Monday, December 19, 2016
It has been a memorable year in U.S. immigration news. Here is the ImmigrationProf top 10 immigration news items for 2016.
1. The Election of Donald Trump as President of the United States
This was an easy pick. During the 2016 Presidential campaign, Donald Trump took some tough immigration stances, including promising to "build a wall" along the U.S./Mexico border, railing on "criminals" coming to the United States from Mexico, advocating the creation of a "Deportation Force," and endorsing the "extreme vetting" of Muslim noncitizens seeking entry into the United States. After all of that on the campaign trail, President-elect Trump appears to be softening his positions on immigration.
With an eight Justice Court (due to Justice Scalia's passing) deciding the challenge by Texas and 26 states to President Obama's expanded deferred action program, the Supreme Court was deadlocked 4-4 and let stand a lower court injunction barring implementation of the program in United States v. Texas. The injunction virtually guarantees that President Obama's Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) program will never go into effect.
Click here for an online symposium on the case.
Photo courtesy of Don Roth
4. Maricopa County Voters Oust Sheriff Joe
Maricopa County (Arizona) Sheriff Joe Arpaio, famous for his zealous -- some might say overzealous -- efforts to enforce the U.S. immigration laws, lost his bid for reelection. In 2016, Sheriff Arpaio also was charged with criminal contempt for numerous failures to comply with court orders in a lawsuit in which his sheriff's office was found guilty of racial profiling.
5. . Jeff Sessions Tapped as New U.S. Attorney General
Jeff Sessions was named by President-elect Donald Trump to be his Attorney General. He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1996 and re-elected in 2002, 2008, and 2014. Senator Sessions is noted for his opposition to undocumented immigration and advocacy of reducing legal immigration.
An early supporter of Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, Sessions was considered as a possible vice presidential nominee, but Indiana governor Mike Pence was ultimately selected for the ticket. On November 18, 2016, it was announced that President-elect Donald Trump plans to nominate Sessions for Attorney General of the United States when he takes office.
6. 4th anniversary of DACA
In 2012, President Obama announced the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. DACA has provided relied to thousands of migrants who were brought to the United States as children. In 2016, DACA celebrated its fourth birthday.
7. Passing of Justice Scalia
Conservative icon Justice Antonin Scalia passed away this year. As his vehement dissent in Arizona v. United States makes clear, Justice Scalia's opinions were not particularly sympathetic toward immigrants. Click here for a summary of Justice Scalia's major immigration decisions
8. Garland Nomination
With the vacancy left by the death of Justice Scalia, President Obama nominated Merrick Garland, a respected judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. There was some uncertainty about Judge Garland's views on immigration matters and he had few immigration opinions. For a review of Judge Garland's criminal and national security opinions, click here.
9. The Surge of Syrian Refugees in Europe
The nations of Europe responded in very different ways yo se to the large flow of Syrian refugees. Due to geography, Syrian refugees have not had as great an impact on the United States, although some states, such as Indiana, unsuccessfully sought to prevent the U.S. government from bringing Syrian refugees into their jurisdiction. Thousands of refugees have died seeking to cross the Mediterranean Sea.
10. Death on the border continues
It is not really news but migrants continue to die as they attempt to cross the U.S./Mexico border. Death on the border is likely to continue during the Trump administration.
Honorable Mention: Ethiopian Silver Medal Winning Olympics Marathoner Protests Government, Refugee Team Competes in Rio Olympics 2016
There were a number of immigrant stories in the Rio Olympics 2016.
The finish of the Marathon in the Olympics yesterday saw the Silver Medal winner make a political statement. As MSN explains, when he crossed the Olympics marathon finish line, Feyisa Lilesa put his hands above his head in an "X." Lilesa was protesting the Ethiopian government's killing of hundreds of the country's Oromo people — an ethnic majority that has long complained about being marginalized by the country's government. The group has held protests this year over plans to reallocate Oromo land. Many of those protests ended in bloodshed. For months, the Oromo have been using the same "X" gesture that Lilesa used at the finish line.