The Intercept has just published a hair-rending, hysterical-screaming article about proposed new Department of Homeland Security regulations concerning illegal aliens (note: NOT 'undocumented immigrants', as some on the left prefer to call them - there are, by definition, NO 'undocumented immigrants' in the USA. I should know. I'm a documented immigrant - and very grateful to be one, thank you very much!)
The hysteria starts in the title of the report: 'Donald Trump Plans to Bypass the Courts to Deport as Many People as Possible'. Eeeeek! Ooh! Aah! Panic stations! Except . . . that's not true. For a start, Donald Trump has not personally issued (or probably even read) these proposals. They originate with the Department of Homeland Security, which has all the authority in law it needs to issue new regulations. The DHS proposals are based on existing US law, as already tested in and approved by US courts, to streamline administrative functions. They don't deprive people of access to the courts at all - they merely invoke and apply existing provisions to people who are, by legal definition, in violation of US law. Their access to the courts remains intact.
The first few paragraphs of the report are very thin on fact, and extremely long on hand-wringing emotional reaction. For example:
“I expected bad based on Donald Trump’s campaign rhetoric,” added David Leopold, a Cleveland-based immigration attorney and past president of AILA. “Then when I read the executive order, I expected really bad … but I’m absolutely shocked at the mean-spiritedness of this.”
Hmmm . . . news report, or opinion piece? Facts, or feelings? Decide for yourselves.
The meat of the matter comes in two paragraphs. I've underlined a few phrases, and followed each by a number in parentheses, which I'll use below to comment on them.
The guidance tracks closely with the executive orders Trump signed in January, confirming, for example, that ICE is now prioritizing the deportation of virtually all immigrants in the country without authorization (1), including individuals with no criminal records and others whose only offenses (2) involve low-level, nonviolent immigration violations or the falsification of documents to obtain work. According to experts, this range of individuals includes essentially all of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S., with the exception of the roughly 740,000 individuals protected under the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The memos also institutionalize a hardening of the nation’s asylum system and call for the criminal prosecution (3) of immigrant parents who attempt to have their children transported to the U.S. without authorization.
. . .
Crucially, the guidance expands the use of a deportation procedure called expedited removal — the means by which the government can swiftly deport an individual who is not authorized to be in the country without a hearing or a judge’s approval. Under the Obama administration, the process had been mostly limited to undocumented immigrants detained within 100 miles of the border who could not prove they had been in the country continuously for 14 days or more. The Trump administration has scrapped that policy, opting instead to use the full force of the law (4) to expand expedited removal nationwide and require immigrants to prove (5) up to two years of continuous physical presence in the country in order to avoid deportation proceedings.
- There are no 'immigrants' in the country without authorization. Those people are illegal aliens. Can we please get the terminology right here? It's a legal definition.
- Their 'only offenses' are precisely that - offenses. They are offenders - in other words, criminals. That's not a matter of opinion, but of fact. They have violated US law by their very presence here.
- 'Criminal prosecution' of so-called 'immigrant parents'? In other words, illegal aliens (see 1 above) who try to bring their children here in order to make them illegal aliens as well. That's criminals trying to make criminals out of their children.
- 'Full force of the law'? Precisely. The Trump administration is enforcing the rule of law. The Obama administration frequently did not, at least as far as immigration law is concerned. These regulations and guidelines were not sucked out of thin air. They implement US law, as the Department is legally required to do. If you don't like the law, don't blame the Department - change the law.
- 'Require immigrants to prove' their presence for up to two continuous years? Why not? That's what the law requires. When I obtained, first my work visit visa, then a residential work permit, then a green card, I had to jump through each and every hoop specified in the law. It cost me a lot of time, a lot of money, and sometimes a great deal of difficulty (such as driving a round trip of over 200 miles, the day after an ice storm, for one interview that could not be rescheduled. Guess what? I made the drive, in the ice, at about 20 mph the whole way!) If I can do what the law requires, why should another immigrant (legal or otherwise) not be required to comply with exactly those same requirements?
