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Policy

8:00pm January 10, 2012

Obama on Immigration: Good Intent, Bad Execution

deportation

by Daniel Costa

Recently, Cecilia Muñoz, the White House’s point person on immigration, spoke with Univision’s Jorge Ramos on Al Punto to discuss the recent announcement that US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will propose and implement a new rule that would promote family reunification between the unauthorized minor children and spouses of U.S. citizens.

The rule (technically a regulation) will simply allow the unauthorized spouse or child to apply for an “extreme hardship” waiver while still in the United States, before returning to their home country to apply for permanent residency (otherwise known as obtaining a “green card”).

Without this waiver, the green card applicant would be barred from re-entering the U.S. for 3 or 10 years while their application is processed, as punishment for having entered the country illegally. Instead, grantees of the waiver would be allowed to return to their family in the U.S. while their legalization is processed. These waivers exist under the current legal and regulatory framework – but they can take years to process and are far from a sure bet.

This motivates many unauthorized migrants to remain in the shadows even if they have a legal right to become lawful permanent residents of the U.S. and eventually naturalized citizens.

Immigration and immigrant advocates and editorial boards have lavished praise on the President for announcing this policy, and I would like to add my own voice to that chorus here. But the implementation of this policy deserves a closer look. Because most of the public is probably unfamiliar with the administrative rulemaking process, I believe this aspect of the discussion has been left out.

The time to announce such bold and useful administrative policies like this one and the one announced last June on prosecutorial discretion that offers administrative relief for non-criminal, lower-priority migrants in deportation proceedings – and to attempt to implement them – should and could have been as soon as the administration knew that a more comprehensive legislative reform for immigration was unattainable.

Arguably, this was foreseeable soon after the drawn-out health care debate and legislation was passed in early 2010. But unfortunately, trying to put these policies into practice 12 and 18 months before the end of a presidential term makes their success less likely.

On this note, the tortured path to implementing the prosecutorial discretion policy has been instructive. Half a year after the announcement of this (entirely praiseworthy) policy, this survey and report demonstrated that there have been few concrete changes in practice, and where the policy has in fact been implemented, it has been done so inconsistently. Add to this the fact that – as the New York Times reported this week – the union representing the employees of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the agency responsible for implementing the policy, do not agree with it and are resisting the administration’s attempts to train officers to carry it out properly. Some have argued that this amounts to insubordination

What’s ultimately clear is that it will continue to delay the policy for even longer.

Although it’s not ICE, but USCIS – which is a different Department of Homeland Security (DHS) sub-agency, and hopefully one that is less hostile to the President – that’s tasked with proposing and implementing the new waiver rule, the example above shows that even the best intentions and policies can be thwarted unexpectedly. Because of USCIS’s role and function as a citizenship and benefits granting agency, it is generally friendlier towards pro-immigrant policies. While that’s encouraging, there’s a long way to go before we see any real change in practice.

USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas expressed to the NY Times his hope that the waiver rule would be issued “before the end of this year,” although it was not made clear whether he was referring to the final or proposed rule. Thus, let’s take a look at what would the timing of this entire process could ultimately look like.

USCIS recently published a “notice of intent” to publish a proposed rule. It still has yet to publish the actual proposed rule (i.e., regulation), which will govern the waiver procedure.

No one can say how long it will take to draft and issue the proposed rule, but it could easily take a few months. After that, the public will have the opportunity to submit comments to the government on what it thinks of the rule. The administration will have to set out how long this “notice and comment” period will last. It’s also unclear how long this will be set for, but a reasonable guess would be 60 or 90 days. So even under the best of circumstances, these two steps will take us to about the middle of 2012.

After that, the government has to consider all of the comments (possibly hundreds or thousands of them) from the public in the drafting of the final rule. Then the final rule is published and a date is set for it to come into force. How long this will take is anyone’s guess, but regardless of whether Director Mayorkas meant USCIS will publish a proposed or final rule by the end of the year – even under the best of scenarios, the process still be running its course during and well beyond the election in November. And even if everything goes smoothly and the final rule is effective sometime soon after the election, it will still take months for the process to be implemented by immigration officers and adjudicators, and it will take many more months for analysts to determine whether the waivers for immediate family members are being granted properly to those who deserve them.

