Deportations don’t go far enough

October 13, 2010


I was preparing to applaud the Obama administration and specifically Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano for announcing the deportation of a record number of criminal aliens last year. According to the Washington Times, “the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement deported 392,862 aliens in fiscal year 2010, slightly less than a 1 percent increase over 2009 but short of the agency’s goal to remove 400,000 this year.”

What curbed my enthusiasm was news that removal of other illegal immigrants — those not convicted of crimes, though it could be justifiably argued that their status as illegal immigrants is, by definition, the breaking of American law — fell to the lowest number since 2007.

Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), said that while it is nice that Secretary Napolitano believes removing people in the country illegally is an important function for the Department of Homeland Security, “policy directives from the highest levels of DHS clearly demonstrate that the administration is refusing to enforce laws against noncriminal aliens.”

That bad cop/good cop approach is designed to pacify those on the political right while the administration and some Democrats in Congress simultaneously lay the groundwork for legalizing those who broke our laws to get here and remain in the country illegally.

In a desperate last-minute pre-election move to win more votes for Democratic candidates, New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez and Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy introduced the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2010 prior to adjournment. This bill, if passed, would effectively grant amnesty to illegal immigrants currently in the country. No one expects the bill to pass when Congress returns for a lame duck session, especially if Republicans win a House majority and make substantial inroads to the Democrats’ Senate majority, or take back the Senate.

According to FAIR’s analysis, DHS data show the Obama administration has “dramatically curtailed all aspects of immigration enforcement against illegal aliens who have not committed violent crimes in this country.” FAIR says when it comes to enforcement of the law at worksites, “administrative arrests have fallen by 77 percent, criminal arrests are down 60 percent, indictments are down 64 percent, and convictions have fallen by 68 percent since 2008.”

We have seen this political game played out over many years and with administrations of both parties. Big business, which mostly contributes to Republican political campaigns, wants cheap labor and so favors illegal immigrants. Democrats want the illegal immigrants because they see them as potential Democratic voters.

Rep. Lamar Smith, Texas Republican, says, “Millions of Americans are struggling to find work, while an estimated 7 million illegal immigrants are working in the U.S. Worksite enforcement could help make those much-needed jobs available for U.S. citizens and legal immigrant workers.”

That is a debatable point whether the unemployed would be willing to do the grunt work illegal immigrants often do, especially when Americans can now collect unemployment checks for more than a year. What should not be debatable is that lax enforcement of our immigration laws leads to more disrespect for those laws and serves as an incentive for more people to enter the country illegally.

This is what occurred following the “comprehensive” immigration reform under Ronald Reagan and it would happen again unless our borders are fully secured and something is done about those illegal immigrants already here. Granted, they won’t all be deported, but they should not be allowed to escape punishment for breaking the law. Otherwise, the law is meaningless.

So let’s hear it for Homeland Security’s successful deportations of criminal aliens. But given that the U.S. is only enforcing a portion of its immigration laws, all I can offer is the sound of one hand clapping.

— Cal Thomas is a columnist for Tribune Media Services. tmseditors@tribune.com


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 4 months ago

Maybe if you asked nicely, they'd let you shove some bamboo under the fingernails of some of the detainees before they get deported, Cal.

jafs 7 years, 4 months ago

Come now.

That's not at all what he's saying.

Do you disagree with his main point? If so, why?

This is actually one of Cal's more reasonable and moderate posts, and includes criticism of both political parties.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 4 months ago

The comment was mostly about the headline, which Cal may not have written.

Still, anyone who thinks we can solve this problem through walls, garrisoned borders and deportations is really only looking to treat the symptoms, and not the disease.

The disease, of course, is Imperial America, wherein 5% of the world's population consumes 25% of the world's resources, extracting them at gunpoint when necessary, and paying for it all with money borrowed from the Chinese-- money that we gave them for their slave-labor produced goods (bought at Wal-Mart more than anywhere else.)

jafs 7 years, 4 months ago

So do you think we should deport people who are here illegally or not?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 4 months ago

There are at least 10 million of them, which means that it's not even remotely realistic to deport them all.

So I would prefer to see an amnesty. Get them to register with the government, and as long as they are self-supporting and law-abiding, they can stay. After several years of doing so, allow them to apply for permanent residency.

