The Deporter in Chief

Bad policy and bad politics


Because I am married to the principal of a public high school located in a border state, each semester I witness at a remove an agonizing process. A student arrives home at the end of the day to find that one or both parents have been picked up and are being processed for deportation.

Or are already deported.

In some instances, the child is an American citizen by birth. In others, the child has DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) status, provided through the June 2013 executive order President Obama signed granting temporary legal status (for a $465 processing fee) to youths brought to the country as children. In some instances, the child is undocumented.

If both parents are gone, school administrators scramble to find a relative, social services, or some place for the child to land. If one parent had been deported, often the breadwinner, the family decides whether to live apart or to return home. Home is usually Mexico: 241,493 of the 368,644 removals last year were Mexican.

Because I am married to the principal of a public high school located in a border state, each semester I witness at a remove an agonizing process.

With immigration reform blocked by House Republicans, Obama allows the machinery of deportation to run.

Take the kids out of the equation and the process is cynical at best. We have allowed to evolve a self-regulating yet illegal labor market that provides enormous advantages for employers and the economy, yet a Democratic president targets workers for deportation.

At last, members of the president’s party are calling him out. In December, Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva stood with colleagues on the Capitol steps and urged Obama to suspend deportations until the House acts on immigration. (The Senate has passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill.)

Last month Congressman Luis Gutíerrez stood on the House floor before a photo triptych of Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama and quizzed his colleagues.

• “Which president deported a population slightly larger than the population of the entire state of Nebraska?”
• “Who spent more on immigration enforcement than all other criminal federal law enforcement combined?”
• “Which of these presidents put more than 420,000 people in detention in just one single year of his presidency?”

The Illinois Democrat referred to “the estimated 5,100 children placed in foster care because their mom or dad was deported” and declared Obama the “Deporter in Chief.”

The advocacy group NOT1More has declared April 5 a day of protest intended to stop “President Obama’s Path to 2 Million Deportations.”

As I write, carpenters on the roof of a new house going up across the street are shouting out measurements in nasal, norteño Mexican Spanish.

Drastically curtailing deportation would be humane public policy.

And probably good politics.

Lou Dubose is the editor of The Washington Spectator.

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