Enforcement vs. Immigration Reform

By
Thursday, October 07, 2010 at 12:59 pm

One day after the Department of Homeland Security announced record-high deportations of illegal immigrants, ColorLines has a good story about some of the problems of heavy enforcement — particularly under a system that strongly favors deportation. Framed by the story of a legal resident who was deported for telling border guards he was a citizen — he said he misspoke and told them he had a green card minutes later — the piece explains how immigrants are harmed by the harsh laws and the Obama administration’s effort to appear tough on immigration to broker a bipartisan immigration reform deal.

Shahed Hossain, who had lived legally in the U.S. for 10 years, was deported in 2007 after more than a year in a detention facility. He was stopped at the border and told guards he was a citizen before backtracking, ColorLines reported. Under the 1996 Immigration Reform and Individual Responsibility Act, it is illegal for any immigrants — even those with green cards — to claim to be citizens:

The law was intended to prevent undocumented immigrations from lying to get a job or enter the country without a visa. It wasn’t supposed to target green card holders like Hossain, but as with all of the beefed-up enforcement initiatives federal officials have launched since then, the law is a blunt  tool. So Hossain was charged that day with making a false claim to U.S. citizenship. The charge triggers automatic deportation.

Since the mid-90s, the immigration removal system has become increasingly standardized to the point of removing nearly all discretion from immigration judges. While judges previously could cancel deportation based on the individual’s circumstances, current law makes it next to impossible to do so.

Judges also face a monumental number of cases: In mid-June, a record of 247,922 cases were awaiting resolution in immigration courts, according to Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University. These cases are sometimes dealt with in mass hearings, NPR reported in September. As programs such as Secure Communities and Operation Streamline net more illegal immigrants, backlogs and heavy caseloads seem likely to exacerbate the problem of a conveyor-belt judicial process.

At the same time, Democrats have stepped up immigration enforcement in an effort to compromise with Republicans. But comprehensive immigration reform has yet to appear, and immigrant rights groups argue it is the only way to resolve the problems within the current immigration enforcement system:

“If we are going to be continuing to escalate what we call enforcement, or mass deportation,” says Michelle Fei, director of the Immigrant Defense Project in New York City, “many … who are coming forward to register or to get legalized might actually land in deportation. Enforcement will undercut the promise of reform. We don’t want a system that is rounding people up and deporting people without due process.”

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24 Comments

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Norski
Comment posted October 7, 2010 @ 8:53 pm

Yeah – that makes sense – flood the system with so many law-breakers that it can no longer function properly then claim that because the system no longer functions properly the law-breakers should receive clemency. Is this the same logic that says if there is a riot going on grab all the stuff you can because you probably won’t have to pay for it?

The true measure of honesty and good citizenship is what you do when no one is looking. Not what you can get away with when no one is looking.


Little
Comment posted October 7, 2010 @ 9:10 pm

Boohoo, they're enforcing the laws, woe is me. How cruel! (Well, occasionally they're enforcing them, is really all it is.)

Don't break into a country and expect to be treated as an invited guest, any more than you would break into someone's home and expect them to treat you like a guest.

As to the complaint about “removing nearly all discretion from immigration judges”, well that's pretty much the only way the legislature can get the immig judges (mostly former immig attornies) to enforce the laws. Just like liberal judges used to set violent criminals free until mandatory sentencing laws were passed–so the immig judges used to find any excuse to let anyone stay no matter what. And some of them still do (look at the case of Obama's aunt–who didn't even show any gratitude after being allowed to stay and receive welfare, on the flimsiest pretext).


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Joelwisch2
Comment posted October 8, 2010 @ 2:17 am

Framed by the story of a legal resident who was deported for telling border guards he was a citizen — he said he misspoke and told them he had a green card minutes later — the piece explains how immigrants are harmed by the harsh laws and the Obama administration’s effort to appear tough on immigration to broker a bipartisan immigration reform deal.
==================================
Oddly, some of the items that play into that story are that the guy was jerking the Border Patrol around. It is good that that story is getting around.. and while the story is part truthful, and part fabrication, ANOTHER idiot won't be doing that same thing for La Raza.. and yes I am sure it was a set up.

But per the deportations: when only a few were coming in, the numbers deported would have been a good number. A lot more are coming in and those numbers are a smaller percentage of the whole than has ever been allowed. Napolitano cannot simply tell the truth and has made very serious mistakes in the past. We won't know what the damage is until another administration is in place dedicated to finding the truth, and having an outsider verify the numbers crossing the borders now. And, by the way, this reporter has NOT checked any of the reports that the illegal aliens have been pouring through the border in other areas. She simply listens to the press conferences.. she parrots what the Administration tells her.


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ninesixteen
Comment posted October 10, 2010 @ 4:23 am

I agree with you – the national guard troops and the deportation statistics are a ploy. Meanwhile the fencing at the border is a joke in many places, empty boats from Mexico are found on San Diego and Orange county beaches, and there's absolutely no effort to make E-Verify the law of the land. With record unemployment the politicians are kidding themselves if they think they can try another mass legalization program.


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