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Stomped by Elephants or Riding the Donkeys Republican Democratic Immigration

Stomped by Elephants or Riding the Donkeys Republican Democratic Immigration

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Published by Michael Benefiel
Does the outcome of the 2012 Presidential election have any impact on U.S. immigration policy? Does it make a difference if a Republican or a Democratic candidate wins?
Does the outcome of the 2012 Presidential election have any impact on U.S. immigration policy? Does it make a difference if a Republican or a Democratic candidate wins?

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Published by: Michael Benefiel on May 14, 2012
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Michael Benefiel Professor Alan Drew Immigration Law, Spring 2012MichaelBenefiel
What will be the impact of the Presidential election on immigration?Compare the consequences if the President is a Republican or a Democrat.
As of May 2012, with almost six months of campaigning ahead of us, little is certain about howthe Presidential election will impact immigration in 2013-2017. As we move through May, it
appears that both political parties are searching for “wedge” issues which will enthuse their 
constituencies while creating dilemmas for opponents, and for the moderates and independentswho will determine the outcomes in battleground states. I predict that immigration will be one of 
the “wedge” issues in 2012.Most American voters, I believe, share my own faith in the “rule of law,” and are troubled by the
presence in the U.S. of 11-12 million undocumented people, who have evaded inspection at theborder, overstayed valid visas and permitted periods of stay, or are in some other category of not-quite-right status such as TPS (temporary protected status) or awaiting final adjudication of themerits of an I-
589 “Application for Asylum, and for Withholding of Removal” case. Both
political parties and many candidates have some difficulty articulating a consistent andpersuasive policy case for their preferences. The voters appear to be deeply divided on how to
reform immigration laws and how to handle the presence of so many people here “illegally.”During Gov. Mitt Romney’s campaign for the Republican Party’s nomination in Florida, he
a policy of “self 
deportation.” With Florida’s 29 electoral
votes a major prize for acandidate in the November election, the name of Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), a dynamicCuban-American elected in 2010 with key support from the Tea Party, is mentioned as a possibleRepublican Vice Presidential nominee. Senator Rubio has crafted a compromise Dream Act,hoping to straddle the divide between Republicans. Republican nativists oppose any measure topermit illegal immigrants to earn their way to citizenship
, which they call “
andcondemn as a reward for illegal behavior. Republican compassionate conservatives, perhapsincluding Sen. Rubio, regard children as meriting special consideration, though imposingconditions on their status adjustment.In Maryland, voters will consider a Referendum on the Maryland version of the Dream Act,which offers in-state tuition rates at Montgomery College and other community colleges in thestate to all immigrants, except those here on valid non-immigrant student visas, who willcontinue to pay out-of-state rates unless they change status and meet residence requirements. TheDream Act gives children who came to the U.S. by means which evaded border inspection orentered on valid non-immigrant visas and overstayed their permitted temporary stay anopportunity to continue their educations in Maryland
Instead of the Romney pattern of “self 
deportation,” these immigrants might be described as “self 
adjusting” immigrants. The current
Michael Benefiel Professor Alan Drew Immigration Law, Spring 2012MichaelBenefiel
U.S. law does not permit people to make an independent adjustment of status. Instead, U.S. lawrequires that immigrants obtain official permission to change their immigration status.This issue, whether or not to allow children to become educated at in-state rates, has become oneof the hot-button controversies in Maryland and across the country. As I note in describing
Senator Rubio’s version of a dream act, reconciling those Republicans who oppose it with those
Republicans who favor some relief for students and young people will be a measure of the
Republican Party’s ability to mobilize v
oters who care about fairness and youth opportunitiesand get them to support the Romney candidacy with money and get-out-the-vote drives betweenLabor Day and Election Day.The national Democratic Party emphasizes responsibility and accountability, as well as itsunavailing hopes for comprehensive immigration reform.
President Obama’s Administration
continues to deport nearly 400,000 immigrants annually. Changes in enforcement prioritiesannounced in June 2011, by Director John Morton for the U.S. Immigration and CustomsEnforcement (ICE), a division of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), have not beenconsistently applied.
With some jurisdictions, like Arizona, crafting new powers for local lawenforcement, the judicial doctrine of Federal preemption in matters of immigration is underchallenge. From the tenor of oral arguments in
U.S. v. Arizona
at the Supreme Court on April 25,2012, I find it difficult to believe we will have a helpful and dispositive court decision in the nextfew months.How distinct are policies toward immigration as described by the two major political parties inthe U.S.? How much do politics impact immigration flows at all? How much are these insteadshaped by varying economic conditions and
the migrants’ own ideas abo
ut opportunities in theircountries of departure and countries of arrival, both worldwide and in the Western Hemispherein particular?My view is that, for better or for worse, U.S. immigration policy is often reactive and varies withthe state of our national economy and our sense of endangerment. Though volumes of regulations and transcripts attest to the effort to plan, structure, and enforce a consistent set of immigration laws and enforcement priorities, most observers see wide variations in theenforcement of immigration laws. Indeed, in the years since the terror attacks of September 11,2001, the U.S. Congress and the Executive Branch have made dramatic new efforts to monitoractivities by immigrants in the U.S. on the basis of national security concerns. In addition, since2010, when
Arizona’s legislature enacted SB1070, which sought to add local law enforcement
The Administraion’s guidelines are found at 
http://www.ice.gov/doclib/secure-communities/pdf/prosecutorial-discretion-memo.pdf  and the print version is dated June 17, 2011. The American Immigration Trial
podcast, which summarizes the memos and discusses the pilot programs in Denver and Baltimore, is athttp://media01.commpartners.com/AILA/podcasts/ProsecutorialDiscretionandPilotPrograms.mp3 

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