Archive for the ‘Foreign Policy’ Category


Instructions to Interview with Army JAG on Oct. 6, at the 16th Annual NLLSA Conference at UCLA School of Law

In Conference,Foreign Policy,Internships,Jobs,Summer opportunities,U.S. Government on October 2, 2012 by NLLSA Chair

The U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps (JAG Corps) is the oldest and second-largest law firm in the world, with offices throughout the United States and overseas. The JAG Corps provides new attorneys with immediate legal experience, leadership responsibility, and exposure to a wide variety of practice areas. From criminal law to environmental and contract law, new attorneys provide counsel and legal assistance to Soldiers, retirees and their families, legal advice to commanders, and argue before the Army Court of Criminal Appeals.  The Army JAG Corps also hires second-year law students each summer to conduct paid legal internships all over the country and overseas.  3Ls and 2Ls who are interested in applying for the Army JAG Corps Active Duty positions or paid summer internships should click here for application instructions and contact Major LaJohnne White prior to the Conference at  to schedule an interview during the employment expo at the National Latina/o Law Student Association Conference on Saturday, October 6, 2012 at UCLA School of Law.  Good luck to all applicants!



Mexico: The Other Side of the Story

In Foreign Policy,Immigration,Latin America,Legislation,Mexico,Politics,U.S. Government on April 18, 2011 by ppuentec

Students and activists gather during a drug protest against Mexico’s drug violence in Mexico City on February 17. (Jorge Dan Lopez/Reuters)

Every day we hear, read, and watch that hundreds of people are dying in Mexico due to the war on drugs. We also hear of complaints regarding the current Mexican administration and its law enforcement. What we don’t hear about in the news is what is causing the chaos and madness that is going on in America’s backyard.

Mexico has been the target of negative publicity, which continues every day whether it is regarding the war on drugs or the United States complaining about the immigration problem. What many people do not understand is that there are two sides to every story.

I. Immigration

Prior to 9/11 there were discussion of liberalizing the United States’ immigration policy under the Bush administration, but all discussions ended with 9/11. Once 9/11 happened, the focus of the war on terrorism was directed toward securing the borders, specifically the Mexican border. The focus was to keep terrorists from entering the United States through Canada and Mexico. Little effort has been devoted to the security of the Canadian border, however, despite the fact that just a few years ago at least one terrorist sought to enter the United States from the north.

One of the most disastrous projects was the border fence, which failed and has cost the taxpayers millions of dollars. During this time, all the energy and negative publicity was focused on the U.S./Mexico border. Stricter enforcement policies and a dramatic increase in deportations and immigration raids have occurred.

Increased border enforcement on the southern border with Mexico obviously has had, and will continue to have, a disproportionate impact on Mexican citizens. Among other effects, enhanced border enforcement tends to exacerbate the problem of human trafficking of migrants – an industry that has grown substantially over the last decade – from Mexico.

There are false contentions that undocumented immigrants are a burden on American society, but it is the American corporations who exploit undocumented workers and who hire them. Law review articles have discussed that the United States does benefit from undocumented immigrants. Undocumented immigrants purchase items, pay property taxes, have insurance, etc. Their contribution to our economy isn’t a large-scale number, but it is still in the millions.

We all agree that there needs to be some type of immigration reform, but not with the measures that Arizona has taken. Arizona’s stance with immigration is conflicted. The whole point of securing our borders was to prevent terrorists from coming in. As my Immigration Professor at Valparaiso said, Mexicans do not fall from the sky or appear mysteriously at the point of entry. When dealing with immigration it is important to note the intent and the history behind such measures. Arizona has failed to do this and our alienating our neighbors that we benefit from. The United States, specifically the border area, depends on the Mexican trade.

II. Mexico’s War on Drugs

In 2006, President Calderon declared a war on drugs. Since then there have been mass graves, dismembered corpses, and entire towns besieged. Rival gangs have escalated their turf battles over smuggling routes and thousands of lives have been lost. The drug criminals have expanded their shadow by intimidating police forces, using kidnapping and extortion, and trafficking migrants.

A Man digs the grave for a funeral of a Mexican policeman murdered in Juarez by members of a drug cartel (Nadav Neuhaus)

I read an article from the Huffington Post by former NLLSA Chair David Perez titled “Mexico’s Last Stand”, which talked about how Mexico’s time is running out because they are at the end of President Calderon’s term. What was interesting was that the article stated that Mexico cannot back out on the war on drugs. It is now or never. What the article failed to state was what the United States is doing to combat the demand of drugs and the supply of arms to Mexico.

