Obama Actions Shield Most Illegals from Deportation Even as Courts Stall Amnesty

Stephen Dinan, Washington Times, November 19, 2015

President Obama’s marquee deportation amnesty has been stalled by the courts, but the rest of his executive actions on immigration, announced exactly a year ago, are moving forward–including his move protecting more than 80 percent of illegal immigrants from any danger of deportation.

The amnesty, dubbed Deferred Action for Parental Accountability, was supposed to grant full tentative legal status–including work permits, Social Security numbers and driver’s licenses–to more than 4 million illegal immigrants. It has been halted by a federal appeals court, and its fate will soon rest with the Supreme Court.

But the rest of the dozen actions Mr. Obama announced on Nov. 20, 2014, are still advancing, including a far-reaching set of priorities that effectively orders agents not to bother deporting nearly all illegal immigrants.

“There are 7 or 8 or 9 million people who are now safe under the current policy. That is a victory to celebrate while we wait for the Supreme Court,” said Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez, an Illinois Democrat who was among the chief cheerleaders pushing Mr. Obama to go around Congress and take unilateral steps last year.

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On enforcement, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, called for a more coordinated approach to border security, and that paid off with a major drop in arrests of illegal immigrants in the Southwest. Apprehensions were at their lowest levels since the 1970s.

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The changes are already having a major effect. Deportations, which peaked at nearly 410,000 in fiscal year 2012, dropped to about 230,000 in fiscal year 2015, which ended Sept. 30. But Mr. Johnson said more of those being deported are the serious criminals and safety threats he wants his agents to worry about.

Indeed, if agents adhere strictly to his priorities, some 9.6 million of the estimated 11.5 million illegal immigrants in the country have no real danger of being deported, according to an estimate this year by the Migration Policy Institute.

“The enforcement priorities announced last year, if strictly enforced, do protect the vast majority of unauthorized immigrants from being deported, because most immigrants have been here a long time and haven’t committed a serious crime,” said Marc Rosenblum, deputy director of the institute’s U.S. immigration policy program.

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