Conflict and inconsistency set immigration policy
Deportations over minor crimes increase, despite claims to the contrary
President Obama has deported more immigrants than any other president in United States history, and despite claims to only deport "gangbangers [and] people who are hurting the community," the vast majority are petty criminals or have no criminal record.
Two-thirds of the nearly 2 million people deported under the Obama administration committed minor traffic infractions or had no criminal record, with only 20 percent rising to the level of serious offenders, according to a recent report by The New York Times.The findings highlight a growing inconsistency between Obama's messages and actions.
The trend is not unusual for Obama, who has set a precedent for contradictory policies.
In lieu of the comprehensive immigration reform touted throughout both campaigns, Obama has taken up mass deportations as a consolation prize all while attempting to placate supporters with small gestures and statements to the contrary. Attempting to pander to his core constituency with promises to make immigration enforcement less harsh, while seeking to look tough on crime to opponents, Obama has failed to impress either.
This is behavior unbecoming of our commander-in-chief and damaging to the legitimacy of the nation as a whole. Our citizenry deserves better than carnival tricks from a leader who has promised to usher in an administration held "to a new standard of openness."
That, too, seems like a claim conflicting with reality.
The deporting of millions of illegal immigrants for minor or no offenses, taking up resources and manpower from other tasks, is itself controversial. Beyond this, the Obama administration has more actively filed more charges against deportees than the final years of the Bush administration, according to The Times. Charges prevent offenders from coming back to the United States for five years at the risk of imprisonment.
Obama is even stricter on illegal immigrants than his predecessor, perhaps laudable to opponents of illegal immigration but to the chagrin of anyone valuing credibility and honesty within the Oval Office.
There is little doubt some of the increasing - and increasingly frivolous - deportations are due to the stubbornly unproductive Congress. The failure of immigration reform lies more than partially with obstructionist politics by Obama's detractors. Pressure for stronger enforcement at borders has been a right-wing call for years, with those in the House of Representative leading the charge.
But the contradictions, banes to trustworthiness and authority of the office are solely the fault of the president.
Certainly, the time to reform the severely broken immigration system is now. The problem of illegal immigration itself is a result of failed policy at our borders, causing prohibitively long wait times and overly complex procedures to legally enter this country. And though this is not an excuse to illegally enter the United States, it demands a prompt solution.
In the interim, the population must demand accountability on the part of our leaders. If, in fact, reform is impossible because of congressional inaction, make that a talking point in the hopes it will spur change. Promises to not deport due to minor offenses or split up families wantonly, only to do the opposite, are counterproductive if not simply wrong.
We need more than optimistic hope for those most simple traits in a president - consistency, congruency, honesty. We need a change to words that align with actions and rhetoric that rises to reality.