Leading immigration attorney to discuss issue of illegal immigrants in presidential election
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — One of the nation’s leading immigration attorneys will share her expertise on issues affecting the nation’s illegal immigrants during a special session at 6 p.m. Thursday at the University of Florida’s Bob Graham Center for Public Service in Pugh Hall. Parking is free and the session is open to the public. The event will also be streamed live at http://www.bobgrahamcenter.ufl.edu.
Cheryl Little has been an advocate for immigrant rights for more than three decades in Florida. In the 1980s, she was on the front lines of the immigration fight for Haitian refugees landing on South Florida’s shores. Since then, she has been struggling for the rights of illegal immigrants in Florida and around the nation.
Immigration has become a major issue in the upcoming presidential election since President Barack Obama announced the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in June. This executive order by the president grants work permits to young illegal immigrants who were brought to the United States as children. To be eligible, applicants have to prove that they arrived in the United States before they turned 16, are 30 years old or younger, are high school graduates or in school, or have served in the military. They also cannot have a serious criminal record or otherwise pose a threat to public safety or national security.
The program, which in recent weeks has granted its first permits, closely tracks with the failed DREAM Act, a bill that would have provided a path to legal citizenship for many youth. The new policy does not provide legal status for the immigrants but protects them from deportation for two years.
Little began her career in 1985 when, upon her graduation from law school with honors, she began working at the Haitian Refugee Center. In 1996, she co-founded the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center Inc., which is now known as Americans for Immigrant Justice. Little serves as the organization’s executive director.
Little has received numerous honors and awards for her work, including the 2008 Morris Dees Justice Award. She has authored many publications in the area of immigration, including op-eds, law review articles and reports. Most recently she wrote “The War on Immigrants: Stories from the Front Lines,” an article that was published in the Summer 2011 edition of Americas Quarterly. She also has been a frequent expert witness before Congress and appears regularly on television shows including “60 Minutes,” ABC’s “Nightline,” NBC’s “The Today Show,” “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and CNN programs.