2016: The Year Ahead in Immigration Law

Presidential Election

We’re in an election year and this election will have a big impact on immigration policy. The presidential campaigns are already going strong, and they’ve been pretty unusual and unpredictable so far.

On the Republican side, immigration has become a central issue in their campaigns. A number of the candidates have been speaking to and validating one of the worst characteristics in the American people – xenophobia. The messaging has gone past the point of offensive – it’s become racist.

Donald Trump has called for a ban on all Muslims entering the U.S.; has said Mexicans coming into the U.S. are rapists, criminals and drug dealers; has indicated that he would deport the over 11 million undocumented people in the U.S.; has plans to end birthright citizenship; and has stated he wants to build a “real wall” to keep out immigrants on the U.S.-Mexican border. While Ted Cruz doesn’t go quite as far as Trump in his rhetoric, he supported Trump’s plan to stop all Muslims from entering the U.S.; wants to ban non-Christian Syrian refugees; also wants to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border; supports the mass deportation of undocumented immigrants; and has stated he would triple border protection, among other things. Instead of reaching out to immigrants and seeing their potential to add to and improve the United States, the Republican party candidates talk about immigrants using words of prejudice and paranoia.

On the democratic side, the two main candidates, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, both support the rights of immigrants as well as the idea of Comprehensive Immigration Reform with a path to citizenship. They’ve spoken out against the hate that the Republican candidates have been selling. They have reaffirmed their support of President Obama’s executive action on immigration reform and have each taken a stand against the recent deportation raids conducted by the Obama administration.

he next President will impact the immigration system in a number of ways – he or she will affect what happens with Comprehensive Immigration Reform, detention centers for immigrant mothers and children, deportation raids, discretionary relief policies, and enforcement priorities. So, the question is, will the American people elect a President who glorifies hate and intolerance, or will the country choose a candidate who will defend the rights of immigrants?

Recently, with Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s death, the Presidential election has taken on even more importance for immigration. There is now a vacant Supreme Court seat. President Obama will try to nominate a candidate in the remaining months that he is in office, but he is already getting a large amount of pushback from Republicans. Republicans are urging the Senate to delay the consideration and confirmation of any Supreme Court nominee until the next President is in office. With many important Supreme Court cases in the pipeline, including United States v. Texas (the case that will determine the legitimacy of Obama’s executive action on immigration), the appointment of a new Supreme Court Justice is critical. We’ll provide more updates and information on the United States v. Texas case and Justice Scalia’s potential replacements in our next newsletter!