At the Corner, Mark Krikorian catches John Sandweg (previously of Immigration and Customs Enforcement) in the act of putting forward proposals which would effectively eliminate his own former job.
Sandweg, a criminal defense attorney and Arizona crony of Janet Napolitano, wrote in relation to President Obama’s directive that ICE reexamine enforcement policies with an eye toward making them more “humane.” To that end, he says ICE “should eliminate ‘non-criminal re-entrants and immigration fugitives’ as a priority category for deportation.”
What that means is that people who have been formally deported and then sneak back in should be exempted from further attempts at removing them, even though re-entry after deportation is a felony. Also, he wants to exempt from deportation the hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens who have been ordered deported but ignored the order and simply absconded. He says, in the obligatory “to be sure” paragraph, “To be sure, those who repeatedly cross our borders illegally or abscond from the immigration court bear culpability” — but if they’re exempt from being taken into custody and removed from the country, what does that culpability mean? It’s not like they’re going to be prosecuted, even though reentry after deportation and absconding from court are both criminal offenses.
He’s not just blue-skying this idea; it’s clearly the next step being considered in the administration’s unilateral amnesty push. It wouldn’t confer legal status on any illegal aliens (unlike the president’s illegal DACA/DREAM amnesty) but would solidify the status of immigration violations as secondary offenses. An example of a secondary offense is not wearing your seatbelt (in many states, anyway) — the police can’t stop you just for that, but if they stop you for, say, speeding, and find you’re also not wearing your seatbelt, they can ticket you for that as well.
Sandweg’s editorial may be found here.
This is yet another layer of the onion which makes any rational discussion of immigration policy essentially futile when attempting to deal with the pro-amnesty crowd. More than a year ago, I raised the question of whether the Democrats and their pro-amnesty allies would be willing to settle the issue once and for all as to whether or not illegal immigration was a crime. It seemed to me that until you could answer that fundamental question, there was really no path forward to discuss anything else. Clearly, I was mistaken.
Sandweg highlight’s something which is already going on to some extent in the Justice Department and could clearly be taken much further. If you can’t gain any ground in getting the Legislative branch to decriminalize entry by illegal aliens, apparently you can just leave the current laws on the books but fail to enforce them. Or, on a related note, treat the crime as such an afterthought that there is no longer any disincentive to violating the law.
That leads us to the larger question – one which has been debated over a number of presidencies. At what point does a government divided into three ostensibly equal branches break down in effectiveness if they refuse to play their part in the overall contract? What does the Supreme Court do if it issues a ruling but can find no strong arm to enforce its decision? What recourse does the Legislative branch have if the duly elected members pass laws, but the judicial wing of the Executive fails to hold violators to account? It seems that this particular dodge exposes the reality that the White House has much stronger cards to play if the three branches come into conflict.
We’ll close with one of Krikorian’s observations on the subject.
This administration is engaged in executive nullification on a scale that threatens the constitutional order. Rather than trying to bamboozle voters into accepting an amnesty, the Republican leadership should be devoting itself to soberly and calmly making the case to the public that this administration is setting precedents that our children will come to regret.
And probably sooner rather than later.