In a bid to remake the enforcement of federal immigration laws, the Obama administration is deporting record numbers of illegal immigrants and auditing hundreds of businesses that blithely hire undocumented workers.
The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency anticipates deporting about 400,000 people this fiscal year, nearly 10 percent above the Bush administration’s 2008 total and 25 percent more than were deported in 2007. The pace of company audits has roughly quadrupled since former President Bush’s final year in office.
The effort is part of President Obama’s larger project “to make our national laws actually work,” as he put it in a speech this month at American University. Partly designed to entice Republicans to support comprehensive immigration reform, the mission is proving difficult and politically perilous.
Obama is drawing flak from hawks who contend the administration is weak on border security and from doves who are disappointed that he has not done more to fulfill his campaign promise to help the country’s estimated 11 million illegal residents. Trying to thread a needle, the president contends enforcement — including the deployment of fresh troops to the Mexico border — is a necessary but insufficient solution.