I just read a great editorial on OrganizingUpgrade.com that questions the viability of the administration's new deportation review policy. It puts things in proper perspective:
So the questions remain.
Who is going to be carrying out this new case-by-case review? Is it going to be the ICE agents whose union doesn’t want to use its discretionary power and calls this a “back door amnesty?” What is their incentive to review cases fairly?
And when the administration says that they will focus on “criminals”, what do they mean? Isn’t immigration policy the same set of laws that famously calls people “aggravated felons” for things that are neither aggravated nor felonies? Isn’t ICE the same agency that deported thousands of suspected “terrorists” after 9/11 that were never really terrorists? And don’t ICE’s “worst of the worst” categories include a Baptist pastor with a 16 year old conviction from when he was homeless, a Gulf War Veteran with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder who was arrested for marijuana possession after his wife died, and a 36-year-old youth community worker who helps young people stay away from the mistakes he made as a 16 year old? If the Administration is really turning over a new leaf, does that mean ICE is turning over a new leaf?
And then there is what the Obama Administration still refuses to do. It still refuses to create enforceable standards for how it treats immigrants in detention so that they don’t die in custody. The administration still refuses to reign in the deputized powers it gives to bad sheriffs with long lists of civil rights complaints like the real-life Boss-Hog, Joe Arpaio. The Administration still refuses to call of its “creepy” Secure Communities program, which is looking more and more like the first step of a science fiction-like national database that may one day include everyone.
I agree with the author, the administration is taking the first baby step towards a more humane and just deportation policy. That being said, we are a long, long way from seeing any real reform.
At least it is something to build on.