For more than a decade, United States immigration policy has been at the forefront of a fierce legislation battle. While both sides of the political aisle have traditionally focused immigration enforcement rather than immigration reform, years of inflated enforcement spending with few results to show for it have led public opinion to shift in favor of more effective alternatives.
Arizona Senate Bill 1070 represents the broadest and strictest application of enforcement policy in recent memory. The proposed bill required all aliens over the age of 14 to register with the government after 30 days in the country, and required all aliens to have registration documents with them at all times, subject to a lawful stop and detention if suspected of being an illegal immigrant. While the most controversial provisions of SB 1070 were stricken down by the U.S. Supreme Court, the remaining provisions were passed into law amidst much controversy. In addition to Arizona, five other states have pursued similar legislation, including Alabama, South Carolina, Georgia, Utah, and Indiana. The Supreme Court has not challenged the law further, though the American Civil Liberties Union filed a legal challenge against Arizona in 2013. Some of the immigration reform activists were found guilty of obstruction charges during the event. A defense attorney from Keyser Law in Minnesota said these deportation and removal laws are some of the tightest and most changing in court today.
Looking to the Future
More recently, US immigration law found itself at the heart of controversy once again after President Obama announced a series of executive orders aimed at protecting up to 5 million illegal immigrants from deportation. The orders seek to grant work documents to the illegal parents of U.S. citizens or legal residents. The announcement has sparked nationwide debate, drawing criticism from Republicans who claim that the President’s decision was unilateral, and perhaps even unconstitutional. It may be years before the effects of these executive orders have a tangible effect on the nation’s immigration policy, but there is no denying that the immigration issue has become too large to ignore. Obama’s announcement comes on the heels of another controversial ruling by the Board of Immigration Appeals to provide asylum to Guatemalan women suffering from domestic abuse, likely to see stiff opposition as the ramifications of the law are interpreted and put into practice.
Immigration policy has been a notoriously difficult issue for both parties to grapple with in recent years, but growing momentum for support of enforcement-only alternatives seems to have spurred lawmakers into action. Current proposals seek to focus instead on reform, providing a fair and legal pathway to citizenship without sacrificing safety and economic growth. Hopefully with more education and research into the issue, more can be done to help both sides.
Information credit: Keyser Assault Defense in Minneapolis