Sunday, October 24, 2021
Want some basic facts on immigrants in teh United States? Check this fact sheet out. Here are some basics:
"One in seven U.S. residents is an immigrant, while one in eight residents is a native-born U.S. citizen with at least one immigrant parent.
- In 2019, 44.9 million immigrants (foreign-born individuals) comprised 14 percent of the national population.
- The United States was home to 22.0 million women, 20.4 million men, and 2.5 million children who were immigrants.
- The top countries of origin for immigrants were Mexico (24 percent of immigrants), India (6 percent), China (5 percent), the Philippines (4.5 percent), and El Salvador (3 percent).
- In 2019, 38.3 million people in the United States (12 percent of the country’s population) were native-born Americans who had at least one immigrant parent."
From the American Immigration Council:
As part of the Belonging Begins With Us campaign—which aims to foster a nation where everyone feels that they belong—a group of diverse influencers are sharing their stories of belonging. Here’s what a baker, photographer, mom, and movie buff all have in common.
Advocates say US immigration is rooted in anti-Blackness. Here's how policies puts Black migrants at risk
It is no real surprise that ant-Black sentiment in U.S. social life influences the treatment of Haitian migrants, which has been in the news. Presidents George Bush (the first one) and Bill Clinton employed the extraordinary interdiction policy directed at the Haitians. The Biden administration made the headlines with Haitians chased by horseback on the U.S./Mexico border and then deported in masses.
DeArbea Walker for The Insider looks at how the harsh treatment of Haitian migrants fits into anti-Blackness in U.S. history. The article quotes Professor Alina Das: "From the beginning, race had everything to do with who belonged in the United States and was a significant driver of these concepts of citizenship and immigration."
Immigration Article of the Day: Labor Citizenship for the Twenty-First Century by Michael Sullivan, Seattle Journal for Social Justice
Today, immigrant individuals toiling with their citizen colleagues in insecure employment that Guy Standing describes as the post-industrial precariat make up the vanguard of the struggle to protect labor rights. Government officials have honored care workers as essential service employees in the COVID-19 pandemic even as they continue to lack many basic labor protections. Immigrant care workers on the frontlines in the service and health care sectors face occupational illness and death with minimal safeguards provided by employers. This paper argues that labor movement activists of the immigrant community are motivated beyond their own self-interest. These workers are motivated by the well-being of the mixed-citizenship communities where they have laid down roots. Their exemplary citizenship is exhibited by their willingness to assume the risks that come with labor organizing, including wage losses, termination of employment, and threats of deportation, for the benefit of a mixed citizenship status community of workers. In the process, they are overcoming the racial, gender, occupational, and national origins exclusions of traditional “business unions,” which only recently included immigrants and care workers in their ranks.
Saturday, October 23, 2021
It's Saturday night and time for a new immigration song. Try El Muro (The Wall) by El Tri.
Voy buscando encontrar mi camino (I'm looking to find my way)
Voy buscando una oportunidad (I'm looking for an opportunity)
Se que voy a encontrar mil problemas (I know I'm going to find a thousand problems)
Se que voy a tener que luchar (I know I'm going to have to fight)
Pero vale el esfuerzo la pena (But it's worth the effort)
MacDonough has rejected two attempts by Senate Democrats to establish a path to permanent residency for undocumented immigrants in their reconciliation bill. She has reasoned that the proposals do not comply with a rule requiring measures passed via reconciliation to have a primarily budgetary impact.
The full letter can be found here.
The parent-child relationship is one of the most valued and protected relationships in constitutional and family law. At the same time, the state has custodial power over children: a power that is necessary in some cases to protect vulnerable children from danger, neglect, and abandonment. But because the parent-child bond is so powerful, state actors can be tempted to exploit it for their own purposes. Custodial power over children provides state actors with the means to put pressure on the parent by threatening to remove the child. In these circumstances, the state uses the child as a bargaining chip to be traded for other rights, irrespective of the child’s wellbeing. Misuse of the state’s custodial power is harmful for two main reasons. First, children are harmed when separated from their parents. Second, parents are harmed by the separation because they are forced to choose between the exercise of two fundamental rights: custody of their children and individual liberty.
