Top Immigration Stories of 2011: Part 1
Although there has been little movement toward federal immigration reform, immigration agencies and state and federal political groups kept immigration news on the front page throughout 2011.
And so we’ve compiled a list of what we think are the top immigration stories of the year. (Look for Part 2 here next week).
What do you think? Let us know in the comments if you agree that these were the top immigration stories of the year — or what you would add.
Without further ado (and in no particular order) …
1. USCIS embarks on campaign to attract immigrant investors
Amid urges from academics and businesses, USCIS instituted a series of initiatives aimed at attracting foreign investors and entrepreneurs to the US. Business leaders claimed that US Citizenship and Immigration Services has been too slow and restrictive in adjudicating visa petitions filed by innovative and small companies to bring talented employees to the US. In response, USCIS announced several policy and outreach efforts designed to promote start-up enterprises, including changes to the adjudication of EB-5 immigrant investor visas and implementing a series of public outreach opportunities for small business owners to talk with agency representatives.
2. Various states attempt to regulate immigration-related matters
Given the lack of reform efforts on the federal level, many states took measures to curtail illegal immigration within their borders. Many of the state laws have been challenged in court on the basis that they interfere with existing federal law. A case regarding Arizona’s SB 1070 will be heard by the Supreme Court. Other states, including Utah, South Carolina, Indiana, Georgia and Alabama, have also passed laws restricting public benefits for immigrants and requiring law enforcement to detain suspected illegal immigrants. Many of these states are also battling court challenges.
3. The DREAM Act fails in the Senate
After narrowly passing in the House of Representatives, the DREAM Act failed to get the necessary votes in the Senate required to pass. The DREAM Act would have provided an opportunity for children of illegal immigrants to have a path to citizenship if they pursued military service or a college education. Meanwhile, California passed its version of the DREAM Act, making undocumented children eligible for state financial aid.
4. Green card lottery mishap subsides
In an unprecedented computer glitch, the US State Department erroneously notified more than 20,000 foreign green card applicants that they won diversity visas and later invalidated the awards. Vowing to be more careful, government officials fixed the error and quickly held a new lottery. However, some 22,000 foreigners filed a class action lawsuit against the State Department arguing that they should be allowed to receive the visas due to the inconvenience caused by the erroneous notification. A Washington judge rejected the claim.
5. Presidential candidates battle about immigration policy
Immigration reform has long been a subject of debate at the state level, and could become an important issue for the 2012 presidential election. Candidates expressed their views on immigration at various engagements.
The Obama administration touted its record of securing the border and increasing deportations. This claim frustrated many of his Hispanic supporters.
Meanwhile GOP candidates discussed immigration in several major debates. Michele Bachmann and Mitt Romney said they favor a fence along the US-Mexico border and oppose government benefits for illegal immigrants and their children. Rick Perry opposed a complete US-Mexico border fence and supported educational benefits for immigrant children.
Check back here next week for top immigration stories, part 2!