Friday, December 28, 2018
1. President Donald J. Trump
Day in and day out in 2018, President Trump was at the center of the nation's immigration news. Building on his immigration policies during his first year as President, Trump continued to push the most aggressive set of immigration enforcement measures of any modern U.S. President. Indeed, he ended the year on a high profile note. When Congress refused to meet his demand for $5 billion in funding for a wall along the U.S./Mexico border, President Trump was willing to shut down the entire U.S. government at year end. As of this writing, there is no end to the shutdown in sight.
From day one of his campaign for the presidency, Trump has pushed the border wall. And nothing has changed. Here is a tweet from the President earlier this month:
A design of our Steel Slat Barrier which is totally effective while at the same time beautiful! pic.twitter.com/sGltXh0cu9
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 21, 2018
Detention, including the family separation policy discussed separately below, has been one of the focal points of the Trump administration's immigration enforcement policy. The conditions of detention have been under fire. That is likely to continue because, in December, two children in immigrant detention died, provoking controversy and concern.
The Trump administration's initiatives are too many to list here. Still, a few are worth highlighting. The Trump administration announced the end of Temporary Protected Status for approximately 200,000 Salvadorans. The administration also stripped TPS status from Hondurans, Nicaraguans, Sudanese, and Haitians. It also proposed tightening the "public charge" rule for admissions and limiting eligibility to asylum seekers to those who presented themselves at ports of entry. The Department of Commerce's proposed a citizenship question on the 2020 Census provoked controversy and litigation.
With Congress and the President at an impasse over border wall funding, the U.S. government suffered a partial shutdown. There also was an earlier shutdown over immigration. Although the news was jolting in the beginning, the nation handled the holidays well-enough without a budget and a federal shutdown.
A two-year-old Honduran asylum seeker cries as her mother is searched and detained near the U.S.-Mexico border (John Moore/Getty Images )
To deter Central Americans, including many women and children fleeing rampant gang and other violence, from coming to the United States, the Trump administration adopted a policy of separating parents and children in immigrant detention. The family separation policy provoked mass protests and bipartisan resistance. Pictures like the one above galvanized the nation. Ultimately, President Trump ended family separation. But his administration took months to reunite families.
4. The Caravan
Over the year, President Trump on several occasions attacked the "caravan" of Central Americans coming to the United States. Photos of the caravan provoked concern. Republicans, including President Trump, used the specter of "the caravan" to build support for extreme immigration enforcement measures. President Trump characterized the caravan as an invasion and tried to use it in an attempt to spark a Republican comeback in the midterm elections. Mission was not accomplished and the Democrats regained control of the House!
5. Supreme Court
The Supreme Court continued its steady diet of immigration cases and immigrants continued to win more than they lost. In the 2018 Term, the Court struck down as unconstitutional two provisions of the immigration laws. At the same time, in a 5-4 vote, the Court upheld the third draft of the "travel ban" in Trump v. Hawaii.
This Term, the Court heard arguments in an immigrant detention case. The Trump administration has made detention a core part of its overall immigration enforcement strategy,
More recently, the Court in December refused to stay an injunction barring implementation of President Trump's new restrictive asylum policy.
At some point in the future, the Court will likely decide whether the Trump administration should be permitted to rescind DACA, which to this point been enjoined by three federal courts. See below.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions was an immigration hawk and Trump loyalist. Among other things, he oversaw efforts to pressure immigration judges to close open cases and narrow asylum eligibility. Sessions also took on -- mostly losing -- efforts to fight "sanctuary" states and cities. Because of President Trump's unhappiness with Sessions over his recusal in the Robert Mueller investigation, Sessions was forced out. He took so many insults and barbs from the President that some Democrats almost felt sorry for him.
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) [Official USCIS video]
In September 2017, Attorney General Sessions announced the rescission of DACA. As I have written, the rise and fall of DACA will likely affect the future of immigration law. Three courts have enjoined the rescission of the policy and Ninth Circuit affirmed an injunction. It may take a while but the Supreme Court ultimately will likely decide the fate of the DACA rescission.
Despite President Trump and others seeking to make immigration enforcement the central campaign issue, the Republicans kept the Senate but lost the House. The new Democratic House is likely to put the administration, and its immigration policies, under scrutiny.
9. Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed as a Justice on the Supreme Court.
It was not pretty but the Senate confirmed conservative Brett Kavanaugh as an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court. Given his record on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which does not hear many immigration cases, it is hard to predict how he will approach immigration cases. With a limited record on immigration, there are only hints of his views on the topic, including some from dissents in cases involving a teen immigrant detainee seeking an abortion and an immigration employment case.
1o. Death on the Border Continues
Maybe it does not make the headlines but deaths of migrants on the U.S./Mexico border continue. Increased enforcement in major border cities has resulted in migrants traveling through mountains and deserts where they are more likely to die.
The death toll mounts but nothing seems to happen. Is there anyone out there?
Boalt Hall Changes Name: Yes, this has an immigration angle. UC Berkeley School of Law has long gone by the name "Boalt Hall." It was named after John Boalt, who published an anti-Chinese screed at the height of the Chinese exclusion era. A committee recommended a name change and UC Berkeley School of Law, or Berkeley Law, is now the official name of the school. Here is the Berkeley Law explkanation of the name change.