Bob Barr

President Ronald Reagan was optimistic about the future of immigration reform when he signed the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, a legislative effort he described as one of the “longest and most difficult” of the time. “This legislation takes a major step toward meeting this challenge to our sovereignty,” Reagan stated upon signing the legislation. “At the same time, it preserves and enhances the Nation's heritage of legal immigration.”

The Gipper’s optimism would be grossly misplaced when considering our country’s immigration mess today.

In 1986, when the IRCA was signed, there were 3.2 million illegal immigrants living in the United States. Twenty-five years later, in 2011, that number had mushroomed to at least an estimated 11.5 million. Making matters worse, on the “enforcement” side of the equation, the number of persons deported from the U.S. in 2012 stood at a mere 400,000; roughly 3.4 percent of the illegal population (and that figure does not account for the hundreds of thousands of new illegal immigrants who crossed our borders to replace them).

Faced with this reality about the status of America’s immigration system, one might assume the logical first steps to begin the process of “reform” would be securing our country’s borders, and expelling illegal immigrants who had been caught and convicted for committing crimes while in the country illegally.

Yet, even on this simple task, the Obama Administration has failed miserably. A recent report released by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) notes that in 2013, the agency released from custody -- that’s right, let go -- more than 36,000 illegal immigrants who already had been convicted of criminal offenses within the United States. The crimes committed by this lucky group included convictions for homicide (193), rape and sexual assault (426), kidnapping (303), aggravated assault (1,075), vehicle theft (1,160), and drunk/drugged driving (16,070), just to name a few. In fact, the 36,000 criminals released by ICE were responsible for 88,000 convictions; an average of 2.4 for each one of the individuals arrested.

Think about this. President Obama is asking the American public to trust him and his Democratic colleagues in Congress to pass immigration “reform,” even as his Department of Justice is setting free tens of thousands of illegal aliens responsible for some of the most heinous crimes on the books, rather than uphold the laws they are sworn to protect and deport those convicts.

Bob Barr

Bob Barr represented Georgia’s 7th district in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 -2003 and as U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia from 1986-1990.