Immigration has historically been a polarizing issue, arguably never more so than in today’s political climate. The purpose of this post is to provide a quick tutorial on major aspects of immigration law, highlighting points which have received intense recent media coverage, including DACA, President Donald Trump’s travel ban, and the potential border wall between the United States and Mexico.
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)
DACA is an American immigration policy allowing some individuals who entered the country as minors to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and eligibility for a work permit. Because of DACA, many undocumented persons are able to work in the United States. In order to be eligible for DACA, an applicant must be in school, a high school graduate, or be honorably discharged from the military with no felony or significant misdemeanors on his or her record. The program does not provide lawful status or a path to citizenship, nor are recipients eligible for federal welfare or student aid. This excellent Congressional Research Service report explains the answers to frequently asked questions about the DACA program.
Key facts and figures about DACA recipients, who are also known as “dreamers,” are available in this pewresearch.org article. To summarize:
- Approximately 800,000 young unauthorized immigrants have received work permits and protection from deportation
- Nine out of ten DACA recipients are from Latin America, including Mexico, El Salvador, and Guatemala
- Two-thirds of DACA recipients are 25 or younger, and all arrived as minors under the age of 16
DACA is controversial in part because it was established by a memorandum from the Secretary of Homeland Security and not by a law passed in Congress. The memo, titled “Exercising Prosecutorial Discretion with Respect to Individuals Who Came to the United States as Children” is discussed extensively in the U.S. Congressional Documents database in HeinOnline. President Barack Obama announced the policy in a speech on June 15, 2012. The full text of the speech is available in the Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, found in the U.S. Presidential Library.
DACA was rescinded by the Trump administration in September of this year, and the future of the program is currently unknown. For secondary sources and scholarship on DACA, search the Law Journal Library for DACA OR “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.” Sort results by Number of times accessed to view what’s trending:
The Travel Ban
Another controversial issue garnering much media attention is President Trump’s travel ban(s). Earlier this year, Trump attempted to place a four-month hiatus on admittance of refugees with two executive orders signed on January 27 and March 6. Both executive orders are available in the Daily Compilation of Presidential Documents in HeinOnline. The travel ban orders, which some considered to be directed specifically toward Muslim-majority nations, were blocked by federal judges before they were set to take effect.
Issues surrounding the travel ban(s) were slated to be heard by the Supreme Court of the United States in its current term, but the Court canceled oral arguments after Trump replaced the original ban with a broader ban on visitors from nations Trump has determined “do too little to protect against terrorists and criminals coming into the United States.” The new ban includes two non-Muslim majority countries, which may address prior charges that his actions are based on religious discrimination. Critics disagree. This article from the New York Times outlines key components of the new ban and explains arguments from both sides on its potential effectiveness.
Despite the recency of the travel ban controversy, plenty of content is available in HeinOnline addressing the issue. A search for Trump AND “travel ban” across all subscribed databases produces nearly 150 results in the Law Journal Library and more than 130 results in the U.S. Congressional Documents database. Use the facets on the left side of the screen to refine results:
And Lastly, the Wall
Among Trump’s campaign promises was the erection of a border wall between the United States and Mexico. Opponents of the wall argue that it’s unnecessary—a significant portion of the border is already secured with fencing—and will not be effective as there are multiple ways to illegally immigrate to the United States. Further, statistics show that illegal immigration has been trending downward with the border secured as-is. Proponents argue that existing blockades are not working effectively enough, although some proponents of more effective border security measures would be satisfied with more secure fencing.
Find a copy of Executive Order 13767, which directs such a wall to be built, in the Federal Register. Enter the Federal Register database and use the full text search tab to enter “Executive Order 13767.” Among the results is 82 Fed. Reg. 8793, which contains the full text of this executive order.
Search for scholarly articles on the border wall by entering the Law Journal Library and using the full text tab’s Advanced Search option. Enter Trump AND “border wall” in the text field and limit dates to 2016-2017 to omit extraneous results. Note the facets on the left side of the page, which include topics and entities when searching within the Law Journal Library. Expand the facets to see available topics, locations, persons, and organizations. These features are currently in beta format and utilize natural language processing and machine learning tools to extract relevant data from content in the Law Journal Library. Eventually, these tools will be expanded to include additional HeinOnline content. Feedback is welcomed!
Immigration Law & Policy in the U.S.
Understanding today’s immigration policies and controversies is impossible without first learning the historical context surrounding immigration law in general. HeinOnline’s Immigration Law & Policy in the U.S. database is an impressive compilation of the most important historical documents and legislation related to immigration in the United States as well as current hearings, debates, and other recent developments in immigration law. Check out acts and compiled federal legislative histories on the topic, all BIA precedent decisions, titles related to extradition, and much more. Not subscribed? Ask for a quote or trial today!