I admit to spending several minutes pondering before I committed the following blog to writing. This is because when an agency does something good you want to applaud it, thus encouraging more of the same. But under the Obama administration, serious issues — particularly immigration issues — have become so politicized, convoluted, and messy that nothing is ever as it seems.
On May 11, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced the round-up of 84 criminal aliens, all of whom had serious offense histories. These are the kind of people you want to see off the streets of our communities. Various news media dutifully reported the arrests (see, for instance, here and here).
That's great, as far as it goes, but a really enterprising reporter would have followed up with a few questions:
- How many of these aliens were on the street as the result of state or local sanctuary policies, when they might have been taken into custody directly from jails or prisons without significant expenditure of taxpayer money, or risking the safety of the ICE agents and the public at large?
- How many of these apprehensions were re-arrests by ICE, after having released them in the first place on inordinately low bonds or on their own recognizance, only to see them commit these crimes, and quite possibly having failed to show for their immigration court hearings, leaving the judge to have to issue in absentia deportation orders against them?
- How many of these aliens were recipients of Obama administration "executive actions" in the form of DACA or the notoriously misnamed "prosecutorial discretion"?
As to the agency: I know and respect many of the career personnel at ICE, both at the field agent and senior levels. They are hard-working people trying to do a job that's difficult in the best of times, and these are by no means the best of times. And they are by and large muzzled from speaking their minds without endangering their careers. That is what gave me pause before writing this blog.
But there is often a sad propensity these days for news organizations to be content unthinkingly accepting whatever is fed them; this way the reporters don't have to strive for difficult answers, they simply repackage the press release and, bingo!, no problem meeting publication deadlines for their respective outlets. That was established beyond a shadow of a doubt by the recent profile of White House adviser Ben Rhodes in his own words, in the New York Times Magazine, which has provoked belated outrage on both the left and the right since being published (see here and here).
The propensity to just accept official pablum is especially troubling given this administration's history of double-talk, duplicity, and outright lies, and in the end is what made me think I needed to go ahead and put figurative pen to paper even though it is a good thing that, at least for now, 84 hardened criminals are in detention. It's my small attempt to lead the horse to water where this one matter is concerned.