If President Obama loses the election, the new waiver rule will probably never see the light of day. If, for example, front-runner Mitt Romney were to win the election, he would have the authority to easily and immediately repeal it. Candidate Romney’s recent hostility to even the most vulnerable and sympathetic group of unauthorized migrants – the young students and military service members who would be eligible if the DREAM Act were passed – has been well documented. It’s not hard to imagine what his course of action would be in this case.

Furthermore, based on numerous comments throughout this year’s presidential campaign, there’s no reason to believe that any of the current Republican candidates wouldn’t defer to the guidance of the current Chair of the Judiciary Committee in the House of Representatives (which has jurisdiction over immigration policy), Lamar Smith, who fiercely opposes the new waiver rule and originally proposed the law that requires unauthorized migrants to be barred from the country for 3 or 10 years, even when they have the right to become a lawful permanent resident.

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10 Comments


  1. [...] officePoliticoObama Picks Munoz as White House Domestic Policy AdviserBusinessWeekFOX43.com -Politic365all 26 news [...]


  2. Brittanicus

    The TEA PARTY banner to marching in 2012 is: God-given individual freedoms written by Principles of the Founding Fathers. No more bank or investor companies bailouts; reduce the size of an intrusive government and return money and resources to the states; discard the current tax code and reintroduce a fair and equitable system that doesn’t favor the special interests or corporate welfare; repeal Obama-Care and introduce a competitive free market; cease and desist out of control spending and enact federal treasury deficit reform; secure our borders and defend and protect America from enemies domestic and foreign. Bring to the surface the abundant natural resources of oil, natural gas and coal, to reduce our dependence on foreign governments. Finally—give us back our Christian heritage. On the Illegal Immigration, I myself was victim of ID theft, but luckily it was for just $3.500 dollars. Three people were using my identity to get jobs, In Houston, TX, Louisiana and Nevada. Even now the mess hasn’t been resolved and I have refused to pay money for something I had nothing to do with? It seems as if our country is not just being invaded, but a large majority are criminals—stealing, killing and large proportion who are drunken drivers that has spread nationwide that is well spotlighted on the highways as hit and runs. Additionally—no matter the Democrats say, as they seem to be intentionally oblivious that illegal aliens are voting in federal, state and municipal elections and without exception vote in the cycle of elections, providing bonus votes in the presidential races.

    In 2010, the tea party movement’s power was felt as incumbent Democrats and Republicans alike were replaced with Tea Party endorsed conservatives. The Tea Party played a decisive role in the unparalleled midterm electoral victories and key Special elections, devoting millions of dollars and pioneering campaign tactics to bring victory to conservative candidates. With centralized conservatives in control of the House and poised to take over the Senate in 2012, the Tea Party has besieged President Barack Obama for defeat.

    THE US GOVERNMENT THROUGH ITS DISMAL FAILURE TO SECURE THE BORDER AND NO EFFORT TO AMEND THE BIRTHRIGHT CITIZENSHIP LAW, HAS PLACED ON ALL AMERICANS A POPULATION OF 340.000 BABIES ANNUALLY–TO BE FINANCIALLY PAID FOR OUT OF TAXPAYERS POCKETS. A bill gathering dust in Congress and sponsored by Steve King’s (R-IA) Birthright Citizenship Act of 2011 (H.R.140) would amend the law so the unborn babies of illegal aliens smuggled calculatedly through borders or by international flight are ineligible for citizenship. A further explanation to amending this part of 14th Amendment, is the less obvious reason? Illegal aliens once they have a foothold in America can then petition the courts for legal status. Although many years may pass once gaining citizenship, they can then partition under the family unification laws, bring even more family members to these lands and like a giant pyramid scheme, just replicates.

    Another preference bill is the ‘Legal Workforce Act’ or recognized as mandatory E-Verify program. This current bill, H.R. 2885 can right some massive wrongs and impose ‘Attrition through Enforcement’ guaranteeing that illegal aliens will self deport taking their families with them if no work is available. Taxpayers and jobless workers can expedite this method by stringently complaining to the Federal and State offices of Senators and the Congressional House phone switchboard at 202-224-3121. Do not let them deliberately hold back this law as it will help relieve some of the 22 million unemployed American job seekers. This is a simple, less aggressive and relatively free from taxpayer’s expense, as nationwide employers will no longer be able to skirt this law. There will be no mitigating event as many will see the inside of federal prison cell. Not only has 73 Republicans; mostly fresh Tea Party politicians, but also 3 Democrats have also supported this imperative as of the 1st of January, 2012.


