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State, national columnists

Through the immigration looking glass

By From page A11 | April 10, 2014

SAN DIEGO — With many issues, the more you study them, the more likely you are to understand them. But with the immigration debate, the closer you follow it, the more likely you are to go stark raving mad.

This probably suits the Obama administration just fine. At this point, it’s obvious that the main objective at the White House isn’t to solve the immigration problem. Instead, the primary mission of top administration officials such as Valerie Jarrett, senior White House adviser, and Cecilia Munoz, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, is to protect the president’s legacy by deflecting criticism, muddying the waters and confusing detractors.

It makes sense. Once you deport 2 million people in five years, and heartlessly divide hundreds of thousands of families, the only thing left to do is to cover your tracks before someone builds a “deportation wing” in your presidential library.

But rather than let the administration and its supporters rewrite history, let’s be clear about a few things.

First, President Obama obviously never meant what he said when he declared his support for giving the undocumented a path to citizenship. If he had, Obama would not have named Rahm Emanuel, who helped stall immigration reform while serving in Congress, as his first chief of staff and put Janet Napolitano, a former Arizona governor who once declared a “state of emergency” on the border, in charge of the Homeland Security Department.

Next, it certainly isn’t true – in a hackneyed line that you hear from Obama apologists – that the president deported all those people just to please Republicans. As you watch Obama deal with other issues such as revamping health care and raising the minimum wage, does he strike you as someone with a burning desire to please the opposition?

Finally, Obama was always out to placate only one group: the blue-collar restrictionist wing of the Democratic Party, which believes that illegal immigrants are bad for U.S. workers. Mission accomplished.

The administration’s latest smokescreen is especially cynical because White House spinners borrowed it from the GOP.

For the last couple of years, Republicans such as Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama and Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas have insisted that the Obama administration is inflating deportation figures by basing them largely on those individuals who were apprehended near the border as opposed to those who live in the interior.

Republicans push this line because they can’t figure out why, even with all the recent deportations, there are still so many illegal immigrants in this country.

Really? It’s not brain surgery. As long as American employers keep hiring these folks, America will always have an ample supply of illegal immigrants.

Now Obama apologists are advancing the same line to the media in a feeble attempt to make the administration seem more compassionate. It is assumed that illegal immigrants living in “the interior” would be more deeply rooted in society and so their removal would be much more disruptive and painful. Latinos will forgive a great deal of neglect and mistreatment by a Democratic president, but they draw the line at separating families. So Obama administration officials have been quoted as saying that the majority of those deported are those with criminal records or young men who have not put down roots in this country – loners without families who are picked up within hours of crossing the border.

There is only one problem with this narrative, no matter where it is coming from: It doesn’t make sense in the real world. “Near the border” is defined as within 100 miles of the international boundary. It turns out that this is not so near.

I happen to live within that range. A few years ago, a woman who cleans homes in my neighborhood was apprehended after the driver of the car in which she was riding was pulled over by a local policeman for rolling past a stop sign. The officer called the Border Patrol to the scene, and the housekeeper was arrested, processed and bused to Mexico. Her three children remained in this country with their father. All this happened within 100 miles of the border. Agents of the U.S. government took custody of that woman and physically relocated her to a foreign country. So much for the lone-male argument the administration is pushing.

If that’s not a deportation, then the world has gone crazy – which, in the immigration debate, is par for the course.

Ruben Navarrette is a columnist for U-T San Diego. Reach him at [email protected]

Ruben Navarrette


Discussion | 3 comments

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  • JBDragonApril 10, 2014 - 12:51 pm

    Come here illegally, you take all risks breaking this countries laws!!! There was no need to break up the family, the father and the kids could move to Mexico also. I'd course good luck to the Amican trying to get a job in Mexico. There's laws against it and unlike the U.S. They do enforce their laws and protect their own southern boarder. So it's ok for Mexico and pretty much any other country, just not the U.S. Because it's so unfair to you. No one asked her here. No one asked her to then pop out some kids here. Come to this country legally. There is a reason for the laws we have. Rewarding a person is the last thing that should be done. In fact in need better laws to fine company's hiring illegals here. I'm all for legal imagination, but we can only absorb so many people a year. Illegals from Mexico and even Canada, means it's screwing things up for those coming here legally from around the world. Here's a idea, make your own country better. This county is going into the dumps anyway.

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  • Rich GiddensApril 10, 2014 - 2:54 pm

    Just askin' but does Rueben the wayward Mexican journalist write any other stories other then ''I'm a racist Mexican who wants a dumbed down nation to just completely open its borders to a complete Mexican invasion and forking over of the US Treasury''? What a hispano-centric jerk! Suppose Americans illegally crossed into Mexico and demanded their government kowtow and cater to their ''La Raza'' demands? The USA serves as a Mexican social safety valve where their impoverished multitudes flock to ''El Norte'' and were not supposed to complain or object. Again---I'm sick of the government media complex and the government of traitors!

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  • jagApril 10, 2014 - 6:49 pm

    Newt Gingrich said we have about three million illegal Immigrants in this country and we cannot just kick them out and I still ask Why not? Who will work in the fields? Who will do those jobs no one wants to do? People on welfare (if they want to keep it) we cannot break up families? No we can`t they are welcome to take the kids and move there legal home

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