I hope Barack Obama remembered to thank George Bush on behalf of his illegal alien aunt this week. The lame-duck Republican president did the Democratic president-elect a generous -- and dangerous -- favor right before Election Day: Putting politics above homeland security, the Bush administration ordered immigration authorities across the country to halt all deportation enforcement actions until the campaign season was over.
According to my sources, the Bush administration issued a 72-hour cease-and-desist order to all fugitive apprehension teams to spare Obama embarrassment over his Kenyan half-aunt, Zeituni Onyango. The Associated Press reported on Nov. 1 that Onyango was a deportation evader -- one of an estimated 700,000 illegal alien absconders who have ignored orders from immigration judges to leave the country. The wire report mentioned that the Department of Homeland Security distributed "an unusual nationwide directive within Immigration and Customs Enforcement requiring any deportations prior to Tuesday's election to be approved at least at the level of ICE regional directors."
But the politicized order was even worse than the AP reported. The deportation process wasn't simply slowed down for public relations reasons and fear of a media backlash. The process was completely frozen.
An Immigration and Customs Enforcement source familiar with Western field offices told me: "The ICE fugitive operations group throughout the United States was told to stand down until after the election from arresting or transporting anyone out of the United States. This was done to avoid any mistakes of deporting or arresting anyone who could have a connection to the election, i.e., anyone from Kenya who could be a relative. The decision was election-driven."
Another source close to ICE operations in a Southern California field office confirmed that immigration officials there received the same directive: "The reason they included all offices in the United States was to show that they were not targeting the district office where Aunti lived. They don't want to pick her up by mistake and cause a big problem."