Francisco Aguirre isn’t the first illegal immigrant to be given sanctuary by a church, but he might be the most egregious scofflaw to secure such protection. His two-decade-long migration saga tells us just about everything we need to know about our Keystone Cops system of immigration enforcement and how scofflaws gain a sense of entitlement thanks to misguided persons and institutions who don’t care about the rule of law or the message that a no-consequences and no-penalties immigration system sends to aspiring migrants around the world.
On September 11, Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) issued a press release noting that the backlog in U.S. immigration courts had increased to 408,307 as of the end of August. That is astounding: a relatively small court system with a backlog approaching a half million cases.
But the subject line of TRAC’s release also caught my attention: “Immigration Offenses Account for 80% of Immigration Court Deportation Orders”.
A Democratic candidate for the House of Representatives — one of the few that might actually capture a GOP seat — phoned the other day to talk about immigration policy. Having once been in his shoes (long ago I was the Democratic candidate for the U.S. House in a GOP district), we talked for a while, and I told him I would expand on my views in writing. Hence this letter:
Too many of us in the Democratic Party appear to be deaf to the feelings of the multitude of non-elite Americans on the question of immigration control.
I recently wrote a blog summarizing why I believe that using the pardon power as a form of amnesty for millions of illegal aliens isn’t a good bet.
The Heritage Foundation’s news site The Daily Signal ran a piece Friday on one reporter’s observations at an immigration court in Arlington, Va. The docket was made up of juveniles, though not youths affiliated with the recent border influx. I happened to attend a day of the juvenile docket in the same courtroom the day after the reporter and his article is quite accurate and worth reading. There is one thing the reporter did not mention, however, and that is the turnout rate.
The hidden tsunami of new immigrants, both legal and illegal, have been operating under the public’s attention radar for many decades. In part this reflects the fact that immigration is not, ordinarily, a high-attention issue for most Americans. As a result, ordinary Americans don’t have a great deal of factual information about the substantive foundations of the many complex elements that make up immigration policy.
According to Gallup, immigration has ranked near the bottom of Americans’ concerns for many years. No more.
In 1994, the number of Americans who said immigration was “America’s biggest problem” reached a highpoint of 2 percent. In 1996, the highpoint was 6 percent. In 1997, it was 4 percent. In 1998, it was 2 percent. In 1999 it was 1 percent. In 2000 it was 2 percent, and in 2001 it was 3 percent.
Fast forward to now, the summer of 2014 and Gallup reports, “With thousands of undocumented immigrant minors crossing the nation’s southern border in recent months, the percentage of Americans citing immigration as the top problem has surged to 17 percent this month, up from 5 percent in June, and the highest seen since 2006.”
In a 1994 speech at the National Press Club to discuss her plans for a worksite identification program pivotal to efforts to stop illegal immigration at the worksite, Barbara Jordan claimed the moral high ground for that effort. “If we are to preserve our immigration tradition and our ability to say yes to so many of those who seek entry, we must also have the strength to say no when we must,” she said.
In her position as director of the Domestic Policy Council at the White House, Cecilia Munoz is a key figure in the planning for President Obama to decree major changes in U.S. immigration policy that could benefit millions of illegal immigrants.
As the Associated Press noted last week, Munoz, along with other top officials in the Obama administration, is “working to chart a plan on executive actions Obama could take, hosting frequent meetings with interest groups.”
It is rarely if ever discussed, but the current surge out of Central America, and into Southern Texas, is a wonderful development for some very powerful people — Central America’s oligarchs.
Think of the alternatives: the understandably unhappy majority of these countries, instead of spending time, money, and emotional energy on the risky emigration of their relatives, might otherwise be using those resources for: