President Obama’s Record of Dismantling Immigration Enforcement
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President Barack Obama came to office in 2009 and pledged that during his first year of office he would enact amnesty legislation for illegal aliens living in the United States. That, of course, did not happen — not because of any lack of ideological commitment on the part of the President, but because of pragmatic considerations. Only two years earlier, President Obama, then Senator Obama, watched as President George W. Bush tried to toss the American people into the boiling cauldron of comprehensive amnesty in 2007. It didn't work. Voters angrily crashed the Capitol switchboard on the day the Senate was set to vote and as a result, fourteen Democrats joined thirty-nine Republicans to vote down the amnesty legislation. The President concluded, correctly, that there just is not an appetite in Congress for another politically bruising fight over comprehensive amnesty.
Understanding that Members of Congress ultimately would not ignore the unequivocal objections of their constituents to amnesty, the Obama Administration opted to adopt a strategy of dismantling immigration enforcement in order to achieve the same ends. The Administration hoped that while the American people were focused on unemployment, crashing real estate values, banking scandals, health care reform, foreign policy crises, and countless other issues, they would not notice just what was actually taking place.
This report details how the Obama Administration has carried out a policy of de facto amnesty for millions of illegal aliens through executive policy decisions. Since taking office in 2009, the Obama Administration has systematically gutted effective immigration enforcement policies, moved aggressively against state and local governments that attempt to enforce immigration laws, and stretched the concept of "prosecutorial discretion" to a point where it has rendered many immigration laws meaningless. Remarkably, the Administration has succeeded in doing all this with barely a peep of protest from Congress.
Thus, despite the fact that the U.S. Constitution grants Congress plenary authority over immigration policy, the Executive Branch is now making immigration policy unconstrained by constitutional checks and balances. This report chronologically highlights the process that has unfolded over the past five and a half years. A review of the Obama Administration's record shows:
- The Administration's conscious effort to end policies that effectively enforce and deter illegal immigration. This includes the cessation of meaningful worksite enforcement against employers who hire illegal aliens and the removal of the illegal workers. It also includes ending effective partnership programs with state and local governments, such as the 287(g) program, that provide a structure through which state and local agencies may enforce immigration laws.
- The Administration's intimidation of state and local governments determined to enforce federal immigration laws. President Obama has turned the Department of Justice into the Administration's attack dog, filing lawsuits against states that pass their own immigration enforcement laws. When lawsuits fail, the Department's Civil Rights division launches meritless investigations designed to harass local governments and officials who attempt to enforce the law.
- The Administration's dependence on illegal alien advocates to make U.S. immigration policy for the Executive Branch. President Obama has placed strident amnesty advocates in key positions throughout his Administration. These appointees have worked openly with advocacy groups to shape a series of policies that amount to backdoor amnesty.
- Outright deception on the part of the Administration designed to convince the American public that immigration laws are being vigorously enforced. The Obama Administration repeatedly engages in efforts to inflate its record of deporting illegal aliens. These deceptive practices include the release of data that is later exposed to be inaccurate. The Departments of Justice and Homeland Security carefully select data to claim that our "borders are more secure than ever," even as violence along the southern border escalates to alarming proportions.
The Obama Administration's strategy is to count on the fact that the public and the media will not take notice of each individual and incremental step they are taking to undermine immigration enforcement and grant de facto amnesty to as many illegal aliens as possible. This report exposes the strategy and the policy objectives behind it.