Although comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship has strong bipartisan support — notably the Senate’s “gang of eight” — a bill would face its toughest climb in the House of Representatives, where conservatives are still cautious about embracing reform. At Congress’ first immigration hearing in the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, Republicans stacked the deck with anti-immigration activists and critics of reform.
One of those witnesses, President of the Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) union Chris Crane, sharply criticized the Obama administration for interfering with ICE procedures and deferring deportation of some DREAMers. But in an exchange with Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Crane went off script and admitted comprehensive reform that clarifies border security would help enforcement agents do their jobs:
JACKSON LEE: If we pass comprehensive immigration reform and we established once and for all the parameters of the law and it was the law, that would be more helpful to law enforcement, such as yourself, is that not correct?
CRANE: I guess in theory it would be, Ma’am. I guess it would, again, like everyone’s testified today, what this comprehensive immigration reform really means. [...]
JACKSON LEE: Well, political leaders dictate what the laws are on the books. and I appreciate that, as I said, I’m grateful for your service. I look forward to working with you extensively. But my question again, and I just need a yes or no, if we have laws on the books that are clear to you as a law enforcement officer, and help distinguish between those who are here, not to do us harm, families that need to be reunited, and make it clear, so you understand the distinction of enforcement and what your laws are, that would help you do your job, is that not correct?
CRANE: If I understand the question correctly, yes, it would, Ma’am.
Crane’s claims that Obama is too lenient on immigration enforcement has little founding: Deportation is actually at a record high under Obama, and there are more “boots on the ground” than ever before, while illegal immigration has decreased to net zero.