About the Michigan Journal of Race & Law

The Michigan Journal of Race & Law is a legal journal that serves as a forum for the exploration of issues relating to race and law. To that end, MJR&L publishes articles, notes, and essays on the cutting edge of civil rights scholarship from a wide variety of scholarly perspectives. MJR&L’s diversity is reflected by the authors with whom we collaborate, ranging from scholars and students to practitioners and social scientists.

Our symposium issue, Vol. 21.2, is now available!

MJR&L SYMPOSIUM Innocent Until Proven Poor: Fighting the Criminalization of Poverty, Feb 19-20, 2016

Featured Blog Post: 9th Circuit Rejects Board of Immigration Appeals’ Interpretation, Creates Circuit Split by Amy Luong

The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) recently clarified its interpretation of “obstruction of justice,” as part of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) § 101(a)(43)(S) to mean “affirmative and intentional attempt, with specific intent, to interfere with the process of justice.” The BIA also emphasized that an “ongoing criminal investigation or trial . . . is not an essential element of ‘an offense related to obstruction of justice.’”[1] Prior to this clarification, “obstruction of justice” was interpreted by the BIA to require a nexus to an ongoing investigation or proceeding.[2] The new interpretation adversely affects immigrants, because without the nexus requirement it is easier for the agency to turn a non-deportable criminal offense into an aggravated felony—a deportable offense— by claiming that the crime was an obstruction of justice.

Featured Blog Post: DOJ Private Prisons Memo is a Good Start by Serena Rabie

Though the Justice Department’s actions are both symbolically and practically significant, the impact is limited because the vast majority of American inmates are housed in state prisons as opposed to federal prisons, and state prisons remain unaffected by the DOJ’s instructions. The Justice Department estimates that there are approximately 195,000 individuals in federal prison in the United States, but only about 30,000 of those individuals are housed in private prisons. By the DOJ’s estimates, 165,000 individuals remain unaffected by the memorandum.

Featured Blog Post: The Right to Bear Arms? Muslim Americans and Second Amendment Rights: Part 2 by Serena Rabie

…[T]he use of watch lists in the push to regulate guns is likely to have a disparate impact on the ability of Arab and Muslim Americans to purchase firearms. The ACLU was quick to point out that Dearborn, Michigan has more watchlisted individuals than any city in America with the exception of New York City—more than the total population of Chicago, Houston, or San Diego. This was true despite the fact that Dearborn’s population of 98,153 pales in comparison to those cities, whose populations are 2.7 million, 2.1 million, and 1.3 million, respectively. Dearborn is notably the center of one of the largest Arab American communities in the United States. The no-fly list is similarly problematic, as it also disproportionally impacts Arab Americans. It is secret, error-prone, and there is no due process or effective recourse for individuals placed on the list.

Featured Blog Post: The Right to Bear Arms? Muslim Americans and Second Amendment Rights: Part 1 by Serena Rabie

The recent shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida has reinvigorated two of the most tense debates of the 2016 election cycle—Muslim immigration and gun control. In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump reiterated his call for a temporary ban on Muslim migration to the United States. Trump and other politicians were quick to point to radical Islam as the problem, while others pointed to America’s loose gun control laws as the reason for the attack. Theoretically, this means that Arab and Muslim Americans attempting to purchase firearms should face opposition from both sides of the aisle—from gun control proponents and those who blame Islam for domestic terrorist acts. This begs the question: what happens when Muslim Americans attempt to exercise their Second Amendment rights?