Let’s face it – 2009 has not been a big year for immigration…but that may not be such a bad thing. Immigration advocates have bemoaned the Obama Administration’s lack of action on the issue, but, in the spirit of the holidays, I believe we have a lot to be thankful for as we look back on this past year…
- Obama’s Inauguration – THE GOOD: Obama has succeeded in driving record numbers of naturalized citizens to the polls with his calls for change and a renewed belief in the American Dream. That’s a positive start. THE BAD: He has not delivered on his promise to address immigration reform just yet.
- Committee Formation – THE GOOD: A committee has been formed to begin discussing a reform package. THE BAD: It has been pushed to the back burner for the moment, given the state of the economy and healthcare in the U.S.
- Janet Napolitano – THE GOOD: Janet was an exceptional choice who has more or less met the high expectations the Administration, and the general public, set for her. THE BAD: Pretty much anyone would have been better at being the DHS Secretary than Michael Chertoff.
- Worksite Raids – THE GOOD: Or lack thereof, should I say? Sure, we’ve seen some action, but nothing compared to the atrocities we saw in Postville or New Bedford a few years back. The few raids that did occur were not only conducted in a much more humane manner, but actually went after bad-apple employers as well. THE BAD: The E-Verify issue continues to crop up and seems to be growing in popularity since the Administration tends to waffle on how they want to handle the enforcement aspect of the immigration issue.
- Relief for Widows – THE GOOD: In one of my personal favorite highlights of the year, widowed spouses of U.S. Citizens are now eligible to have their petitions reinstated at the discretion of USCIS. THE BAD: At the very least, they can request deferred action.
- Mass Trials – THE GOOD: For immigrants detained at the border, en masse trials are no longer a viable option and have been overruled. Unlike previously when immigrants caught at the border were rounded up, read their rights as a group and asked to enter group guilty pleas, each person now shall be awarded an individual hearing before the judge. THE BAD: It will probably be much less efficient and a lot more expensive.
- Lou Leaves – THE GOOD: Lou Dobbs and his nightly rants will no longer corrupt innocent minds across the nation, and Boston-Boy John King and his Magic Map will fill the 7PM primetime spot on CNN. THE BAD: Lou’s considering a Senate run for the state of New Jersey. (I don’t like New Jersey either, but come on!)
Either way, again, 2009 has not been a big year for immigration. We can only hope for good things in the year to come.