This upcoming election cycle will likely see immigration as one of the most important topics that will influence voters. While most immigration-related issues can be drawn along party lines, recently Democrats – who normally support the Democrat President Obama on his immigration actions – have decried his administration’s decision to aggressively pursue foreign nationals with outstanding deportation orders.
These actions mark a sharp and surprising deviation from the President’s former record of embracing and implementing pro-immigration policies, such as the immensely popular Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and the President’s own recent executive actions.
The Rapid Deportation Uptick
Over the holiday season, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials began conducting raids in order to locate primarily Central American foreign nationals who have come to the U.S. without immigration status in the past two years. Administration officials have intimated that the White House is concerned that another surge of Central Americans, including women and young children, is poised to take place similar to the surges that occurred in the summer of 2014.
The Democrats in both houses of Congress have made attempts to persuade the Obama administration to stop the raids, saying that the President is ruining all of the good will he has amassed in recent weeks, and they have accused the DHS officials of spreading terror amongst immigration communities. The Democrats are also upset because the White House did not inform Congress of its intent to conduct raids, and many representatives are angry that they only learned of these plans after the Washington Post ran an article on the raids. Additionally, many high-profile Democrats, such as Nancy Pelosi, are calling for a halt to the raids until legal counsel can be secured for all of those who may be affected.
The DHS Response to Congress’ Criticism
The DHS Secretary, Mr. Jeh Johnson, issued a statement to address the Democrats’ outrage. In his statement, Secretary Johnson said that the raids were purposefully confined to locating and deporting just 121 foreign nationals who had final orders of removal and who had no more legal remedies to pursue in order to further prevent or challenge their deportation. Secretary Johnson also seemed to fire back at the Democrats for their criticism by arguing that the raids should not have surprised anyone because it has always been DHS policy to enforce final orders of deportation, even if the orders are for entire families or children.
It does appear that the DHS is caught between something of a rock and a hard place. One the one hand, the agency is tasked with enforcing the country’s immigration laws, but on the other hand, the President has frequently instructed the agency to exercise its discretion in not pursuing deportation cases. The mixed messages could make any agency’s head spin.
The deportation raids and the continued politicization of immigration is disheartening for many reasons, primarily because they take the focus off the real issue at hand which is passing comprehensive immigration reform. Continue to check back with our blog for all immigration-related updates.
More Blog Posts
The Government’s War on H-1Bs, ImmigRantings, October 11, 2012
Obama Signs Immigration Executive Order, ImmigRantings, June 15, 2012
Problems with the H-1B visa: From Work Horse to Show Pony, ImmigRantings, February 13, 2012