Opinion: President Obama’s Immigration Wait And See Looks To Maximize Political Impact

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President Obama’s latest Rose Garden immigration announcement has left reform advocates scratching their heads while exhaling a heavy sigh of disappointment. The President spent most of his speech blaming Republicans for not passing immigration reform. When he was done finger pointing, he revealed that he has ordered the transition of interior immigration enforcement resources to the southern border, and that he has requested recommendations by the end of summer on what unilateral steps he can take to stem the tide of his record deportations. In sum, he merely promised to think about what he may do to stop deportations at some unspecified date in the future.

The question becomes, why does the President need the rest of the summer to determine what actions he may take that are constitutionally permissible? Over the past two years he has been provided numerous suggestions from a crowd of sources including immigration lawyers, think tanks, reform advocates, members of his own party, and from undocumented immigrants themselves. So why does he need more time before taking action, and more importantly what has he been doing the last month since postponing the deportation review other than wasting time?

What Mr. Obama doesn't seem to comprehend is that Latinos have long figured out that immigration has always been about politics to this President, and they simply are tired of waiting while their communities are destroyed.

— Matthew Kolken

The answer to me is clear: President Obama is delaying the expansion of prosecutorial discretion initiatives to time their announcement as close to the midterm elections as possible to maximize their political impact. In the meantime, while we wait for the President’s next Rose Garden press conference, tens of thousands of immigrants that could potentially benefit will be deported. What adds to the frustration is that the President spent the better part of his presidency claiming he does not maintain the constitutional authority to stop the deportation carnage, which he clearly does, as evidenced by the previous steps he has taken to provide both temporary and permanent deportation relief to specific classes of individuals.

To compound matters, this all comes on the heels of the President’s request for two billion dollars of additional resources to enable his administration to quickly and expeditiously deport the wave of unaccompanied children from Central America that have flooded the border.

The response to this request has been swift and harsh.

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Recently installed American Immigration Lawyers Association President Leslie Holman called the president’s decision “unconscionable” explaining that “rapid deportations without any meaningful hearing for children who are rightly afraid of the violence and turmoil from which they fled is wrong, and contradicts the fundamental values of this nation.”

On social media, former Board of Immigration Appeals judge Lory Diana Rosenberg expressed shock and outrage stating that “the efforts being made to ignore our protection obligations and to eliminate the due process rights of children from Central America - to have a credible fear examination, to be considered for humanitarian parole, to be reunited with parents and family in the U.S. is abominable, cruel and inhumane.”

Unfortunately, the President’s desire to rapidly deport children without due process isn't the only thing his administration is doing that is cruel and inhumane. A complaint has recently been filed on behalf of 116 unaccompanied immigrant children ages five to seventeen alleging torture, abuse, and mistreatment by agents of the Obama administration while being held in the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Examples cited include physical abuse and beatings, sexual assault, racist and sexist insults, death threats, denial of urgent medical care and medication, theft, prolonged sleep deprivation, extended exposure to excessively cold temperatures, and the employment of tight metal restraints to inflict pain into wrists and ankles, as well as the denial of adequate food and water. This is the Obama administration's Abu Ghraib, only the abuses are on U.S. soil, and the tortured are children.

Suffice it to say the president doesn't need Republicans to act on immigration reform to clean up the mess in his own house, and he certainly doesn't need the rest of the summer to ensure the abuses are eliminated, and the abusers prosecuted.

The bottom line is that this President has been dragging his feet to provide deportation relief under the pretext that he was allowing the Republicans to act, when it has become blatantly obvious that they never had any intention to pass immigration reform. Betting on them was as much political folly as it is political suicide because unless the President enacts bold measures that provide deportation relief to the majority of the undocumented population you can rest assured that the Hispanic electorate will not come out to support his party this fall.

What Mr. Obama doesn't seem to comprehend is that Latinos have long figured out that immigration has always been about politics to this President, and they simply are tired of waiting while their communities are destroyed.