Congress Immigration

You’re Doing it Wrong

Over at the The Hill they call this the GOP’s “new immigration weapon” but I’m not so sure that’s an appropriate moniker.

If the goal is to convince Latino voters that you represent them better than the Democratic party, attacking the administration for reducing deportations probably isn’t going to win their hearts and minds.

A new report from the conservative Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) claims that the Obama administration has released thousands of convicted immigrants which, as you know, spells certain doom for us all.

The CIS report found that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released more than 36,000 immigrants, with almost 88,000 criminal convictions between them, during deportation screenings last year. [...]

“Regardless of one’s position on the larger immigration reform question, it’s incredibly alarming that tens of thousands of convicted criminal aliens — including hundreds of murderers, kidnappers, and rapists—- who were processed for deportation are being freed into our communities by the Obama administration,” Reps. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Lamar Smith (R-Texas), the chairman and former chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, respectively, said this week in a statement.

“Murderers, kidnappers, and rapists.”

That sounds terrible, but there’s more to it.

The DHS’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) branch has not disputed the report, which was based on ICE data obtained by CIS. But the agency is defending the releases, arguing that convicted criminals enter ICE’s deportation process only after they’ve served their sentences; that “many” of those released were subject to restrictions like “GPS monitoring, telephone monitoring, supervision, or bond;” and that previous court rulings require that the agency release many others.

“The releases required by court decisions account for a disproportionate number of the serious crimes listed in the [CIS] report,” ICE said in a statement.

In other words, these individuals are being treated no differently than any other criminal in America except they must also pass through ICE after they’re released from prison. Some criminals are released by ICE because of court orders.

Republicans are essentially arguing that convicted immigrants should be automatically deported even after they’ve served their time. They’re using this as evidence that the Obama administration can’t be trusted and therefore they cannot condone passing comprehensive immigration reform.

The irony is that refusing to pass reform keeps the issue of immigration almost exclusively in the executive wheelhouse. Congressional Republics are actually ceding power by refusing to cooperate and make compromises.

ICE prioritizes deportations for individuals who may pose a threat to national security over common criminals and previous court rulings require that many of them be released. House Republicans could probably change that if they cooperated, but they’re too busy trying to scare people.

Some “weapon.”

(ht Karin Riley Porter)