House GOP’s #immigration plan: more dysfunction plus mass deportation

Originally posted on The Hill Congress Blog

By David Leopold

The House GOP finally came clean with the American people yesterday They have no interest in immigration reform. Period.

They prefer enforcement chaos.

The GOP introduced legislation attached to the funding of the Department of Homeland Security which would roll back President Obama’s executive actions on deportations, even the reprieve he gave to DREAMers in 2012.
But they didn’t stop there. The Republicans also took aim at the President’s entire immigration policy, which makes it a top priority to deport national security threats, violent criminals and gang bangers. Even Washington Times columnist Bryon York, who’s no fan of Obama’s immigration actions, called the House GOP legislation an “overreach.”

But that “overreach” isn’t just a tactical political error, as York argues. It’s proof positive that the Republicans are not serious about passing any kind of serious immigration reform this Congress—comprehensive, piecemeal or otherwise. It means the House GOP leadership has no interest in immigration solutions that will maintain border security, offer badly needed fixes to the outdated visa system, and give undocumented immigrants a chance to work toward lawful immigration status.

This is because the GOP legislation, if it ever becomes law, would be legally impossible to enforce. The Homeland Security Act requires President Obama to set enforcement priorities—to decide, in effect, which undocumented immigrants should be deported first. At the same time Congress allocates only enough resources to remove a fraction of the estimated 11 million in the U.S.—about 400,000 undocumented immigrants a year. And since he’s been president Obama has done exactly that —earning him the rebuke of many immigration advocates, some of whom called him “The Deporter-in-Chief.”

But the GOP’s legislation—which makes a big show of trying to override the President’s entire immigration policy—leaves intact the legal requirement that he set immigration enforcement priorities. Since the GOP proposal does not substantially increase the money allocated to deportation, the simple fact is that they are proposing a mass deportation policy without supplying the resources to carry it out.

Enactment of the House legislation would result in sheer immigration enforcement chaos and turn commonsense enforcement priorities on their head. Without enforcement priorities to guide them, immigration agents would randomly remove and deport any undocumented immigrant they find. Given that it’s probably easier (and much safer) to arrest a hard working law abiding mother in her home than to ferret out, detain and deport a national security risk or dangerous criminal it’s likely agents would go for the low hanging fruit. Think about it: what incentive would there be to risk life and limb going after dangerous criminals when an undocumented hotel worker or farm hand would fill the daily deportation quota?

To prevent this chaos the Administration would have no choice but to set enforcement priorities–again. Clearly, any responsible executive would favor using limited resources to go after felons, gang-bangers and terrorists.

So we are back to where we started—the president must set enforcement priorities. Not only is it mandated by statute, it’s common sense.

The only reasonable conclusion to be drawn from the GOP proposal is that they are not serious about finding solutions. They’d rather use the legislative process to throw red meat to their extremist base than reach across the aisle and find immigration solutions that will work for the country.

When Republicans swept the elections in 2014, they promised to govern responsibly. But they stand ready to break that promise in the first few weeks of 2015. Requiring President Obama to start deportations up against undocumented parents of U.S. citizen children, rather than focusing our resources on criminals and security threats, is completely irresponsible. Ceding control of the legislative process to party extremists who have no interest in enacting immigration reform is a breach of the public trust.

About David Leopold
Past President American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), In-the-Trenches practicing immigration Attorney, Blogger, Activist, Photographer, Educator, World Traveler. All opinions are my own.

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