ILLEGAL: Obama Set to Move on Executive Amnesty for Five Million as Soon as Next Week
The powder keg that is our nation’s capitol appears ready to explode.
Fox News reports that the Obama administration is prepared to move forward with a 10-point immigration plan – the long-rumored “executive amnesty” – perhaps as early as next week. According to a source close to the White House, the presidential order would include a series of initiatives designed to drastically alter the federal government’s enforcement policies, including:
- Work permits for unlawful immigrants who are the parents of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents, suspending the threat of deportation for as many as 4.5 million illegals
- An expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program
- A pay raise for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) employees in an effort to boost morale
A New York Times article corroborating Fox News’ account states that, “Mr. Obama’s actions will also expand opportunities for immigrants who have high-tech skills, shift extra security resources to the nation’s southern border, revamp a controversial immigration enforcement program called Secure Communities, and provide clearer guidance to the agencies that enforce immigration laws about who should be a low priority for deportation, especially those with strong family ties and no serious criminal history.”
The controversial DACA policy has drawn the ire of prominent conservatives since its inception, most notably Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who has moved to repeal it in the past. Initiated on June 15, 2012 via a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) memorandum, DACA defers the potential deportation of any unlawful immigrant who:
- came to the United States before the age of 16
- was not over 30 years old at the program’s outset
- is either currently in school, has graduated from high school or obtained a GED, or has received an honorable discharge from the military
- has not been convicted of either a felony, a significant misdemeanor or three or more other lesser misdemeanors, and who does not otherwise pose a threat to the public, and
- has remained in the U.S. continuously for at least five years before the date of the memo.
The changes proposed under the executive order would move that cut-off forward to January 1, 2010, making roughly 300,000 more immigrants eligible for deferred action.
The basis of the program is “prosecutorial discretion“, the leeway given to enforcement officials when determining which individuals should be charged and to what degree their cases should be pursued. The Obama administration broadened the definition to exclude an entire class of unlawful immigrant children from prosecution, and now seeks to expand it further to shield certain adults.
All of these revelations come on the heels a testy back-and-forth in recent days between Republican leadership and the president. Following a press conference last week in which Obama vowed to move forward with his executive action, House Speaker John Boehner warned, “I’ve made clear to the president that if he acts unilaterally on his own, outside of authority, he will poison the well, and there will be no chance for immigration reform moving in this Congress. It’s as simple as that…. When you play with matches, you take the risk of burning yourself, and he is going to burn himself if he continues to go down this path.”
Appearing last Sunday on CBS’ Face the Nation, the president pointed the finger back at Boehner, saying:
[W]e don’t have the capacity to deport eleven million people. Everybody agrees on that. I presided over a process in which the Senate produced a bipartisan bill. I then said to John Boehner, John, let’s get this passed through the House. For a year I stood back and let him work on this. He decided not to call the Senate bill and he couldn’t produce his own bill. And I told him at the time, John, if you don’t do it, I’ve got legal authority to make improvements on the system. I prefer and still prefer to see it done through Congress, but every day that I wait we’re misallocating resources. We’re deporting people that shouldn’t be deported. We’re not deporting folks that are dangerous and need to be deported. So, John, I’m going to give you some time, but if you can’t get it done before the end of the year, I’m going to have to take the steps that I can to improve the system.
It appears that time is up for Boehner and his Congressional colleagues. With a group of Senators, most notably Jeff Sessions of Alabama, already threatening to withhold funding from any initiatives the president attempts to enact, a volatile confrontation seems imminent.
So, what to make of all this?
We would do well to keep in mind the still percolating case of Dr. Jonathan Gruber, he of the loose lips that threaten to sink Obamacare’s already battered ship. While Gruber’s low estimation of the general public has drawn much of the attention, the most important aspect of that story is his admission, in at least three recorded discussions, that what liberals claimed they were seeking during the health care debate wasn’t what they were aiming for behind the scenes. While the smiling, public face of Obamacare was a utopian cure-all that expanded coverage as it simultaneously lowered costs, it is, in reality, a new tax meant to force the young and the healthy to pay for the old and the sick. The friendly proponents of the plan vowed that premiums would not go up “a single dime”; the backdoor schemers levied a 40% “cadillac tax” on insurers knowing that those companies would pass along the costs to their unwitting customers, Gruber’s “stupid American voters”.
