This session featured a special screening of The Texas Tribune’s short documentary, “Beyond the Wall" which puts viewers into the shoes of undocumented immigrants, border patrol agents and a borderland rancher to explore the state’s most pressing immigration issues. It is part of the Tribune’s yearlong Bordering on Insecurity project. Following the screening, the Tribune’s Jay Root moderated an expert panel discussion exploring the issues and solutions.
A growing body of evidence shows that a substantial percentage of the US unauthorized population may be eligible for an immigration benefit or relief, but does not know it or cannot afford to pursue it. In addition, more than eight million lawful permanent residents are potentially eligible to naturalize, which (in many cases) will expedite legal status for their family members. This panel discussed how communities can and should pursue a large-scale “legalization” program now, without Congress, the Executive or the courts as a centerpiece of their response to new immigration challenges.
This panel highlighted successful models of collaboration to defeat anti-immigrant legislation and to create momentum and winning partnerships for long-term reform. It discussed the ingredients of successful past legislative campaigns; current state advocacy challenges (including passage of SB 4 in Texas); and likely legislative challenges in Congress in the upcoming months.
The Center for Migration Studies (CMS) hosted a special conversation with Juan P. Osuna, former Director of the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) at the US Department of Justice (DOJ), where he oversaw the agency that houses the US immigration court system. Prior to joining EOIR, Professor Osuna was an Associate Deputy Attorney General at DOJ where he oversaw immigration policy.
The expansion of detention, border enforcement, expedited removal, and other practices seek to prevent, deter and interfere with the right of migrants to seek political asylum. These practices exacerbate challenges related to a shortage of legal representation for asylum seekers. This panel addressed efforts to promote and expand access to the US political asylum system in the face of these challenges. It also discussed challenges to the US refugee resettlement program in Texas.
This panel covered the defense of persons in detention and in removal proceedings. Panelists discussed how organized communities can assert and defend their rights, how to establish coordinated removal defense projects, and whole-of-community responses to the threat of removal.
This panel addressed federal litigation as a prompt for unifying strategies. It covered legal challenges to the Trump administration’s Executive orders, to immigration enforcement practices, and in individual removal cases. It also addressed how communities can prepare for, assist in, and utilize litigation as one potential tool in an effective community response to anti-immigrant legislation and practices.
This session discussed how diverse communities have pivoted from pre-election work to coordinated responses to new challenges. Exploring “whole of community” responses to current threats and opportunities, it described the role of mainstream, immigrant-serving institutions in broad-ranging community responses to Trump administration initiatives. The conversation assessed what’s been working – and why – and how individual communities can develop their own strategies.
This panel discussed the formation and work of the Houston Immigration Legal Services Collaborative. It discussed Houston’s “whole of community” approach to immigration services, how the community has organized to defend the rights of immigrants, and the engagement and mobilization of a diverse group of stakeholders, including legal services providers, the funding community, the City of Houston immigrant advocates, and social services organizations.
This panel provided a primer on the US immigration enforcement system and its impact on families and communities. It included short presentations by scholars and researchers on different aspects of the statutes and policies which serve as the groundwork for the new administration’s Executive orders on immigration, expanded detention, and federal, state and local immigration enforcement partnerships. Panelists offered recommendations for reform of the immigration enforcement system and spoke to how scholarship and research can be used to inform and strengthen whole-of-community responses to immigrants. The session is meant to provide an evidence-based foundation for much of the conversation that followed.