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Tuesday, December 11 , 2018, 7:34 pm | Fair 54º


Joe Guzzardi: Obama Administration Disregards Federal Immigration Laws

It not right for White House officials to selectively decide which laws to enforce

Here’s how little importance the federal government attaches to immigration law enforcement. Earlier this week, a 21-year-old university student stood before the Senate Judiciary Committee and in a room packed with immigration officials announced her illegal status. Despite the apparent boldness of her statement, Angela Hernandez, the valedictorian of her Arizona State University mechanical engineering class, is 99.9 percent confident that she won’t be deported. Dozens of others like Hernandez have openly protested federal immigration laws in Congress’ halls and offices yet have stayed safely in the country.

By reintroducing the DREAM Act this month, Illinois Sen. Richard Durbin has set off another round of demonstrations by illegal immigrant students and their advocates despite the certainty that his legislation will not pass in this Congress. In a decade of attempts, the DREAM Act has been defeated more than a dozen times.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano uses her words carefully when evaluating the students’ status. Napolitano is quick to point out that she doesn’t condone either the students’ illegal presence or their brazen behavior; she has bigger fish to fry, such as deporting known violent criminals or foreign nationals who could be linked to terrorism.

As proof of the Obama administration’s disregard for immigration law, consider the internal directive Immigration Customs and Enforcement Director John Morton issued wherein he advised field agents to exercise “prosecutorial discretion” by granting deferred action or, according to the memo’s exact language, “deciding whom to stop, question or arrest,” “whom to detain” and to “dismiss” a removal proceeding.

Morton’s memo, issued with the knowledge and approval of the White House, makes clear that millions of deportable illegal and criminal immigrants would be potentially eligible for administrative amnesty if the agents deem them worthy of an exception. Examples of alleged worthiness would be students pursuing higher education or felons convicted only of so-called minor crimes.

My interpretation: The Obama administration will decide which laws it will enforce and which ones it will ignore.

In an effort to curtail this administration’s outrageous abuse of power, House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith has introduced his own bill called HALT (Hinder the Administration’s Legalization Temptation). The legislation will block ICE from granting deferred action except in extreme circumstances and also stymie individual amnesties such as approving temporary protected status or issuing work authorizations.

In a letter dated June 23 to his House colleagues, Smith wrote: “Because of the Obama administration’s record, it cannot be trusted with these powers (of administrative amnesty).”

Responding to a question asking why ICE doesn’t deport self-confessed aliens, University of California-Irvine associate professor of Chicano Studies Louis DeSipio said he thought it would be a “public relations disaster.”

But a forceful deportation policy would be viewed as controversial only by illegal immigration activists and the Democratic Party’s hard left wing.

Americans see immigration enforcement as a valuable part of a society that respects the nation’s laws, whether we like or agree with them or not.

The United States cannot condone actions by its president and his administration that allows them in the name of political expediency to decide which of our nation’s laws will be obeyed.

Neither the DREAM Act nor HALT are likely to pass. But as long as ICE is permitted to pick who will be deported, enforcement will take a back seat.

— Joe Guzzardi has written editorial columns — mostly about immigration and related social issues — since 1990 and is a senior writing fellow for Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS). After 25 years as an English as a Second Language teacher in the Lodi Unified School District, Guzzardi has retired to Pittsburgh. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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