On Saturday, April 5, 2014 immigration groups took part in “Day of Action rallies in close to 50 cities across the country. The primary focus of the demonstrations was to demand the federal government cease the deportations of family members and friends from the United States. In some cities, activists carried signs depicting President Obama as “the deporter-in-chief. Since becoming President, about 2 million people have been removed from the country although some question whether those stopped at the Mexican border and immediately forced to return should actually qualify as a ‘deportation.
From Georgia to Arizona, protestors told their stories of the impact that deportations have had on their lives. As Natally Cruz, with Puente Arizona, said, “One family every night goes to bed missing somebody in their family.” Her parents brought Ms. Cruz here illegally when she was eight years old.
Demonstrators chose a variety of locations to make their point. In Eloy, Arizona protestors assembled, after a sixty-mile journey from Phoenix, in front of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention center. Some of the attendees have relatives detained there pending potential deportation. In New York City, about 50 activists demonstrated on the street in front of a federal immigration office.
The planned rallies demonstrate that activists have shifted strategy. Immediately after the 2012 election, Latino groups focused their energies on pushing comprehensive immigration reform. While the Senate did pass comprehensive bill, the fact it has stalled now for several months forced a reappraisal of strategy among the various groups involved in these issues.
The first test of the effectiveness of this new approach will be revealed if and when the new Homeland Security Director Johnson, develops a new federal policy towards deportations. President Obama told a group of leaders on immigration issues in March that he would order Mr. Johnson to report to him what additional authorities he may have as President to reduce deportations. In 2012 Homeland Security issued a new policy which reprioritized prosecutorial assets so that some individuals, roughly those which would have been eligible under the DREAM Act for permanent residency, would be free from deportation provided they apply for Deferred Action. Those who met with the President at the White House would like to see an expansion of the number and categories of undocumented individuals who could qualify for such treatment.
In the meantime, it is critical, in the event that reform does become law that the immigration attorneys in this country be prepared for the new category of cases any new law is likely to generate. Edward Shulman, Esq, founder of The Shulman Law Group, LLC is a national speaker for the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). AILA is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, and to advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice. In the course of Mr. Shulman’s involvement with AILA, he has been dedicated to educating other immigration attorneys about the import of helping intending immigrants to navigate a new cultural system. He meticulously follows all of the developments occurring in the battle over immigration reform so that he will be prepared to effectively assist his clients obtain either citizenship or residency if a new system is enacted.