Editorial Challenges Him to Act; Exhaustive Study Reveals 80% of Deportations Have Been For Low Priority Immigrants
Two must-read pieces in the New York Times demonstrate the cumulative consequences of the Obama Administration’s immigration enforcement policies, and show why and how President Obama must “do something big and consequential.”
A front-page story in today’s paper presents a damning indictment of the Obama Administration’s immigration enforcement record. Through detailed statistics and searing anecdotes, the story captures that the vast majority of those deported under this administration are not dangerous criminals, but ordinary immigrants:
With the Obama administration deporting illegal immigrants at a record pace, the president has said the government is going after ‘criminals, gang bangers, people who are hurting the community, not after students, not after folks who are here just because they’re trying to figure out how to feed their families.
But a New York Times analysis of internal government records shows that since President Obama took office, two-thirds of the nearly two million deportation cases involve people who had committed minor infractions, including traffic violations, or had no criminal record at all. Twenty percent — or about 394,000 — of the cases involved people convicted of serious crimes, including drug-related offenses, the records show.
The story, by Ginger Thompson and Sarah Cohen, also captures the fact that the record deportations under President Obama – some 2 million since he assumed office – stems from a deliberate strategy:
[B]oth Mr. Obama and his first Department of Homeland Security secretary, the former Arizona governor Janet Napolitano, believed that to win comprehensive reform, they needed to demonstrate a commitment to enforcing existing laws. The Obama administration set out to keep deportation numbers up, but to make enforcement ‘smarter.’
Immigration officials set a goal of 400,000 deportations a year — a number that was scrawled on a whiteboard at their Washington headquarters.
The lead editorial” in Sunday’s New York Times, entitled, “Yes He Can, on Immigration,” calls for President Obama to go big and be bold with respect to overhauling his administration’s approach to immigration enforcement:
Those who would qualify for legalization under a Senate bill passed last summer — people who do not pose criminal threats, who have strong ties to this country and, in many cases, have children who are American citizens — should not be in danger of deportation. The one recent bright spot in Mr. Obama’s immigration record has been his decision, made on firm legal ground, to defer for two years the deportations of young people who would have qualified for legal status under the stalled Dream Act.
These immigrants, known as Dreamers, are a sympathetic group, and Mr. Obama’s move to protect them was timely and wise. But millions of other unauthorized immigrants are just as vulnerable and no less worthy. There is no good reason not to extend similar relief to the Dreamers’ parents, or to the parents of citizen children and others who pose no threat and should likewise be allowed to live and work here while efforts to pass reform continue.
Besides deferring some deportations, the administration should adopt an array of policy changes, no matter what Congress does….
….Mr. Obama may argue that he can’t be too aggressive in halting deportations because that will make the Republicans go crazy, and there’s always hope for a legislative solution. He has often seemed like a bystander to the immigration stalemate, watching the wheels spin, giving speeches and hoping for the best.
It’s hard to know when he will finally stir himself to do something big and consequential.
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:
It is unconscionable that the Administration continues to deport immigrants who would be eligible for legal status and work permits under the bipartisan Senate bill strongly supported by this Administration. If Congress fails to act, the President must step in and use every ounce of executive authority to stop punishing families the vast majority of the American people want protected.