  3. Brittanicus

    With the outcome of the New Hampshire primary with Mitt Romney in the lead, followed closely by Ron Paul with others close behind; so who in actuality has the best understanding of the illegal immigration invasion? NOT AS LEGAL IMMIGRANTS AS THE LIBERAL PROGRESSIVES HAVE CONVEYED, AS BEING OF THE SAME STATUS AS ILLEGAL ALIENS. Everywhere in the Liberal press is this “Political Correctness” mendacious determination to betray their readers, which both illegal and legal immigrants and migrants are of the same status.

    Republican candidates have a minor difference amongst the top contenders, but all sponsor mass deportations, harsh state enforcement policing laws and extending the fence along our Southern border. All Republican candidates, except Newt Gingrich are in opposition to giving most illegal immigrants a path to lawful residents. However–mass deportations can be very expensive and not so simple, with court appearances and stays. Republicans in the Senate and the House can alleviate much of this expense, by co-sponsoring the “Legal Workforce Act” (E-Verify) that once the law is enacted and businesses can no longer chance the hiring of illegal workers, in time thousands will begin the self-deportation. This is a matter of fact, because hiring an illegal alien will bring the down the ICE and the courts down upon the perpetrator. Mandatory E-Verify would enforce these laws if enacted:

    1. Require 100% of businesses to use E-Verify for all employers within 2 years
    2. Require all federal, state, and local agencies, businesses that contract with the federal or state government, and businesses with more than 10,000 employees to begin using E-Verify within 6 months
    3. Require federal, state, and local agencies to run its entire workforce through E-Verify
    4. Allow private business to check all current employees through E-Verify
    5. Increase employer penalties and fines for knowingly hiring illegal-alien workers.

    Passage of just H.R. 2885 would displace hundreds of thousands and ultimately millions of unauthorized workers, with no chance of work to start repatriation to home country.

    To run America we must have a TEA PARTY Conservatism, whose major contentions is stop the Liberal-Socialist movement within the Democratic Party. To stop our nation from further sinking into political quicksand, the only chance left to the population to renew this countries weakening foundation. Overtime the Liberals have exerted such careful stealth 'Political Correctness' forced onto us to undermine our liberties and freedoms. Only by returning to the essence of the U.S. constitution, can we hope to resurrect this country of ours from the shadow government It started with a few ardent voices but grew in popularity until it became unwritten and written law within the . With those who were publicly declared as being not politically correct becoming the object of persecution by the Liberal progressives and extremist, who desire to reinvent America. Political Correctness is to reject every Americans right to freedom of choice and freedom of speech. The Tea Party of "The People" and not members of the establishment of elites in the Republics party is ready to claim our country back from the influence that would destroy us.


  4. [...] over any Republican candidate by at least 3-to-1.  Yet, in the same poll, Hispanics disapprove of Obama’s current handling of the immigration issue 59% to 27%.   Even among those who disapprove of the Administration’s [...]


  5. jessica

    There is good and bad in every population. So u r saying that my son and daughter deserve not 2 see their father for 3 to 5 years. I am american citizen, born here and goes 4 generations back. My desendents did not come her legally either and they deserved 2 be here. I’m italian background 75%, the rest is German, Scottish, and Cherokee Indian. My husband is Albanian. He is great with his kids and is a hard worker. We shouldn’t have to suffer. He was a child when he came here. He didn’t understand. I comment President Obama. We need to keep families together.Go after the criminals not the good families.


  6. [...] over any Republican candidate by at least 3-to-1.  Yet, in the same poll, Hispanics disapprove of Obama’s current handling of the immigration issue 59% to 27%.   Even among those who disapprove of the Administration’s [...]


  7. [...] under fire for protecting the identities of their whistleblower sources; issuing a cease a desist on deportations of "non-criminal" illegal aliens; demanding civil fines only for guilty parties of massive [...]


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