AILA: How President Obama Can Reform Immigration in His Last Year

George Tzamaras
Belle Woods

WASHINGTON, DC - Today, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) issued a report card on President Obama's immigration efforts over the past seven years and made recommendations for how to reform immigration in his last year.

"In recent days and weeks he has shown leadership in protecting refugees from Syria," said AILA President Victor Nieblas Pradis. "But until recently, the president's response was timid and he still plans to resettle only 10,000 Syrian refugees this year. He can save many more lives by setting his target at 100,000 Syrian refugees.

"In our own hemisphere, when Central American individuals and families, including young children, arrived at our southern border seeking refuge from the horrific violence plaguing those countries, the president should have protected them, but instead, he treated them as a border threat. The president should acknowledge that the situation in Central America is a humanitarian crisis and use every tool at his disposal to protect those fleeing. Most important he should stop detaining thousands of families.

"The reforms to the legal immigration system he promised a year ago have moved forward at a glacial pace, earning him an incomplete. He can benefit the economy enormously by implementing plans to encourage research, development and entrepreneurial start-ups.

"Pledges to make the enforcement apparatus humane are marred by a Border Patrol that has not been held to account for its excessive and lethal use of force. We've seen improvements to prosecutorial discretion, and hope the administration implements its policies nationwide. The greatest impact he could make would be to reduce the use of detention and fast-track deportations done without legal counsel or the careful decision of a judge.

"The president should be commended for championing the cause for DREAMers with the original 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative. Politically driven lawsuits and courts have stalled the president's landmark follow-up programs, but we stand by him as he fights to implement them.

"In his final year, President Obama can save thousands of lives, keep families together, and help our economy thrive." AILA's report card comes with additional actions the president and his administration can take in the next year.


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. 15111833.