- - Thursday, May 15, 2014

The answer to President Obama’s failure to enforce immigration laws is to take away his unilateral control and start sharing enforcement power with state and local authorities, the chairman of the House Committee on the Judiciary says.

Rep. Bob Goodlatte, Virginia Republican, says such a requirement must be part of any immigration reform legislation.

The Supreme Court last year agreed with the Obama administration that current law does not allow state or local enforcement except with federal approval.

“We need to have a role for state and local law enforcement that is clear, statutory, something that no administration can simply kick you out of the program like this administration has been doing … It should be clear by law that state and local governments are allowed to participate in enforcing these laws, because that’s how we handle most other areas of the law.”

Mr. Goodlatte commented in remarks pre-recorded for Thursday’s broadcast of “The Ernest Istook Show” on The Washington Times Radio Network. (The program airs noon to 3 p.m. Eastern time, and can be heard online at www.kzlsam.com.)

Rather than relying on 5,000 federal officers to enforce immigration laws away from the borders, Mr. Goodlatte says his suggested requirement would make a million state and local officers available for immigration enforcement, which would “take away the on-off switch from this president and from any future president.”

Legislation to do just that — the “S.A.F.E. Act” HR 2278 written by Rep. Trey Gowdy, South Carolina Republican — has been approved by the House Committee on the Judiciary and awaits a vote by the full House, said Mr. Goodlatte.

The interview with Mr. Goodlatte did not address matters such as cities or states that chose not to enforce immigration laws or to declare themselves as “sanctuaries” for illegal aliens.

Mr. Goodlatte criticized Mr. Obama’s reiteration this week that deportation is being prioritized to address offenders who are a danger to the public.

Disclosures this week revealed that immigration officials in 2013 released from custody more than 36,000 illegal aliens who had been convicted of murder, armed robbery, rape, kidnapping, dealing dangerous drugs, and other major crimes.

Mr. Goodlatte said these facts “clearly contradict the president’s statement that they are working hard to deport hardened criminals,” because “known criminals that have committed tens of thousands of crimes … are being released back into our society to commit more crimes and he [Obama] didn’t say a word about that.”

Mr. Goodlatte’s committee requested more details about these releases several weeks ago, he said, but has not received them.

Deceptive deportation statistics are part of an overall pattern by the Obama administration, the Judiciary Committee chairman said. “This administration tries time and time again to obfuscate the facts, change the subject, cover things up.”

Shared federal-state-local enforcement and other new requirements must precede any grants of permanent residence or citizenship for the estimated 12 million illegal aliens in the country, he said.

“Nothing happens with regard to the future status of people already here illegally until all of these enforcement reforms are not just passed into law but are up and operating and operating effectively,” Mr. Goodlatte said. And, secondly, if you give to state and local law enforcement a clear statutory role, then no future President is going to be able to say unilaterally by themselves to say I’m just not going to enforce the law.”

Hear the Ernest Istook Show online, noon to 3 p.m. Eastern, at www.kzlsam.com. Get Ernest’s free email newsletter by signing up at eepurl.com/JPojD

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