Enforcing Immigration Laws

Greg Weeks notes:

The Obama administration has enforced immigration laws more than any past administration, Republican or Democratic.  You may think that to be positive or negative, but it is empirically true.  It is therefore unfortunate that the myth of non-enforcement persists, and that this myth becomes an unsubstantiated rationale for congressional refusal to pursue anything beyond enforcement or for states to pursue harsh laws of questionable constitutionality.

Weeks has a variety of numbers in his post to back his claim.  It is true (and it is something I have even noted here at OTB):  regardless of anything else one might wish to say about the debate over immigration policy, the one thing you cannot credibly* say is that the current administration has failed to enforce the laws.

And yet, illegal immigration remains a serious issue.

What this underscores, yet again is that the current system is not working and needs substantial, serious, rational reform.

*Point taken from a comment, as you can say anything you like. So I have updated the sentence.

FILED UNDER: Borders and Immigration, US Politics, ,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. mantis says:

    the one thing you cannot say is that the current administration has failed to enforce the laws.

    Republicans can, and do, say that. Pretty much every day. Their entire party platform is built on lies.

  2. @mantis: Point taken and sentence duly augmented.

  3. Sam says:

    YOU LIE was a correct statement then and it is still a correct statement when talking about ObamAA+

    Since ObamAA+ is a pathological liar nothing he says can be beLIEved and neither can his numbers.

  4. Sam says:

    “the one thing you cannot credibly* say is that the current administration has failed to enforce the laws.”

    YOU LIE!

    When his corrupt JustUs Department decides they can pick and choose which illegal aliens they deport, and also decide that those they do not deport will be given a work permit to stay and work, THAT is in violation of our laws.

    He could not get his Dream Act through the congress so he implements it by dictatorial fiat.

    He once said “I would rather be a good one term president than a bad two term president.”
    He failed as usual to see another option, being the WORSE one term president in modern times.

  5. Neil Hudelson says:

    Shorter Sam:

    To HELL with reality and facts! My own fabricated reality is right! And I will provide no evidence to back it up because I SAY IT’S RIGHT!!

  6. mantis says:

    See? Sam here doesn’t care about the facts. He just knows that the administration isn’t enforcing immigration laws, so it is true. All facts are lies to wingnuts like Sam.

  7. @Neil Hudelson:

    To HELL with reality and facts! My own fabricated reality is right! And I will provide no evidence to back it up because I SAY IT’S RIGHT!!

    Now, now, Neil, his arguments have merit. After all, he capitalizes in creative ways and that ObamAA+ thing just slays me. And don’t get me started on the devastating cleverness of the “JustUs Department”! Seriously: I have work to do, and if I have to write an essay extolling the utterly brilliance of Sam’s commentary we could be here all day and into the night!

    Indeed, I may have to take the post down and post a retraction.

  8. Rob in CT says:

    Is Sam performance art by someone else, pulling our legs?

  9. @Rob in CT: Part of me thinks that surely that would have to be the case. The other part of me is informed by long-term exposure to the intertubes, which suggests that he could very well be real.

  10. Terrye says:

    In the last two years of the Bush administration there were many changes made in regards to this issue. Additional border patrol agents were put in place, the fence was started, catch and release was ended, and the deportation process was streamlined which made it possible to process a lot more illegals for deportation. Add to that the fact that the National Guard was put on the border as well. The Obama administration may not have created these policies, but they did not end them either.

    I think Obama has not gotten more credit, because of the crime wave perpetrated by the cartels. This makes it seem as if the problem is getting worse when in fact the people crossing the border are getting worse. They are not roofers or nannies or lettuce pickers, they are dangerous criminals.

    I also think Obama’s stated desire for comprehensive immigration reform will be interpreted by many people has a lax attitude toward the problem.

  11. Terrye says:

    @mantis: mantis, like it or not the public perception is out there that the government is not enforcing immigration laws. It is not only Republicans that feel this way. And they don’t just blame the Obama administration either.

    It might just be because there are so many people here illegally that people can not help but see them and feel that nothing is being done. I am sure people are being deported all the time and people are being turned back at the border all the time, but when the numbers of illegals are in the millions it is hard to see an improvement.

  12. Neil Hudelson says:


    Anecdotal evidence from my daily activities seems to confirm your analysis re: cartels and perception of enforcement. Well said.