New Immigration Enforcement Policy – The Questions

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The Obama Administration has announced a new immigration enforcement policy that protects young, law-abiding, undocumented immigrants, who were brought to the U.S. as children, from deportation proceedings for two years, and makes them eligible to apply for work authorization.

Ted Simons: We continue our look at President Obama's plan to allow certain dream act eligible immigrants to stay and work in this country. State representative John Kavanagh is among those questioning the policy. Representative Kavanagh is a strong supporter of Arizona's tough immigration laws. Good to have you here. Are you questioning the policy or are you questioning the way the policy was enacted?

John Kavanagh: I'm questioning both. But let me first preface my remarks by saying the majority of Americans believe some accommodation has to be made for people brought here at a very young age, not by their own illegal voluntary act, but by something their parents did. Who have become Americanized who might not even speak the language of their home country. I'm among those people. I think an accommodation needs to be made. But this is the wrong accommodation, and the process I believe is dangerously flawed. It's unconstitutional. This is a bill which died in Congress, and presidents can't just take bills that died in Congress and create them by memo. What's going to happen next year with the same people who were staying mute and not criticizing President Obama, would they stay mute if a new president Romney said I don't like Obamacare so I'm not going to enact or administer it? You don't do it. We're a nation of laws.

Ted Simons: This also deals with laws, but in terms of prosecutorial discretion. You can't simply stop every person who Jay walks. Have you some discretion in terms of enforcement. Isn't that what we're dealing with here?

John Kavanagh: The Obama administration has shown it can stop a lot of people. The Obama administration has deported more people than any prior president, over a million. Beyond that, discretion is meant to be on a case-by-case basis, due to extenuating circumstances. This is a policy, this sets out four or five criteria that ought to be applied. It's the dream act minus the requirement for college. So he's enacting a law, and that's bad precedent.

Ted Simons: It's not exactly the dream act, it's a two-year deferrment. In two years the whole world could change.

John Kavanagh: One of the things I learned from my time in government, nothing ever ends in government. It will be two, four, six. Once you enact something it's extremely difficult to undo it.

Ted Simons: You said this was the wrong accommodation, and the wrong method. Why do you disagree?

John Kavanagh: Number one this, is not comprehensive. This contains no border security provisions, and that's a problem. This will induce even more people to come here illegally, because now there's an even wider open door to legal status. So we've done nothing about beefing up border security. In addition, we have no idea how many people will qualify. They're talking 800,000. In 1986, when we did the full amnesty, they said it would be a million. We ended up with 3.5 million people. The Pugh research institute estimates 11 million immigrants in this country. They also concede they're younger than the average population. I can't believe there's only 800,000 people who were qualify. You may be talking 2-3 million people. What's that going to do to our unemployment rate, and there's no money in this memo, because it's a memo, not a law, for any kind of administration. Your first -- one of your first guests spoke about in-depth background checks to make sure these are decent people. How are you going to do that kind of check if you have 2 million people making applications in the next six months?

Ted Simons: I think the other side would argue you've already got those people, if they're not check applications, they are checking records and deportation figures and documents as well.

John Kavanagh: We are not deporting 3 million people a year. This is a far greater task.

Ted Simons: I think what they would argue, you'd have to have a balance in terms of the bureaucracy.

John Kavanagh: The Obama administration was arguing they had to stop this process because they didn't have enough people to do that. So they can't have their cake and eat it. We can't have people sitting around waiting to legalize people, and when it suits them -

Ted Simons: There was concern at homeland security and with the border patrol regarding the initial -- this is an extension of what happened last year. The initial idea of prioritizing the bureaucratic -- leaving it the way it was was considered by some of those workers as a complete monumental load. This at least gives you guidelines to streamline the process, so they say.

John Kavanagh: I say that if not guidelines -- these are five specific criteria. If a person meets it, they get to stay. But beyond, that there's other problems. This is greatly increasing political polarization within the parties. You mentioned mark Rubio. He had his own program. He's been kicked out the door. If we believe the ultimate solution has to be bipartisan, this Frankly rather cheap political pre-election ploy by President Obama may give him short-term political capital in the Hispanic community, but in the long term it's going to hurt reasoned -- a reasonable conclusion of the immigration problem.

Ted Simons: If senator Rubio had a similar idea, does it matter who gets the credit?

John Kavanagh: It doesn't. But this is an idea that is supposed to be done in Congress with budgetary factions, with inputs. Supposed to be done legally by our constitution. Next year, well, we get a Republican president, what policies of the left don't we like that we won't enforce? It's a bad precedent.

Ted Simons: You mentioned how many people, and other not quite sure about the numbers. We know right now these folks could be deported, and you started by saying this doesn't make much sense. These are some of the best and brightest, they're succeeding, law abiding, they've tried to live an honest life, other than the fact they've been in the country illegally. Where do you draw the line? Where dot numbers stop and start? If it's 800,000 or 3.5 million, they're the same kids.

John Kavanagh: That's true. But the problem is, this is a memo with nothing to back it up in terms of logistical manpower, personnel, procedures, or anything. This is a political ploy here. And that's not the way you deal with a big issue like immigration.

Ted Simons: So what should Republicans do from here on in?

John Kavanagh: We have to oppose this. We have to get a new president in, and sit down and craft some reasonable accommodations for these young people.

Ted Simons: Do you think it's smart politically to oppose this?

John Kavanagh: Depends what party you're in.

Ted Simons: All right. We know what party you're in. It's always go good to see you.

Ted Simons: Tuesday, the Goldwater instance substitute back in court trying to stop the city of Glendale's lease agreement with the Phoenix coyotes. We'll talk with the goldwater's lead attorney in the case. Tuesday at 5:30 and 10:00 right here on "Arizona Horizon." That is it for now. I'm Ted Simons. Thank you so much for joining us. You have a great evening.

Rep. John Kavanagh:(R) Fountain Hills;

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