Georgetown University Law Center, Washington, D.C.
12th Annual Immigration Law and Policy Conference
While major reform of the U.S. immigration system seems to be at a standstill, issues of immigration policy are very much at the forefront of political debates. The 12th annual Immigration Law and Policy Conference offered timely policy and legal analysis and discussion on the key immigration topics that are very much at the forefront of policy and political debates.
9:00 AM: Morning Keynote by the Honorable Jeh Johnson, United States Secretary of Homeland Security
9:45 am: Today’s Politics and U.S. Immigration Policy
Immigration, never far from the headlines, has assumed even greater visibility in recent months as the election cycle heats up. The perennially popular State of Play panel, moderated by MPI Senior Fellow Doris Meissner, will focus on the role of immigration in presidential campaigns and beyond. Speakers will provide their perspectives on the role immigration is playing in the lead-up to the 2016 presidential election, the influence of immigration-related demographic change on policy and politics across the country, and the congressional landscape ahead for immigration action, both through appropriations and substantive legislation
- Matt A. Barreto, Co-Founder and Managing Partner, Latino Decisions
- Fawn Johnson, Chief Policy Editor, Morning Consult
- Cesar Gonzalez, Chief of Staff, Office of Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart, U.S. House of Representatives
Moderator: Doris Meissner, Senior Fellow and Director, U.S. Immigration Policy Program, MPI
11:00 am: Break
11:15 am: Exploring the Future of Executive Action
The most prominent of President Obama’s November 2014 executive actions on immigration have been the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program and the expansion of the existing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Together, these programs could protect up to 5.2 million unauthorized immigrants from deportation, and allow them to work lawfully. The implementation of DAPA and the DACA expansion has been stalled in federal court, and its outcome will most likely be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. This panel will review the possible outcomes and timeline for the litigation and the political and practical challenges for implementation they create. Meanwhile, another important executive action, the Priority Enforcement Program (PEP), was launched on July 1 as the successor to the controversial Secure Communities program. PEP represents an approach to federal-local cooperation on immigration enforcement more tailored to the demands of individual local jurisdictions. The panel will discuss how PEP is distinct from its predecessor, and its implementation challenges.
- Heather Fong, Assistant Secretary for State and Local Law Enforcement, U.S. Department of Homeland Security
- Marielena Hincapié, Executive Director, National Immigration Law Center
- Dora B. Schriro, Commissioner, Connecticut Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection
- Cristina Rodríguez, Leighton Homer Surbeck Professor of Law, Yale Law School
Moderator: Muzaffar Chishti, Director, MPI's office at NYU School of Law, MPI
12:30 pm: Lunchtime Keynote by H.E. António Guterres, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
1:15 pm: Lunch
2:15 pm: Unaccompanied Central American Children: One Year Later
In 2014, over 67,000 unaccompanied children from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras arrived in the United States, the largest number of such children ever apprehended by U.S. Customs and Border Protection in any fiscal year. Compared to earlier arrivals, these children included higher proportions of younger children and girls. These developments occurred in the midst of major executive branch policy change regarding the deferred action of long-residing unauthorized immigrants. With financial and political support from the United States, Mexico increased its enforcement against migrants at its southern border with Guatemala. In April 2015, Georgetown Human Rights Institute law students reported in The Cost of Stemming the Tide how immigration enforcement practices in southern Mexico limited migrant children’s access to international protection. Through June 2015, the number of Central American unaccompanied child arrivals has decreased by more than half. Whether and the extent to which Mexico continues to detain and deport significant numbers of these children at the southern Mexican border with Guatemala is yet to be determined. This panel will focus on the roles of the U.S. and Mexican governments in the development, funding, and implementation of these enforcement policies and practices, during a time when one of the significant migration push factors—violence in the communities where these children live—worsened or continued unabated. As the situation evolves, the panel will address policy and practice changes that affect the movement, arrival, and reception of these Central American children.
- Maureen Meyer, Senior Associate for Mexico and Migrant Rights, WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas
- Jennifer Podkul, Senior Program Officer for the Migrant Rights and Justice program, Women’s Refugee Commission
- Reyna Torres Mendivil, Director General for the Protection of Mexicans Abroad, Ministry of Foreign Relations
Moderator: Andrew I. Schoenholtz, Director, Center for Applied Legal Studies; Director, Human Rights Institute; Professor from Practice, Georgetown University Law Center
3:30 pm: Break
3:45 pm: Examining the Growth of Immigrant Detention and the Future of Detention Alternatives
The government has increasingly relied on detention, including for families and children, as an immigration enforcement strategy. The beneficiaries of these policies include the private prison industry which runs most immigrant detention facilities. This panel will examine the current legal and political landscape of immigrant detention, the role of the private prison industry, and cost-effective and humane alternatives to detention. The panel will also address the recent court ruling stating that immigrant children may not be detained in unlicensed, secure facilities and calling for their release. Stakeholders including government representatives and immigrant advocates will discuss these issues and the conditions they see on a daily basis in the immigrant detention facilities.
- Bob Libal, Executive Director, Grassroots Leadership
- Jonathan Ryan, Executive Director, Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services
- Esther Olavarria, Special Assistant to the Secretary, U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Moderator: Jeanne M. Atkinson, Executive Director, Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc.
5:00 PM: Conference Concludes