Top 10 Immigration News Stories of 2016

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It has been a memorable year in U.S. immigration news.  Here is the ImmigrationProf top 10 immigration news items for 2016.

1.  The Election of Donald Trump as President of the United States

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This was an easy pick.  During the 2016 Presidential campaign, Donald Trump took some tough immigration stances, including promising to "build a wall" along the U.S./Mexico border, railing on "criminals" coming to the United States from Mexico, advocating the creation of a "Deportation Force," and endorsing the "extreme vetting" of Muslim noncitizens seeking entry into the United States.  After all of that on the campaign trail, President-elect Trump appears to be softening his positions on immigration.

 

2.  United States v. Texas 

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With an eight Justice Court (due to Justice Scalia's passing) deciding the challenge by Texas and 26 states to President Obama's expanded deferred action program, the Supreme Court was deadlocked 4-4 and let stand a lower court injunction barring implementation of the program in United States v. Texas.   The injunction virtually guarantees that President Obama's Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) program will never go into effect.

Click here for an online symposium on the case. 

 

3.  BREXIT:  The United Kingdom Exits the European Union

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Photo courtesy of Don Roth

With immigration and immigrants a major concern,  voters in the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union.  The campaign was hotly contested but the aye votes carried the day.

 

4.  Maricopa County Voters Oust Sheriff Joe 

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Maricopa County (Arizona)  Sheriff Joe Arpaio, famous for his zealous -- some might say overzealous -- efforts to enforce the U.S. immigration laws, lost his bid for reelection.  In 2016, Sheriff Arpaio also was charged with criminal contempt for numerous failures to comply with court orders in a lawsuit in which his sheriff's office was found guilty of racial profiling.

 

5. Jeff Sessions Tapped as New U.S. Attorney General

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Jeff Sessions was named by President-elect Donald Trump to be his Attorney General.  He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1996 and re-elected in 2002, 2008, and 2014. Senator Sessions is noted for his opposition to undocumented immigration and advocacy of reducing legal immigration. 

An early supporter of Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, Sessions was considered as a possible vice presidential nominee, but Indiana governor Mike Pence was ultimately selected for the ticket. On November 18, 2016, it was announced that President-elect Donald Trump plans to nominate Sessions for Attorney General of the United States when he takes office.

 

6.   4th anniversary of DACA 

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In 2012, President Obama announced the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.  DACA has provided relied to thousands of migrants who were brought to the United States as children.  In 2016, DACA celebrated its fourth birthday.

 

7.  Passing of Justice Scalia

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Conservative icon Justice Antonin Scalia passed away this year.  As his vehement dissent in Arizona v. United States makes clear, Justice Scalia's opinions were  not particularly sympathetic toward immigrants.  Click here for a summary of Justice Scalia's major immigration decisions

 

8.   Garland Nomination

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With the vacancy left by the death of Justice Scalia, President Obama nominated Merrick Garland, a respected judge of  the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.  There was some uncertainty about Judge Garland's views on immigration matters and he had few immigration opinions.  For a review of Judge Garland's criminal and national security opinions, click here.

 

9. The Surge of Syrian Refugees in Europe

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Migrants on the Mediterranean Sea

The nations of Europe responded in very different ways yo se to the large flow of Syrian refugees.  Due to geography, Syrian refugees have not had as great an impact on the United States, although some states, such as Indiana, unsuccessfully sought to prevent the U.S. government from bringing Syrian refugees into their jurisdiction.     Thousands of refugees have died seeking to cross the Mediterranean Sea.

  

10.  Death on the border continues

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Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

It is not really news but migrants continue to die as they attempt to cross the U.S./Mexico border.  Death on the border is likely to continue during the Trump administration.

 

Honorable Mention:  Ethiopian Silver Medal Winning Olympics Marathoner Protests Government, Refugee Team Competes in Rio Olympics 2016

 

There were a number of immigrant stories in the Rio Olympics 2016. 

The finish of the Marathon in the Olympics yesterday saw the Silver Medal winner make a political statement. As MSN explains, when he crossed the Olympics marathon finish line, Feyisa Lilesa put his hands above his head in an "X." Lilesa was protesting the Ethiopian government's killing of hundreds of the country's Oromo people — an ethnic majority that has long complained about being marginalized by the country's government. The group has held protests this year over plans to reallocate Oromo land. Many of those protests ended in bloodshed.  For months, the Oromo have been using the same "X" gesture that Lilesa used at the finish line.

A team of refugees competed at the Rio Olympics. A Syrian refugee was designated to carry the Olympic torch through a refugee camp in Greece.

This post originally appeared on Law Professor Blogs © 2014-2016 by Law Professor Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.


About The Author

Kevin Johnson Kevin Johnson is Dean, Mabie-Apallas Professor of Public Interest Law, and Professor of Chicana/o Studies. He joined the UC Davis law faculty in 1989 and was named Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in 1998. Johnson became Dean in 2008. He has taught a wide array of classes, including immigration law, civil procedure, complex litigation, Latinos and Latinas and the law, and Critical Race Theory. In 1993, he was the recipient of the law school's Distinguished Teaching Award.Dean Johnson has published extensively on immigration law and civil rights. Published in 1999, his book How Did You Get to Be Mexican? A White/Brown Man's Search for Identity was nominated for the 2000 Robert F. Kennedy Book Award. Dean Johnson’s latest book, Immigration Law and the US-Mexico Border (2011), received the Latino Literacy Now’s International Latino Book Awards – Best Reference Book. Dean Johnson blogs at ImmigrationProf, and is a regular contributor on immigration on SCOTUSblog. A regular participant in national and international conferences, Dean Johnson has also held leadership positions in the Association of American Law Schools and is the recipient of an array of honors and awards. He is quoted regularly by the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and other national and international news outlets.


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