President Barack Obama and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor yesterday discussed the prospects for comprehensive amnesty legislation. And the L.A. Times reported on some of the Administration’s options for further rolling back deportations.
Early on Wednesday, Obama criticized House Republicans for blocking a comprehensive amnesty bill. “Unfortunately, Republicans in the House of Representatives have repeatedly failed to take action, seemingly preferring the status quo of a broken immigration system over meaningful reform,” Obama said. “Instead of advancing common-sense reform and working to fix our immigration system, House Republicans have voted in favor of extreme measures like a punitive amendment to strip protections from ‘Dreamers.’”
The White House claims Obama subsequently called Cantor to wish him a happy Passover, and the topic of immigration reform just happened to come up. But a Cantor aide said immigration was the primary topic of the call and holiday well wishes were an afterthought.
In a statement Cantor said, “The president called me hours after he issued a partisan statement which attacked me and my fellow House Republicans and which indicated no sincere desire to work together. After five years, President Obama still has not learned how to effectively work with Congress to get things done. You do not attack the very people you hope to engage in a serious dialogue.”
The nature of the conversation between Obama and Cantor is unknown, although Cantor’s statement says he told Obama that the Senate legislation is dead on arrival. The statement did not mention Cantor’s behind-the-scenes efforts to pass a Republican version of the DREAM Act amnesty, or his recent admission, after pressure from his primary opponent, that he supports granting amnesty to certain illegal aliens if they enlist in the U.S. military.
Cantor knows that a House-passed DREAM Act or ENLIST Act could be used in the Senate to revive S. 744, the comprehensive amnesty bill. So his statement of outrage could be political cover for his complicity in keeping alive otherwise dead legislation.
Politico reported earlier this week that DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson outlined for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus a timeline for the introduction of short-term enforcement-policy “fixes” and broader executive amnesty changes. The Los Angeles Times reports DHS is considering allowing bond hearings for illegal aliens in prolonged detention. Since immigration courts fast-track the cases of those in incarceration, this policy “fix” could slow the deportation of several thousand illegal aliens.
The Times also reports DHS is considering a re-write of policies that set deportation priorities. Under the so-called Morton memos, ICE Agents are supposed to focus first on deporting illegal aliens with criminal records, those with repeat immigration violations and, for example, those who have entered illegally within the last three years. The proposal would remove repeat violators from the priority list and reduce illegal-entry time from three years to two weeks. Plus it would require Agents to consider whether an illegal alien has close family ties in the United States.