The Indonesian Journal of International & Comparative Law Volume II Issue 1 (2015) at 133–60
Alexander T. Holtzman
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 ramications,
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 aect 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,