Mike DeWine’s decision to join Texas #immigration lawsuit hurts #Ohio

Originally posted by the Cleveland Plain Dealer on Cleveland.com2014-12-19 DeWine

By David Leopold

Forty-one million dollars.

That’s a serious piece of change. And it’s the amount of tax revenue Ohioans stand to lose over the next five years if Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has his way.

DeWine has slapped the name of the Great State of Ohio on a Texas lawsuit seeking to stop President Barack Obama’s immigration-related executive actions that will bring 5 million undocumented immigrants out of the shadows. The process, known as deferred action, will require unauthorized immigrants nationwide to register, undergo criminal background checks and pay taxes. Ohio stands to gain $41 million dollars in tax revenue to be paid by an estimated 82,000 undocumented Ohioans who’ll qualify for the program.

That’s real money; money that could relieve Ohio financial strains and be used to hire teachers, firefighters and police officers.

Why would DeWine, who has always had a pragmatic, fair-minded approach to immigration, sign onto a lawsuit that’s not only frivolous, but reads more like a factually challenged press release than a well-reasoned legal complaint?

DeWine says his “decision to join the lawsuit in Texas has nothing to do with immigration policy.” Rather, so he claims, “It has everything to do with preserving our Constitution’s separation of powers and combatting the current administration’s consistent efforts to expand presidential authority into the traditional powers of Congress to make and change federal laws.”

That some very serious-sounding stuff. The good news is none of it’s true.

In fact the president is following the letter of the law — and doing exactly what Congress has required of the administration.

Let me explain.

The Constitution requires the president to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” Congress, which passes those laws has directed Obama to prioritize which undocumented immigrants should be deported. But Congress has only given the president enough resources to remove a fraction of the estimated 11 million living in the shadows, about 400,000 people per year. And since he’s been president Obama has done exactly that — he’s deported nearly half a million people a year — earning him harsh rebuke from his supporters, some of who dubbed him “The Deporter-in-Chief.”

What DeWine (and the Texas lawsuit) conveniently fail to mention is that Obama’s immigration actions do not stop deportations or even slow them down. The Department of Homeland Security will continue to deport nearly a half million undocumented immigrants every year whether or not Obama offers a temporary reprieve to DREAMERs and parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents.

Moreover — as DeWine undoubtedly knows — Obama’s immigration actions are nothing new. Presidents of both parties have used deferred action to postpone the deportation of large groups of undocumented immigrants, including abused women, hurricane victims and refugees.

So the question is not whether Obama’s immigration actions are legal (they are); it’s who of the 11 million should he go after first? Does it make sense to use limited immigration enforcement resources to focus on deporting dangerous felons, national security risks and recent border crossers? Or should the president concentrate on removing DREAMERS and mothers and fathers of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents.

The answer seems obvious to anyone concerned with the safety of Ohio communities.

Unfortunately it appears to be less obvious to DeWine. He ought to explain to Ohioans whom he’d rather see deported: a drug dealer in Cleveland, a gang member in Columbus or an undocumented mother working in the nurseries of Painesville or changing linens at a hotel in Toledo?

Does DeWine really think he’s doing Ohio taxpayers a service by signing onto a lawsuit that purports to protect the Constitution yet, in effect, aims to obstruct a lawful process which will hold 5 million undocumented immigrants accountable to their communities by requiring them to register, undergo criminal background checks, and pay taxes?

Sound bites, slogans, and frivolous lawsuits aside, the reality is that the immigration action undertaken by the president is not only legal, it’s damn good public policy. It will keep our borders protected by focusing more enforcement resources on border security, it will make our communities safer by getting rid of dangerous criminals and security threats, and it will keep American families together.

As a former prosecutor and U.S. senator, DeWine must know in his heart that Obama’s immigration actions are unassailably legal. Sadly, he has chosen to put Republican Party politics before the citizens of Ohio.

Fortunately he does not have the last word — Ohioans do. And they should demand that Attorney General Mike DeWine put partisan politics aside, do what’s best for the people of Ohio and remove the name of our great state from the meritless lawsuit in Texas.

Year End Immigration Roundup And What To Expect In 2012

Originally posted on the AILA Leadership Blog

When it comes to immigration 2011 will be remembered as the year Alabama enacted HB56, the most mean spirited state immigration law in U.S. history. It targets Latinos and other people of color and effectively mandates racial profiling by state law enforcement agents.  Since it went into effect last Fall Alabamans have been victimized by due process violations, acute shortages of essential workers, and the creation of a climate of fear which has led many Latinos—legal and illegal—to flee the state.  The media has been full of graphic images of produce rotting in unattended Alabama fields and idle machinery abandoned amid the flight of terrified workers. Alabama officials have been repeatedly embarrassed by the shocking arrests of foreign auto executives detained by local law enforcement for failure to produce immigration papers.  As 2011 draws to a close, Alabama politicians, including Governor Robert Bentley, who signed HB56 into law, are seriously considering dropping its most draconian sections.

If Alabama’s HB56 dominated the immigration developments in 2011, Arizona’s SB1070 will be sure to dominate in 2012.  The U.S. Supreme Court will hear the Obama Administration’s constitutional challenge to Arizona’s immigration law, enacted in 2010 but temporary blocked by the courts.  The effect of the Supreme Court’s ruling on immigration policy—and beyond—should not be underestimated.  Should the Court strike down SB1070 it will reaffirm, in a loud and clear voice, that immigration policy is exclusively a federal matter, inextricably tied to the idea of the United States as a sovereign nation.  However, should the Court uphold SB1070 other states will certainly follow Arizona’s and Alabama’s lead, resulting in a disparate patchwork of state immigration laws throughout America. The challenge then may no longer be limited to the federal government’s plenary power to regulate immigration, but to very idea of the United States as an indivisible nation.  Stay tuned.

2011 will also be remembered as the year of immigration enforcement.  Nearly a half a million people were deported from the U.S., undercutting those that claim the Administration has not enforced the law.  To the contrary, President Obama—for better or worse—has deported more illegal aliens than any president before him, including his predecessor, George W. Bush.  But amid all the removals in 2011, Obama tried a new, potentially very effective tool—common sense immigration enforcement.  In a policy announced in June, the Administration directed ICE to focus its energy on the deportation of violent criminals, drug dealers, and terrorists.  And while Obama cannot grant citizenship to any undocumented immigrant, he can certainly direct immigration agents to use their common sense in enforcing the law.

As 2011 draws to a close the big question remains: When, if ever, will Congress overhaul America’s broken immigration system; or even pass of the DREAM Act, which would help promising undocumented youth earn their way to lawful status.  But 2012 is an election year, and the reality is that the politicians in Washington will not touch an issue as explosive as immigration reform.

In the meantime, Americans can only hope that whomever they send to Washington in November will roll up their sleeves and get to work on an immigration policy that creates American jobs, protects American families, restores due process, and ensures America’s competitiveness in a global economy.

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