Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A pox on both their houses!

Ruben Navarrette

Barack Obama and Mitt Romney should stop talking about immigration. Even when they're asked about it, as they were during their second debate, they should just smile politely and say: "No comment."

Otherwise, why remind voters that there is so much about this issue that the candidates don't understand? Not to mention that both of them have taken positions or enacted policies that they are having a tough time explaining?

For Romney, it was his shameful posturing in the Republican primary contests when he lurched to the right and not only took a hard line on anything resembling "amnesty" but also denigrated hardworking immigrants as takers who come to America for the freebies.

For Obama, it is his shameful record in office that includes 1.5 million deportations, divided families, thousands of U.S.-born kids of deported parents dumped into foster care, battered wives deported after calling the police, street vendors deported for selling ice cream or tamales without a permit, and expanded Arizona-style cooperation between local police and U.S. immigration officials nationwide by way of the Secure Communities program.

To avoid being criticized for all this by Latino supporters, Obama, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and White House official Cecilia Munoz -- the administration's designated Latina apologist -- insist that it is only undesirables who are being deported.

Meanwhile, community activists in Detroit are protesting what they claim is a serious infraction by the local field office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, where agents are accused of staking out an elementary school to detain parents as they pick up their kids.  How low can the administration go?

In trying to navigate the choppy waters of the immigration issue, each candidate has his coping mechanism.

Obama retreats into a fantasy world of unicorns and cotton candy where immigration officials only deport -- as he said during the debate -- "criminals, gangbangers, people who are hurting the community, not after students, not after folks who are here just because they're trying to figure out how to feed their families." Back in the real world, ICE agents have deported, since Obama took office, hundreds of thousands of gardeners, housekeepers, nannies and farm workers who were just "trying to figure out how to feed their families."

Meanwhile, Romney prefers to keep his answers vague, especially when asked what he would do with the estimated 10 million illegal immigrants in the United States.

Team Obama has to feign outrage over Romney's plan to allow illegal immigrants to voluntarily leave the country while ignoring that Obama prefers the more hands-on method. That's where ICE agents will kick down doors, put people in shackles, and toss them into a detention facility. According to a PBS documentary that aired last year, "Lost in Detention," many report allegations of being physically and sexually abused.

Team Romney -- in a futile bid to win Latino support -- is trying to criticize Obama for breaking his 2008 campaign promise to pursue comprehensive immigration reform, while ignoring that -- at least until the debate -- the Republican candidate opposed the concept. Now Romney says that he'll "get it done" in his first year.

Really, what's the point of Obama and Romney bickering over immigration to see who is the lesser evil? On this issue, they're both dreadful.


Prince William County renews focus on immigration

As Prince William County grapples with the sudden loss of a controversial program to identify and deport illegal immigrants who commit crimes, the immigration debate has been renewed just ahead of Election Day.

County officials were surprised that a partnership allowing Prince William to enforce federal immigration laws, known as 287 (g), is being renewed only until year’s end by the Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. County officials had thought they were negotiating a new three-year deal.

Corey A. Stewart, chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors, considers the program the crux of its anti-illegal immigration efforts, passed in 2007, mandating that police check the immigration status of people arrested.

Stewart (R-At Large) said he thinks ICE and the Obama administration are playing politics.

“Frankly, I didn’t think they’d have the guts to do it,” Stewart said of the Obama administration. “It’s going to hurt them in Virginia, and it’s going to hurt them in Prince William County. I really didn’t think they’d be foolish . . . from a political perspective to terminate the program right before the November elections.”

ICE has remained mostly mum about the reasons for the change. The Obama administration has instructed federal immigration offices across the country to focus on border security and people who commit serious crimes. It plans to phase out 287 (g) in favor of the Secure Communities program.

“The Secure Communities screening process, coupled with federal officers, is more consistent, efficient and cost effective in identifying and removing criminal and other priority aliens,” ICE spokeswoman Danielle Bennett said in a statement.

The department has declined to answer further questions.

Under Secure Communities, suspects’ names are run through an ICE database, which contains records of people who have come into contact with federal immigration authorities. After this year, Prince William law enforcement authorities would no longer be able to investigate the immigration status of people they arrest.

County officials say they won’t be able to identify nearly as many illegal immigrants. In a statement, they said that 5,000 people arrested in the county so far have been found to be here illegally. With the change, they estimated that number would drop by 60 percent.

The change was welcomed by people who say the 287 (g) program can lead to racial profiling and distract police from their core responsibilities.

Claire G. Gastanaga, executive director of the Virginia American Civil Liberties Union, said the ACLU has opposed the program from the beginning because ICE already detains and deports dangerous criminals.

“We think it’s antithetical to good, effective community policing,” she said. “You confuse the roles of local police and federal immigration authorities. You end up being less safe because people are not willing to cooperate with the police.”


No comments:

Post a Comment