By: Danielle E. Huntley, Esq.
As I said in my last post on discretion and DREAMers, our current immigration system is unstable and flawed because it is wholly dependent on the whims of whoever is in charge of the executive branch. Mitt Romney’s latest statements that, if elected, he would end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program illustrates this point perfectly.
Romney stated first in the Denver Post:
"The people who have received the special visa that the president has put in place, which is a two-year visa, should expect that the visa would continue to be valid. I'm not going to take something that they've purchased," Romney said. "Before those visas have expired we will have the full immigration reform plan that I've proposed."
His campaign then clarified his statements following a request by the Boston Globe:
Responding to a Globe request to clarify Romney’s statement to the Denver Post, Romney’s campaign said he would honor deportation exemptions issued by the Obama administration before his inauguration but would not grant new ones after taking office.
The DACA program rests not in a statutory or even a regulatory framework it exists with the stroke of an executive pen and can die by the same. Coverage of Romney’s remarks can be found here, here, here and here.
The discretion problem is further illustrated by three different illegal immigrants in the news: Jose Antonio Vargas, Praq Rado and Qing Xiong Liu. Mr. Vargas, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist turned undocumented immigrant activist, was arrested in Minnesota for driving without a valid license. ICE declined to detain him or initiate proceedings against him. Mr. Rado was arrested by ICE on a train en route to the East Hampton Film Festival for a screening of a short film about his experience of coming to America. He was apparently ordered removed in 2007. Mr. Liu, a Brooklyn father of two small children, was on a bus to Indianapolis in search of work when his ID was checked by ICE who had pulled over the bus Mr. Liu was riding in for speeding. ICE detained him in an Ohio facility because he had not complied with a prior order of removal. Mr. Liu was recently released from custody and has been reunited with his family in Brooklyn.
Assuming that all three of these men have no criminal records or other mitigating factors against them, their disparate treatment is a result of which particular bureaucrat reviews their case. It creates a system that does not uphold the rule of law and is unfair to the immigrants, legal and otherwise, who interact with it.