Houston-area Immigration Attorney Annie Banerjee Lauds Choice of Sotomayor

While she is elated with President Obama’s pick of Sonia Sotomayor as a Supreme Court nominee, her expectations remain tempered with cautious optimism.

Houston-area immigration lawyer Annie Banerjee is pleased, bordering on elated, in respect to President Barack Obama’s choice of Judge Sonia Sotomayor as his much touted U.S. Supreme Court nominee. “She’s Hispanic and she’s a woman, and so the Supreme Court finally gets to have those perspectives. That’s praiseworthy,” asserts Banerjee. But is the link between Sotomayor’s selection as a Presidential nominee and significant immigration reform really that clear? Of the latter, Ms. Banerjee is not so sure.

“It does place immigration reform on the President’s plate,” she says, “but it may have been as much a shrewd move calculated to stymie right-wing Republicans enamored with anti-immigration rhetoric that won’t work in the long-term to as an immigration reform catalyst. In fact, I’m already seeing a backlash against Sotomayor that is quite disturbing in the sense of empowering a kind of anti-Hispanic racism.”

Ms. Banerjee is not alone in her misgivings. According to some of her colleagues at the American Immigration Lawyer’s Association (AILA), it’s already been noted that the Tancredo wing of the Republican party is pulling out all the stops to block any reintroduction of the McCain-Kennedy immigration bill because that legislation provides a clear path to citizenship for in excess of 10 million illegals currently residing in the U.S. If the McCain-Kennedy bill were truly perceived as bipartisan and managed to be enacted into law, it would spell big trouble in the public opinion landscape for opponents of more permissive immigration. “It would be a vast improvement,” asserts Banerjee, “but the opposition has been somewhat mobilized by Sotomayor’s nomination. Some of the accusations against her, especially insinuations about La Raza, are intended to incite racist sentiments even as these baseless allegations – such as the charge that La Raza is similar if not identical to a Latino KKK, is bandied about. I think it’s horrible.”

But immigration reform is definitely needed. “While one nominee to the Supreme Court won’t balance the misery that’s been hatched against the legal and undocumented Latino community by focused race-based immigration enforcement policies, it’s a beginning. Perhaps I find myself cautiously optimistic,” Banerjee concludes.

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