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The Day Immigration Reform Died | Commentary

(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.

Desperate over his failure to pass the DREAM Act to address the children of illegal immigrants, the president had ICE issue a memo detailing “prosecutorial discretion” guidelines for what classes of people should be prosecuted or deported. The administration will also no longer initiate deportation proceedings for certain of those who say they arrived in the United States before the age of 16, although the method by which these claims are proved is unclear. True discretion would be exercised on a case-by-case basis, and not used as a blanket policy.

An administration that sues a state like Arizona for empowering local law authorities to enforce immigration laws ignored by the federal government is not serious about protecting our borders. Indeed, the president’s budget proposal even zeroes out funding to cover part of the cost of locally incarcerating illegal immigrants being held for other crimes. The practice has even trickled down into localities around the country; Philadelphia, for example, has begun to refuse to honor detainment requests for illegal immigrants.

There should be no consideration of amnesty, or anything that remotely resembles it, while our current laws and borders are so flagrantly and willfully ignored. Similarly, there should be no talk of opening the door to millions more who have flouted our laws at a time when millions of legal residents are unsuccessfully looking for employment.

The release of more than 36,000 illegal immigrant criminals made headlines recently. Perhaps that will one day be known as the day immigration reform — if it leads to amnesty — died.

Rep. Lou Barletta is a Republican from Pennsylvania.

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