lots of kudos for his supposed efforts on immigration reform, even as his administration spends billions of dollars to chase them out of the country. It's an apparent case of a politician gazing DREAMily out at the country and asking, with a winning smile, "Who are you gonna believe? Me? Or your lying eyes?" Now we find that Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have made a specific goal of high deportation figures, and have resorted to using even the most trivial of offenses, including traffic violations, as an excuse to hustle people across the border.President Obama gets
Writing for USA Today, Brad Heath waded through e-mails extracted from the feds by the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina under the Freedom of Information Act. He found:
U.S. immigration officials laid out plans last year that would ratchet up expulsions of immigrants convicted of minor crimes as part of an urgent push to make sure the government would not fall short of its criminal deportation targets, new records obtained by USA TODAY show.
Among those new tactics — detailed in interviews and internal e-mails — were trolling state driver's license records for information about foreign-born applicants, dispatching U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents to traffic safety checkpoints conducted by police departments, and processing more illegal immigrants who had been booked into jails for low-level offenses. Records show ICE officials in Washington approved some of those steps.
Why the emphasis? It's all about numbers. Heath quotes an April 2012 email from David J. Venturella, Assistant Director of Field Operations for the Office of Enforcement & Removal Operations:
ATL [Atlanta] is about 1200 criminal removals under when compared to last year. Please implement your initiatives and reallocate all available resources. The only performance measure that will count this fiscal year is the criminal alien removal target.
The effort apparently worked, since ICE had deported 225,390 "criminal" immigrants by the time the fiscal year ended in September. Those crimes? Writes Heath:
ICE has not specified how many of those deportations were based on minor offenses; the year before, it reported that more than a quarter of the people it classified as criminals had been convicted only of traffic offenses.
Traffic offenses? The ACLU points out that ICE agents have been hanging around seatbelt checkpoints to make their immigration busts. Because there's nothing more dangerous to the United States than an unbuckled scofflaw.