Continues to Disqualify Himself as Leader on Immigration
Last Friday, the Obama Administration issued a modest policy directive clarifying that the nation’s immigration enforcers should use basic decency and common sense in deciding how to deal with immigrants in detention who are also parents of minor children.
Despite the very modest scope of the policy directive, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) has gone off the rails in response to it. He stated that the directive “poisons the debate” around immigration reform and is evidence that President Obama is trying to “politicize the issue” of immigration. He wildly exaggerated the scope of the directive by claiming “President Obama has once again abused his authority and unilaterally refused to enforce our current immigration laws by directing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to stop removing broad categories of unlawful immigrants.”
According to Frank Sharry of America’s Voice:
What policy directive is Bob Goodlatte reading and reacting to? On top of the week-long disqualification tour last week that demonstrated his continued hardline anti-immigrant bona fides, Goodlatte’s reaction to the directive is another reminder that that he is the wrong person to be driving Republican immigration policy and process in the House.
As ABC News/Univision described, the directive:
is a reminder that agents can – and should – consider that the person they’re taking into custody might have a family, and that detention can have broader repercussions…that could mean that a person taken into custody of immigration officials could end up at a facility that’s closer to their home, instead of being placed in a more remote area. The policy change does not give deportation relief to undocumented immigrants, but rather adds measures that could help parents who are detained or in the process of being deported.
The new directive will advance basic measures regarding treatment of immigrant parents in the detention system, such as: allowing children to visit their parents while they are in detention; reducing transfers of parents far from their children while they await a decision on their immigration case; letting parents participate in family court hearings while they are in detention so that they can fight to keep their parental rights; and giving immigrants who are going to be deported advance notice about their itineraries so that they can actually make travel plans for children who will be joining them.
These specifications are on top of the general guidance, already articulated by the DHS prosecutorial discretion policy that says that the priority in utilizing immigration enforcement resources is directed toward individuals engaged in criminal activity. However, implementation has fallen short and many parents of U.S. citizen children remain targeted by immigration enforcement. In fact, the very release of the new directive on how to improve treatment of parents in the detention system underscores the fact that immigrant parents of minor children continue to be caught up in the deportation machine.
Yet none of this seems to matter to Rep. Goodlatte, whose over-reaction to the new directive is more evidence that he is once again living up to his past A+ rating and a Blue Ribbon award from anti-immigrant organization Numbers USA. Last week, Rep. Goodlatte made clear his opposition to a path to citizenship for the vast majority of undocumented immigrants, including for DREAMers; his likely intention to get to “no” on reform, expressing a desire to pretend to want a substantive fix more than actually wanting it; and he continued to champion the hardline SAFE Act that would ramp up racial profiling and the criminalization of immigrants. In addition, Rep. Goodlatte joined Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) in trumping up the discredited “asylum abuse at the border” trope.
“With each passing day, it becomes increasingly clear that Bob Goodlatte wants a partisan brawl over immigration, not a bipartisan breakthrough. Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) may have thought Goodlatte would be an improvement over Rep. Steve King (R-IA) for the position of Judiciary Committee Chairman, but if he is serious about getting reform done he needs to take the reins himself before it’s too late.”