Cover of Court of Injustice by J.C. Salyer
Court of Injustice
Law Without Recognition in U.S. Immigration
J.C. Salyer


216 pages.
from $28.00

Hardcover ISBN: 9781503611405
Paperback ISBN: 9781503612488
Ebook ISBN: 9781503612495

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Court of Injustice reveals how immigration lawyers work to achieve just results for their clients in a system that has long denigrated the rights of those they serve. J.C. Salyer specifically investigates immigration enforcement in New York City, following individual migrants, their lawyers, and the NGOs that serve them into the immigration courtrooms that decide their cases.

This book is an account of the effects of the implementation of U.S. immigration law and policy. Salyer engages directly with the specific laws and procedures that mandate harsh and inhumane outcomes for migrants and their families. Combining anthropological and legal analysis, Salyer demonstrates the economic, historical, political, and social elements that go into constructing inequity under law for millions of non-citizens who live and work in the United States. Drawing on both ethnographic research conducted in New York City and on the author's knowledge and experience as a practicing immigration lawyer at a non-profit organization, this book provides unique insight into the workings and effects of U.S. immigration law. Court of Injustice provides an up-close view of the experiences of immigration lawyers at non-profit organizations, in law school clinics, and in private practice to reveal limitations and possibilities available to non-citizens under U.S. immigration law. In this way, this book provides a new perspective on the study of migration by focusing specifically on the laws, courts, and people involved in U.S. immigration law.

About the author

J.C. Salyer is Assistant Professor of Practice in Anthropology and Human Rights at Barnard College, Columbia University. Salyer is Director of the Human Rights Program at Barnard, and also a staff attorney for the Arab-American Family Support Center, a community-based organization in Brooklyn, where he runs the organization's immigration clinic.

"This book does such a powerful job of recounting the sad, complicated and disempowering history of immigration laws. It clarifies not just for academics but for everyone that the denial of due process is central to how the legal system responds to immigrants. But what I love about this work is the humanity that J.C. Salyer brings with it. In the end we see that we are all these immigrants and refugees. They are our future and our past and every single one of us is called upon now to see this and act."

—Maria Hinojosa, Latino USA

"Court of Injustice identifies the real structural and procedural problems for noncitizens facing removal from the United States. Salyer's unique perspective on legal services for immigration clients reveals the inequities inherent in the court system and how enforcement policies often preordain outcomes. Policymakers should play close attention to this book."

—Bill Ong Hing, University of San Francisco

"Salyer combines vast legal knowledge with deft anthropological analysis to produce a comprehensive and engaging account of today's immigration system. Highlighting the lawyers navigating a treacherous legal system, this book is a unique, essential, urgent read for anyone who cares about immigration and immigrants today."

—Cecilia Menjívar, University of California, Los Angeles

"Court of Injustice brings a critical ethnographic lens to understanding the reproduction of inequality, xenophobia and racism in U.S. immigration. Salyer dismantles the fictions of 'rule of law' and 'national security' to reveal an arbitrary and punitive federal system decades in the making, and how local governments, lawyers, and civil society are fighting back."

—Shannon Gleeson, Cornell University

"Salyer's focus on disparities across jurisdictions and among individual immigration judges, and particularly the unique role of the NYIFUP as a countervailing force, highlights how local contexts deeply shape immigrants' experiences of justice or lack thereof. This firsthand, detailed account of how the U.S. immigration legal system creates inequality is an important read for sociologists interested in immigration, criminal justice reform, and law and society."

—Ariela Schachter, American Journal of Sociology

"Court of Injustice impressively combines legal and anthropological expertise, contrasting the nuance of law and practice with the on-the-ground experiences of individuals working within the system. There is much to deconstruct in the realm of immigration law, but by interrogating the every day experiences of lawyers, we are able to catch a glimpse of effective forms of resistance, such as the program in New York City, absent legislative reform. By understanding the intricacies of the practice of immigration law, Salyer offers his readers insight into both the challenges and complexities of practicing within this system, and the possibilities for liberatory change."

—Anita Maddali, Criminal Law and Criminal Justice Books