Com­pas­sion­ate ex­pul­sion?

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - EDITORIAL PAGE -

To hear Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump de­scribe it, his new pol­icy on im­mi­gra­tion en­force­ment is aimed at kick­ing out only “bad hom­bres,” the se­ri­ous crim­i­nals who Trump says are en­dan­ger­ing Amer­i­can lives. If that were the case, we’d have no ar­gu­ment. Pres­i­dent Barack Obama en­forced the same pol­icy.

But the new pol­icy con­fers sweep­ing new author­ity on lo­cal po­lice and im­mi­gra­tion en­forcers to round up and jail just about any­one of a cer­tain pro­file, pos­si­bly lead­ing to de­tainees be­ing de­posited across the Mex­i­can bor­der with­out due process.

Home­land Se­cu­rity Sec­re­tary John Kelly out­lined the pol­icy on Tues­day. Kelly bluntly stated that the days of le­niency are over: “Poli­cies that fa­cil­i­tate the re­lease of re­mov­able aliens, … which al­low them to ab­scond and fail to ap­pear at their removal hear­ings, un­der­mine the bor­der se­cu­rity mis­sion. Such poli­cies, col­lec­tively re­ferred to as ‘catch- and- re­lease,’ shall end.”

For­get “bad hom­bres.” The new pol­icy tar­gets any­one here with­out le­gal autho­riza­tion. The only ex­cep­tions, Trump says, are youths brought to Amer­ica by their un­doc­u­mented par­ents. They had been shel­tered un­der Obama’s De­ferred Ac­tion for Child­hood Ar­rivals pol­icy.

“We’re gonna show great heart,” Trump said last week, pledg­ing to keep DACA in­tact. “To me, it’s one of the most dif­fi­cult sub­jects I have be­cause you have … some ab­so­lutely, in­cred­i­ble kids, I would say mostly. They were brought here in such a way — it’s a very — it’s a very, very tough sub­ject.”

Trump ap­pears to be ex­press­ing com­pas­sion for the so-called Dream­ers. But if com­pas­sion re­ally is on his mind, then how can Trump ra­tio­nal­ize let­ting chil­dren stay but yank­ing their par­ents off the streets and de­port­ing them for in­frac­tions as in­nocu­ous as driv­ing with a bro­ken tail light?

Kelly made it clear that any un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grant whose path crosses with that of law en­forcers or im­mi­gra­tion au­thor­i­ties could be de­tained and ex­pelled, not re­leased like be­fore.

The Obama pol­icy had its own el­e­ment of com­pas­sion, but it was also prac­ti­cal: There’s nowhere near the nec­es­sary fed­eral fund­ing to re­im­burse lo­cal jails, out­fit im­mi­gra­tion de­ten­tion cen­ters and pay for ad­di­tional im­mi­gra­tion court judges to ad­ju­di­cate thou­sands of ad­di­tional de­por­ta­tion cases. Im­mi­gra­tion courts are over­whelmed as it is.

Through­out the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, a chief con­cern about Trump’s im­mi­gra­tion crack­down plan was how he would pay for it. He still hasn’t an­swered that ques­tion, yet he’s launch­ing the plan any­way.

In ad­di­tion, the U.S. Bor­der Pa­trol al­ready has prob­lems with abuses of author­ity. A case now be­fore the U.S. Supreme Court, in­volv­ing an of­fi­cer who fired across the bor­der and killed an un­armed Mex­i­can teenager, un­der­scores the dan­gers when Wash­ing­ton is­sues a clar­ion call for lo­cal po­lice and bor­der pa­trol of­fi­cers to get tough.

Com­pas­sion tends to fly out the win­dow, along with the Con­sti­tu­tion.

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