This Article focuses on the question of how the law should distinguish between the state’s exercise of its custodial powers for permissible grounds, such as to protect the child, and its exercise of custodial powers for impermissible grounds, such as to induce the parent to give up another right. To answer this question, this Article first demonstrates that the state is, in fact, putting pressure on parents by deploying its custodial power. The Article identifies three areas of law—immigration, criminal confessions, and child welfare—in which this occurs. In each of these situations, I argue that consideration of the child’s wellbeing should be a formal legal requirement. The Article then proposes a constitutional test for scrutinizing a state’s separation, or threat of separation, of the parent and child. This test is designed to reveal what I term “impermissible leverage.” The principles articulated in the impermissible leverage test can be incorporated into state and federal statutes, as well as into the regulation of agencies tasked with child removal. The Article concludes with possible remedies when acts of impermissible leverage do occur.
Friday, October 22, 2021
An earlier guest post by law professor Jasmine E. Harris discussed the case of Fraihat et. al. v. US ICE et al, a nationwide class action that challenges the denial of constitutional and statutory rights to people with disabilities in immigrant detention. The complaint alleged that immigrant prisons operated in the face of the pandemic with "deliberate indifference" to the medical needs and health risks of detained persons. On April 20, 2020 the district court in the Central District of California issued a nationwide preliminary injunction ordering USCIS to take a number of steps to protect the medically vulnerable from COVID-19.
On October 20, 2021, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's grant of the preliminary injunction. A copy of the decision is available here.
Judge Marsha S. Berzon issued a dissenting opinion, concluding: "I am convinced that the district court did not err in determining that circumstances were potentially life-threatening for subclass members; that issuing an injunction would be in the public interest; and that Plaintiffs raised serious questions on the merits of their reckless disregard claim in light of these facts."
Thursday, October 21, 2021
Guest blogger: Alexandra Villalon, law student, University of San Francisco
Living on the Texas-Mexico border is complicated and complex. I used to think that anyone who lives close to the border would abhor the Border Patrol and ICE as 89% of residents of the Texas-Mexico border region identify as Hispanic or Latino. (Texas Health and Human Services, 2017). Many residents are of immigrant families that immigrated across the border and have settled down in cities like McAllen and El Paso. Many may also know of or have family members that are undocumented living with them. Yet, I was mistaken to think that everyone on the border who identifies as Hispanic or Latino thinks the same way. This was evident (but still shocking) when Latinos voted for Trump in 2020. This seemed counterintuitive after Trump’s border wall initiative, family separation policy, and the racist remarks made during Trump’s first term in office. I still did not understand.
And then an article from Texas Monthly popped into my inbox. It was entitled “In El Paso, Joining Border Patrol Offers a Rare Path to Financial Security. But for Some Immigrant Kids, it’s Complicated.” Here, again was a paradox. Why would anyone, much less Gen X kids, want to join the Border Patrol? The same Border Patrol who racially profiles immigrants who have similar backgrounds and look like these kids?
Being a border patrol agent is a job like any other. One can go online to USAJOBS.gov and apply for open positions. The starting salary varies from $49,500-$78,200 for the first year with the opportunity for promotion for each subsequent year. Within four years of service, one can make up to $125,900/year. As of 2016, Latinos make up a little more than 50% of the Border Patrol. Hispanic or Latino border patrol agents make an average of $70,500 compared to the $59,600 that white border patrol agents make. (Zippia, 2021).
Are Latinos in it for the money? Yes, that’s part of it. The Texas Monthly article focuses on the documentary released at Sundance Film Festival earlier this year that follows El Paso’s Horizon High School’s criminal justice club members and their trek to entering the Border Patrol or other law enforcement agencies. The criminal justice club prepares high school students for a career in law enforcement: students practice active shooter drills, hold fake guns, wear tactical gear and learn how to execute search warrants. There’s even an annual UIL “Border Challenge” competition where top high school law enforcement programs compete in real world law enforcement scenarios like felony stop, burglary in progress, hostage negotiation, and active shooter. Students know that a job in law enforcement is “one of only three career fields in El Paso with wages comparable to national averages.” (Texas Monthly, 2021). El Paso’s median household income is $14,000 less per year and 22% of El Pasoans lacked health coverage in 2018. So, a career in law enforcement is appealing across the board. It provides great benefits, doesn’t require moving far from home for those who wish to support their family, and has a great starting salary.
