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Immigration Irony: John Boehner vs. President Obama, the “Deporter-In-Chief”

imm_2Many who know me will tell you that I have a propensity to have stream of consciousness moments.  I think to myself, “Define Irony”, and then I try to think about a (classic) movie moment where this statement might have been made.  Has anyone ever seen the movie “Con Air”?  Hardly a classic, I know.  Nevertheless, does anyone remember when all the convicts were dancing on the plane to Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama”?  Steve Buscemi, a fabulous actor, says “Define Irony: A bunch of idiots dancing on a plane to a song made famous by a band that died in a plane crash.”

Merriam-Webster defines irony as:

(1) a pretense of ignorance and of willingness to learn from another assumed in order to make the other’s false conceptions conspicuous by adroit questioning —called also Socratic irony;

(2) (a) the use of words to express something other than and especially the opposite of the literal meaning, (b) a usually humorous or sardonic literary style or form characterized by irony (c) an ironic expression or utterance;

(3) (a)  incongruity between the actual result of a sequence of events and the normal or expected result; an event or result marked by such incongruity, (b) incongruity between a situation developed in a drama and the accompanying words or actions that is understood by the audience but not by the characters in the play —called also dramatic irony, tragic irony.

Where am I going with this?  Good question.  Right after the President’s State of the Union Address, House Republicans finally released their “Standards for Immigration Reform.”  It was a one page document that primarily echoed what the Republican leadership had been saying for months: border security and interior enforcement is their top priority, and they offered a commitment to some sort of legalization program for those in the country without legal status.  The document also highlighted the importance of implementing an entry-exit visa tracking system and employment verification, above and beyond their interior enforcement goals.

Finally, right?  I mean, it’s not a perfect, and indeed it’s pretty vague on some level, which means it offers House Republicans cover within their own party and when they’re negotiating with their Democratic colleagues.  But it was progress nevertheless.

And then, literally in the wake of this statement, barely one week later, House Speaker John Boehner seemed to stamp out (once again) any prospect for immigration reform.  Speaking of the Obama Administration, he said “There’s widespread doubt about whether this administration can be trusted to enforce our laws.  And it’s going to be difficult to move any immigration legislation until that changes.”  Speaker Boehner went on to say, “We are going to continue to discuss this issue with our members, but I think the President’s going to have to demonstrate to the American people and to my colleagues that he can be trusted to enforce the law as it is written.”

Really?  Are you kidding me?  So the Republicans are no doubt concerned about some of the commentary leading up to the State of the Union Address, where there was some discussion that if the President could not get his way legislatively in certain areas, he would simply resort to Executive Orders.  But to say that the President can’t be trusted to enforce our laws?

Let’s consider deportations during the Obama Administration.  Ever read “The Economist”?  I love that magazine.  And I think it’s fair to say that it’s pretty conservative too.  Well, The Economist recently labeled the President as “Barack Obama, deporter-in-chief.”  “America is expelling illegal immigrants at nine times the rate of 20 years ago; nearly [two million] so far under Barack Obama, easily outpacing any previous president.  Border patrol agents no longer just patrol the border; they scour the country for illegals to eject. The deportation machine costs more than all other areas of federal criminal law-enforcement combined.  It tears families apart and impoverishes America.”

A week later, The Economist followed up their earlier story with another article entitled “America’s deportation machine, The great expulsion.”  Says the article, “ It is hard to find many areas where the federal government is so effective in implementing laws passed by Congress.”  The article highlights the growing pressure that President Obama’s deportation machine is putting on the courts, and also even speaks to a detention bed quota.  But the article also singles out something known as “Secure Communities” as the real culprit behind the dramatic increase in deportations.  “The turning of police officers into immigration officials has brought border enforcement into areas
of the country far from the deserts of the south-west. Secure Communities, the name given to the programme that links police work to the immigration database, began life in a single jurisdiction in Texas in 2008 at the end of George W. Bush’s presidency.  By May 2013 it was operating everywhere.”

So, not only do we have those federal agencies and officials who we expect to be enforcing our immigration laws doing a pretty good job, but now we also have state and local officials, who have essentially been deputized to do the same.

Can’t be trusted?  Really?  Define irony.  Or, maybe we should be saying define disingenuousness.  I’m trying to think of a movie quote.  “Anyone?  Anyone?”


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ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTOR

David W. Meyers, Esq. is managing partner of Meyers & Meyers, LLP. David works with individuals, businesses and higher education institutions helping them resolve any issues regarding immigration, citizenship and naturalization for themselves or their employees.

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