Obama budget makes radical cuts in immigration enforcement

The Obama administration now wants to advance its amnesty-loving ways through its FY 2013 budget proposal.

As every Washington insider knows, policy measures mean something, but the best way to accomplish things is with money. Allocating more dollars or fewer dollars, beefing up funds for one program and cutting spending on something else. That’s how Washington really works.

True to form, Obama’s budget for next year would curb immigration enforcement. It would further disarm our vulnerable border. It would effectively accomplish de facto amnesty for many more foreigners.

Detention beds cut

For one, Obama’s Homeland Security budget reduces the funding for detention space. DHS wants to drop available bed spaces for detaining removable aliens from 34,000 to 32,800.

While 1,200 beds might not seem like a huge number, keep in mind that more than 70 percent of detained aliens remain in detention for less than one month. Thus, the number of aliens in those 1,200 beds over a year’s time far exceeds 14,000.

In 1996, Congress required that most removable aliens be detained. Congress took that step for one reason: Most aliens who were released never showed up for their deportation hearings.

Since 1996, 40 percent of non-detained aliens facing removal simply disappear into the U.S. landscape, the Justice Department has found. Immigration and Customs Enforcement testified to Congress in 2007 that 90 percent of aliens let out of detention never show up for their immigration hearings. Today, some 480,000 alien absconders remain at large.

The Justice Department’s inspector general reports that detention works, pointing out that 94 percent of detained aliens under a final order of removal are actually deported. Only 11 percent of aliens not held in detention with final orders of removal get deported. That’s why Obama wants less detention. He wants more illegal aliens on American streets.

Local-federal cooperation cut

Congress created the 287(g) program in 1996 to enable state and local law enforcement personnel to play a bigger role when immigrants cross their paths. But the Obama administration in 2009 made 287(g) more onerous and much less responsive to local police and local challenges.

Now, Obama slashes the 287(g) program budget by one-fourth. It’s no fluke that state and local 287(g) agencies have identified many thousands of illegal and criminal aliens. After all, 287(g) strengthens the hands of our communities’ eyes and ears.

Obama’s anti-enforcement zealots also have refused to enlist any more local police departments in the program. However, Congress’s intent with 287(g) was to give states and localities a meaningful tool to demand federal cooperation in cases involving aliens. Thus 287(g) has been the answer to ending federal refusal to respond when a sheriff’s deputy calls the feds with a truckload of illegal aliens in hand.

US-VISIT neutered

Another victim of the Obama budget is the US-VISIT program. This entry-exit system records foreigners’ biometrics as they come into and leave the country.

The data from US-VISIT help immeasurably in identifying foreign terrorists, enmeshing criminal aliens and supporting enforcement through a range of other programs. Obama’s approach here would deprive enforcement agencies of vital data sources for carrying out their missions.

The administration budget splits up the program’s functions from a single office that operates it into two ill-fitting new homes: Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. This literally implements a divide-and-conquer strategy to neuter US-VISIT.

REAL ID zeroed out

Obama asks for zero funds for the REAL ID Act. This valuable law set uniform security standards for forms of identification such as driver’s licenses.

This administration has already delayed and delayed the deadline for the law’s standards to become effective. REAL ID became law six years ago, so there’s no telling how many illegal aliens and terrorists might have acquired valid IDs in the meantime.

No expanded visa security program

The administration doesn’t want any more funding to expand the Visa Security Program. Only 19 of the 50 biggest threat locations have VSP screening resources.

At these high-security-risk locations, every visa applicant undergoes extra close scrutiny at American consulates. Keeping terrorists from getting visas in the first place rather well guarantees that they won’t step foot in this country.

‘Border Security Index’ charade

The Obama budget does seek funds to create a so-called “border security index.” This amounts to a smoke-and-mirrors charade to try to fool the public into believing that the dangerous Southwestern border is more secure than it actually is.

In short, the Obama budget plan undercuts immigration enforcement and border security. It advances the administrative amnesty policies Obama has already put into place over the past two years.

No wonder the Center for Immigration Studies has estimated that the illegal alien population stopped its decline once Obama took office. In contrast, one million illegals had left the country in the final year of the Bush administration.