Shortly after the White House announced “new” policies with regards to individuals in removal proceedings and a case-by-case review of every matter on the removal docket, Cecilia Muñoz, Director of Intergovernmental Affairs, participated in a web-based question and answer session on the White House blog.
After reading the highlights of the session, I have come to the conclusion that despite the (1) whining from anti-immigrant groups that the announcement amounts to amnesty; (2) news reports declaring that tens of thousands will now receive work benefits; and (3) increased hope amongst immigrants, attorneys and advocates that someone had finally taken a step in a positive direction, it is very likely that no change whatsoever will come about as a result of the announcement.
For example, in addressing the concern that the new announcement did nothing to change anything for DREAM Act students who are not in removal proceedings, Ms. Muñoz stated, “[i]f they are low priority, it decreases the likelihood that they end up in deportation proceedings. The real fix is the DREAM Act.”
I in now way disagree with the statement, eventuallu Congress will need to pass legislation. The problem is that Ms. Muñoz proceeded to indicate in almost every one of her answers that partners in Congress were needed or that only comprehensive immigration reform could change things. This was the White House saying, “[w]e would love immigration reform, but Congress won’t do anything.”
In other words, the White House is passing the buck…again. The Administration made sure that everyone took notice of the announcement. They stressed that it was a change in policy despite the fact that it has been over two months since ICE Director John Morton issued his “prosecutorial discretion” memo that stated basically the same thing. With the exception of this poorly publicized Q & A session, no attempts have been made by the Administration to dispel the rumors that are running rampant throughout immigrant communities. They’ve been content to sit there and take credit all the credit, when in reality, the announcement was a restatement of exisiting policy coupled with a promise to look into things a little deeper.
Whether or not Ms. Muñoz is correct from a constitutional standpoint, the fact of the matter is that this Administration has shown no leadership on the issue of immigration reform whatsoever. Time and time again, it has made broad, vague announcements about policies and then does nothing when it really counts.
What is the President doing to round up “partners” in Congress? What is he doing to make sure ICE field agents and trial attorneys implement stated policies? After three years, the only honest answer I can put forward is nothing.