Thursday, December 13, 2012

Top 10 Immigration News Stories of 2012

Each year, ImmigrationProf lists its top 10 immigration stories of the year. Below are the top stories for 2012, many of which are directly related to the Top 10 Stories for 2011.

1. Reelection of President Obama and the Return of Comprehensive Immigration Reform


With overwhelming support from Latino voters, President Barack Obama was reelected as President of the United States.  After the election, Republicans in Congress expressed greater willingness to consider enactment of comprehensive immigration reform, and the possibility of reform in the next Congress appears to be a distinct possibility

There were also some interesting footnotes to the Presidential campaign, including Bruce Springsteen campaigning for the President in the days leading up to the election and a DREAMER addressing the Democratic National Convention.


2. Arizona v. United States

In its biggest immigration decision in many years, the Supreme Court in June in Arizona v. United States invalidated three of four provisions of Arizona’s S.B. 1070 on federal preemption grounds. The Court, however, upheld Section 2(B), perhaps the most controversial provision, which requires police to verify the immigration status of any person who the officers have “reasonable suspicion” of being in the country unlawfully.

Also in 2012, lower federal courts invalidated significant portions of the immigration enforcement laws of Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina. The number of pieces of state immigration legislation has been dropping.

The Supreme Court decided a number of other immigration cases in 2011-12, applying ordinary rules of statutory construction and agency deference with the immigrant winning in a number of the cases.


3. Deferred Action Against Childhood Arrivals Announced by the Obama administration

in June, the Obama administration made the blockbuster announcement that it would create the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which would allow for deferred action and temporary work authorization for eligible undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as minors.  It was one of the big immigration news items – and to many surprises – of 2012.

The continued pressure of the DREAMers on the administration should be given at least some credit for the new program.  The DREAMers continued their political activism and organized a “No Papers, No Fear” bus trip to the Democratic National Convention.

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer

DACA also created new controversies. While California decided to allow DACA recipients to be eligible for driver’s licenses, Governor Jan Brewer and Arizona quickly made it clear that Arizona would not issue licenses to DACA recipients.


4. Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio Remains Embroiled in Controversy -- and Wins Relection


America’s Toughest Sheriff, Maricopa County Arizona Sheriff, Joe Arpaio remained in the news in 2012. Standing trial this summer for alleged civil rights violations of immigrants and Latinos, Arpaio testified in his defense.

After an investigation, the U.S. Department of Justice concluded that Sheriff Arpaio and the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office engaged in widespread violations of the civil rights of immigrants and Latinos.

Although it is not sure why the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office has jurisdiction over anything to do with the birther controversy, Sheriff Arpaio also made the news when his office investigated and finding that there just might be something to the claims of the birthers that President Obama is not a natural born U.S. citizen. 

Despite all the controversy, voters relected Sheriff Arpaio in November.


5. Mass Murder in Wisconsin In Wisconsin

In August, a gunman killed six people in on a shooting spree at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in Oak Creek.  


6. Apologies for Past Immigration Wrongs

2012 was a year of immigration apologies.  The U.S. of Representatives adopted a resolution (H. Res. 683, 112th Cong. (2012)) apologizing for the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which barred the admission to the U.S. of nearly all Chinese until 1943. The House sponsor was Judy Chu (D.-CA.), the first Chinese-American Congresswoman. The House’s 18 resolution follows the adoption of a companion resolution in the Senate in October 2011.

Some 80 years ago, tens of thousands of Mexicans and Mexican Americans living in L.A. County were forced aboard trains and taken to Mexico. In February 2012, the L.A. County Board of Supervisors formally -- and finally -- apologized.


7. 30th Anniversary of Plyler v. Doe

June 15, 2012 was the 30th anniversary of the Supreme Court's pathbreaking decision in Plyler v. Doe, 457 U.S. 202 (1982), which protects the rights of undocumented students to a public elementary and secondary school education.


8. The California Supreme Court Considers the Admission of Undocumented Immigrant to Practice Law

Born in Mexico, Sergio Garcia was first brought to the United States by his parents when he was 17 months old. After graduating from California State University, Chico in rural California, Garcia attended California Northern Law School, an unaccredited law school, and subsequently passed the California bar examination. He disclosed his immigration status in his bar application and, after an interview, satisfied the California State Bar that he possessed the “good moral character” necessary for the practice of law. After receiving the California State Bar’s recommendation of Garcia's admission, the California Supreme Court issued an order to show cause on why the motion for the admission of Sergio Garcia by the California bar should be granted. Briefs were filed in support of Garcia’s admission including by the California Attorney General, immigration law professors, bar associations, law school deans, and others; three briefs opposed the licensing of Garcia, one of them by the U.S. government. The U.S. government contended that 8 U.S.C. § 1621(c), which precludes the issuance of any professional license provided “by appropriated funds of a State or local government,” bars Garcia’s licensing as an attorney by the independent California state bar and California Supreme Court.

The California Supreme Court has yet to issue a decision in the case.


9. The Race for the Immigration Bottom in the Republican Presidential Primaries


In a Republican presidential debates in Arizona -- the Duel in the Desert, four Republican Presidential candidates, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, and Ron Paul, debated immigration.  There were no real surprises -- support for the border fence, agreement with Arizona's approach to immigration enforcement, criticism of the Obama administration, etc.

The Republican debate in Florida was a bit toned down, likely because of the different Hispanic demographic there.

All in all, the tough talk on immigration in the Republican primaries, including by Mitt Romney, may well have contributed to the landslide of Latino support for President Obama and his relection.  See Item 1 above.


10. Immigrants Help Team USA in London Olympics


Team USA benefited from immigrants in the London Olympics.


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