October 02, 2018 Feature

Review of the Year 2017 in Family Law: Immigration Issues Impact Families

By Linda D. Elrod & Robert G. Spector

I. Introduction

Family law cases cover a variety of topic areas and can appear in state or federal courts depending on the issues and jurisdiction. This year was no exception. All separating or divorcing families face numerous, often complex issues as spouses and parents attempt to move on with their lives. Immigrant families, however, faced additional challenges in 2017. In June 2012, the Obama administration had established the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy that protected from deportation about 800,000 undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as young children. On January 25, 2017, the new President signed an executive order “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States” which stepped up current immigration enforcement. In addition to enforcement-only policies, the administration also announced immigration bans and threatened to end DACA. In June 2017, Homeland Security rescinded a proposed expansion of DACA. On September 5, 2017, the administration rescinded DACA but federal courts have stayed action until Congress acts on an immigration bill. Increased enforcement efforts have resulted in thousands of children, many citizens of the United States, being separated from their parents who are detained and subject to deportation. Much of the year has focused on immigration issues in federal courts, many of which remain unresolved.

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