December 30, 2015
Democrats, especially those in the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, are outraged. Obama won nearly 70 percent of the Latino vote in 2012, and his coattails helped put dozens of Democrats in Congress. They view the divide on immigration between their party and the Republicans as so wide that it ensures that they will command another overwhelming margin at the ballot box in 2016, but worry that Obama’s deportations could undermine that near certain success.
Republicans also worry, but for different reasons, that Obama’s dramatic change of heart toward immigration enforcement might play a vital role in 2016. Some voters, the GOP fears, are torn between what many consider to be the strident rhetoric of Republican candidates about immigration, and the permissiveness of most Democrats. Interior enforcement has dropped more than 31 percent during the last year, a continuation of a trend that began in 2011.
The administration’s directive hopes to reduce the ongoing wave of illegal immigrants crossing the border. Central American children and families entering unlawfully spiked in the past few months, and have prompted fears that the border crossings could continue indefinitely. In October and November, Border Patrol apprehended 12,505 families along the southwest border, compared with 4,577 families during those same months last year.
Officials indicated Obama’s plan would fall under enforcement priorities announced last November which allegedly focus on deporting criminals, individuals who pose a national security threat and recently apprehended border crossers. The operation would only target those who received a final deportation order from a federal immigration judge or failed to appear for their court hearing dates, an estimated 12,500 people.
Immigration Customs and Enforcement press secretary Gillian Christensen confirmed that “if individuals come here illegally, do not qualify for asylum or other relief, and have final orders of removal, they will be sent back consistent with our laws and our values.”
But skeptics question whether the administration is either serious or sincere. Why not begin a deportation campaign by re-arresting the thousands of criminal aliens released during the past few years? If, for example, career criminal alien Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, a five-time deported, seven-time convicted felon, hadn’t been free on the streets, he couldn’t have murdered Kate Steinle in San Francisco. In FY 2014, ICE released 30,558 convicted criminal aliens convicted of 79,059 crimes, including 175 homicides, 373 sexual assaults, 186 kidnappings, and 14,014 impaired driving offenses.
Other doubters note the coincidental timing. The White House has petitioned the Supreme Court to review a district court and then an appeals court rejection of Obama’s amnesty for more than four million illegal immigrants. The Court’s decision whether to hear the case is due early in 2016, and the appearance of a tough-on-immigration stance could favorably influence the justices to believe that the administration respects the law. Departing from its usual immigration advocacy, a Los Angeles Times editorial summed up the deportation debate succinctly. The Times wrote that to not deport those an immigration judge has ruled ineligible to remain is to reject any notion of enforceable immigration law, “an indefensible position,” and concluded that “the government has both the right and responsibility to determine who gets to enter the country, and who gets to stay as legal residents.”
The law is clear. Failure to show up for an immigration hearing results in an automatic removal order. If the alien defies the order and remains, he will be designated a fugitive, and subject to forcible removal. Immigration advocacy is one thing. Flouting federal law cannot, under any circumstances, be tolerated.
Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow. Contact him at [email protected]