How will the 2012 election affect immigration law and policy?
© Attorney Farhad Sethna 2012
On November 6, 2012 the American people spoke clearly. Almost 3 in 4 Latino-Americans and over 3 in 4 Asian-Americans voted for President Obama. Having embraced the Latino and immigrant communities, Obama certainly reaped a benefit at the ballot box! How will Obama’s reelection affect immigration law and policy?
Challenger Governor Mitt Romney indicated that he would revoke Obama’s DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) policy. Since Romney lost the election, we can expect DACA to continue to remain government policy at least for the short term.
I-601 Overseas Waivers
Final regulations on the waiver process will probably be published before the end of the year. The Department of Homeland Security is expected to proceed with issuing the final regulation which would allow I-601 waivers of unlawful presence to be filed within the United States. At present the waiver is only available for spouses of US citizens.
Comprehensive immigration reform
This is a typical problem given that the House of Representatives still remains in Republican control. However, if Republicans analyze the results of this election, they will realize that they have alienated one of the fastest growing segments of the American population- the Latinos. The immigrant community clearly rallied for President Obama because of Romney and the Republican’s anti-immigration stance. This hurt Romney and other Republicans in this election. Americans want moderates. Americans want Republicans and Democrats to talk to each other and solve America’s problems.
If the Republicans realize that they need to cooperate with Democrats on immigration reform, then maybe we will see some movement toward comprehensive immigration reform. It may take some time to get Republicans to become positive on immigration issues. If the “Tea Party” faction of the Republicans continues to dig in its heels on immigration policy, it is unlikely that we will see comprehensive immigration reform within the next two years.
Three more states chose to recognize same-sex marriage. While marriage is a state issue, immigration is a federal issue. However, immigration law recognizes a marriage as valid if it is recognized in the jurisdiction where the marriage took place. Therefore, there is a conflict between state and federal law. The Obama administration has already signaled where it is heading by directing the Department of Justice to not defend “DOMA” (Defense of Marriage Act) lawsuits. This is an indication that Obama may issue an executive order or DHS policy recognizing same-sex marriages for immigration purposes.
Long term prospects
There is another Congressional and Senate election in 2014. If Obama is able to show that he is trying his best but the Republicans are blocking him, the American people may once again show their frustration with Congress by voting out any obstructionist Republicans, especially Tea Party ideologues. In that case, there may be a possibility of comprehensive immigration reform in the last two years of Obama’s term.
Other immigration developments
We will most likely see an upsurge in DACA applications because Obama has been reelected. We are also likely to see a greater increase in voter participation, especially from the Latino and other immigrant communities who made a difference in this election.
What can you do as a voter?
From a pro-immigration prospective, what you can do is contact your Congressman and Senator. Demand immigration reform. Ask Congress to work together to create a path to citizenship for 12 million hard working, undocumented human beings. By lifting up the undocumented, we lift all Americans.
About the author: Attorney Farhad Sethna has practiced law for over 20 years. Since 1996, he has been an adjunct professor of Immigration Law at the University of Akron, School of Law, in Akron, Ohio. His practice is limited to immigration and small business. With offices in Akron and Dover, Ohio, Attorney Sethna represents clients in all types of immigration cases. Our number is: (330)-384-8000. Please send your general immigration questions to AttorneySethna@immigration-america.com. We will try to answer as many questions as possible.
This is only general legal information. Please consult a qualified immigration attorney for advice on your specific case.