The many Hispanics that voted for Barack Obama anticipated as president he would move quickly to propose an immigration overhaul that would provide a legalization process. They have been disappointed that the economy, global warming and health care reform pushed immigration back in his agenda. But the administrative moves he has made are also disappointing. His stress has been as much on enforcement as the Bush administration in an attempt to convince the American public that he will not condone violations of the law. While he has cut down on ICE plant raids, Obama in other way has not only continues, but actually accelerated nefarious Bush policies. In April of this year, for example, the number of federal criminal prosecutions has increased by a third. Homeland Security has continued to favor the flawed E-verify system -- checking of employees' Social Security numbers in which "no-matches" will lead to dismissal. The administration has asked for more money to "perfect the system" and now requires it of all private contractors doing business with the government. Rather than wrapping up its 287(g) program that promotes collaboration between ICE and local police -- which Homeland Secretary Janet Napolitano knows first-hand is much abused by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio -- it is expanding. ICE still gets reports from local jails on the immigration status of all prisoners -- even those brought in solely for DUI. Napolitano justifies "expanding enforcement" because now it's being done "in the right way".
President Obama himself is not taking the heat from immigration activists. They do recognize that other issues take priority on his legislative agenda and seem satisfied that he will take up immigration before the new year. Much of their disappointment has transferred to Janet Napolitano. Apparently, the adminstratioin has convinced itself that it can't look soft on illegal immigration. Senator Chrles Schumer (D, NY)' who will lead writing the new bill, approves of the direction of enforcement and would extend E-verification to an universal ID card for all workers. Even he counsels his Democratic colleagues to drop the euphemism "undocumented" for "illegal". As for the GOP, it does seem impressed by Obama's recent moves. Senator John McCain (R, AZ) threatens to sit out the debate unless the administration pursues this strong enforcement policy. So the fight for comprehensive reform may split much as the health care reform has shaped up -- nay-saying from most Republicans and timidity from many Democrats. The Blue Dogs in the House have as many problems with the national party on immigration as it does on health care. (See New York Times article.)
HELD HOSTAGE IN COMPTON, CA
An immigrant's trip to the U.S. from Mexico or Guatemala without papers has always been perolous. Now that drug related gangs are pushing into the turf of the coyotes and supplementing lost drug income with people trafficking, the trip is becoming even more dangerous. Often a successful crossing ends in being held hostage in Phoenix, or LA, or Compton. (see Los Angeles Times article.)