The Debate Over The Obama Administration’s Deportation Policy

By Victoria Cepeda

The debate is on whether the Obama administration’s illegal immigration deportation policy is harsher than that of the Bush administration. So far, over 1 million illegal immigrants have been deported in the past 2.5 years. A palliative initiative, to what some believe to be the government’s harsh deportation tactics, was introduced in August allowing young people that were brought to the U.S. illegally to remain here.

Some 11.2 million illegal immigrants live and work in the United States today, according to the Pew Hispanic Center. The initiative is expected to help an estimated two million young people who under the stalled DREAM could have achieved citizenship by pursuing higher education or military service

Republican oppose the above initiative citing that “directing immigration authorities to use prosecutorial discretion to administratively implement such changes ignores Congress and existing federal law.” U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director John Morton defined prosecutorial discretion as an agency’s authority “to decide to what degree to enforce the law against a particular individual.”

  • In FY2010, convicted criminals numbered about 196,000 of those removed, an increase of 71 percent from Bush in FY2008.
  • Of the the 1.06 million removed so far under Obama, 46 percent have been convicted criminals and 54 percent non-criminals. Bush’s removals were 41 percent criminal and 59 non-criminal, according to data provided by ICE spokeswoman Gillian Christensen.
  • ICE credits the increased removal of those with criminal records to expansion of the Secure Communities Program, where local authorities automatically send fingerprints of those arrested to ICE

Therefore, if the above data is to be taken seriously, the  Homeland Security and ICE seem to be doing their job.

Do you believe that maintaining an open border policy is sustainable, feasible and humane? At stakes here are the lives of thousands that risk themselves to cross the border, fall victim to forced labor at the hands of coyotes and would ultimately wind up dead anyway. Need I mention the thousands of teenagers and minors (both genders) that also end up as sex slaves.

Should immigration be the key focus of politicians when dealing with our community? What about social issues such as  high unemployment rate and low graduation rates? Let us not even mention the deplorable state most of the school districts that Latinos attend are in.

So I am here to pick your brain. Do you support an unlimited open border policy where Homeland Security only deports criminals not just border crossers and non-criminals?

In my view, little can be accomplished in this government or the next if those Hispanics that are majority do not make their numbers count by registering to vote, mandating immigration reform and understanding that Latin American governments need to do a better job at stopping the maddening rate at which Latin-Americans flock to “el norte”. It’s not just a US problem, it’s a regional crisis.


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2 Responses to “The Debate Over The Obama Administration’s Deportation Policy”

  1. Your question is interesting but inadvertently (I think) presents a false dichotomy. The line between “criminals” and “non-criminals” is often blurry. Your example of a “border crosser” as a non-criminal is technically inaccurate. Section 275(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1325(a)) criminalizes unlawful entry. Punishment for a first offense can be as severe as six months imprisonment; two years for a subsequent offense. In recent years, the Obama Administration has been increasingly targeting these folks by prosecuting them in federal court for violating this federal criminal offense. In contrast, unlawful presence in the United States (i.e., being here without authorization as opposed to being in the process of entering or attempting to enter the USA) is not a federal crime.

  2. Cesar – Thank you for the clarification which will serve to illustrate my point further. Here is why.

    1. Many voicing their opposition to Obama’s current deportation policy believe that only “criminals” should be deported. However, anyone violating the law i.e. unathorized entry is committing a crime as you well pointed out. Most of those being deported have already crossed the border.

    2. Thus, the version of criminal that some of us may have i.e. drug smuggler, violent offender and so forth contradicts with that of a person attempting to make it into U.S. soil to find a better future. Suddenly the case is made that those folks are not committing a crime and should be allowed to stay in the U.S.

    3. Consequently, the premise of my blog is not to present a false dichotomy as much as it’s to open a discourse. I believe that it’s time we understood that the U.S. will not pass any immigration reform that would grant automatic citizenship to folks living here illegally, DREAMERS aside, regardless of the party in goverhment. We should start focusing in other issues ailing our community and limiting our progression in the U.S. critical unemployment rate, low graduation enrollment, teen pregnancy, and so forth.

    I do not want politicians to play the immigration card to gain my vote but to understand that as Latin-American, I also want to see the U.S. economy thrive and will hold them accountable for getting the job done.

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