A review of immigration issues for 2011 reads like a rollercoaster of American politics. Some state legislatures, for example—backed by restrictionists groups—attempted to pass harsh enforcement-only immigration laws. Some states succeeded; others struck down these bills; and a few even passed progressive immigration laws like tuition equity for undocumented students. At the federal level, Congress failed yet again to take major action on immigration, but allowed a few humanitarian and refugee issues to pass. The Obama administration deported a record high number of immigrants, but at the same time issued prosecutorial discretion guidelines in an attempt to prioritize enforcement efforts. While our top 11 blog posts—those most read, shared and commented on in the past year—couldn’t possibly tell the whole immigration story of 2011, the list does provides an interesting snapshot of what moved people and prompted reactions throughout the year.

The 11 most popular blog posts of 2011:

11. Thousands of Children Stuck in Foster Care after Parents Deported, Report Finds (November 4)
10. The Facts (and Numbers) Don’t Matter in Alabama (October 12)
9. Despite Limits, How Padilla v. Kentucky Will Endure (January 27)
8. States that Passed Arizona-style Immigration Laws Now Face Costly, Uphill Legal Battles (June 3)
7. DHS No-Match Rule is Another Nail in Economy’s Coffin (October 27)
6. New Report Reveals Devastating Effects of Deportation on U.S. Citizen Children (April 26)
5. The List: A Modern Day Witch Hunt in Utah (July 15)
4. How Immigrants Can Help America Rise Again (February 2)
3. DHS Announces Expansion of Prosecutorial Discretion Guidelines (August 18)
2. What ICE’s Latest Memo on Prosecutorial Discretion Means for Future Immigration Cases (June 6)

However, the most popular blog this year by far was Immigration Policy Center Director Mary Giovagnoli’s post on the inclusion of the term “anchor baby” in the American Heritage Dictionary—a term initially included without context:

1. “Anchor Baby” Added to New American Heritage Dictionary (December 2)

The editors at the American Heritage Dictionary quickly changed the definition to include the words “disparaging” and “offensive.” And the popularity of the post—featured in USA Today, the New York Times, on Comedy Central’s Colbert Report and across the Twittersphere—proves that words have meaning and that many people really do care about how we use them. Without the readers, activists, advocates and scholars who want a constructive and thoughtful debate on immigration—laid out in the hope of practical policy solutions—we would be left with the uninformed, hateful, divisive rhetoric too often slung around this issue.

No one knows which headlines we’ll be reading in 2012 or which blog posts will be the most popular, but we do know that many Americans are tired of the inflamed rhetoric and failed enforcement policies—policies which continue to hurt families and cost communities. People want real solutions to immigration. As we head into 2012, an election year, we can only hope that common sense and smarter policies prevail.