Immigration: The deportation rules announced this week by Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly were greeted with the expected outrage from the usual suspects. But since when is enforcing the law a crime? In this case, the law that Kelly plans to enforce is the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act, which was approved by 52 Democrats in the Senate and 202 Democrats in the House in a Democrat-controlled Congress and was signed into law by President Johnson, a Democrat.
That hasn’t stopped today’s Democrats from decrying the DHS memo as obscene and horribly un-American.
New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez says the policies described in Kelly’s memo are “xenophobic.” Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called it a “mass deportation plan … to round up and quickly deport anyone who is undocumented.” He said Democrats would oppose it and “continue fighting for what is right.”
News accounts, meanwhile, said the DHS memos were creating fear and panic among immigrant communities.
Others complained that the DHS plan would let the government deport illegals to Mexico, even if they originated from another country, that they could be deported for something as mundane as a traffic ticket, and that the rule, as The New York Times put it, “strip such immigrants of privacy protections.”
What the memos say, however, is that DHS will enforce the 1965 law.
Critics say, for example, Kelly wants to enlist local law enforcement to help identify and arrest illegals. CNN says the memos “expand the federal government’s ability to empower state and local law enforcement agencies to perform the functions of immigration officers.”
Not true. This ability is drawn directly from the 1965 law and has been used ever since as a “force multiplier.” It was Obama who sharply scaled the program back — after he won re-election in 2012.
The decision to ship illegals back to Mexico, even if they came from another country, is also drawn directly from the law — which also, by the way, makes it clear that illegals can be deported simply for the crime of being in the country illegally.
As far as “stripping” immigrants of “privacy protections,” what Kelly’s memo actually says is that DHS will abide by the 1974 Privacy Act, which provides privacy protections for information collected by the federal government about U.S. citizens. These protections, the law makes clear, do not extend to visitors or aliens.
In early 2009, the DHS decided on its own to extend the Privacy Act to illegals, because it was easier to do so. Kelly’s memo simply rescinds that 2009 “guidance memorandum.”
This doesn’t strip immigrants of any privacy rights — which they didn’t have to begin with — but simply better aligns DHS policy with federal law.
In addition, DHS is scrapping Obama’s Priority Enforcement Program, which was also implemented after Obama won re-election and was in force for all of two years. PEP severely limited which illegals would be deemed a priority for removal, supposedly to focus the agency’s efforts on high-risk illegals.
But as Kelly states, Obama’s PEP “failed to achieve its stated objectives (and) hampered the Department’s enforcement of the immigration laws.” So the agency is going back to the Secure Communities Program that PEP had replaced.
For the most part, then, what Kelly is doing is wiping away various roadblocks set up by Obama that hampered enforcement of the 1965 law.
It’s true that Kelly plans to hire 10,000 more agents and officers, but many of these personnel will go toward speeding up what is an absurdly long removal process and to better enforcing existing laws.
In any case, the memos make clear that DHS still intends to prioritize their deportation efforts on illegals who are 1) criminals, 2) drug traffickers or 3) national security risks. Anyone want to object to that?
If Democrats don’t like the 1965 law — which their party wrote and passed — they should try to convince the public that it needs to be changed, rather than mindlessly attack the president who tries to enforce its provisions.