House GOP: Delaying Deportation Review Only Makes Immigration Reform "Harder"
May 30, 2014
Just two days after President Obama announced that it would delay releasing the results of the Department of Homeland Security’s deportation policies review until August to give Congress space to act on immigration reform, it became abundantly clear yesterday that there’s almost nothing the President can do to satisfy House GOPs.
During a House Judiciary Committee oversight hearing with DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson yesterday, Republicans basically maintained their position—that President Obama cannot be trusted to enforce our immigration laws. While in the past, GOPs have pointed to President Obama’s failure to enforce “Obamacare” as the reason behind their mistrust, during yesterday’s hearing, House Republicans brought up the Administration’s deprioritizing of low-level offenders for immigration enforcement and its ongoing review to make its deportation policies more “humane” as further evidence that President Obama will not enforce any immigration reform laws that may be passed.
Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) called the Obama Administration’s steps to refocus enforcement priorities as “unprecedented, and most likely unconstitutional”; the current deportation policy review ordered by the President in an effort to make them more “humane” simply “code words for further ratcheting down enforcement of our immigration laws”; and that because of this, it is “exceedingly difficult for Congress to fix our broken immigration system.”
In addition, Goodlatte called the President’s record deportation stats “smoke and mirrors” (most likely referring to reports that made the distinction between border removals, which have increased, and interior deportations, which have actually decreased) and that setting a time limit before considering to take unilateral action only “makes doing immigration reform harder not easier.”
It appears that the President's act of good will may have backfired. Whether he acts now or later, any measure the President puts in place by executive action would still only be a temporary fix. Real reform can only occur in Congress through legislative action and right now, things don't look too promising. June 27, 2014 will be the anniversary of S.744, the comprehensive immigration reform bill that passed with bipartisan support in the Senate last year, and we are no closer to getting a vote or any immigration reform bill passing in the House. If there is no action before the August recess, the midterm elections will take attention away from immigration reform and then it will be highly unlikely anything will get done this year. Moreover, if Democrats don’t hang onto the Senate and win more seats in the House, it’s doubtful anything will happen during this Congress or this Presidency. However, there's always hope...
On a more positive note, Johnson has stated that the controversial Secure Communities will continue but get a “fresh start”. He also addressed concerns that ICE officials were enforcing immigration laws in courthouses by stating that he agreed that courthouses should be “immigration enforcement-free zones” and that he will conduct a further review into it.