David Holford

It All Gets a Little Confusing

Republican have always been angry at President Obama for trying to go around Congress, extending the authority granted to the Executive Branch under various immigration legislation (or granted under the Constitution generally) to the limit and as they often suggest, even beyond.

There was the fury over Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) to get around the refusal of Congress to pass a DREAM Act.  Of course as soon as it came into effect, all the sane 2012 Republican presidential candidates said they wouldn’t think of rescinding it, including the eventual nominee Mitt Romney.

Now there’s a new problem with new childhood arrivals, the dramatic influx of unaccompanied minors. The Republicans have been quick to blame this on the Administration and Democrats pushing for Comprehensive Immigration Reform – reform that would not even take into account the recent arrivals. But now the Republicans are in a bit of a quandary.

They’ve completely ignored that the current administration has been deporting immigrants at twice the rate of the previous administration. But now the President wants to circumvent the law to deport even more. The GOP want the deportations but they don’t want the President to overstep his authority. What to do? What to do?

The immigration court system has been special designed to limit any normal legal protections – you have employees of the Attorney General as judges and employees of the Department of Homeland Security as the prosecutors and employees of the DHS as the cops – all under the authority of the President.  Sure, that wouldn’t fly in regular legal proceedings. Independence of the courts and all that. And just to avoid any other legal safeguards, there’s no rules of evidence, no rules of discovery (a defense lawyer can only get the evidence that will be used against his client by filing a Freedom of Information Act request and waiting up to a year for a response), no right to a speedy trial, no right to court-appointed counsel, or a host of other constitutional protections.

The problem is that Congress passed legislation some years ago making it a little more difficult to deport children. They have a few more protections. The government has a responsibility to make sure what few rights they have are met. Despite the influx of new minors, Congress hasn’t been willing change the law to make it possible to just scoop them up and dump them over the line into Mexico for the drug cartels to pick them up and find good, decent, honorable ways to earn their keep.

The President wants to find loopholes and extensions of his authority to do just that. The media has hyped up what a problem these children are. They are described like vermin or an infestation that has to be addressed. They can’t be exterminated in the US – there are laws against that, too – but they can in Mexico. Or in El Salvador. Or in Guatemala. Or in Honduras. After all, that’s what many of them are fleeing in the first place.

Obama and the Republicans and FoxNews commentators have even suggested putting them on planes back to El Salvador, which of course means letting MS-13 do what they wanted to do to them in the first place. And the law is in the way. How can the GOP hate and obstruct Obama and let him have his way at the same time?

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