People walk past symbolic chalk outlines during an April 6 march in Cuernavaca called out by poet Javier Sicillia after the death of his son, whose body was found along with six other dead inside a car a week ago in Cuernavaca. Nationwide protests against Mexican President Felipe Calderon’s war on drug cartels that has claimed more than 37,000 lives since late 2006 were planned all over Mexico and in cities as far as Bueno Aires, Paris, New York, and Barcelona. (Margarito Perez/Reuters)

What has been the cause of all this? Drugs. The United States demands them and Mexico supplies them. The same goes with weapons. Mexico receives its weapons from the United States. As long as the demand is there the supply will continue to meet this demand and lives will be lost. Back in March of 2010, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that Washington must do more to stop limit the movement of weapons into Mexico and to address the drug demand. Little has been done, however. Drugs continue to be smuggled in and the problem worsens.

Where is the United Nations and why aren’t they addressing the flagrant human rights violations due to the mass killings and political assassinations in Mexico? Where is the transitional justice? Countries with similar human rights violations such as South Africa, Mozambique, Rwanda, and Sierra Leone have received assistance from the United Nations. There are several different initiatives that countries have adopted as approaches to transitional justice: criminal prosecutions, truth commissions, amnesty, monetary compensation, symbolic compensation, and institutional reform. The mass murders and the political assassinations are violations of international law and the United Nations should have stepped in by now. On October 18, 2010, 20-year-old Marisol Valles Garcia became the police chief of Praxedis G. Guerrero, Mexico. She later fled to the United States to seek asylum because she feared for her life and the life of her child. Innocent people are dying in Mexico every day because of the war on drugs. The result: people are fleeing to the United States.

The United States government is ignoring what is going on in Mexico and should be focusing its efforts on the people who are demanding the drugs and supplying the weapons. Instead it is focusing on undocumented immigrants. As long as Mexico is continuing to destabilize, there will be more immigrants trying to enter the United States. The United States’ efforts should be toward helping Mexico combat the war on drugs and taking responsibility for the drug demand. “Ignoring the sending country as an explanatory variable yields a sad sort of policy solipsism.” Bernard Trujillo, Mexican Families & United States Immigration Reform, 38 Fordham Urb. L.J. 415 (2010).


Kevin R. Johnson and Bernard Trujillo, 9/11 Five Years On: A Look At the Global Response to Terrorism: Immigration Reform, National Security After September 11, and the Future of North American Integration, 91 Minn. L. Rev. 1369 (2007).

Bernard Trujillo, Mexican Families & United States Immigration Reform, 38 Fordham Urb. L.J. 415 (2010).


Priscilla Puente-Chacon is a second-year law student at Valparaiso University School of Law and serves as NLLSA’s Public Relations Director.


Plight of Puerto Rico: constitutional violations rampant, yet undiscussed by rest of the country.

In Foreign Policy,Latin America,NLLSA on March 26, 2011 by NLLSA South Atlantic Regional Director Tagged: , , ,

As of December of last year, students of the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) have protested against an increase in tuition and faced brutality from the local government. Initially, the students demanded to know the reasons for what they saw as an arbitrary tuition hike, but they are still waiting for those reasons, according to several eyewitness accounts.  All they received was a declaration capping the increase at $800. Consequently, the highest tribunal of the island issued an order that prohibits demonstrations on the UPR campus. Law enforcement officials got a green light to enter the campus in order to disband the protests, but their effort degenerated into indiscriminate violence against students exercising their rights to free speech and assembly, as well as against thousands of civilians who joined them in support. It has been months since the situation reached a boiling point caused by the police’s violent crackdown. The fundamental freedoms of American citizens, specifically Puerto Ricans of course, are being ignored.

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police violence2

This is old history, however. In the 1970s, after the police entered the UPR’s campus, they killed a female student when suppressing protests. After great public outrage, the government enacted a Non-Confrontation Policy that barred police entry into the campus, designed to prevent future violence from the cops against the civilian population they are supposed to serve and protect.

The student protests of December 2010 are framed by an uproarious context. In the past two years, Puerto Ricans have faced increased unemployment, budget cuts from the government, and protests from public sector workers as well as teacher’s unions demanding better wages and working conditions. UPR protests are not uncommon, since the threat of privatization looms on the horizon, on top of rising tuition.

