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Laura Murray-Tjan
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Laura Murray-Tjan is a litigator and legal educator who writes and speaks frequently about immigration law and policy. She is a graduate of the Yale Law School and a former law clerk to the Honorable Sonia Sotomayor. Murray-Tjan also served five years at Boston College Law School as a clinical professor.

Entries by Laura Murray-Tjan

U.S. v. Texas: How the Supreme Court Got Tangled in Immigration Law

(0) Comments | Posted May 15, 2016 | 8:52 AM

You likely have heard about the high-stakes case U.S. v. Texas, which pits the federal government against twenty-six states over a policy that would allow an estimated four million undocumented individuals to stay here temporarily. Texas says it has the right to sue the federal government...

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News Flash: The Department of Homeland Security Reviews Social Media

(1) Comments | Posted December 15, 2015 | 11:45 AM

It is difficult to express my astonishment on reading the news of a "secret" Department of Homeland Security policy prohibiting scrutiny of visa applicants' social media presence. My colleagues' Facebook walls around the country are lit up with statements of disbelief. Too many of us have had our...

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The Tragicomedy of Immigration Politics: Of Fiancé Visas and the Visa Waiver Program

(1) Comments | Posted December 10, 2015 | 8:02 AM

Poor President Obama. In his Sunday night speech to the nation, he made a mistake that confused anyone who had been watching the news closely. As Obama outlined the steps necessary to avoid tragedies like the San Bernardino killings, he indicated that he had ordered a review of...

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Oh No! The Supreme Court's Opinion Season Was So Head-Spinning That One Federal Court Got Whiplash

(2) Comments | Posted July 29, 2015 | 3:17 PM

Have you ever heard the expression "opinion season"? A simple statistic immediately clarifies the phrase. During June 2015, the Supreme Court issued more than a third of its opinions in the over seventy cases decided during the term. That's more than one opinion every week day. Sounds like...

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Why Obama's Executive Actions Prove That Immigration Law Is Doomed to Complexity

(23) Comments | Posted May 8, 2015 | 11:12 AM

Someone recently asked me what makes immigration law so complicated, and whether it has to be that way. I paused, contemplating polarized congressional debates, hastily crafted compromises, and the messy legislation that results. But Obama's executive actions, crafted by a single administration, are among the best...

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Lessons From NYPD v. Uber Driver: 'You're Not Important Enough'

(0) Comments | Posted April 3, 2015 | 12:23 PM

The video of a New York City police detective verbally abusing an Uber driver has gone viral, and the public has reacted with anger and horror. After Ferguson, Staten Island, and other reports of community conflict with the police, we see the video as part of a pattern...

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Whoops! The Department of Justice Admits That It Misunderstood U.S. Citizenship Law

(404) Comments | Posted February 26, 2015 | 3:01 PM

We all know that immigration law is complicated. We all know that human beings make mistakes. What we don't expect is that our government can't figure out who its own citizens are. But time and time again, the government disappoints. The latest culprit is the Department...

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Is Obama's New Immigration Policy a Law Enforcement Bonanza?

(0) Comments | Posted December 11, 2014 | 3:35 PM

President Obama labeled his November 20, 2014, policy allowing some undocumented parents a short reprieve from deportation "deferred action for parental accountability." Deferred action means that the government has decided not to spend resources on deporting someone for a limited period of time. By tacking on...

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Throwback Thursday: How a DNA Test Broke an Immigration Officer's Heart

(0) Comments | Posted September 25, 2014 | 1:31 PM

Years ago, when I was a very green young attorney, I had a client who had been kidnapped and tortured under a brutal totalitarian dictatorship. The client, whom I will call Alonzo, was a prominent political dissident who managed to bribe his way out of captivity. Covered in torture scars,...

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In Praise of Mark Krikorian's Honesty: Let the Child Migrants Die

(16) Comments | Posted August 30, 2014 | 7:05 PM

Even as political leaders debate whom to blame for the surge of child migrants at the border, most agree on one goal: deporting the children as quickly as possible. Yet few advocates of their speedy removal are willing to state on the record that the children's death is a strong...

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Obama's Impossible Immigration Promise

(3) Comments | Posted July 9, 2014 | 7:05 PM

I possess almost mystical patience. I must: I'm an immigration lawyer. Twice I voted for President Obama. I donated to his political campaigns and rejoiced in his inaugurations. Even as other supporters started abandoning him because of policy disagreements, I remained a believer. Finally, however, Obama has torn my patience...

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Raise Your Hand If You Understand Immigration Law: Take Two

(8) Comments | Posted June 25, 2014 | 7:23 PM

Back in February, I wrote about the complexity of immigration law, and described how a federal court conflated immigration provisions in an important case. Now it turns out that immigration law stumps even the Supreme Court. The Court's recent decision in Scialabba v. Cuellar...

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Citizenship Games

(0) Comments | Posted May 15, 2014 | 2:14 PM

We Americans view U.S. citizenship as almost holy -- as holy as any secular status could be. The Supreme Court described the national sentiment in the 1967 case Afroyim v. Rusk: Our "citizenry is the country and the country is its citizenry." Because citizenship is so fundamental to...

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Immigration Law: Raise Your Hand If You Understand It

(4) Comments | Posted February 12, 2014 | 8:23 AM

These days everyone, no matter her political stripe, apparently despises U.S. immigration law. It's either too enforcement-heavy or too soft; too cruel or too generous to immigrants. But can we pause for a moment to talk about another, very basic problem? Immigration law is almost impossible to master. It is...

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Immigration Puzzle of the Week: Do We Deport People for Being Mentally Ill?

(27) Comments | Posted January 10, 2014 | 3:39 PM

Years ago, when I worked for a non-profit representing detained indigent immigrants, a particular immigration judge often called our office when the government sought to deport an apparently mentally ill person. Her request was always that we interview the detainee -- not that we represent him. I had the impression...

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When Will We Stop Deporting U.S. Citizens?

(31) Comments | Posted September 18, 2013 | 3:03 PM

I reveal no great secrets when I say that the United States has deported its own citizens numerous times. Many news outlets have covered the problem, including the New Yorker magazine in the April 29, 2013 article "The Deportation Machine." In this piece, William Finnegan describes the travails...

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A Tale of Two Typos

(2) Comments | Posted July 8, 2013 | 4:42 PM

As members of Congress struggle to reconcile their opposing views on immigration reform, rapid-firing amendments and counter-amendments across the aisle, we all should remember the successes and failures of our last immigration law overhaul in 1996. If the current attempt at reform succeeds, legislative inertia will leave statutory language, whether...

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