Politics

White House sets new obstacle to immigration enforcement

An administration Dec. 29 memo declares that illegal immigrants may have to be held until they’re convicted in local courts before the federal government will begin deportation proceedings.

The declaration “means lots of criminal aliens will be released if the locals don’t have the resources or inclination to prosecute, or if the [suspect] is found not guilty because of a technicality,” said Mark Krikorian, director of the Center for Immigration Studies.

The new rule shows “the administration wants to give up one of the most important tools in preserving public safety,” said Krikorian. “We’ll have more and more instances of illegals released by police because [federal immigration officials] wouldn’t take them [and] who then go on to commit some heinous crime.”

President Barack Obama’s campaign aides frequently say they’re seeking Hispanic support to win crucial states, such as North Carolina and Arizona. On Dec. 19, for example, Obama’s campaign manager Jim Messina released a video in which he said Arizona was winnable because “hundreds of thousands” of people in the state have not registered to vote.”

The campaign is using Hispanic ethnic lobbies, such as La Raza, to help register Hispanics and to persuade them to vote in November.

But the ethnic lobbies have their own demands.

They want easier immigration for their ethnic or religious groups, including Hispanics, Asians, Arabs, Irish and Muslims.

The public and Congress oppose amnesty bills, so the lobbies’ demands have prompted administration officials to roll back enforcement of immigration laws.

In recent months, Eric Holder, the scandal-plagued attorney general, has launched lawsuits against successful reforms implemented by several states — including Arizona — and has sued Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s police department in Arizona.

Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano has let her political deputies end routine checks of travelers in bus depots and has stopped legal proceedings against many illegals. Her department has ordered immigration officials to largely ignore illegals who have not been convicted of major crimes. She also released the new memo on Dec. 29.

The Dec. 29 memo also announced a new 24-hour legal-aid hotline for illegal immigrants and a revised checklist for federal immigration officers.

The checklist is dubbed a “detainer” form, which federal officers have long used to request a state or local counterparts hold an illegal immigrant for an extra 48 hours beyond that allowed by local courts.

The new “detainer” form includes an additional box that federal officials can tick to “make the detainer operative only upon the individual’s conviction of the offense for which he or she was arrested.”

The political impact of the rollback policy is unclear because most Hispanics voters tell pollsters that their top political priorities are the economy and education, not immigration.

Pollsters say Hispanics’ voting is heavily influenced by candidates’ apparent insults or compliments of their community. That respect factor works to the Democrats’ advantage because many GOP candidates’ support for the enforcement of immigration law is portrayed as personal animus towards Hispanics.

Obama’s approval among Hispanics is down from its 2008 level, however, it remains above 60 percent.

The effort to rollback enforcement of immigration law follows the refusal by the White House to push for an amnesty bill.

The White House balked, in part, because the public and Congress oppose any amnesty that would bring more low-skilled workers into an economy where unemployment is above 10 percent among low-skilled workers, Hispanics and African-Americans.

Unemployment is so high that fewer than 50 percent of African-American males aged between 20 and 30 have a full-time job.

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