Gender and Human Trafficking in China

February 9th, 2016 by Leonard Birdsong

Last summer one of my Refugee Seminar students, Marsha-Ann Davidson, interned at a law firm in China. The experience led her to research and write an excellent paper  concerning gender and human trafficking in China. she has given me permission to post it here. Read and learn.


Marsha-Ann Davidson

 “No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.”[1]


Memey is a 28 year old Indonesian woman who after losing her husband sought employment abroad; being poverty stricken and uneducated she saw overseas employment as her only option to support her child. [2] Perpetrators took advantage of her illegal status and promised her work. [3] Upon arrival in Malaysia Memey was given new clothes, makeup and was treated to dinner. [4] This was however the only pleasant experience that she had since arriving in the new country because she was then put to work as a sex worker rather than working as a waitress as she had expected. [5] With no access to her passport and no contact with the outside world Memey found herself trapped in a country with no friends and no way to return to her homeland; she had fallen victim to the scourge of human trafficking. [6] Memey however was more fortunate than many others as she was aided by a client and was later rescued. [7] She was however left with the scars of the ordeal; the horrific experiences that she had encountered and HIV as a constant reminder. [8] Like many human trafficking victims Memey kept silent about her experiences for many years withholding this information even from her family because of shame and humiliation. [9]Memey and others in similar situations generally keep this to themselves for varying reasons. Some perpetrators instill fear in their victims by threatening to kill their family members or hurt them badly if they try to escape. Some victims may feel that they have let down their families.  For victims like Memey there is little hope because of the slight impact that efforts to combat human trafficking has made.

Every year millions of men women and children alike are trafficked and sold to many countries around the world; this is a lucrative business amounting to billions of dollars annually.[10] There is a growing need for awareness of human trafficking and although more and more people are becoming aware; human trafficking remains a growing concern as there are still leaps to be made in effecting a change in this global problem.  We hear continuous cries from victims such as Lamo Bokdin who after accepting a job in a restaurant in China was later told by her boss that her services were no longer needed at the restaurant and a contract was made for her to marry his brother.[11] Her boss signed a contract for $6000 US dollars and warned Lamo that if she refused to marry his brother, she would be offered to other buyers. [12] After 3 months of captivity and no interaction with others Lamo escaped. [13] We also hear the cries from victims such as Khin Khin who was sold by her father at age four to pay off a gambling debt and to escape a lifetime of poverty. [14]She was then sold for a second time in China. [15] “China is designated as a source, transit and destination country for women and children trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation and forced labor.” [16] Although we may not live in China this affects our global community in many ways some of which will be discussed in this paper. Through this paper my goal is to bring a renewed awareness of human trafficking as problem of deep concern in China. Read more

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Means a Windfall for New Americans

February 5th, 2016 by Leonard Birdsong

My Refugee Seminar student, Glenn Harris, has given me permission to post his excellent paper he wrote last semester concerning the windfall that will benefit America when DACA  arrivals become American citizens. What a paper. Read and learn.


DACA Promises a Windfall of 1.7 Million New Americans


Deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA) allows certain individuals, who meet specific guidelines, to request consideration of deferred action from the United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS). Individuals who receive deferred action of removal will not be placed into removal proceedings or removed from the United States for a specified period of time unless terminated. [1] The certain individuals that are referred to in the DACA guidelines are children whom arrived in the United States illegally. These childhood arrivals are seeking deferred action in deportation proceedings. The Department of Homeland Security defines deferred action as, “Deferred action is a discretionary determination to defer removal action of an individual as an act of prosecutorial discretion. Deferred action does not confer lawful status upon an individual. In addition, although an individual whose case is deferred will not be considered to be accruing unlawful presence in the United States during the period deferred action is in effect, deferred action does not excuse individuals of any previous or subsequent periods of unlawful presence.”[2]

