The Washington Independent
The Washington Independent

Obama’s Reasons for Downplaying Tough Immigration Enforcement

Last updated: 07/31/2020 08:00 | 07/16/2010 06:58
Thomas Dixon

The crux of the Justice Department’s lawsuit against Arizona’s immigration law is that state law enforcement shouldn’t do the job of the feds in cracking down on illegal immigration. But some Immigration and Customs Enforcement programs already blur the line between state and local authorities. Over at Salon, Daniel Denvir looks into ICE’s Secure Communities program, which critics say forces local law enforcement to take up immigration enforcement — whether they want to or not.

It’s worth reading the whole piece, but I’ll break down some of the key points. The program implements information sharing between federal and local authorities, asking local police to enter fingerprints of suspects into a program so they can be checked by immigration agents. The information can then be used for deportations — even if the suspects are cleared of the crimes that led to their arrest. ICE plans to implement the program nationwide by 2013, but it’s already in operation in 437 jurisdictions and 24 states. It’s not clear whether cities are able to opt out — Denvir gets conflicting answers — despite complaints from city officials and law enforcement that it could harm their ability to fight other crime.

The problem with the program, according to critics, is that it targets all illegal immigrants equally. The DHS has been touting a new push to prioritize illegal immigrants who are also dangerous criminals and employers who hire undocumented workers. But the Secure Communities program skews that balance: In its first year, more than 88 percent of those deported under the program were arrested for the least serious classes of offenses.

Critics claim that Secure Communities allows deportations to stay in the dark, enabling the Obama administration to stay away from politically damaging stories of families being separated. But there are also political problems with playing down heavy enforcement, as Edward Schumacher-Matos of The Washington Post argued yesterday. Images of enforcement victories may not be palatable for Democratic leadership, but the dearth of them makes people worry the administration doesn’t care about enforcement:

A big part of leadership is showmanship, and President Obama legitimately has something to show. But I have asked administration officials why they don’t and, after much squirming, it comes down to the human face of those who are being punished. Those being jailed and deported are mostly honest, well-meaning people, many of them poor, who sneaked across the border or overstayed their visas because they wanted to work. Some have children, adding to the drama.

Such images don’t sit well with administration officials personally or politically, many of them having previously worked on immigration issues. The images raise the hackles of the religious groups, immigrant activists, and Latino and other ethnic groups that are part of Obama’s base.

And so the administration politically muddles. It somehow hopes to persuade the American public to support a total overhaul of the immigration system by proving that the government can be trusted to enforce the law, but without campaigning on its enforcement effectiveness so as not to offend the president’s base constituencies. It blames Republicans for the failure to pass comprehensive immigration reform. For good measure, it blames Republicans for the plight of the poor immigrants, even though it is Democrats who are carrying out the enforcement.

Thomas Dixon | He creates the ideal marketing experience by connecting online brands with their target audiences. He recently completed a research paper on consumer conversion and took part in a community project on SEO optimization. Thomas is working on his Bachelor of Arts in Communications and plans to intern in an online marketing department soon.


MA-Sen: 150 Conservative Bloggers Fan Out, Looking for Scandals

BOSTON -- The mysterious Election Journal blog, which first released the infamous 2008 video of two bumbling New Black Panther Party members waving nightsticks

MA-Sen: 66 to 19

BOSTON -- That, via Alex Isenstadt and Josh Kraushaar, is the number that defined the Massachusetts Senate race more than anything else. From the primary

MA-Sen: A Text Message From Scott Brown

BOSTON -- Having signed up for Scott Brown’s text message service for election day, I just got this text: Are you about to have lunch? It’s a great time to

MA-Sen: Loyal Democrats Grouse About Coakley

BOSTON -- A little while after noon, a steady crowd of Democratic voters streamed into the Cathedral High School Gymnasium to cast votes for their party’s

MA-Sen Photos: ‘Paint the Town Red! Croakley’s Dead!’

Below are some photos of yesterday’s People’s Rally in Worcester, the rally that Brown held to counter-program the Obama rally in Boston. The crush of

MA-Sen: Brown Wins

BOSTON -- At 9:20, the first rumors of Scott Brown’s victory in the Massachusetts Senate race started to work around the room. A moment later, Doug Flutie

MA-Sen: Out-of-Staters for Brown

BOSTON -- A surprising discovery at yesterday’s People’s Rally in Worcester was just how many people had traveled into the state to assist, in whatever way,

MA-Sen: Republicans Celebrate Coakley’s Gaffes in Worcester

WORCESTER, Mass. - By the way, said Curt Schilling. One more thing. I am not a Yankees fan. The overflowing crowd at Worcester’s Mechanics Hall on

Net Investors Bullish on Palin’s Prospects for Staying on Ticket

Just for fun, the Internet prediction Website Intrade has opened a contract on whether Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin will be withdrawn as McCain’s running mate.

© Copyright 2021 The Washington Independent All Rights Reserved

Terms & Privacy |