Although the Obama administration has been trying to limit its enforcement of U.S. immigration law only to illegal aliens who have committed crimes in addition to violating immigration law, the policy of checking the fingerprints of those jailed by local law enforcement has triggered criticism that the administration has in fact been enforcing U.S. immigration law against some illegal aliens who do not have or do not yet have criminal convictions. Some have apparently been deported solely because their presence in the U.S. violates our immigration laws!
In response to this criticism from some government officials and Latino and immigrant advocacy groups, the administration has announced new initiatives to reduce the numbers of illegal aliens actually deported. They will authorize (i.e., direct?) federal immigration officials to exercise discretion on a case-by-case basis to postpone, defer, or cancel deportations of illegal aliens which would otherwise be routine under federal law. Federal lawyers charged with prosecuting immigration law violations will be authorized (i.e., directed?) in their discretion to drop prosecutions on a case-by-case basis.
Since the President has expressed his wish for an across-the-board amnesty for all immigration law violators other than convicted criminals, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the federal government cannot be counted on to enforce its own immigration laws. That’s why states and localities have to pick up the ball of enforcing federal immigration laws. Recent decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court upholding an Arizona immigration statute against challenge, and vacating the Third Circuit Court of Appeals decision which had invalidated immigration ordinances in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, are therefore welcome news.
Should we have legal limits on immigration to the U.S. or not? That is the question. If we want everyone in the world who hasn’t been convicted of a crime to be able to immigrate to the U.S., then we should repeal our immigration laws. But if we want numeric limits on immigration to the U.S., then those numeric limits as enacted into law by Congress must be enforced, or we end up with the worst of all possible outcomes, an expensive, wasteful, dysfunctional, unenforced immigration system that no one understands or respects.