So it is with “immigration reform”. The president and his defenders are trying to convince us that they are just doing what’s best for the country’s residents, both citizen and non-citizen alike. To garner support, they will push forward the explanation that they feel is most palatable to the public. They will argue that the system is “broken” and that they are simply trying to allocate the government’s limited resources in the most efficient way possible: rather than attempting to deport longtime residents who have established family ties, avoided criminal activity and become productive members of their communities, they will focus on the felons, the gangs and the cartel traffickers. Such a prioritization will also be more humane, preventing the breakup of families that result from the deportations of mothers and fathers. They’ll secure the border, sure, but they want us to remember that we are a nation of immigrants and that Lady Liberty herself beseeches us to welcome all who reach our shores.
In reality, they are purposely blurring the lines between legal immigration (which has enriched our nation) and illegal immigration (which has unnecessarily balkanized it) so as to destigmatize the latter. Far from stopping illegal immigration, they are encouraging it; far from fixing the broken system, they are unraveling it further and abusing its weaknesses for their own purposes. The goal is to convince everyone that the Democrats are the ones who care, that they’re the ones looking out for the tired, the poor and the huddled masses yearning to break free, when, in reality, all they’re seeking is new constituents. By doing what they think will appease the supposedly monolithic Hispanic community, they believe that they’ll finally achieve the type of voting bloc necessary to establish a permanent majority.
Consider this: Why is our immigration system “broken”? Why does the president pledge to “secure the border”? The answer to both questions, logically, is the high rate of illegal immigration. If that’s the case, then any actions taken to “fix” the system should aim to reduce unlawful entry. Has this been the goal of the Obama administration over the last six years? DACA took the latitude that prosecutors have in individual cases and applied it to an entire class of people. The President of the United States, the chief executor of the laws passed by Congress, blatantly turned a blind eye to federal statute (one could imagine what the reaction would be if a future Republican president did the same and refused to enforce Obamacare’s individual mandate). If the president is truly committed to reducing the rate of illegal immigration, as he claims, does DACA help or hurt that cause?
The thousands of unaccompanied minors streaming across the border this past summer made a strong case for the latter: many of them admitted during interviews with border officials that they had come believing that they would be allowed to stay. Despite the fact that DHS’s memorandum presently requires those eligible for deferred action to have been in the country since 2007, the president’s enforcement policies give them reason for hope. Much has been made about Obama being the “Deporter-in-Chief” due to the supposedly record number of deportations that have occurred under his watch. However, as David Inserra of the Heritage Foundation points out, these “facts” obscure the real truth:
One way this Administration and amnesty advocates are able to declare that President Obama has deported or will deport more unlawful immigrants than any prior President is by counting only the number of “removals.” Removals are the strongest form of deportation, as they impose a bar on re-entry with penalties of prison time if ignored. According to DHS statistics, removals hit a record high of 438,421 in 2013, growing from just over 200,000 in 2003.
While the use of more removals is a good way to discourage more illegal immigration, the other form of expulsion from the U.S., known as a “return,” which is less severe and carries no penalty for future illegal re-entry, has declined significantly. In 2013, the U.S. returned 178,371 unlawful immigrants, the lowest level of returns since 1967. The resulting total of deportations, that is, returns and removals, is at its lowest level since 1973 [my emphasis]. While amnesty advocates and the Administration focus only on the removals, the U.S. public is not aware of the differences between the two types of deportations, making claims of record deportations highly misleading… The numbers of total deportations and deportations resulting from interior enforcement are falling precipitously, but through this manipulation, the Administration is able to artificially boost its removal numbers and claim record-level deportations, even though cases are really just being changed from [Customs and Border Patrol] returns to ICE removals.
Thousands of the children who crossed the border were later sent to live with relatives or sponsors in the interior of the country. The above statistics indicate that the administration does not aggressively pursue unlawful immigrants once they’ve made it past the border. Does this policy discourage or encourage more illegal crossings?