However, in midst of the recent protests at UPR, the current Governor of Puerto Rico, Luis Fortuño, abandoned the Non-Confrontation Policy. The UPR’s administration shut down the campus in December of 2010 and held its own students captive inside: protesters and non-protesters alike, without food or water, according to one UPR alumn source.

clash sequence1

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The use of force against one’s own citizens is a classic human rights violation under international law. See the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Geneva Convention. For a current example, Libya serves our purposes.  What is equally surprising to me is the absence of media coverage about these events, happening inside this country! I suspect that if similar happenings were noticed in the Continental USA, the authorities would have been put in their place long ago. Imagine police violence of this type in the Midwest (Wisconsin sound familiar, anyone? ), where teachers’ unions have protested for wage cuts in the public school system. I wonder of anyone can visualize that happening in 21st Century mainland USA. It appears that Puerto Ricans are treated as second class citizens, akin to our African-American brethren during the 1960s. They similarly faced oppression from governmental authorities (good old boys in the police, judiciary) until the nation took notice of their struggle, and the nation evolved. Through that suffering, this country emerged into a better one.

On March 2, 2011, Congressman Luis Gutierrez declared his indignation at the rampant human rights abuses taking place in Puerto Rico. Mr. Gutierrez described police brutality, racial profiling, silencing protestors, violating the First Amendment’s freedom of expression, and even efforts by the judiciary to silence the local bar association (which was striving to educate its members about the impropriety of covering for the government’s abuses and how to denounce corrupt practitioners) to name a few. The ACLU of Puerto Rico has also taken notice: “Human Rights Crisis in Puerto Rico: First Amendment Under Siege.”

In essence, I am surprised that this information has not been given proper coverage and importance. I believe the media and the government to be cooperating in dominating (or selecting?) content on the airwaves, the internet, and news networks. What is broadcasted as “news” and is on everyone’s lips is not the ongoing atrocity in Puerto Rico, but distractions like Charlie Sheen’s most recent ramble, or the merits of allowing homosexuals to fight for their country (as if sexual inclination mattered when the enemy is shooting to kill).

At present, classes are ongoing at UPR, but the student protests continue, along with the police oppression. (See  more photos here.) I await a peaceful outcome to this mess, and hope that  the Federal Government puts Puerto Rico’s caudillos (strongmen) in line. Peace to all. Fight the good fight.

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police violence1


Comparing Egypt’s Present Uprising with Latin America’s Past

In Foreign Policy,Latin America,NLLSA on February 10, 2011 by Barbara Tagged: , , , , , ,

The Arab League announced this week that the third Arab-Latin American summit, which was to be held in Lima, Peru from February 13-16, has been postponed indefinitely due to the unrest in Egypt. This summit, when held, will bring together the leaders of over twenty Arab nations and twelve countries that comprise Latin America to discuss trade and commercial relations.

Similarities between these two areas of the world may not easily come to mind, but in the past few days various articles and blog posts have compared the civil unrest in Egypt and to a lesser extent Tunisia to past uprisings in Latin America and opined about possible future uprisings. Several authors have explained why the present movements advocating for new governments in Africa are not likely to spread to South America. Others, however, have raised the possibility that countries such as Cuba, in certain circumstances, may be vulnerable to mass protest.

Click on the articles and posts below for more information about these comparisons:

The Wall Street Journal – Will Cuba Be the Next Egypt?

Nearshore Americas – Egypt Violence: Could it Happen in Latin America?

Council on Hemispheric Affairs – Possibility of the Wild Fire Crossing the Atlantic?

Global Voices – Latin America: Drawing Parallels with Egypt


Barbara Barreno is a third-year student at Vanderbilt University Law School and Chair of the National Latina/o Law Student Association.


Don’t Call This a War on Drugs

In Academic,Foreign Policy,Immigration,Latin America,Mexico,Politics,U.S. Government on June 22, 2010 by nllsachair

From the Huffington Post:

What War is Mexico Fighting?

While Mexican President Felipe Calderon has received endless plaudits for his strong stance against drug cartels, the United States has been blamed for doing too little to curb the violence, even though it is the biggest market for drugs. As the violence enters its fourth year, many fault American drug users for providing the cash incentive for cartels, and the American gun market for providing the cartels’ firepower. The consensus is that the United States must reform its drug laws and tighten its gun laws for the violence to subside. In fact, Calderon himself recently took the U.S. to task, blaming America for his country’s woes. But Calderon’s much-vaunted crackdown has been terribly misunderstood by both sides… Read More »


The Magnificent Migrants

In Academic,Foreign Policy,Immigration,Jobs,Latin America,Mexico,NLLSA,Politics,superheroes on June 1, 2010 by nllsachair

Superman: NOE REYES from the State of Puebla works as a delivery boy in Brooklyn New York. He sends home $500 a week.

