- - Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Obama administration’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has a new “catch and release” program. The Center for Immigration Studies this week put the lie to the administration claim that by sharply curtailing deportation of so-called “Dreamers,” it could redeploy ICE resources to crack down harder on illegal aliens with criminal records.

The center shows how immigration agents tried to deport only a few more than a quarter of the illegals they encountered, filing charges against fewer than 193,500 of the 720,000 aliens eligible for deportation last year. Of those let go, more than 67,800 had criminal convictions on their records. So much for upholding the rule of law in the Obama era.

“ICE is releasing more illegal aliens and more criminal aliens than they’re trying to remove,” says Jessica Vaughn, author of the report, and adds that ICE has even been releasing illegals convicted of identity theft. “The preponderance of the evidence demonstrates that immigration enforcement in America has collapsed,” says Sen. Jeff Sessions, Alabama Republican, one of the harshest and most faithful critics of the comprehensive immigration-reform bill offered by the Senate’s “Gang of Eight.”

These latest statistics reinforce doubts of Republicans who won’t budge on immigration-reform legislation, comprehensive or otherwise, because they’re skeptical that President Obama would actually enforce such a law if Congress passes one.

Skepticism was further reinforced when Vice President Joe Biden, pandering to the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce last week, said of illegal immigrants, “I believe they’re already American citizens.” Mr. Biden can always be counted on to say what his boss is thinking and is smart enough to leave unspoken: This administration has no intention of securing the border.

Sen. John McCain just won’t give up on amnesty. “I will never ever, while I’m alive and breathing as U.S. senator, stop working to pass immigration reform,” he said last week. If that weren’t bad enough, he sent a Valentine to a favorite ghost. “When immigration reform passes,” he said, “I will make sure it is forever called the Edward M. Kennedy immigration bill.”

Mr. McCain’s amnesty advocacy delivered no electoral benefits for his 2008 presidential campaign when he won just 31 percent of the Hispanic vote. Happily, the Republican-controlled House remains, for now, an impediment to Mr. McCain and the gang.

Rep. Paul Ryan, who favors a more modest version of immigration reform, recently told his hometown newspaper in an interview that House Republican leaders still don’t have the votes to pass a bill, but “we’re working hard to find where that consensus lies.”

No consensus is possible under Mr. Obama. What’s the point of having rules if the man charged with enforcing them refuses to do his constitutional duty? The immigration system is broken in many ways, and a reform that is not designed to process tens of millions of new voters for a particular political party would be welcome. The issue should be put on the shelf at least until January 2017, when someone other than Mr. Obama presides in the Oval Office.