How do the students grapple with potentially arresting their own ethnic group or even a family member? Most, if not all the students in the documentary who want to enter law enforcement are bought into the idea that border patrol agents are here to protect public safety. The job summary outlining the duties for a border patrol agent states that the DHS “is calling on those who want to help protect American interests and secure our Nation.” These students don’t think they’re doing any wrong, which they are not. They are applying to a legal job and enforcing the law of the country they are a citizen of.
Children of Latino immigrants also want to do right by their immigrant parents. Many have seen first-hand what it takes to survive in the United States and how their parents worked hard to provide for their family. Latino children, especially as they get older, want to make their parents proud and show them that what their parents have done for them all their lives was not in vain. How they show that is through a well-paying job.
I can’t fault these high school students for wanting to do better for themselves and their families. It’s sad to know that their only option, it seems like, is to enter the field of law enforcement and be on the side “against immigrants,” those immigrants could have been their parents!
But those are the nuances and complexities that have developed from immigration enforcement in the United States.
The Administrative Law Review is hosting a virtual symposium on October 29, 2021 that will explore important questions about the role of administrative law in detention and imprisonment. More info here. Register here.
Many immigration law professors were hopeful that the election of Joe Biden would bring changes in many Trump era immigration policies. Law professors Sarah Sherman-Stokes and Lindsay M. Harris for Bloomberg are not keen on the Biden administration's continuation of the Trump administration's Title 42 policy. Here is the gist:
"When it comes to U.S. border policy, President Biden touted changes from the Trump administration, but so far, he has adopted as his own one of the very worst Trump-era policies—Title 42 expulsions based on public health concerns, say immigration and asylum law experts and law professors Sarah Sherman-Stokes and Lindsay M. Harris."
Newly obtained United States government documents detail over 160 internal reports of misconduct and abuse of asylum seekers at the hands of U.S. officials, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The documents report abuse by Customs and Border Protection officers, Border Patrol agents, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials, primarily between 2016 and 2021.
The 26-page report, “‘They Treat You Like You Are Worthless’: Internal DHS Reports of Abuses by US Border Officials,” details internal reports made by asylum officers within U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services about the conduct of personnel in the immigration enforcement arms of their same parent agency, the Department of Homeland Security. Though heavily redacted, the reports, which Human Rights Watch obtained after litigation under the Freedom of Information Act, include allegations of physical, sexual, and verbal abuse, due process violations, harsh detention conditions, denial of medical care, and discriminatory treatment at or near the border.
As part of an effort to speed up removals, the Trump administration imposed case annual quotas on immigration judges in job performance. Numbers, not quality, of dispositions were the touchstone. Needless to say, the quotas were heavily criticized.
Grace Dixon for Law 360 ("DOJ Walks Back Trump-Era Quotas For Immigration Judges?") reports that the Presiudent Biden's U.S. Department of Justice has walked back the quotas imposed on immigration judges. The Trump-era quotas were intended to expedite proceedings.
For the CNN report on this story, click here.
Wednesday, October 20, 2021
CFP: Business Accountability for Human Rights: Addressing Human Rights Issues in Global Supply Chains
The Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law is pleased to announce a call for papers to be presented in the course of its April 2022 conference on Business Accountability for Human Rights: Addressing Human Rights Issues in Global Supply Chains (rescheduled from October 2021 due to the impact of the COVID-19 Delta variant). The conference will bring together government officials, business people, lawyers, scholars, and representatives of faith traditions to explore human rights issues in global supply chains. The program will feature discussions of overarching challenges, cross-sector commitments to eliminating human rights violations, the benefits and costs of transnational regulation, ESG strategies, and financial issues. Specific topics will include subjects such as supply chain management, leading technologies, public/private partnerships, and emerging standards of human rights compliance. We welcome paper presentations from scholars in law, business or religion, as well as in other disciplines involving the study of matters germane to business accountability for human rights in global supply chains. The conference website may be found here.
