Running for Deporter in Chief

Illegals Public Domain Photo from Pixabay

It’s All About Priorities.

Former Vice President Joe Biden is being shoved to a defensive posture on President Donald Trump’s signature issue, immigration. Activists dog Mr. Biden, asking everybody to remember that he served loyally in the administration of the “deporter in chief,” Barack Obama.

There’s a sense in which all presidents are “deporters in chief,” since they are in a position to declare the priorities of the relevant federal agencies and there is simply no way that every person in the U.S. sin papeles could be deported. There is also no realistic way to open the borders. Donald Trump’s bleats to the contrary, there is no public policy prescription offered by any credible presidential candidate of any party that calls for simply opening up the borders.

There is some polling that appears to show immigration is overtaking health care as the number one concern of American voters. If this is so, it will last until the Trump administration’s litigation to stamp out Obamacare wins. Then everybody with a pre-existing condition and everybody with kids on their health insurance past age 18 will suddenly have a new priority same as their old priority.

I don’t think the litigation to put a stake in the heart of Obamacare is going to win, but I got my law license before Mr. Trump, with the aid of Sen. Mitch McConnell, stacked the federal courts with lawyers who can’t find that part of the Constitution that permits the federal government to provide health insurance to persons too lazy to acquire their own. So what do I know?

If I’m wrong, I will have violated Wayne Gretzky’s aphorism that I should not skate to where the puck is, but rather to where the puck is going to be. I’m going to immigration while understanding that the focus could return to health care in a heartbeat. I’ll chance it.

Since nobody favors open borders, there are going to be deportations, and in our times we consider both “voluntary” departures and physically chucking people across the border to be “deportations.” All deportations are not equal, and the reason for the scare quotes around voluntary departures is that leaving voluntarily has significant legal advantages to persons who wish to return at some point lawfully.

Here are the priorities stated by Barack “deporter in chief” Obama and verified by a blog post on the Cato Institute website. Cato is a libertarian think tank but they do not have a reputation for lying in pursuit of an agreeable outcome.

Obama’s highest stated priority was criminal aliens, and Cato reports that 53.3 percent of all Obama deportations involved criminals. Those who consider Obama evil will point out that “criminal” includes criminal violations of immigration laws. Listening to Mr. Trump would give the impression that all immigration violations are criminal or that merely being present in the country without papers authorizing your presence is a crime. Neither of those assertions is true.

Among the undocumented who are not criminals, Obama prioritized those most newly arrived. The theory is that someone who has been here for weeks or months is less likely than someone who has been here for years to have married a citizen and/or had children who are citizens. Stated plainly, the purpose is to minimize breaking up families.

The mechanism to accomplish deporting the more newly arrived is to focus on areas near the border. Deportations from the interior of the country peaked in 2009 and continued to decline until Trump took over, when the trend reversed. Trump is also deporting fewer criminal aliens than Obama so far.

The Trump administration has focused on one number. The Donald is interested in total deportations of persons here without authorization. He is not particularly concerned with what subset of those persons is being deported. He just seeks removal of as many persons as is humanly (if not humanely) possible.

This includes the Dreamers, who Obama flatly refused to deport. Some Republicans were so exercised over that use of executive authority they floated the theory that it was an impeachable offense. Let’s go over briefly who the Dreamers are.

They were the intended beneficiaries of the DREAM Act, Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors. The proposal was introduced on August 1, 2001, sponsored by the bipartisan team of Republican Orrin Hatch of Utah and Democrat Dick Durbin of Illinois. While the senate bill was the first to carry the DREAM acronym, it was put together from proposed legislation introduced in the House of Representatives earlier by Democrat Luis Gutierrez of Illinois and Republican Chris Cannon of Utah.

After the DREAM Act failed to pass twice when rolled into comprehensive immigration reform, and standing alone failed to attract enough senate votes (60) to break a Republican filibuster in 2007, 2009, 2010, and 2011, President Obama created DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, as a stopgap until Congress could agree on the terms of relief for the Dreamers. Most people seemed to agree that the Dreamers were not to blame for their situation and knew no country but the United States.

For relief under DACA, the applicant had to:

Be under 31 years of age on June 15, 2012;

Have come to the U.S. while under age 16;

Have continuously resided in the U.S. from June 15, 2007 until the date of application;

Be physically present in the U.S. at the time of application;

Be currently in school, have graduated from high school or obtained a GED or have been honorably discharged from the Coast Guard or Armed Forces;

Have not been convicted of a felony, a significant misdemeanor, or more than three misdemeanors and must not pose a threat to national security or public safety.

So far, the federal courts have seized upon the manifest unfairness of causing them to register and then throwing them out to protect them. Sympathetic judges are rolling the challenges to DACA like cold molasses but DACA cannot live forever on injunctions. Remember the D in DACA is deferred. Congress must act or the young adults we call Dreamers because they dream of being real Americans will be dealt a barbaric fate rivaling only that of the toddlers in cages on the southern border.

To those who are dogging Joe Biden with the charge that he worked with the “deporter in chief,” I must ask the question whether you seriously believe the children on the border would not be better off — -as well as the Dreamers who would already have been deported but for Barack Obama — -if Obama’s VP were made president?

My point is not to endorse Joe Biden and I do not. My point is that anybody who claims the sobriquet “immigration activist” must have better things to do while government sponsored child abuse is continuing because the child victims do not have the proper papers that would entitle them to diapers and baths and toothbrushes and food and a soft place to sleep.

Friend for Life Public Domain Photo from Pixabay

I have a dog that I brought home from a shelter and she has all of those things except diapers. With apologies to the American Kennel Club, I must report my dog has no papers. What kind of a country treats stray dogs better than stray humans? What kind of an activist thinks stopping Joe Biden is more important than getting those kids out of cages?

Enrolled Cherokee, 9th grade dropout, retired judge, associate professor emeritus, and (so far) cancer survivor. Memoir: Lighting the Fire (Miniver Press 2020)

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