Debate Swirls Around Immigration Reform as Deportations Drop

| by Allison Geller

Government enforcement of immigration laws targeting illegal immigrants and foreign criminals has dropped off by 11 percent since 2012, reported the Daily Caller, stirring up debate over President Obama’s proposed immigration reform.

Deportations continue to take place regularly in the Midwest, reported USA Today, but officials are now targeting illegal immigrants who are in the prison system.

This marks a change from the deportation “sweeps” carried out in the 1990s, when employees were routinely apprehended in the workplace and forced onto waiting busses to be deported.

“There was backlash, children being left behind,” said Laurie Martinez, who works with immigrants through the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay, Wis. “ICE will still do roundups, where they’re looking for several individuals, and we usually hear about it a week after. But you don’t hear much of them going to employers.

“Now it seems to be they’re targeting people in jail, in the prison system.”

The decline in deportations raises doubts by conservative Congress members over President Obama’s proposed immigration reform. The Senate bill, which passed in June, would provide amnesty to 11 million illegal immigrants, as well as doubling the annual immigration rate of one million, reported the Daily Caller.

“I’m told that ‘If you like your health-care plan you can keep it,’” said Pennsylvania Rep. Lou Barletta, a Republican whose constituents elected him to Congress after he reduced illegal immigration in his town. “I also hear that ‘Our borders are more secure that ever.’”

These claims, Barletta said in his statement at the National Press Club in Washington, are “nothing more than smoke and mirrors to set the stage for an amnesty bill.”

Immigration activists, on the other hand, are increasing protest measures as they await President Obama’s promised immigration reform. The DREAM 9 and DREAM 30 activist groups are using civil disobedience protests to draw attention to the stalled reform measures, reported Think Progress.

The “DREAM” groups consist of youth who came to the United States illegally as children, and have since been deported to their home countries. They have tested out the administration’s policies by re-entering the United States, citing “credible fear” in their countries of origin.

According to the Applied Research Center, a racial justice think tank, immigrants without criminal charges are still being deported and forced to abandon their families, reported CNN. Around 5,100 children in 22 states have been separated from their parents due to detainment and deportation and are currently living in foster care.