DACA has specific guidelines. Childhood arrivals that pose a low risk to the country and are contributing to the community will be considered for deferred action, an administrative exercise of discretion that would halt removal proceedings against an individual for up to two years, and is subject to renewal.[3] Guidelines for DACA are important because of the need for prosecutorial discretion in terms of why there is need to examine each case individually which is clearly discussed by William Howard, Principal Legal Advisor for ICE in a memo titled, Prosecutorial Discretion, which states, “Prosecutorial discretion is a very significant tool that sometimes enables you to deal with the difficult, complex and contradictory provisions of the immigration laws and cases involving human suffering. It is clearly DHS policy that national security violators, human rights abusers, spies, traffickers in narcotics and people, sexual predators and other criminals are removal priorities. It is wise to remember that cases that do not fall within these categories sometimes require that we balance the cost of an action versus the value of a result. Our reasoned determination in making prosecutorial discretion decisions can be a significant benefit to the efficiency and fairness of the removal process.”[4]


DACA finds its roots in a previous form of legislation known as the DREAM Act. [5] The DREAM Act was introduced for the first time in 2001 to the 107th Congress.[6] The DREAM Act never passed the first hurdle of the House of Representatives until 2010.[7] The latest version of the bill was introduced on December 2010, when the DREAM Act was brought up and passed in the House by a vote of 216-198.[8] However, when the bill reached the Senate on December 18, 2010, it fell five votes short of cloture, receiving 55 yeas and 41 nays.[9]

On June 15, 2012, the Secretary of Homeland Security announced that certain people who came to the United States as children and meet several guidelines might request consideration of deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal. Read more

A True Family Story of Refugee Flight Contrasted with Today’s Refugee Crisis

February 4th, 2016 by Leonard Birdsong

Last semester my Refugee Seminar student, Michael Patrick, wrote an excellent paper in which he draws parallels between present day refugees fleeing Syria with refugees who fled France and other European countries during the World War II era. The paper is compelling because he shares with us his grandmother’s World War II era refugee flight  from France. Mr. Patrick has given me permission to post his paper here in order share it with a wider world.  Read and learn.


Lady Liberty Shines Her Torch on the Tired, the Poor, the Huddled Few:The United States recycles old policies into new bottles

Michael Patrick


“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”[1] The world is witnessing the largest refugee crisis since the horrors of World War II, and although these events are separated by a gap of over 60 years, the actions taken by our country bare haunting similarities. Today there are close to 11 million Syria refugees.[2] Four million refugees have been registered with the United Nations since 2011, and another seven million have been displaced internally.[3] Since the Syrian Civil War began in 2011, the United States has only issued refugee visas to 1,500 Syrian Refugees.[4] The United Nations has referred 17,000 Syrians to the United States for asylum consideration.[5] Out of those 17,000, The Obama Administration has said it would like to admit 10,000 Syrian refugees over the next fiscal year.[6] This will be hard to achieve since there remains a backlog of 78,821 pending asylum applications as of February 2015.[7]

These numbers are reflective of several factors such as the economic state of the country, societal fears, and political pressures. This same combination of factors present today was present during the time of the Holocaust and WWII. It was these factors, that prevented the United States from taking action then, and the same factor that are preventing it from taking action now. When Franklin D. Roosevelt became president in 1933, Americans were struggling to survive the greatest economic depression the country had ever seen.[8] Many Americans feared that needy immigrants would take precious jobs or place an added strain on an already burdened economy. When Obama assumed office in 2009, Americans were struggling to survive the greatest economic recession the country had seen since the Great Depression.[9] Many Americans feared that needy immigrants would take precious jobs or place an added strain on an already burdened economy.

I chose this topic because of my familiar connections to policies in place during World War II. My grandmother fled France during the war, and had to do so by dangerous, and illegal means due to the quotas and regulations in place at the time. It is because of the factors listed above and the policies in place that children like her, and hundreds of thousands others, were turned away from the United States. Read more

Weird Criminal Law Stories # 391: Gay Sex-Slave Prostitution??

