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News Posted on November 13, 2018

National, international media outlets quote King Hall experts on immigration issues

In the lead-up to the Nov. 6 midterm elections, President Trump and his administration kept immigration issues in the spotlight. Several prominent media outlets asked UC Davis School of Law’s experts for their insights.

CNN International interviewed Immigration Law Clinic Co-Director Holly Cooper about Trump’s characterization of the migrant caravan now traveling through Mexico. The caravan is “made up of some very tough people … criminals in many cases,” Trump told a crowd while on the campaign trail in support of Republican candidates.

Trump’s comments amounted to “fear-mongering,” Cooper told CNN International.

“Most people are coming here based upon their legitimate fears in their own country, whether it be Honduras or Guatemala,” Cooper said. “It is very rare that anyone crosses the border with any criminal intent.”

President Trump also asserted a week before the election that he planned to end birthright citizenship. He told Axios he would try to revoke, by executive order, the long-accepted constitutional guarantee that all children born in the United States – except those born to diplomats or enemy troops during a hostile occupation – are citizens.

In response, Dean Kevin R. Johnson wrote a column for the Daily Journal headlined “Trump Is Not Above the Law.”

“Few reputable scholars believe” Trump’s call to abolish birthright citizenship would be constitutional, Johnson writes, adding that “this latest action on immigration demonstrates what is becoming more and more apparent: Trump does not feel bound to the rule of law.”

Professor Gabriel “Jack” Chin also weighed in on the birthright citizenship controversy, for English-language South Korean radio station BeFM.

“I don’t think there is any chance that would be legal, for a lot of reasons,” Chin said of Trump’s proposed executive order. “The main reason is the U.S. Congress has passed laws that say all people born in the United States are U.S. citizens. Congress might be able to repeal that law and create a Supreme Court test, but it would have to be Congress that makes the decision to create a Supreme Court test,” not the president, Chin said.

Cooper spoke to the Huffington Post about other key issues tied to the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy, including a proposal to end some protections for detained migrant children guaranteed under the 1997 Flores Settlement Agreement.

Last week, Cooper and fellow counsel for the Flores Settlement plaintiffs filed a motion in federal court to stop the government from implementing regulations that would allow migrant children to be detained indefinitely in unlicensed family residential centers. Civil Rights Clinic Director Carter White also represents the Flores plaintiffs, and Water Justice Clinic Director Camille Pannu helped draft the motion.

“It would be disastrous,” Cooper told HuffPost, about the possibility of the government’s proposal being implemented. “We’ll see the indefinite detention of children in prison-like conditions.”

HuffPost also interviewed Cooper for a story about migrant youths being moved from juvenile shelters to adult Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention centers on their 18th birthdays.

“Turning 18 is sort of a coming-of-age ritual,” Cooper said. “But for these children, it’s ‘Happy birthday, we are sending you to prison.’ It’s just a very inhumane process that’s happening.”

Gabriel "Jack" Chin is a prolific and much-cited criminal and immigration law scholar whose work has addressed many of the most pressing social issues of our time.

Professor Holly S. Cooper ’98 is a nationally recognized expert on immigration detention issues and on the immigration consequences of criminal convictions.

Kevin R. Johnson is an internationally recognized scholar in the fields of immigration law and policy, refugee law, and civil rights.