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Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal

Immigration Overhaul Unlikely but you can Bank on More Enforcement in 2011

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The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) has issued a press release voicing the fear "that prospects for broad immigration legislation in the 112th Congress will remain stalled, with new House leadership expected to press for increased border security and intensive enforcement actions." 


The cold harsh reality is that any chance we had to reform our beyond broken immigration laws died when President Obama, and the Democratic leadership in Congress made a conscious decision to push aside the issue in favor of health-care reform.  This decision spelled the end of immigration reform in President Obama's first term. Period.


We are now facing gridlock in Washington, and an enforcement-centric immigration policy that is driven by the Obama administration and supported by the Republicans who control one-half of Congress.  The statistics reveal that President Obama has "deported" just under 800,000 people since he took office.  What these statistics don't include is the number of people who have been forcibly removed from the United States under a grant of voluntary departure.  


Voluntary departure is a euphemism for voluntary deportation. Although an individual may avoid the stigma of an order of deportation if they are granted voluntary departure, the individual MUST LEAVE the United States, and there is nothing voluntary about it.


In 2009, 580,000 people were allowed to return to their native countries without the stigma of an order of deportation.  If you add the number of voluntary departures to the number of deportations, I estimate that you are probably closer to 2 million people being forcibly removed from the United States since Obama's election.  When all is said and done, 4 million will be removed by the end of Obama's first term.  I hate to be a Debby Downer, but on the immigration reform front the "Hope and Change" that was promised during the campaign of 2008 was really nothing more than a "Bait and Switch."


As for the DREAM Act, there is still a small part of me that hopes that it can pass during the lame duck session.  This is little more than wishful thinking on my part.  We shall see if Harry Reid stands by his campaign promise of 2010.  I'm not holding my breath.

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