Rushing to Deport

Here’s another one for the “obsessive focus” file as the Center for Investigative Reporting shows that the Obama administration undertook a politically motivated deportation wave for the sake of a random talking point:

For much of this year, the Obama administration touted its tougher-than-ever approach to immigration enforcement, culminating in a record number of deportations. […]

When ICE officials realized in the final weeks of the fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, that the agency still was in jeopardy of falling short of last year’s mark, it scrambled to reach the goal. Officials quietly directed immigration officers to bypass backlogged immigration courts and time-consuming deportation hearings whenever possible, internal e-mails and interviews show.

The article focuses on a number of stats-juking methods undertaken in an effort to set the record. This is apparently not particularly unusual and I’m not particularly scandalized by it. The real problem, I would say, is simply with the goal. There’s no reason to think that setting about to undertake a record number of deportations was a good idea. It’s inhumane, it’s bad for economic recovery, and you don’t need to be a telepath to see that the motivation here was political rather than substantive. And while I of course don’t want to say that this is somehow the key to our present-day economic situation, the fact of the matter is that the administration’s main political problems today are attributable to the economy and not to messaging failures. And yet for the sake of messaging, the administration undertook a variety of initiatives that were counterproductive to the economy. This is one.