The Corner

Why Not Just Get Rid of the Immigration Law Altogether?

The former acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, John Sandweg, published an op-ed this week calling, in effect, for the abolition of immigration law.

Sandweg, a criminal defense attorney and Arizona crony of Janet Napolitano, wrote in relation to President Obama’s directive that ICE reexamine enforcement policies with an eye toward making them more “humane.” To that end, he says ICE “should eliminate ‘non-criminal re-entrants and immigration fugitives’ as a priority category for deportation.”

What that means is that people who have been formally deported and then sneak back in should be exempted from further attempts at removing them, even though re-entry after deportation is a felony. Also, he wants to exempt from deportation the hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens who have been ordered deported but ignored the order and simply absconded. He says, in the obligatory “to be sure” paragraph, “To be sure, those who repeatedly cross our borders illegally or abscond from the immigration court bear culpability” — but if they’re exempt from being taken into custody and removed from the country, what does that culpability mean? It’s not like they’re going to be prosecuted, even though reentry after deportation and absconding from court are both criminal offenses.

He’s not just blue-skying this idea; it’s clearly the next step being considered in the administration’s unilateral amnesty push. It wouldn’t confer legal status on any illegal aliens (unlike the president’s illegal DACA/DREAM amnesty) but would solidify the status of immigration violations as secondary offenses. An example of a secondary offense is not wearing your seatbelt (in many states, anyway) — the police can’t stop you just for that, but if they stop you for, say, speeding, and find you’re also not wearing your seatbelt, they can ticket you for that as well.

In the immigration context this means that an illegal alien would have to commit some other, “real” crime to potentially face any immigration consequences. And the list of “real” crimes does not include the crime of sneaking into the country, or identity theft, document fraud, Social Security fraud, tax fraud, perjury on an I-9 form, false claim of U.S. citizenship, and now even reentry after deportation and absconding from immigration court.

This administration is engaged in executive nullification on a scale that threatens the constitutional order. Rather than trying to bamboozle voters into accepting an amnesty, the Republican leadership should be devoting itself to soberly and calmly making the case to the public that this administration is setting precedents that our children will come to regret.

Mark Krikorian, a nationally recognized expert on immigration issues, has served as Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) since 1995.

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