Obama poised to accelerate CA’s rolling amnesty

Many Americans across the country have expressed uncertainty or alarm about president Obama’s executive action on immigration, which he will announce today.

However, in California, where millions of illegal immigrants live, a semi-formal version of state-level amnesty has been gathering steam for years. Despite dogged opposition by Republican and Tea Party activists, Sacramento’s slow-motion legalization of the undocumented has paved the way for the White House’s planned moves to receive a much smoother reception than in other state capitols.

Still, the exact details of Obama’s intended actions remain murky, and even among libertarian-leaning immigration doves, his assertion of sweeping executive powers has hit against fierce criticism. Indeed, as the Washington Post noted, the president himself previously disavowed the constitutionality of what he may now have resolved to do — insisting he was “not a king” and could not “just suspend deportations through executive order.” Californians have not been immune to the sense of ambiguity surrounding Obama’s shifting immigration policy.

Apprehension and expectations

In an interview with the San Jose Mercury News, one illegal immigrant described his discomfort in emblematic terms. Ernesto Perez — a 44-year-old father of four who has spent 19 years residing illegally in the United States — told the paper, “Obama is the only hope we have right now. Because three of my kids live with me, I’m always afraid that I will be separated from them. They need me. We need each other.”

Perez’ long undocumented stay underscored just how lax California has been in prosecuting illegal immigration, and for how long. His personal uncertainty, however, confirmed what millions of legal and illegal residents have known about president Obama for years: his willingness to deport. Critics from the left, such as Bill Moyers, have slammed Obama for breaking records with over 2 million deportations during his time in office.

That’s why illegal immigrants in California have depended so much on the Golden State’s incremental approach to legalization. Through a battery of state laws and regulations, Sacramento has given undocumented residents several protective paths toward the kind of status that makes it harder to deport.

With taxpayer money, access has been opened to educational loans for college, legal representation in juvenile court proceedings, driver’s licenses and the practice of law without a Social Security number. The California Supreme Court ruled in January that Sergio Garcia, an illegal immigrant who duly passed the California Bar Examination, could not be prohibited by the state from practicing law; Gov. Jerry Brown authorized Garcia’s license soon thereafter.

A push from activists

California activists dedicated to full legalization have used the state’s legal landscape as a justification for pressing president Obama for sweeping changes. In a typical statement making the rounds, California Immigrant Policy Center director Reshma Shamasunder urged Obama “to move on executive action and end unjust deportations that have caused the separation of families, as quickly as possible. Given the stalling we’ve seen in Congress for so many years, we hope he is bold in his action and covers as many people as possible.”

As KQED reported, California’s rules helped swell the immigrant population to its current level, with about half of the children in state claiming an immigrant parent and one in four residents claiming foreign birth. Although legal immigrants have not pushed in a collective way for swift and full amnesty, Latino voters have consistently shown support for some kind of expanded “path toward citizenship,” as policymakers in both major political parties often put it.

For their part, Republicans have warned of consequences if Obama opts against enforcing the immigration laws on the books. Michael Steel, the spokesman for Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-OH, adopted the colorful language characteristic of today’s media relations officials, “If ‘Emperor Obama’ ignores the American people and announces an amnesty plan that he himself has said over and over again exceeds his Constitutional authority, he will cement his legacy of lawlessness and ruin the chances for congressional action on this issue — and many others.”

Rhetoric or reality? With the president’s announcement on amnesty coming tomorrow, the fireworks will begin in earnest. The new, Republican-dominated Senate is seated in January, added to continued GOP control of the House.

Obama is leaving office in two years due to term limits. So in the new year, jockeying to be his replacement will intensify in both the Republican and Democratic parties, with his amnesty possibly the top issue out of the starting gate.

This piece was originally published at CalWatchdog.com

Obama’s Deportation Policy Ignores Most Illegal Immigrants

President Barack Obama’s immigration policy has left most illegal immigrants with clean records untouched, only focusing on illegals with criminal records and repeat border violators, a new study shows.

The study, conducted by the Migration Policy Institute (MPI), found that around 95 percent of those deported met the national security requirements Obama stipulated, while only 5 percent, or 77,000, illegal immigrants were deported by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) with no criminal record. MPI tracked the data from 2009 to 2013.

Although President Obama has stated that he will refine deportation procedures later this year, the report states that unless he modifies priorities, there will be no significant increase in deportation. Instead of worksite and random enforcement, the Obama administration has shifted significantly from the previous Bush, meaning that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) focuses mostly on the border, rather than interior areas. This is to ensure that deportation is more “human,” and for Obama, border enforcement helps to eliminate the climate of fear among already established illegals in the country.

Researchers argued that attempts to render deportation more human and reduce fear have actually lead to increased illegal immigration.

“In effect, the Obama administration has shifted from a more generalized model of enforcement to a model focused almost exclusively on illegal border crossers, obstructionists, and criminals…These policies allow for the exercise of discretion to not deport most people who fall outside these parameters,” the report noted.

Even with priority illegals, however, a recent study from the Center for Immigration Studies showed that in fiscal year 2014, ICE predicted that it would deport only 312,000 immigrants, a sharp drop of 25 percent from the amount ICE said it had funding to deport. In fiscal year 2014, ICE released 442,000 of 585,000 illegals it encountered, amounting to a stunning 75 percent release rate. No attempt was made by the agency to deport them.

ICE shot back, saying that some deportations cost more than others.

This article was originally published on the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Embattled Democrats Silent On ‘Executive Action’ And AG

Four Senate Democrats facing tough reelection races recently voted against President Obama’s plan to take executive action on immigration.

But would they vote against an attorney general nominee who would implement such a policy? When asked by The Daily Caller News Foundation, none of them were willing to commit.

Senators Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, and Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire all cast last-minute votes with Senate Republicans in September to prevent the president from following through on his plan to grant millions of illegal aliens work permits by executive action.

Another embattled Democrat, Alaska Sen. Mark Begich, also cast a last-minute vote that ensured Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions’ amendment to deny funding for the president’s plan would fail. Those five votes were characterized as political maneuvering around a tough issue just ahead of an election. (RELATED: Sessions Leads GOP, Five Democratic Senators To Vote Against Obama Amnesty)

With a replacement for Attorney General Eric Holder likely to be named during the lame-duck congressional session following the election, senators will have a chance to weigh in on the issue again. Sessions has joined Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz and Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul in saying they would vote against any attorney general nominee who does not publicly disavow the president’s immigration plan.

When asked by TheDCNF, all four Senate Democrats who voted with Sessions on defunding the executive action plan declined to say whether they would also vote against an attorney general nominee who was in favor of it.

A spokesperson for Begich said the senator is against unilateral action on immigration from the president and does not support amnesty, but also declined to take a position on Sessions’ plan, saying he won’t comment on a hypothetical attorney general nominee.

“To me, securing our borders has to be the priority, and that should be the President’s focus,” Sen. Begich said in a statement. “I don’t support amnesty, and that is why the House must consider the Senate’s bipartisan solution so we can move forward with common sense reforms to fix the current broken system.”

The other three senators declined TheDCNF’s request for comment.

Hagan ran on immigration in 2008 and said last year she opposes amnesty. Landrieu boasted of voting against amnesty 9 times in a recent campaign ad, and Sen. Pryor also stated he is against amnesty in a campaign ad. An adviser to Shaheen told The Washington Post the senator does not support “a piecemeal approach by executive order.”

This article was originally posted on the Daily Caller News Foundation.