Friday, July 6, 2012

Obama above the law  -- and Arizona must not obey it either

By Charles Krauthammer

 Though overshadowed by the shocking Supreme Court decision on health care, the court's Arizona immigration decision, issued three days earlier, remains far more significant than appreciated. It was generally viewed as mixed or ambiguous because the Justice Department succeeded in striking down three of the law's provisions. However, regarding the law's central and most controversial element -- requiring officers to inquire into the immigration status of anyone picked up for some other violation -- the ruling was definitive, indeed unanimous.

No liberal-conservative divide here. Not a single justice found merit in the administration's claim that this "show me your papers" provision constituted an impermissible pre-emption of federal authority.

On what grounds unconstitutional? Presumably because state officials would be asking about the immigration status of all, rather than adhering to the federal enforcement priorities regarding which illegal aliens would not be subject to deportation.

For example, under the Obama administration's newly promulgated regulations, there'll be no more deportation of young people brought here illegally as children (and meeting certain chronological criteria). Presumably, therefore, the Arizona law is invalid because an officer might be looking into the status of a young person the feds now classify as here legally.

Beyond being logically ridiculous, this argument is "an astounding assertion of federal executive power," wrote Justice Samuel Alito in a concurrence. The Obama Justice Department is suggesting that "a state law may be pre-empted, not because it conflicts with a federal statute or regulation, but because it is inconsistent with a federal agency's current enforcement priorities. Those priorities, however, are not law. They are nothing more than agency policy."

And there's the rub: the Obama administration's inability to distinguish policy from law. This becomes particularly perverse regarding immigration when, as Justice Antonin Scalia points out, what the administration delicately calls its priorities is quite simply a determination not to enforce the law as passed.

This is what makes so egregious the Obama claim that Arizona is impermissibly undermining federal law. "To say, as the court does," writes Scalia regarding those parts of the law struck down by the majority, "that Arizona contradicts federal law by enforcing applications of the Immigration Act that the president declines to enforce boggles the mind."

Consider this breathtaking cascade: An administration violates its constitutional duty to execute the law by deliberately refusing to enforce it. It then characterizes its nonenforcement as simply establishing priorities. It then tries to strike down a state law on immigration on the grounds that it contradicts federal law -- by actually trying to enforce it!

The logic is circular, oxymoronic and the very definition of executive overreach. During the Bush-43 years, we were repeatedly treated to garment-rending about the imperial presidency, to major hyperventilation about the "unitary executive." Yet the current administration's imperiousness has earned little comparable attention.

Obama adopts a policy of major nonenforcement of the immigration law -- a variant of the very Dream Act he could not get through even a Democratic Congress -- and promulgates it unilaterally, while his Justice Department claims the right to invalidate state laws that might in some way impinge on that very nonenforcement.

The Republican presidential campaign centers on the ineffectiveness of this administration: failure at home, passivity abroad. A fine electoral strategy. But as citizens we should be grateful. Given the administration's extravagant ambitions, incompetence is its saving grace.


Border shambles lets 150,000 migrants overstay their British visas as officials have no idea if they are still living here illegally

A new backlog of more than 150,000 immigration cases has been uncovered by inspectors in the latest border shambles.

The total – which is about the same as the population of Oxford – is increasing by nearly 100 every day.

It is made up of migrants whose visas allowing them to stay in Britain have expired and who have been refused permission to stay on.

But border officials have no idea if they have actually left the country or are still living here illegally.

And inspectors found the beleaguered UK Border Agency has no plan for finding out how many remain, or taking action to remove those who are still here.

In 40 per cent of cases examined by inspectors, the migrants had not even been sent a letter telling them they must quit Britain.

The 'significant' new backlog emerged in a report by John Vine, the chief inspector of the UK Border Agency.

The report, published today, revealed that in mid-December, the total number of cases in the Migration Refusal Pool across the UK stood at 159,313.  In the preceding two months, it had increased by 5,492 – or nearly 100 cases a day.

Cases put in the pool were foreign students or workers here legally who applied for their visas to be extended but were refused, and told they must leave within 28 days.

Mr Vine said urgent action was needed to tackle it because, currently, tracking down and removing such illegal migrants was not seen as a priority.'

'The agency does not know how many of these individuals have left the country or who are waiting to be removed,' he said. 'I also saw no evidence that there is a clear plan in place for the agency to deal with this stream of work to ensure this does not become another backlog.'

Home Office officials last night refused to say what the total is now, saying they would not provide a 'running commentary'.

Sir Andrew Green, chairman of the think-tank MigrationWatch, said: 'It is vital to the credibility of the whole immigration system that people who have no right to be in Britain should be removed.   'There clearly needs to be a much greater focus on this. It is absurd, for example, that people who overstay should not even be contacted to be told to go.'

'I am astonished that the UKBA has no idea where 159,000 individuals – the size of a city like Oxford – have gone since their application was rejected.'

The report looked specifically at immigration officials in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, where immigration officials massively underestimated the number of such cases in their area.

They put the total at between 400 to 600 but the real total was 1,893, more than three times higher.  A detailed examination of a sample of cases revealed barely half were recorded as having left the country, and only one had been forcibly removed.  Others had launched new appeals or could not be removed because of human rights or legal barriers.

In 40 per cent of cases migrants were not even sent the legal letters telling them they must leave the country.

The report said: 'The issue is a national problem. We believe the agency needs to be much more pro-active in providing a clear strategic direction for its staff to follow. This should stop the already significant backlog from increasing and ensure steps are taken to reduce it.'

Immigration Minister Damian Green said: 'Under the last government there was no effective strategy in place to ensure migrants left at the end of their time in the UK.

'The UK Border Agency is now working through a group of potential over-stayers to identify those who have not left. We are also working closely with other government departments to create a hostile environment which makes it much harder for migrants to live in the UK illegally.'

Keith Vaz, chairman of the Commons home affairs select committee, said: 'I am astonished that the UKBA has no idea where 159,000 individuals – the size of a city like Oxford – have gone since their application was rejected. This is yet another group of cases we did not know about.'


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