By Alan Bean
Kung Li’s latest article in Facing South underscores the foolishness of believing that comprehensive immigration reform would be realized as soon as Obama and the Democrats proved they were serious about securing the border.
Getting tough simply created an appetite on the right for yet more bodies on the border, ever greater deportation stats, and an ever-expanding role for local law enforcement.
No matter how far to the right Obama moved on the immigration issue, his conservative opponents had no choice but to raise the ante.
The only way to produce credible and comprehensive immigration reform is to humanize the problem. Obama’s “we’re only deporting the worst of the worst” stance was wrongheaded and counterproductive from the drop.
First, we aren’t deporting the worst of the worst.
The federal court system uses any past felony violation as a proxy for “dangerousness” whether or not the offense involved violence or the threat of violence. Instead, federal officials are examining the immigration status of every person apprehended by local law enforcement for any reason. The assumption is that undocumented residents who have a criminal record of any kind are a threat to public safety. In most cases, the government has no good reason to believe the folks we are shipping back to Mexico are dangerous criminals.
The Obama administration was simply jacking up its deportation statistics in the unfounded hope that a show of toughness at the border would induce Republicans to embrace genuine immigration reform. When ill-informed voters hear that 400,000 dangerous criminals have been deported, they view all undocumented persons with fear and suspicion.
Republicans will oppose any measure proposed by the Obama administration unless it has overwhelming bipartisan support. The president extended an olive branch to the DREAM Act community because he realized, finally, that his original tactic could do nothing but fail.
June 22, 2012
The cover of Time Magazine released on June 14 featured Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas and 35 other undocumented immigrants. The next day, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano issued a memorandum that will, when implemented, grant deferred status and possibly work authorization to between 800,000 and 1.4 million undocumented people who meet age, education, and criminal history criteria. President Obama stepped out later that afternoon into the Rose Garden to add some Presidential love — if not an executive order — to the policy. It was a significant shift for someone who had, a year earlier, insisted it would be inappropriate for him to do exactly what he is now doing. (more…)