Obama and Republicans share blame on immigration policy

03/09/2014 3:18 PM

03/09/2014 11:09 PM

In regard to immigration, does President Barack Obama deserve to be called champion-in-chief or deporter-in-chief?

How about ineffective chief? That covers both truths.

The name-calling, followed by self-labeling by Obama to save face, flew last week. Republicans claim they can’t trust the president to enforce laws they might pass if they actually manage to do their jobs and take up immigration reform. That’s a ridiculous contention.

This president is enforcing current immigration law at levels unheard of in other administrations, Republican or Democrat.

So in a new tactic, fellow Democrats began making a show of pointing out that fact. Kansas City, Kan., native Janet Murguia began the criticism.

Murguia, in a speech for the National Council of La Raza, termed Obama “deporter-in-chief,” noting the administration’s record deportation numbers. Deportations, soon to hit the 2 million mark under Obama, too often break up families who have been in the U.S. for decades.

A few days later, Obama pushed back, calling himself “champion-in-chief,” saying he can’t do anything without Congress.

Next, Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez of Chicago took things up a notch, continuing to knock Obama and pointing out the fallacy that the president is soft on immigration.

“Who expanded immigration enforcement by local law enforcement by 100 fold?” Gutierrez asked. That would be Obama, who expanded a program for deporting immigrants who are booked into local jails from 31 jurisdictions to more than 3,000.

He said Obama has spent almost $18 billion on enforcement, more than we spend on the FBI; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; Drug Enforcement Administration; and Secret Service combined. Being in the U.S. illegally is now the No. 1 prosecuted federal misdemeanor, and re-entering the country illegally is the No. 1 prosecuted felony.

The critique rightly calls Obama out for overly aggressive deportations. And it strips Republicans of their excuses.

What they fear is not Obama’s enforcement of law, it’s the extremists within their own party. To spare themselves from the lunacy of being called “un-American” in primary elections, they’d rather do nothing on needed reforms. It’s a political cop-out.

Gutiérrez got it right.

“I think we need to confront both flavors of dishonesty, especially when so many families are being destroyed while politicians play politics,” he said.

Videos

Join the Discussion

The Kansas City Star is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Terms of Service