Immigration in the 2016 Presidential Election Climate

By Cecelia Thomas and Kisshia Simmons, Esq.

The rhetoric surrounding immigration in this year’s Presidential Election has been considered inflammatory by some and blatantly racist by others.  What is clear is that the topic has been pushed into the forefront of the minds of the American people.  Immigration advocacy groups have become more vocal and focused on making Immigration reform a reality during the next Congressional session.  Only time will tell how this election will eventually impact the future of immigration reform.

The Republican Presidential nominee, Donald Trump has insisted that our current Immigration laws create a public safety concern for law-abiding American citizens.  He vows to make drastic changes, when elected.  For example, Mr. Trump stated that he believes the United States should build a wall on the US-Mexican border in order to prevent illegal immigrants from entering the country.  He then proceeded to characterize illegal immigrants from Mexico as criminals that sell drugs and are often times rapists.  Also, in response to recent terrorist attacks in Europe, Mr. Trump suggested that the United States should ban the entry of immigrants that practice the Muslim faith.  Is it possible that the Republican Presidential Nominee’s viewpoint will lead to a stable and all-inclusive immigration plan for current and future US immigrants?

During the past eight years under the Obama Administration, Immigration reform has been proposed on several occasions, but has failed to make any real progress in Congress.  Democratic Nominee, Hillary Clinton has insisted that she would follow the proposals begun by the Obama Administration.  Ms. Clinton has made immigration a key part of her platform stating that immigration reform would occur in her first 100 days in office.  Nevertheless, we were promised a comprehensive Immigration plan by the Obama Administration more than eight years ago, but we still are lacking any real change.  Does the Democratic Nominee Hillary Clinton intend to also make promises that she does not have the means, nor the political savvy to accomplish?

In the interim, while we listen to the bickering by both candidates, we still have several unsolved immigration issues:

  • How will the Department of Homeland Security deal with the relentless number of undocumented children, who are daily crossing the US-Mexican border into the US?
  • Will there be a reform to Immigration laws that are so strict, they conform to moral standards well beyond the penalties imposed by the criminal justice system, thus leaving residents and other aliens to need waivers or to be forcibly deported?
  • With the stalling of Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Resident (DAPA), what will happen to the nearly 4 million undocumented hardworking individuals, who were excited to have the promise of legal employment?
  • What temporary visas or immigration procedures can be put into place for the educated post graduating professional, who is not able to secure an H-1B visa, because of a random lottery system that only selects approximately 30%.

While this election has been considered incredibly controversial, we have hope, albeit slim, that the focus on immigration could potentially have a positive impact on Immigration reform.  We will continue to monitor the situation and fight for the legal rights of our clients through the election and beyond.

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