For people not now in the country, make it easier to get into the country on temporary work visas which require them to periodically go back to their homes for a while before they can come back here again. After several years, if they have shown good behavior, they can apply for permanent residency.

But simultaneously, there would need to be very serious consequences for employers who hire undocumented workers. And we would need to make it a major part of our foreign policy to help these countries improve their own economies so that they produce many fewer economic refugees.

jafs 7 years, 4 months ago

So you would punish employers who hire them, but reward the undocumented folks by granting them legal status.

Sorry, it just doesn't make sense to me.

And, I truly don't understand the "there are too many of them" argument - we wouldn't be deporting them all at the same time.

I might agree with your last comment, but only after we get our own economic house in order, balance the budget, and are well on the way to paying off our own debt.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 4 months ago

"So you would punish employers who hire them, but reward the undocumented folks by granting them legal status."

The undocumented folks are by and large desperate, taking the only choice available to them, while the employers are, by and large, merely looking to exploit them, and even if they aren't exploiting them, they have choices, unlike the undocumented workers. So, I see no reason to equate them.

"And, I truly don't understand the "there are too many of them" argument - we wouldn't be deporting them all at the same time."

These people don't live in a vacuum. Most of them are part of a community. Deporting them isn't just a matter of ridding the US of undesirables. It also rips families and communities apart.

"I might agree with your last comment, but only after we get our own economic house in order, balance the budget, and are well on the way to paying off our own debt."

The way to do that is to not get bogged down by irrelevancies. And undocumented workers are not the cause of our economic problems, or our debt.

grimpeur 7 years, 4 months ago

Cal's using one hand, all right, but it isn't clapping.

Predictable sideshow freak.

remember_username 7 years, 4 months ago

Deportations don't go far enough? I don't think you're allowed to send them further than the country they came from.

jafs 7 years, 4 months ago

The point was that we may be deporting undocumented aliens who have committed other crimes, but we are not deporting many others for being here illegally, which is also a crime.

madameX 7 years, 4 months ago

Now, I've heard that the Obama administration has stepped up enforcement of immigration laws against employers who hire illegal immigrants:


This strikes me as a much more effective way to get at the root of the problem than deporting individuals, and is probably taking up at least some of the resources that might otherwise have been used to deal with individuals. But oh, look, Mr. Thomas doesn't give them credit for that.

jafs 7 years, 4 months ago

That is a good idea.

According to the article, though, worksite enforcement is down significantly from a few years ago.

Are they actually doing anything to enforce the laws against employers or not?

MyName 7 years, 4 months ago

This is stupid. Do you think maybe the fact that they are sending away fewer immigrants has to do with the related fact that their actual numbers have dropped due to the recession? No, that would be too obvious. It has to be some sort of Obama related overhaul of INS that no one has bothered to report on.

MyName 7 years, 4 months ago

Just so you can tell: The number went down from a peak of 850k / year before the recession, to around 300k / year after the recession:


jayhawklawrence 7 years, 4 months ago

I don't know why columnists like Cal continue to exploit these issues to enhance their careers or justify their jobs other than it must be some sort of white man slavery. They must be forced to do this.

This problem has evolved and embedded itself into our culture to the point where we are engrafted to a large percentage of this illegal immigrant population. It makes no sense from a humanitarian point of view to put them in trucks and drive out into the their country of origin and dump them like a pet you don't like anymore.

We need a comprehensive solution that is humanitarian. We need to enforce the concept of legal immigration and put reasonable restrictions on it.

We have a bigger problem to face up to. We are overrun with career politicians and political consultants who have taken advantage of us.

What we are missing is leaders with character. I think we used to have some of those.

notajayhawk 7 years, 4 months ago

"I don't know why columnists like Cal continue to exploit these issues to enhance their careers or justify their jobs other than it must be some sort of white man slavery."

Yeah, you'd never catch Pitts doing something like that.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 4 months ago

"Thinking about this, it occurs to me that this issue is missing the magic ingredient that often gets the ball rolling on all sorts of problems/issues... something that generates a lot of attention, some targeted focus on things, even if it doesn't end up solving the problem.


How about the Unknown Comic?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 4 months ago

Or maybe he could share the duties with Buckethead?

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