February 3rd, 2016 by Leonard Birdsong

FLORIDA:  Unfortunately, sounds like gay sex-slave prostitution is alive and well in Florida! A Hungarian man has been convicted in South Florida for his role in running what investigators called a gay sex-slave prostitution ring. Andras Janos Vass faces a minimum of 21 years and a maximum of 155 years in prison after a Miami jury convicted him in April 2015 of human trafficking and racketeering. Reported testimony from the trial revealed that Vass and others brought three victims to New York in 2012 and forced them to perform sex acts at all hours. The victims and their families in Hungary were threatened and the victims’ travel documents were confiscated. The ring relocated to the Miami area later in 2012. We learn further that two other Hungarians are awaiting trial in the matter.


LOUISIANA: Yep, it all came out in the wash… An accused murderer who broke out of a prison van’s back window was captured after a three-day manhunt because he stopped to do his laundry. Lorenzo Conner, 24 of New Orleans, was being taken to a mental health facility when he slipped out of his shackles and fled. A tipster alerted police after spotting him at a suburban laundromat.


CONNECTICUT:  “Mary Jane was his real thang…” A bag of marijuana fell out of a lawyer’s pocket while he was defending a client in a courtroom. Vincent J. Fazzone, 46, was slapped with a citation for the stash, which contained two ounces of marijuana. A co-worker claimed the MJ belonged to the son of one of his clients.


WASHINGTON, D.C.:  The fox should not guard the chicken coop! Fueled by an addiction to prescription painkillers, an FBI agent abused heroin from his own drug investigations and in the process ruined dozens of cases involving suspected drug traffickers according to details that recently emerged. Matthew Lowery, formerly a special agent with the Washington field office, will plead guilty to 64 charges of obstruction of justice, heroin possession and conversion of property.

A Historical Perspective of Refugee Crises Through the Years

February 2nd, 2016 by Leonard Birdsong

Last semester my Refugee Seminar student Jesse Brodsky wrote an excellent paper detailing various refugee crises the world has witnessed over the years. I  believe the paper should be shared with the wider world.  Mr. Brodsky has given me permission to post it for you. Read and learn.


Refugee Crises and Their Outcomes Through the Years: A Historical Perspective and What is to Come

Jesse Brodsky

  1. Introduction

Over the course of the past century, there have been many atrocities throughout the world.  Unfortunately, many of these atrocities follow a similar pattern and result in refugee crises.  In the mid 1930s, Hitler rose to power in Germany and led the National Socialist (Nazi) Party.[1]  While in power, Hitler set out to cleanse Germany of all the Jews due to his belief they were an inferior race.  This led to what we know of today as the Holocaust and resulted in millions of deaths and refugees trying to find shelter around the world.[2]  In the 1990s, the breakup of Yugoslavia caused the Bosnian War and resulted in the displacement of three million refugees.[3]  Most recently, since 2011 there has been an ongoing civil war in Syria that has caused more than eleven million refugees to be displaced from their homes.[4]  The unfortunate part of these atrocities is that while the United States is seen as the world’s most dominant power, in reality they have done very little to address the refugee crises that result.  With all the resources available, the United States should be doing far more to address these issues.

This paper addresses the pattern of a few different atrocities that have resulted in refugee crises and the United States lack of response.  Part II of this paper discusses the refugees that resulted from the Holocaust and the United States lack of response.[5]  Part III explains the events that led to the Bosnian War, which led to three million refugees and the unwillingness of the United States to offer much help.[6]  Part IV discuses the Syrian crises going on today and the millions of refugees that have resulted.[7]  Part V provides many reasons why the United States should offer as much help as possible to the Syrian refugees.[8]  Lastly, Part VI explains that while the United States has not always provided much help for refugees in the past, we should learn from our mistakes and take a more hands on approach to help the millions refugees fleeing from the Syrian crisis.[9]

  1. Holocaust

The word Holocaust is of Greek origin and translates to “sacrifice by fire.”[10]  The Holocaust is known to be the most systematic and bureaucratic state sponsored persecution of all time.  Read more