As the year 2010 — a lost decade of failed immigration opportunities — draws to a close, let’s look back at 365 days of immigration dysfunction – American style.
Nation of Immigrators hereby confers its first annual IMMI Awards. (Full disclosure: There is no nominating committee for the IMMIs. These are my personal choices. If you disagree with me or believe I’ve missed an obvious awardee, feel free to comment here or Tweet me here.)
2010 IMMI Awardees
Timidity of Hope. The IMMI goes to President Barack (“I-Squandered-A-Dream”) Obama for heeding Rahm Emmanuel’s go slow counsel on immigration reform and pushing at the eleventh hour, only to see even the widely-popular DREAM Act crash in the lame duck Congress, while rejecting out of hand calls that he exercise his executive authority to ameliorate the harshest aspects of our broken immigration system.
Enforcement Forever. The IMMI goes to President Obama for deporting more foreign citizens than any American Chief of State in history, while hoping in vain that this would soften the hearts of GOP to support immigration reform.
Worst Flip-Flopper. The IMMI goes to Sen. John (“I-am-not-a-Maverick”) McCain who, Judas-like, betrayed the cause of immigration reform with opposition to the DREAM Act and any path to citizenship for the undocumented — positions he’d espoused for many years until political survival instincts surpassed principle as his chosen means to remain in Congress, while urging DHS to complete the “danged fence.” Dishonorable mentions go to Sens. Lindsay Graham, Orrin Hatch, John Kyl and numerous other Republicans who in years past had tried to address and resolve our broken immigration system, but this year made hard right turns into the anti-immigration camp.
I-See-Immigration-Fraud-Everywhere. The IMMI goes to Sen. Chuck (“BFF-with-FDNS“) Grassley, who attacked all sorts of perceived fraud in the L-1 visa, the H-1B visa, the USCIS effort to improve customer service, the globalization of business services, the claimed lack of action by the State Department in implementing protectionist legislation requiring increased immigration fees, and the provision of bingo games to detained immigrants awaiting civil removal proceedings.
DREAM Killers. As Sherlock Holmes would say, the elementary answer is in plain sight. The IMMI goes to the Democrats, especially the five who deprived the other mostly Dems and a few Republicans of the chance to right a terrible injustice and make history.
Immigration-Hate-for-Profit. The IMMI goes jointly to Arizona’s Janice Brewer and Russell Pearce (both reelected based on anti-immigrant animus) whose reportedly cozy relations with for-profit immigration prisons helped spawn SB1070, the paper-please, ethnic-profiling statute ruled mostly unconstitutional, a law that even Tom Tancredo disavowed. Another politician who successfully surfed the anti-immigration hate wave, while wasting his municipality’s precious resources on failed litigation, is former Hazelton, PA mayor, Lou Barletta, now Representative-Elect for Pennslyvania’s 11th Congressional District, a dishonorable mention.
Immigration Coal in the Stocking.The IMMI (in the form of a hard, dark lump of disappointment) goes to those members of the pro-immigration community and the Beltway strategists (you know who you are) who eschewed small victories and piecemeal solutions in favor of an all-or-nothing approach to immigration reform which yielded nothing (except enforcement and border security).
Worst Immigration Form. The Department of State’s Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160, a Procrustean bed of intolerant and buggy technology, offering a chilling Big-Brother approach to visa adjudication, is the clear IMMI winner for 2010. As Janice Jacobs, Assistant Secretary in State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs, noted in a June, 2006 Foreign Service Journal interview:
One way to [learn more about people who are unknown to us] is through more data mining of the information that we get on people who apply for visas. With our all-electronic visa form there will be a wealth of potential intelligence that the State Department and other agencies can access. That’s where I think the next step should be. All of the interested agencies could set up a fusion center where they could analyze our visa information and use it as a screening tool before applicants even appear in our consular sections for interviews.
