Why John Boehner’s excuse for blocking immigration reform doesn’t hold water

Immigrants ICEHouse Speaker John Boehner’s most recent delay tactic in preventing passage of an immigration reform bill has been to state that Republicans have “widespread doubt about whether [the Obama] administration can be trusted to enforce our laws.”  As anyone paying attention to the immigration debate is aware, this is a ridiculous statement—the Obama administration has steadily increased the number of deportations conducted compared to previous administrations.  The most recent statistics show that almost 420,000 immigrants were deported in fiscal year 2012, more immigrants deported in a single year by any president.

A recent essay in the D.C. news website The Hill by a retired immigration judge makes a powerful argument against that ridiculous claim.  Retired Judge John Gossart, Jr. remarks:

“In my thirty-one years as a United States immigration judge, I have never had as many people come through my courtroom as I have over the last six years. During this time, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of non-citizens that the United States detains and deports, and the detained number of individuals appearing in immigration courts today is unprecedented. The administration has indisputably increased immigration enforcement in communities across the country, partnering with local law enforcement to pursue an aggressive deportation program that has resulted in nearly 2 million deportations in the last six years.”

Judge Gossart also makes the excellent, and too-often-ignored point that these are not just undocumented immigrants coming through his courts to be deported.  Many people do not understand that legal permanent residents (“green card holders”) are also subject to deportation, for even minor crimes.

Judge Gossart relates the story of a young Cambodian immigrant and successful college student who has lived lawfully in the United States since she was one year old.  After she served a 3-month jail sentence for possessing a few pills of ecstasy, he was required to deport her to a country she does not remember, and where she knows no one, because the immigration laws do not allow him any discretion to consider her individual circumstances.

Nearly all of the discussion surrounding immigration reform has been about whether undocumented immigrants should have a path to citizenship, and certainly we must find a way for immigrants who put down roots in our communities to fully participate in our American society.  But Judge Gossart’s piece also highlights that the deportation machine entraps lawfully present immigrants and U.S. citizen family members as well.  This enforcement-on-steroids approach is costing us billions of dollars a year, and tearing apart families and communities in the process.

It’s time for an immigration system that is fair and humane, and that looks at each immigrant as an individual – rewarding their contributions and recognizing their individual flaws and achievements. And it’s also time for Speaker Boehner and other reform opponents to stop the myth-making about the current enforcement regime that is, if anything, unnecessarily harsh.


  1. Dave Francis

    February 27, 2014 at 7:37 pm

    Surely YOU want to know the truth about troubling issues that effect Americans every day, which the Liberal mainstream press intentionally censors from their columns daily. Then join the millions of more new converts to the TEA PARTY dot org that are fleeing in droves the GOP establishment and the Democratic parties. THE TEA PARTY represents ALL the people, by birthright and who came to America LEGALLY.

    EUGENE VOLOKH wrote in the Washington Post: Immigration also has many possible costs (economic, social, national security, domestic security, and liberty and congestion costs). These benefits and costs vary by type of immigrant — well-educated vs. uneducated, rich vs. poor, single vs. family, old vs. young, from countries in which there is a substantial amount of militant hostility against the U.S. vs. from other countries, and so on — often in complex ways.

    With 10 million Americans out-of-work; 6 million employed on a part time basis how Congress can rationalize giving entry visas to more immigrants. America has already erupted in abject poverty, so are we going to import 30 million more?

    Do NOT underestimate the TEA PARTY, as next MAY there is going to be a call to Arms; a March of millions of Tea Party patriots, reminiscent of the African American March back in October 16th, 1995 to the steps of the Capitol.

    1. Illegal aliens are here illegally and should be deported. NO MORE AMNESTIES.
    2. Pro-domestic employment is indispensable.
    3. A strong military is essential.
    4. Special interests must be eliminated from influencing Senators and Congressman that is corrupting the principles of the Oath of office.
    5. Gun ownership is sacred.
    6. Government must be downsized.
    7. The national budget must be balanced.
    8. Deficit spending must end.
    9. Bailout and stimulus plans are illegal.
    10. Reducing personal income taxes is a must. Abolish the IRS agency altogether and introduce a FAIR and Equitable tax FLAT TAX.
    11. Reducing business income taxes is mandatory.
    12. Political offices must be available to average citizens.
    13. Intrusive government must be stopped.
    14. English as our core language is required.
    15. Traditional family values are encouraged

    The TEA PARTY mission is to bring awareness to any issue which challenges the security, sovereignty or domestic tranquility of our beloved nation. Join the mega-millions in the TEA PARTY dot org and bring an end to the monopoly of the Democrats and Republicans. Stop the destruction of our beloved nation.

  2. Alan

    February 27, 2014 at 10:51 pm

    “Join the mega-millions in the TEA PARTY” You have to be kidding, right? You are perhaps the most despised bunch of bigots, racists, homophobes (and part-time civil war reanactors) this country has to offer. This is 2014, not 1814.

    No surprise that the Tea-Party favorabilty ratings are at an all time low.

  3. Carolyn Haywood

    February 28, 2014 at 9:27 am

    I agree with Alan. I am sick to death of the tea party, who would, if they had their way, reduce this great nation to a backward 3rd world country populated with ignorant, finger -on-the-trigger rubes with corporate overlords.

  4. Jack

    February 28, 2014 at 2:48 pm

    Perhaps the MAY Tea-Party call to Arms is more reminiscent of the KKK march on Washington in 1928.

  5. LayintheSmakDown

    March 2, 2014 at 5:15 pm

    Leave it to Allan/ML to just start, and end, with an ad hominem attack that has no bearing on any reality. Quite representative of his admission a few weeks ago that all his posts are just crazy talk.

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