This Week in Immigration
After 30 Years, Plyler v. Doe Decision Survives but Remains Under Attack
Thirty years ago today, the Supreme Court issued its landmark decision in Plyler v. Doe, holding that states cannot deny a free public education to students for lack of valid immigration status. The decision has since opened the schoolhouse doors to untold numbers of children who might otherwise be deprived of a basic education. Yet today, the decision remains under continued attack from critics who—as part of an ongoing effort to put the issue back before the Justices—appear willing to sacrifice the welfare of U.S. citizens.
In the never-ending debate over the impact that immigration has on the U.S. economy, the role of immigrant small businesses usually goes unnoticed. While mention is sometimes made of the fact that two in five Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants, the little businesses—the majority that employee under 100 people—are often forgotten. In large part, this is due to the absence of basic data on the subject. However, a new report from the Fiscal Policy Institute (FPI) finally quantifies the value of immigrant small businesses to the U.S. economy.
DREAM Act students, immigration advocates and community leaders have turned up the heat on Congress and the Obama administrative in recent weeks to do something, anything, about our nation’s immigration problems. Yesterday, Evangelical leaders—including the National Association of Evangelicals, and Focus on the Family—joined that effort, denouncing recent “self-deportation policies” and calling on leaders to break the gridlock on immigration.
Last week, the House of Representatives passed an appropriations bill that demonstrates how out of step they are with the public on immigration. House Members passed a series of amendments designed to stop the Obama administration from pursuing humane immigration policies, voting to block funds for any prosecutorial discretion activities, including the new 3 and 10 year bar rule that would allow many applicants to remain in the United States while their applications were being processed. Other amendments would prohibit the administration from cutting 287(g) agreements, funding any alternatives to detention or the ICE Public Advocate’s Office, and even providing translation services for people with limited English proficiency.
Nearly a year ago, ICE Director John Morton issued a memo on prosecutorial discretion which led to the review of 300,000 immigration cases currently in removal proceedings. Advocates initially applauded this announcement, hoping that the administration would move quickly to close low-level, non-criminal immigration cases. But today, disappointed by the program’s low closure rate, advocates and community leaders called on the Obama administration to make good on its promise of using of prosecutorial discretion to protect DREAMers and immigrant families from deportation