Criticism And Praise For Obama On Immigration

Seldom do I have a good thing to say about the Obama Administration’s policies because, well, seldom does he do anything good for the country. But, assuming this program pans out — which is a big “if” given the history of immigration enforcement in this country — it has my full approval,

The Obama administration is expanding a program initiated by President George W. Bush aimed at checking the immigration status of virtually every person booked into local jails. In four years, the measure could result in a tenfold increase in illegal immigrants who have been convicted of crimes and identified for deportation, current and former U.S. officials said.

By matching inmates’ fingerprints to federal immigration databases, authorities hope to pinpoint deportable illegal immigrants before they are released from custody. Inmates in federal and state prisons already are screened. But authorities generally lack the time and staff to do the same at local jails, which house up to twice as many illegal immigrants at any time and where inmates come and go more quickly.

The effort is likely to significantly reshape immigration enforcement, current and former executive branch officials said. It comes as the Obama administration and Democratic leaders in Congress vow to crack down on illegal immigrants who commit crimes, rather than those who otherwise abide by the law.

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…Under the new program, the immigration checks will be automatic: Fingerprints currently being run through the FBI’s criminal history database also will be matched against immigration databases maintained by the Department of Homeland Security. The effort would not catch people who have never been fingerprinted by U.S. authorities.

Based on the pilot program, the agency estimates that if fingerprints from all 14 million bookings in local jails each year were screened, about 1.4 million “criminal aliens” would be found, Venturella said. That would be about 10 times the 117,000 criminal illegal immigrants ICE deported last year. There are more than 3,100 local jails nationwide, compared with about 1,200 federal and state prisons.

…In his proposed 2010 budget, President Obama asked Congress last week for $200 million for the program, a 30 percent increase that puts it on track to receive $1.1 billion by 2013.

…Venturella said ICE will give priority to deporting the most dangerous offenders: national security risks or those convicted of violent crimes. Based on initial projections, the agency estimates that 100,000 of these are “Level 1 offenders” and that deporting them would cost $1.1 billion over four years. Removing all criminal illegal immigrants would cost $3 billion, ICE estimated last year.

Critics say that deporting the worst criminal illegal immigrants, by itself, does not go far enough because it would not fully address the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants already in the United States or deter further illegal immigration.

“If the Obama administration abandons immigration enforcement in all but the most serious criminal cases, then they will create a de facto amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants and will encourage even more illegal immigration,” said Rep. Lamar Smith (Tex.), the ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee.

First of all, isn’t it stunning that in the year 2009, we have yet to set up a program to deport illegal aliens who’ve committed crimes in this country and have been jailed locally? So, they’re not here legally, they’ve committed crimes, we have them locked up and then they do their time and they’re released? That’s madness!

Moreover, as to the cost, protecting our borders and dealing with criminals are core functions of the government. It’s certainly more important than anything in the Stimulus Bill, TARP, the bailouts, or the other much bigger projects our government is wasting our money on.

That being said, it’s worth dealing with the idea that we can only target the illegal immigrants who have gotten caught committing crimes and ignore the other ones. Setting aside the fact that’s a de facto amnesty, it’s also turning a blind eye to the law. If you’re here illegally, you are a criminal and the penalty for your crime is deportation. If you turn a blind eye to that crime, you encourage more of it.

Additionally, the idea that the government can just target the criminals while letting all the other illegals into the country is ludicrous. There’s no way to catch “Carlos the serial rapist” at the border while letting “Carlos, the family man just looking for work” get through. Either both of them are being stopped at the border or neither of them is getting stopped at the border and Carlos the serial rapist will only get deported after he rapes a half dozen women, finally gets caught, and is sentenced to jail.

Moreover, the very fact the Obama Administration is so reluctant to deport the illegal aliens that are here tells you how serious they are about stopping more illegals from getting in. Show me someone who isn’t serious about driving the illegals who are here out of the country and I will show you someone who doesn’t care about stopping more illegals from crossing the border. In these tough economic times, when illegals are taking jobs that would otherwise be filled by millions of unemployed Americans, it’s unconscionable for the Obama Administration to continue to treat our immigration laws like a joke.

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