Right vs. Left: DHS’s New Deportation Policy

In Right vs. Left I examine what the think tank pundits are saying about a specific policy issue.

The Obama administration recently announced that the Department of Homeland Security will review its 300,000 active deportation cases to identify and focus on immigrants who pose a threat to national security or public safety, or are repeat immigration law violators. Low-priority cases will be suspended and it is unlikely new cases will be brought against illegal immigrants who do not pose a threat. Under the new policy, young people who came to the U.S. as children, members of military families, same-sex partners of U.S. citizens, and others with extensive ties to the U.S. may be able to avoid deportation.

There are 11 million individuals in the US illegally and this policy change could have a big effect on who gets deported and who does not. Prioritizing the deportation of dangerous individuals is nothing new. What is new is the administration’s statement that it will forgo deportation of individuals identified as low-priority. Some may be allowed to apply for work permits.

So what are the think tank pundits saying about the new policy?

On this one, the liberals at the Center for American Progress and the libertarians at the Cato Institute come down on the same side…

“… the common-sense notion that not all lawbreakers are equal priorities for prosecution. One would never question a law enforcement official’s decision to focus on arresting drug dealers while declining to prosecute jaywalkers. Similarly, an unauthorized immigrant who came to the United States years ago as a child, has no criminal background, and is otherwise law abiding does not warrant the same attention… as an immigrant with a criminal record.” – Center for American Progress

  • government resources are limited and it makes sense to prioritize their use
  • the policy represents appropriate use of prosecutorial discretion – focusing law enforcement on activities that pose the greatest threat
  • current immigration law needs to be reformed and, in the absence of that, this is a good step

The conservatives at the Heritage Foundation, however, are not happy with the new policy

“The President has an obligation to enforce the immigration laws passed by Congress…  this new policy not only ignores the law… It rewards illegality and lawbreakers, encourages even more aliens to enter the United States illegally” – Heritage Foundation

  • reducing the threat of deportation will encourage more illegal immigration
  • illegal immigration is itself a crime that shouldn’t be ignored
  • Obama is trying to bypass Congress and implement his own agenda without their approval

What do you think? Is this policy a smart and fair use of resources or an abuse of power that will encourage more illegal immigration?

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