contemporary Legislation and IMMIGRATION ACTS

Op-Eds are organized chronologically, with the most recent publications first



"The Biden administration has an opportunity to reinvent a long-broken immigration system. But only if it learns lessons from the past, breaks from the liberal law and order status quo and pushes legislators to make amends for the wrongs of previous Democratic and Republican administrations.

As long as deportations remain central to the federal immigration bureaucracy’s mission, the United States cannot claim to be a welcoming nation — no matter which party is in power or who sits at the head of DHS."

“The asylum provision in the Refugee Act clearly reflects Congressional intent to establish a uniform process for asylum seekers, which cannot be squared with the strained and inaccurate claim from the Trump administration that an unrelated provision in a subsequent law justifies the return to Mexico of asylum seekers.”

"The policies that regulate refugee admissions and asylum also originated in the Cold War but rely on a different concept: universal human rights—rights that transcend the prerogatives of nation-states. The 1947 United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, conceived in the aftermath of the Second World War, includes the rights to exit and to be free from persecution and torture. But it has no enforcement mechanism, and the right to exit one’s own country did not come with the right to enter another."

"Today’s problems have their origin in an earlier immigration and refugee law and cannot be resolved without fundamental change. The Hart-Celler Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 established the basic structure of American immigration policy. Baked into the law are low numerical limits on high-sending countries, which all but guarantee that there will be ongoing unauthorized migration."

History News Network | 19 July 2020


“The Vijayakumar Thuraissigiam case revolves around the issue of whether a Sri Lankan man who crossed the border without authorization and was detained 25 feet inside the United States should be considered to be within the territory of the United States or still on the threshold of the country. In a 7-2 decision, the Court decided that Thuraissigiam should be imagined to be outside of the country and therefore not have 5th and 14th Amendment due process protections that would allow him to challenge his detention in court.”


By María Cristina García

"TPS, DED, and humanitarian parole are only temporary accommodations for select and small groups of people. They are an inadequate response to the humanitarian crisis that will develop in the decades to come. Scientists forecast that in an era of unmitigated and accelerated climate change, sudden-onset disasters will become fiercer, exacerbating poverty, inequality, and weak governance, and forcing many more people to seek safe haven elsewhere—perhaps in the hundreds of millions over the next half-century.”

THE CONVERSATION| August 13, 2018


"This abolitionist vision requires the repeal of laws and policies that treat migration as a crime. For example, the 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act hardened punishments for immigration infractions. It increased the number and criminal penalties for immigration-related offenses and created expedited deportations that have few due process rights."

(Philip Cheung for The Washington Post)

"Made by History", THE WASHINGTON POST| | SEPTEMBER 27, 2018


"The debate over these “sanctuary” policies limiting cooperation between local law enforcement and immigration authorities often misconstrues what they actually do. Sanctuary laws like Oregon’s simply protect members of our communities, some long-standing, from racial profiling, detention and deportation. But anti-immigrant activists, emboldened by President Trump’s nativist rhetoric and policies, have branded these policies as dangerous to Americans, part of a multi-front attack on immigrant rights."

"Ostensibly, the justification for the proposed changes to the public charge rule is to reduce expenditures on public welfare benefits by reducing the likelihood that immigrants admitted on a permanent basis will use these benefits.

However, this justification lacks merit because it fails to account for the substantial costs to individuals and communities that will likely occur should this proposed rule change take effect. Many non- citizens currently living in the U.S. would undoubtedly withdraw from the benefit programs targeted by the proposed public charge rule, significantly reducing their access to adequate nutrition, housing and healthcare. Because benefits are often received at the household level, many of the millions of households with a mixture of non-citizens and citizens will likely disenroll from benefit programs as a unit."

Washington Post | August 9, 2018

BY Mae Ngai, Torrie Hester, Mary Mendoza, and Deirdre Moloney

“A crucial component of the public charge provisions for deportation (specified in 1891 and in each subsequent law) was that a person could be deported only if he or she became a public charge “from causes existing prior to his [or her] landing” in the United States and within a time limit of one to five years after entry.”

“Until the 1970s, all immigrants, whether lawfully present or undocumented, were eligible for public benefits, just like citizens. Eligibility was based on income, not citizenship.”

“Our immigration public-charge policy has always recognized two principles: first, the nation’s desire for immigrants who are able-bodied and employable, capable of supporting themselves and their families; and second, our commitment to assist members of our communities who fall on hard times.”


BY Hidetaka Hirota and Natalia Molina

“The experiences of Irish Americans in the 19th century and Mexican Americans in the 20th century demonstrate the fragility of citizenship rights, as well as the ways nativist and racist ideas have long been used to attempt to undermine them. Narrowing the scope of birthright citizenship is less about shifting patterns of immigration and more about allowing prejudice and intolerance to run loose. And in the end, the triumph of a nativist political agenda hurts all citizens.”

