No one believes anything the White House or Congress promises about its willingness to enforce immigration laws. Congress never enforced the laws written into the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act as they pertained to hiring more border and internal agents to check for entering or employed illegal immigrants. As a result of 25 years of looking the other way, few Americans trust that the government will spend the $45 billion allocated in S.744 for additional security. But even if it does, the money would be wasted without political will.
The administration’s well-deserved credibility gap is based on the bite-size, nonenforcement actions the Department of Homeland Security regularly puts in place. On August 23, ICE, an agency within DHS, issued a directive advising its agents to use “discretion” (don’t deport) with aliens who have minor children.
That’s going to add up to a whole bunch of suddenly nondeportable aliens.
The new policy, called “The Parental Interests Directive,” authorizes immigration authorities not to detain or deport aliens with minor children. Allegedly, if the parents are deported, those children would be without care. The new DHS directive also outrageously allows already deported parents to return to the United States to participate in custody hearings.
Immigration advocates, although somewhat placated, insist as they always do that a more far-reaching solution is comprehensive immigration reform which would eliminate the need for piecemeal DHS directives.
Critics, however, say that the latest directive undermines Congress’ efforts to reach an agreement on a bipartisan immigration bill. Some point to President Obama’s 2012 deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA) that removes the possibility of deporting those brought to the U.S. as children. Through June 2013, of more than 500,000 DACA applications, 71 percent have been approved, 24.5 percent are still under review, and 1 percent has been rejected. Those whose applications were approved received legal permission to work in the U.S. and will now compete with 20 million unemployed Americans for jobs.
In his statement addressing the most recent circumnavigation of immigration law, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) said that President Obama has:
…abused his authority and unilaterally refused to enforce our current immigration laws by directing U.S. Customs and Enforcement agents to stop removing broad categories of unlawful immigrants.
Americans skeptical about the administration’s enforcement promises are on solid ground. In my own personal and ongoing search for a single clue that would lead me to conclude that the White House is serious about carrying out immigration laws, I consistently come up empty handed.