Since this is the time to write about the "most important" events of the year, I will offer some thoughts about the three most important immigration events of 2011. Two of them concern immigrants directly. First, the passage of more state anti-minority immigrant hate laws, especially the one in Alabama. Second, the continued cave-in by the Obama administration to anti-immigrant prejudice, shown by its sticking to its rigid goal of getting rid of 400,000 immigrants each year. John Morton memos may come and go, but the historically high level of deportations continues, along with the deaths of many would be immigrants in hell-holes called immigration detention centers and at the Mexican border.
But the biggest immigration story of all this year may have been the movement in Republican states to disenfranchise minority US citizens, who are the most important allies of immigrants. The Justice Department is trying to block one of these laws - in South Carolina, using a Civil Rights era statute meant to protect African-American voting rights. Why has the DOJ not yet sued to invalidate similar laws in other states? This movement is likely to spread and grow worse in 2012.
By requiring government issued photo ID's, cutting back on early voting, and other measures making it more difficult for minorities, the elderly, the less affluent and students to register and vote, these states are attempting to keep, not just Americans with ties to immigrant communities, but millions of other potential Democratic voters, away from the polls next year, and in future years. What better way could there be to accomplish the Republicans' long standing dream of achieving a permanent majority, i.e. creating one party rule in America?
This would also help to realize a companion Republican dream - closing America's borders to Latino and all other non-white immigrants. Prospero Ano Nuevo!