What Now? A Panel on Immigration Law

On February 25, 2017, the John F. Kennedy University Office of Diversity, College of Law, and Undergraduate Success Center co-sponsored an ImmigrationLaw panel discussion with the Contra Costa County Bar Association’s Immigration Section. Many students, alum, faculty, and members of the community attended this two-hour panel presentation. The event was moderated by Flavio Carvalho, an immigration lawyer, the President of the Immigration Section of the Contra Costa County Bar Association, and alum of the JFKU College of Law.

Rafael Climaco, an immigration attorney at the Law Office of Rafael S. Climaco who teaches immigration law in the undergraduate Legal Studies program at John F. Kennedy University, provided a brief history of immigration law in the United States. Efforts to encourage and to limit immigration into the United States has varied throughout our history based on what was occurring at the time, including encouragement of immigration during the Civil War, and removal of any limitations based on discriminatory bases during the civil rights movement. The first major comprehensive immigration law reform took place in 1965 when Congress established preference categories for visas, and set up numerical limits on how many of each types of visas would be issued. Another major immigration law reform was attempted in 2013, but it was never enacted. Mr. Climaco also discussed the basis of the executive branch’s power for the issuance of executive orders related to immigration law.

Helen Lawrence, an immigration attorney at the Law Office of Helen Lawrence who teaches immigration law in the JFKU College of Law, discussed the three recent immigration-related executive orders issued by President Trump on January 25 and 27, 2017. She discussed the components of each of the executive orders, including questions left open by uncertainties in the orders. Ms. Lawrence also provided a chronology of events following the issuance of the Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States (aka “travel ban”) executive order issued on January 27, 2017.

Marco Garzan, an immigration attorney at Argumedo and Garzon Law Group and board member of the Contra Costa County Bar Association’s ImmigrationSection, then discussed the rights and defenses available to immigrants. The main takeaway was that an immigrant has rights under the U.S. Constitution based in the Fourth and Fifth Amendments. Immigration agents, for example, need a valid warrant to access private property. Also, when someone is detained, the Fifth Amendment allows the detainee to remain silent. Mr. Garzan also provides warnings to those detained by immigration officers.

Please note, this area of law is seeing a lot of changes. Visit here for the President’s March 6, 2017 Memorandum for the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, the Secretary of Homeland Security, and here for the American Civil Liberties Union’s Know Your Rights info.