SUBMIT ABSTRACTS FOR CONSIDERATION
If you are interested in presenting a paper at the Conference, please submit a working title and abstract of 200-300 words by January 15, 2022. Abstracts should pertain to works in progress or at least begun by the author, but they need not be completed papers. We hope to award travel stipends available to the authors of the three abstracts that score highest in the selection process. We will notify authors about acceptances by January 31, 2022. Thanks to those who already have submitted abstracts. All abstracts already submitted will be considered for the rescheduled conference in April.
To submit abstracts for consideration, please click here. Contact Professor Sarah Duggin - Director, Catholic Law Compliance, Investigations and Corporate Responsibility Program, about any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Moderated by USIPC director Tom K. Wong, this conference will feature four panels of speakers representing experts in the law, politics, policy, and advocacy surrounding climate displaced persons, including:
- Jonathan Martinez, Legislative Director for Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-NY-7)
- Hiroshi Motomura, Susan Westerberg Prager Distinguished Professor of Law, UCLA School of Law
- Bill Ong Hing, Professor of Law and Migration Studies, University of San Francisco
- Kayly Ober, Senior Advocate and Program Manager, Climate Displacement Program, Refugees International
- Ama Francis, Climate Displacement Project Strategist, International Refugee Assistance Project
Law360 (October 18, 2021, 7:29 PM EDT) -- The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday vacated a Third Circuit ruling in a deportation case that barred a Yemeni man from acquiring citizenship through his naturalized but divorced parents, after the Biden administration said the lower court overlooked precedent.
Abdulmalik Abdulla, who had lived in the U.S. for nearly 30 years before he was deported in 2019, had fought deportation by claiming citizenship through his father, who became an American citizen while married to Abdulla's mother. But the Third Circuit ruled in August 2020 that Section 1432 of the Immigration and Nationality Act could allow Abdulla's claim only if his father had become a citizen after getting divorced. Appealing to a new BIA decision, In Matter of Douglas , Abdulla aruged Section 1432 allowed divorced parents to pass on citizenship to their children, regardless of when the parents became citizens. On the basis of the new pleadings, the Supreme Court vacated the Third Circuit judgment and remanded Abdulla's case for further proceedings.
The case is Abdulmalik Abdulla v. Merrick Garland, case number 20-1492, in the U.S. Supreme Court.
Amanda Ottaway for Law360 ("Facebook Inks $14M Deal To End Feds' Anti-US Bias Claims") reports that Facebook has agreed to pay up to $14.25 million in a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice. Facebook was alleged to have unlawfully favored temporary visa holders over U.S. workers. The settlement is the largest financial recovery ever under the Immigration and Nationality Act's anti-discrimination provisions.
Here is the Settlement attached.
Fqacebook's monetary payout, which includes a $4.75 million fine and a fund of up to $9.5 million for individuals impacted by Facebook's policy, resolves an administrative lawsuit claiming that it held thousands of high-paying job slots for foreign workers, made those jobs tough for U.S. workers to seek, and rejected the few who applied. According to another news report, "The company allegedly employed a recruitment process that was intentionally designed to dissuade US workers from applying for positions it had set aside for temporary visa holders."
"Under the DOJ settlement, Facebook will pay a civil penalty of $4.75 million to the United States, pay up to $9.5 million to eligible victims of Facebook’s alleged discrimination, and train its employees on the anti-discrimination requirements of the INA. In addition, Facebook will be required to conduct more expansive advertising and recruitment for its job opportunities for all PERM positions, accept electronic resumes or applications from all U.S. workers who apply, and take other steps to ensure that its recruitment for PERM positions closely matches its standard recruitment practices. Today’s civil penalty and backpay fund represent the largest fine and monetary award that the Division ever has recovered in the 35-year history of the INA’s anti-discrimination provision." (bold added).
Tuesday, October 19, 2021
Guest blogger: Shweta Rathore, LLM student, University of San Francisco
In order to survive in this world as humans, it is always a bit more than hope and faith that we all need. The end goal of any actions, choices we make is “a happy life” which can be easy for few but can be a basic battle for a mere survival for others. The basic needs can be counted as health, food, sanitation, livelihood and in most traumatic phases just a question as to whether one shall survive the day and see the rising sun once again.
