
Professor Jamie R. Abrams, University of Louisville, Brandeis School of Law, discussed the toxic masculinities involved in border issues. Professor Abrams challenged the audience to debunk the myth and “unveil camouflaged masculinities sitting just below our immigration policies.” She explained that toxic masculinities are the masculine underpinnings which helped President Trump rise to power. She says that these underpinnings have fostered an exclusionary immigration policy based on anger and fear.
Professor Guadalup Correa-Cabrera of the Schar School of Policy and Government, George Mason University challenged the audience to search within the “society of the spectacle” surrounding border issues. She discussed the hyper-sensationalized notion that immigrants coming from Central America are associated with gang violence and the myth that the international criminal gang, MS-13, is a threat to national security. In fact, Professor Correa-Cabrera insists that “there is no way that MS-13 will become a national security threat even though the President repeated this a number of times.”
Jesse Imbriano, Legal Director for Casa Cornelia Law Center, discussed the border issues directly impacting unaccompanied alien children. He specifically addressed the myth that separating children from their parents is a new phenomenon, when, in fact, it has been a historical issue surrounding border-crossing in the United States.
Finally, the panel heard a delightfully clever discussion from Sohail Wahedi, Ph.D. Candidate, Erasmus School of Law. Mr. Wahedi discussed “the Beauty and the Beast: Muslims & the Myths.” He challenged the audience to consider the double standards present and the “policies of fear” that are contrary to the American Dream.
The riveting discussions of the day were brought to a close with thoughtfully insightful closing remarks from Vice Dean Donald Smythe.
After de-bunking a myriad of border myths, and having some fun along the way, the symposium was truly, one for the books. If any of these topics sparks further interest, look out for the upcoming editions of the California Western Law Review and International Law Journal, which will include articles from each of these speakers.