Let-Them-Eat-Cake Immigration Agency. The 2010 IMMI for immigration-agency haughtiness is a three-way tie, awarded to the USCIS Administrative Appeals Office, the Department of State and the Department of Labor. The first awardee for its undeserved claim to immigration-tribunal status (described here), the second for its comprehensive denial of fair process to visa applicants (described here, here and here), and the third for its creation of a make-work jobs program on behalf of its own bureaucrats that masquerades as a labor certification program (described here and here).
Where in the World is Immigration’s Carmen Sandiego. The 2010 IMMI goes to Attorney General Eric Holder for his failure to fulfill his statutory obligation to interpret U.S. immigration law, thereby allowing other federal agencies to make law through press release, FAQ and other machinations of doubtful legitimacy.
Best Immigration Pundit. The IMMI goes to the New York Times opinion columnist, Thomas Friedman, a self-described “pro-immigration fanatic.” Honorable mention goes to Rachel Maddow who challenged Dan Stein of the Federation for American Immigration Reform on his inaccurate denials of FAIR support for a self-proclaimed ethnic separatist.
Best Satirist with a Serious Message.The IMMI goes to Stephen Colbert for breaking character and speaking up for the lowest of the dispossessed, the “migrant workers who come and do our work but don’t have any rights as a result. . . . yet we still invite them to come here, and at the same time ask them to leave.” Honorable mention goes to Jon Stewart of The Daily Show who hilariously but accurately attacked the folly of Arizona’s SB1070.
Best Media Editorial Board. The IMMI goes to the New York Times whose pithy, poignant and persuasive editorials, most recently exemplified by “Requiem for a Dream,” charted a clear path toward solving our nation’s immigration anomie, but alas the politicians valued maneuvers and grandstanding over pragmatic and humane solutions. Many other print and electronic media writers, too numerous to name, deserve recognition.
Profiles in Courage. Hands down, the IMMI goes to the DREAMers who risked deportation in order to engage in political activism and attempt, so far still unsuccessfully, to get the DREAM Act passed. They congregate all around us, especially here, and deserve at least administrative relief in the form of deferred action and work permits.
Statesman-Turned-Activist. Rep. Luis Guiterrez wins the IMMI for serving as the Conscience of the Congress by challenging the Obama Administration, the Senate and the House to fix our broken immigration system. While the anti-business aspects of his CIR ASAP reform bill are misguided, his willingness to be arrested for the cause of comprehensive immigration reform tipped the scale and landed him the IMMI.
Best Source for Immigration News. The IMMI goes to Benders Immigration Bulletin – Daily Edition, a photo-finish winner nudging ahead of ILW, followed for a tie in third place by MicEvHill and the ImmigrationProfBlog.
Most Improved Government Immigration Website. The IMMI goes to USCIS which easily trounced ICE’s trophy-room approach to information access, and DOL Foreign Labor Certification’s hard-to-find-anything information dump of an immigration website
Best Social Media Provider of Real-Time Immigration News. Twitter takes the IMMI with no pretenders to the throne. [Note to Readers: Because I’m having problems with WordPress, go here and click on each of the names of the following Tweeters. Sorry] Some of the top immigration Tweeters include Matthew Kolken, Lea Reiter, Will Coley, GrayRiv, Richard Herman, David Leopold, the National Immigration Forum, America’s Voice, CitizenOrange, ImmigrantSource, USRealityCheck, ExploreHomeland, CompeteAmerica, Cyrus Mehta, MarlitaH, Tony Herrera, Ruben Navarette, Migration Policy Institute, BorderExplorer, JustAMexican, Carl Shusterman, promigrant, NativismWatch, Ali Noorani, Angela Kelley, Philip Wolgin, DreamAct, LaFronteraTimes, ImmigrationTips, Dan Kowalski, American Immigration Council, ClinicLegal, ReformImmigrationForAmerica, Juan Saaa, Detention Watch, ImmigrationGuys, Joseph Porcelli, Cary D. Conover, Prerna Lal and Jethro Arya (the last three of whom each tweet on more than immigration) and possibly, Angelo Paparelli.
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