David Bennion: March 2013 Archives

BTC protest Marco-Samuelito.jpg[Image: Steve Pavey]

Hundreds of undocumented and mixed-status families were reunited this week after ICE released people from immigration prisons en masse,
citing anticipated automatic budget cuts known as sequestration. In recent days, the White House has used its formidable political apparatus to play up the negative consequences of the sequester in an effort to maximize political damage to Republicans. Media reports told the story of drastic funding cuts to the Department of Homeland Security forcing the administration to release immigrants from prison. In reality, the sequester was likely an excuse, a convenient opportunity for the government to quiet growing criticism of Obama's longstanding policy of deporting record numbers of immigrants. Nevertheless, budget cuts to DHS mean that fewer fathers, mothers, husbands, and wives will be imprisoned and deported, which is good news for immigrant families.

The administration has stumbled from one public message to another regarding the prisoner releases this week. The initial message to the voting public was that immigrant prisoners were being released because of anticipated budget cuts, with the corollary that GOP hardliners were to blame for endangering public safety and national security. Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) called the White House's bluff and claimed that the White House was recklessly releasing dangerous people. DHS clarified that all of those released were "low-priority" individuals according to ICE's prosecutorial discretion guidelines. But in conceding that none of the people released were a threat to public safety, the administration effectively admitted that they should not have been locked up in the first place. It was a week of spin masquerading as policy.  

If the prison releases really were a direct result of DHS budget cuts, then long live the sequester! Military cuts, prison closures, family reunification--what's not to like?