Not A Peso's Worth Of Difference?
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[NEW – U.S. Department of Homeland Security "Detention Priorities" memorandum by Under Secretary Asa Hutchinson, 10/18/04]

With the presidential election now just a week away, the Washington Times recently weighed in with an editorial splitting hairs over which candidate's illegal alien amnesty proposal would be a greater disaster for America.

Calling the Bush betrayal "amnesty lite," the paper came to the conclusion that "John Kerry's plan is far worse." [Kerry on Immigration, Oct 22, 04, The Washington Times, editorial]

Sorry to burst your bubble, Washington Times, but illegal alien amnesty doesn't even come close to being the defining immigration issue between George W. Bush and John Kerry.  

And if the paper expects to coax real immigration reformers into supporting Bush on VDARE.COM's very own issue…as they say – don't even go there!

The truth of the matter is that both Yalies are solid non-deportation candidates.

As I wrote in the blog, the difference between giving illegal aliens work authorization and a free non-deportation pass with renewable non-immigrant status—versus giving an illegal alien a green card outright—doesn't amount to much.

Both schemes are lawbreaker-rewarding amnesties.

But there's more. You can also make a compelling case that the president's "willing [foreign] worker, willing [American] employer" philosophy is even more potentially dangerous than Senator Kerry's flirtation with La Raza.

Not content with just giving legal status to foreign nationals already living and working illegally in the U.S., the Bush-backed Arizona Amnesty plan would import even more foreign workers to fill even more American jobs.

It's as if the U.S. doesn't already have enough pauper labor working for cheap!

But, as far as our current state of immigration law enforcement goes, the Bush administration's report card for the past four years has been abysmal.

Notwithstanding the occasional good news coming out of the Department of Justice, the newly-created cabinet level mega-bureaucracy of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has established itself as a bastion of immigration non-enforcement the likes of which America has never seen.

After all the hoopla over the new department has died down, the Bush Administration's DHS has shown itself as just another repackaged version of the same old non-detention and non-deportation programs of the disgraced and abolished Immigration and Naturalization Service.

So let's take stock of the Bush Administration's DHS – the immigration non-enforcement devil we know – for comparison against the potential devil we don't know.

Under the Bush Administration, the detention and removal program of the DHS went broke. While there was plenty of money around for top-dollar bureaucrat salaries, there was no money left to fund detention bed space for the thousands of illegal aliens and criminal alien residents queuing up for Immigration Court removal proceedings before the Justice Department's Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR).

Faced with this financial mismanagement and a lack of detention space, the DHS continued releasing untold numbers of illegal aliens and criminal alien residents from immigration detention.

Were it not for the mandatory detention requirements built into the Immigration Act, the DHS could have released even more criminals.

As a sure-fire sign that the DHS immigration detention budget will probably remain under-funded for the foreseeable future, DHS Under Secretary Asa Hutchinson recently issued "detention prioritization" guidelines to make it easier for his minions to figure out which removable illegal aliens to send back out on the streets.

[Read the text of Hutchinson's memorandum here – a exclusive!]

Remember that under the Immigration Act, it is perfectly permissible to detain ALL of the categories of illegal aliens and criminal alien residents listed in the memorandum . . . not just the ones marked "mandatory."

But the DHS obviously has other plans.

It accepts that it should give "High Priority" to "aliens who present an articulable danger to the community" but cautions sternly "(claimant agency must be able to articulate the danger)." [DHS emphasis].

"Lower Priority" i.e. no priority at all are "worksite enforcement arrests"—although the wage and employment impact of illegal immigration is what is really hurting most Americans.

The Bush White House also opposes the immigration provisions of H.R. 10 even though this House bill contains a full-implementation of the desperately-needed expedited removal provisions of Section 235(b) of the Immigration Act. Congress gave the green light for these same provisions as part of 1996 immigration amendments. But the provisions have been left completely unused for interior immigration enforcement for the past eight years.

As fate would have it, DHS Under Secretary Hutchinson's own brother Tim (then a Congressman from Arkansas) voted for the amendments authorizing the expedited removal authority . . . which the former INS and now the DHS have never fully put into practice!

But suppose the expedited removal authority was fully implemented tomorrow. Can anyone believe, based on the DHS' dismal track record, that the agency as presently constituted would suddenly repent and begin nationwide Section 235(b) round-ups?

More likely, wouldn't the Holy Grail of Section 235(b) expedited removal become just another un-funded and un-enforced immigration law enforcement program buried within the bureaucracy?

Please don't get me wrong here . . . Section 235(b) expedited removal authority for interior enforcement is vital for actually removing illegal aliens. It's the first step toward scrapping the failed EOIR and federal court litigation model of immigration law enforcement.

But if there are not enough agents and officers to conduct interior law enforcement to put Section 235(b) expedited removal into practice—without much support from state and local authorities—illegal aliens will still continue to survive and thrive from sea to shining sea.

So be prepared for more immigration non-enforcement—no matter who is the next President.

Immigration reform is on a long march through America's institutions. Eventually there will be an election on the issue.

But 2004 is not the year.

Juan Mann [send him email] is a lawyer and the proprietor of

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