The Obama administration said Thursday that it will allow many illegal immigrants facing deportation to stay in this country and to apply for work permits. Individuals convicted of crimes or posing national security or public safety threats will be jumped to the front of the line. Many others, as part of an ongoing review of all cases in federal immigration courts, will effectively be allowed to remain in the country indefinitely. The rationale for this action, according to the Administration, is to focus deportation efforts on criminals.
“From a law enforcement and public safety perspective, DHS enforcement resources must continue to be focused on our highest priorities,” Department of Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano wrote a group of senators. “Doing otherwise hinders our public safety mission – clogging immigration court dockets and diverting DHS enforcement resources away from the individuals who pose a threat to public safety.”
I guess I missed something along the way. Maybe I don’t know what the word criminal means. I would have thought that individuals who have deliberately penetrated our borders in violation of our laws, in many cases dozens of times, and then remained here in contravention of those same laws for years or even decades would most certainly qualify as criminals. In fact, given their clear, continued disregard for the law and their sustained effort to subvert it I would have thought that such individuals would have deserved priority in expulsion.
Apparently not. The Obama Administration, frustrated in its efforts to persuade the Congress to pass legislation like the Dream Act to grant formal amnesty to at least some of the illegal aliens in the country, has now decided to simply bypass the legislature completely. It continues to maintain that it is not granting legal residence to the individuals whose cases will be dropped, but this appears largely to be a case of a distinction without a difference. The individuals will no longer be facing deportation. They will be allowed to remain in the country. They will be allowed to apply for work permits so that they can gain lawful employment and support themselves. There will be no time limit on the amount of time they can remain.
Maybe I don’t know what criminal means anymore. But, I sure as hell knows what amnesty looks like.