Rep. Steve King has been threatening to sue the Obama Administration over their new directive to stop deportation proceedings and instead offer work permits to DREAM-eligible undocumented immigrants. King continued that threat yesterday.
KING:I want to stop the bleeding at the border. I want to shut off the job magnet. I want to force the president to enforce the law and this litigation that I’m bringing forward that will be filed sometime soon will be asking for a writ of mandamus to command the president to enforce the law. That’s a constitutional provision we can implement. We know the president doesn’t want to enforce it. He’s said he will not.
But before King goes too far down the road, he might want to stop for a second and wait and see if the Administration actually implements what they’ve promised. Their track record, particularly in the area of immigration and deportation, is a bit shabby, you see.
For instance, the last big Administration initiative on this front was to initiate a comprehensive review of all 300,000 cases in the deportation pipeline. This was going to stop the deportations of everyone but known criminals. But the follow-through simply hasn’t occurred.
But since then, prosecutors have opted to close 1.9 percent of the nearly 300,000 cases in the immigration court system, according to the latest data released last week by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, or TRAC, at Syracuse University. In San Francisco, prosecutors closed 2.9 percent of cases.
A large backlog remains, and immigration rights advocates question whether prosecutors are doing enough to dismiss low-priority cases.
The number of closed cases is “abysmally low for the number of cases pending,” said Jackie Shull-Gonzalez, an attorney with Dolores Street Community Services in San Francisco, who has taken on Candia’s case.
Prosecutors have closed 4,360 cases and reviewed 288,000 since Morton issued his directive last year, according to ICE. The closed cases include 3,302 people with “a long-term presence” in the country and a close family member who is a U.S. citizen; 303 children who had been in the U.S. for more than five years; 10 individuals with good records from the Coast Guard or Army; and 91 victims of domestic violence, human trafficking and other serious crimes, the agency said.
“Obviously ICE disagrees with those who are characterizing this ongoing effort as a failure,” ICE spokeswoman Virginia Kice wrote in an email to The Bay Citizen. “The ongoing case-by-case review is helping to alleviate backlogged immigration courts and enabling ICE to more quickly remove those individuals who pose the greatest threat to public safety.”
If this is a successful program, we have a big problem with metrics in the federal bureaucracy. 4,360 closed cases in a year is infinitesimal. Immigrants rights advocates say that the subjects being reviewed for deportation are routinely denied access to counsel, and this makes the reviews little more than cursory. What we know is that it failed to stop the deportations of all undocumented immigrants, and not just criminals, in 2011.
Now, the DREAM deferred action order works a bit differently, in that eligible immigrants can affirmatively apply rather than having to mount a defense while under lock and key. However, the track record of implementation of these immigration matters is really awful. Something gets lost in translation on the way to ICE.
So before King goes through all the trouble of suing to get the Administration to enforce the law, he might want to see if they already are.