How about the way the Obama administration interacts with state governors and state law enforcement? Arizona Governor Jan Brewer was famously vilified after her state passed SB 1070, an immigration law which only sought to add teeth to existing federal legislation that was not being enforced. Obama’s Justice Department swooped in, filing a constitutional and civil rights challenge that was eventually upheld by the Supreme Court. Rather than allow a sovereign state to address its immigration problems on its own, the administration asserted its centralized control and indicated, in no uncertain terms, that if the federal government chose not to apply existing laws, the states could not override its authority. Even when there are programs in place to encourage federal/state collaboration, the Obama administration does its best to hinder full cooperation. One example is Secure Communities, which the Times describes as “a controversial immigration enforcement program.” Once again, David Inserra highlights the truth:
The Secure Communities program results in DHS receiving information on arrests made by state and local law enforcement, which it then screens through its immigration databases for known immigration violators… If the individual is known to be in the U.S. illegally, ICE officers must go to the local jail and interview the individual in order to determine whether to pursue immigration charges. If an individual found by Secure Communities does not meet the Administration’s enforcement priorities, he is simply allowed to remain in the U.S. Secure Communities is a preferred immigration enforcement program of the Obama Administration because it keeps state and local governments’ role to a bare minimum. Essentially, all that local governments do is hold the individual for a few days and provide fingerprint information to the FBI as they normally would. In April 2012, however, ICE announced that it would no longer ask local jails to detain unlawful immigrants who were stopped for “minor traffic offenses” and other lesser offenses, reducing Secure Communities’ effectiveness in combating illegal immigration. Bizarrely, ICE also stated that it would analyze and take steps against local jurisdictions where arrest-rate data was “abnormal,” hinting at the idea that DHS would go after communities where the arrest rate of illegal aliens was too high, despite DHS’s constant claims of limited resources [my emphasis]. Ultimately, the Obama Administration uses Secure Communities because it provides the most discretion to DHS to ignore the law.
In his Face the Nation interview, Obama bemoans the fact that the federal government doesn’t have the resources needed to effectively handle the immigration problem. Why, then, does the administration discourage states from taking a more active role in enforcement? Why would ICE threaten local jurisdictions where the arrest-rate data of illegal aliens was “too high”? Why does the federal government attack states where enforcement is pursued, but turn a blind eye to “sanctuary cities” and states that illegitimately offer in-state tuition to unlawful immigrants? Do these policies encourage or discourage more illegal crossings?
We’ve been here before, back in 1986. That was when President Ronald Reagan signed into law the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), which granted amnesty to 2.5 million illegal immigrants. At the time the bill was enacted, the total population of unlawful aliens was roughly 3.2 million. Just as they do today, the supporters of reform promised stricter enforcement. By 2011, the estimated illegal immigrant population numbered 11.5 million. How did that happen? It happened because the federal government never got serious about sealing the border. The administration can peddle phony lines about increased deportations, but the reality is that it is attempted crossings that are up. The reality is that many of those actually caught at the border are released into the interior of the country, never to be heard from again. The reality is that nearly everything the Obama administration has done over the last six years has encouraged more illegal immigration, has exacerbated, rather than addressed, the problem by turning a blind eye to entire classes of people who have broken the law.
We need to realize that we are being lied to on a daily basis, just as we were lied to in the run-up to Obamacare. We are seeing the same slight of hand that Jonathan Gruber has so infamously revealed: put on the compassionate facade to hide the real aims. Supporters of immigration reform claim that they only care about the immigrants, and try to convince us that they hold the moral high ground in this debate. If they truly cared, they would stop promoting policies that enabled and emboldened the vicious drug kingpins who control the human trafficking trade. They would seek to discourage the lawlessness that convinces parents in Central America to place their children in the hands of the cartels to be smuggled across hundreds of miles of treacherous terrain.
Supporters of reform say they are only trying to fix our broken system. Executive amnesty, or amnesty of any kind, will do nothing to solve our current problems; it will simply inspire others to break our laws in the belief that they will not face any sort of recriminations. It will put undue pressure on already overburdened border agents, and create an administrative nightmare for agencies that are already overwhelmed.
Supporters of reform pledge to secure the border, yet fail to do anything to actually accomplish the task. They downplay the fact that, without a secure border, amnesty will simply create newer, bigger problems in the future, just as the flaws of the IRCA continue to fester today. By attempting to simply paper over the situation in the present, they all but ensure that we will still be dealing with this crisis twenty years from now.
If he had any courage, President Obama would step forward and truly lead. Instead, he is taking the easy way out. Rather than advocate for any sort of meaningful reform, rather than take steps that will actually stop the flow of illegal immigration, he has opened the spigot once more. He has disrespected those immigrants who came here through the proper channels, and spit in the face of the prospective Americans currently waiting to be allowed in. He has desecrated the Constitution by haphazardly applying the rule of law and he has overturned the intent of the Founders by subordinating the powers of the legislative branch to that of the executive.
Very simply, he and his fellow politicians are chasing votes: from open border advocates, from businesses seeking cheap labor, from what they believe is a single-issue Hispanic populace. They are seeking power and personal gain, even if it means weakening the very nation they were elected to govern.
We are witnessing a national disgrace, and we should all be enraged.