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2017: The Year in Immigration Law

By Christopher Coble, Esq. | Last updated on

President Donald Trump entered office having made some big campaign promises regarding immigration reform. And the administration's repeated efforts to make those promises a reality have met with mixed results from legislators and courts. Given all the back-and-forth, it's been a busy year on the immigration front.

Here are the major immigration stories from 2017:

1. Can President Trump Change the Constitution?

Given those campaign promises and the often bombastic manner in which they were made, many were left to wonder whether now-President Trump could make those changes all by himself. But while the executive is given a lot of legal leeway when it comes to immigration, those orders are still subject to judicial review for constitutionality.

2. Next Steps for Trump's Travel Ban

Trump's first major immigration effort was a ban on immigration from first seven, then six Muslim-majority countries. Several courts have found the initial travel ban unconstitutional in February of this year, and and then said the same about a revamped version in March. The ban went to the Supreme Court, where some elements were permitted, while others were not.

3. Mixed Immigration Messages? Trump Administration's Latest on DAPA, Dreamers

Speaking of mixed messages, Trump decided to undo some Obama-era immigration directives, but held off on others. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security rolled back Obama's Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, or DAPA over the summer, but the president and Congress have yet to act on DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

Another immigration battleground over the past 12 months has been sanctuary cities and states. Attorney General Jeff Sessions' Justice Department threatened to withhold federal funding from jurisdictions that decline to cooperate with federal immigration authorities, and several of those jurisdictions have sued in response.

5. DHS Looks to Collect Social Media Info for All Immigrants

While Immigrants and Customs Enforcement officials have continued and expanded Obama-era crackdowns on undocumented immigrants already in the United States, the Department of Homeland Security has tried to expand the data it can review on potential immigrants. A new rule allows DHS to gather social media information for immigrants, including "social media handles, aliases, associated identifiable information, and search results."

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