The Obama administration says its new deportation policy will
focus only on the worst criminals, not college kids and maids. But
that could make the jobs of law enforcement - from local cops to
federal agents - much more complicated.
Sheriff Neil Warren, dubbed "Wild West Warren" by pro-
immigration groups, has racked up nearly 15,000 immigration-related
arrests in Cobb Country north of Atlanta. A new deportation policy
announced Thursday by the Department of Homeland Security could mean
that many of those arrested by Mr. Warren may not only get out of
jail, but could go back to Cobb County with a legal work visa in
Responding to criticism that the US deportation net has been cast
too wide - sweeping up college kids, grandparents, and other
noncriminal illegals - the Obama administration on Thursday
formalized new rules that could mean release for many of the 300,000
people currently facing deportation in the US. Its goal will be to
focus on deporting only the worst and most hardened criminals.
The move centers on prosecutorial discretion, with the Obama
administration deciding whom it will and won't deport. Clearly, the
shift has political ramifications, with Latino groups lauding the
decision and conservative critics calling it a backdoor
But perhaps more important to Main Street America is the question
of how the new policy will affect police departments, primarily in
the West and Southeast. Many of these departments have used federal
programs as a means to arrest every illegal immigrant they come
across. Now, the Department of Homeland Security's announcement
introduces new uncertainty about whether many of those arrested will
simply be sent back.
It is further proof that, until comprehensive immigration reform
passes Congress, states and federal agencies will continue to nibble
at the issue with different and often contradictory measures. In the
meantime, the latest move makes for a "law enforcement nightmare,"
says the union that represents US Immigration and Customs
Enforcement (ICE) personnel.
"We've got this massive net out there catching people, and there
are a lot of inconsistencies in how programs are being implemented
at the local level," says Wendy Sefsaf, a spokeswoman for the
American Immigration Council, which advocates for comprehensive
immigration reform. "How it will all play out is the huge million-
dollar question, because so far the administration's goal of only
deporting the worst of the worst hasn't worked out terribly well."
Immigration advocacy groups have lashed out at President Obama,
who has deported record numbers of illegal immigrants. …