Jeremy Beck's picture


  by  Jeremy Beck

Brian Buetler of The New Republic has written tirelessly in defense of Obama's executive actions on immigration. His latest contribution is an attempt to compare Obama's pending previous executive amnesties to a Republican effort in the 1990s to urge then Secretary Janet Reno to apply prosecutorial discretion to legal immigrants who were adopted as children (but had yet to become naturalized citizens) and had committed crimes considered deportable offenses under the 1996 immigration law.

Even Buetler concedes it isn't an exact analogy:

"Obviously the debate today is over using discretion on a much larger scale. And one could argue that the norm being tested isn't the propriety of using discretion to create policy when Congress wont act per se, but of using it so broadly. But then you've trespassed into substance. If a program for 50,000 is normal, why not 500,000? Or 5,000,000. Where along the continuum do we start to stretch the boundaries, and based on what criteria?"

The issue isn't just "discretion" but work permits. DACA has granted work permits to hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens. President Obama's next executive amnesty could grant work permits to millions more. As the media has widely reported, President Obama is already exercising prosecutorial discretion for most of the 11 million people living illegally in the United States:

From USA Today: [T]he fact is this: The number of undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. deported by the Obama administration has fallen in each year he's been in office.

From the Los Angeles Times: 'If you are a run-of-the-mill immigrant here illegally, your odds of getting deported are close to zero -- it's just highly unlikely to happen,' John Sandweg, until recently the acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said in an interview.

From the Washington Times: The administration said the drop in interior enforcement is deliberate as it tries to focus more on border security and recent border crossers, and to go after immigrants in the interior only if they have amassed serious criminal records.

From Fusion: In 2013, the total number of undocumented people with no criminal record and no prior immigration violations who were deported after being detained in the country's interior was drastically reduced. In 2009, the number was close to 150,000; by 2013 the number became 10,336.

JEREMY BECK is the Director of the Media Standards Project for NumbersUSA

Illegal Immigration
Interior Enforcement

Updated: Thu, Aug 28th 2014 @ 9:56am EDT

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