The rule of law has worked its way into the headlines again after the president’s excuse last week that there was only so much he could do on his own to stop deportations. He has already done more than enough with deferred action’s amnesty. Despite his ignoring of one of our country’s fundamental values, extremist Democrats still won’t see things his way.
John Boehner stated the obvious when he finally took the right stand on immigration. No matter what form a bill takes the president will do whatever he wants. Just like the health care act, when an immigration bill fails to live up to its promise it will be dismantled and reworked piece by piece. We can safely assume that the discards will apply to enforcement, not amnesty.
Rule of law doesn’t mean cattle cars.
Are immigrants being loaded into cattle cars, torn from their screaming families for the trip back to the border? Not exactly, unless you are talking with Democrats trying to simultaneously obstruct the rule of law and use it to their advantage by appealing to some higher moral authority only they understand.
Much as the White House would like to run on Obama’s “exceptional record of improving border security,”1 his party is not going to settle for anything less than stopping deportations altogether, no matter how many illegals are being removed. The number is either unacceptably high or far too low, depending on who you talk to.
Mass deportations don’t exist.
Are Democrats hinting that the rule of law means not kicking out criminals? It would make sense, given that they view illegal immigrants as Americans, not foreign nationals.
Every year ICE reports on its enforcement efforts. Every year Democrats cry foul over the removal figures. A California congresswoman charged:
They are a reflection of the deeply misguided belief that mass deportations are the way to solve America’s immigration challenges.2
In a January 24, 2014 letter to the president, Democratic House members called for extending the deferred action umbrella as if deportations were a national scourge:
We cannot continue to witness potential citizens in our districts go through the anguish of deportation when legalization could be just around the corner for them.3
For all the hand-wringing, the deportation totals are depressingly low. This is not ICE’s fault. It is the fault of the president and administration flunkies who have blocked enforcement and are still searching for a non-legislative way to do the party faithful’s bidding.
ICE’s newest enforcement report shows that in 2013 we removed only 368,644 immigrants, barely 3.5% of the estimated illegal immigrant population. 82% of those removed from inside the U.S. had a criminal conviction. 84% of the non-criminal immigrants we kicked out were intercepted at the border.4 This suggests that to work those damning mass deportation numbers up to where Democrats like them we are going to have to count the bad guys. Is the intention to give them amnesty, too?
Rule of law means ignoring laws Democrats don’t like.
When it comes to immigration the rule of law means different things to different Democrats. To some, like Arizona Congressman Raul Grivalja, it is used alongside vague nods to enforcement, a feint to get conservatives to buy in:
If all the opposition intends to do is chant ‘amnesty’ over and over in an attempt to scare us out of passing a bill, they may as well just get out of the way. We’re ready to move on immigration reform, and I call on everyone who cares about border safety, the rule of law, and the economy to join us.”5
To others, like Representative Luis Gutierrez, it means getting rid of laws they disagree with to put in new laws that are closer to what they think the rule of law should be:
One, our commitment to justice, our security, our economy and the growth of our nation require a modern immigration system based on the rule of law and both parties understand we need legislation to get us there.6
The great thing about appealing to the rule of law is that it is such an amorphous concept it can mean anything we want. When it comes to immigration enforcement rule by law would be a better choice. It might help ICE work those deportation numbers up to a respectable level.