August 04, 2016

Annual 2016: Panelists to discuss how Clinton, Trump might tackle US immigration concerns

Since the Supreme Court rendered its 4-4 split decision in the lawsuit brought by Texas and 25 other states against President Obama’s recent executive order on immigration, the issues at hand continue to be hotly debated by both sides.

Obama’s plan, the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents and Expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, would allow millions of undocumented immigrants to work lawfully in the United States.

Last month Obama asked the Supreme Court to reconsider his plan when there is a full complement of justices on the Court. Yet it is unclear if a new administration would keep current policies in place or defer them.

Against this backdrop, the American Bar Association Commission on Immigration will hold a wide-ranging discussion on the immigration debate on Friday during the ABA Annual Meeting in San Francisco. The program, “Controversy Delays Progress: Prospects for Immigration Initiatives in the Next Administration,” will take place from 3:30 to 5 p.m. at the Marriott Marquis Hotel.

The topic has never been more important. The Department of Homeland Security reported in 2013 that an estimated 11.4 million undocumented immigrants were in the U.S. in January 2012, compared to 11.5 million a year earlier.

The panelists acknowledge that the topic of immigration can spark heated debate, often preventing the different sides from coming together to find resolution to their differences.

“We’d like to talk about exactly what can be accomplished, “said Judge Dean Lum of King County Superior Court, who will moderate the panel.

“Clearly there are a lot of issues, but even noncontroversial issues are held hostage in the current environment,” he said.  “We’re going to see if we can find some common ground that people can talk about instead of screaming.”

Immigration is not easy to fix, but “some technical fixes to some of the visas might be possible,” said Lum.

In addition to Lum, the panel will include Thomas Saenz, president and general counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund in Los Angeles; Denise Gilman, director of the Immigration Clinic at the University of Texas Law School; and Jennifer Shih, attorney at Simmons & Ungar LLP.

Gilman speculated on the potential scenario for DAPA/DACA with a nine-member High Court.

“There is a real possibility that a full Supreme Court might rule in a manner that would allow the program to go forward,” she speculated.

Considering how Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump might tackle immigration, Gilman said that Clinton would likely pursue reform through legislative action.

As for the other side, “Donald Trump has stated that he would end the DACA program and would significantly curb immigration of all kinds,” she said.  “It is unclear whether he would really implement such restrictive policies, since they would likely be harmful to the U.S. economy and global competitiveness in science and industry.