The expansion of expedited removal has immigration lawyers, and some U.S. immigration officials, deeply concerned. Chief among those concerns is a fear that DHS will make passing credible fear screenings more difficult, thus allowing more people to be deported without seeing a judge. According to one senior U.S. immigration official, speaking to The Intercept on condition of anonymity, those changes are already in the works. As DHS rolled out its memos earlier this week, leadership at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services distributed new guidelines making a number of changes to the credible screening process. The guidelines detailed in the internal communications, reviewed by The Intercept and set to go into effect next week, would place added requirements on asylum officials to confirm that the fear described by asylum seekers is credible, including through a new checklist of questions and submission of a written analysis in cases where a positive determination is made.
“Immigration advocates should prepare for a storm of negative screenings,” the official said.
Again, where's the problem? Claims of 'credible fear' have been completely undermined by the previous administration, and by activist organizations. Some of the latter merely publish extensive guidelines as to how the asylum process works (in other words, they ensure that those wanting to 'game the system' know it works, to make the process easier). Others actually brief potential asylum claimants, sometimes even prior to their arrival, as to exactly which 'magic words' or key words or phrases or excuses to use. (Follow those links for more information.) As one report noted about the previous administration's policies in this regard:
The misapplication of “credible fear” and lack of detention are not only breaches of law according to Jan Ting, a law professor at Temple University. Ting said the expanding definition of “who is legal” puts the entire system in jeopardy.
“Asylum is the trump card of immigration,” said Ting. “Credible fear was an informal procedure intended to keep people out, what’s its doing now is letting people in. People have learned the right words and phrases whether true or not.”
According to Ting, poverty and violence are not grounds for asylum and officials are watering down and misapplying the basic threshold.
“A natural disaster or flood of bullets flying around your neighborhood doesn’t meet the standard,” said Ting. “If the government wanted to deter illegal immigration, they would alter the cost-benefit analysis. Instead, they are looking for ways to help them stay.”
Ting said the situation is a legal and economic “formula for permanent dysfunction” and a core reason for the lack of jobs for Americans and stagnates wages.
“It isn’t border security if all you need is a story,” said Ting.
There's more at the link.
To get back to the Intercept article, here's another excerpt that ignores the reality of the situation.
Location aside, Schlanger said the DHS memos indicate a preference for having more immigrants in detention as a means to achieve faster deportations. Outside of detention, immigration cases can take years to adjudicate. That’s typically not the case when the person in question is in custody — though there have been significant and egregious exceptions in that area as well, particularly among women and children seeking asylum from Central America, who were held in family detention centers under the Obama administration.
“It’s quicker because … you don’t have to go get them, you don’t have to go find them,” Schlanger said. “It’s also quicker because it’s much, much harder for them to find and get lawyers when they’re there.” She added, “This looks like an effort to switch everyone from the non-detained docket to the detained docket.”
The fact is that detention appears unavoidable, given that, to cite just one example, "70% of illegal immigrants who traveled to America as a family unit failed to show up to their immigration hearings". Why release illegal aliens to non-detained status when the majority of them will simply disappear into society, and not comply with the requirements of the law? At least, if they're in detention, they can't do that. Makes sense to me.
The last paragraph of the report is also telling.
“I fear that it’s going to be a really effective, comprehensive strategy that will look good on the outside — deportations will go up, ‘danger aliens’ will be in detention, asylum claims will go down, illegal border crossings will go down,” the official said. “My fear is that the likely success in terms of the numbers will drown out the ethical considerations.”
- 'A really effective, comprehensive strategy', provided that it's in accordance with the law, is praiseworthy. What's the problem here?
- 'Ethical considerations' are not the province of DHS - they're the province of Congress, that passed the law(s) in question. DHS is an executive department. It implements the law, and in doing so, acts in as ethical a manner as possible - but it doesn't make the laws that it executes. If you regard those laws as unethical, don't blame DHS - point the finger where it belongs, at Congress, and work to change the laws, not the policies that implement them. (Of course, that ignores the fact that the US electorate voted for the people who enacted those laws . . . and if they tried to water them down, they know darn well they'd lose votes. Reality bites, folks.)
What's so hard to understand about all this? (Except for far-left progressive immigration activists, of course. They understand it very well . . . they just lie, obfuscate and emote about it.)