The Department of Homeland Security today announced new rules that will allow the DHS to halt deportation proceedings against illegal immigrants who meet certain criteria, from attending school to having family in the military to bearing primary responsibility for other family members’ care. The Washington Times reports:
“This case-by-case approach will enhance public safety,” she said. “Immigration judges will be able to more swiftly adjudicate high priority cases, such as those involving convicted felons.”
The new rules apply to those who have been apprehended and are in deportation proceedings, but have not been officially ordered out of the country by a judge. Miss Napolitano said a working group will try to come up with “guidance on how to provide for appropriate discretionary consideration” for “compelling cases” in those instances where someone has already been ordered deported.
It was unclear how many people might be affected by the new rules, though in fiscal year 2010 the government deported nearly 200,000 illegal immigrants who it said did not have criminal records.
Deportation is messy and ugly — who, for example, wants to advocate to separate illegal immigrant students, many of whom didn’t enter the country illegally of their own volition, from their families? But these new rules are entirely inappropriate, as they usurp Congress’ legislative authority. Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform and quoted in the WT article, said it best: “Supporters of comprehensive and targeted amnesties for illegal aliens have consistently failed to win approval by Congress or gain support from the American public. Having failed in the legislative process, the Obama administration has simply decided to usurp Congress’ constitutional authority and implement an amnesty program for millions of illegal aliens.” This isn’t a new trend for the Obama administration, of course (DISCLOSE and DREAM, anyone?), but that only makes it that much more troubling.
Furthermore, as so often happens whenever the federal government attempts to address illegal immigration, the rules ignore the fundamental importance of the rule of law to a democratic republic like the United States. The deportation of every illegal immigrant in the nation at this moment might not be a realistic or even advisable solution to the problem of illegal immigration, but to halt deportation proceedings even on a case-by-case basis sends a message that is disquietingly similar to the message amnesty sends — that the executive branch doesn’t take seriously its responsibility to uphold the law as it is.
(H/t to HA commenter “sybill” who brought this story to my attention with a recent comment.)