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Fog of immigration reform obscures reality

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From page A11 | December 05, 2013 | 2 Comments

SAN DIEGO — If Americans want to fix the immigration system, the first thing they need to do is cut through the fog of lies, contradictions and partisan spin that make it hard to see what is really going on.

Then they’ll understand who is really to blame for the fact that we don’t have comprehensive immigration reform and the adjoining fact that a record number of illegal immigrants – nearly 2 million – have been deported, and thousands of families divided, in the past five years.

The Framers divided the government into three branches – and gave the executive branch the power to enforce the law, including immigration law. So it follows that President Obama and his administration are responsible for dividing all those families, and deporting all those people.

Period.

Still, it won’t be easy to clear the air because the media, self-serving advocacy groups and the White House are all busy operating fog machines.

The good news is that, now and then, a stiff breeze blows in, and the fog lifts – if only temporarily.

It happened in September when seven undocumented immigrants, working with the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, were arrested outside the White House for protesting the administration’s immigration policies. Pablo Alvarado, the organization’s executive director, issued a statement warning that by deporting more than 1,100 people a day, Obama was in the process of “cementing his legacy as having presided over the most anti-immigrant administration in history.”

It happened again just a few weeks ago, when Ju Hong, an undocumented student from South Korea who graduated from the University of California at Berkeley with a degree in political science, confronted Obama. The president had gone to the Betty Ann Ong Chinese Recreation Center in San Francisco to talk about the immigration stalemate in Congress and put the blame entirely on Republicans. Hong pleaded with Obama to use executive power to stop deportations and the dividing of families, which Obama insisted he couldn’t do “without passing laws in Congress.”

Unbelievable.

You can’t act like an all-powerful chief executive when it comes to loosening a health care law that has been passed by Congress and upheld by the Supreme Court to allow people to keep their insurance policies and then, when confronted with the sticky wicket of immigration, cast yourself as powerless.

People will see through that – especially those with good memories. On Oct. 26, 2011, at the University of Colorado-Denver, Obama said this about his plans to exercise executive power on a variety of policy issues ranging from easing student loan debt to preventing foreclosures:

“We’re not going to wait for Congress. I’m going to act with or without Congress. Where they won’t act, I will, through a series of executive orders.”

Except, it seems, when it comes to immigration.

One thing that Obama managed to do without Congress was remove record numbers of illegal immigrants. During the first term, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano would march up to Capitol Hill and brag to congressional committees about how her department was – with startling efficiency – removing about 400,000 illegal immigrants every year. Then she would promise to do even better the next year. Napolitano had three tools at her disposal – monthly quotas to pressure Immigration and Customs Enforcement to remove a set number of illegal immigrants, a crackdown on the discretion that federal agents and federal prosecutors have traditionally had to allow some illegal immigrants to remain in the country, and enlisting of hundreds of thousands of local and state law enforcement personnel to act as surrogate immigration agents through a controversial program known as Secure Communities.

Napolitano has since left the federal government, but the three tools are still at the administration’s disposal. Obama could change that, although he chooses not to. He could also expand the scope of the program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which allows undocumented young people to stay in the United States and gives them a two-year work permit, but again he chooses not to.

Instead, the president has tried to run away from his own record. Democrats control half of Congress and yet, according to Obama, Republicans deserve 100 percent of the blame for not giving the undocumented a path to citizenship to protect them from being deported by, well, Obama.

Now you see why the president and his apologists need to generate fog. It covers up the reality, which isn’t very pleasant to look at.

Ruben Navarrette is a columnist for U-T San Diego. Reach him at ruben@rubennavarrette.com.

Ruben Navarrette

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Discussion | 2 comments

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  • 1December 05, 2013 - 7:27 am

    Lopsided, this is the only fog contained in this very pro-immigration amnesty story. And it is a story, a tale, as believable as any Harry Potter yarn. First, the Executive Branch is given the responsibility of enforcing US law, not ignoring it. Obama does not have, should not have, must not have the luxury of enforcing laws politically, no, he must enforce all laws. The politics of law are the responsibility of the Legislature in cooperation with the signature of the President. He does, as do all President, sign legislation in order to make them US law. And we have laws governing illegal immigration. Deportation is, and has always been the solution. It continues, under Obama because it must under US law. And what is bad about an illegal being deported? They broke the law, evaded justice, often, broke other laws while doing so. Most use stolen identities, fail to pay required taxes, use healthcare without concern of payment, falsely claim citizenship to access higher education and lie to obtain rights granted only to American Citizens. And while doing so, they teach their children dishonest! I am moved by the worlds problems, by the struggles of the poor, yet, their problems must not become my problems. I am not communist or socialist. I am concerned with my own welfare, and not that of others. It is my right as an American to own private property, to strive and live free. If I choose to be charitable, it is my choice, not one imposed on my by a President who himself is a scofflaw. So, this writer has it wrong, and is simply drumming the beat of the pro-Amnesty Washington pols, who, are simply interested in more subjects to control. For Washington, more is better...right?

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  • LoveDecember 05, 2013 - 9:14 am

    I used to feel the same way as '1' at one point.. and then I became a mother and it all makes sense. I am all for immigration reform.. Just because I was born on the 'right' side of the border does not make me superior, I am an American 2nd but a human 1st.. These people would not be flocking here if they could safely raise their families back home. I would rather take the chance of teaching my children to be 'dishonest' then taking the chance of never being able to teach them anything because they are dead, gone etc. I dont think dishonesty has anything to do with it.. its survival. America this, america that, blah blah blah. We have more then enough resources on this land to sustain them. The real solution would be to STOP wasting our time in country's half way across the world, spilling billions of dollars much of it going to our supposed enemy, and start cleaning up Mexico! Are we going to wait until its to late and their trouble also becomes ours? I know alot of these immigrants bring bad with them but you've got to take the bad with the good and lord knows we have our share of bad as well. Our president used this ploy to get more votes and that's about it

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