- Comprehensive Immigration Reform. Set to take center stage after dealing with the fiscal cliff, the big immigration story for 2013 will be a push by the Obama administration for a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrant hopefuls.
- The election. Between Mitt Romney’s bizarre and out-of-touch calls for “self-deportation” and for an immigration system where no lawyers are needed (a nice dream but a disastrous reality) and Obama’s DACA pronouncement and push for comprehensive immigration reform, immigration was an issue that took center stage in the 2012 presidential elections.
- Malala. A young girl and outspoken critic of the Taliban simply wanted an education and created a blog that encouraged girls to go to school despite Taliban threats. In response, the Taliban shot her. She survived the attack, which has been condemned around the world. What does this have to do with immigration? It directly relates to our perception of who is the “other” and who we should protect. Malala is not that different from you and me when it comes down to it. Which brings us to…
- The “Illegal” vs. “Undocumented” debate. Why do I dislike the term “illegal immigrant?” “The term ‘illegal immigrant’ was first used in 1939 as a slur by the British toward Jews who were fleeing the Nazis and entering Palestine without authorization.’” Charles Garcia. New York Times editorial writer Lawrence Downs says “illegal” is often a “code word for racial and ethnic hatred.” Props to my alma mater U.C. Berkeley’s paper, the Daily Cal, for dropping use of the term.
- DACA. Deferred Action, Childhood Arrivals, or DACA for short was a surprise executive order issued by President Obama in June of this year. It is a temporary status that protects certain children and young adults (“DREAMers”) from deportation while also granting work authorization. It allows DREAMers to come out of the shadows and live up to their full potential, and it is good for the economy.
- DREAMers.TIME Magazine profiled the story of Jose Antonio Vargas, a Pulitzer Prize-winning Filipino American journalist who is an undocumented immigrant, brought to the U.S. at 12. He and other DREAMers pushed for the DREAM Act, which would allow undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship through military service or education and spurred Obama’s authorization of DACA.
- State anti-immigrant legislation. What has been absolutely heartbreaking has been racism rearing it’s ugly head through various state anti-immigrant legislation, in states such as Arizona, Mississippi, Alabama, and most recently Iowa. Karma has been rearing her head back since the showing of the economic cost to these states for these hateful and mean-spirited policies. Also, states like California and Massachusetts have countered with friendlier measures such as Massachusetts offering in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants.
- Provisional Waivers. The directive will allow spouses and other immediate relatives the ability to apply for a waiver of inadmissibility within the U.S. rather than outside of the country. The movement towards the provisional waiver was triggered by the deaths of some spouses of U.S. citizens in dangerous Ciudad Juarez, Mexico who were waiting for their waivers to be adjudicated.
- Prosecutorial Discretion. Prosecutorial discretion is the broad discretion by Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) to choose not to initiate a case against someone, or terminate or administratively close the case and not carry out existing removal orders. In October of this year, DHS issued written guidance clarifying that long-term, same-sex partners should be considered as family members and as a positive factor in exercising discretion.
- DOMA, immigration, and LGBT rights. The Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, codifies the non-recognition of same-sex marriages for federal purposes, including immigration. Previously, the Obama administration announced that it determined that Section 3 of DOMA, which affects immigration, is unconstitutional, along with eight federal courts. The Supreme Court announced that it will hear arguments on same-sex marriage in 2013.
For more information about me and my practice, please visit my website at www.alanoimmigrationlaw.com.