By Joe Guzzadi
October 9, 2015
President Obama is a lame duck, but appears to be using his immigration policy to wreak as much havoc as possible in his final days. According to information the Associated Press obtained and published, the Obama administration has deported fewer immigrants during the last 12 months than at any time since 2006.
Despite numerous pledges made by the Department of Homeland Security that it would focus its attention and spend its allegedly limited funds on criminal aliens instead of unlawful immigrants whose “only” offense is illegal entry, deportations of criminal immigrants fell to the lowest levels since 2009, the year Obama took office. DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson told Congress in April that his inadequate resources allowed only for focusing on criminals and recent illegal entrants. Nevertheless, criminal deportations declined by more than 84,000 during fiscal years 2014 and 2015 budget years, the largest year-over-year decline since 2012.
Since Obama introduced his prosecutorial discretion programs several years ago, Johnson has insisted that his agents would focus on finding and deporting criminal aliens and recent border crossers with a special emphasis on potential terrorists; the sharp decline in those removed suggests either that Johnson was insincere or that DHS is inept.
Although the report provides ample evidence that a historically low number of immigrants are being deported, some presidential candidates promise less enforcement and advocates still call Obama the “Deporter in Chief.” The AP report, however, makes clear that unlike previous administrations the Department of Homeland Security has included those listed as deportees Mexicans caught at the border and immediately returned. Only aliens removed from the interior can officially be classified as deported.
In addition to the plunge in deportations, interior enforcement has also deteriorated. In the first five months of 2015 Immigration and Customs Enforcement, an arm of DHS, conducted just 181 workplace audits and brought charges against only 27 employers, a small fraction of the worksite activity ICE completed in 2013 when more than 3,000 were audited and 179 employers were arrested. The number of employer fines collected by ICE also has dropped by more than half since 2013.
A 2012 Congressional Research Service report found that workplace enforcement peaked in 2008 when .06 percent of an estimated 8.3 million illegal workers were arrested and .01 percent of U.S. employers of illegal workers were fined. Those less-than-one-percent numbers have dropped further during the Obama administration.
With interior enforcement virtually non-existent and mandatory E-Verify still hung up in Congress, unscrupulous employers know the odds favor them when they hire and underpay alien workers.
Meanwhile, Obama flaunts his scorn for immigration law. When the House recently passed legislation that would defund sanctuary cities, which are illegal under the 1996 Illegal Immigration and Immigrant Responsibility Act, Obama vowed to veto it. Despite the high profile and tragic murder of Kate Steinle nearly four months ago and the deaths of others before and after her, further action has not been taken on the House bill. In a letter to Johnson, Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley advised the DHS Secretary that an average of 30 criminal aliens are released each day while existing sanctuary policies remain in place.
Only one conclusion can be drawn from the Obama administration’s reckless disregard for public safety: there is a greater commitment to pro-immigration activists than to citizens who want to live in secure communities.
Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow. Contact him at [email protected]