I was preparing to applaud the Obama administration and specifically Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano for announcing the deportation of a record number of criminal aliens last year. According to the Washington Times, "the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement deported 392,862 aliens in fiscal year 2010, slightly less than a 1 percent increase over 2009 but short of the agency's goal to remove 400,000 this year."
What curbed my enthusiasm was news that removal of other illegal immigrants -- those not convicted of crimes, though it could be justifiably argued that their status as illegal immigrants is, by definition, the breaking of American law -- fell to the lowest number since 2007.
Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), said that while it is nice that Secretary Napolitano believes removing people in the country illegally is an important function for the Department of Homeland Security, "policy directives from the highest levels of DHS clearly demonstrate that the administration is refusing to enforce laws against noncriminal aliens."
That bad cop/good cop approach is designed to pacify those on the political right while the administration and some Democrats in Congress simultaneously lay the groundwork for legalizing those who broke our laws to get here and remain in the country illegally.
In a desperate last-minute pre-election move to win more votes for Democratic candidates, New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez and Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy introduced the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2010 prior to adjournment. This bill, if passed, would effectively grant amnesty to illegal immigrants currently in the country. No one expects the bill to pass when Congress returns for a lame duck session, especially if Republicans win a House majority and make substantial inroads to the Democrats' Senate majority, or take back the Senate.
According to FAIR's analysis, DHS data show the Obama administration has "dramatically curtailed all aspects of immigration enforcement against illegal aliens who have not committed violent crimes in this country." FAIR says when it comes to enforcement of the law at worksites, "administrative arrests have fallen by 77 percent, criminal arrests are down 60 percent, indictments are down 64 percent, and convictions have fallen by 68 percent since 2008."
We have seen this political game played out over many years and with administrations of both parties. Big business, which mostly contributes to Republican political campaigns, wants cheap labor and so favors illegal immigrants. Democrats want the illegal immigrants because they see them as potential Democratic voters.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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