(John Moore/Getty Images)



"For months, Trump has been peppering speeches and tweets with complaints about “chain migration,” a term that erases the humanity of people who migrate and disguises its true intent: to make it more difficult or impossible for family members of U.S. citizens to join them in the United States. This effort is particularly troubling because it is rooted in a desire to dramatically limit the immigration of black and brown people. One analysis shows that the White House’s proposal, if implemented, could keep whites in the majority for several more years — a goal in line with Trump’s other policies."

"The visa lottery has created a more racially, ethnically, and culturally diverse America. Acquiescing to Trump’s demand to end the lottery would mean dramatically curtailing the immigration of non-white people and to return to an explicitly nativist system of immigration."

New York Times | July 29, 2017


"Although the United States purports to promote family unification in its immigration policy, it has usually defined “family” as narrowly as possible, limited to the nuclear family of two heterosexual parents and their children. (Only recently have we recognized same-sex spouses.) But the nuclear family is not the normative family unit in much of the world — or for many in the United States, for that matter."

"Euro-American ethnics enjoyed both a greater sense of power and, perhaps, a greater sense of outrage over the injustice of the quotas. A movement for full and equal inclusion sprung up, targeting immigration restrictions along with discrimination in employment, college, and law-school admission quotas, and exclusion from private clubs. Immigration reformers drew inspiration from and marched in solidarity with African-Americans’ fight against Jim Crow segregation"

"The 89th Congress, elected in 1964, had the largest Democratic majority since the New Deal. It passed a bevy of Great Society and civil-rights laws, including the immigration law that repealed the national-origin quotas. Its sponsors were Philip Hart (D-MI), a liberal known as the “Conscience of the Senate,” and Emanuel Celler (D-NY), the beloved congressman from Brooklyn who had been in the House since 1923 and was perhaps the longest running opponent of the national origin quotas"

Al Jazeera America | August 7, 2015

By Dr. Tanya Golash-Boza

Under the banner of deporting “felons not families,” the priority program creates a false binary by drawing a dividing line between deserving and undeserving immigrants, a stance that has long been decried by immigration advocates. For example, the priority enforcement program singles out undocumented immigrants with DUI convictions for deportation. True, drinking and driving puts people’s lives at risk, but deportation and permanent separation from one’s family is a high price to pay for this relatively minor infraction.”

BOSTON REVIEW | March 22, 2013


"By pushing enforcement-first policies and failing to reform the visa allocation process the federal government also furthers Mexican drug cartels’ control over migration to the United States. In recent years the cartels have gained, maintained, and extended their control over northbound migration routes. The Mexican government’s failure to combat the cartels and ensure migrants’ safety exacerbates the problem. Rampant corruption within the Mexican migration service and local police forces doesn’t help either."

New York Times | Jan. 30, 2013


"The federal government continues to pour billions of dollars into border control and to impose punitive sanctions on undocumented workers, and the immigration-detention system has swelled. These approaches are not only inhumane but misguided"

“Comprehensive immigration reform must mean a return to the tradition of welcoming immigrants who come here to work, and giving them the opportunity to become Americans.”

SALON | MARCH 29, 2012


"Young activists, including many potential beneficiaries who are known as DREAMers, organized, rallied, held sit-ins, and undertook hunger strikes. A small group even marched from Florida to Washington, D.C., to press for its enactment. But it failed in Congress. Since then, students like Chairez and Lee are dreaming bigger and bolder. They aren’t just arguing that DREAMers like themselves — college students with clean records whose parents brought them to the U.S. when they were children — should be given a path to citizenship. They are helping to break down the artificial divisions — including those made by people who consider themselves immigrant advocates — between “model” immigrants (i.e., DREAMers) and others."

Eugene DACA Rally" by dsgetch is licensed under CC BY 2.0



"By using “illegal” instead of “undocumented” or another term, the Times and AP are implicitly privileging the way in which the federal immigration bureaucracy defines immigrants over the way immigrants define themselves. Too frequently journalists and scholars accept these definitions out of hand without questioning them. How, why, and by whom are these definitions created? As law enforcement agencies that justify their yearly budgets and very existence by the number of people they apprehend, detain, and deport, do the Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement have a vested interest in defining immigrants as “illegal”? Do government-contracted private prison companies like the Corrections Corporation of America and its shareholders have a vested interest in defining immigrants as “illegal”?"

Los Angeles Times | May 16, 2006


"Our legalization policies recognized that once a person settled here, had a family, a job and a home, he or she became a part of society. Separating families was seen as detrimental to individuals and society, and deportation was likened to banishment.

To really tackle the problem, we might consider updating other policies from the nation’s past. Reinstituting a statute of limitations on deportation would limit the numbers of undocumented people in the country. We could also raise the ceiling on legal admissions—or eliminate it, especially for neighboring countrieS."

"The United States is known as a “nation of immigrants,” but another tradition of xenophobia has too often compromised our welcome of immigrants and refugees.

Our fear and hatred of foreigners and those identified as outsiders has been embedded in our history, economy, politics, and culture. It has been perfected under the Trump administration. From the Muslim ban to the wall, the government has restricted almost every type of immigration with a cruelty and racism that has few historical parallels."