“For a large part of the last four or five years we’ve been unable to take enforcement action against those individuals,” the Washington Examiner quoted ICE official Matthew Albence as saying earlier this week in explaining why U.S. immigration officials have a backlog of 550,000 illegal aliens. Albence is executive associate director for enforcement and removal operations.
Two reasons are given for this exceptionally large backlog. One, former President Barack Obama handed many of them temporary amnesty, and two, others were allowed to stay by judges sympathetic to illegal immigration.
Obama began delaying deportation actions in large numbers in 2014. Albence explained that even if officers of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) found an illegal alien in jail, they were discouraged from taking him into custody. “Our officers had to turn their heads or walk the other way. So that’s a large part of that problem, the fact that we couldn’t enforce the law.”
Even some illegals sought for murder were protected.
Acting ICE Director Thomas Homan also asserted, “We need to hold judges accountable.” Another problem he cited was the hundreds of sanctuary cities which have not allowed ICE officers to take illegal aliens into custody, even if they are in their jails. ICE under the Trump administration intends to fight those cities and other obstacles, Homan added. He believes this will send a message to those here illegally that they are still subject to deportation, even if they have been in the country for a decade.
“There has to be a consequence and a deterrence to illegal activity or the illegal activity won’t stop,” Homan pointed out. “We’ve made a lot of headway this year — more than I’ve seen in a long time — and we’ve got to keep going down this road. We’ve got to keep momentum going.”
It is quite clear that the Obama administration, up to and including the president, favored the influx of illegal aliens. What would be the motivation?
Certainly, a long-range goal was increasing the number of voters expected to cast their ballots for Democrat candidates. In the meantime, the Obama administration probably assumed that, by taking such a lenient approach to removing persons inside the country here illegally, he would garner increased political participation from ethnic groups with large numbers of immigrants. While many often think of Hispanics when they hear of “illegal aliens,” ICE also has had problems in dealing with a large Iraqi population in the Detroit area.
The problem, of course, did not originate with Obama. In 1965, the Hart-Celler Act radically changed American immigration laws, abolishing the quota system. The law replaced the quotas with preferences based on family relationships. In 1988, Democratic consultant Patrick Reddy praised the Kennedys for this change, declaring, “The 1965 Immigration Reform Act promoted by President Kennedy, drafted by Attorney General Robert Kennedy, and pushed through the Senate by Ted Kennedy has resulted in a wave of immigration from the Third World that should shift the nation in a more liberal direction within a generation. It will go down as the Kennedy family’s greatest gift to the Democratic Party.”
Historian Tom Woods commented on the effect of this surge in immigration, legal and illegal, asking whether we will “be more or less free after even two more generations of immigration the size and composition of recent decades. That immigrants and the American bureaucracy that serves them will become yet another pressure group, clamoring for privileges and benefits in Washington, can scarcely be doubted.”
He continued, zeroing in on the problem we now face. “In order to destroy the cultural and ethnic cohesion that acts as a bulwark against its expansion, the state has a history of engaging in deliberate scrambling. When this forced integration inevitably produces animosity, the state is all too eager to impose order on a chaos of its own creation.”
Woods concluded, “A facile advocacy of open borders gives the central state exactly what it wants: the chance to supersede the preferences of property owners, and to provide the pretext for further encroachments on local and individual liberty.”
So, it is not too surprising that President Obama and his allies favored the coddling of illegal aliens.
Hopefully, simply enforcing present federal laws against illegal immigration will be one of the legacies of the Trump presidency.
President Obama: White House photo