2010 Was a Bad Year for Las Vegas Immigrants

As we begin 2011, we can look back on the previous year and see that it was not a great one for Las Vegas immigrants — a record number (well over 400,000 although final tallies are not yet ready) of immigrants were deported in 2010, and comprehensive immigration reform died in the U.S. Senate just before Christmas. These outcomes cast a shadow over the coming year and many Nevada immigrant families’ hopes for better things to come.

2010 was the year of increased enforcement, with President Obama sending some 1,200 additional National Guard troops to the US-Mexico border to increase border patrols. This was intended as a political move: the Democrats wanted to show their GOP counterparts that they were capable of amping up enforcement of immigration laws even while they maintain that immigration reform is needed to address the situations of some twelve million illegal aliens. Democrats found an unusual ally in the business community, which largely took the position that immigration reform was needed to empower immigrant families to become consumers and to provide domestic businesses with trained, intelligent young workers. Still, the Republicans blocked multiple bids for small immigration reform bills that would have addressed problems in the agricultural sector and policies affecting undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children.

The year also saw increased activity by ICE, the federal agency charged with enforcing the nation’s immigration laws. ICE continued building partnerships with local police to deputize them for additional manpower in enforcing immigration laws. The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department signed on to this scheme, known as the 287(g) program. There was also the spread of the Secure Communities program, which provides local police such as the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department with access to federal immigration databases and compels them to run the fingerprints of any individual they arrest to determine the person’s immigration status and criminal background. As a result of this program, more illegal immigrants arrested for minor crimes have been detained by ICE and placed into Immigration Court. This has resulted in the removal of some violent illegal aliens, but it has also ensnared dozens of Las Vegas undocumented immigrants with no or minor previous offenses who are now facing deportation.

And 2010 also had Congressional elections with major implications for Nevada immigrants. Republicans took control of the House of Representatives and the GOP gained ground in the Senate. If passing immigration reform — even popular reform like the DREAM Act — was not possible last year, it is hard to imagine the situation improving in 2011. Republicans seem to have made a political calculation that opposing immigration reform bolsters their political base and is worth the cost of the Latino voting bloc. Time will tell how wise this strategy is, but the immediate implications for Clark County illegal immigrants are dark.

Our firm offers free consultations, and over recent months dozens of Nevada immigrant families have talked to our Las Vegas immigration attorney and decided to wait to see if immigration reform passed in 2010. For many families, the only option for pursuing legal status is an elaborate process known as the I-601 Waiver, and they hoped that a political solution might offer them an easier path. If you have been waiting for immigration reforms and want to know what you can do now that the political climate has changed, contact us today for a free consultation with our experienced Nevada immigration lawyer.

One Response to “2010 Was a Bad Year for Las Vegas Immigrants”

  1. I read your whole article. I think you made great review on 2010. I agree with you but lets hope for the best in 2011.

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