Dulce Pinzón just published a great photo essay on where he pictures migrants from Mexico in superhero costumes.  Here’s his explanation:

I saw a Spiderman costume in a store in November 2001, and that’s when everything came together in my head. Comic-book superheroes have an alter ego, and so do immigrants in the United States. They may be insignificant or even invisible to much of society, but they are heroes in their homelands.

And here are some samples.  You can find the entire essay here.  Trust me, it’s definitely worth it. More images after the jump. Read More »


Guest Post: Manuel Giner’s Inside Look Into Arizona Politics

In Foreign Policy,Immigration,NLLSA,Politics,U.S. Government on April 28, 2010 by nllsa

About a month ago, Rob Krentz was murdered on his Arizona ranch along the Mexico-U.S. border. His murder, linked to drug cartel violence, sparked a visceral reaction in Arizona, my home state.

For anybody who has lived in Arizona this past decade, these tensions are well known. The Border Patrol’s Tucson Sector is heavily trafficked by smugglers of both human and drug cargo.  Phoenix is now America’s kidnapping capital—most of which are directly related to Mexican drug cartels.

Given these problems, when a law is presented to the people of Arizona as a tool to combat border crime, it will easily garner public support. As evidenced by its title, “The Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act”, SB 1070 is being presented as exactly that: a public safety measure. Unsurprisingly, 70% of Arizona voters support the measure, according to a recent Rasmussen poll.

Unfortunately, SB 1070 does not address these problems. Instead, the bill makes two fundamental mistakes. First, it attacks crime in an inefficient and counterproductive way. The belief that state authorities will be able to curtail border related crime via individual traffic stop is untenable. Ultimately, vast amounts of police resources will be devoted to detaining and deporting people who are generally harmless. The Daily Show recently joked that Arizona is “looking for people acting suspiciously, like gardening or burping people’s babies.”  As usual, a lot of truth is said in jest.

The fact is, the link between crime and illegal immigration is tenuous at best.  American-born males are five times more likely to commit a crime than their foreign born counterparts.  There is simply no causation between immigration and crime.  Put differently, SB 1070 is completely reactionary, with little foundation in common sense.

Secondly, the bill creates an environment where American-born Latinos are likely to be accosted by police due to their ethnicity and race in order to prove their citizenship. The bill would not only encourage, but require police officers to inquire about a suspect’s legal status upon “reasonable suspicion” that they are here illegally. Despite the promises of the bill’s proponents, there is no way to predict whether somebody may be here illegally without taking their race, language, and general appearance into account. Imagine trying to decipher somebody’s immigration status over the phone, where race and ethnicity is more difficult to discern. Even then, we would be completely dependent on our suspect’s language skills—another prejudicial form of profiling that would lead to civil rights violations.

Can’t we agree that American citizens should not be subjected to police interrogation because of their race? Is this not repugnant to our values?

I spent one amazing legislative session working at the Arizona State Senate. I still have friends there and still keep in touch. However, nothing coming out of the legislature recently has surprised me. Latinos, American- and foreign-born, have been a favorite target of the legislature for a while. A similar version of SB 1070 was floating around when I was there. Another bill tried to ban “La Raza studies” in high schools because it did not “inculcate American values”. Bills were introduced creating different birth certificates for babies, despite their American citizenship, born to parents who could not provide documentation. Another popular, though fantastical, bill petitioned the federal government to redefine the 14th amendment so that children born to foreigners are not given automatic citizenship.

SB 1070 is symptomatic of a long running trend of ideas and bills that overreach at the expense of all Arizona Latinos. In Arizona, Latinos are almost a third of the population but are only a tenth of the electorate. Consequently, they are underrepresented in government, and when they are represented, they are overwhelmingly opposed to all such measures introduced by the majority. Of the eleven Latinos voting on the measure, ten voted against it. With little voice in the state, and the consequences of an awful bill looming, it is time for those who in power to do what they can to reverse this trend.

Manuel Giner of Phoenix, Arizona, is a student at Yale Law School, where he is the Chairman of the Latino Law Students Association.