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The truth about the Obama White House and illegal immigration

May 20, 2010 - Mike Maneval

A common utterance from many in the media and in political office who defend Arizona's recent state legislation addressing illegal immigration is that the state's course stems from the inaction of the federal government. Columnist Michelle Malkin says Arizona is doing "the job the federal government won’t do — taking immigration enforcement and border security seriously." Former Alaska governor and Fox News personality Sarah Palin instructs the man who defeated her in November, 2008, "President: Do you job. Secure the border." David Harsanyi, columnist and author of "Nanny State," opines that "the systematic failure of federal government to enforce the law or offer rational policy" motivates support for the legislation. Even USA Today, while arguing the Arizona law is ugly, editorialized in late April that states and communities were "fed up with Washington's inaction."

But are the claims and insinuations about the Obama administration neglecting illegal immigration accurate? No.

More than 500 miles of the border fence have been built in Arizona and Texas since 2008, according to the website of ABC News. The e-verify system employers can use to authenticate the legal residency of workers was mandated for contractors and subcontractors in 2009, according to the website of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Unless a last-minute delay is again coming down from the department, Friday - tomorrow - the program will be mandatory for many more employers.

Perhaps most notably, blogger Dan Froomkin of the Huffington Post reports today that the Obama administration deported 100,000 more illegal immigrants in 2009 than the Bush administration deported in any year of its tenure. The Obama administration is on course to deport about 150,000 illegal immigrants who've violated other laws during their time in the U.S. in 2010. In 2006, the last year the Republicans controlled the White House, Senate, and U.S. House, federal agents deported fewer than 100,000 illegal immigrants who had violated additional laws.

Are there more steps, or better steps, the federal government could take to stem the tide of illegal immigration? Yes, of course - the e-verify program, the Los Angeles Times reported back in March, is riddled with errors and needs improvement. Also, wider implementation of the system to crack down on employer-accomplices to illegal immigration has been stymied and delayed, in part due to a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The administration could do more. But claims the federal government is lethargic in confronting illegal immigration are little more than misleading hyperbole when the facts are that Obama's government deports more illegal immigrants than his predecessor's.


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