The life of migrants is one example of human society where the life struggles not only to meet up basic needs but to figure a way out of persistent miseries and lead one’s family in a livable atmosphere. In general, the society has become so hard to the empathetic traits of humanity that every action of the other is put under the lens of doubt even if that action is an attempt to make it to the next day of her life. Nations view such individuals who carry so much of emotional and mental burden along, as trespassers, law breakers, illegal humans, aliens and what not! But the question is how logical this race has become that acknowledging pain and suffering appears a risk? And if that is the case, how do we even challenge ourselves to be a developing race when the core values (which distinguish us in the natural strata of living beings from animals) has vanished?
Climate crisis has been constantly affecting the world in various ways and the impact of the same is heavily felt by the world at large. But if we look deeper, why is the world worried about climate crisis? Is it because we have become too caring for the environment out of the blue? Had that been the case, the very situation of climate crisis wouldn’t persist. It is the fear of survival! And when such fear is experienced by a set of individuals on a daily basis because no day is a day without crisis and one wonders with such climatic situation around them how and what is the way out to mere survival.
For no life is a matter of great joy to leave behind the life long memories one makes and walk ahead just to ensure survival of family and that of oneself. The situation of climate crisis has and continues to force hundreds and thousands of individuals to leave their lands, loved ones and roots just to ensure food, shelter and basic needs. And all of this because they have no choice! A small province called Alta Verapaz in rural Guatemala, has been experiencing hurricanes and natural disruptions leading to enormous damage to the crop of mostly maize which is the staple crop for families in the region. The families put together their hope and sweat with hope of obtaining a flourishing harvest but continuous rains and hurricanes have left them with nothing but devastated fields. With such repetitions of climatic scenarios, people from the region and other parts of Mexico who also face no better state look at the borders of United States with a hope for survival. Individuals and families not just from rural Guatemala but other agrarian areas of Salvador and Honduras are forced to leave their land and choose survival. When considering the bigger picture, it is not just the climate crisis alone that put these individuals in such scenario, but it is also the food insecurity. And when taken together it makes life vulnerable for such people. Finding life amidst such harsh conditions, Guatemalan migrants have been apprehended at the US-Mexico border more than 153,000 times this year in 2021. The situations are harsh to an extent that in Alta Verapaz and Huehuetenango, at least one member from a family migrated or attempts to migrate in the last five years according to the survey conducted by the International Organization for Migration, and the primary motive is found to be fleeing from Natural disasters and climate crisis. It is just not hurricanes that are a matter of concern in areas like Guatemala, but also natural calamities like drought, volcano eruption, floods and influential fluctuation in Coffee prices.
The impact of such crisis is job insecurity, unemployment, loss and large-scale damage to the infrastructure. And if this alone was not enough, the locals faced double defeat due to the pandemic kicking, which took the entire scope of survival into darker space.
In such affected regions like Guatemala, the lack of proper living conditions and shortage of food means that most of the children are chronically hungry, leading to many being short for their age, weakened bones and bloated bellies. The question in the minds of families is where their next meal for the day shall come from. The young folks are choosing to compromise the early years of adulthood and step out to seek security for their family and themselves. There are few who say we tried to move out and failed but will try again because there is no hope here and trying again and again to choose life over death is the only choice.
For most of the human past, humans have been inhabiting areas that supported their livelihood and the food production was supported by climatic conditions. However, with present climatic scenario and the planet warming up, the survival of entire race seems to be dreadful. And this is not all, in 2018 the World Bank estimated that there are three regions -- Latin America, Sub-Saharan-Africa and South East Asia -- that will generate 143 million more climate migrants by 2050. In 2017, 68.5 million people were forcibly displaced, more than at any point in human history. And a rough estimate indicates that one third of these were displaced due to “sudden onset” climate conditions like floods, drought or fires in the forest. The impact of climate crisis might be different in different parts of the world but the responsibility of survival will have to be collectively borne by the world in totality.
