A Modest Proposal: Legalize Millions of Undocumented Immigrants with the Change of a Single Statutory Date

Author:Alexander T. Holtzman
Position:Michael E. Moritz College of Law & the John Glenn School of Public Policy, The Ohio State University
Pages:133-160
SUMMARY

Nearly 12 million undocumented immigrants currently live in the United States. Seemingly not a day goes by where the press does not cover immigration and immigrant issues. These articles discuss everything from the day-to-day experiences of undocumented immigrants in Alabama or Arizona, to the macropolitical implications of Congress passing, or failing to pass, comprehensive immigration reform... (see full summary)

 
FREE EXCERPT
e Indonesian Journal of International & Comparative Law
ISSN: 2338-7602; E-ISSN: 2338-770X
http://www.ijil.org
© 2015 e Institute for Migrant Rights Press
133
Note. ank you Christopher Walker for your feedback, mentoring, and the title of this
work. Many thanks to Bria DeSalvo and Brian Volsky for your feedback and advice;
and Robert Raymond for the idea, feedback, and encouragement to research registry.
is work was composed while the author was a legal intern for USCIS in the Oce
of the Chief Counsel, though this article does not purport to reveal any nonpublic
information, nor represent the opinions of any individual except the Author.
A Modest Proposal
Legalize Millions of Undocumented Immigrants
with the Change of a Single Statutory Date
ALEXANDER T. HOLTZMAN
Michael E. Moritz College of Law & the John Glenn School of Public Policy,
The Ohio State University
E-mail: alexanderholtzman@gmail.com
Nearly 12 million undocumented immigrants currently live in the United
States. Seemingly not a day goes by where the press does not cover immigration
and immigrant issues. ese articles discuss everything from the day-to-day
experiences of undocumented immigrants in Alabama or Arizona, to the macro-
political implications of Congress passing, or failing to pass, comprehensive
immigration reform legislation. Yet, despite the press coverage, the on-the-
ground realities, and the political ramications, Congress has been unable to
reform our broken immigration system. One reason posited for this failure is
that the proposed solutions are simply too complicated. However, with respect to
addressing the U.S.s undocumented immigrant population, the solution need not
be: Congress may amend a single date in the registry statute under Immigration
and Nationality Act (INA) § 249, 8 U.S.C. § 1259, last altered during the
Reagan Administration. By amending a single date, Congress could provide a
path to legalization and citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants
with strong ties to the communities where they live and work.
Keywords: Immigration Law, Registry, Immigration Reform, INA 249,
Legalization, Path to Citizenship.
The Indonesian Journal of International & Comparative Law Volume II Issue 1 (2015) at 133–60
Alexander T. Holtzman
134
I. PURPOSE AND CONTEXT
A. e Socio-Political Context of Undocumented
Immigrants in the U.S.
Nearly 12 million undocumented immigrants1 currently live in the Unit-
ed States.2 Seemingly not a day goes by where the press does not cover
immigration and immigrant issues. Articles discuss everything from the
day-to-day experiences of undocumented immigrants in Alabama or Ar-
izona, to the macro-political implications of Congress passing, or failing
to pass, comprehensive immigration reform legislation. Yet, despite the
press coverage, the on-the-ground realities, and the political ramications,
Congress has been unable to reform our broken immigration system. is
summer, the rise of undocumented, unaccompanied minors entering the
U.S. has led President Obama to declare an “urgent humanitarian situa-
tion.”3 In November 2014, President Obama, working with Department
of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Johnson, announced a new pol-
icy exercising prosecutorial discretion that has the potential to aect the
legal status of millions of undocumented immigrants in the U.S., albeit
temporarily.4 ousands more are entering each year, and, like it or not,
1. is work uses the term “undocumented immigrant” to refer to any person in the
U.S. with unauthorized, illegal, or noncitizen status. Although used colloquially,
the term is imprecise. “Undocumented immigrant” assumes both that the
noncitizen has an intention to remain in the U.S. and a lack of documentation;
when, instead, one may possess a visa, for example, which simply may have
expired, or soon will. “Alien” was rejected because, as immigration scholars, Kevin
Johnson and Richard Boswell suggest “illegal alien” is often used pejoratively, and
can result in the dehumanization of recent immigrants. Boswell, Richard. Crafting
an Amnesty with Traditional Tools: Registration and Cancellation, 47 H. J. 
L. 175, 22 n. 1 (2010) (citations omitted). e terms “foreign national” or
“noncitizen” are also suitable terms.
2. J S. P, D’V C,  A G-B, P
D  U I S, M H R (Sept.
23, 2013), available at http://www.pewhispanic.org/les/2013/09/Unauthorized-
Sept-2013-FINAL.pdf (last visited Dec. 19, 2014).
3. See Katie Zezima & Ed O’Keefe, Obama Calls Wave of Children across U.S.-
Mexican Border “Urgent Humanitarian Situation, W. P, June 2, 2014, at 1.
4. See Secretary Johnson’s policy memo entitled Exercising Prosecutorial Discretion with
Respect to Individuals Who Came to the United States as Children and with Respect
to Certain Individuals Who Are the Parents of U.S. Citizens or Permanent Residents,

To continue reading

REQUEST YOUR TRIAL