A smaller but likewise disturbing indication of the Obama administration’s lack of interest in immigration enforcement came last month, when an illegal-alien registered sex offender, Luis Abrahan Sanchez Zavaleta, was found to be working as an intern in the office of New Jersey senator Robert Menendez. Bad as that is, the real problem was that, as the AP reported, Homeland Security officials told ICE field agents “several times” not to arrest Sanchez until after the election. On top of that, Sanchez had so little concern that authorities would investigate him that he actually applied for Obama’s unilateral (and illegal) quasi-amnesty for illegal aliens who came to the U.S. before their 16th birthday.
That quasi-amnesty is yet another example of past performance that indicates future results. Known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), this administrative version of the DREAM Act provides a work card and a (legitimate) Social Security number to pretty much any illegal alien under 30. So far, more than 100,000 people have received the amnesty, and the sex offender Sanchez, mentioned above, appears to be the only person whose application has actually been rejected on the merits. Most troubling is how DACA demonstrates the president’s nonchalance about immigration law. After repeatedly saying in public that he had no authority under the Constitution to unilaterally grant amnesty to illegal aliens, fears of dampened Hispanic turnout for the November election caused him to simply ignore his earlier qualms and usurp the powers of Congress by issuing his DACA edict.
Finally, this administration is dismantling local partnerships with federal immigration authorities. This isn’t a dispute over congressional intent regarding the scope of local authority in enforcing immigration law, as was the case in the lawsuits against Arizona and other states. Congress created the 287(g) program in 1996 specifically to promote such cooperation, but ICE has just canceled 32 such partnerships, saying that these congressionally created programs were not “appropriate.” On top of that, new rules issued by ICE in a pre-Christmas news dump prohibit agents from taking into custody any illegal alien held by local law enforcement whose only offenses involve immigration violations. This is part of the continuing push to make immigration violations a “secondary offense,” like the failure to wear a seat belt is in most states — i.e., you can be punished for immigration violations only if you also violate another, “real” law.
As distasteful as pardoning lawbreakers is, the problem with amnesty has never been amnesty itself. Rather, it’s the certainty that amnesty will be followed by yet another wave of illegal aliens permitted to settle here owing to elite indifference to immigration law.
The Obama administration and its pro-amnesty allies (including Lindsey Graham, Jeb Bush, Ed Gillespie, Al Cardenas, Grover Norquist, and others) would have us believe that after the amnesty is completed, then the administration will get serious about enforcing the immigration law. Then it will restore immigration partnerships with local law enforcement. Then it will act against foreign countries that don’t take back their citizens. Then it will ferret out immigration-related fraud and identity theft and tax evasion.
If you believe that, I have some Solyndra stock here for you.
— Mark Krikorian is executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies.