AILA: Obama Talks Big on Immigration Reform, But is Not Delivering

Monday, October 6, 2014

George Tzamaras
Belle Woods

Washington, DC - Leslie A. Holman, President of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) responded to two recent announcements from the Obama Administration, the first regarding eligible immigrants with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) applying for the Military Accessions Vital to National Interest (MAVNI) program and a second plan to allow young children from Central American countries to apply for refugee status from outside the U.S.

"Unfortunately, both these announcements are all noise with virtually no impact. The MAVNI program offers a chance for immigrants to serve this country and eventually earn citizenship, but there are so many caveats and limitations that this announcement by its own terms would be limited to very few. Add to that the fact that an existing Administration policy bars people from service based on their family members' immigration status. The result is that virtually all DACA-authorized individuals are effectively blocked from serving.

"Meanwhile President Obama's idea of implementing an in-country refugee processing program in Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala could be an effective tool in addressing the humanitarian situation there. But again here is a policy that is so limited as to lack any meaningful impact. The announcement actually lowers the total number of refugee slots available for the entire Latin American region down to 4000, and makes an odd proviso that limits protection of children only to those who have family members legally present in the United States. With tens of thousands in need, that's like the captain of the Titanic telling everyone to jump into one lifeboat. That's no solution for these desperate mothers and children-victims of domestic abuse, gang rape, beatings, and gun violence.

"These two actions are policies that sound good at first, but in operation only pretend to be changes. What we really need is the President to take big, bold action that will help our military, our economy, our communities, our businesses, and our families. These pretenses of policy change aren't helping. Last week he promised real action on immigration. We need better proof than this."


The American Immigration Lawyers Association is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice, and enhance the professional development of its members.

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 14100640.