The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


May 27, 2014

My Turn: The day immigration reform died


As pointed out by National Review, it is true that the Supreme Court ruled in Zadvydas v. Davis that the federal government can detain illegal immigrants for up to six months before deporting them, but after that must usually release them if there is “no significant likelihood of removal in the reasonably foreseeable future.” In many cases, the reason there is no “likelihood of removal” is that the illegal immigrant’s home country has refused to take back its nationals. The Boston Globe reported that more than 20 countries, “from Jamaica to China routinely block deportation of their citizens.”

The explanation from the Obama administration would end there with the blame falling on foreign governments, if not for an inconvenient federal law. In cases exactly like this situation, the State Department is required to stop issuing new visas for citizens of countries which have blocked the deportation of their nationals. Obama’s State Department has done no such thing. In fact, former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told the House Judiciary Committee in 2011 that she was unaware of any actions the administration had taken against countries which had refused the return of their deported citizens.

(Incidentally, the House was forced to pass legislation that redundantly requires agencies to follow federal laws. It allows Congress to bring lawsuits against the executive branch for failure to comply with the law, and also requires agencies enforcing policies contrary to statutes to explain why. Naturally, these bills received little notice in the Senate and are currently collecting dust somewhere in Majority Leader Harry Reid’s office.)

The administration’s reckless release of thousands of criminal illegal immigrants, coupled with the complete disregard for a federal statute regarding the issuance of visas, is just one more piece of evidence of Obama’s disdain for circumstances that do not suit his goals. His drive to grant amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants already present must be motivated by politics, since it is clear it cannot be based on public safety or adherence to current law. Other administrations have been lenient on foreign governments, but the totality of the president’s poor record on immigration law enforcement is unparalleled.

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