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Illegal immigrant deportations up under Obama administration, but questions remain

by Christopher A. Guzman, published

When it comes to charges from the right regarding a lax immigration policy, the Obama administration claims that it is even tougher on enforcing immigration policy than its predecessor, President George W. Bush.  

     “The administration has focused on enforcing our immigration laws in a smart, effective manner that prioritizes public safety and national security and holds employers accountable who knowingly and repeatedly break the law,” said Sec. Janet Nopolitano in a statement.  

The Associated Press reports that deportations of illegal immigrants from the United States are at a record 392,000 in the past year, which is up slightly from 389,000 the previous year.   The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary joined Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director John Morton, who reaffirmed the US commitment to a strong immigration policy, in making the announcement.  

     “ICE is committed to tough law enforcement that protects the safety and security of the American people,” said Morton.  

     “These record-setting numbers are the result of strong, sensible enforcement programs and priorities, and the dedication of thousands of ICE agents and officers who work tirelessly everyday to keep our communities safe,” he went on to say.  

Additionally, DHS has expanded the Secure Communities initiative, which seeks to remove illegal aliens currently in state prisons and local jails.   More than 195,000 of those removed by the Obama administration's border security agencies were convicted criminals, said the two agencies. Regarding enforcing legal employment practices, ICE said that it’s audited more than 3,200 employers suspected of hiring illegal labor, penalized 225 companies, and imposed approximately $50 million in financial sanctions.  

The recent development out of the Obama administration is a risky but necessary one. On the one hand, it risks some political damage from the Hispanic community, which possesses some of the biggest supporters of comprehensive immigration reform.  At the same time, in putting out such a report, the administration doesn’t risk alienating a significant chunk of its weary Hispanic support, because Democrats have been largely successful in securing the Hispanic vote.  While some in the Hispanic community have threatened in the past not to show up at the polls in for Democrats who vote against reform, such threats would appear largely devoid of any bite.  

Likely, the real intent in putting out such “record-breaking” statistics is a way to counter the more conservative demographic of the population that’s gearing up for the November elections.  This looks like just another craftily messaged public policy battle the White House is waging against its critics, much like any other White House would do to exercise damage control.  The purported contrast with Bush-era immigration policies could also be perceived as another way to control the media narrative regarding the immigration matter. 

Deportations may be up, but that only answers half of the current illegal immigration problem. In essence, deportations are counterproductive if the border is still porous enough to allow illegal aliens to penetrate into the US without detection.   What exactly is the current administration doing then to prevent crime from spilling into the US?

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