By Joe Guzzardi
June 24, 2016
When President Obama introduced his Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents program (DAPA) in November 2014, he was angry about the drubbing Democrats had just taken in the mid-term elections. Republicans picked up eight Senate seats to gain control of the upper chamber, and the House widened its GOP majority when it added 13 additional representatives. Analysts interpreted the election results as a repudiation of Obama’s administration, and speculated that DAPA was his payback to Republicans who opposed him on immigration.
Nearly two years later, after a Texas federal court, then an appeals court temporarily enjoined DAPA, and finally the Supreme Court’s 4-4 deadlock left the lower courts’ decisions in place, the president is still fuming. Obama’s frustration is understandable since the highly touted DAPA that he hoped would be his immigration legacy has been rejected at every turn—by Congress and in three courts. But Obama’s refusal to deal honestly with Americans about his immigration actions is indefensible. After the Supreme Court struck down DAPA, Obama promised that he wouldn’t change the status quo on his administration’s current non-enforcement stance toward “otherwise law-abiding people,” and that the Department of Homeland Security would instead “prioritize criminals and gangbangers.”
A recent Boston Globe investigative report, however, found that instead of DHS prioritizing criminals for removal, as Obama claimed, the agency is releasing them into the general population where they become repeat offenders. The Globe’s review showed that among the 323 criminals released throughout New England from 2008 and 2012, 30 percent committed new offenses including attempted murder, rape and child molestation, a rate dramatically higher than Immigration Customs and Enforcement officials owned up to in past congressional hearings. ICE consistently claimed that known reoffenders are “isolated examples” that made up less than 10 percent of the total.
In order to get the information it finally acquired, the Globe had to sue the federal government to obtain the criminals’ names and to find out into which neighborhoods authorities released them. Unlike other law enforcement records, immigration data is kept secret even though the public and especially victims’ families demand that the information be easily accessible.
At a House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing, Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) told ICE director Sarah Saldana that crimes aliens perpetrate are preventable and that the agency’s failures are among the “most infuriating things” he’s experienced in his congressional career. The statistics indicate government’s complete indifference to public safety.
If American citizens wanted to give five million illegal immigrants work authorization documents, social security numbers, and driver’s licenses, the Gang of Eight bill that sailed through the Senate in 2013 would have been taken up and passed in the House. Instead House representatives, pressured by their constituents back home, refused to put it on the floor. DAPA’s defeat is a real victory for those Americans who treasure the rule of law.
Reasonable Americans can and do disagree about whether five million aliens should be given amnesty. But all should be offended when Obama repeatedly lies to concerned citizens about the real consequences of his administration’s lax enforcement policies.
Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow. Contact him at [email protected]. Find him on Twitter @joeguzzardi19