NYT, 8/3/09 After early pledges by President Obama that he would moderate the Bush administration’s tough policy on immigration enforcement, his administration is pursuing an aggressive strategy for an illegal-immigration crackdown that relies significantly on programs started by his predecessor.
A recent blitz of measures has antagonized immigrant groups and many of Mr. Obama’s Hispanic supporters, who have opened a national campaign against them, including small street protests in New York and Los Angeles last week.
The administration recently undertook audits of employee paperwork at hundreds of businesses, expanded a program to verify worker immigration status that has been widely criticized as flawed, bolstered a program of cooperation between federal and local law enforcement agencies, and rejected proposals for legally binding rules governing conditions in immigration detention centers.
“We are expanding enforcement, but I think in the right way,” Janet Napolitano, the homeland security secretary, said in an interview.
Ms. Napolitano and other administration officials argue that no-nonsense immigration enforcement is necessary to persuade American voters to accept legislation that would give legal status to millions of illegal immigrants, a measure they say Mr. Obama still hopes to advance late this year or early next.
(All of these temporary moves are "necessary to persuade American voters...". Exactly, and that is their sole purpose. They will be discarded as soon as Obama gets his way on amnesty. What neither he nor Napolitano is willing to admit is that full implementation of E-verify across the board in both public and private employers, vigorous internal enforcement, and a significant increase in the number of repatriations are all essential elements of border security. You cannot have secure borders if violators believe they will be home free once they escape the immediate environs of the border. Any idiot knows that!)
That approach brings Mr. Obama around to the position that his Republican rival, Senator John McCain of Arizona, espoused during last year’s presidential campaign, a stance Mr. Obama rejected then as too hard on Latino and immigrant communities. (Mr. McCain did not respond to requests for comment.) Now the enforcement strategy has opened a political rift with some immigrant advocacy and Hispanic groups whose voters were crucial to the Obama victory.
(This so-called "rift" lacks credibility. The primary objective of these groups is to achieve amnesty for the 12 million illegals. The enforcement measures will be dropped as soon as that objective is achieved.)
“Our feelings are mixed at best,” said Clarissa Martinez De Castro, immigration director of the National Council of La Raza, which has joined in the criticism, aimed primarily at Ms. Napolitano. “We understand the need for sensible enforcement, but that does not mean expanding programs that often led to civil rights violations.”
(De Castro has no interest in enforcement of any kind. She wants amnesty and open borders. Civil rights violations, if any, pale in significance to the need for border security. Her position is clear. La Raza is a political organization, some even say a racist organization, rather than the humanitarian organization it would like us to believe.)
Under Ms. Napolitano, immigration authorities have backed away from the Bush administration’s frequent mass factory roundups of illegal immigrant workers.
(Big mistake!) But federal criminal prosecutions for immigration violations have actually increased this year, according to a study by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, a nonpartisan group that analyzes government data. In April, there were 9,037 immigration cases in the federal courts, an increase of 32 percent over April 2008, the group found.
Ms. Napolitano said in the interview that she would not call off immigration raids entirely as some Hispanic lawmakers have suggested. “We will continue to enforce the law and to look for effective ways to do it,” she said. “That’s my job.” (The effective ways to enforce that law are obvious. None are perfect and never can be so get on with the task at hand: mandatory E-verify and expeditious repatriation.)
Ms. Napolitano, who as governor of Arizona sparred with Republican legislators seeking tougher steps against illegal immigration, said she was looking for ways to make enforcement programs inherited from President George W. Bush less heavy-handed.
(She should worry less about heavy-handedness and more about effectiveness.That's her job!)
She also wants to put the enforcement focus on illegal-immigrant gang members and convicts and on employers who routinely hire illegal immigrants so as to exploit them. (This cannot be done effectively without applying enforcement to all illegals. Use a big net and you can catch them all. Use a small net and the gang members will find it easy to hide within the larger communities of illegals.)
Immigration authorities have started audits of employees’ hiring documents at more than 600 businesses nationwide. If an employer shows a pattern of hiring immigrants whose documents cannot be verified, a criminal investigation could follow, Ms. Napolitano said. (Why such a weak statement instead of "...a criminal investigation and prosecution to the full extent of the law will follow"?)
She has also expanded a federal program, known as E-Verify, that allows employers to verify electronically the identity information of new hires. Immigrant and business groups have sued to try to stop the program, saying the databases it relies on are riddled with inaccuracies that could lead to American citizens’ being denied jobs.
