While the numbers of illegal immigrants living in the U.S. have leveled off during the Obama presidency, suspicion is rising about whether the president is pandering to Latinos to attract their votes in November.
“Despite the claims of the Obama administration that they’ve been tough on illegal immigration and that the border is more secure than ever,” Center for Immigration Studies director of policy studies Jessica Vaughan told The Daily Caller, “the fact is that they have gone to extreme measures and have really stretched the authority of the executive branch to try to slow down immigration law enforcement in the interior to a slow trickle.”
“The Obama administration can’t help themselves from overreaching,” Vaughan chuckled.
Vaughan pointed to a recent Immigration and Customs Enforcement settlement that awarded $350,000 to 11 illegal immigrants in New Haven, Conn. The plaintiffs had accused ICE agents of violating constitutional protections against racial profiling after they were arrested in the “sanctuary city” in 2007. The settlement also terminated the plaintiffs’ deportation proceedings.
“The administration has chosen not to defend the actions of its agency in doing its routine job,” Vaughan explained. “They have put pressure on all of the agents all over the country to avoid arresting illegal aliens.”
Federation for American Immigration Reform spokesman Bob Dane told TheDC the federal government under Obama has de-emphasized immigration enforcement in non-border areas.
“There’s a massive amnesty occurring behind the scenes,” Dane insisted. “Unless you represent a national security threat, you’ll be let go and given more authorization. That’s the new amnesty plan, declared unilaterally by this president.” (RELATED: More on illegal immigration)
Converting 13 million illegal immigrants into U.S. citizens, Dane said, would undoubtedly favor the Democratic party. “The president has been using immigration policies,” he suggested, “to intentionally try to alter the electorate in his favor.”
Barack Obama leads Republican hopeful Mitt Romney by 45 percentage points, 68–23, among registered Latino voters, according to a Pew Hispanic Center survey released in December.
In 2008, Hispanics chose Obama over Republican Arizona Sen. John McCain, by a 67–31 margin, despite the 29 percent Hispanic population of McCain’s home state.
“The fact is that most Latinos are lower income. They are heavily government-dependent, and tend to vote for the government that gives them free stuff,” Dane explained, “and it’s typically not Republicans. It’s Democrats.”
A retired ICE special agent told TheDC that the agency’s Worksite Enforcement Program was decimated in 2009, soon after Obama was inaugurated and John Morton was appointed ICE director.
“The Obama administration and ICE killed the program,” the retired agent said. “They said they’re focusing more on the employer and doing I-9 inspections, which is true.”
“But now,” he continued, “when auditors do these inspections, they encounter workers with fake documents and give the employer a list of documents to re-verify. If they cannot be re-verified within 30 days, the employer is fined or they just terminate the workers. But ICE never arrests any workers.”
During the George W. Bush administration, ICE targeted both employers and individual employees who were in the United States illegally.
But today, the agent said, the Obama administration is doing little to decrease the pool of illegal workers.
“They’re sandbagging the entire immigration process from A to Z at every point possible within the system,” Vaughan said.