Thursday, April 22, 2010

Low Hanging Fruit

When campaigning for president, Barack Obama promised that he would stop the insane and certainly inhumane practices of the Bush administration with respect to the deportation of undocumented immigrants and that he would push for immigration reform in his first year in office. Employer raids have ended, but deportations have climbed since he took the oath of office, and too many of those deportations have come not from the ranks of the "bad guys", the hardened criminals who are shipped out of the country after serving their prison time, but from the larger pool of immigrants whose only crimes have been parking tickets or coming into the country without the proper papers.

Immigrant rights group have been speaking out against the continuation of these horrific practices by ICE. Now a federal appeals court panel has also.

From the Los Angeles Times:

When the Obama administration went before California's 9th Circuit Court last year seeking to deport a middle-class couple from Nevada, one judge criticized the government's case as "horrific." Another labeled it the "most senseless result possible." A third complained of "an extraordinarily bad use of government resources."

"These people have worked hard. They have paid their taxes," Judge William Fletcher said. "Why don't you go after the bad guys?"

The case against the carpenter and the clerk is one of many examples, immigrant rights advocates and labor activists say, of how the Obama administration has continued a policy of tough immigration enforcement against people who are no threat to the United States, even as the administration calls for a new immigration law designed to legalize many of them.

While the judges had no choice but to affirm the deportations, given the current laws, they made it clear that all three of them believed the government should drop its efforts and concentrate on those illegal immigrants who actually pose a threat to this country. Apparently the government took the not-so-subtle hint and has decided not to press the issue, at least for now.

Will this public rebuke stop the continuation of the practice? Not hardly. Apparently officials at ICE have a quota to fill:

A February memo by James M. Chaparro, ICE's head of detention and removals, disclosed that the agency's goal is to deport 400,000 people a year, up from about 349,000 deported in 2008 and 197,000 in 2005.

It's easier to go after the low hanging fruit to meet that quota than to wait around for the real criminals to be released. The couple featured in the LAT article were rousted because they made a serious error. They paid a notario a lot of money to file a petition for sanctuary to ensure that they could continue residing in this country with their two young American-born children. That brought them to the attention of ICE, and proceedings to deport them were initiated.

President Obama should be ashamed of this behavior. He's been in office long enough that he can't blame the Bush administration hold-overs for the over-reaching. This is happening on his watch.

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