2015 was a difficult year for immigrants both in terms of the toxic rhetoric on immigration reform
Editor’s note: Immigration is front and center in the Presidential debates on both sides of the aisle. An immgration attorney shares his perspectives on the outcomes of immgration in 2015.
Year 2015 was a bad year for immigration lawyers and their clients. President Obama’s November 2014 executive orders, which would have made it possible for the legalization of substantial categories of undocumented persons, became mired in litigation.
The rhetoric on immigration essentially ended any discussion about meaningful reform, and the Immigration Service, responding to this rhetoric, became more restrictive on several fronts affecting employers:
1. The President’s Executive Orders
In 2014, President Obama issued a number of executive orders with the objective, among other things, to expand the DACA program (“Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals”) to include the parents of U.S. Citizens—the, so called, DAPA program (“Deferred Action for Parental Accountability”).
A litigation initiated by the State of Texas stalled this effort, which has been mired in litigation ever since. The case is headed to the Supreme Court.
What was the immigration policy debate in 1980?
1980 Repubican Primary Debate: Ronald Reagan and Geoege H Bush Debate Illegal Immigration
2. Immigration Reform is Basically Dead
The Republican candidates for President have literally toppled over one another to show their constituencies how tough they can be on immigration. The talking heads of television drone endlessly on about the ins and outs, but the answer to this extremism is really quite simple—vote.
According to one source, in 2013, Hispanics made up 17% percent of the U.S. population, with the prospect of making up over 30% of the population by 2060. Had all eligible voters come out in force in the last two mid-term elections, things might be very different now.
As it was, the field was ceded to the extreme right wing, which, consistently, does come out to vote.
3. The Visa Waiver Program
In the aftermath of the Paris Terrorist attacks last month, and the even more recent Pasadena shooting, Congress swiftly passed legislation amending the visa waiver program to exclude nationals of Syria, Iran, Iraq, and Sudan, or anyone who has travelled to one of these nations on or after March 1, 2011.
The legislation does not bar such individuals from traveling to the U.S. It does require them to apply for visas at a relevant U.S. Consulate. The visa waiver program has allowed the citizens of certain countries to travel to the U.S. without the need to apply for a visa, which has facilitated the travel of millions of persons coming to the U.S. for business and tourism.
For critics, the restrictions are simply discriminatory and will end up adding to the burdens of already stretched consulates. I would add that the Pasadena shooting would not have been prevented had the visa waiver program been amended years ago; nor is there substantive evidence that the visa waiver program has been utilized by radical Islamists.
Next- #4 and Takeaways of 2015