By Joe Guzzardi
April 25, 2016
One of the rallying cries heard outside the Supreme Court during oral arguments about U.S. v. Texas urged the government to “stop breaking up families.” Advocates claim that the Department of Homeland Security through its agencies, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and Customs and Border Protection, are actively engaged in removing illegal immigrants, some of whom have American citizen family members.
Two things should be understood about the breaking up families’ myth. First, during the Obama administration, a steadily declining number of aliens have been deported. Immigration supporters have labeled President Obama as the “deporter-in-chief.” But a close examination of ICE statistics shows that illegal immigrants are less likely to be deported today than before Obama’s inauguration. Removals of people who are unlawfully settled and illegally working in the U. S. have fallen steadily since Obama’s first year in the White House, and are down more than 40 percent since 2009. At the same time, the administration has largely ended immigration workplace enforcement.
Under Obama, an alleged reported increase in deportations involved people picked up within 100 miles of the border, most of whom just recently crossed over. These cases should more accurately have been classified as returns, not deportations.
According to former ICE director John Sandweg, the true odds of an illegal immigrant getting deported are “near zero.” Moreover, continued Sandweg in his interview with the Los Angeles Times, even if ICE wants to deport an alien, the lengthy backlog in immigration courts makes it “virtually impossible” to remove him. Sandweg estimates the deportation process could take “six years or more.” In 2013, more than 870,000 immigrants received final removal orders, but defied them. The Obama administration’s immigration policy is best summed up as one that protects illegal immigrants that successfully get past the border and reach the U.S. interior.
Second, families would never be subject to separation if illegal immigrants acknowledged, recognized, and adhered to U. S. laws which, as they pertain to immigration, are well-known worldwide. A family voluntarily elects to put itself in the position of possibly being broken up through deportation when one or more of its members voluntarily chooses to come to and live in the U.S. illegally.
Ignoring immigration law encourages more illegal immigration. Ongoing lax enforcement has led to another Central American surge. In March, CBP told Congress that it was preparing for 75,000 new alien minors during the next fiscal year, an increase from the previous 2014 record total of 52,000.
Predictably, the Central American inflow prompts more immigration advocacy, this time to “unite families,” a variation of the “stop breaking up families” argument. But families insist that any unification or re-unification must occur in the U.S., a nation that’s neither their ancestral nor legal home. Advocates illogically demand that every family unification or reunification take place north of the border, and in America. Reunification could just as easily occur in an immigrant’s native country.
One thing is certain. If the Supreme Court can find five votes in support of Obama’s executive action amnesties, five million illegal immigrants will receive temporary legal status, work permits, and social security numbers. Moreover, millions of people across the globe who are watching U.S. v. Texas unfold would consider the Court’s affirmative decision a green light to migrate illegally. Sooner or later, they’ll correctly conclude, another amnesty is inevitable.
Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow. Contact him at [email protected]