But officials of the Homeland Security Department say technological improvements have enhanced the speed and accuracy of E-Verify. With 137,000 employers now enrolled, only 0.3 percent of 6.4 million queries they have made so far in the 2009 fiscal year have resulted in denials that later proved incorrect, the officials say. That, opponents note, still means false denials for more than 19,000 people.
(That's like saying if the national census is typically off by say a million people, we shouldn't do it. None of the false denials resulted in actual job losses. E-verify is one of the most accurate systems of its type around. Instead of allowing employers to use it, E-Verify should be mandatory for all employers and all current and new employees. Claims that citizens are permanently being denied jobs is a "red herring" promoted by employers who prefer cheap foreign labor.)
In addition, Ms. Napolitano has expanded a program that runs immigration checks on every person booked into local jails in some cities. And she recently announced the expansion of another program, known as 287(g) for the provision of the statute authorizing it that allows for cooperation between federal immigration agents and state and local police agencies.
In extending 287(g), federal officials also drew up a new agreement, which all of some 66 localities currently participating have been asked to sign, that is intended to enhance federal oversight and clarify the priority on deporting those immigrants who are criminal fugitives or are already behind bars.
But advocates for immigrants said the new agreement did not include strong protections against ethnic profiling. (Worries about profiling are overemphasized at the expense of effective enforcement, which should be the top priority. Random road blocks and stops for DUI checks are routinely employed to get drunks off the roads. Why not a similar approach for illegals? Find out where they hide or congregate and then make random checks at those locations stopping everyone in the area?)
They were surprised, they say, that Ms. Napolitano did not terminate the cooperation agreement with the sheriff of Maricopa County, Ariz., Joe Arpaio, who calls himself the “toughest sheriff in America.” Latino groups in Arizona have accused Mr. Arpaio of using the program to harass Hispanic residents. (Could that be because they are harboring illegal aliens?)
“If they reform the 287(g) program and Arpaio doesn’t change, it won’t be reform,” said Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice, a national immigrant advocacy group. (No one should listen to immigrant advocacy groups. These are groups that favor the interests of foreigners over those of their fellow citzens.)
Ms. Napolitano said it would be up to Mr. Arpaio, like other current participants, to decide whether to sign and abide by the new cooperation agreement. Separately, the Justice Department has opened a civil rights investigation of Mr. Arpaio’s practices.
The Obama administration has received support for its immigration position from a leading Democrat, Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York, the chairman of the Judiciary subcommittee on immigration, who will be writing an immigration overhaul bill later this year. (You can be sure that any new bill will be like the old ones that failed. It will provide amnesty for 12 million illegal aliens thus undermining any enforcement provisions by creating incentives for more border violations. What is it about this connection that Schumer and others do not understand?)
In preparation for what is likely to be a furious debate, Mr. Schumer has called on Democrats to show that they are serious about immigration enforcement and is even asking them to stop using the term “undocumented” to refer to immigrants who are here illegally. (It's about time!)
Democrats have to “convince the American people there will not be new waves of illegal immigrants” after an overhaul passes, Mr. Schumer said in an interview.
Republicans who oppose any legalization of the status of illegal immigrants say they remain unimpressed by the new enforcement measures. (Republicans and all informed Americans have good reason to be unimpressed. They heard all of this before in 1986 when Ted Kennedy stood up and said, "This amnesty will give citizenship to only 1.1 -- 1.3 million illegal aliens. We will secure the borders henceforth. We will never again bring forward another Amnesty Bill like this." Following the 1986 amnesty, the number of illegals swelled from 1.1 million to 12 million. That's not much of a recommendation for another amnesty. Instead, the best way to convince the American people of the need for immigration reform is enforce the present law until the number of illegals has been reduced to more like the 1986 figure of 1.1 million.)
“After 20 years of broken promises, it takes a lot more than token gestures,” said Representative Brian P. Bilbray, a California Republican who heads an immigration caucus in the House.
Michael A. Olivas, a professor of immigration law at the University of Houston, said Hispanic advocates were irked by the enforcement measures because they had seen scant sign that the administration was also moving deliberately toward an overhaul bill.
“We literally have the worst of all worlds,” Professor Olivas said.
Working for logical immigation reform based on a stable population, a recognition of the finite nature of our natural resources and the adverse impact of continued growth on our quality of life, standard of living, national interest, character, language, sovereignty and the rule of law. Pushing back and countering the disloyal elements in American society and the anti-American rhetoric of the leftwing illegal alien lobbies. In a debate, when your opponents turn to name calling, it's a good sign you've already won.