Before leaving on his 17-day vacation in Hawaii, President Obama declared that one of his top priorities for 2014 will be immigration reform, with amnesty. He knows that congressional Republicans feel pressure to do something to woo Hispanic voters.
Mr. Obama will leverage those political forces for the midterm elections, even though he doesn’t even enforce the existing immigration laws.
Mr. Obama held a rare press conference Friday before hopping on Air Force One for the direct flight to Honolulu. It was in an attempt to buck up his plummeting poll numbers after a year of failures.
“Immigration reform, probably the biggest thing that I wanted to get done this year, we saw progress. It passed the Senate with a strong bipartisan vote,” he asserted.
The president said that House Speaker John A. Boehner made a commitment “to try to move forward legislation early next year,” and that there were merely “a few differences here and there” between the two political parties on the issue.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid piled on the pressure.
“I think that John Boehner will conference with the Senate. Why wouldn’t he? He’ll have a lot of pressure from his members now that the election is getting closer,” the Nevada Democrat told The Hill newspaper. “Some of his members are in very marginal districts, where they need to do something on immigration.”
Not so fast. The speaker has said the House will do its own immigration reform in piecemeal form, but not take up the 1,200-page Senate monstrosity. Even then, House conservatives fear that any legislation will result in granting amnesty, while the border with Mexico will never be secured.
Mr. Obama is using his second term to fulfill the promises made to his ultraliberal base to get re-elected. The American voters don’t care about changing the immigration laws as much as pocketbook issues.
A Quinnipiac University poll from Dec. 10 asked what respondents thought should be the most important priority for the president and Congress in 2014.
The top answers were the economy (41 percent), the deficit (22 percent) and health care (14 percent). Only 5 percent said that immigration ought to be the priority. The only issues that ranked lower were taxes (no more!) and gun policy (enough!).
The public has reason to be wary of any policy promises from this White House. The Obama administration has shown it is either unable or unwilling to enforce existing immigration laws. That means there is little deterrent for those crossing our borders.
Last week, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement revealed that it had removed 25 percent fewer immigrants from the interior of the country in 2013 compared with the previous year. Overall, just 1 percent of the estimated 12 million illegal aliens were deported last year.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte said that the numbers are “more evidence that the Obama administration refuses to enforce our immigration laws.”
The Virginia Republican, whose committee will have jurisdiction of any reforms, added that the president “has sought to undermine and dismantle our immigration laws at every opportunity possible.”
The administration isn’t even targeting the bad guys. The number of criminal aliens deported went down by 8,000 this year.
Even more disturbing, a federal judge accused the Obama administration of aiding child traffickers by skirting immigration laws.
U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Haven in South Texas wrote on Dec. 13 that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was “completing the criminal mission of individuals who are violating the border security of the United States.”
The case involved a smuggler who was caught at the border with a 10-year-old girl from El Salvador. An illegal alien had paid the child trafficker to bring her daughter to her in Virginia. While the smuggler was arrested, Homeland Security agents took the child to her mother, but they were neither arrested nor deported.
Judge Hanen wrote that this was the fourth case of its type he had heard recently in which “DHS completed the criminal conspiracy” and “simply chosen not to enforce the United States’ border-security laws.”
The judge also wrote that, “More troubling, the DHS is encouraging parents to seriously jeopardize the safety of their children.” Drug cartels control the abhorrent but profitable human-trafficking business on the border.
Judge Hanen pointed out that the court has seen those smuggled end up getting raped, kidnapped and killed in the process. He said that as a result of the government’s policies, U.S. citizens are “helping fund these evil ventures with their tax dollars.”
With Hispanic voters in the forefront of many political strategists’ minds leading up to the November elections, the debate over immigration reform will undoubtedly be a leading issue in Washington next year.
However, the House GOP should not pass any legislation until it can rein in the White House from unilaterally granting amnesty to illegal aliens and not enforcing current law.
Emily Miller is senior editor of opinion for The Washington Times and author of “Emily Gets Her Gun” (Regnery, 2013).