Thursday, December 12, 2013

Immigration Prof Top 10 Immigration News Stories of 2013

Here are my top 10 immigration news stories for 2013:

1. Congress (Again) Fails to Pass Immigration Reform in 2013

The biggest American immigration news in 2013 by far was Congress’s failure -- once again -- to enact comprehensive immigration reform.

The prospects for successful passage of immigration reform initially were promising. In June, the U.S. Senate passed the immigration reform bill by a 68-32 vote.  The high hopes for the passage of immigration reform were dashed when the House under the leadership of Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) never took up the bill.   This failure came after many months of political agitation for Congress to act on a reform proposal.


Protests followed, including a well-publicized fast by well-known political figures on the National Mall, who were visited by the President, First Lady, and Vice President.  Moreover, an undocumented “heckler” grabbed national attention by asking President Obama at a press conference if he would place a moratorium on deportations.  


2. Boston Marathon Bombing Suspects Are Legal Immigrants

April’s horrific bombing at the venerable Boston marathon on Patriots' Day grabbed national attention.  It turned out that the alleged perpetrators were lawful immigrants from Chechnya.

Rolling stone

The Rolling Stone magazine's decision to put Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the accused Boston Marathon bomber, on the cover of an issue has ignited a firestorm of controversy.


3. Immigration Lawyer and Law Professor Margaret Stock Wins MacArthur “Genius” Award


In September, immigration attorney and Professor Margaret Stock was honored with a MacArthur “Genius” Award.


4. DHS Secretary Becomes President of University of California System

Janet napaolitano

In September, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, also former Governor of Arizona, made a major career move and became the President of the entire University of California


5. DHS Recognizes Same Sex Marriages for Immigration Purposes

After years of resistance, the Department of Homeland Security moved amazingly fast in recognizing same sex marriages for immigration purposes after the Supreme Court's decision in United States v. Windsor (2013) striking down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act. 

A week after the decision, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano issued a statement "that effective immediately, I have directed U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to review immigration visa petitions filed on behalf of a same-sex spouse in the same manner as those filed on behalf of an opposite-sex spouse."  (emphasis added).

This quick Executive Branch action demonstrates that elections in fact do matter. It is hard to imagine that a President Romney would have done what the Obama administration did with respect to gay marriage in the mere stroke of a pen.


6. Federal Court Rules Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio Violated U.S. Constitution: Court Says Arpaio and His Deputies Have Engaged in Racial Profiling Against Latinos


After a trial in summer 2012, the District Court in May 2013, issued a lengthy ruling, which found that Sheriff Joe Arpaio of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office (MSCO) engaged in a pattern and practice of racial profiling in its immigration enforcement activities in violation of the U.S. Constitution and entered a permanent injunction barring future profiling of Latinos by the MSCO.  The court later issued a supplemental order calling for a monitor, bias training, policy changes for the MSCO. 

The racial profiling isn state and local immigration enforcement was ducked by the Supreme Court in Arizona v. United States (2012), in which the Court refused to strike down Arizona S.B. 1070's “show me papers” provision requiring police to check the immigration status of any person about whom they reasonably suspect is in the country in violation of the U.S. immigration laws.


7. Immigration in the Supreme Court in the 2012 Term: Individualized Decision-Making, No Immigration Exceptionalism

In the 2012 Term, the Supreme Court decided two immigration cases, which fall into the mainstream of immigration jurisprudence.   The most significant decision was Moncrieffe v. Holder, in which the Court refused to subject to mandatory removal a long-term lawful permanent resident who had been convicted of a drug crime for possession of the equivalent of a few marijuana cigarettes (currently legal in a number of states).


8. Obama Administration Sets Many Immigration Enforcement Records.


The Obama administration continued to show its deep and enduring commitment to immigration enforcement  The administration has deported more immigrants than any administration in U.S. history.  Among other immigration enforcement milestones in 2013,

--    U.S. immigration officials planned to ratchet up removals of immigrants convicted of minor crimes as part of an urgent push to make sure the government would not fall short of its criminal deportation targets.

--    A new reports shows record immigration enforcement spending

--    At nearly 100,000, immigration prosecutions reach all-time high in FY 2013.

--    The congressional "detention bed mandate" has contributed to the record number of immigrants held in detention. 

--     Deaths on the U.S./Mexico border directly attributable to heightened enforcement measures continue.


9. States Extending Rights to Undocumented immigrants, An Undocumented Attorney Next?

Just a couple of years ago, states, like Arizona, Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina were passing record numbers of immigration enforcement laws, many of which the courts struck down in whole or in part.  Times have changed.  Most recently, the District of Columbia followed 11 other states allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain a driver's license.   California has blazed a trail with a number of  state immigrant integration -- as opposed to immigration enforcement -- laws, including laws protecting immigrant workers and making undocumented immigrants eligible for a driver's license. 

In addition, the California Supreme Court is considering whether Sergio Garcia, an undocumented immigrant, should be licensed to practice law.  There is a long history of limiting immigrant eligibility for bar admission.  In the fall, the Court held oral arguments on Garcia’s admission. In response to some of the Justices' questioning, the California legislature in near-record time expressly authorized undocumented immigrants to be eligible for admission to the bar.


10. Author of Immigration Report Quits the Heritage Foundation

The co-author of a controversial report, which estimated the cost to taxpayers of legalizing 11 million undocumented immigrants, issued by the Heritage Foundation, left the conservative think tank. Jason Richwine, a senior policy analyst at Heritage, quickly resigned as the controversy grew over work he had done as a graduate student. “His Harvard University dissertation, argued that persistent differences between immigrants’ IQs and those of white Americans should be a factor in determining who should be allowed to permanently come to the United States.” 


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