Backward Steps on Immigration reform

The Obama administration and Congressional leaders are saying they are pushing for comprehensive immigration reform. But this week in Washington, we saw the too familiar pandering to conservatives on immigration.

On Wednesday, organizations advocating for sensible and humane policy changes praised the administration’s decision to rescind what is known as the “no-match” rule. A day later, the Senate passed an amendment overturning the Department of Homeland Security’s move.

DHS was attempting to end the practice of sending social security no-match letters to employers with workers whose numbers don’t match a federal database. Numerous critics, and even federal agencies, have repeatedly pointed out the litany of problems with this policy, among them the reliance on a flawed database that would cause workers to be unnecessarily dismissed.

The use of no-match letters is one of a series of moves to sweep more federal polices into an umbrella of immigration enforcement. The Senate did not stop there. More harsh and flawed enforcement-only measures were included – with cooperative Democrats in some cases -- in an appropriations bill for DHS.

Outrageously, the Democratic administration also rolled backwards on yet another bad policy. Yesterday, DHS announced that it would extend the 287G program, which deputizes local law enforcement as immigration agents. This, despite extensive research showing how this roundup and deportation program has run roughshod over civil and human rights and undermines public safety.

In the 1990's, Democrats caved into shortsighted immigration policies that laid the seeds for some of the existing problems with our system. Democrats should learn from those lessons and be sharply reminded by advocacy organizations that the road to comprehensive immigration reform is not laid with thorny, piecemeal gestures to conservatives at the expense of immigrants.

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