Do-not-de­port list ex­pands

Obama will ex­empt fam­i­lies of troops, vet­er­ans

The Washington Times Daily - - Politics - BY STEPHEN DINAN

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion is un­der in­creas­ing pres­sure to halt all de­por­ta­tions af­ter it an­nounced Fri­day that it was carv­ing out another group of il­le­gal im­mi­grants — fam­ily mem­bers of ac­tive-duty troops and vet­er­ans — it would no longer de­port.

In a pol­icy memo, U.S. Ci­ti­zen­ship and Im­mi­gra­tion Ser­vices said it would al­low il­le­gal im­mi­grant chil­dren, spouses and par­ents of troops and vet­er­ans to ap­ply for “pa­role in place,” which would grant le­gal sta­tus to let them re­main in the U.S. The agency said it was a way to re­ward vet­er­ans for their ser­vice, and to re­duce the “stress” on ac­tive-duty troops, which the agency said was hurt­ing mil­i­tary readi­ness.

“We as a na­tion have made a com­mit­ment to our vet­er­ans, to sup­port and care for them. It is a com­mit­ment that be­gins at en­list­ment, and con­tin­ues as they be­come vet­er­ans,” the agency said in a memo out­lin­ing the new pol­icy.

Ad­vo­cacy groups said that the lat­est ex­ec­u­tive de­ci­sion un­der­scored Mr. Obama’s pow­ers to halt de­por­ta­tions, and that they want to see him use it for most il­le­gal im­mi­grants.

“We ap­plaud the step and it un­der­scores the truth that the pres­i­dent can and should do more, for all fam­i­lies,” said Marisa Franco, an or­ga­nizer for the Na­tional Day La­borer Or­ga­ni­za­tion, which has been stag­ing protests of Mr. Obama’s de­por­ta­tion poli­cies. “The pres­i­dent has the le­gal au­thor­ity and the moral obli­ga­tion to sig­nif­i­cantly ex­pand upon the memo re­leased to­day.”

Im­mi­grant-rights groups say Mr. Obama de­ports an av­er­age of more than 1,000 im­mi­grants a day, and they ar­gue most of those aren’t the hard­ened crim­i­nals he says he wants to fo­cus on.

They want to see him halt al­most all de­por­ta­tions, par­tic­u­larly while leg­is­la­tion to le­gal­ize most il­le­gal im­mi­grants is stalled in Congress.

Mr. Obama has said that while he be­lieves he has au­thor­ity to stop some de­por­ta­tions, he can­not halt all of them uni­lat­er­ally.

But his de­por­ta­tion pol­icy re­mains trou­ble­some.

Those who want to see a crack­down on il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion say he’s cook­ing the num­bers to make it ap­pear he’s de­port­ing record num­bers, when in re­al­ity he’s shift­ing il­le­gal im­mi­grants from the bor­der to the in­te­rior to ar­ti­fi­cially boost the num­bers.

Still, they ar­gue that the lat­est num­bers from fis­cal 2013 — which the depart­ment hasn’t re­leased, but which the Center for Im­mi­gra­tion Stud­ies says it has ob­tained — show a big drop in de­por­ta­tions last year.

On the other side, im­mi­grantrights groups say too many il­le­gal im­mi­grants are still be­ing de­ported.

They have staged protests and civil dis­obe­di­ence block­ades of im­mi­gra­tion of­fices to try to halt de­por­ta­tions and other im­mi­gra­tion en­force­ment ac­tions.

Caught in the mid­dle, the ad­min­is­tra­tion has slowly been ex­pand­ing the universe of il­le­gal im­mi­grants it says it won’t de­port.

The big­gest sin­gle move came last year when the pres­i­dent or­dered agents to stop de­port­ing young il­le­gal im­mi­grants who would have qual­i­fied for the Dream Act — leg­is­la­tion that would have granted ci­ti­zen­ship to il­le­gal im­mi­grants brought to the U.S. as chil­dren who were pur­su­ing an ed­u­ca­tion or promised to join the mil­i­tary. That leg­is­la­tion never passed, but Mr. Obama said those il­le­gal im­mi­grant were de­serv­ing of some relief any­way.

But the uni­lat­eral moves have drawn crit­i­cism from con­ser­va­tives who say Mr. Obama is over­step­ping his pow­ers and ig­nor­ing the law.

Fri­day’s pol­icy came a day af­ter Mr. Obama said he would use “en­force­ment dis­cre­tion” and not en­force a part of his own health care law re­quir­ing most health plans to meet strin­gent min­i­mum stan­dards by early next year.

The ad­min­is­tra­tion said it was able to sus­pend its own law un­der the same au­thor­ity Mr. Obama used to stop de­port­ing young peo­ple.

“The sec­re­tary’s au­thor­ity can be used in nar­row cir­cum­stances to ease im­ple­men­ta­tion short of leg­isla­tive changes — and this is one of those in­stances,” White House press sec­re­tary Jay Car­ney said Fri­day in de­fend­ing the Oba­macare carve-out. “This type of ac­tion was used ... last year in the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s pol­icy on de­ferred ac­tion for childhood ar­rivals pend­ing im­mi­gra­tion re­form, for ex­am­ple. That was some­thing that [The Depart­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity] did.”

In both the il­le­gal im­mi­grant chil­dren and health care in­stances, the ad­min­is­tra­tion cited pros­e­cu­to­rial dis­cre­tion pow­ers.

Fri­day’s an­nounce­ment on mil­i­tary fam­i­lies cited a slightly dif­fer­ent “pa­role” power.

Ci­ti­zen­ship and Im­mi­gra­tion Ser­vices said it has the le­gal au­thor­ity un­der a sec­tion of im­mi­gra­tion law that gives the Home­land Se­cu­rity sec­re­tary dis­cre­tion “on a caseby-case ba­sis” to pa­role for­eign­ers. Pa­role is usu­ally used to let peo­ple in for­eign coun­tries en­ter the U.S., but the agency said it can also be used to let il­le­gal im­mi­grants stay.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

“This type of ac­tion was used ... on de­ferred ac­tion for childhood ar­rivals,” White House press sec­re­tary Jay Car­ney said Fri­day.

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