Jeh Johnson was in the news again last week, basking in the glow of a new report from the Migration Policy Institute that patted his boss on the shoulder for successfully altering our immigration enforcement priorities.1 When Secure Communities fell to the Obama administration’s unpopular policy axe, Homeland Security didn’t try to hide the reason. Killing Secure Communities and replacing it with the Priority Enforcement Program was meant to make us safer and “more clearly reflect DHS’s new enforcement priorities.”2
It is no secret that these priorities are intended to help our president and Secretary Johnson impose amnesty without the inconvenience of changing the law. How it makes us safer is a little harder to fathom. Is trust first, public safety and security later a smart policy move when dealing with illegal immigrants who are by definition lawbreakers?
Priority enforcement misses a killer
San Francisco’s sanctuary city killer had a history of entering and reentering the U.S., courtesy of the administration’s “smart, effective” secure border policies (see: Lies About the Border Reveal Obama’s Policy of Deceit). The House Judiciary Committee observed that the Priority Enforcement Program doesn’t consider this type of lawbreaking much of an enforcement priority:
The Obama Administration ignores some of its own criminal priorities for the purposes of processing for removal under the “Priorities Enforcement Program.” As a result of this loophole, recent border crossers who came to the United States after January 1, 2014, those who overstayed the terms of their visas, and fugitives of the law are not required to be processed for removal – even though the Obama Administration deems them as priorities.3
One of the hallmarks of Obama’s breed of idealism is that reality, facts, and consequences don’t matter. Ideals come first and when they conflict with the real world it means the real world has to change. That’s what he did with immigration and what we continue to do with Priority Enforcement.
Priority Enforcement will mean more lawbreakers, less enforcement
The Obama administration has successfully imposed its belief that illegals who benefit from DACA are:
“Americans in their heart even if they don’t have the right piece of paper.”4
When Americans commit crimes we put them in jail. We don’t remove them from the country. An intolerable consequence of our evolving enforcement priorities is that illegal immigrants by and large merit the same treatment as citizens.
The MPI calls itself nonpartisan, but its report on Obama’s executive actions is all about partisanship. This was not lost on our DHS Secretary. On Thursday Johnson cited the think tank’s report as proof of success before shutting the door on any congressional efforts to make us safer:
I caution against any effort in Congress, in reaction to the tragic event in San Francisco, to federally mandate by legislation the conduct of state and local law enforcement, just as our efforts to re-generate cooperation are getting off the ground.5
It’s difficult to say just what Johnson meant by re-generating cooperation. State and local law enforcement are banned from enforcing federal immigration law, though they were not banned from ignoring ICE orders for detention under Secure Communities (see: Sanctuary City Double Standard Kills).
The good news about Priority Enforcement is that no matter what type of lawless permissiveness it condones, it won’t make a lot of difference in the face of the Federal Government’s ongoing, willful non-enforcement of the law. The bad news is that what happened in San Francisco will almost certainly happen again.
Johnson’s statement acknowledged the credit given by the MPI for changing deportation policies.6 Does he think Kathryn Steinle’s family and friends will take comfort from that accomplishment?
Worst Political News Story This Week published July 25, 2015.