I recently wrote a blog summarizing why I believe that using the pardon power as a form of amnesty for millions of illegal aliens isn't a good bet.
In that blog, I cited the difference between using executive clemency to, say, forgive discrete criminal offenses such as illegal entry into the United States, and to attempt to use it for the continuing civil offense of unlawful presence, which is fundamentally what being an illegal alien in the United States subject to deportation is all about.
I must have been channeling my inner Obama administration official because, as outlined in an excoriating letter Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) has written to Attorney General Eric Holder, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, and United States Attorney for the District of Arizona John Leonardo, it appears that Leonardo has been instructed not to accept for prosecution any criminal charges for illegal entry into the United States.
When considering the impact of a crime that, for a first offense is a misdemeanor, it's important to remember that the U.S. Attorney's Office in Arizona covers some of the most heavily trafficked illegal crossing corridors on the Southwest border. Smuggling of humans and contraband is a daily activity, as are all of the multiplicity of additional crimes that arise from such offenses — sexual and physical assault, murder, extortion, and holding of hostages for additional smuggling fees, you name it.
We also don't know whether the directive to U.S. Attorney Leonardo was also repeated elsewhere throughout other U.S. attorney's offices all across the southern border with Mexico, since Rep. Gosar only discovered the fact from a local sheriff after the sheriff was briefed by Border Patrol officials, although I suspect we will find out about that in the fullness of time — and almost certainly not by officials of this administration, who appear to work best when concealing the facts from a restive public and Congress.
In confronting the daily reality of a border that is still out of control, notwithstanding whatever the administration tells us, U.S. Border Patrol officials in Arizona and elsewhere have developed a strategy designed to deter at least some of the traffic (and some of the smugglers and traffickers, for whom multiple convictions of illegal entry incur increasingly stringent penalties) through what is called consequence delivery "that guides management and agents through a process designed to uniquely evaluate each subject and identify the ideal consequences to deliver to impede and deter further illegal activity." The theory is simple: Without establishing clear and undesirable consequences for illegally crossing into the United States, including through detention and prosecution, there is little reason for either the smugglers or the smuggled to think twice about making the attempt.
Now we find that the administration has pulled the rug out from under this consequence delivery system, which, although by no means a panacea to the vexing problem of mass illegal immigration, has had at least some ameliorative effect. And the consequences of that will, without doubt, be rising levels of illegal aliens brought northward across our borders, at least through Arizona, possibly elsewhere —often under the worst and most abject conditions one can imagine.
So there you have it. Even as the administration claims that it wants to solve problems such as the one which cropped up in the past several months through the tidal wave of aliens smuggled into the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, it sets the conditions for a repeat of that scenario elsewhere.
The administration also says that "comprehensive reform" is needed to fix our broken immigration system. But consider:
- They have removed the conditions for any reasonable consequence delivery system at the border;
- They have made it impossible to effectively police the population of illegal aliens who make it into the interior of the United States; and
- They have ensured that the nearly 900,000 alien scofflaws who have absconded from immigration court hearings need not fear the possibility of officers tracking them down.
If the system is broken, who broke it?