Nancy Pelosi recently told Telemundo (Spanish broadcast here) that violations of immigration law should no longer have any consequences:
“Our view of the law is that it — if somebody is here without sufficient documentation, that is not reason for deportation.”
This wasn’t just a verbal flub; her spokesman reiterated the point, saying her comment was merely “a restatement of her long-held belief that being an undocumented immigrant is not a basis for deportation.”
Nor can you write this off as just another moronic comment from the lightweight House minority leader. Rather, it’s simply an explicit articulation of the policy the Obama administration has been pursuing for five years, namely of making immigration violation a “secondary offense.” As an example of the concept, failing to wear a seatbelt is a secondary offense in many states, meaning that you can’t be pulled over by a state trooper for not wearing a seatbelt, but you can receive an additional fine if you’ve already been pulled over for a primary offense (speeding, for instance).
In the immigration context, that means the administration position is that immigration law should only be applied to illegal aliens who have committed some other violation of a “real” law — murder, rape, drug-dealing, etc. It’s like going after Al Capone for not paying his taxes, but ignoring all tax cheats who aren’t mafiosi.
The implications are huge, and not limited to the tenure of this administration, since this is now the consensus Democratic party position. It means the substance of immigration legislation is irrelevant; John Boehner and Paul Ryan can stuff a million enforcement provisions into an amnesty bill and it’s all just for show if being an illegal alien is no longer a reason to be removed from the country. With Democrats in charge of the Senate and the White House there is simply no basis for constructive immigration policymaking. Regardless of your views on amnesty or the level and makeup of future immigration, no assurance made by congressional Democrats or the administration regarding enforcement of new immigration laws can be believed. In this environment, any House Republican attempting to engage with Democrats on immigration is either a fool or a collaborator.