And as the Biden administration expresses its sincerity in tackling the root causes of migration from areas like Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, any work it does to navigate climate related problems in terms of migration, would show a path to other parts of the world too. But the ongoing reaction on part of the US government speaks in contrary terms; rhetoric such as “you will be turned back” offer no solution to these thousands of individuals approaching the US southern borders, and places major powers like the US in a position of shame. Using exclusionary strategies like Title 42, the US government only displays an insensitive side of its system. Using the pandemic as a pretext actually costs life and creates devastation.
How is UNHCR playing its part?
“Climate change is the defining crisis of our time and it particularly impacts the displaced” says the UNHCR’s Special Advisor on Climate Action, Andrew Harper. As an international agency responsible for refugee protection, the UNHCR expresses its concern for people who have been displaced by conflicts or prosecuted across international borders. But the organization sees climate change as a risk multiplier or an aggravated threat for other aspects of displacement.
Climate migration in itself might not be a area of conflict but it can certainly result in food insecurity and challenges to survival for people across the globe. It increases challenges to livelihood and puts pressure on education and health services. This is often coupled with pressures on governance and access to overall resources, because of challenges to socio-political and religious grievances, or community structures. The combination of factors could be the spark to set everything off.
And ultimately, all the related entities will have to take necessary measures to mitigate the arising vulnerabilities or else the chances of conflict will only escalate with time. And this is where UNHCR is trying to play a role. The organization is aiming to show a nexus between climate crisis, vulnerability, its challenges and those being displaced as a results.
Some UNHCR measures:
- It has developed a Strategic Framework on Climate Action, which covers three pillars of response. The first pillar speaks to the legal and normative work regarding protection for people being forced to move due to climate change. The overall goal is to support access to protection for people displaced in the context of climate change and disasters through guiding the interpretation and application of relevant legal and policy frameworks, developing guidance and catalyzing international discussions.
- The second pillar is to enhance the resilience of displaced population to the climate and other related vulnerabilities and provide a framework to strengthen preventive measures for disasters.
- The third pillar is most relevant one in the view of this body -- trying to “green itself”’ such as reducing their green house gases emission and reducing its impact on the environment.
In totality, UNHCR is aiming to work with governments and other agencies to assist communities to better withstand climate related calamities when they arise.
But looking beyond, climate migration is not just an independent global concern but a root problem which shall deprive thousands of individuals from even a basic life span. Any solution will only be through a collective effort on part of the developed nations like the US to offer constructive help to displaced individuals rather than emphasizing protection of borders and getting away from its responsibility.
Finally, what first appears to many as a security issue is actually a climate displacement issue and needs to be acted upon for the sake of human survival.
Do undocumented migrants have Second Amendment rights? This is a question the 2d Circuit recently assessed in a case called Perez.
The Constitution protects "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms." Do undocumented migrants fall within "the people"?
Law360 has really comprehensive coverage of the issue in a recent article that quotes many of our very own immprofs.
Deep Gulasekaram (Santa Clara) asks: "Can you interpret 'the people' as only covering citizens?... That's actually a fairly indefensible interpretation if you think that the Second Amendment is an individual right of self-defense."
Lenni Benson (NYLS) says: "Citizen or noncitizen," the Perez case "is an example of the tremendous power of government to upend your life... At the core of this case, is this issue of how we treat, constitutionally, the people living amongst us."
Geoffrey A. Hoffman (Houston) comments: "You're now decreasing the Second Amendment with respect to immigrants. And what does that say about the First Amendment?... This decision could be interpreted, more globally, to implicate and undermine immigrants' rights in many different areas."
Geoffrey Heeren (Idaho) states: "It's this evolving trend to limit the definition of 'the people' to citizens... The way that the courts decide cases under the Second Amendment could bleed over into the analysis of other issues.... That goes to the heart of our democracy."
Guest blogger: Seena Taalomi, law student, University of San Francisco
The Failure of DACA.
Under the Obama presidency, there was a brief moment when it seemed that immigration reform might become a key achievement. President Obama announced the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) policy on June 15, 2012, the 30th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision Plyler v. Doe. However, DACA failed to provide meaningful and long-lasting relief for immigrants, as executive orders are prone to be disregarded or abrogated by later presidents.
Subsequently, the Trump presidency exposed the weaknesses of executive orders and policies like DACA, as President Trump attempted to do away with DACA within his first year in office. Of course Trump soon found himself embroiled with legal battles, including challenges to his treatment of DACA, and the Supreme Court ultimately ruled that the Department of Homeland Security’s rescission of DACA was “arbitrary and capricious,” in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”). Nevertheless, the Supreme Court decision only preserved DACA for the time being. Future presidents who wish to do away with DACA now know that they simply need to come up with better reasons to do so in order to avoid violating the APA. And the state of Texas has recently successfully argued that DACA was not properly put in place by Obama in the first place.
Currently, President Biden is in favor of DACA (which comes as no surprise since he was Vice President when DACA was announced). However, DACA still falls short of providing meaningful relief for most immigrants. President Biden has correctly stated that “only Congress can ensure a permanent solution by granting a path to citizenship for Dreamers that will provide the certainty and stability that these young people need and deserve.” Nevertheless, with the current state of Congress, it seems unlikely that President Biden will be able to persuade Congress to enact immigration reform.
When it comes to immigration reform, the last three presidencies can be summarized with the ebb and flow of DACA. Although DACA has provided relief for some, at this point it seems that DACA is a distraction from the bigger picture.
It’s time to retreat from the DACA quagmire and look to alternative solutions for bringing about comprehensive immigration reform.
Possible Solutions for Immigration Reform.
The obvious solution is for Congress to enact comprehensive immigration reform. Unfortunately, this seems unlikely given the deadlocked state of Congress. The current Senate is the oldest in American history, and the past few years have been a continuous cycle where senior members of congress (e.g., Mitch McConnell and Nancy Pelosi) grapple until the two parties are deadlocked. This style of politics will never result in comprehensive immigration reform. Therefore, altering the identity of Congress needs to be a top priority for those in favor of immigration reform. This means that voters need to play the long game by chipping away at Congress and electing members who care about immigration reform. Moreover, immigration reform needs to be cast in a new light in order to appeal to both the DNC and the RNC.
Voters Capture the Attention of Both Parties.
Latino voters continue to rise in the U.S. Both the DNC and RNC are acutely aware of this trend. Therefore, a grass roots movement which ties immigration reform with the Latino vote could be appealing to both the DNC and the RNC. One inherent problem with this solution is that grass roots movements are not easy to organize, and another problem is that its success may depend on whether it receives adequate media coverage. Additionally, even if such a movement gains traction, it seems that the RNC might not have the stomach to approach the issue of immigration reform; the Trump style of politics may still be in effect, as far-right republicans like Ron DeSantis continue to cash in on Trump-style rhetoric. Consequently, it may be a stretch to sell immigration reform to the RNC when they are still unsure of their identity in the wake of Trump.
Surprisingly, it is also unclear whether immigration reform is even a key issue for the majority of Latino voters. In 2020, Latino voters ranked the economy, health care, and COVID-19 as their top three issues. Immigration was ranked number eight (but there were notable differences when separated by gender, with more Latina women ranking immigration as a top issue than Latino men). Consequently, immigration reform advocates may need to appeal to a broader demographic of voters to bring immigration reform into the national spotlight.
Immigration Reform Will Likely Require a Strong President to Rally Congress.
Immigration reform needs at least a two-pronged approach. First, voters need to convince Congress that immigration reform is a key issue. Second, some president (either Biden or one yet to come) needs to convince the public, and Congress, that immigration is a key issue.
To come full circle, this piece began by talking about how presidents have failed to enact immigration reform, but that was largely because DACA lacked permanence and stability. DACA certainly provided relief for many, and it continues to do so to some effect, but it may also be a distraction at this point. It’s time to look forward towards meaningful immigration reform.
A comprehensive immigration reform bill needs to be passed by Congress. The right presidential candidate can still capture attention of the American public, and perhaps persuade Congress to enact meaningful immigration legislation, but waiting for the right candidate is not the only way to move forward.
It’s time to get Congress to listen. To do so, the American public must also be convinced that immigration reform is long overdue.
 Plyler v. Doe, 457 U.S. 202, 102 S. Ct. 2382, 72 L. Ed. 2d 786 (1982)
 Dep't of Homeland Sec. v. Regents of the Univ. of California, 140 S. Ct. 1891, 207 L. Ed. 2d 353 (2020)