Obama DHS chief: It's time for some straight talk on immigration

Second, we cannot, as some Democratic candidates for president now propose, publicly embrace a policy to not deport those who enter or remain in this country illegally unless they commit a crime. This is tantamount to a public declaration (repeated and amplified by smugglers in Central America) that our borders are effectively open to all; this will increase the recent levels of monthly apprehensions at our Southern border — about or more than 100,000 — by multiples. For the same reason, we cannot formally decriminalize unauthorized entry into this country, though first-time illegal border crossers are in fact rarely prosecuted for that misdemeanor (except for last year’s disastrous “zero-tolerance” policy).

The Obama administration’s immigration priorities for deportation included both those who committed major crimes and those who were apprehended at the Southern border. Those apprehended at the border were allowed to remain this country while their deportation and asylum cases proceeded to conclusion.

Third, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has attracted criticism from the left for accepting last week a more moderate version of legislation to provide humanitarian aid to migrants at the border. The media sensationalized the speaker’s agreement as a “striking defeat” and a “capitulation.” Give her a break. Those who govern in a democracy know that progress requires compromise, and the speaker made the obvious calculation that it was more important to deliver prompt help to those facing inhumane conditions on the border than it was to delay and hold out for everything House Democrats wanted.

All this comes amid a larger alarming trend in today’s politics, on both sides of the aisle.