By Joe Guzzardi
February 13, 2012
When it comes to immigration enforcement, give an inch and the other side takes a mile. Historically, that’s what always happens. In 1986, for example, President Ronald Reagan promised that the1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act would be the “last” amnesty ever granted. At the time, the United States had about 2.5 million illegal immigrants. Today, twenty-five years later, the illegal immigration population is estimated at 10-30 million and almost all of them are demanding another amnesty.
The same pattern has unfolded with President Obama’s prosecutorial discretion policy. Last summer, the Department of Homeland Security announced that about 300,000 aliens targeted for deportation would have their cases reviewed. Anyone that DHS didn’t deem a national security threat or didn’t have a serious criminal record would be given an administrative amnesty.
But, based on last week’s 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals 2-1 decision to delay the deportation orders of seven illegal immigrants until DHS re-evaluates their cases, the stage is set for a major bump in the numbers of pardoned aliens. Nothing will prevent millions of aliens from getting lawyers, even pro bono, to accept their cases.
Since DHS’s original discretionary program’s guidelines indicated it would be modest in scope, the seven excused aliens might never have had their cases reviewed.
Now the sky’s the limit.
Just ask Daniel Kowalski, an Austin, Texas immigration lawyer who told the Associated Press that the San Francisco-based court’s ruling will probably lead to a surge of appeals from illegal immigrants who believe they fit the discretion criteria. Remember that the “criteria” is so broad that all but the most heinous murders have a high probability of being excused.
Said Kowalski: "I think it’s going to push advocates, such as myself, to ask all the other circuits to do the same thing."
Kowalski also speculated that the court’s action may force the White House to make a public decision about how to deal with the 1.6 million aliens currently scheduled for deportation. Whatever resolution DHS may reach would likely displease enforcement advocates. In his statement, House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith said: “Since the Obama administration has made it clear that it doesn’t prioritize the deportation of millions of illegal immigrants, the door is now wide open to judicial activism."
Judge Diarmuid F. O’Scannlain, the lone dissenter, wrote that the court had "only the slimmest authority even to review the exercise of prosecutorial discretion … we certainly lack authority to demand a pre-emptive peek into whether and when (and no doubt, before long, why) the executive branch will exercise such discretion."
Assuming that other aliens plead their cases in the months leading up to the November election, the subject of who among the millions stays and who goes home will become increasingly contentious.
The hornets’ nest swarming around President Obama could have been avoided if he had chosen to carry out the immigration laws he swore to uphold instead of forging his own wayward path.
Obama’s back door amnesty is considered by many to be unconstitutional. For the 9th Circuit Court to rule in favor of an unconstitutional policy is the ultimate overreach of judicial authority.
Joe Guzzardi has written editorial columns, mostly about immigration and related social issues, since 1986. He is a Senior Writing Fellow for Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS) and his columns are syndicated in various U.S. newspapers and websites. Contact him at [email protected]