Remember all of those promises about how legalization would be exchanged for a tough, zero-tolerance policy against future illegal immigration? The Gang of Eight and President Obama forgot to run that by the pressure groups protesting the United States' immigration enforcement policies.
In an op-ed for the The Hill two anti-deportation activists make it clear that they won't be satisfied until deportations are ended now and forever. They write:
...we cannot and will not overlook that fact that every major immigration reform bill filed by Democratic Party leaders in Congress since the early 2000's has also been loaded with restrictive, exclusionary and extremist Republican-like clauses shaped by xenophobia and racism.
The recent Senate Bill 744, which guaranteed more deportations, more detentions, more border abuses, and more of everything we don't want, passed as a bipartisan immigration reform bill largely under the leadership of Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer....
....It is time to reboot the public and legislative debate about immigrants and immigration policy. By ending deportations, President Obama has the opportunity to do that by standing up for the humanity of immigrants across America....
We now know that most current deportations are people caught at the border, repeat immigration offenders, or aliens with criminal records. Further reductions (of any significant number) would have to come from those categories.
The Senate bill would grant legal status and work permits to people in the country illegally in exchange for promises of enforcement down the road. Even if we assume the Gang of Eight and President Obama made those promises in earnest, it is clear that the same groups that are pressuring them to pass a legalization bill will immediately transition to protests against the bill's enforcement promises, just as Rep. Gutierrez has promised to immediately begin calling for the next amnesty for anyone who didn't qualify for the Gang of Eight's.
Buzzfeed reports that Sen. Schumer's office recently sparred with the White House over proposals to further scale back deportations, fearing it would wipe out the chances for the House to send something to the Senate for conference with his bill. According to Buzzfeed, the White House referenced the anti-deportation protesters as a reason they had to do something.
This will be an interesting power struggle to watch. Schumer's case was built on convincing the public that the enforcement promises in his bill were real enough to go along with a legalization-first sequence. The anti-deportation activists, who have already called for the return of previously-deported aliens, are increasingly undermining his claim.
JEREMY BECK is the Director of the Media Standards Program for NumbersUSA
Updated: Fri, May 9th 2014 @ 11:52am EDT