Send criminals away, and not school girls

Freedom New Mexico

Oh, the outrage. President Barack Obama wants to deport criminals, before ousting school girls with immigration problems. The audacity of this man.

The Journal laid out last week the extraordinary similarities of Obama and former President George W. Bush, which speak poorly of each on most counts. These big-spending interventionists are the same on nearly all important issues, distinguished more by red-team/blue-team affiliation than anything of substance.

On one policy, however, we applaud the similarity. Each man has a rational approach to immigration.

Bush, a Texan fluent in Spanish, has an affinity for Mexico. As president, he wanted reasonable immigration reforms that would enable our country to benefit from productive, noncriminal aliens.

Obama’s immigration philosophy is nearly identical. He would like to see order at the border but refuses to demonize illegal immigrants and their kids. He understands that visas expire. He knows that crossing the border without permission is a misdemeanor, while subsequent residency is a noncriminal civil infraction. He views America’s immigration dilemma with a healthy perspective.

Talk radio hosts were riling up the masses last week because Obama said deportation efforts should focus on criminals. He was at a town hall meeting in a Washington school, when a student using Skype asked why students like her continue to receive deportation letters.

Obama said: “We have redesigned our enforcement practices under the law to make sure that we’re focusing primarily on criminals, and so our deportations of criminals are up about 70 percent. Our deportations of noncriminals are down, and that’s because we want to focus our resources on those folks who are destructive to the community. And for a young person like that young woman that we just spoke to, who’s going to school doing all the right things, we want them to succeed.”

The moderator asked if Obama could use an executive order to stop student deportations. Obama explained that it would “not conform with my appropriate role as president.”

“That does not mean, though, that we can’t make decisions, for example, to emphasize enforcement on those who’ve engaged in criminal activity,” Obama said.

That’s about as benign and commonsensical as a statement can be. Our country hasn’t the wherewithal to deport all illegal immigrants, but it can and should deport some. Our country, therefore, gets the most benefit by first deporting those who commit crimes. Lose the criminals, then worry about successful school girls.

Leading radio jocks and bloggers went berserk. How dare Obama suggest any of them succeed? The normally sound-minded radio host Jason Lewis told us they’re all criminals.

No, they are not. A student is not a criminal for overstaying a visa, not by any stretch. It is illegal to double park, but not a crime. Likewise, it is illegal to reside in the United States without permission, but not a crime. To focus deportation efforts on criminal immigrants is like placing more emphasis on drunken drivers than on jay walkers. We are a country of civil law and criminal law. Not all illegal activity is crime, and the vast majority of illegal immigrants have not been caught committing crimes. Let’s worry most about those who have. It’s common sense.

Bush and Obama are similar and weak. On immigration, they are wise and strong.