In what promises to be a spirited exchange, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson testifies this morning before a House committee in defense of President Obama’s immigration-reform policies. (Live video here) As a result of Obama’s actions, those who have been here for five years or longer, who have a child who is a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident and who have no criminal record — all three conditions must be met — will be eligible for a temporary deferral of deportation.
“The reality is that, given our limited resources, these people are not priorities for removal — it’s time we acknowledge that and encourage them to be held accountable,” Johnson just told the GOP-led committee. “This is simple common sense.”
Does anyone seriously question that?
In 2013, the government deported a record number of those here illegally, a 21.6 percent increase in deportations since 2008. That came after a record number of deportations in 2012, actions that have drawn harsh criticism of the Obama administration by Latino groups that would otherwise be its allies.
The problem is that with more than 11 million here illegally, it’s hard to put much of a dent in the illegal-immigrant population by deporting some 400,000 a year. As Johnson argues, it’s common sense to focus finite deportation resources to where they will do the most good.**
And where will they do the most good?
If you want to discourage new illegal immigrants, it’s common sense to focus enforcement efforts on those who are newly arrived. It’s common sense to focus deportation resources on those who have broken the law, and common sense and simple humanity to focus on those without legal family ties to this country.
** It’s standard law-enforcement doctrine to focus limited resources on the worst, most dangerous offenders. It’s illegal to drive faster than 65 mph on most interstates, for example, but most traffic stops are focused on those who drive faster than 80 or 85 mph.