Photo: ICE Releases detainees
Further evidence of the nation’s dysfunctional immigration system was on display this week, when ICE–in anticipation of the upcoming sequester–released several hundred immigrants from their detention facilities. It’s unclear where this policy came from, but immigrants–who have been the focus of decades of political battles–are now being used as a weapon in the debate over the federal budget. This has to end. And the way to end it is passing immigration reform.
According to a report in the New York Times, an ICE spokesperson said “the detainees selected for release were ‘noncriminals and other low-risk offenders who do not have serious criminal histories.’” That, of course, begs the question of why those people were in detention facilities in the first place. Over the past four years, the Obama administration has broken records with its massive deportation operation. Many of those people — and people in detention facilities — are the very people the President said he wants to become citizens. This has to be fixed. Now.
On the other hand, the usual anti-immigrant loud mouths, like Senator Jeff Sessions, are licking their chops over this news, trying to turn it into yet another weapon in their vendetta against immigration reform. They want to stop the momentum for reform and will use any and every opportunity.
Fortunately, there are continuing signs of progress. Yesterday, President Obama held his first face-to-face meeting on immigration reform with Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham. We learned via Twitter that McCain told reporters the meeting was “excellent,” while Graham said it “was perhaps the best he’s ever had with the president.” We’re expecting to see legislation from the Senate “Gang of Eight” within the next few weeks.
There are going to be roadblocks and detours on the road to reform–pushed by rogue ICE agents, the John Tanton network of nativist groups and hard-core anti-immigrant legislators. But the American people want the immigration issue solved. Democrats promised to do that–and Republicans need to do it